It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/7/2019 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

This is the last week of my mom’s visit so I barely squeezed in a couple new books. This past week was especially difficult because we had to put our sweet border collie, Sophie, down on Tuesday. When we first adopted her from the rescue, her doctor said she had been badly abused and would need to be on constant meds to help with the pain. Sadly, she never completely recovered and the pain just reached a point where we knew we needed to let her go. The kids have needed to talk a lot and we’re all just really feeling the grief. 😦

My mom flies out on Wednesday and then we turn around and leave on Friday for our family fall vacation, so I hope I can squeeze in a little reading while we’re on the road. Thanks so much for stopping by, today!


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Roll With It
Jamie Sumner
October 1, 2019
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

12-year-old Ellie is bright, witty, and full of spunk! She just so happens to have cerebral palsy, use a wheel chair, and occasionally needs help with a few every day tasks. But that certainly doesn’t change the fact that she has hopes and dreams and joys and hurts just like everyone else. In the beginning of this story, Ellie’s mom moves her from Tennessee to Oklahoma so they can help with Ellie’s grandfather who suffers from dementia. And it doesn’t take long for Ellie to make herself at home at her new school. I just loved her voice and open commentary on the world around her. I also enjoyed reading this interview with Jamie Sumner at From the Mixed Up Files (AKA “MUF”) about this book. It’s important to note that this story was inspired by her son who, like Ellie, has cerebral palsy. I’m so glad this book is out in the world and I hope it will find a place in homes and libraries everywhere!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Moon! Earth’s Best Friend
Stacy McAnulty
Stevie Lewis, illustrator
June 11, 2019
Henry Holt and Co.

This is such an adorable nonfiction picture book about the moon. Readers will learn about the formation of the moon, how long it takes to circle the Earth and to spin, the phases, other moons in the solar system, quite a bit about gravity, types of eclipses, and MORE interesting tidbits. This is the third book in the Our Universe series and it looks like Ocean: Waves for All is up next!

The artist used colored pencils and digital tools to create the illustrations in this book. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

Moon-Earths-Best-Friend

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m currently reading an e-ARC of Friend or Fiction by Abby Cooper, I’m listening to Frankly in Love by David Yoon on audiobook, and we are working on The Root of Magic by Kathleen Benner Duble as a read aloud with the kids this month.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 228/250
#MustReadin2019 – 29/42


 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/30/2019 #imwayr

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

As I mentioned last week, my mom is in town for two weeks and so I have barely read anything since her arrival on Wednesday. That said, this post will be especially brief. Thanks for stopping in and I’ll make the rounds over the coming days!


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Patron Saints of Nothing
Randy Ribay
June 18, 2019
Kokila

The Patron Saints of nothing is a contemporary novel about a Filipino-American teenager named Jay who is in his senior year of high school. For a long time, he was penpals with his cousin in the Philippines named Jun. But when his cousin turns up dead, and no one wants to talk about it, Jay feels an intense need to travel to the Philippines and get to the bottom of his mysterious death. I finished this book in one night — it was gripping! I admit to having known practically zilch in regards to President Rodrigo Duterte or the war on drugs, so it was a lot for me to take in. And there were important points about American journalism coverage of other countries that were spot-on. Overall it’s heart-breaking and yet quite healing in many ways.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich
Ibi Zoboi
August 27, 2019
Dutton Books for Young Readers

This is Ibi Zoboi’s debut middle grade novel about a young girl named Ebony-Grace Norfleet who lives in Huntsville, Alabama. It’s now 1984 and, years ago, her grandfather was one of the first black engineers to integrate NASA. Today, he and Ebony-Grace spend a lot of time using their imagination while discussing outer space and all things related to science fiction. So when she is sent to Harlem to spend a few weeks with her father, she seems to freak out with nothing to anchor her imagination. She struggles to get along with the other children and keeps falling back into her science fiction world. The other children think she’s weird and sometimes it’s hard to understand what she’s thinking or seeing because she’s sincerely that caught up in her imaginary world. I was quite drawn to the beautiful cover of this book, but I really struggled to connect with Ebony-Grace. Some reviews have suggested that maybe she is on the spectrum because she talks about sensory overload and struggles to communicate with other children her age due to her hyper focus on science fiction. Otherwise, she just appears incredibly immature for her age.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Fletcher and the Falling Leaves
(Fletcher the Fox #1)
Julia Rawlinson
Tiphanie Beeke, illustrator
August 29, 2006
Greenwillow Books

This week I picked up an older picture book title that was new-to-me and it was simply delightful. It’s the story of a young fox who is experiencing autumn for the very first time. As the leaves begin falling off the tree, he attempts to save them and keep them tethered to the tree. Knowing nothing about this season, he can hardly imagine the surprise right around the corner. This book shares the precious innocence that children will easily relate to and the gorgeous artwork is such a treat. The pages are full of subdued browns, deep reds, yellows, and oranges — truly providing the feeling of fall. Pastels were used to prepare the full-color art. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Fletcher-Falling-Leaves-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m hoping to finish Roll With It by Jamie Sumner. I’m just about half way into this audiobook and I’m thoroughly enjoying Ellie’s voice!! I also have an e-ARC of Friend or Fiction by Abby Cooper that I’ve started and really hope to squeeze the rest in over the coming week.


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 226/250
#MustReadin2019 – 29/42


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/23/2019 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

For the next two weeks, my mom will be visiting and staying in our home. Then next Monday is actually my birthday. YAY! While we’re out painting the town red, I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done. But I’ll plan to at least post something, next week. 🙂 And aside from the craziness this week, I still hope to make it around to everyone’s blog throughout the next couple days!

I’ll keep this short, but today I’m sharing an ARC of How to Code a Rollercoaster by Josh Funk. This title will be released tomorrow, so be sure to check it out!


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My Jasper June
Laurel Snyder
September 3rd 2019
Walden Pond Press

13-year-old Leah is feeling very alone. Her family lost her little brother just a year ago and nothing has felt normal with her parents since then. By chance, Leah meets another young girl named Jasper. They hit it off and have a fantastic time together, creating magical memories while carving out a hidden space that only they know about. But as Leah learns that June is homeless, it’s hard to know when to keep a secret and when it’s time to speak up. This is a heart wrenching story that’s sure to bring a lump to your throat and warmth to your heart! 

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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A Swirl of Ocean
Melissa Sarno
August 6, 2019
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

What a lovely cover! ❤ What I didn’t know about this story before I began reading is that it includes a good deal of magical realism. 12-year-old Summer was found on the beach when she was only two years old. An intense investigation turned up no information, so Lindy took custody of Summer and raised her as her own. Ten years later, Summer is feeling all sorts of questions about her past — who is she really? Where did certain traits come from? Did no one miss her? One night Summer gets pulled into the ocean while swimming and ends up swallowing a lot of water. And after that experience, she begins having vivid dreams of a girl named Tink. It all feels so real to her and even coincides with events she discovers to have actually happened. So did she already know about these things or is she making it all up? It’s a charming and touching story of self-discovery and one of healing wounds from the past.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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24 Hours in Nowhere
Dusti Bowling
September 4, 2018
Sterling Children’s Books

This one is a re-read. Last year it may have been my very favorite read of 2018 — certainly in my top 5. In fact, I was given an ARC, but went ahead and bought a personal copy for my family as soon as it was released. This month it was a family read aloud and I LOVED  listening to the kids laugh and talk about the different characters, what they would do if they were in this situation, and learning the new vocabulary words that are presented in bold type every couple pages or so. The premise may sound boring, but the characters are so real and the intricate development of each relationships is heartwarming. Don’t take my word for it: 24 Hours in Nowhere received many glowing reviews, including STARRED reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Shelf Awareness, and School Library Journal. This one will remain on our shelves as a very favorite! Feel free to read my original review HERE.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Red at the Bone
Jacqueline Woodson
September 17, 2019
Riverhead Books

Wow. I don’t want to share too much about this one because I knew nothing going in and it was an amazing experience! I would say the most important thing would be to know it’s written from five different perspectives, both in the past and the present. But the characters are all related and familiar with one another. The story has utterly beautiful prose and the narration of the audiobook was FANTASTIC (including Bahni Turpin, Shayna Small, Peter Francis Jame, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, and even Jacqueline Woodson). Highly recommend!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Educated
Tara Westover
February 20, 2018
Random House

Educated is another title from my #MustReadin2019 list and, whoa, was it a whopper. Check out the list of rewards it received, below. In a nutshell, this is Tara Westover’s memoir of growing up in the mountains of Idaho within a family of extremist survivalists. Everything she was taught revolved around learning how to be self-sufficient AND being anti-government. Not only did she not have a birth certificate or any formal education (they claimed to homeschool, but they pretty much just used the kids to run the family business), but she was so secluded from the world that she’d never heard of the holocaust until she saw the word in a history textbook in college. After a most unusual and abusive upbringing, she left home and went on to receive a PhD while being estranged from her parents.

As I walked home carrying the heavy manuscript, I remembered attending one of Dr. Kerry’s lectures, which he had begun by writing, “Who writes history?” on the blackboard. I remembered how strange the question had seemed to me then. My idea of a historian was not human; it was of someone like my father, more prophet than man, whose visions of the past, like those of the future, could not be questioned, or even augmented. Now, as I passed through King’s College, in the shadow of the enormous chapel, my old diffidence seemed almost funny. Who writes history? I thought. I do.   

As I finished the book, I couldn’t help but look up the Westovers to see how their business is doing, today. I came upon many videos and article after article, including a response from the family attorney who says ‘Educated’ Should Be Read with a Grain of Salt. I also got caught up in reading responses from two of Tara’s siblings (who appear to be supportive of Tara while not completely dismissing their parents). I realize we’ll never 100% know the full story, but if even half of the memoir is true then it’s rather cringe-worthy.

AWARDS: Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Biography (2018), ALA Alex Award (2019), Wellcome Book Prize Nominee for Longlist (2019), National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee for Autobiography (2018), Goodreads Choice Award for Memoir & Autobiography (2018), Audie Award for Best Female Narrator (2019), PEN/Jean Stein Book Award Nominee for Shortlist (2019), Reading Women Award for Nonfiction (2018)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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How to Code a Rollercoaster
(How to Code with Pearl & Pascal)
Josh Funk
Sara Palacios, illustrator
September 24, 2019
Viking / Penguin

Three of my kiddos are really into coding, so I’m delighted to keep up with the How to Code with Pear & Pascal series. In book #2, Pearl and Pascal are going to an amusement park where there are a number of rides like the ferris wheel, log fume, a train, a roller coaster, etc. Pearl starts out the day with only 10 tokens that must last the entire day. So, using the map, she and Pascal plan out how to have fun while waiting for the line to the Python Coaster to shorten. While reading the story, kids will learn what code is, what a variable is, how to create a loop, and how to use an if-then-else. When it finally comes time to ride the Python Coaster, Pearl and Pascal encounter an unexpected glitch in their plans and must quickly problem solve. But no worries, they use their sequencing skills to save the day! It’s so cute how Pascal takes some of Pearl’s instructions quite literally. For example, when Pearl says to “swing over to the Python Coaster,” Pascal literally hops on the swings. So be sure to watch for these funny little misunderstandings. The back matter has a section titled Pearl and Pascal’s Guide to Coding where the vocabulary is discussed in more detail, with references back to the story. My thanks to Edelweiss Plus and Viking / Penguin for the digital copy of this ARC so I could provide an honest review.

The illustrations in this book were rendered digitally in combination with gouache and acrylic paintings. Some pages have several different scenes back-to-back while others showcase one scene in a large page spread. I’ll provide one page spread from the ARC as an example of the artwork, below:

How-to-Code-Rollercoaster-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

As mentioned earlier, my mom will be in town the next two weeks. But I’m currently reading The Root of Magic with my children while listening to My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 223/250
#MustReadin2019 – 29/42


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/16/2019 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

In bookish news:

Did you hear that Jessica Townsend signed with Hachette Children’s Group for three more Nevermoor books in the series (she has plots written for a total of nine)? I missed the original announcement, but now I can hardly contain my excitement!!

Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus publishes TOMORROW! Aven is now a high schooler and suddenly has 2,300 new kids in her life. I LOVED this one and  I admit I’m hoping this series will continue! You can read my review HERE.

This week on my blog:

On to my reading for the week…


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Squint
Chad Morris
Shelly Brown
October 2, 2018
Shadow Mountain

Wow. I’m surprised I’ve not heard more about this book. 13-year-old Flint has been nicknamed “Squint” due to a degenerative eye disease that keeps him from seeing clearly. He’s an artist who loves drawing and is feverishly working to finish his comic book for an upcoming competition. Accustomed to being rejected by the popular crow, Flint is surprised when a new girl named McKell strikes up a conversation and asks for Flint’s help with a project. Can he trust her not to abandon the friendship once she has what she needs? Awww. I just loved Flint’s (AKA “Squint”) voice, the things he learned, and the relationships he developed. Such a touching story including accepting challenges, facing terminal illness, and dealing with painful loss. It’s also worth noting this was co-written by husband/wife team — and they’ve written other novels together (including Mustaches for Maddie, which is now going on my TBR list as it’s based on their own real -life daughter’s experience with a brain tumor).

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Sorry For Your Loss
Jessie Ann Foley
June 4, 2019
HarperTeen

Pup Flanagan is a junior in high school. He’s the youngest of eight children and had a special connection with his older brother, Patrick. Back when Patrick died of meningitis while away at college, Pup joined a bereavement group where he became attached to a girl named Izzy (who also lost her brother). But after years of being best friends with Izzy, her failure to return his romantic feelings leaves him even more lost than usual. Pup realizes he has no future plans and he is basically failing his art class. That’s when his teacher hands him a camera and asks him to try out photography. And it’s through his camera lens that he begins to see his family in a whole new light.

Granted, these are honest teen characters in a world of hurt, so I can understand the frustrated sarcasm shared while grieving. However, I initially felt a tad uncomfortable with the practice of making fun of people who say “sorry for your loss.” In my experience of loss, it was better when someone acknowledged the hurt instead of just tip-toeing around me. Yet the point remains: Engage with someone who’s in the midst of loss — don’t just say the words and disconnect. That discomfort aside, this was a very honest portrayal of a family in the aftermath of unexpected loss. It was painful and moving and well worth the read.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom
from Young Children at School
Carla Shalaby
March 7, 2017
The New Press

I don’t know where to start with this one. I took so many photographs of pages I loved that it became laughable because I found something important on every stinkin’ page. To avoid breaking copyright law, I really just need to buy a copy of the book to keep at home so I can highlight and make notes and return to the soothing pages whenever I feel the need. Troublemakers is about community and love and fear and listening and rest and connection and sooooo much more. I’m not going to try to summarize, but please feel free to read the Goodreads synopsis and grab a copy at your earliest convenience. If you’re an educator… or if you have children… or if you know ANY PEOPLE AT ALL… READ. THIS. BOOK. I couldn’t stop thinking about these case studies. In fact, I was in bed in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, just thinking about the children in this book. I could see some of their personality traits in my classrooms of yesteryear, so it really hit home for me. I wish all education majors would read and discuss this book before entering the classroom!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Stormbreaker
Anthony Horowitz
September 4, 2000
Speak

Stormbreaker was another book on my #MustReadin2019 list. The Alex Rider series is wildly popular around the world with 14 novels in the series, some prequels, and some additional supplementary books on the market. And now I know why the fandom is so large among teens, tweens, and young adults. Alex is only 14 years old when he loses his uncle, Ian Rider (who just so happens to be his only guardian). Shortly after his uncle’s death, Alex discovers his uncle was a legit spy. This realization turns his world upside down. And, as luck would have it, Alex is now lured into the business to help finish what Uncle Ian started. This was very fast-paced and hard to put down. I read some chapters and listened to others on audiobook and one thing I found interesting was the obvious differences between the audiobook and the book. For example, in one they said “hairdresser” while in the other it said “oral hygienist.” Or the person would answer “no” in one book while saying “of course” in another. Or it was “two weeks” in one edition, but “eleven days” in another. There were numerous differences and entire sentences or sections eliminated from one edition, so it was interesting to see how the story had been edited over the years. In any case, it was an exciting adventure and I’ll continue with the series.

AWARDS: South Carolina Book Award for Junior Book Award (2005), Iowa Teen Award (2005), California Young Readers Medal for Young Adult (2005), Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award (2004)

My dad passed away very unexpectedly on August 31st of 2012 and about a week or two before his passing, he and my mom took a vacation to the Texas coast to relax with my aunt and uncle at their beach house. It was during that trip that my dad and mom began reading the Alex Rider series. Mom said that dad was flying through the books and she could barely keep up. After the funeral, my mom sent me back home to Nebraska with the series. Then this year, my 14 year old son said I HAVE to read them because he loves them so much. So this week was a good beginning. I just HAD to share this photo because I’m so tickled that my uncle captured them reading the first two books (my mom is allergic to the sun if you’re wondering why she’s wearing long-sleeves and pants on a hot summer day – lol). I miss my dad so much, but it brings me some comfort to be enjoying books that he enjoyed. ❤

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You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The House at the End of the Road
Kari Rust
September 17, 2019
Owlkids

This is a delightful picture book that is in graphic-novel style in some page spreads. Told from the perspective of a young girl, she explains what happened when she, her brother Patrick, and their cousin Robert visited their Grandma’s house one summer. The three cousins went on a bike ride and wound up at what appeared to be an old abandoned house. But after snooping around a bit, they saw a GHOST! Ahhhhh! They run back home to their grandmother only to discover it wasn’t a ghost, but one of Grandma’s former teachers, Mr. Peterson. When Grandma takes them back to the house, they quickly discover that appearances can be very deceiving. Not only is Mr. Peterson not angry at them for trespassing, but he’s a delightful person and they decide to return to his home again and again. The story is a little bit sad at one point, but the ending is precious and hopeful.

I can’t wait to see the final format of the book because the artwork in the ARC is just wonderful. I loved looking at the finer details, like the decor and patterns in Grandma’s kitchen and living room, the odds and ends in Mr. Peterson’s basement and attic, and the various scenes of the house from the outside. I’ll provide one page-spread from the ARC as an example, below. My sincere thanks to Netgalley and Owlkids for giving me an ARC of this book so that I could provide an honest review. This book publishes TOMORROW!

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Tree of Wonder: The Many
Marvelous Lives of a
Rainforest Tree
Kate Messner
Simona Mulazzani, illustrator
August 11, 2015
Chronicle Books

This beautiful picture book focuses on just 10 species of “marvelous lives” that make their home in one Almendro Tree. Toward the left of each page, young readers will find a brief explanation of the animal in larger font while on the right side of the page there’s a lengthier section in smaller font that provides more details and vocabulary for older readers. And as you turn each page, the number of each animal/insect doubles! In the back matter, Messner has provided more information on The Almendro Tree along with websites to groups and organizations that serve to protect the interests of the tree and the lives that thrive on it. Also included are some fun math problems, books for further reading, and information on a documentary to watch. Thanks to Aaron of Wriggling Bookworms for mentioning this book, last week. I was glad to find it in our library.

The artwork in this book was created with acrylic and pencil on paper. I noticed that the pictures in this book are mostly darker, making the reader feel as though they are really are in the rainforest, hiding under a dense canopy. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Tree-of-Wonder-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I reviewed an ARC of 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling last year and immediately purchased a hardcover copy for my own home. It’s our current family read aloud and the kids are loving it so much, they hardly let me stop. In these first three days, we’re averaging about 45 pages a day, so I’ll need to pick another novel real aloud midweek. I’m also hoping to finish Educated by Tara Westover, this week.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 217/250
#MustReadin2019 – 28/42


#MustReadin2019 9/12/2019

Today is the Fall update on my #MustReadin2019 reading progress. This was my first year to participate and I listed 42 “must read” books that I really hoped to slip into my regular weekly reading. In 2019, so far I’ve read 212 books and I am just about to finish book 27 today from my “must read” list. I do think I may be rolling 2 or 3 books over my 2020 list, but we’ll just see how these last four months of the year go.

These are the books I still have left to finish (minus Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi, which hasn’t yet been released and its publication date was pushed back to December 3rd):

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“Must read” books I’ve finished:

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Naomis Too by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich & Audrey Vernick
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
Breakout by Kate Messner
Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (coming soon)
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
The Oceans Between Stars Kevin Emerson (book #2 in a series of 3)
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen (is this middle grade or YA?)
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (1st of 6 in series)
All Systems Red by Martha Wells (1st of 5 in series)
Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz (1st of 12 books, plus several short stories)
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (1st in a series of 3)
Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
Unleaving by Melissa Ostrom (LOVED her Beloved Wild)
Cruel Prince by Holly Black (1st in series)
Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Wildcard by Marie Lu
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Watership Down by Richard Adams
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Game Changer!: Book Access for All Kids by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp
And I’ll likely finish Troublemakers : Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School by Carla Shalaby, today.

Still need to finish:

Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley
The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (1st in series of 3)
Scythe by Neal Schusterman
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Toni Adeyemi (book #2 in series)
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Educated by Tara Westover
Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman
The World’s Religions by Huston Smith
The Story of Christianity Vol. 1 by Justo L. González
The Story of Christianity Vol. 2 by Justo L. González

My thanks to Carrie of There’s a Book for That for hosting the #MustReadin2019 community. You can see Carrie’s #MustReadin2019 Fall update HERE.

I’ll be back with a final update at the end of the year!


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/9/2019 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

Among my books this week are two ARCs that are being published this month: More to the Story by Hena Khan (published last week), and Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (being published 9/17). Whether it’s a brand new book or something else, I hope you find something to add to your wish list.


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More to the Story
Hena Khan
September 3, 2019
Salaam Reads/
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers 

This lovely book follows the lives of four Muslim American sisters who live in Georgia: Aleeza is 10, Bizma is 11, Jameela Mirza is 13, and Maryam is 15. While not always obvious, the story is based on Louisa May Alcott’s beloved Little Women. In fact, I had forgotten this little fact when something happened in the story and I thought, Hey, that reminds me a lot of Little Women! It’s told from the perspective of the second oldest sister, Jameela Mirza, who has just been given the position of feature editor of her middle school newspaper. She hopes to write an award-winning article for the school paper this year and send it to her Baba (father) who has to been sent overseas for a 6-month position. Meanwhile, their father’s best friend (who the sisters lovingly refer to as “uncle”) brings his nephew, Ali, to Georgia from London.

While this was a fairly short book, each character is well developed. The plot line is nicely paced and the sisters share noticeable similarities to the March sister counterparts while also having their own personalities and unique experiences. Neatly woven into the story are important holidays and customs, and I especially appreciated the careful attention to explaining microagressions in a way that young readers can understand. I enjoyed this one so much and highly recommend it for any children’s and young teen library.

My sincere thanks to Netgalley, Salaam Reads, and Simon & Schuster for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Momentous Events in the
Life of a Cactus
(Aven Green #2)
Dusti Bowling
September 17, 2019
Sterling Children’s Books

If you’ve read Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, then surely you’ve grown attached to Aven, Connor, and Zion. These characters shared the misfortune of being left out, bullied, and gawked at for much of their lives before finding comfort in one another. Well in book #2, Zion is still fairly timid, struggling to make eye contact. Connor still has continual tics due to Tourette syndrome. And Aven is still armless, obviously. But things are pumped up a notch as the friends enter high school with Connor going to a different school across town AND Aven attracting the attention of one of the most popular high school athletes.

School aside, there are plenty of other happenings in Stagecoach Pass: their beloved llama, Spaghetti, appears to be very ill, Henry’s memory seems to be worsening, Josephine is navigating her new life in an assisted living community, Aven is learning to jump a horse, and she suddenly has a desire to find her biological father. I LOVED THIS SECOND BOOK!!! I can’t even express how happy I was to be reunited with these lovely characters. I adore Aven’s quirky sense of humor and the way she faces and resolves conflict with her friends. I laughed and cried throughout the story, feeling all the feels. It’s no surprise that book #1 still has a 4.34 Goodreads rating and book #2 already has a STARRED review from Kirkus. Do yourself a favor and pre-order it right now!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Stay
Bobbie Pyron
August 13, 2019
Katherine Tegen Books

This cover is absolutely gorgeous! But I’ll warn you that this story is WAY more than a cutesy dog story. Young Piper’s family has hit very hard times with both her parents out of work. They initially wind up in a homeless shelter where fathers must be separated from the mothers and children while hoping family placement will open up soon. They must now wait in long lines for food from a soup kitchen and the children ride the homeless bus to their new school.

Piper’s family is just like everyone else’s — full of love, hope, and joy. However, her family faces shame and embarrassment by others who judge their misfortune. Piper finds comfort in Firefly Girls Troop 423 where she gets to focus on earning badges, just like she did back in her old home. And when someone in their homeless community is sick, hospitalized, and separated from her beloved companion dog, it’s the entire community (homed and homeless) that comes together in hopes of getting her back to safety.

With both joy and sadness, there are important messages of empathy in this heartfelt tale. Because we never know when it might be OUR family standing in that free food line. Readers will also discover that people who are homeless are often the most generous of all — AND that it certainly doesn’t take blood and genetics to be family. This will be a well-loved book for middle grade readers!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Bear and the Nightingale
(Winternight Trilogy #1)
by Katherine Arden
January 10, 2017
Del Rey Books

I know very little of Russian folklore, but MY OH MY what an enchanting tale. This one was on my #MustReadin2019 list and I loved it so much that I’m going to have to start book #2 very soon. As the story takes place in a very cold Russia, it’s especially great for a winter read — perhaps when the ground is covered in snow and you need to snuggle up by the fire!

I’m not sure how much to share about the actual story without saying too much, but it’s historical fiction loaded with fantasy. It spans a number of years with a girl named Vasilisa at the center of the story. There’s evil creatures and magical abilities threaded throughout the tale. That’s seriously all I’m going to say. 🙂 I’m very much looking forward to hearing more of Vasilisa’s story, even if I hear book #2 begins with a great deal of political unease.

AWARDS: Locus Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2018), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fantasy & for Debut Goodreads Author (2017), HWA Debut Crown Nominee for Longlist (2017)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

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This week I’m just going to focus on finishing Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School by Dr. Carla Shalaby. It’s a fairly short book, but I need time to read individual chapters, to think about each one, and to take it all in. If I get to more on my #MustReadin2019 reading list then that’s just icing on the cake. But I’m certainly thinking about this one a lot and enjoying the read, so far!

 


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 211/250
#MustReadin2019 – 26/42


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/2/2019 #imwayr

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

It’s Labor Day Weekend and we’ve been entertaining one of my daughter’s very best friends who moved two states away just three years ago. They have birthdays two weeks apart (straddling August and September), so we had to celebrate. We took the girls on a short road trip and rented them their own hotel room for Sunday evening (in the same hotel where her parents were staying, of course), so they had a BLAST! But I’m admittedly exhausted and running much later than normal on posting this week’s IMWAYR post — a full 24 hours late, in fact! I’ll slowly make my rounds the next couple days…

Today, I’m reviewing two ARCs due for publication this week. Trevor Lee and the Big Uh Oh! was published on Sunday and Some Places More than Others was just published TODAY. Whether it’s a new publication or not, I hope you’ll find something to add to your reading list. 🙂


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Trevor Lee and the Big Uh Oh!
Wiley Blevins
Marta Kissi, illustrator
September 1, 2019
One ELM Press

Trevor Lee is a third grade boy who is great at math, but who struggles with reading. In fact, Trevor is so nervous about having to read aloud that he wets his pants in front of everyone on the first day of school when his teacher asks him to read. Eeek! Trevor’s saving grace is his grandma, Mamaw McGee, who sits with him at home and encourages him to keep trying to read and to not give up when it gets tough. At the very end, we learn there’s a reason Trevor’s Mamaw was so persistent and it reminds us that we never know what each other’s challenges are unless we share. At the conclusion, we discover that the story is based on the author’s personal trials.

One of my brothers is dyslexic and dysgraphic and I remember, so well, his painful trials through school. He was diagnosed when he was in 3rd grade, during a time when educators didn’t know much about his disability. For a child experiencing that level of frustration, this book will served as a mirror, providing a few humorous snickers in the midst of painful understanding. And while this story wasn’t intended to go into the realistic details of identifying a learning disability and providing service (in fact, we are never told explicitly if Trevor Lee has a disability or if he just slipped through the cracks during his first three years of school), I do hope that any child who can identify with Trevor will get the help they need and not merely be forced to read aloud (ESPECIALLY in front of a crowd of people).

Thanks to NetGallery and One ELM Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Some Places More Than Others
Renée Watson
September 3, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

It’s rare to read a book with so few pages that can tackle very difficult topics and yet leave the reader feeling such resolve. Watson did just that in Some Places More than Others. Amara lives in Beaverton, Oregon with her mother and father. She’s an only child and has watched her mom go through multiple miscarriages. Her mom is finally pregnant again with a little girl and Amara doesn’t quite know how she feels about this pregnancy since she’s long past hoping for a sibling.

Amara’s dad grew up in Harlem where her grandfather and cousins all still live. And over the course of the book, she discovers that her father and grandfather haven’t spoken since the day Amara was born. As luck would have it, Amara’s class is doing a suitcase project where she must look at her family and include all sorts of important pieces (pictures, poems, small items, etc.) that help define where she comes from. So for her 12th birthday, she asks to go to New York, tour the area, and get to know her family roots. However, she has NO idea how her experiences will change her life and outlook forever.

The characters in this story are so realistic and relatable. I personally hurt through Amara’s recognition of the broken relationship, knowing what it feels like to be a child witnessing confusing conflict between the ones we love. Additionally, rarely is miscarriage discussed from a child’s point of view. But Watson’s examination was so eloquent — showcasing the confusion and evident pain through young eyes. I also appreciated the bits and pieces of black history weaved into the heart of the story — I was reminded of important events and even learned about new ones. Oh my, I heartily recommend this one for both middle grade and young adult libraries. Thanks to NetGallery and Bloomsbury for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Next Great Paulie Fink
Ali Benjamin
April 16, 2019
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Let me first just say: I ADORED THIS BOOK — it was such a unique tale and incredibly heart-felt at points. In short: Caitlyn Breen is new to Mitchell, Vermont and is starting her first day on seventh grade at Mitchell School. One of the first things she learns upon entering the school is that Paulie Fink is missing. Fink was a long-term legendary student in the same class and, without warning, he just didn’t show up to school this year.

Told with interspersed interviews from different viewpoints, we come to know each character very personally. I also appreciated how Benjamin wove history lessons (for example: Ancient Greece and scapegoats), literature discussions (for example: Shakespeare poking fun at people), and science topics (ecosystems) into the story, showcasing how these topics were quite relevant to modern life and relationships. Ultimately, the reader learns a valuable lesson about how limited our perceptions are when we look at others. Oh my goodness, while there are some more somber moments, I seriously laughed in this one. I mean, EVERY student has their own dance, statues are erected, and there are GOATS at this school! The depth of this story took me by surprise and I truly hope it will find a home in many school and public libraries, this year!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


1886._SY475_Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
1813

My apologies if I didn’t use your favorite book cover for Pride and Prejudice. There are SO many covers that have been used over the last 200 years, but the book I read was just your basic 435-paged yellow clothbound book. I would love to know if you remember what the cover looked like on the one you first read!

This book truly needs no introduction at all. Along with the popularity of the original, there are many re-tellings and even big screens renditions. So I’ll just share some of the feelings I had as I read this. First, I both listened to some of it and read other portions and there was an excellent Preface in the audiobook that discussed Austen’s life and writing career — including the publication of Pride and Prejudice. How amazing that, in her very short lifetime, she published such important novels that have withstood the test of time, challenging and changing the view of the world and relationships for so many.

One of the things that always jumps out at me when I read books about life from this time period (and this class) is how people spent their time and entertained themselves. There were both formal and informal visitors who arrived without warning and who were instantly invited in. Someone might play the piano or guitar or begin dancing or start a card game on the stop or do needlework or even read a few chapters of a book to attentive visitors. I don’t know if it’s fair to judge whether our modern world is any worse or better with the constant social stream and posted photos (that say so much and yet nothing at all), but there’s a huge part of my heart that longs to participate in a world where things were crafted with such great care, where conversation (and listening) was important, and where people deeply missed one another and wrote long, detailed letters about feelings and happenings.

Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. -Mr. Darcy

But before I romanticize the time period, I also realize how difficult society was on women, in particular. In any case, the fictional Elizabeth Bennett certainly marched to the beat of her own drum and ignited the dreams and passions of other women who likely felt oppressed and forced into roles they weren’t intended to take. Aaaaand now I have the difficult task of deciding which Jane Austen book to read next.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Rescue & Jessica:
A Life-Changing Friendship

Jessica Kensky, Patrick Downes
Scott Magoon, illustrator
April 3, 2018
Candlewick Press

Both Rescue and Jessica’s lives have taken different paths than what they expected. Rescue was originally intended to be a Seeing Eye dog. But one day, his trainer realizes he’s meant to work beside his partner as a service dog, instead. Meanwhile, Jessica (who’s illustrated as a young girl) endured an accident and had to have part of her leg removed. When these two are paired, the world becomes a better place for both.

For children, this book will allow many questions and answers as it showcases illustrations of Jessica after her first surgery and again after her second surgery. They can see her in a wheelchair, using and falling with her crutches, and the artwork even showcases a close up image of her prosthetic legs. Furthermore, Rescue is shown hard a work doing his chores and also playing with Jessica in the park. If read in a group setting, be prepared for lots of active discussion! 🙂

The back matter provides an Author’s Note explaining the real life friendship of Jessica Kensky and Rescue (who was named in honor of the Worcester, Massachusetts firefighter Jon Davies who gave his life in the line of duty on December 8, 2011). Also included is information about NEADS, the organization that trains Service Dogs, and a photograph of Jessica Kensky & Patrick Downes who both lost their legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

AWARDS: Schneider Family Book Award for Young Children (2019), Monarch Award Nominee (2020)

The artwork for this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one of my favorite page-spreads as an example, below:

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You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Game Changers: The Story of
Venus and Serena Williams
Lesa Cline-Ransome
James E. Ransome, illustrator
July 3, 2018
Simon Schuster/
Paula Wiseman Books

This is a lovely picture book biography that shares the lives of Venus and Serena Williams. When they were children, the neighborhood laughed at their father for dreaming big for his daughters. But he wasn’t about to give up — both he and his wife got on the courts with their daughters and worked with them. The girls ran track to improve their speed while practicing ballet to improve flexibility. And I was surprised to learn their father bused in loads of neighborhood kids to taunt the sisters while they practiced, purposefully asking them to say mean things to build up the sisters’ emotional skin.

“Nothing can keep me from celebrating when my best friend wins a match.”
-Venus Williams

It’s clear to see that, while highly competitive with one another, they were also the very best of friends. It brought tears to my eyes to read about the time Venus sprinted off the court and up into the stands to grab her camera and capture Serena’s victory against her. What excellent examples of athletic dedication AND human character!

AWARDS: Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee (2020), NCTE Orbis Pictus Award Nominee (2019), Winner of 2018 Eureka Silver Award for Excellence in Nonfiction (CA Reading Association).

The artwork in this book was rendered in cut paper, pencil, and acrylic paints. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

Game-Changers-Serena2

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m finishing up an ARC of More to the Story by Hena Khan this week (loving it!) and we also have a #MustReadin2019 challenge check-in on Thursday. So I plan to finish up both Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School by Carla Shalaby and Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling for that challenge. I’m currently listening to The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden as an audiobook and should finish that in the next day or two. Soooo good!


Reading Challenge Updates: 

I’m updating my Goodreads goal to 250 since I reached 200, last week. And I can already tell I’ll be cutting it very close on my #MustReadin2019 challenge. I’m now considering which 3 or 4 of my books I might have to place back on my “must read” list for 2020, but I’ll keep pushing ahead through December.

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 207/250
#MustReadin2019 – 24/42