It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/2/2019 #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!

We had two big winter storms roll in this past week, so the college cancelled all classes at noon on Monday, giving us pretty much the entire week off together. The second storm didn’t hit until Friday evening. And that one was a true blizzard with lots of snow and winds up to 75mph. Some in our area were without power for a long time — sleeping in front of their fire places, etc.

Between the two storms, we managed to take a quick trip up to South Dakota on Wednesday and get a family picture taken. If you don’t have a handful of children, then you cannot truly appreciate the difficulty of getting just one decent photo per year — eyes all open, pleasant expressions, everyone looking the right direction, etc. We’ve laughed and laughed over some shots, but we thankfully got one that we were able to use for our holiday cards. Also, I’ve pretty much been wearing my glasses full time the last couple years, so this is the first family portrait I’ve ever taken while wearing glasses. I feel like I should get a prize or something. 🙂

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Thank you for visiting my blog, today. It’s been another great week of reading, so I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list! I can’t wait to make the #imwayr rounds and see what everyone else is up to!


34728667Children of Blood and Bone
(Legacy of Orïsha #1)
Tomi Adeyemi
March 6, 2018
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

This was a re-read as I prepare for the release of book #2, tomorrow. But I’m pretty sure I picked up a lot more this time through. This series is a young adult epic fantasy with roots in West Africa. In book #1, we witness two groups of people within Orïsha who are constantly at odds: the maji (those with magical abilities) and the nobles (elite kosidán). Told from multiple viewpoints, we learn about the inner lives of four main characters (from both sides of the proverbial fence). It’s a brutal tale with a great deal of bloodshed and a smidge of romance. After this re-read, and without spoiling anything, I’m particularly anxious to see what ended up happening to Inan (Prince of Orïsha) since it wasn’t 100% clear. There’s lots of speculation and discussion across the series fandom, but I suppose we’ll see soon enough.

AWARDS: Locus Award Nominee for First Novel (2019), William C. Morris YA Debut Award Nominee (2019), Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year (2019), British Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Newcomer (Sydney J. Bounds Award) (2019), Lincoln Award Nominee (2020), Andre Norton Award (2018), Kirkus Prize Nominee for Young Readers’ Literature (2018), Goodreads Choice Award for Debut Author and Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2018), Dragon Award for Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel (2018), Nommo Award Nominee for Best Novel (The Ilube Award) (2019), Lodestar Award (2019)

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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All the Impossible Things
Lindsay Lackey
September 3, 2019
Roaring Brook Press

This is another one of those “why have I not heard more about this book” moments. Because, while this was Lackey’s debut novel, it was quite good and discussed an important topic that is often overlooked in middle grade literature. Ruby (AKA Red) is being moved from one foster home to another one. She knows not to get her hopes up — her life is what it is and she’ll never feel settled. But her backstory is quite painful and we have constant flashback memories to explain why her mom is in jail and why her grandmother can no longer take care of her. Oof! So hard. 😦

I adored Red’s new foster family, but as things began to unravel, I felt her despair deeply — such an utter sense of loss to feel like you belong nowhere. This is key for helping young readers gain important empathy. Oh and Red’s new best friend is Marvin and he’s simply fantastic. There’s also a magical realism element to this story. And what might be most appealing to the middle grade audience is the fact that some of the adults just roll with it like there’s nothing unusual about having special powers. I’m happy to 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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Smile
(Smile #1)
Raina Telgemeier
February 1, 2010
Scholastic/Graphix

Oh. My. Goodness. I laughed out loud over Telgemeier’s memoir. I never wore braces. I wanted them, desperately, because almost ALL my friends had them and I thought they were so pretty with silver earrings and silver necklaces — oh, and those pretty colorful rubber bands they sometimes wore… Adorbs! But my dentist said my teeth were perfectly straight and that there was no need to visit an orthodontist. Well, if only I’d heard Raina Telgemeier’s story when I was begging for wires and cement on my teeth!! Telgemeier said she has told this painful 4 1/2 year story, repeatedly, to many people over the years before deciding she needed to record it as a graphic memoir. I’m so glad she did! My 14-year-old son was reading it along with me and we both LOVED it!

AWARDS: Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award (2012), Iowa Children’s Choice Award (2012), Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Nominee for Nonfiction (2010), Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Publication for Teens (2011), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee (2010), Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award (2013)

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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Sisters
(Smile #2)
Raina Telgemeier
August 26, 2014
Scholastic/Graphix

And the laughter continued with book #2. Too many hilarious scenes that only siblings can understand. Telgemeier captured the jumbled mess of love/hate feelings between sisters, along with the awkward experiences of a lengthy road trip while visiting long distance family. I am excited to start Guts, next!

AWARDS: Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Writer/Artist (2015), Prix Bédélys Jeunesse (2014), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2014)

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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Hum and Swish
Matt Myers
June 11, 2019
Neal Porter Books

Just look at that gorgeous cover! The artwork in this book is so lovely, you’ll want to spend lots of time looking over every inch of each page. The story is about young Jamie, enjoying the swish of the ocean while she hums. She’s working on some project, but she’s in no rush to finish her creation. People keep stopping by to comment or ask questions and she finds their interruptions annoying. Eventually, she finds a like-minded companion who doesn’t interrupt her work and who understands her contemplative process. There’s so much to discuss with young children while reading this one. ❤

The illustrations are fantastic and I especially enjoyed the depiction of all the different people who stop by to admire Jamie’s work. The artwork was created with acrylic and oil paint. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Hum-and-Swish-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.


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Under My Hijab
Hena Khan
Aaliya Jaleel, illustrator
January 22, 2019
Lee & Low Books

This is an important picture book that brings to light one aspect of the Muslim faith: the hijab. The young girl in this story showcases six different women in her life who wear the hijab in their own way. But they each take it off their heads when they’re in the comfort of their homes. The back matter explains a little more about the Islam faith and the wearing of the hijab, including the fact that the author of this book chooses not to wear a hijab due to her personal interpretation of Islamic religious requirements. This book is a wonderful mirror/window for young readers! The artwork in this book was rendered in Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide one example, below:

Under-My-Hijab-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.


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Carl and the Meaning of Life
Deborah Freedman
April 2, 2019
Viking Books for Young Readers

An earthworm named Carl is trying to discover why he does what he does. Every day it’s the same thing: tunneling, digesting, casting, and changing the soil. But WHY? In the end, he discovers that every creature has an important job. If he stops what he’s doing, everyone suffers. This little book showcases how we are all connected and depending on one another to do our part. It would especially be a great read to share around Earth Day or while studying the environment. The sweet illustrations in this book were made with pencil, watercolor, and bits of colored pencil, and assembled in photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Carl-Meaning-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 starting my week off with You Make Me Happy by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and illustrated by Alison Brown and Guts by Raina Telgemeier.


NOTE: The Volumes App is offering Little Women by Louisa May Alcott for FREE today (12/2) through Wednesday (12/4). I just downloaded my copy this morning, so I know it’s working. With the new movie out this winter, you might want to grab this audiobook deal while it lasts.


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 281/300
#MustReadin2019 – 34/42


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/25/2019 #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!

I’m super excited about Thanksgiving. We did all our grocery shopping (except for fresh items) a couple weeks back and so we’re ready to rock-and-roll! It’s my favorite holiday, especially because our focus is on family and friendships/neighbors and what we’re all thankful for — and games and food and movies and time-off-work. We also usually TRY to get a professional family photo taken over the weekend, but I have yet to set an appointment. Ugh! In any case, if you’re celebrating the holiday, I hope it’s a wonderful time of togetherness.

Thank you for visiting today. I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list!


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The Queen of Nothing
(The Folk of the Air #3)
Holly Black
November 19, 2019
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

I just never know about release day deliveries since I live in a secluded area, so I was thrilled when this book arrived on Tuesday afternoon. So after I got the kiddos to bed, I watched a little TV with hubby and then told him I would be up very late reading. I made snacks a little before midnight and, between my re-read of The Wicked King and The Queen of Nothing, I didn’t stop reading until after 7AM. I can’t even remember the last time I stayed up all night long reading (and I’ll say it’s much harder to do at my age than it was back when I was in college or graduate school). For those who haven’t yet read this series, I can’t say much of anything without spoiling earlier books. However, I think this one was my favorite of the three–they got better with each one. OHHH, and if you’re purchasing The Queen of Nothing, keep in mind that the B&N special edition of book #3 includes “letters from Cardan”. Since I bought the Amazon edition, another book blogger friend sent me images of the letters and I immediately placed my copy up for sale and ordered the B&N edition — reading those letters really hit me in the gut AFTER having finished the book. Ooof! By the way, for a limited time you can download the audiobook of The Cruel Prince (book #1), narrated by Caitlin Kelly, from Chirp for only $4.99.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
If you want the Barnes & Noble special edition (which includes letters from Cardan), you may find that HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Look Both Ways: A Tale
Told in Ten Blocks
Jason Reynolds
Narrated by:
Jason Reynolds, Heather Alicia Simms,
Chris Chalk, Bahni Turpin, Adenrele
Ojo, Kevin R. Free, J. D. Jackson,
Guy Lockard, January LaVoy, David Sadzin
October 8, 2019
Atheneum & Simon Schuster Audio

This book is a set of ten separate short stories, but the characters are connected — living just blocks from one another and going to the same school (Latimer Middle School). I listened to the audiobook which featured some amazing narrators (mentioned, above). While it wasn’t my favorite of Reynold’s books, I did enjoy each story and felt like I really got to know the characters in a brief segment of time.

AWARDS: National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature (2019)

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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Hearts Unbroken
Cynthia Leitich Smith
October 9, 2018
Candlewick Press

This book is another of my #MustReadin2019 selections and this week was the perfect time to read this book since there was a lot of discussion about Halloween and Thanksgiving and all things autumn. The story begins with Louise Wolfe, a Muscogee (Creek) girl, breaking up with her popular boyfriend when he says some disrespectful things about Native Americans. Then we jump to the start of the following school year where she is a senior and her little brother, Hughie, is a freshman. She joins the school journalism team while her brother auditions for and wins a role in the school production of The Wizard of Oz as the Tin Man.

As I’m attempting to summarize, I’m realizing just how much territory this book covered in only 300 pages: racism, bullying, journalism issues, vandalism, school politics, and even romance. With super short chapters (sometimes only 2 pages) it’s a fast read, with many different characters, and lots of diversity. The vocabulary is quite simple for a YA novel (after finishing Black’s Folk of the Air series earlier in the week, this one honestly felt more like middle grade reading). Nevertheless, there was still some cursing and very open discussion of sexual activity. I hear and understand why so many readers have disliked portions of this book, but I can’t deny that, in the end, I enjoyed it and felt the story was well worth my time.

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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Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop:
The Sanitation Strike of 1968
Alice Faye Duncan
R. Gregory Christie, illustrator
September 11, 2018
Calkins Creek

This picture book shares the details of the Sanitation Strike, which was just one incident in the overall context of civil rights movement. In 1968, two African American sanitation workers died due to unsafe equipment. At the time, all sanitation workers survived on “starvation pay” and Mayor Loeb denied their demands for higher pay. That’s when 1,300 workers deserted their jobs and marched through downtown Memphis. Within a couple weeks the streets became nasty and many in the community bean to feel the pain of no income. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to the community and raised awareness, nationwide. But it wasn’t long before 4,000 soldiers with tanks were dispatched to parole the streets of Memphis. Before the major march Dr. King planned could occur, he was shot on the balcony of a Memphis motel on April 4, 1968. Days later, Coretta Scott King flew to Memphis to carry out her husband’s plans. She, along with 40,000 people marched in silence. It was a very somber day, but the strike officially ended on April 16, 1968.

“So much was won.
So much was lost.
Freedom is never free.”

The book is text heavy for a picture book, but serves as a good historical account told from someone who remembers the experience — a Memphis teacher named Lorraine (who was a child at the time of the march). The artwork in this book was painted with Acryla Gouache. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Memphis-Martin-Mountaintop-SPREAD

AWARDS: Coretta Scott King Award Nominee for Illustrator (2019)

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.


31340715I Can Only Draw Worms
Will Mabbitt
January 26, 2017
Penguin Workshop

This picture book was the highlight of my younger children’s reading week. It’s so simple, but too funny! My kids kept re-reading it — even trying to tell the worms apart (counting lines in their bodies, etc.). So although it is touted as a counting book, it’s served as the point of great discussion in the Miller family. I mean, could worms wear glasses? And if you cut one in half, does it really become two worms or only two half-worms? In black, white, yellow, and hot pink, author and illustrator Will Mabbitt has captured the joy and laughter of my children. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example of his artwork, below:

I-Can-Only-Draw-Worms-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 currently doing a re-read of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi in preparation for the release of book #2, next week. I also have a large stack of picture books I’m digging into, including Hum and Swish by Matt Myers, Under My Hijab by Hena Khan, and Carl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman.


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 274/300
#MustReadin2019 – 34/42


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/18/2019 #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!

35402204NOTE: I noticed, on Saturday, that the audiobook of The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane is currently on sale for $3.99 through Chirp. I don’t get any compensation for sharing this information, I just remember really enjoying this one last summer (I read it in print format and book #2 in the series will be released in March 2020).

This week, I was pleased to check off two more great books from my #MustReadin2019 list: Scythe by Neal Shusterman and The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta. The only problem is, now I want to jump to the next book in each of those series! LOL In any case, that brings me to having read 33 out of the 42 on my “must read” list. Just six more weeks to go!!

Thank you for visiting, today. Whether it’s a brand new book or an older title you missed, I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list!


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Circus Mirandus
(Circus Mirandus #1)
Cassie Beasley
June 2, 2015
Dial Books

I missed this book back in 2015, so I’m in catch-up mode. First, I must thank Netgalley and Dial Books for re-releasing this ARC and approving it for my reading enjoyment, this month.

Circus Mirandus follows young Micah Tuttle into the final days of his Grandpa Ephraim‘s life. The backstory is interspersed throughout the story, sharing Ephraim’s grand childhood adventure at Circus Mirandus and the miracle he was promised by the Man Who Bends Light. Now that Ephraim is in his last days, he must cash in his one miracle. However, he is so sick that he cannot leave his home — especially with bitter Aunt Gertrudis guarding his room like a hawk. So young Micah teams up with his new friend, Jenny Mendoza, to hopefully save the day. But will Micah find the magical circus before time runs out? For no one can see the circus if they do not truly believe in it.

This is a beautiful story of friendship, of sacrifice, and especially of the boundless love between a grandfather and grandson. It’s also the story of painful choices and the hope of redemption. For half of the story, I had a painful lump wedged in my throat and I knew tears were inevitable. But oh the love… What a very special “must read” middle grade book! Did you know that book #2 to this series, The Bootlace Magician, was just published last month?

AWARDS: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Children’s Literature (2016), Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee (2017), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee for Grades 3-6 (2017), Keystone to Reading Book Award Nominee for Middle School (2017), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2017),
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Debut Goodreads Author (2015), NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Nominee (2016)

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 Serpent’s Secret
(Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1)
Sayantani DasGupta
February 27, 2018
Scholastic

Wouldn’t it be amazing to discover a middle grade series with a smart, strong female lead, flooded with non-stop action and adventure, all intermixed with Indian folklore? Well, look no further, DasGupta has you covered! Kiran wakes up on her 12th birthday, hops on her school bus, and has no reason to expect it’ll be anything other than a normal day. But when she returns home and is met by a snot-nosed rakkhosh demon and two princes, she begins to think maybe the mythological stories her parents always told her were more than just stories. This adventure is full of riddles and heart — I absolutely gobbled it up. I’m late to this series, but am definitely interested in diving into book #2 (which was released in February) and book #3 (which will be released this March).

AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (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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Scythe
(Arc of a Scythe #1)
Neal Shusterman
November 22, 2016
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

I find myself constantly late to some of the hottest series out there, and Arc of a Scythe is no exception. I mean, just look at the long list of awards listed below this review! Since the final book in this series was being released this month, I figured it was time to start reading book #1. And WOW did I enjoy it! It’s a simple concept: humanity has conquered death. There’s no illness or starvation. Aging exists, but you can turn the corner and revert back to younger years at any time. Nevertheless, the world still needs to eliminate a certain number of people every year to prevent overpopulation. Scythes are trained in numerous ways to glean their subjects — knives, poisons, hand-to-hand combat, electrocution, etc. But for the most sincere of scythes, the hardest decision lies in selecting the victims.

Citra and Rowan are two teenagers selected to become scythe apprentices. Neither wants the job, which is exactly why they were chosen. After a year of training, one of them will be awarded a full scythe position while the other returns to their previous life. I hesitate to say too much, but it’s dark, has wonderful world building, and there’s so much grit with these characters. I heartily recommend book #1 and I cannot wait to start the next one of the series: Thunderhead.

AWARDS: Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire Nominee for Roman jeunesse étranger (2018) (2019), Michael L. Printz Award Nominee (2017), South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult (2019), Rhode Island Teen Book Award (2018), Lincoln Award Nominee (2019), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2017), Missouri Gateway Readers Award Nominee (2018), Premio El Templo de las Mil Puertas Nominee for Mejor novela extranjera perteneciente a saga (2017), Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award Nominee (2020)

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 Scarecrow
Beth Ferry
Eric Fan, illustrator
Terry Fan, illustrator
September 3, 2019
HarperCollins

I’ve read more than enough frightening books about scarecrows, but this is nothing of the sort. This adorable scarecrow is lonely, but he serves his purpose by scaring away animals and protecting the crops.  One day the unexpected happens and it turns out there’s more than meets the eye to the old scarecrow. Gentle rhyming text matches the gorgeous, soft illustrations in a tale that beautifully expresses loneliness, friendship, compassion, and love. Additionally, it’s a story that can be shared throughout the year as it discusses the various seasons the scarecrow stays put.

The artwork was created using pencil, ballpoint, and Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Scarecrow-Ferry-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.


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Otis and Will Discover the Deep:
The Record-Setting Dive
of the Bathysphere
Barb Rosenstock
Katherine Roy, illustrator
June 5, 2018
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Filled with expressive, sketch-like illustrations, this book briefly chronicles the history of the first dive of the Bathysphere as created and used by Otis Barton and Will Beebe. This really paved the way for the deep sea work we know of, today. But it was cutting edge at the time. The development was fascinating and the first trip was, I must say, slightly terrifying — not only were the two men in an extremely confined space, but there was some equipment malfunction that easily could have ended their lives. The back matter was so amazing, featuring historical black and white photos with more details than the picture book could share. Along with author/illustrator notes and sources, there was an intriguing section from Constance Carter, Beebe’s former zoology assistant for some of his work in the Caribbean. So definitely take some time to explore the back of this book!

The artwork in this book was done in pencil, watercolor, gouache, and ink. However, the back matter explains in vivid (and humorous) detail the research and artistic process for the illustrations. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Otis-and-Will-SPREAD

AWARDS: NCTE Orbis Pictus Award Nominee (2019)

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 Pigeon HAS to Go to School
(Pigeon)
Mo Willems
July 2nd 2019
Disney-Hyperion

Pigeon really doesn’t want to go to school. He uses every excuse in the book to demonstrate why it’s a bad idea. I mean, he already knows everything, he’s not a morning person, he might not like it, and his head might pop off! In this hilarious take on school anxiety, we eventually see that pigeon has every reason to be excited about starting school. A cute must-read to kick off the school year!

I’ll provide one page spread as an example of Willems hilarious artwork:

Pigeon-School-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.


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Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
Mo Willems
September 4, 2012
Balzer + Bray

Since I’m already sharing one book by Mo Willems this week, why not another? I recently picked this funny older title up from our local rummage sale. My younger daughter has a thing for dinosaurs and so I figured she would be excited. The story is a retelling of the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but adapted for dinosaurs in place of bears. The dinosaur family has, clearly, heard of Goldilocks and they purposefully set up their home so that this little trespasser will invade their space and stay long enough to be captured. It’s an adorable ending with separate morals for children and dinosaurs.

In the end, I wouldn’t say my 5-year-old “loved” this one because it’s geared toward a more mature group of children (plus adults!!) who can capture all the sarcasm, inside jokes, and some of the bigger words. But she did still like it and laugh at the pictures while we read it. In a couple years we can return to it and she will probably pick up on more of the humor. That said, be sure to move your eyes all over the page to discover hidden jokes in the illustrations!

I’ll provide one page spread as an example of Willems humorous artwork in this book:

Goldilocks-Dinosaurs-SPREAD

AWARDS: Irma Black Award Nominee (2013), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2012)

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 am looking forward to the release of The Queen of Nothing (book #3 of The Folk of the Air trilogy) by Holly Black, tomorrow. My pre-ordered copy better be in my mailbox before supper so I can snuggle up and read late into Tuesday evening! I’m also hoping to start Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith, and I’m currently listening to Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds on audiobook. I’ll plan to review the picture book Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan next week, and the college library just sent me a message saying five more picture books I ordered have arrived. So who knows what else I’ll get to… 🙂

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 269/300
#MustReadin2019 – 33/42


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/11/2019 #imwayr

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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 Veterans’ Day in the US! Going into military service is a very difficult sacrifice of both mind and body, so it never feels enough to simply say “thank you.” Nevertheless, I am incredibly grateful and will continually hope for peace in the days ahead.

Thank you for visiting today. I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list!


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Pet
Akwaeke Emezi
September 10, 2019
Make Me a World

Meet Jam, a black transgendered, non-verbal teenager who lives in the town of Lucille next to her best friend, Redemption. Jam’s mother, Bitter, is a painter. And one day while Jam is examining her mother’s latest painting, she cuts herself on a sharp portion of the canvas. As blood mingles with paint, she unintentionally brings to life the frightening creature her mother painted. She calls it Pet and discovers it has been released into her world to hunt monsters. This is confusing, though, because the world they live in is some sort of enlightened utopia that is believed to be rid of all forms of monsters (murderers, rapists, etc.). Jam must decide whether to believe the wise adults in her community and ignore Pet’s challenge or to bravely hunt a hidden monster with the outraged beast.

This one kinda knocked the wind out of me — especially when all is revealed in the end. I can definitely see why there’s debate over whether this is a middle grade or young adult novel. It’s short and has younger characters, but there’s a heaviness to the topic of monsters. Another interesting aspect of this book is the uniqueness of the names: Bitter, Aloe, Hibiscus, Moss, Redemption, Glass, etc. So throughout, I kept trying to draw parallels between names and character purposes.

AWARDS: National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (2019), National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature (2019)

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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Count Me In
Varsha Bajaj
August 27, 2019
Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books

When I saw this cover for the first time, I thought this was a children’s picture book. But no, it’s definitely a middle grade novel. Karina Chopra, and her next-door-neighbor, Chris Daniels, have never been all that close despite haven’t grown up in the same class. In fact, Chris has witnessed Karina being bullied and yet he never had the courage to speak out. But all that changes one day when together they face racist brutality and slowly watch the aftermath unfold as bystanders interpret the experience with their own cultural and political slant. Photography, combined with social media, brings home the powerful message of #CountMeIn #WeBelong #HateHasNoHomeHere, with a feel-good ending that will (hopefully) have the reader cheering for love and inclusion. Alternating narration allows insight into Karina’s and Chris’s world, promoting empathy and understanding from each perspective. This is such an important story and would make an excellent classroom read-aloud (especially if it could be done with alternating male/female narrators).

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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Dear Sweet Pea
Julie Murphy
October 1, 2019
Balzer + Bray

Dear Sweet Pea is Julie Murphy’s middle grade debut and so I was excited when it became available as an audiobook through Overdrive. Patricia DiMarco, only known as Sweet Pea, is a 7th grader, navigating the world of recently-divorced parents. Her father finally admitted that he is gay and, together, her parents decided to end their marriage (they refused to use the word “divorce”). Sweet Pea’s parents arrange mirror houses just two doors down from one another, which means having the same paint and wall paper patterns throughout — all in an attempt to make the transition as easy as possible. Life as a middle schooler is complicated, though. Kids constantly whisper around Sweet Pea, sometimes she even hears the word “gay” in their hushed voices. And as a plus-sized female, she already feels lesser-than or outright ignored (for example, the clothing stores rarely have her size clothing in stock). As chance would have it, Sweet Pea gets access to the local gossip columnist’s letters and even happens to read and respond to a few letters from people she knows in real life. Probably not her most brilliant idea, especially since she risks getting caught. Nevertheless, the real heart of this story lies in Sweet Pea’s relationship with her best friend, Oscar, and her ex-best friend, Kiera, as they navigate the confusion of adolescence and attempt to be honest with one another. This one was a very tender hearted story and the audio narration was just lovely!

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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Dress Like a Girl
Patricia Toht
Lorian Tu-Dean, illustrator
January 22, 2019
HarperCollins

In rhyming text, six young girls attend a slumber-party and play dress up. Several “fashion” ideas are mentioned, such as wearing white in the summer, wearing a long black gown to a play or symphony, etc. However, the illustrations showcase the girls wearing costumes that are leadership roles or STEM-related. The girls may be astronauts, police officers, doctors, scuba divers, construction workers, etc. The illustrations are really cute and colorful and they represent cultural diversity, but as I read other reviews of this book, one complaint I noted was that all the girls had longer hair and had the same small, slender body type. What makes it an especially interesting observation is that fact that it’s a book showcasing modern girls opening their minds and having the freedom to be themselves, despite society norms. Depicted hair styles and body types for girls/women definitely factor into this conversation.

The artwork in this book was created with watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, and ink before being created as a digital illustration. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Dress-Like-A-Girl-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.


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Mary Wears What She Wants
Keith Negley
January 15, 2019
Balzer + Bray

This picture book was inspired by the life of Mary Edwards Walker who was born in 1832 in Oswego, New York. She didn’t like wearing tight, stifling dresses and was actually arrested many times JUST FOR WEARING PANTS!! I didn’t expect to like this book only because the cover art didn’t speak to me. But I picked it up anyway and was oh so wrong. It was delightful! While the story itself doesn’t tell us a lot about Mary’s life, the back matter shares more about her experiences, including her choice to go to medical school and eventually becoming a surgeon in the Civil War. Message: Change is difficult, change comes slowly, but don’t give up because change eventually happens.

The artwork in this book uses bright pink accents with various older fabric patterns and centers around the attire and hair styles of the 1830s. It was created with aquarelle pencils and cut paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Mary-Wears-What-She-Wants-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.


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Pass Go and Collect $200:
The Real Story of How
Monopoly Was Invented
Tanya Lee Stone
Steve Salerno, illustrator
July 17, 2018
Henry Holt and Co.

The Miller family happens to be full of Monopoly lovers. I’m not even embarrassed to admit that hubby and I brought a game board on our honeymoon and played a 4+ hour game in our fancy-shmancy honeymoon suite to kickstart our life together (nearly 25 years ago!). So I was very interested to learn all about the invention of this game and how it arrived at the format we know, today. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Magie witnessed the dramatic shift in wealth distribution in the late 1800s and created the original game board to highlight the unjust landlord-tenant relationship. Many people had a hand in adding small changes and improvements to her game over the years and when Lizzie took her game board to The Parker Brothers in 1909, they told her it was too challenging and educational. Fast forward to the 1930s when a man named Charles Darrow heard about the game through some friends. He ran with the idea, made a few updates, sold a number of hand made game sets, and took it back to Parker Brothers, claiming to be the inventor. But what about poor Lizzie?! Ah, you’ll have to read this one to find out. While it’s quite text heavy for a picture book, it was fascinating and quite fair to all sides in the battle for ownership.

The artwork in this book was created with crayon, ink, gouache, and pastel on paper. After scanning the drawings, the artist layered them into the final compositions using Adobe Photoshop, with additional coloring applied. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Pass-Go-Collect-200-SPREAD

AWARDS: NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book (2019)

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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Thirty Minutes Over Oregon:
A Japanese Pilot’s
World War II Story
Marc Tyler Nobleman
Melissa Iwai, illustrator
October 9, 2018
Clarion Books

It’s little-known stories like this that bring wars to life. Because we come to know real-life humans who lived and loved and feel regret. The book begins with a one-paged prologue about the bombing of Pearl Harbor followed by the bombing of Tokyo which was memorialized in the book (and film) called Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. “This is the story of what happened next…” On September 9, 1942, a Japanese pilot named Nobuo Fujita was catapulted into the air from a submarine off the coast of Brookings, Oregon. He flew his plane over the forest of Oregon, hoping to ignite a fire that would burn it all to the ground. He attempted two bombings, no one died, and the fire did not really ignite. Years later, in 1962, the Brookings Jaycees invited Fujita to their Memorial Day festival. After years of sorrow and regret, it was a shock for him to be invited to a place that he once intended to harm. But this visit was just the beginning of forgiveness and healing. This story is so thought provoking and empathy-inducing! There’s a detailed author’s note in the back matter where we find out more about World War II and more about Fujita — including the fact that he was known as the “only foe to bomb America.”

The beautiful, soft illustrations in this book were executed in watercolor and mixed media. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Thirty-Minutes-SPREAD

AWARDS: NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book (2019)

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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Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of
Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain
Cheryl Bardoe
Barbara McClintock, illustrator
June 12, 2018
Little Brown and Company

Growing up during the French Revolution, Sophie Germain was one incredible person. Despite her parents hindering her night time learning (taking away her candles, etc.), she prevailed. Her drive was the need to make sense of the world around her. When she grew older, women still weren’t accepted at university. So Sophie enrolled secretively under the name “Monsieur LeBlanc.” Wow! In the book, her primarily contribution to society was her research in vibration patterns which make modern skyscrapers possible. There are four pages of back matter, including more about Sophie, information about math and science, vibration information, a selected bibliography, an author’s note, and an illustrator’s note. One interesting tidbit we learn in the back is that, in her later life, Sophie was working on proving a puzzle called Fermat’s Last Theorem. Unfortunately, she passed at an early age without concluding her work. And this theorem wasn’t proven until 1994.

The artwork for this book was created with colorful markers, gouache, and collage-techniques. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the illustrator’s note, so I highly recommend checking it out. Children will learn SO much about the artistic process. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of the artwork, below:

Nothing-Stopped-Sophie-SPREAD

AWARDS: NCTE Orbis Pictus Award Nominee (2019)

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:

Hubby arrived back home late Thursday evening and will be out of town again this week from Tuesday until late Sunday evening. So, yet again, we’ll just see how much reading I can squeeze in while single parenting our five kiddos. I’m excited to finish Scythe by Neal Shusterman and I am also hoping to start Circus Mirandus (since book #2 in the series was just published). Oh, and the picture book The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry and illustrated by The Fan Brothers JUST came in. So it’s already looking like a great week!


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 262/300
#MustReadin2019 – 31/42


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/4/19 #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!

2019-10-28-Hey-KiddoJarrett J. Krosoczka’s author visit was fantastic! I’m sure our campus center ballroom was a smaller venue than he’s accustomed to, but our students and faculty just ate him up. It’s always inspirational to learn about the effort it takes to get your foot in the door, but as we all learn from reading Hey, Kiddo, Krosoczka had additional trials along the way. It was a wonderful experience to meet him face-to-face and see his live presentation. He’s an entertaining speaker, but also 100% down to earth. Hopefully Elisabeth will share a little bit of her unexpected adventure while picking him up from the airport and driving him over 100 miles to our school! LOL Don’t forget, his audiobook edition of Hey, Kiddo is now available HERE! There are multiple narrators, including some of the people in the book who actually narrate their own lines.

I’ve had an enjoyable week of reading four middle grade novels and some fun Halloween-ish picture books with the kids. Thank you for visiting and I hope you’ll find something to add to your wish list!


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Weird Little Robots
Carolyn Crimi
Corinna Luyken, illustrator
October 1, 2019
Candlewick

This is a cute younger middle grade magical realism story about a 9-year-old girl named Penny Rose who just moved to a new town. She’s not great at making friends and she enjoys creating little robots out of anything she finds (pencil sharpener, a pair of dentures, etc.). She wants friends more than anything, but somehow her little robots fill that need in the meantime. Little does she know that her neighbor, Lark, does the same thing with bird houses — piecing them together with odds and ends. So when the two meet up one day, they really hit it off. However, friendships are complicated, especially when secret science clubs and new friends get stirred into the mix. I listened to the audiobook, but hopefully I can track down a print book soon to get to see Luyken’s illustrations!

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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Beverly, Right Here
(Three Rancheros #3)
Kate DiCamillo
September 24, 2019
Candlewick Press

Beverly, Right Here is the third book in the Three Rancheros series that began with Raymie Nightingale and continued with Louisiana’s Way Home. This leg of the tale begins with Beverly’s dog, Buddy, dying. She is full of grief and feels the need to run away (she never really felt cared for at home, anyway). So at 14-years-old, she leaves town, finds a new place to stay, and gets a job at a fish restaurant. And miraculously, she finds someone willing to take her in, practically no questions asked. While some of the scenarios seem highly unlikely, Kate DiCamillo can create these side characters in each new town who are complete with backstories and feelings and unique personalities. This addition to the trilogy definitely felt more mature than the others and I had to keep reminding myself that she was only 14 years old. Beverly is clearly very independent and somewhat fearless, but while there’s a thin thread of hope throughout the story, there’s also deep sadness.

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 Vanderbeekers to the Rescue
(The Vanderbeekers #3)
Karina Yan Glaser
September 17, 2019
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

If you haven’t yet met the Vanderbeeker family from Harlem, there’s no time like the present. This biracial, generous, and close-knit family is still living in their beloved brownstone on 141st Street and they are met with a new family catastrophe along with a new mystery to solve. Mama’s baking business is taking off and her home-based kitchen must pass inspected. But also, WHY do homeless animals keep showing up on their doorstep? There’s so much to love about this series, but what I adore most about these books are the relationships, especially within the family. Kids make mistakes and they calmly work it out. I’m just so touched and astounded by the patience and empathy and am always willing to revisit 141st Street. And apparently there’s a fourth book planned for release in 2020, so YAY!

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 Girl Who Drank the Moon
Kelly Barnhill
August 9, 2016
Algonquin Young Readers

This book!! Just sitting here thinking about the reading experience brings tears to my eyes. Why did I wait so long? Young Luna lies at the center of this story. When her grandmother discovers she has very powerful magic, she creates a spell to lock it up until her 13th birthday, giving her time to prepare her young mind.

“She needs to be educated. She needs to know the contents of those books, there. She needs to understand the movements of the stars and the origins of the universe and the requirements of kindness. She needs to know mathematics and poetry. She must ask questions. She must seek to understand. She must understand the laws of cause and effect and unintended consequences. She must learn compassion and curiosity and awe. All of these things. We have to instruct her, Glerk. All three of us. It is a great responsibility.”

There’s a swamp beast, a dragon, a sorrow eater, a yearly sacrifice of a baby, a poet, witches, magical boots, a grieving mother, and a brave boy. This is a must read and will likely be a re-read for me. Five stars!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

AWARDS: Newbery Medal (2017), Locus Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Book (2017), Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee (2018), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2018), Andre Norton Award Nominee (2016)
NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor Book (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.


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Creepy Pair of Underwear!
(Creepy Carrots #2)
Aaron Reynolds
Peter Brown, illustrator
August 15, 2017
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

We read some fun Halloween-ish books with the kids this week, including Creepy Carrots! and this sequel: Creepy Pair of Underwear! Jasper is no longer haunted by carrots, but now he cannot get rid of his creepy pair of underwear. Will he finally be a peace if he find a way to end them forever? You’ll have to read on to find out! The illustrations for this book were rendered in pencil on paper and then digitally composited and colored. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Creepy-Underwear-SPREAD

AWARDS: Monarch Award (2019)

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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Los Gatos Black on Halloween
Marisa Montes
Yuyi Morales, illustrator
August 22, 2006
Henry Holt and Company

This book is a lovely Halloween poem intermixing English and Spanish. Using context clues, young readers can easily figure out what each Spanish word means. For example, las brujas ride on broomsticks and los muertos come out of their coffins. Yuyi Morales’s illustrations are intricate and haunting. I’ll provide one example, below:

Los-Gatos-SPREAD

AWARDS: Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award (2008), Pura Belpré Award for Illustration (2008)

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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Bone Dog
Eric Rohmann
July 19, 2011
Roaring Brook Press

A promise made under a full moon cannot be broken.”

I checked out this older title since it seemed Halloween-ish and also because we recently put our dog down and I thought maybe it would provide some conversation or comfort. It initially appeared to be primarily a sentimental book about a boy and his beloved dog who promises to always be with him, but it turned out to be funny for kids when the skeletons get involved. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite Eric Rohmann book (for example: human skeletons want to eat living humans), but it was worth the silly laugh during this season.

Bone-Dog-SPREAD

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


To Be Read:

Today my husband is leaving town for a conference, so it’ll probably feel like a looooong week of single parenting. Not sure if I’ll get much personal reading done, so I hesitate to commit to anything specific. However, I have some titles I should probably re-read in preparation for new books being released in the series very soon (such as Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi and The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black). Also, I definitely need to look over my #MustReadin2019 list — I still have 11 titles to attempt in less than 2 months. Eeeek!


Reading Challenge Updates: 

I surpassed my reading goal of 250 books this year, so I’m bumping my goal up to 300, today.

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 254/300
#MustReadin2019 – 31/42


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/28/19 #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!

I can’t believe that Jarrett J. Krosoczka is in my little town, today! I mean, we have less than 6,000 people living here (many are college students) and he’s HERE of all places! In fact, my colleague and fellow #imwayr community member, Elisabeth of the dirigible plum, is actually picking him up from the airport and driving him TWO HOURS to our college this morning. I can’t wait to listen to his talk and get my copy of Hey, Kiddo signed! ❤

It’s been another good reading week. Thank you for visiting and I hope you find something to add to your reading list!


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Our Wayward Fate
Gloria Chao
October 15, 2019
Simon Pulse

Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu has worked hard to blend in at her “white” school in Indiana. In fact, she’s repeatedly ignored racist comments and laughed things off as no big deal. But when a new boy comes to her school, another Taiwanese American student named Chase, it quickly becomes apparent that she cannot continue to stand by and say nothing. Throughout this story, Ali finds herself being defined by others and confined to relationships she has no choice in. And this is where the larger part of the story dwells as Ali must take a stand on multiple fronts. Over time, she becomes stronger and finds ways to stay up for herself at school, at home, and even as she travels abroad. There is a budding romance in this story as well as chapters from an ancient folktale woven between the modern tale, but it was the history and the mystery that drew me into this one. I also appreciate a YA story where parents can be seen as humans and where family dynamics are challenged and slowly become more hopeful. I’m happy to recommend this one!

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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Apple In the Middle
Dawn Quigley
August 2, 2018
North Dakota State University Press

This book was on my #MustReadin2019 list, so I was very pleased when my library purchased it. I initially struggled to get into it, because it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Nevertheless, once I hit the halfway point, I really wanted to read the rest. Apple Starkington was born to a Native American mother and caucasian father, but her mother died the same day she was born. She’s currently a high schooler in Minnesota and her wealthy surgeon dad and step mom have decided to drop her off at her Native American grandparents’ house for the summer while they go off on their belated honeymoon.

What I enjoyed: Having Apple grow up in the “white” world of Minnesota and then visit the reservation for a whole summer to discover her Native American roots was a great way to explore common misconceptions and to address cultural appropriation. For example, Apple asked what costumes they would wear to the PowWow. She also learned how inappropriate it is to ask someone “how much Indian” they were — because even if Apple was only half Native American, she was still 100% family. The lessons went on and on throughout this story. I adored Apple’s Native American family. There was so much love and acceptance in her extended family and the story was incredibly descriptive for all the senses.

What I struggled with: 1. Apple had never met her Native American grandparents before and knows practically nothing about their culture when she’s dropped off with little warning. This seems highly unusual. 2. As far as we know, she does not hear from her parents all summer long. 3. Apple is very sarcastic and an inner jokester during narration, which would be fine except that it comes out in constant asides (usually squeezed into parenthesis… lots of interspersed parenthesis within this story that slow things down). 4. Without spoiling anything big, I’ll just say that we discover mystical Native American powers–like seeing images of people’s private lives without their knowledge. And this somewhat changes the realistic elements of the story halfway through. 5. There was a very difficult event near the end and I’m not sure I understand why it had to happen. 6. You know the saying show me, don’t tell me? I wish there was more showing as some of the dialogue felt a tad preachy, at times.

Overall, this is an important #ownvoices book, even if there were elements that I found troubling. However, it was Dawn Quigley’s debut middle grade novel, so I’ll be very interested in seeing what she writes on down the road after gaining more experience and feedback on this book.

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


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Coraline
Neil Gaiman
August 4, 2002
HarperCollins

My family says I watched the Coraline movie with them years ago, but I didn’t remember that, except for maybe some faint memory of button eyes. Of course, during that year I was a full-time student finishing my second master’s degree while preparing to give birth to my fourth baby. So I might not remember a lot of details. Anyway, I wanted to see the movie before Halloween this year and figured I should go ahead and read the book, first. Due to it’s age and popularity you don’t need my summary, but it’s so dark and spooky and an all round great story leading up to Halloween! And did you know that Neil Gaiman narrates the audiobook, himself? His voice was quite entertaining and I love that accent. (Here’s what Gaiman has to say about this accent on his blog: “I used to have an English accent. These days I have a transatlantic accent, of the kind that the Americans think is probably English, the English think is probably American, and the Australians and New Zealanders know is neither an Australian nor a New Zealand accent.“)

AWARDS: Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers (2002), Hugo Award for Best Novella (2003), Nebula Award for Best Novella (2003), Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel (2003), World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novella (2003)
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Children’s Literature (2003), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2004), Child Magazine Best Book of the Year, Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Publication for Teens/Tweens (2009), Elizabeth Burr / Worzalla Award (2003)

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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Suggested Reading
Dave Connis
September 17, 2019
Katherine Tegen Books

When I started this book I sorta expected it was going to be too similar to Property of the Rebel Librarian or Ban This Book. Yet, while it had similar school “banning” experiences, it was its completely own story and more suited for the YA crowd.

TRIGGER WARNING: attempted suicide

12-grader Clara Evans attends a private high school called LA, located in Tennessee. She’s a volunteer in the school library and, while snooping one day, she discovers a banned books list that is supposed to be a secret to students and the general public. Similar to the two previously mentioned books, Clara runs an unlib (underground library) out of unused lockers. However, there are several important side stories going on, simultaneously, which really make this story an important one. For example, one of the students is struggling with the decision to come out as gay. Another doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed into one category in the school.

Some important themes came out that highlighted the need to not feel alone, to have empathy for others, to not judge because we don’t know the whole story, and so much more. A number of books were mentioned, such as Speak and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but there’s also a fictional book continually discussed called Don’t Tread on Me and I kinda wondered if Dave Connis might make this a side writing project because the characters are discussed so many times that they felt like part of the story and like this book actually existed. In any case, I found this story very engaging and am happy to recommend it for the high school library!

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 Stone Sat Still
Brendan Wenzel
August 27, 2019
Chronicle Books

Oh my, I loved this new picture book from Brendan Wenzel– yet another book on various perspectives that are all a different version of the truth. Both children and adults will enjoy looking over the minute details of this book, page-by-page, discussing how the stone could be so many different things at once — colors, sizes, and purposes changes, depending on perspective. Many will see similarities to his They All Saw a Cat book or other books like Seven Blind Mice.

The artwork in this book was created with a variety of media, including cut paper, colored pencil, oil pastels, marker, and the computer. The illustrations are so very different from page to page, but I’ll provide just one spread as an example, below:

A-Stone-Sat-Still-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.


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The Truth about Crocodiles:
Seriously Funny Facts about
Your Favorite Animals
Maxwell Eaton III
May 7, 2019
Roaring Brook Press

This nonfiction picture book is packed with details and humor. Readers will learn about the three different croc families and how to tell the differences in them by the shape of their snouts, how their teeth look, and where they can be found. Then it breaks down into more details, such as why some crocs keep small rocks in their stomaches, how they use their webbed feet, how they take care of their young, and their diets. Some of the pages are especially busy with the regular text and continual discussion by various characters, so I was worried it wouldn’t go over well with my 5 year old. However, she loved it. She was completely engaged and went on to take the book with her and do her own crocodile artwork. The back matter includes a few extra details as well as a small section for further research. The illustrations in this book were created using pen and ink with digital coloring. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Truth-About-Crocodiles-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.


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Bo the Bat
Alma Hammond
September 5, 2019
Sweetbeet Books

Bo the Bat is a cute new nonfiction picture book about, you guessed it, bats. In rhyming text, the storyline follows Bo as he attempts to teach young children about bats so they won’t be so afraid of him. For example, he explains echolocation (though I wish the book would have used the actual word because we taught this one in kindergarten), spreading pollen, and how many pesky bugs are eaten by bats. The back matter includes more details for young readers to explore. This is one book I would have enjoyed added to my “batty” shelves for our kindergarten bat unit. And the illustrations of Bo are just too stinkin’ cute! I’ll provide on page spread as an example below:

Bo-The-Bat-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.


Currently Reading/To Be Read:

I’m finally hoping to start this one. It’s been on my list for WAY too long. Can’t wait!

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Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 247/250
#MustReadin2019 – 30/42


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/21/2019 #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!

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Eaten by a T-Rex

Let’s see… we arrived back home from our fall vacation in one piece. In last week’s #imwayr post, I shared two family photos of our trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens and to Echo Lake. Then after I posted, my 16-year-old took a tour of the University of Colorado Denver followed by a whole family trip to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (where they were having FREE admission all day)! Unfortunately, we did not have any luck finding my childhood home in Denver *sniff*, but we visited Evergreen where I saw our old church building (where my family attended in the late 70s). YAY! We had an all-round great time and have decided October is a very nice (and beautiful) time of year to travel. However, after we arrived back home safe and sound, we awoke the following morning to family colds with fevers. One of my children was actually running 105° according to the thermometer. Eeek! I’m just so grateful that we made it back home before feeling any icky symptoms.

Despite all the illness, I truly had a remarkable week of reading, so I’m excited to share some great titles. Also, today I’m reviewing two new books from Netgalley: Friend or Fiction by Abby Cooper and You Are Home With Me by Sarah Asper-Smith and illustrated by Mitchell Watley. Thank you for visiting and I hope you find something of interest here to add to your reading wish list!


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Friend or Fiction
Abby Cooper
October 8, 2019
Charlesbridge

12-year-old Jade Levy writes stories. Since she doesn’t have a best friend anymore, she creates a fictional one named Zoe. They have all sorts of adventures together and Jade even enjoys spending her lunch period creating more episodes in her notebook.

Jade’s father has cancer and he finds comfort in listening to Jade’s stories. But one day, her friend Clue takes her writing notebook away without explanation. And when a real-life Zoe suddenly moves in next door, looking and acting exactly like the fictional Zoe, Jade is both excited and worried. What did Clue do to her writing notebook? Is Zoe really here to stay? But most of all: Can Jade trust Zoe to make the right decisions or do they need to be tediously detailed in her notebook?

Filled with magical realism, this story is one of hope and bonding. We clearly see that friendships are messy. Every day cannot be perfect and fun and everything we’ve ever dreamed about. We have all had to learn, at one time or another, that having friends doesn’t mean we don’t experience loneliness. And this point is such an important lesson for Jade to digest if she wants to be a good friend. I also appreciated that the story dives into how to write and how to trust your readers to fill in the gaps. This gave me pause as I thought back over the books I’ve read where the author gave me just enough for my imagination to fill in the cracks as well as the books that fed me every last detail. There’s so much content here for open discussion with young readers and writers!

Thanks to Netgalley and Charlesbridge for approving an e-ARC so that I could provide an honest review. This title published on October 8th, so run out and grab a fresh copy!

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 Story That Cannot Be Told
J. Kasper Kramer
October 8, 2019
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

This is J. Kasper Kramer’s middle grade debut and WOW did it knock my socks off. I HIGHLY recommend! It’s longer than the typical middle grade read and there are such complexities that the young adult and adult crowd may enjoy it even more. So I’d aim more for upper middle grade and older. The writing often reminded me of The Bear and the Nightingale, if you’re familiar with Arden’s beautiful word-weaving and folklore.

Ileana loves to share stories and change them when they aren’t exciting enough. In fact, she is named for a character in a folktale who was clever and wise. But she soon learns that stories can be used to spread the “wrong” message and her family eventually discovers the government is bugging and investigating their home. Now Ileana must escape her city and travel to a small village to live with her estranged grandparents until the coast is clear. But as more experiences, tales, and histories are shared, fantastical elements become intertwined with reality.

As I said previously, this one is definitely not just for middle grade readers (even though the main character is that age). All ages can treasure this story! Since it’s historical fiction, and so well-researched, it would pair beautifully with a study of Communist Romania in the 1980s.

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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Strange Birds: A Field Guide
to Ruffling Feathers
Celia C. Pérez
September 3, 2019
Kokila

I adored Celia C. Pérez’s The First Rule of Punk (which won the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award and was nominated for both the Pura Belpré Award and Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award), so it’s no surprise that I grabbed up Strange Birds as soon as it became available at my library. In this story, four different girls are brought together through a mysterious invitation. Ofelia Castillo is Cuban-American and a budding journalist, Aster Douglas is black and a bookish foodie, Cat Garcia is a birdwatcher who is breaking all sorts of rules by skipping her Floras meetings, and Lane DiSanti is an artistic girl visiting her extravagantly wealthy grandparents. Their first few meetings are prickly and they find very little in common, but over time they discover a purpose as they combine talents and resources to pull off their elaborate plans. Friendship, activism, and family relationships are beautifully addressed in this story, but what I appreciated most was how racism and privilege were weaved into the scenes and dialogue. So important for the middle grade crowd!

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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Dead Voices
(Small Spaces #2)
Katherine Arden
August 27, 2019
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Back in January I read and reviewed Small Spaces, book one to this series. So I was excited to hear Dead Voices was released! The story picks up just a couple months after the first one. Ollie, Coco, and Brian are heading off to a ski trip over winter break with Ollie’s father and Coco’s mother. Once they arrive at the resort, a massive storm hits and they lose power. They also discover that no one else came to the resort this week except for a man by the name of Mr. Voland who claims he’s a ghost hunter who wants to investigate reported hauntings. Yep, you heard that correctly — long ago, Mount Hemlock Resort was once an orphanage with a frightening nun named Mother Hemlock. And apparently some children never made it out and still haunt the facility today. Will Ollie, Coco, and Brian have the resources and wisdom to get their family off the mountain and back home safely?

I like to read a few spooky books in October, and this one sure hit the spot. It looks like this series will have four books — one for each season. Small Spaces was the fall edition and Dead Voices was the winter edition, so we still have spring and summer to go.

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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You Are Home with Me
Sarah Asper-Smith
Mitchell Watley, illustrator
November 12, 2019
Little Bigfoot

This is an adorable picture book showcasing a variety of species nurturing their offspring. Each page spread includes a gorgeous new image with a parent and young animal along with a factoid about their kind. For example: Flying squirrels don’t actually fly, but glide from tree to tree with their arms and legs outstretched. The pages document all types of life from land dwelling animals, to birds, to sea creatures. The beautiful illustrations provide soft, soothing colors with scenes in daylight, at nighttime, in the snow, and even underwater. The final page concludes with what appears to be a human father and son and the sentiment of always having a home with a loving parent. This is a very sweet book that would make a comforting read, including right before bedtime for younger children who need reassurance of being safe and loved. Thanks to Netgalley, Sasquatch Books, Sarah Asper-Smith, and Mitchell Watley for providing me with an e-ARC for review. This title releases November 12, 2019.

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.


Currently Reading/To Be Read:

I started Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao on audiobook and I could barely make myself stop listening to get this week’s post together. And I hope to start Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley some time this week. Also, the college library just gave me a review copy of Children’s Literature in Action: A Librarian’s Guide by Sylvia M. Vardell for consideration. Dr. Vardell was my personal mentor back when I was in library school, so I’m eager to explore the latest edition of her textbook!


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 240/250
#MustReadin2019 – 29/42