It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/24/2019 #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!

We’re still having our house painted while we pull weeds, plant new bushes/flowers, declutter our house, and CLEAN. It’s possible that we will have our house on the market by the first weekend of July — we’ll see! And yes, it was very nice to have an excuse to stop working on the house so I could sit down for a few minutes and briefly share what I’ve been reading this week. 🙂 Besides, I had some GREAT books to share and I’m looking forward to hearing what you’ve all been reading.


41154268With the Fire on High
Elizabeth Acevedo
May 7, 2019
HarperTeen

Emoni lost her mother as a baby and her father left when she was younger, but he still keeps in touch. She now lives with her grandma (her father’s mother) who is always there for her, no matter what. When Emoni was just 15, she became pregnant and she gave birth to her daughter. She’s worked hard to keep up her high school credits to graduate this year and she’s not going to blow it. In the meantime, the father of the baby is still in the picture, but not romantically. He’s dating other people, but he has created a rule about Emoni not bringing other boys/men around their child. That’s fine with Emoni because she has ZERO interest in dating.

Emoni has a real gift in cooking incredible foods that make people feel and remember things. Luckily, her high school starts a culinary arts class where students can take legitimate chef classes and work with professionals before traveling to Spain. But trouble begins to brew when a boy in her class takes an interest in Emoni. She doesn’t want anything to do with this guy and she’s certainly not afraid to let him know.

I was blown away by The Poet X and just as taken by With the Fire on High. There’s a natural rhythm to Acevedo’s words and a hearty feeling as they roll off your lips. But BEWARE that this book will make you want to either 1) cook or 2) eat. Unfortunately I wanted the later option (because who has time to clean the kitchen while you’re painting the house?!). In any case, Elizabeth Acevedo is an amazing writer and this will be an excellent addition to any YA collection.

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.


38185346Merci Suárez Changes Gears
Meg Medina
September 11, 2018
Candlewick Press

Merci Suárez Changes Gears was on both my #MustReadin2019 and on my Newbery challenge list, and I’m happy to say I absolutely LOVED this book! Merci is making the jump from 5th grade to 6th grade, much like changing gears on her bike. She and her friends now change classes frequently, they have no recess, and boys are a thing. So she’s suddenly having to navigate a new world at school. But gears are changing at home, too. Her older brother, Roli, is about to leave for college, her aunt is needing her to babysit her twin cousins more often, and something‘s not right with her grandfather, Lolo. This had all the things I hope for in a good middle grade novel! I adored Merci’s honest young voice amidst all the awkward changes. I was happy to witness her close relationship with her family (why don’t we see this more often in #mglit?), and I was comforted by the knowledge that things would somehow be okay even though things aren’t always okay. This one will make you laugh AND cry. Such a beautiful book and I’m thrilled it took the Newbery Medal — well deserved, Meg Medina!

AWARDS: Newbery Medal (2019), Kirkus Prize Nominee for Young Readers’ Literature (2018), NCTE Charlotte Huck 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 at Amazon HERE.


34907235Mae Among the Stars
Roda Ahmed
Stasia Burrington, illustrator
January 9, 2018
HarperCollins

This picture book depicts an experience from the childhood of Dr. Mae Carol Jemison, who later became the first African American female astronaut. As a child, Mae shared her dream of becoming an astronaut with her classmates. However, she did not get the support she wanted from her elementary teacher (who thought she would be better suited as a nurse). Despite that negative experience, her mother and father gave Mae the driving mantra that motivated her to reach for her dreams:

“If you can dream it, if you believe it and work hard for it, anything is possible.”

While the actual story didn’t provide many details about Mae’s childhood, the back matters tells us that Mae enrolled at Stanford University at the age of 16 and received her MD from Cornell Medical College before applying to NASA in 1987. Her dreams were attained when she traveled on the shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992. The artwork was created with ink and Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide just one page-spread as an example, below:

Mae-Among-the-Stars-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 at Amazon HERE.


41824527Destination Moon
Seymour Simon
May 7, 2019
HarperCollins

This was my last read of the week and I must say, it captivated me. My husband and I have been watching documentaries about space exploration and we’ve recently even watched two fictional series about missions to Mars. So my mind has been spinning with many details, already. Yet this nonfiction juvenile book gave me even more information than I’d previously learned. For example, I had no idea that Sputnik was only the size of a beach ball(!!!). And who knew Aldrin was the first to urinate on the moon? Also, after Armstrong and Aldrin rejoined Collins after their moonwalk, they took off their helmets and noticed a strange smell — it was moon dust that clung to their boots. This book is 56 pages of dates, names, facts, and even unusual information about the steps and stages leading up to “destination moon” (including the actual landing and a brief look into the future). Additionally, there are 51 original photos and illustrations spread throughout the book that match the textual information. The back matter includes a glossary, books and websites for further reading, a Race to Space timeline, and an Index. Make sure your science-loving learners have access to this new nonfiction book!

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 at Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

Next week I plan to discuss All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker, We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal, The Oceans Between the Stars by Kevin Emerson, There Are No Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach, and A is for Astronaut by Clayton Anderson.


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 157/200
#MustReadin2019 – 18/42


 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/17/2019 #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!

Our family is right in the middle of having the exterior of our house painted and WOW is it a disruption to our regular lives. I’m finding my personal schedule interrupted more often than normal, so I hope the next week will go more smoothly. The kids also seem more hyper than usual (primarily just excited to see the new paint color going on), so I just never know when I’ll be able to squeeze in some reading. This week I was able to finish The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane, Other Words for Home, Watership Down, and Charlie & Mouse Even Better. I look forward to hearing about what you’re reading!


35402204The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane
(Black Hollow Lane #1)
Julia Nobel
March 5, 2019
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Oooh, I really enjoyed this first book in a brand new series! Young Emmy lost her father on her third birthday and her “parenting expert” mother has shipped her off to Wellsworth boarding school when her work (in the US) gets incredibly busy. Emmy struggles to blend in and eventually stumbles upon a secret society and ancient artifacts that seem related to her personal family history. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I CAN say I flew through this story. I’ve heard some think this is a Harry Potter rip-off, but I wouldn’t go that far. There are definitely similar elements, especially considering the main character is attending a boarding school in England where there are mysteries and secrets. But there’s no magic (at least so far) and the story offers enough unique components to make it its own story. I believe Harry Potter fans will dive into the charming Wellsworth world and I’m excited to continue with the series when book #2 is released!

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 at Amazon HERE.


41154293Other Words for Home
Jasmine Warga
May 7, 2019
Balzer + Bray

Each person I’m friends with on Goodreads who already read this book gave it 5 stars, so I was excited when it came available for check out. Told in verse, we learn that Jude’s family is in danger. She and her pregnant mother leave their home (and father and brother) in Syria and head to the United States to stay with her aunt, uncle, and cousin. Once she enrolls in the local schools, Jude experiences America as a brand new Arab immigrant. Her accent, headscarf, and skin color may give her far more obstacles than many American children face, but she’s determined and optimistic.

Jude’s first impressions of America were quite insightful and I captured a number of quotes to remind me of the feelings I had while reading:

Clifton is filled with old, big houses. Aunt Michelle tells us that their house is over 100 years old and I can tell she is proud of this. But I’m not sure why. Everyone back home wants a new house, not an old one. When I ask mama about it, she says, “Americans don’t have much history, so they like things they think are old.”

“Hoping, I’m starting to think, might be the bravest thing a person can do.”

“I have learned Americans love to say “you know” and then stop talking. They force you to fill in the hard parts, the things they are not brave enough to say.”

I adored Jude’s voice and wisdom. More than once, she gave me an open window through which I considered my own thoughts and habits. 🙂 This is a very important addition to modern refugee reads! And since this was my first Jasmine Warga book, I’ll just add that it won’t be my last.

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 at Amazon HERE.


76620Watership Down
Richard Adams
November 1972
Puffin Books & Penguin Books

Years ago, when my husband first told me about Watership Down, he said that it’s important to remember that this story isn’t really about rabbits — that it’s really about people. Richard Adams claims this isn’t an allegory and that it was simply a story he created to entertain his daughters on a long trip, but I find that very hard to believe. In Watership Down, he crafted a beautiful, intricate tale that highlights the value of friendship, courage, wisdom, perseverance, and teamwork. Through his narration, I experienced empathy even for the cruelest of rabbits, and I found myself nodding in agreement at the judgment of humankind and our treatment of the world. I’m relieved that I don’t have to write a synopsis for the book because this heroic tale was huge (and I would later kick myself for leaving out some important detail). I’m very pleased that I took this summer to read it! It was on my #MustReadin2019 list and now I can watch the new Netflix original Watership Down series with my 11 year old. If you aren’t familiar with the series, you can watch the trailer RIGHT 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 at Amazon HERE.


39653605Charlie & Mouse Even Better
Laurel Snyder
Emily Hughes, illustrator
April 2, 2019
Chronicle Books

If you’ve loved the other books in the Charlie & Mouse, then I’d say you’re in for a treat with the latest addition to the series about two little brothers. Book #3 is focused on mom’s birthday — including picking out a present and resolving a cooking catastrophe. One thing we know for sure by the end of this book: Mom’s the best! It’s super cute and, of course, great for emergent readers who want simple text in chapter book format. The artwork was created by hand and with Photoshop. Here’s one page-spread as an example, below:

Charlie-and-Mouse-Even-Better

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 at Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

Next week I’ll discuss With the Fire on High, Destination Moon, Mae Among the Stars, and Merci Suárez Changes Gears.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 154/200
#MustReadin2019 – 17/42


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/10/2019 #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!

Summer is still crazy, but I am very happy to have finished my first #BigBookSummerChallenge book: Monday’s Not Coming. YAY! Don’t forget, if you’d like to join the challenge group, link up at Sue’s 2019 Big Book Summer post.


36039602Monday’s Not Coming
Tiffany D. Jackson
May 22, 2018
Katherine Tegen Books

One of my former education majors turned me on to this Young Adult novel, so I was very happy when it became available on my Overdrive library. This story is told in three timelines (with uniquely named chapters, like “before,” “1 Year Before the Before,” “After,” and “2 Weeks After the After”), and it helps to pay attention to understand what’s happening. Claudia and Monday are best friends and they’re starting their 8th grade school year, together. However, Claudia has been away all summer and Monday doesn’t show up to school on the first day of classes. In fact, she hasn’t shown up even a few weeks into the school year. Even if Monday is where her mother and sister say she is, Claudia is certain she would have called or written to let her best friend know where she was. Besides, Monday knows Claudia is dyslexic and depends on her help for all her academic work (so they can get into the same high school, together). Claudia just hopes she can find out the truth in time.

This one had me on the edge of my seat and I wasn’t sure what happened until it was revealed in the final chapters. Throughout this story I was appalled at the fact that no one seemed all that worried about a young teen girl who hasn’t contacted her best friend all summer: law enforcement, the neighbors, the school system, and even child protective services dropped the ball. But one point that was driven home — ALWAYS leave breadcrumbs so that friends and loved ones can find you.

“Breadcrumbs, Claudia!”

AWARDS: Lincoln Award Nominee (2020)

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


34495944Betty Before X
Ilyasah Shabazz
Renée Watson
January 2, 2018
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

We know that Betty Shabazz one day becomes the wife of Malcolm X, but this book is a fictionalized story of her childhood. Renee Watson worked with Betty’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, using many real-life historical details from four years of Betty’s life so that this was as close to true history as possible. It was a very enjoyable storyline sprinkled with both joy and sadness, and I learned a lot about the culture of black communities in Detroit during the 1940s. While Betty experienced great pain during those critical coming-of-age years, the theme of counting your blessings and planting seeds (to reap later) was greatly reinforced. This book has received multiple starred reviews and I am happy to recommend it!

AWARDS: New York Public Library Best Children’s Book (2018), Washington Post Best Children’s Book (2018), Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018, A CSMCL Best Book of 2018,  2019 NCSS Notable Social Studies Book for Young People, an Amelia Bloomer List Feminist Literature Selection

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


29102841Forget Me Not
Ellie Terry
Heather Costa, Narrator
Matt Godfrey, Narrator
March 14, 2017
Feiwel & Friends

This beautiful novel is told from two perspectives: Calliope (Calli) June, who is new to town, and Jinsong, who is the class president at her new school (Calli’s chapters are written in verse and Jinsong’s are written in prose). Calli has Tourette syndrome and works unsuccessfully to hide her embarrassing tics. She faces cruel bullies who seek to tear her down at every corner as she struggles to fit in. Jinsong is different from the other kids at school, he sees beyond her syndrome and wants to be a true friend.  But will Jinsong be courageous enough to defend Calli publicly, even if it might damage his reputation? NOTE: This is another very important #ownvoices book as Ellie Terry has Tourette’s and understands the difficulties and raw emotions that Calli expresses. We need more books like this in our school libraries and public libraries!

AWARDS: AML Award Nominee for Middle Grade Novel (2017)

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


34791187The Remember Balloons
Jessie Oliveros
Dana Wulfekotte, illustrator
August 28, 2018
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

This beautiful picture book addresses the very difficult topic of dementia in a way that children can understand. In this story, memories are represented by colorful balloons. Grandpa has the most balloons of everyone and his stories are “better than ponies and chocolate frosting.”  One day, the young child in the story begins to see Grandpa losing his balloons as he gets stuck telling the same story, repeatedly. This is utterly heartbreaking until the child realizes that he now has many of his grandfather’s balloons and he can re-share the stories that Grandpa cannot remember.

My great grandfather and my grandfather both suffered greatly from dementia. My grandfather passed away just this past year and he was our family storyteller, so this book really hit home for me. The artwork was rendered in pencil, colored pencil, ink, gouache, and Photoshop featuring people drawn in black and white with colorful balloons throughout. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below.

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

2019RememberBalloons

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


686105William’s Doll
Charlotte Zolotow
William Pene Du Bois, illustrator
May 10, 1972
HarperCollins

Someone in our #imwayr blogging community recently mentioned this book (I cannot remember who), so I immediately requested it be shipped in from another library. William’s Doll was published the year I was born (1972)!  It begins with:

William wanted a doll.
He wanted to hug it
and cradle it in his arms…

And somehow this is a problem for William’s brother and a neighborhood boy who call him creep and sissy. And it seems to be a problem for his father because he immediately purchases him a basketball and hoop and a train set with a cool track. William enjoyed his father’s gifts, but he still wanted a doll. Thankfully, William’s grandmother knows better — she says William is simply preparing for fatherhood.

I’m certain that little boys are still made fun of when they play with dolls, dress up in dresses, or put on make-up today, but I’m glad to see we at least have more children’s literature and conversations about gender stereotyping. The artwork is pretty basic by modern picture book standards (one example, below), but overall this was definitely a bold children’s book for the time period in which it was published!

2019Williams-Doll

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


Next Up:

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 150/200
#MustReadin2019 – 16/42


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/3/2019 #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!

Last week kickstarted the 2019 Big Book Summer challenge, hosted by Sue of Book By Book. It starts after Memorial Day every summer and runs through Labor Day. Any book over 400 pages qualifies and there’s a drawing for a “big book” giveaway from Sue’s shelves at the conclusion of the summer. This is not a competition, just a chance to encourage one another on finishing some longer titles we’ve wanted to read for a while. If you are interested in participating this year, link up at her 2019 Big Book Summer post and join our Goodreads group.

This week, along with my regular reading, I’m reviewing one historical fiction book that will be published tomorrow: House Without Walls. I hope you’ll find something here this week that you like!


40030484

House Without Walls
Ching Yeung Russell
June 4, 2019
Yellow Jacket

Eleven-year-old Lam and her younger brother, Dee Dee, must escape from Vietnam and the cruel communist regime. Their hope is to leave the country by boat and eventually connect with their father who already made it to San Francisco in the United States. Written in verse, this novel shares a grueling journey across sea and land where starvation and illness threaten their very lives. It’s horrific to learn of the pain experienced on the journey — of the ongoing nausea/vomit, of people being urinated on, and of the stench of death (as not everyone made it to shore, alive).  Even on land, there is rape, illnesses, insects, snakes, leeches, lack of clean water, and military violence to fear. Despite these dreadful conditions, friendships are forged and family is adopted after Lam and Dee Dee are separated from their older brother (who happened to have all their money). The refugees slowly piece together a way of life as they fight to stay alive. And as the title indicates, we definitely learn that not all houses are built with walls.

This story was based on interviews conducted by Russell over many years. Before the story began, there was a lengthy and important Prologue that shares a number of details about the real life Lam and Dee Dee as well as other historical details. While we learn that Russell toned down the horrors of these perilous journeys (since it was written for younger readers), everything about the story felt authentic. I’ve learned a lot about wars through the study of history, but we don’t often hear from the side of refugees who were trapped in deadly living conditions. So I’m grateful to learn more about the Vietnam Boat People Exodus in 1979 and I highly recommend this title for middle schools and high school libraries.

My thanks to Netgalley and Yellow Jacket for approving an e-ARC so that I could provide my honest review. This title releases tomorrow, June 4th.

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


27064348Ms. Bixby’s Last Day
John David Anderson
June 21, 2016
Waldon Pond Press

Ms. Bixby is one of the good teachers — the kind who understands that teaching is more about students than it is about curriculum and paperwork. Near the beginning of this story, we learn that Ms. Bixby is very ill and must leave school earlier than she anticipated. Three of her students, Topher, Brand, and Steve, want to give her an incredible “perfect” day. So they skip school and head off on a grand adventure. Along the way, we learn the backstories of each boy and Ms. Bixby’s importance becomes more evident than ever. Oh my, I laughed and cried (and laughed and cried). Now I know why I’ve heard such rave reviews of this title. Loved it!

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


40697429Tomorrow Most Likely
Dave Eggers
Lane Smith, illustrator
April 2, 2019
Chronicle Books

Can we take a moment just to appreciate that gorgeous cover?! With the lush grass and flowers in focus and the colorful pastel buildings off in the distance, I wanted to jump into the scenery before I even began reading. In rhyming text and with dreamlike illustrations, Eggers shares a number of things that will “likely” happen tomorrow (including the chance of seeing a blue sky or eating a brown meal). After reading this one, young children might enjoy creating their own book of things that could happen tomorrow. The illustrations were created in oil paint, pen and ink, paper collage, and digitally. I’ll provide one example, below:

Tomorrow-Most-Likely

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


40539928The Duchess and Guy: A Rescue-
to-Royalty Puppy Love Story
Nancy Furstinger
Julie Bereciartu, illustrator
January 8, 2019
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

I was so excited to win this book from the giveaway offered at Laura Mossa’s Beagles and Books literacy blog. This is the precious story about a beagle named Guy and his adoption by Meghan Markle. We witness Guy’s transformation as he moves to Buckingham Palace and meets Queen Elizabeth. But all of this is possible only because he was given a second chance at life through a dog rescue. In the back matter, we learn that Guy was moved to several locations and that he was even diagnosed with heart worms and had to undergo treatment before being ready for adoption. This is a true doggie rags-to-riches story that children will love to read. The sweet illustrations were done in gouache and colored pencils. I’ll provide one example, below:

Duchess-and-Guy

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

While sharing Guy’s rescue story, I thought I would mention that there is a brand new documentary on Netflix called Life in the Doghouse. We just saw it last week and appreciated that it hit on all the important notes about animal rescue. I watched it with my children, but be forewarned this may be not be appropriate for a young or even an older sensitive child (for example, there was a tearful scene of one of their beloved pets being euthanized and another scene where multiple black trash bags were being dumped into a large grave — you do not see inside the bags, but it’s apparent that it’s euthanized dogs). Here’s the trailer for anyone interested:


36959765Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse
Marcy Campbell
Corinna Luyken, illustrator
August 14, 2018
Dial Books

Chloe has had enough of Adrian Simcox telling everyone he has a horse. Adrian sits alone at lunch, he has a messy desk, he gets the free lunch at school, and he even has holes in his shoes. He lives with his grandfather in a very small house with barely any yard. So why in the world is Adrian Simcox telling everyone has has a horse?! Thank goodness Chloe discovers the truth before the end of this one! I must say, I got chills and teared-up as I turned the very last page — a very important story for empathy and imagination!

The illustrations were created using black ink, colored pencils, and watercolor. I LOVE the artwork and felt like I could just step right into some of these scenes. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Adrian-Simcox

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


To Be Read:

It’s going to be a very tough week for reading. We have so much going at home right now, and hubby will be off at a conference this week. I can’t even guess what I’ll finish at this point (if anything). I am reading a few nonfiction books, so I hope to at least move a few bookmarks.


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 146/200
#MustReadin2019 – 16/42

2019 Big Book Summer Challenge

2019bigbooksummer

This will be my second year to participate in the Big Book Summer Challenge, hosted by Sue of Book by Book. This is a community of summer readers who commit to reading at least one “big book” on their lists. In short:

  • Anything 400 pages or more qualifies
  • It runs Memorial Day through Labor Day
  • You can read as many as “big books” as you want
  • You can blog and/or join the Goodreads Big Book Summer Challenge group as we have ongoing discussion about what we’re reading and what’s next on our list.

If you think you might be interested in joining in, please check out Sue’s 2019 Big Book Summer blog post for full details.

2019-Big-Book-Summer-Challenge-SRM

This summer I quickly went through the books I own and that I have checked out. I only expect to finish 2 or 3, but I came up with the following stack of 10 books to thumb through each month:

  • White Oleander (not pictured, on order) – 613 pages, large print
  • Monday’s Not Coming (not pictured, Overdrive) – 439 pages
  • Breakout (not pictured, ILL) – 441 pages
  • Jellico Road – 419 pages
  • Scythe – 433 pages
  • Watership Down – 426 pages
  • Becoming – 421 pages
  • A Voice in the Wind – 522 pages
  • All the Light We Cannot See – 531 pages
  • The Great Alone – 438 pages

The ones in bold were placed on my #MustReadin2019 list back in January, so I’ll try to finish at least two of these over the summer. Again, if you think you might be interested in joining in, please check out Sue’s 2019 Big Book Summer blog post for full details, the link-up, and the URL to the Goodread’s group.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/27/2019 #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!

I’m posting a day late this week because we had a bad stomach bug hit our home over the weekend. Ugh! I went to bed on Sunday and was in bed all day Monday. So far it has hit four out of seven people in our family. I suppose we now wait to see if the other three are free and clear. Fingers-crossed!

New-Subaru-2019In other news, Hubby has been out of town all this past week, visiting his parents in Texas and picking up our daughter’s new-to-her 2001 Subaru Forester from my brother and his wife. Before he drove it 1,000 miles from Texas to Nebraska, they had it washed, waxed, and detailed for her. She is SUPER excited to turn 16 later this summer and begin driving herself around. Me, however… I’m feeling all the feels. Because I just gave birth to her yesterday!! But I’m so happy for her to have an easy way to get around town, now (since we have been a one car family for many years).

So… what have I been reading?


41860072

Planet Earth is Blue
Nicole Panteleakos
May 14, 2019
Wendy Lamb Books

This is a touching story told from the perspective of 12-year-old Nova, who is autistic and non-verbal. She has been in foster care for many years and is currently hanging on to a promise made by her older sister, Bridget, that they will be together again for the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. No matter what.

One of the most amazing parts of this book is being gifted with the internal feelings of Nova as she experiences mistreatment and misdiagnosis time and again. It takes the love of an an attentive foster family to release her from the confines of a broken system. I was especially looking forward to a story written around the launch of the space shuttle Challenger (which I remember quite well) with a lead character who was the age I was at the time of the launch. But what I gleaned from this story was so much more. Highly recommend!

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


36137548Naomis Too
(Two Naomis #2)
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Audrey Vernick
September 11, 2018
Balzer + Bray

Naomis Too is on my #MustReadin2019 list. So after reviewing Two Naomis in April, I was very happy when book #2 became available through my Overdrive library in May. YAY!

Now living in “the yellow house,” Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are attending school together and attempting to navigate their new blended and racially-mixed family. Let me just start by saying: There’s a whole lot to unpack in this one. But there’s lots of helpful and important dialogue about race and perceptions.

“Words and language matter. Would you use the term gypped? Indian giver? People say ‘that’s ghetto’ to mean something negative. Think about ‘off the rez.’ What does that really mean?”

These are the kinds of conversation that adults should be having, so I’m delighted to see it addressed in a middle grade book. I’m also happy to see a white parent take responsibility for having not properly prepared their child to interact with children from different races and to recognize their own privilege.

“That’s one thing I’ve learned about the first step to checking my privilege,” Tom says. “It starts with listening.”

Throughout this story I found soooo many references to other books and I highlighted 53 items on my kindle. So yeah, this is one I’d like to read and discuss with my own children. I hope it makes it into many schools and libraries around the world!

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


39983611

Say Something
Peter H. Reynolds
February 26, 2019
Orchard Books

Another wonderful picture book by Peter Reynolds! In this one, everyone must heed the call to “say something” in order to make the world a better place. Maybe you will say something with music or with your art or with your words, but everyone mustn’t waste the opportunity to make positive changes. This book makes me so happy! I was finally able to purchase a copy for my dear friend, Lauren, who never fails to say something when it matters most.

Say-Something-2019

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


40552553The Hug
Eoin McLaughlin
Polly Dunbar, illustrator
January 3, 2019
Faber Faber

My sincere thanks to Rebecca Herzog of Sloth Reads for offering this book as a giveaway, last month. I’m so happy to have won!

Both hedgehog and a tortoise want a hug. But the hedgehog is too prickly and the tortoise is too hard. Once you read this book going one direction you get to flip it over and read it from the other end. Such a cute story that teams up two unlikely cuddlers who both get what they want most.

I’ll provide one example of the sweet artwork, below:

The-Hug-2019

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


37569351The Donkey Egg
Janet Stevens
Susan Stevens Crummel
February 19, 2019
HMH Books for Young Readers

I first met Susan Stevens Crummel back in 2002 when I was teaching 2nd grade in Texas. She spoke in our school library and, afterward, signed my copies of My Big Dog and Cook-a-Doodle-Doo! on that day. So how COOL that she (and her sister) are still publishing beloved picture books in 2019!

In The Donkey Egg, fox has tricked bear into buying his donkey egg. Bear sits on the egg, keeping it warm and preparing it for hatching until one day when it rolls away and smashes open. What he finds inside is not what he expected, but he discovers a way to use it to get what he really wanted. In the end, it’s a cute story of “making lemonade out of lemons.” Every few pages of the story is a boxed-off section for “Did You Know?” with interesting mathematical and scientific facts that relate to the story.

Some people may say this is a sequel to Tops and Bottom, but whether it is or not, we at least see the same characters. The adorable illustrations in this book were done in mixed media. I’ll provide one example, below:

Donkey-Egg-2019

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


Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 141/200
#MustReadin2019 – 16/42

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/20/2019 #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!


40046075Caterpillar Summer
Gillian McDunn
April 2, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

The most important thing I can say about this book is GO GRAB A COPY NOW!! I read a lot of middle grade literature each year, and I think this is one of the BEST I’ve ever read.

Twelve-year-old Cat is Chicken’s older sister. She understands her little brother better than most and she is willing to constantly sacrifice her needs for his. This particular summer, they have plans to travel and stay with her best friend while her mom takes on a special class. But an emergency comes up, leaving Cat and Chicken living with family they’ve never met before. Many questions begin to surface during their stay, but most importantly: WHY have we never met this part of the family before?

The story takes place primarily on Gingerbread Island, which is brought to life with colorful houses, the smells and sounds of the ocean, an active community full of close knit neighbors, and an exciting fishing contest. The relationship building is so carefully crafted, showcasing an obviously deep, lingering hurt from the past.

“Being a parent is a kind of promise. A promise to stand by someone even if you think they’re making a mistake. To love who you get, not who you think you’re going to get.”

It’s hard to believe this was Gillian McDunn’s debut. I see she is under contract to publish The Queen Bee and Me with Bloomsbury in April of 2020. I have no idea what this new book will be about, but I can’t wait to read it after this heart-warming experience. I highly recommend Caterpillar Summer!

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


35068533The Sky at Our Feet
Nadia Hashimi
March 6, 2018
HarperCollins

The Sky at Our Feet was my audiobook read for the week and I only wish I’d listened to it sooner. With witty riddles woven throughout, this story is focused on the impact of deportation on children. Jason’s Afghan father was a translator for the US military while his mother came to the US on a visa, for safety reasons. We learn that things went badly in the past, leaving Jason’s father dead and his mother stranded with an expired visa. Now that his mother is an illegal immigrant (and witnessing the treatment of illegal immigrants on the news) she’s understandably fearful of filing the proper paperwork and being rejected, then separated from her son, and sent back to Afghanistan. As this story begins, she shares this fear with Jason.

One day, Jason witnesses his mother being taken away by men with badges and he realizes what has happened. He immediately begins his trek to safety in hopes that he’ll be reunited with his mother (rather than be placed in foster care, since he is American). Along his brave, adventurous journey, Jason builds an unlikely friendship with another youngster named Max. Together they work out a plan to get Jason to safety while simultaneously meeting Max’s needs for living boldly and making important memories. I loved that the end was fulfilling while also very open-ended. What’s the status of Max? I heartily recommend this one for any children’s or middle grade library — it’s an important #ownvoices book that will be a window and mirror for those who need it.

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


40697591Ruby, Head High: Ruby
Bridges’s First Day of School
Irène Cohen-Janca
Marc Daniau, illustrator
January 8, 2019
Creative Editions

Ruby, Head High is the story of Ruby Bridges as told by a fictional character named Nadia who had a dream after being shown the famous Norman Rockwell painting. In her dream, Ruby shares her full story, including a test she had to take before going to the school, the experience of being escorted to school by police officers, having her very own teacher in her own private classroom, and scarier things like a reference to being shown a black baby doll in a coffin and being called another word for ‘black.’

Each page showcases the text on the left with an expressive illustration on the right. The story is told from the voice of a child and is lengthy on some pages. Nevertheless, it  showcases Ruby’s fear and courage, along with the growth of the community as a whole. Can we ever hear these painful stories too many times?

In the back, there’s a little more information about Ruby Bridges Hall, today, as well as a longer section about the famous Norman Rockwell painting. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of the artwork, below:

Ruby-Head-High-IMG_9431

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


40641149When Sadness is at Your Door
Eva Eland
January 29, 2019
Random House Books for Young Readers

This is a gentle story that introduces sadness in a unique way. Children are encouraged to see sadness as a normal part of their lives. The story shows ways to include sadness in their daily activities, rather than trying to shut it out or hide it. Calming activities such as sitting quietly, drawing, listening to music, and going for a walk are mentioned as something they might do with sadness. And sometimes sadness will drift in and out of their lives, and that’s completely okay. This one could be helpful for a whole-class discussion on feelings and emotions or for use with a specific child experiencing depression, anxiety, or grief.

The illustrations are drawn in simple brown lines with only soothing mint green and peach for coloring. Enjoy one example, below:

When-Sadness-is-at-Your-Door-IMG_9432

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


SplatterSplatter
Diane Alber
September 10, 2018
Diane Alber Art LLC

In rhyming text, this little book is the story of three “splatters” named red, yellow, and blue (as seen on the book cover). Each splatter works on their own until one day, after a little encouragement and experimenting, they try something new. TEAMWORK! In the end, they’re proud of their beautiful artwork as well as a variety of new colors they created together (orange, green, violet, indigo, navy, etc.).

In the back there’s a “Next Steps” section to guide adults and teachers in how to use the book, including what types of questions they might ask. While I didn’t find an explanation on how the artwork was created, it appears to be paint splatters that are rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page as an example, below:

Splatter-IMG_9433

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


Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 133/200
#MustReadin2019 – 15/42