It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/11/2019 #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!

Just dropping a little note to say that last Tuesday officially marked my 1-year anniversary for participating with #imwayr (and showing up every single Monday). YAY! I originally started writing book reviews on my personal website in 2004 while I was in library school. Then in 2006 I kickstarted a book review group through a local parenting organization where we wrote monthly reviews in local newsletters and on Amazon, B&N, etc. But by the time babies #4 and #5 came along I’d completely put aside blogging/reviewing endeavors to focus on family and online teaching. So this WordPress blog was a much-needed fresh start last February. It’s been a joy to dust off the cobwebs and nestle into this lovely community, getting to know each of you. I always read everyone’s posts from the Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts weekly link-up and I learn so much every stinkin’ week! Thank you to all the regulars who’ve made me feel so comfortable and welcome here, despite the fact that you didn’t even know my name before 2018! ❤

So… it's Monday! What have I been reading


29939780Cogheart
(The Cogheart Adventures #1)
Peter Bunzl
February 12, 2019
North Star Editions/Jolly Fish Press

Cogheart is the first book in a middle-grade steampunk trilogy that follows the adventures of 13-year-old Lily Harman (if you don’t know what the steampunk genre is, check out this quick video HERE). Lily has been sent off to an all-girls school where she is having a very difficult time getting along with her classmates and instructors.

“Lilly had long ago noticed the other girls never read in posture class. It seemed thinking and walking simultaneously was too difficult for them.”

Meanwhile, we discover Lily’s father, Professor John Hartman, is captured and possibly killed. The good news is, before the destruction of his air ship, he was able to deploy his mechanimal fox with a most important message for Lily. Having no other living blood relatives, Lily must now navigate this alternative Victorian world piecing together a confusing puzzle of details and discovering who’s a friend (and who’s a foe).

Without giving any spoilers, I can say there’s some fantastic world building going on here with a nation that runs on cogs and ticks. There are mixed beings who are both human and machine as well as non-humans with feelings who must be wound regularly to keep functioning. The villains are more than a little terrifying with eye sockets that have been sewn with mirrors and the unnatural ability to stay one step ahead of Lily at almost every turn.

Thankfully, Lily makes an unexpected friendship with a young boy named Robert that makes her fears and sorrows more bearable. And this budding friendship, amidst painful loss, is really the heart of this middle grade story in my opinion. Robert grew up working with his father, a clockmaker, and his skills prove quite useful throughout their adventure. During challenging moments, his father’s advice comes back to him when he needs it most:

“No one conquers fear easily, Robert. It takes a brave heart to win great battles.”

Perhaps you’ve heard of Cogheart since it was originally released in the UK in 2016. However, it is now finally being released to the US by North Star Editions/Jolly Fish Press tomorrow, February 12, 2019. While this book could work well as a stand alone, I must admit I’m very interested in seeing where Bunzl takes us with book #2: Moonlocket. My sincere thanks to NetGalley, North Star Editions, and Jolly Fish Press for releasing an e-ARC of Cogheart so that I could provide an honest review.

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


29918993A Dash of Trouble
(Love Sugar Magic #1)
Anna Meriano
January 2, 2018
Walden Pond Press

Leonora (Leo) Logroño lives in Rose Hill, Texas, where her family owns a much-loved bakery. She’s the fifth born girl, the youngest in her family, and she seems to always feel left out. One day she witnesses something she cannot explain in the natural world which makes her suspect her family are brujas (witches of Mexican ancestry). As she begins to learn the “sweet” magic she will one day be initiated into, Leo quickly discovers there are some things you simply do not tamper with before you are ready. Ah… I really enjoyed Leo’s big, busy family and her sisters’ personality quirks. The story is very engaging and I’m hoping to get my hands on book #2 very soon (it was just released last week!).

NOTE: A fresh batch of gingersnaps will make a lovely companion to this book! 🙂

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


40697075Game Changer!:
Book Access for All Kids
Donalyn Miller
Colby Sharp
November 20, 2018
Scholastic Professional

Wow! I took SO many notes while reading through this book that no one would guess it’s only 135 pages long. The layout is so nicely formatted with chapters that include great visuals, charts/organizers, and specific phrases highlighted on each page so that it’s quite easy to pick out the focus even if you are skimming. I especially appreciated that there are multiple contributors who share meaningful personal experiences to provide depth to the chapters.

In the sidebars of each chapter, there’s a reference to a page on the Scholastic site for more information. When I logged in, I found videos included for every chapter. I played every one of them while reading and found the discussion helpful. Also available are a number of printable downloads labeled by chapter.

While much of this resource discusses points and research many are aware of, it provides such encouragement and pushes educators to seek out all possible avenues to get GOOD books into the hands of children. I have worked in an extremely poor district (with students who didn’t have running water at home) and so I know how helpless some teachers feel when it comes to getting NEW books into the classroom. So I just kept thinking, Teachers need to get this book into the hands of principals, superintendents, school board members, and politicians.

I’m grateful to have read this book and I know it will impact my future reading and teaching decisions. My thanks to Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts and to Scholastic for the giveaway of this book, last month. Go out and grab a copy of Game Changer for your school!

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


36236592It’s Not Hansel and Gretel
(It’s Not a Fairy Tale #2)
Josh Funk
Edwardian Taylor, illustrator
March 1, 2019
Two Lions

I read and shared It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk back in August and this is book #2 of the same series of fractured fairy tales by Josh Funk. While the original fairy tale is about a brother and sister and a mean old witch who intends to eat them, nothing goes according to as planned in this rendition. Hansel and Gretel don’t follow the script and the narrator gets frustrated. It’s sure to get young children giggling over these disobedient siblings. The illustrations are rendered in digital media. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

Its-Not-Hansel-SPREAD

This title will release on March 1, 2019, but you can pre-order it NOW.

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


34362953A Big Mooncake for Little Star
Grace Lin
August 28, 2018 
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

 A Big Mooncake for Little Star is an adorable retelling of a folk tale about how the moon cycles occur each month. This title would pair quite well with The Princess and the Moon which I reviewed three weeks ago, as it is yet another great story that would be fun to discuss during the study of the moon cycle (and both books would serve as excellent mentor texts, as well). This is a 2019 Caldecott Honor book and the artwork is quite beautiful. The illustrations were done in Turner Design Gouache on Arches 100% Watercolor Paper 140lb. Hot Press Bright White. Here’s one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 12.55.22 PM

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


35631757Islandborn
Junot Díaz
Leo Espinosa, illustrator
March 13, 2018
Dial Books

Islandborn is the story of Lola’s discovery of the Island from which her family immigrated. Most of the children in her school classroom are immigrants. When their teachers asks them to share what they know of their country of origin, Lola is sad that she remembers almost nothing. So she pieces together bits and pieces of information from a number of other people who do remember. Most interesting in this story is the description of a metaphorical “Monster” the islander heroes fought. Islandborn was a Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Nominee for 2019 and the colors and faces and children’s art is truly a beautiful sight. Wow! The artwork was created digitally with Photoshop and mixed media. I’ll provide one of my favorite page spreads, below:

Islandborn-SPREAD

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:

This week did not go at all as I expected. I had much less time to read than usual and I’m afraid this may be my new norm for the next 3-4 weeks. I still need to finish Watch Us Rise, so I’ll make that my major goal for the week. But I hope to also finish Fake News: Separating Truth from Fiction and Dragon Pearl.
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Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 35/200
#MustReadin2019 – 7/42


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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/4/2019 #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!

It’s Monday! What have I been reading??


38376037The Unteachables
Gordon Korman
January 8, 2019
Balzer + Bray

Zachary Kermit was once the most vibrant teacher at Greenwich Middle School, beloved by students and admired by fellow educators. But after an unfortunate cheating scandal took place in his classroom around 25 years ago, his reputation and drive was badly damaged. For years he’s been content to just float along until early retirement (which he will finally qualify for this summer). This year, at the last minute, the Superintendent decides to place Mr. Kermit in room 117 with 7 misfits who are considered the 8th grade “unteachables.” When class starts he doesn’t care what their names are, why they were each placed in room 117, or how they do on their work. Day after day, it’s the same thing over and over again — load up on coffee, hand out a worksheet to keep the kids busy, and start working on the daily crossword puzzle. What could possibly awaken Mr. Kermit from his teaching slumber?

The Unteachables is narrated from multiple perspectives, giving the reader an opportunity to empathize with each character, including Mr. Kermit. The story highlights the importance of forgiveness, the power of student bonding, and the fact that not all bullies are children. It’s a feel-good story that will provide both sniffles and giggles.

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


34739995Resistance
Jennifer A. Nielsen
August 28, 2018

Scholastic Inc.

Resistance is a historical fiction novel based on the happenings of Nazi-occupied Poland during WWII in the 1940s. Chaya Lindner is a Jewish teenager living in Poland with her family. Her little sister is taken just before her brother disappears. As her parents are left utterly devastated, Chaya is determined to act on behalf of her people. She has blond hair and can easily pass as Polish, so she joins a resistance cell where she acts as a courier using forged papers to smuggle in/out food, supplies, and information throughout the ghettos of Poland. But no place is truly safe for Chaya and her travel companions. If her bags are ever searched, what is found could get her beaten or even killed. But seeing the devastation all around her, she only knows she must keep going.

This is an incredibly important and intense read. The entire book kept me on the edge of my seat. There is an important Afterword you won’t want to miss which reveals the names and details of many real-life individuals who participated in the uprisings described in the book. I toured Poland about 25 years ago. And after having visited the surrounding concentration camps (with a tour guide who was once a prisoners in Auschwitz), I’m horrified knowing there are so many modern Holocaust deniers today. It’s a relief to see the number of middle grade and young adult historical fiction titles popping up from this time period, bringing to life both the devastation and the bravery. NOTE: Resistance is classified as a middle grade novel for ages 8 to 12, but I would give a warning to be aware of very sensitive readers. The scenes aren’t graphic, but the reader will know what’s happening. Publishers Weekly said, “the book is unapologetically grim and violent, like the events it so persuasively depicts, and may not suit readers at the younger end of its stated range.”

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


8306741Thick as Thieves
(The Queen’s Thief #5)
Megan Whalen Turner
May 16, 2017
Greenwillow Books

This installment of The Queen’s Thief series follows Kamet, a slave whose master has been killed. This means he will also very likely face his own demise, soon. Kamet, however, is offered an escape to another kingdom where he is told he will live as a free man. By land and sea he travels in terrible conditions, facing near death more than once. Even if he reaches his final destination, he wonders if he will be killed as soon as he arrives. Throughout these first 5 books of the series, I’ve been very careful not to give any spoilers for those who still plan to read it. So this is all I’ll share for now. Book #6, Return of the Thief, is the final installment and it will be released March 19, 2019.

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


37534741Henry and the Yeti
Russell Ayto
February 23, 2017
Bloomsbury Childrens

Last week our family watched the movie Small Foot, so I thought this might be a fun little book to read at the same time. While the Small Foot movie has a yeti attempting to find a small foot (AKA human), this story features a young human named Henry who is attempting to find a Yeti. His father doesn’t seem overly concerned about his young son’s plans to trek across an ocean, through a forest, and over several mountains in search of a yeti, just as long as he doesn’t stay up late. (Heehee!) At school, no one believes in Henry’s expedition. Everyone laughs at him and his principal only tells him he must bring back evidence. But keep reading because Henry just might get the last laugh! The artwork is mixed-media paintings with simplistic characters. The pages feature a different colored backdrop in each new spread. I’ll provide one spread as an example, below:

YETI-spread

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:

I am still reading Game Changer! and I must say that I’m sooo happy to have a copy of this one to keep on hand. I am also hoping to finish reading Watch Us Rise and Cogheart.

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#MustReadin2019: 6/42

 

What are YOU reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/28/2019 #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!

p14891466_v_v8_aaThis week my family finally watched the documentary about Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? It was an incredibly moving experience and I think I cried silent tears throughout the entire thing. I was born in the 70s and have very fond memories of watching Mr. Rogers, but there’s no way I could have ever known the back story. My family is big on documentaries, watching them all the time. But if I had to choose only one to watch this past year, it would be this one. I highly, highly recommend watching if you haven’t already.

On to my reading week…


36292177The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
Dan Gemeinhart
January 8, 2019
Henry Holt & Company (BYR)

This book was just as outstanding as I’ve heard. I started out savoring it… reading a handful of chapters the first 2 days. But then suddenly I couldn’t put it down until everything was resolved. Wow, did it grab me and pull me in!

Twelve-year-old Coyote and her father, Rodeo, are trekking across the country in an old school bus named Yager with no particular destination in mind. How did they end up in a bus, you ask? They lost Coyote’s sisters and mother in a tragic accident just five years ago. To escape the pain of such a devastating loss, they legally changed their names and started a unique adventure. And they haven’t been back “home,” since. However, Coyote receives devastating news from her grandmother and must find a way to return home in just 4 days to fulfill a promise — a promise that Rodeo simply won’t understand. On their journey they take on a variety of passengers and face unexpected obstacles the entire way. Without spoiling anything, I love that Coyote makes her very first friend and bonds with her “dad” in a way she never imagined possible. Over the past year I read The Honest Truth and Good Dog, and Dan Gemeinhart plucks my heartstrings every time, leaving a stream (or river) of tears. But his books aren’t just sad, they’re also filled with comic relief that speaks so strongly of those middle grade years. I will read everything he writes!

NOTE: This one also has the following song “Be Set Free” in the story, so I had to hunt down an old video of Langhorne Slim singing it with just a guitar (like Rodeo does in the book).

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


38225791Two Can Keep a Secret
Karen M. McManus
January 8, 2019
Delacorte Press

I enjoyed One of Us is Lying so much last year that I knew I had to read her next murder mystery novel, Two Can Keep a Secret. This one had several layers of mysteries from different years going on in the very same town, but somehow it all worked beautifully. First, the twins’ aunt went missing before they were even born, then teenage Lacey Kilduff was strangled just five years ago, then at the beginning of this story there’s a hit and run death that remains unsolved, and finally, over the course of the book a fourth person goes missing. The story is told from two different perspectives: Ellery Corcoran’s and Malcolm Kelly’s. Seventeen-year-old Ellery and her twin brother, Ezra, have moved in with their Nana (back at their mother’s hometown of Echo Ridge) while their mother is going into drug rehab. Ellery is a murder mystery reading buff, so she brings a lot to the table when it comes to figuring out who-done-it. Malcolm is a native of Echo Ridge and his older brother, Declan, was a former suspect in the murder of Lacy Kilduff. One of McManus’s strengths is her ability to distract the reader into considering the guilt of every person. I kept wondering how all of these murders would be solved simultaneously, but she pulls it off. A fun, fast read that kept me seriously guessing right up until the last couple chapters.

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


221340What Do You Think?
A Kid’s Guide to Dealing with Daily Dilemmas
Linda Schwartz
Beverly Armstrong, Illustrator
October 1993
Learning Works

I purchased this book years ago and used it in my 1st and 2nd grade classrooms when I was teaching in public schools. Every day we examined a new dilemma and talked out the scenario until we had good ideas on ways to deal with each issue. This was a great book for its time (published in 1993) and even proved helpful through 2003 when I was still using it with my students — using problem solving skills and collaborative discussion. However, as I read it again with my own children in 2018-2019, I realized that some of these situations are outdated. There are loads of new technological dilemmas that kids are bombarded with that could be included (if Linda Schwartz were to make an updated and revised edition). I would also love to see sources (websites, books, etc.) provided that students could peruse after each discussion for further consideration on each topic. Nevertheless I did like it, overall, and hope to find a good replacement now that we’re finished reading it.

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


6527841A Conspiracy of Kings
(The Queen’s Thief #4)
Megan Whalen Turner
March 23, 2010
Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishers

Alrighty, I finished book #4 in this AMAZING series and I (apparently) liked it better than others have. YAY! This one was told from a unique perspective — the king of Sounis. The whole thing feels like one huge retelling of what happened to him. And if you haven’t yet read books #1, #2, and #3 then I won’t spoil anything for you. I’ve just started book #5 and I’m quite excited to complete the first five before book #6, the final installment of the series. It will be published March 19, 2019.

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:

I’m still working my way through Game Changer and will likely finish that this week. I’ve also started Thick as Thieves (book #5 of The Queen’s Thief series) and I hope to finish The Unteachables, too.

 

 

 

#MustReadin2019: 5/42

 

What are YOU reading?


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/21/2019 #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!


Pretty in Punxsatawney_RD3Pretty in Punxsutawney
Laurie Boyle Crompton
January 15, 2019
Blink

My thanks to NetGalley and Blink for releasing an e-ARC of this book to me before publication so I could offer an honest review. Pretty in Punxsutawney is the story of red-headed Andie whose family has just moved to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (home of THE groundhog for Groundhog Day) the summer before her senior year of high school. Having spent her entire summer hanging out at the local theater, she knows exactly two people from her new school: Colton and Tom. Andie has a pretty strong crush on Colton and is elated when he offers to drive her to school on their very first day of school. The night before the big “first day of school,” Andie and her mom settle in to watch Pretty in Pink, one of her mom’s favorite movies (in fact, she is named after red-headed “Andie” in the movie). By the end of the infamous prom scene, something feels off. This uncomfortable feeling clings to Andie as she walks into her first day of school, frustrated over a wrong ending that should be remedied. What she soon discovers is that she will end up repeating this first day of school until she gets it right — including figuring out who she has real feelings for and what her primary purpose should be at Punxsutawney High.

This book really took me back to high school (for me, that was 1987-1991) mixing together all sorts of 80s and 90s memories and movies, such as: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, and, of course, Groundhog Day. There was plenty of discussion about the composition of each teenage clique (cheerleaders, goths, jocks, thespians, etc.) as Andie’s experiences reveal that we only judge one another harshly when we don’t understand and empathize with one another. After many attempts at her “first day of school,” Andie learns it is important to seek the best in everyone because we’re all fighting difficult battles. But how will she share this revelation with her entire class?

As the book is focused on the senior class of Punxsutawney High, this would be considered a very “clean” novel for that age group. The kids don’t use profanity, they’re not having sex or doing drugs, and basically everyone is shown to be a good human being, despite their personal struggles or salty personalities. There’s one party with underage drinking, one incident of sexual harassment, and the mention of a student struggling with bulimia. It’s mild enough that even middle schoolers will be able to read and enjoy it. NOTE: When you pick this book up, make sure you grab a box of Whoppers candy (it applies!) and maybe pop in some Cyndi Lauper background music.

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


38355098Dry
Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman
October 2, 2018
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

This book was seriously a nightmare! I grew up in an area of Texas where we often had water shortages and were regularly limited on our water usage throughout every summer (only water lawns on Tuesdays/Thursdays, etc.). I’m also very much aware of how little awareness we collectively have over environmental concerns and the effects on our rapidly changing climate. So this was so hard to read because of the horrific possibility of these events transpiring one day. Yet simultaneously, it was so hard to put down because I HAD to see how it was going to all end. The story takes place in southern California where they experience a “tap-out” when the drinking water supply runs DRY. The grocery stores are flooded with people fighting over water and, eventually, the desperate mobs begin to turn against families who are well prepared for the drought (demanding they share their supply). The focus of the story is on a group of teens who are attempting to reach a safe house where they will have plenty of water, food, and other survival supplies. The terrifying part of this novel, however, is how quickly society falls apart when they become utterly desperate for one more sip of water. People turn against friends and neighbors without hesitation. Oh my… A frightening, but believable outcome! Be prepared to drink LOADS of water while you’re reading this one. I was surprised to find myself visiting the bathroom far more often than normal at the mere suggestions of not having enough water. LOL

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


40159King of Attolia
(The Queen’s Thief #3)
Megan Whalen Turner
January 4, 2006
Greenwillow Book

One more book from “The Queen’s Thief” series down, three more to go (although the last one will be published in March of 2019). This is an older series and I really cannot share much of book #3 without spoiling things from book #1 and #2, so just do yourself a favor and pick up the first book of the series and give it a go. With each new book, I keep thinking I’ve arrived at a new favorite. The development of these characters/kingdoms is so well done. I have a feeling I will be re-reading this series once I get to the end. Hubby has even given me the green light to purchase the set for our home library. YAY! I already have book #4 checked out and ready to go.

You can add book #3 to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


42422210The Princess and the Moon
Zhang Xiaoling
Gao Qing, Illustrator
August 1, 2018
Cardinal Media Llc

I picked this picture book up from the public library and couldn’t help but smile as I read it. It’s from a series of Fables and Folktales being published by Cardinal Media. The story is about a princess who wants to eat the moon for her birthday. Her father wants to fulfill her request, but he doesn’t know how to accomplish such a task. Everyone has ideas of how to make this possible, but none satisfy the princess. Finally, a young boy has the ultimate answer. Best of all, he can fulfill her request and feed all the hungry children at the same time. This book would work very well with the study of the moon cycle as the moon changes shapes throughout the story.

img_6219

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


34024032The Spooky Express Nebraska
Eric James
Marcin Piwowarski, Illustrator
August 1, 2017
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

I don’t imagine this book will be as exciting to others as it is to Nebraskans, but it looks like it has been reproduced for all states (using various cities throughout the state in the rhymes). So you can go find a copy for YOUR state. It’s a 30-paged book with a long “spooky” rhyming poem about a journey across the entire state on a spooky train. Everyone ends up back where they should be by the end and the final page announces “Happy Halloween.” What I especially liked about it is that it included our tiny town’s name on one of the pages!! I will plan to check it out again closer to Halloween, next fall! Here’s one page spread as an example:

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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


To Be Read:

I’ve already started both of these great books and I cannot wait to finish them!

 


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/14/2019 #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 read a number of great books this week. I’ll discuss a few of them in detail, below. But feel free to connect with me on Goodreads to see my entire reading feed as it happens.


35794239

Hey, Kiddo
Jarrett J. Krosoczka
September 25, 2018
Graphix

For those who haven’t yet read Hey, Kiddo, this graphic novel is a memoir of Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s childhood and teen years (through his high school graduation). It’s one of those can’t-put-down accounts — I devoured every illustration and hung on each word. Included in this memoir are actual photos of letters, post cards, and illustrations he and his mom drew and wrote during his childhood. Every last detail was carefully planned out, including the color pallet and the inclusion of his grandmother’s wallpaper as a background to each chapter’s beginning. At the end, he provides an important Author’s Note followed by A Note on the Art. Even the Acknowledgments are far more personal and meaningful than what I’m accustomed to. This book totally makes me want to write a memoir in the same fashion. We’re left with the following feelings from his story:

When you’re a kid and a teen, you’re not in control of your circumstances. But the beautiful thing about growing up is that you get to create your own reality and your own family. That family might be a group of tight-knit friends, that family might be a spouse and children of your own. But ultimately, your childhood realities do not have to perpetuate themselves into adulthood, not if you don’t let them. It for sure takes work.

NOTE: The language and subject matter make this book more appropriate for older readers (probably high school and up). I’m handing it off to my 15 year old right away! If you haven’t yet watched the TED Talk that inspired this book, please take 18 minutes of your life to hear his inspiring story:

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


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Wildcard
(Warcross #2)
Marie Lu
September 18, 2018
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

This week I finally read Wildcard, the second book of the Warcross duology. No big spoilers here, friends, so I’ll just hit the high points. The main character, Emika Chen, is thankful to be alive at the end of book #1. Still on rocky ground with her former lover (it was basically over at the end of Warcross), Emika learns she must re-connect with him AND work with the remainder of the Phoenix Riders to save the world from complete mind-control plans. A new female character, Jax, helps bridge so much of the murky past to the present. But can we trust her? This book presents even more questions of ethics and how they play out in humanity throughout the generations:

“If the end results are this remarkable, would you throw away that research just because the process was unethical? Immoral human experimentation has been around forever. Has been performed by your country. By mine. By everyone. You think people don’t want the results of this kind of research regardless of how it’s obtained? People ultimately don’t care about the journey if the end is worth it.”

By the end of Wildcard, we finally come to fully understand the origin of Hideo Tanaka’s NeuroLink. And I, for one, can say that it is not exactly what I expected. While it’s claimed that Warcross is somewhat predictable, Wildcard was more complicated with mystery and past revelations to unravel. This one was fast-paced and hard to put down.

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


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Nightbooks
J.A. White
July 24, 2018
Katherine Tegen Books

I picked up Nightbooks unexpectedly this week and was glad I did. This is one of those tales with magic and mystery and it felt like anything might happen at any moment. In the beginning, Alex is running off to destroy his nightbooks (all his written stories) when he is intercepted by an apartment when he hears one of his favorite movies playing inside. Once he enters, he cannot leave. And he’s not the only captive. To stay alive, Alex must tell stories to the “witch” to keep her happy. Thankfully, he still has his trusty nightbooks to provide plenty of scary adventures while he explores the enormous library for clues about previous captives. How long will his stories last before he runs out of time?

There were many stories told in this book, but one in particular made me nearly come out of my skin. It didn’t help that I was reading this after midnight (when my 4 year old refused to sleep) and was about to go climb into bed!! Nightbooks will pair nicely with Small Spaces as both would be engaging scary-but-not-too-scary fall-ish reads for middle graders.

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


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The Thief & The Queen of Attolia
(The Queen’s Thief #1 and #2)
Megan Whalen Turner
1996 & 2000

I cannot believe this series has been out this long. In fact, The Thief took a Newbery Honor, and yet I haven’t read any of this series until NOW. So briefly, the series begins with Gen (for Eugenides, the god of thieves) being removed from the King of Sutan’s prison to help the King’s Magus on his expedition to uncover a hidden treasure. The journey is long and winding, but ancient myths about the gods and goddesses are told along the path. In fact, what is particularly surprising (about at least the first two books of this series) is the number of long journeys described in minute detail. Yet somehow, Turner keeps the discussion active — this is where we learn a great deal about the kingdoms, about their history, and about the individual characters (so pay attention!). The surprise ending of book #1 was well worth the wait! And it’s one reason why I cannot share much of anything about book #2.

Book #2, The Queen of Attolia, gets so. much. better. Seriously, if you read book #1 and think it’s a tad slow-moving, don’t let that deter you from moving on to book #2 at its conclusion. So… Gen is captured (yet again) and this time he’s imprisoned by the Queen of Attolia. The prison of Sutan was a cakewalk in comparison to what Attolia has planned for Gen. She is decisive and cruel. But she’s also… human. We find that Gen seems to truly believe in his gods/goddesses by this point, so we learn even more about their history and mythological relationships. I appreciate so much of the philosophical conversation surrounding these beliefs (and how they can so easily be applied to multiple religions):

Nothing I’ve even learned from a priest makes me think I know just what the gods are or what they can accomplish. But Gen, I know my decisions are my own responsibility. If I am a pawn of the gods, it is because they know me so well, not because they make up my mind for me.

Since I cannot share much about the ending of book #2 without spoiling both books, I’ll just say that I fully intend to read books #3, #4, and hopefully #5 in time for the publication of book #6 in March. My sincere thanks to Elisabeth of The Dirigible Plum for recommending this series!

You can add these to your Goodreads list HERE and HERE.


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Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix
Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee
Man One (Illustrations)
April 4, 2017
Readers to Eaters

Chef Roy Choi discovered his love of cooking through his family. One day he became a chef who cooked for famous movie stars and ran a kitchen that cooked for thousands of people per night. After losing his job, he has a fresh start running a restaurant out of a taco truck. But it’s not so easy to find willing customers, at first.

Roy calls himself a “street cook.”
He wants outsiders, low-riders,
kids, teens, shufflers, and skatboarders
to have food cooked with care, with love,
with sohn-maash.

Parts of this book may seem a little text-heavy for a picture book, but it is very informative as a biography and the artwork is fantastic! The artist, Man One, shares the following:

It took many steps to create the art for this book. I first spray-painted the background onto large canvases. I photographed them afterward and loaded the images onto the computer. Then the people and detailed pencil drawings were added digitally. I thought it would be fun to highlight the cooking poems within blank stickers that are commonly used in street art. Finally, all the parts were assembled electronically.

The back of the book showcases an author’s and illustrator’s note along with a bibliography, resources, and biographies to read. This is a Sibert Honor book, was an NCTE Orbis Pictus Award Nominee, and it is a Junior Library Guild Selection. You might want to hunt this one down if you haven’t already! I’ll share one page-spread of the artwork as an example, below:

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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


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The Rough Patch
Brian Lies
August 14, 2018
Greenwillow Books

This is a precious picture book about love, loss, and healing. Evan and his dog do everything together until one day when his beloved dog dies. Evan’s grief is so strong that he lashes out and completely destroys the gorgeous garden he once built and tended with his dog. Over time, Evan notices a pumpkin vine that has climbed into his garden. And it is this vine that eventually leads him back to old friends and the prospect of new joy. The beautiful artwork in this book is created with acrylics, oils, and colored pencils. I’ll provide the final, very moving illustration as an example, below (I just love that old pick-up truck!):

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


To Be Read:

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Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton will be released tomorrow. I am just over halfway through this one (NetGalley didn’t release the title to me until this weekend), but I’m enjoying it so far and will plan to review it in the next week. You can read an interview with Crompton and enter a giveaway to win your own copy of Pretty in Punxsutawney right HERE. Hope everyone else enjoys their reading this week!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/7/2019 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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

I wanted to take just a moment to say this #IMWAYR community has been a great encouragement for me throughout 2018! I was excited to “be here” every single Monday to witness your adventures and share my own. And despite a very difficult fall semester, I was happy to finish reading 305 books as I found new ways to squeeze in good reading time at home, on campus, and places in between. I also figured out how to use our online Overdrive audiobooks (and discovered I could easily listen to books while cleaning and cooking – YAY). Needless to say, I am very much looking forward to a new year of reading and blogging with you all!

This year I’ve jumped on the #MustReadin2019 bandwagon. Carrie Gelson of There’s a Book for That hosts this community, and it’s not too late to join up! If you’re interested in seeing my list, it’s available HERE.

On to this week’s reading…


36959639Small Spaces
Katherine Arden
September 25, 2018
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Oh my goodness, this was amazingly SPOOKY and yet totally appropriate for most middle grade readers who enjoy an exciting hair-raising adventure. This story follows the 11-year-old experiences of Ollie. Ollie has recently lost her mother and everyone at school seems to think she has cracked. She appears to be nearly friendless at the beginning of this book when her 6th grade class goes on a fall field trip to an old farm. But no one could have ever guessed what events would occur in the following hours.

“When the mist rises, and the smiling man comes walking, you must avoid large places at night. Keep to small.”

Arden completely captured the atmosphere of being in middle school in autumn — school bus ride, a creepy local legend about mysterious deaths, leaves, pumpkins, scarecrows, some bullying, the sporty kid in your class (who you may or may not be attracted to), a scary old bus driver spouting nonsense, etc. The personalities of each character were well-developed and the reader is given just enough information to keep them guessing throughout. I enjoyed this one so much and definitely plan to read book #2 in the series: Dead Voices. This one might make a fun read-aloud just before Halloween! (And speaking of Katherine Arden, I should mention I’ve also added The Bear and the Nightingale to my #MustReadin2019 list, so I look forward to writing about more of her books this year. YAY!)

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


Fresh Ink: An Anthology37007783
Lamar Giles, editor
August 14, 2018
Crown Books for Young Readers

Fresh Ink is an anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. These offered wonderful representation of diverse populations, including Black, Asian-American, queer, Native, Muslim, Japanese, Iranian, Latinx, and trans (written by Schuyler Bailar, Melissa de la Cruz, Sara Farizan, Sharon G. Flake, Eric Gansworth, Malinda Lo, Walter Dean Myers, Daniel José Older, Thien Pham, Jason Reynolds, Aminah Mae Safi, Gene Luen Yang, and Nicola Yoon). There was an important Foreword by Lamar Giles which explained what life was like, growing up reading and yearning for realistic characters to represent him (especially black characters who weren’t stereotyped). And this proclamation really set the tone for the remainder of the book. While I enjoyed some stories more than others, I should mention that I listened to the audiobook narration and it helped bring some of these characters and stories to life. Each story had a different narrator: Guy Lockard, Kim Mai Guest, Dominic Hoffman, Dion Graham, Ron Butler, J.B. Adkins, Henry Leyva, Donabella Mortel, Raymond Lee, Sunil Malhotra, Kirby Heyborne, Nick Martorelli, and Bahni Turpin. I really hope this one will be a much-needed window and mirror for future readers!

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


16181775The Rosie Project
(Don Tillman #1)
Graeme Simsion
January 30, 2013
Simon & Schuster

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have checked this book out (audiobook) on Overdrive when it came available. It was my only “adult” read for the week and was utterly delightful!

Don Tillman is a brilliant (middle-aged?) socially challenged genetics professor who was once described as being a dead-ringer for Gregory Peck (from the time of Atticus Finch). He has a very rigorous daily and weekly schedule he plans out to the minute and never once thinks of getting married until an elderly woman he looks after tells him he would make a fabulous husband. So he sets out on The Wife Project and plans to basically use the scientific method to find his perfect mate by questionnaire. Meanwhile, Rosie Jarman walks into his office one day, looking for anything but a mate. She needs help discovering the identify of her biological father. And naturally, Don is the perfect genetics genius to get her search off the ground. This really sets the scene for all that comes after. NOTE: Many reviewers have claimed that Don has Asperger’s Syndrome or that he falls somewhere on the autism spectrum in The Rosie Project, but when interviewed on the Penguin Randomhouse website, Simsion said he purposefully did not diagnose Don. He said diagnosis tends to make us focus on the syndrome instead of the character.

Don is not a bunch of symptoms – he’s a quirky guy who probably would be diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum – but I don’t claim to be an expert. The citation for the Victorian Premier’s Award said Don had “undiagnosed Asperger’s” and I say “undiagnosed except by the judges of a literary award.” 

Now, I won’t lie — I went into this one blind. I don’t recall knowing anything about this book before I started it and so it felt a little slow until chapter 5 or 6. But after I caught on to the rhythm, I couldn’t help but to love Don and appreciate his way of seeing the world. I LAUGHED. OUT. LOUD. sooooo many times and really need to find another friend who has enjoyed this one so that we can giggle together over certain unforgettable parts. I didn’t want to stop the story and may have even found additional jobs around the house just to excuse my listening until I finished it. I already have book #2 on audiobook and can’t wait to carve out some listening time over the next two weeks! Movie rights have been optioned to Sony Pictures.

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:

I’m hoping to at least get to the following four books in the coming week. Anything else will be icing on the cake!

 


 

#MustReadin2019 1/5/2019

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With a little nudge from my friend and colleague, Elisabeth of The Dirigible Plum, I’m joining the #MustReadin2019 community, hosted by Carrie Gelson of There’s a Book for That.

Even though I already have an enormous TBR list, I had to ask all the readers in my house for their personal recommendations for 2019 (only books I haven’t yet read). They LOVE giving me suggestions. In fact, approximately 48 hours after my oldest son’s contribution, he came up to me looking wounded — asking me why I hadn’t started reading Stormbreaker yet. LOL

In an effort to keep my list do-able, I narrowed it down to 42 books I hope to squeeze into my regular reading schedule. I’ll post a visual of the book covers and then list them, below, with the authors’ names and Goodreads links. I’m looking forward to visiting everyone else’s list over the next few days!

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

I’ll try to put these in order of what age level I think is the intended audience, but feel free to let me know if I’ve got it wrong:

Middle Grade:
Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Naomis Too by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich & Audrey Vernick
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta
Breakout by Kate Messner
Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (coming soon)
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
The Oceans Between Stars Kevin Emerson (book #2 in a series of 3)
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova

Young Adult:
Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen (is this middle grade or YA?)
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (1st of 6 in series)
All Systems Red by Martha Wells (1st of 5 in series)
Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz (1st of 12 books, plus several short stories)
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (1st in a series of 3)
Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
Unleaving by Melissa Ostrom (LOVED her Beloved Wild)
Cruel Prince by Holly Black (1st in series)
Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (1st in series of 3)
Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Scythe by Neal Schusterman
Wildcard by Marie Lu
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Toni Adeyemi (book #2 in series)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Watership Down by Richard Adams

Adult Fiction or Historical Fiction:
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Non-fiction:
Game Changer!: Book Access for All Kids by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp
Educated by Tara Westover
Troublemakers : Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School by Carla Shalaby
Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman
The World’s Religions by Huston Smith
The Story of Christianity Vol. 1 by Justo L. González
The Story of Christianity Vol. 2 by Justo L. González

If you are new to #MustReadin2019 and would like to participate this year, here’s a direct link to the There’s a Book for That POST you’ll want to check out and comment on. I’ll see everyone at the Spring (Thursday April 4th), Fall (Thursday September 5th), and  Year end (Thursday December 26th) updates.