It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 09/17/2018 #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!

Every few months I write a post where I claim it might be my shortest. But this one wins for sure. I’m still traveling in Texas and have not had much time to read or write. However, I’ve been enjoying both Ahimsa and EngiNerds. Can’t wait to briefly review both next Monday!

Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!


 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 09/10/2018 #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!

This is a tough semester navigating this new-to-me course. I was handed the bare bones and so I am attempting to make a 3-hour class out of it. It’s far more work than I anticipated, though. When hubby comes home from his loooong teaching day, I head up to the office to start my teaching and classroom prep (sometimes late into the night). Oh so hard on our family, so I hope next semester this gets easier. In other news, I’m heading BACK to Texas this week for my grandfather’s memorial on Wednesday and I won’t be home until next Monday afternoon. It’ll be nice to see family again. We’ll just have to see if I can squeak out another #imwayr post before I hop on my flight next Monday (departs at 5:55AM – YIKES!).

This week I’m including Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T. R. Simon in my reviews — this is the second book in the series and it releases tomorrow. I really hope we can get this series into as many schools as possible. It’s that good!! So here we go…


Zora-and-Me-2

Zora and Me:
The Cursed Ground
(Zora and Me #2)
T. R. Simon
Candlewick Press
September 11, 2018

I thoroughly enjoyed reading book number one earlier this summer (review for the first book HERE). It was incredibly satisfying and even took the John Steptoe New Talent Author Award (Coretta Scott King Task Force) for 2011. So I was eagerly anticipating book #2: The Cursed Ground. And it did NOT let me down! The sequel is another fictional adventure in the life of a young Zora Neale Hurston. This one, however, has alternating narratives going between 1855 and 1903. In the beginning, we meet back up with Zora, Carrie, and eventually Teddy. But now they face a brand new mystery as Mr. Polk has been badly wounded. When they find him, he speaks for the first time (he has always been a mute, to their knowledge), but they do not understand him.

In 1903, we learn that the town of Eatonville is in trouble with a gang of white men from the next town over. To understand WHY this is a real threat to Eatonville, we must have a firm grasp on what took place back in 1855 when slavery was the norm. Therefore, the story flows back and forth and the two different time period narratives provide a deep, rich story that slowly builds in suspense until the stories collide. All the missing gaps are filled and the truth clicks into place.

OH MY GOODNESS I loved the second book even more than the first one. The writing and language were beautiful — I sincerely didn’t want to put it down. I might as well admit it: I cried. While there are sweet and giggly parts to this series, there are some deeply moving scenes that hit me right where it counts. I really, really, really hope this series continues because the stories and characters are so well-crafted and the history is important and powerful. Don’t just take my word for it, it has already received starred reviews from both Kirkus and The Horn Book. My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for access to an e-ARC of this book. I originally discussed this book on my blog back in July, but I wanted to re-review it again today as it will be available for purchase tomorrow.

You can add Zora and Me, book #1 to your Goodreads list HERE.
You can add Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground to your Goodread list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase The Cursed Ground HERE.


Marcus-Vega

Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish
Pablo Cartaya
August 21, 2018
Viking

Marcus Vega is a very large kid. He struggles to fit in with the rest of his same-aged friend, so he takes advantage of his size by charging his classmates for various tasks he can handle better than most. Marcus’s younger brother, Charlie, has down syndrome. One day, another student at school makes a rude comment about Charlie and Marcus loses his temper. Everyone ends up in the school office and when all is said and done, Marcus mother decides the family needs a break from everyday reality. They head off on a family vacation back to Puerto Rico where Marcus meets and bonds with his distant relatives and learns a great deal about his country of origin. But all along, he struggles to enjoy the journey because he just wants to find his missing father and figure out why he left their family in the first place. Perhaps it was all a big misunderstanding. Family keep warning him not to get his hopes up, but Marcus is determined to meet the man who he looks so much like and “fix” whatever went wrong long ago. This is both a hopeful and heartbreaking journey. There’s so much love for Puerto Rico and middle grade readers will definitely relate to Marcus as he struggles to come to terms with his identity and his home.

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


LL_JKT_template.inddLions and Liars
Kate Beasley
June 5, 2018
Farrar Straus Giroux

Fifth-grader Frederick Frederickson is having a rough time. He’s beginning to question his friendships — whether his friends are who he thinks they are, or if they even like him at all. One day, in frustration, he climbs into his friend’s boat with a storm quickly approaching. He intended to just scare his friend by unlatching his boat from the dock, but his plan backfires and his boat is sent bobbing downstream, landing miles away where he discovers Camp Omigoshee, a program created for troubled boys. If things weren’t crazy already, it gets even wilder when the counselors and campers believe him to be the famous Dashiell — a young boy rumored to be scarier than all the other troubled campers combined. This is a funny, but meaningful story about finding your clan and being a true friend, even when faced with crisis. Its “feel good” ending will leave young readers smiling.

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


Harbor-MeHarbor Me
Jacqueline Woodson
April 28, 2018
Nancy Paulsen Books/
Penguin Random House 

This book hit me so hard in the gut, but also lifted me up into the fluffy clouds — so much sad, but so much beauty. Written from the perspective of Haley (also known as “Red”), we learn of a group of six best friends in 5th/6th grade who are “special” at their school. Every Friday, they’re sent to the ARTT (a room to talk) room to talk about anything they want to talk about. With their permission, Haley decides to voice record some of their sessions as they each unpack some of the most difficult parts of their young lives. The language paints tangible pictures of the devotion and heartache of childhood. Woodson eloquently addresses racism in multiple forms along with other painful issues such as the death of a parent, illegal immigration, having a parent in prison, loss of a favorite pet, school bullying, and more. How in the WORLD does she get the innocent heart of a young child so very right? I just want to hide in a closet and read Jacqueline Woodson all day. If you haven’t yet, I highly, highly recommend this one! It’s definitely one needed in any juvenile reading collection.

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


To Be Read:

I’m not sure how much reading I will be able to accomplish since I’ll be visiting with a lot of family in Texas from Wednesday to Monday. However, these two books were on my list. I’ve been looking forward to reading EngiNerds for a long time and it’s currently on a Kindle Deal for .99 right now!! On Beyond the Green, I found out from the publisher’s twitter account that it will not be published. Nevertheless, today I received an email from Netgalley reminding me that they are expecting my “Beyond the Green” review for next month. Who knows… If any fellow book reviews have had this happen before (a book be retracted from publication before you reviewed it), I’d love your feedback.

 

Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 09/03/2018 #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!

This week I’m sharing three middle grade novels — two that will be publishing tomorrow. They were all outstanding books, so I hope you might consider adding them to your collection.


Benefits-of-Being-an-OctopusThe Benefits of Being an Octopus
Ann Braden
September 4, 2018
Sky Pony Press

Meet Zoey, a seventh-grader who somehow juggles her school activities, being responsible for her three younger siblings, and worrying over her mother’s slowly diminished confidence. If only she could be an octopus with eight arms, ink as a defense, and the ability to camouflage herself in awkward situations. One day Zoey discovers exactly why her mother has shrunk beyond recognition and, in utter frustration, she finds a brave and powerful voice both at home and at school. We witness far more than a comfy story — we’re offered a glimpse into the desperation a single parent can experience as they attempt to find a suitable home for their children. What might appear as negligence to one person is sometimes a best case scenario for another. Over time we see that it really takes a village to raise a child AND that we can overcome even the worst of issues when we listen to one another and work together. What a gift to peek through this emotional window and experience a new level of empathy. I’m pleased to know this book will also be a mirror for those who need relatable characters–powerful characters who discover they don’t need a lot of money to make a difference in the lives of others. This is a much-needed title in any middle grade collection. I’m grateful to Sky Pony Press and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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


24-Hours-in-Nowhere

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

Having LOVED Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, I was already looking forward to Dusti Bowling’s next book: 24 Hours in Nowhere. This is the story of Gus, a rather bright 13 year old who is stuck in Nowhere, Arizona. When his friend, Rossi Scott, gives up her beloved motorcycle to save Gus from having to eat a horrible cactus, he feels compelled to do whatever he can to win her motorcycle back — including entering the dangerous mines (filled with mystery, myths, and HOPEFULLY treasure). Over the next 24 hours, four different people enter the mines and must work together and trust one another if they hope to get back out alive. Throughout their dangerous trials, they discover just how much they each have in common with one another.

Bowling’s ability to effortlessly weave complicated lives into a cohesive story line is stunning. She creates such well-rounded, relatable characters. I loved each of them — laughing and crying throughout their stories and treasure hunting adventure. Once I finished this book, I turned to my husband and said we would be buying a home copy of this book and reading it with our five children. I didn’t merely like this book, I would say it’s probably my favorite read of 2018, so far. This story beautifully addresses so many societal issues at once: bullying, sexism, racism, incarceration, abandonment, and income disparity. Bowling is a legit storyteller. I hope she has a mountain of books planned in her future because I plan to read every last one of them! My thanks to Sterling Publishing and Edelweiss for providing an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for my review.

I shared a little bit about this book back in July, but with its publication tomorrow I knew it was important to re-blog my review to remind other readers to run out and purchase a copy of 24 Hours in Nowhere for themselves.

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


Where-the-Watermelons-GrowWhere the Watermelons Grow
Cindy Baldwin
July 3, 2018
HarperCollins

Be prepared for utter heartbreak in this story of a young girl who is watching the deterioration of her mother’s mind. Twelve-year-old Della already feels responsible for her mother’s illness since it was the hormonal fluctuation from giving birth to Della that triggered her schizophrenia. Della remembers that things were once very, very bad. But thank goodness life got better after her doctor found the right medicinal combination to bring her back to life. Nevertheless, when Della begins to see signs of her mother’s illness slowly creeping back into the picture, she doesn’t know who she can trust to not gossip about her family or call her mom “crazy.” Oh my, she has the most beautiful memories of her mother and you cannot help but love her mother when you read of all the things she used to do, before she was sick. I yearned to meet that healthy, devoted mother by the end of this book. And Della’s father is pure gold. He loves and respects her mother 100% and believes she deserves to make her own decisions — UNLESS her decisions begin to harm those she loves. But is her illness harming anyone? The most wonderful thing in this story is the fact that Della discovers several healthy, loving, and committed adults in her community who will always be there for her family, through thick and thin. The story is heavy, but so very important. We can not simply sweep mental illness under the rug without destroying loving families, thereby damaging our entire society. This book shows us the life of a family who desperately needs non-judgmental support and understanding. I hope its devastating honestly helps remove the stigma of mental illness by demonstrating the role we can all play in real-life situations.

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


To Be Read:

Harbor Me is brand new to me, but I’ve heard so many great things already. And I’ve read Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground earlier this summer, but I’ll be looking back at it to review again before its release next week. And Lions & Liars is a cute title I started listening to just this weekend, so I’ll be sure to review it in next week’s post.

Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/27/2018 #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!

Yesterday was a bittersweet day for my family. My grandfather passed away (Sunday) — he had been slowly diminishing over the last several years (dementia), so we are happy that he has been released from his pain and suffering. However, this world has already been missing him as he loved his family dearly and he touched so many other lives around the world and across the country. The “sweet” part of yesterday is the fact that it was also my older daughter’s 15th birthday. So we enjoyed the celebration of her life with cake, ice cream, and special gifts. She informed me she had been calculating conception dates and realized that Christmas of 2002 must have been a “cozy time” for me and her daddy. LOL Ahhhh, the joys of raising teenagers. On to share a selection of my reading for the week…


Reaper-at-the-Gates

A Reaper at the Gates
(Ember in the Ashes #3)
Sabaa Tahir
June 12th 2018
Razorbill
Young Adult

I finally finished book #3. Woohoo!! And it was, in my humble opinion, the best of the series so far. I wish I could give a thorough synopsis without any spoilers, but it’s likely that I’ll reveal something if I say much. So quickly… This book follows the paths of Laia of Serra, Elias, and The Blood Shrike — rotating narration between the three (until the very end where two new characters take over the last chapters). We finally discover a few important pieces to the puzzle, like how Cook is connected to someone imporant, why the ghosts that won’t pass on are so dangerous, and what the Nightbringer has promised Keris Veturia. And Laia eventually discovers where the last piece of the Jinn star is hiding. But will it be too late to save the Scholars by the time all is revealed?

“Curse this world for what it does to mothers, for what it does to daughters. Curse it for making us strong through loss and pain, our hearts torn from our chests again and again. Curse it for forcing us to endure.”

The painful prophecy seems to play out seamlessly, despite all counter efforts. And if the rest of the foretelling comes to fruition, then we’re in for a horrible book #4. But I have every confidence that Tahir will pull off a winning conclusion to this series. Can’t wait!


Truth-as-told-by-Mason-ButtleThe Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
Leslie Connor
January 23, 2018
Katherine Tegen Books
Middle Grade Literature

This is my new middle grade book crush (I am a bit flighty when it comes to firm one-book-commitment, so other middle grade books mustn’t get jealous). I started it on a whim a few days ago and quickly fell in love with this kid. Mason is dyslexic and regularly experiences synesthesia (with his form, he sees colors based on his emotions). He is also terribly sad because his very best friend, Benny, died last year by stepping on a bad ladder board and falling from Mason’s treehouse — or at least they think that’s what happened. No one is sure and Mason feels like maybe he’s to blame. Mason meets a new kid at his school named Calvin and they develop a truly beautiful, trusting, and adventurous friendship (which Mason really needs because he’s accustomed to being picked on by some bullies). But one terrible day, another shocking incident happens and everyone is wondering, yet again, if Mason is to blame. Throughout the story, the school librarian is allowing Mason to “write” his story by using a talk-to-text software. He has such a sweet, optimistic, and innocent view of the world. And it’s eventually this writing that helps everyone understand a part of his story that no one even thought to ask about. There’s also an unexpected darkness to this book that caught me off-guard, but one of the most important lessons comes through when one of his bullies takes a stand against the others. And suddenly there’s a gut-wrenching realization for everyone involved.

One reason why this book touched me so deeply is because one of my brothers is dyslexic and dysgraphic. He has had multiple experiences, similar to Mason’s, and I couldn’t help but see my sweet little brother through this narration. I remember other children calling him an idiot from a very early age — kids who didn’t understand that we all think and process things differently. One time a substitute even slapped him across the face in front of his 3rd or 4th grade class, thinking he was playing stupid (thankfully the principal marched down to the classroom and fired the substitute on the spot). Needless to say, exposure to these characters is crucial for developing empathy in children. Thank you, Leslie Connor!


Snail-and-Worm-AgainSnail & Worm Again
Tina Kugler
March 28, 2017
HMH Books for Young Readers
Picture Book

This was laugh-out-loud funny! This 30-paged book is divided into three stories: Snails Wings, The Mirror, and Snail is Sad. I hate to merely describe it as being like Elephant & Piggie, but that’s become my go-to for the type of picture book humor that’s both funny, but also a little sobering (because it’s often about real-life problems). I like that these different scenarios can open the door to discussing childhood problems because young readers will laugh, but also understand the issues. Laughter is good medicine! And snail and worm will truly be relatable to adults and children, alike. I just checked this one out from my library and now I can’t wait to share it with my children and hubby. The illustrations are rendered with acrylic on pastel paper, collage, and digital media. And in case anyone was worried, there’s a notation that “no snails or worms were harmed in the making of this book.” What relief! I must own ALL the Snail & Worm books, now.


Temple-CatTemple Cat
Andrew Clements
Kate Kiesler, illustrator
Clarion Books
HMH Books for Young Readers
Picture Book

I guess this is an older title from the 90s, but the book appeared to be brand new to our library and the artwork quickly caught my attention. Poor spoiled little temple cat is spoon-fed everything in life, but all he really wants is to be free and loved. So he escapes his temple and explores the world on his own. The beautiful illustrations were rendered in oil paint. I’ll provide two spreads as examples, below:

Temple-Cat-spread1Temple-Cat-spread2


To Be Read:

I am LOVING The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden. I’m not quite finished, but I’ll be posting a review for the grand release very soon. I also just barely got started on Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin. But I’m hooked and hoping to finish that this week, too. Also, I’m listening to and watching Peter & the Wolf with my music students, this week. Oh how well I remember that story and the music from my childhood. Do you?

Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/20/2018 #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!

We had a wonderful trip to Texas, taking care of my mom after her knee replacement surgery. She’s healing up beautifully, so I’m relieved. I traveled with my oldest and youngest this time, so I’ll share a picture of us all together the day we arrived and some photos my mom asked me to take of my girls while we were there (our three boys stayed home with their daddy).

Today is the first day of school at the college. My oldest is 14 and will be taking her very first face-to-face college coursework this semester. At least she’s attending the same college where hubby and I teach — I’m glad we’ll all still be in close proximity. WHEW! So… on to my reading for the week. I didn’t get to visit and comment on all participants’ blogs last week (due to travel), but hopefully I can make the usual rounds this week.


Frida-Kahlo-and-her-AnimalitosFrida Kahlo and Her Animalitos
Monica Brown
John Parra, illustrator
September 5, 2017
NorthSouth Books
Children’s Picture Book

I picked this up from our college library. It seems I’ve been seeing a lot of books on Frida Kahlo, but I missed this one from this past year. This picture book focuses mostly on Frida Kahlo’s childhood and teenage years, but hits a little bit on her adulthood, too. We learn all about her favorite animals (dogs, cat, turkeys, monkeys, and even a fawn) and how they kept her company. She also liked to included them in her paintings. This book showcases the feisty part of Frida’s personality and is sure to interest children who march to the beat of their own drum. The book includes a lengthy “author’s note” at the end providing more details about Frida’s life and accomplishments. The notes do not specify how the artwork was completed in this book, but it’s worth mentioning that it took the Pura Belpre Award for illustrator for 2018. 🙂 I’ll provide one spread, below:
Frida-spread


What-Can-you-Do-with-a-RebozoWhat Can You Do With a Rebozo?
Carmen Taffeta
Amy Cordova, illustrator
April 1, 2008
Tricycle Press, Crown Publishing Group,
Random House, Inc.

This is an older picture book I’ve read before, but I was drawn back to it this week. I’ve mentioned, in the past, that I’ve worked in the birthing world with midwifery, doulas, and other obstetrical staff (and even home birthed my last three babies after my first two were born via cesarean). Well, MY first introduction to the rebozo wasn’t even mentioned in this book — they are used a great deal in pre-labor, labor, and delivery. They cradle the baby belly, gently rock the baby into a good birthing position, and then help momma move and relax as she births her baby. One of my birth colleagues from Texas, Gena Garcia-Kirby, carefully crafts these beautiful woven shawls and puts on entire workshops demonstrating how to use them. So yes, I was personally drawn to this book and enjoyed seeing all the other practical AND creative ways a robozo is used. The colorful artwork was created with acrylic paint on paper. NOTE: This book won a 2009 Pura Belpre Illustration Honor.
Rebozo-spread


Its-Not-JackIt’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk
Josh Funk
Edwardian Taylor, illustrator
September 19, 2017
Publisher: Two Lions
Children’s Picture Book

This is a really cute fractured fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack realizes what’s happening with his story, so he takes over and re-writes the tale. While the narrator might be frustrated, young readers are sure to enjoy hearing Jack’s and the giant’s take on how things are supposed to turn out. Here’s one cute page-spread from the story:
Screen Shot 2018-08-19 at 6.34.43 PM


To Be Read:

I’m finishing Reaper this week and I would like to at least get started on Benefits of Being an Octopus. YAY!

Have a WONDERFUL reading week, everyone!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/13/2018 #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!

This past week has been a whirlwind of travel preparations, surgery updates, new college course preparations, and seemingly endless errands. 🙂 So this will be an extremely short #imwayr post showcasing just my three main book reads for the week. (I’ve also been reading over several syllabi, but I’ll spare you photos of those reviews!! ;))


Reaper-at-the-Gates

Reaper at the Gates
Sabaa Tahir
June 12, 2018
Razorbill
Young Adult

I’ve been working on this one for the last 2 1/2 weeks. It is worth savoring and easy to fall back into the story every time I pick it up. If you’re not familiar with this series, by the time you reach this book (#3) we’re now oscillating between between three main characters. I’m enjoying the development of each character, learning more about what makes them tick and understanding why they react certain ways. I think I’m especially taking my time with this one since I know it will be a long wait until book #4 is published. Boo!


StinkiestStinkiest!: 20 Smelly Animals
Steve Jenkins
May 22, 2018
HMH Books for Young Readers
Nonfiction Picture Book
Kidlit/MGlit

This is a cute little nonfiction picture book about a variety of stinky animals. There are explanations on each animal so the reader knows the animal’s size, where it lives, what it eats, and why/how the animal stinks. The artwork was done in torn-and-cut-paper collage and there are 40 pages to this book. I’ll share one page-spread, below:

Stinkiest-spread2


Music-ContentMusic Content and Strategies
for Elementary Classroom Teachers
Dawn S. Baker
Patrick A. Garrett
2016
College Textbook

This is the textbook for a course I’ll be teaching this fall and spring. As the title indicates, it provides very basic strategies for sharing music in the (elementary) classroom. And it just so happened to be written by a dear friend of a friend. This is probably the one book I should be focusing all my attention on this next week (since classes start next Monday). Anyway, I know it’s a college textbook. However, since I use #imwayr to document my weekly reading journey I figured it’s completely applicable. 🙂


To Be Read:

We’re still out of town, spending time with my mom down in Texas after her second knee replacement surgery. I’m finding it difficult to sit down and read with a number of health care professionals and visitors dropping in (along with our own household schedule). So I won’t commit to finishing anything, just yet. I’ll just look forward to seeing whatever I happen to get to before next Monday.

Have a great reading week, everyone!


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/06/2018 #imwayr

2018-8-5

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!


Blood-Water-PaintBlood Water Paint
Joy McCullough
March 6, 2018
Dutton Books for Young Readers

I sometimes go into a book knowing very little about the story line. I mean, I’ll hear it’s really good, read a summary, and I’ll add it to my list. But then when it’s time to check it out and read it, I often just start reading without reviewing the synopsis. And that’s exactly what happened with this book. So it was intensely sobering once I realized what was happening.

“When a women risks her place, her very life, to speak a truth the world despises, believe her. Always.”

Briefly, this book is based on the real Artemisia Gentileschi, an extremely talented painter from the 1600s. Her story is beautifully woven within the stories her late mother used to tell her of Judith and Susanna. Artemisia is working in a man’s world, secretly, and being used for her talents (without credit). The plot builds and there’s a period of time where things feel utterly hopeless.

“If I thought women would show compassion simply because we share a place in this world, I was a fool. I am a fool.”

But sometimes courage comes in the most unusual moments — and support  from those you least expect. Written in verse, these stories speak of injustices done to women over the centuries, while simultaneously showcasing the beauty, power, and bravery of women. It’s an intense read that I have a feeling I will return to in the future.

Trigger/Content Warning: Sexual assault, violence, murder. The end of this book has an important afterword that discusses and shares resources for survivors of sexual violence. I adore the fact that this book ends with:

You’re not alone.”


Sunny2Sunny
(Series: Track #3)
Jason Reynolds
April 10, 2018
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

I definitely liked both Ghost and Patina, but Sunny is quite… special. It’s my favorite (shhhh! Don’t tell Ghost or Patty!). Just thinking about it makes me want to giggle, but it also brings a lump to my throat.

This whole book is a diary, so Sunny is not held to any writing rules. In fact, there are moments when his prose slides into poetry.

Gramps said running is moving.
I said, no, dancing is.
Gramp’s face turned into a question mark.
And mine, into a period.

Sunny is homeschooled and learns things authentically (measuring out recipes, etc.) while not being confined to a desk. But he also bears the weight of the world because of his late mother (and his father’s grief). And so there are things he must face and action he must take to stand up for himself. Since it’s written as a personal diary, Sunny’s inner voice feels so strong and authentic. I can see him struggling to sort through his thoughts and put down his feelings, by hand.

He’d busted out laughing. Like, laughing laughing. I don’t remember the last time I heard him laugh, and I definitely don’t think I’ve ever heard him laugh that loud, and for that long. It actually sounded kind of painful. Like a bad cough. Like hacking and hacking and hacking up something he’d been choking on for a long time.

The quote, above, came after a series of events that started out super sad followed by super funny. I wanted to remember this moment because I SO needed to laugh at that point. It felt like a heavy rain on the hottest day of the summer — such sweet relief. If you haven’t yet read this book, I hope you can find a copy and dig in SOON.


Dory Fantasmagory: Head in the Clouds
(Series: Dory Fantasmagory #4)
Abby Hanlon
March 6, 2018
Dial Books

I had never read any Dory Fantasmagory before this week. *gasp* Judging by the book covers, I always assumed these were 32-paged children’s picture books. I was wrong. LOL Thankfully, it wasn’t too difficult to squeeze in these 470 pages of reading (three books), because once you start a Dory book they’re SO difficult to put down. I really don’t think there’s anything someone could have said to fully prepare me for Dory Fantasmagory (including comparing her to Junie B. Jones, as many do). But what exciting imagination and fun-loving adventures await any children (and adults!) who dive into these books. They’ve won a number of awards and honors, including a Cybil award, being named an American Library Association Notable Book, and all four books in the series are Junior Library Guild selections. Also worth noting is that Abby Hanlon is a first grade teacher and she taught herself to draw after not having drawn since childhood. Impressive!


To Be Read:

My mom is having knee replacement surgery tomorrow, so I’m taking my daughters and flying across the country to be with her during her initial recovery week (while my husband stays home with our three sons). I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to read or blog, but I hope to finish up A Reaper at the Gates and start on a couple ARCs. We’ll see… 🙂

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