It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/20/2020 #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!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! This is the first year that we have officially cancelled all classes and planned some bigger-than-usual events for students to attend. For example, in addition to our regular march up Main Street and open mic opportunities,  hip-hop artist Ali Tomineek will perform on campus this afternoon and then will give a keynote speech later in the evening. And we’ll also have a screening of the movie Southside With You which tells the story of the first date of Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson (Obama) and is “set against the back drop of community organizing and civil rights activities in Chicago.” Hopefully these and other events will inspire greater awareness and discussion about the Civil Rights Movement, modern racial discrimination, and ongoing nonviolent activism.

This week I’m sharing only one novel and a few picture books, including a review of an ARC I received of Cats vs. AI Pets by Lian Sommer. Whether it’s a new book or an older one, I hope you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading lists.


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Cats vs AI Pets
Lian Sommer
December 2019
Salinya Uhde

My thanks to Lian Sommer for providing a digital copy of this picture book. This is the story of a little girl named Anna. She lives in the year 2087 and relies heavily on her robot. The story shares how her body works differently from her robot’s body (he uses cameras to “see” and he is powered by battery, etc.), but she’s heavily invested in spending time on her robot rather than living in the moment with others. Eventually, Anna’s parents give Anna a cat. At first she doesn’t know what’s so special about a cat, it simply exists! However, over time she finds a warmth and connection with her cat that she couldn’t find in her robot. After spending a bit of time unplugged, Anna knows there’s a time and place for the use of her robot. But she also learns the importance of avoiding distractions and enjoying simple pleasures. Books like these are a great way to open the floor for family discussions about the ways we use technology and the types of real life interactions we might miss out on if we exclusively communicate online.

NOTE: Lian Sommer was working a stressful desk job, spending most of his days with only online interaction. He became compelled to quit his job and write books for children to help them learn to use technology in a responsible way. To find out more about his work or to join his mailing list, please check out his website at https://www.aipets.com.

The artwork was created using a Wacom tablet, Corel Painter and Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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I Can Make This Promise
Christine Day
October 1, 2019
HarperCollins

This debut middle grade novel is about a young girl named Edie who is desperate to learn more about her Native American heritage. She knows her mother was adopted when she was a baby, but her mom will not share anything about her family of origin. One day, Edie and two friends are rummaging around in her attic when they find a box of letters with a photo of a woman who looks nearly identical to Edie. Furthermore, they discover the woman’s name is Edith! Prepare yourself for a beautiful journey of self-discovery combined with the very sad history that ignited The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.

NOTE: In October of 2018, I reviewed an ARC of Beyond the Green by Sharlee Mullins Glenn. But after receiving feedback from reviewers, this title was pulled from printing by Charlesbridge. In a nutshell, the story was heavily based on Glenn’s real-life experience since her family adopted a 5 month old Native American child back in the 70s. Therefore, her book was written more from the perspective of a white family who was mourning their adopted child being “taken” from them, years later, and given back to a family she didn’t know. It was easy to see some similarities between these two stories, but the experiences were from complete opposite sides of the adoption experience. (And, scarily, the cover art to both books is actually kinda similar.) In any case, if you’re interested in reading Glenn’s unpublished book to learn about her experience and perspective, I’m told that Circle Dance, published in 1998, is an earlier version (20 years earlier!) of Beyond the Green.

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


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The Little Green Girl
Lisa Anchin
April 2, 2019
Dial Books

I need more picture books like this in my life!! In this imaginative story, “one bright morning” a seed blew into Mr. Aster’s garden. And while Mr. Aster didn’t appreciate unexpected things, but he decided to take on the new seed and nurture it. While he carefully tends to her needs, he talks to her, welcoming her to his home and garden, teaching her about the world around her. When he discovers that the garden is too small for the little green girls’ needs, he makes yet another change in his routine so that she can travel the world and find the satisfaction she so deeply desires. I would have never imagined this is Lisa Anchin’s very first book — it’s so wonderful! I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on her work!

The lush illustrations in this book were created with acryla gouache and pencil. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

LittleGreenGirl-SPREAD

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


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Hey, Water!
Antoinette Portis
March 26, 2019
Neal Porter Books

This nonfiction book is an excellent resource for children learning all about water in its many forms, including the water cycle. Additionally, it’s written in a way that both established readers AND emergent readers can enjoy. Amidst the prose of each page, a new word is shared to go with each illustration. Younger children can use context clues to decode the word while older children can read the details. The artwork is exactly what I love to see in a children’s nonfiction book — just enough details to thoroughly intrigue a young reader, but not overly complicated. Be sure to examine the back matter for more information on water forms, the water cycle, how to conserve water, and where to go for more reading.

The artwork for this book was made with brush and sumi ink. Color was added digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Hey-Water-SPREAD

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


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Harold Snipperpot’s Best
Disaster Ever
Beatrice Alemagna
Edward Gauvin, illustrator
February 5, 2019
HarperCollins

Harold is turning seven years old, but his grumpy, emotionally distant parents do not like birthday parties. In fact, Harold has never had one before. This year turns out much different than normal, however, because his parents decide to hire Mr. Ponzio to arrange a party that will make their son happy. Mr. Ponzio is the person everyone goes to with their problems, so whatever he does should work out fine. Things quickly get wild and crazy!! However unexpectedly, the insanity that transpires solves more than just getting a birthday party. The story is completely unrealistic, but highly imaginative.

The artwork was created using gouache, oil, collage, and wax pencils. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Harold-Snipperpots-SPREAD

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


To Be Read:

Ever since reading Torpedoed, last week, I’ve been wanting to dive into Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood. I also just got a copy of Just Like My Brother by Gianna Marino, so I’m looking forward to reading it this week.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 19/200


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/13/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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

I’m publishing rather late again this week, so I especially thank you if you made it to this post. Whether it’s an older book or new one, I hope you find something to add to your list.


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Farah Rocks Fifth Grade
Farah Rocks #1
Susan Muaddi Darraj
January 1, 2020
Capstone / Stone Arch Books

Holy Hummus!! This was a great middle grade story centering around bullying and (lack of) communication with adults. Farah Hajjar (which is Arabic for rocks) is a brilliant 5th grader, very hopeful to be accepted to a local magnet school with her best friend, Allie. However, she’s also fiercely protective of her little brother, Samir. So when the new bus bully begins poking fun at both her and Samir, Farah decides to overhaul her life plans to make sure she’ll be at the same school next year — close to her brother so that he can be safe. This was one of those stories I kept thinking, “Just go tell your parents. Tell a teacher. Go to the office and tell one of the administrators!!” But no. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work out the way you hoped. Sometimes kids sometimes have to learn about communication the hard way. And as we witness in Farah Rocks Fifth Grade, sometimes the adults have to learn the same lesson about communication. With a positive, feel-good ending, this story will pull at the heartstrings. I was very pleased to know there’s a book #2 coming out. I can’t wait to see what happens next! Oh, and don’t miss the back pages where you’ll find Farah’s hummus recipe. I love hummus, so I just HAD to try it out. I like mine a little stronger in taste, so I added a large helping of garlic to mine. But this simple and mild recipe would be a fun way to introduce hummus to young readers who’ve not tried it, yet. NOTE: My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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


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Song of the Crimson Flower
(Rise of the Empress #2.5)
Julie C. Dao
November 5, 2019
Philomel Books

Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, is in love with her betrothed. He seems very shy in person, refusing to see her on a regular basis, but he quietly sails his boat to her window in the evenings to play a song written especially for her. It’s not too long before she discovers that the person actually visiting her each night is Bao, a poor physician’s apprentice who grew up an orphan. Enraged by this discovery, she loudly rejects Bao. In his hurt and embarrassment, he flees down the river where he meets a witch who curses him, trapping his soul in his flute. And WOW that’s barely even the beginning of this story. For being a fairly short book, this was a HUGE story filled with non-stop action, romance, sacrifice, and many magical elements. Sweet and tender, even if a tad predictable. This young adult fantasy is said to be a retelling of East Asian folklore. I did not read the first two books in this series, but since they are separate stories it didn’t impact my ability to understand.

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


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Torpedoed: The True Story
of the World War II Sinking
of “The Children’s Ship”
Deborah Heiligman
October 8, 2019
Henry Holt and Co.

“Why does death choose some and not others?”

Heavily researched and showcasing numerous individual stories, this nonfiction book details the experiences of many who were aboard the SS City of Benares, a ship carrying almost 100 children to safety (from England to Canada) during WWII. After the torpedo hit, only 13 of the 90 children survived, half the British crew died, and more than half the Indian crew died. But Heiligman shares many personal stories of the passengers, as well as personal letters and details from survivor interviews. One of the most shocking portions of the book was when a lifeboat was missed during the rescue attempt. Families were contacted and told their loved ones had perished, but for at least a week, this little cramped life boat floated along with diminishing supplies, it especially lacked water. But they were finally rescued and lived to tell their tale. Sonya Beck is the oldest still living survivor at 90 years old. And one interesting tidbit shared at the end was the fact that the captain of the U-boat who ordered the torpedoing of the SS City of Benares suffered a mental collapse when he was informed the ship was carrying nearly 100 children. There was simply no way for them to know this fact, at the time.

AWARDS: YALSA Award Nominee for Excellence in Nonfiction (2020)

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


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Sulwe
Lupita Nyong’o
Vashti Harrison, illustrator
October 15, 2019
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

This picture book is simply breathtaking. Sulwe believes there is something wrong with having such dark skin. Everyone in her family is lighter-skinned and so she does everything in her power to lighten her skin. She tries to rub off a layer or two of skin. OUCH! Then she tries make-up, eating only light colored foods, and even requesting a miracle from God. Her mother is able to share the story of the sisters: Night and Day. And it so perfectly explains the importance of having both light and dark and every color in between. The artwork is absolutely lovely. The characters are beautiful, but even the backgrounds are gorgeous and will keep your eye wandering each page spread.

The illustrations for this book were rendered using Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Sulwe-SPREAD

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


To Be Read:

This will be an insane week and weekend, so I don’t have much reading time. However, I’ve been reading I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day and I hope to have it finished by this weekend. I’ve also ordered another stack of picture books that should arrive by Sunday, so we’ll see how quickly I get them to my desk.

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Reading Challenge Updates:

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 14/200


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/6/2020 #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!

Oh my, we’ve still been holiday-ing this week. I’m afraid it’s going to be difficult to get back into the groove. We’re hoping to take the tree down and put away all our holiday stuff TODAY. Maybe then we’ll feel like it’s truly over. LOL Thank you so very much for visiting, today!


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The Sad Little Fact
Jonah Winter
Pete Oswald, illustrator
May 7, 2019

While this is a picture book and intended for children, I think it would work better in the hands of tweens, teens, and adults. Because it would be a great way to introduce the study of information literacy as we peel back layers of “facts” to understand their origins and why some points are harder to believe than others. And yes, facts are not always facts. There are so many variables, which is a concept that is very difficult for a young child to comprehend. I also worry that a few things mentioned in this story were deliberate jabs at political and religious groups. They will not likely be well received by some parents. Otherwise, the artwork is really adorable and the book can open the floor for more detailed conversation. Why did the “Authorities” not believe certain facts? Why did they work so hard to bury them? On very thick paper, the illustrations were rendered digitally using gouache watercolor textures. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Sad-Fact-2-SPREAD

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


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The Little Red Stroller
Joshua Furst
Katy Wu, illustrator
April 16, 2019
Dial Books

In this story, the little red stroller is passed from family to family, traveling through many activities and diverse communities, until it faces its demise (after at least 10 families used it from babyhood through toddlerhood). But just when the last family discovers the red stroller is broken beyond repair, another family comes along and offers up their yellow stroller, since they no longer need it. In a cute ending, the yellow stroller somehow makes it back to the original owner of the red stroller, completing the cycle. Aside from the fact that very few strollers could make it through more than two or three families (especially families who spend so much time traveling and walking/jogging), it’s a cute story of community and recycling useful items. The art in this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Red-Stroller-2-SPREAD

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


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Lubna and Pebble
Wendy Meddour
Daniel Egneus, illustrator
March 5, 2019
Dial Books

Beautiful artwork matches an emotional story as we witness a young girl named Lubna leaving home and living in a world of tents. Lubna’s best friend is a pebble that she talks to when she’s lonely or scared. One day she meets a young boy named Amir, and now has two friends. But what will happen when it’s time for the children to be separated? While the story doesn’t explicitly say so, it appears to be about the experience of young children in a refugee camp. This one will encourage much better understanding and empathy for the fear and alienation many children feel when they are driven from their home and lack connection. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of the artwork, below:

Lubna-SPREAD

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


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Another
Christian Robinson
March 5, 2019
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

I read this book long after my youngest went to sleep, which is such a shame. Because I believe we usually get more out of wordless picture books when we read them with children. Their perspectives and untainted imaginations are so fantastic to witness. But what I gathered from my reading of this story was the feeling of shifted reality. There are multiple perspectives mixed with pure imagination — and the cat leads the way for most of the story. The pictures made me think of a combination of Salvador Dali’s paintings mixed with Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory. And if my children ever happen to disappear into a mysterious hole in the wall, I sure hope they take a beloved pet along to guide them on their (safe!) journey back to reality. The illustrations for this book were rendered in paint and collage, with digital editing. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Another-SPREAD

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


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I Like My Bike
Antongionata Ferrari
January 15, 2019
Holiday House

This book is intended to be an easy reader with repetitive phrases that change just a word or two on each page. For example: “I like my bike. I like my car. I like my truck.” But there’s definitely more than words to this story, so kids will be giggling up a storm as they explore the page and discuss who is driving each mode of transportation. In fact, they might make a game out of where they can find the young girl riding her bike on every single page. With her striped shirt, this reminded me of Where’s Waldo? (Oh, and appears there’s more than just people and animals driving — do plants drive? LOL)

I actually just laughed when I finished this one and started over from the beginning to see what all I might have missed in the illustrations. The artwork in this book was created with black pencil, watercolors, india ink, collage, and digital tools. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Like-Bike-SPREAD

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


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Chicken Talk
Patricia MacLachlan
Jarrett J. Krosoczka, illustrator
January 15, 2019
Katherine Tegen Books

At Willie and Belle’s farm there are 11 hens named Trixie, Grace, Bitsy, Boo, Joyce, Joyce, Joyce, Joyce, Joyce, Joyce, and Joyce. That’s right, there are seven Joyces (because they cannot tell any of them apart). Additionally, there’s one protective rooster named Pedro. A mystery is brewing as the family wakes up to messages scratched in the dirt each day, but no one knows who is writing them. The chickens don’t want salad, the mailman drives too fast, the Joyces each want their own names, and it’s too hot in the henhouse. But keep guessing throughout this story because you won’t find out who-done-it until the very last page! 🙂 I’ll provide just one page spread as an example of the artwork, below:

Chicken-Talk-SPREAD

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


To Be Read:

I’m still reading an ARC of Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by Susan Muaddi Darraj and illustrated by Ruaida Mannaa, which is great so far! I’m also listening to Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao and I am expecting Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and illustrated by Vashti Harrison will arrive this week!

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 10/200
#MustReadin2020 – *still working on this list*


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/30/2019 #imwayr

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

It’s so difficult for me stay on top of blogging over the holidays, so I’m posting rather late again this week. But THANK YOU for visiting today. I’m excited to be reviewing a brand new book called I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak, along with a number of other titles I got my hands on. Whether it’s a new book or older title, I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list this week!


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I, Cosmo
Carlie Sorosiak
December 24, 2019
Candlewick Press
Walker Books UsS

Absolutely fantastic! I know this was intended for the middle grade audience, but I adored the story — laughing out loud and tearing up throughout. Cosmo is an older golden retriever and he’s the one who narrates this story. His boy, Max, is struggling with the realization that his mom and dad aren’t getting along and they might eventually split up. So Cosmo feels it’s his responsibility to hold the family together. The story comes at this topic from a unique position, showcasing how divorce impacts everyone (including our beloved pets). I love how expressive Cosmo is and how he reads and interprets common human actions. I’ll admit that I was nervous because Cosmo is getting up there in age, but this story has a happy ending and will soon be a favorite in children’s and middle grade libraries. I also appreciated the note at the very end, encouraging readers to first look at shelters and rescues when they want to adopt a dog. I highly recommend! My thanks to NetGalley, Carlie Sorosiak, and Candlewick Press for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest response.

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


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The 12th Candle
Kim Tomsic
October 8, 2019
Katherine Tegen Books

Sage Sassafras is plagued by the Contrarium Curse, meaning that she and classmate Priscilla Petty get the opposite in luck. Believe it or not, the curse actually began a full generation ago when their mothers were struck by pink lightning. However, on Sage’s twelfth birthday, she receives a magical birthday candle complete with a long list of rules on how to get magical wishes fulfilled. Can Sage simply wish away the Contrarium Curse or will there be extreme consequences? This was a wonderful story that included great lessons on poor life choices, friendship, relationships with parents, and much more. I really enjoyed this one and look forward to reading Tomsic’s The 11:11 Wish very soon!

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


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An American Marriage
Tayari Jones
January 29, 2018
Algonquin Books

There’s so much pain and heartbreak in this story, but it’s written quite beautifully and realistically. Celestial and Roy are a young, black couple, navigating life in the south when Roy is abruptly accused of rape. Everyone who knows Roy knows there’s no way he could have committed this crime and he even has a strong alibi, but the trial doesn’t go as expected and he is sentenced to 12 years in jail. Celestial is devastated, but she decides to continue being marriage to Roy while running her very successful business.

“My prayer for you is for peace, which is something you have to make. You can’t just have it.”

The relationships are so strongly written in this story, the internal thoughts and pain are deeply felt, and the family ties are quite apparent. This was one of the final books on my #MustReadin2019 list and I’m very glad I was able to squeeze it in at the last minute. Check out that list of rewards!

AWARDS: National Book Award Nominee for Fiction (2018), Audie Award Nominee for Audiobook of the Year (2019), Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Fiction (2018), Women’s Prize for Fiction (2019), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction (2018), NAACP Image Award Nominee for Fiction (2019), Aspen Words Literary Prize Nominee for Longlist (2019), The Orwell Prize Nominee for Political Fiction for Longlist (2019), Clara Johnson Award for Women’s Literature (2019)

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


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Drawn Together
Minh Lê
Dan Santat, illustrator
June 5, 2018
Disney-Hyperion

We finally got a copy of Drawn Together at my local library and now I see what I’ve been missing all this time! This is a beautiful story of a young boy and his grandfather overcoming language barriers by using art in place of words. The artwork is stunning — some with colors half-filled in, as if the drawing is still happening while you’re reading it. Wow!

AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2018), Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Literature for Picture Book (2019)

The artwork in this book was created in traditional mixed media and composited on the computer. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Drawn-Together-SPREAD

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


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Found Dogs
Erica Sirotich
July 18, 2017
Dial

While this picture book may appear to be a simple rhyming and counting book, it’s much more than that. As the first half counts up to 10, we mostly just see dogs sitting in the pictures by themselves. But on the countdown from 10 to 1, we begin seeing the dogs interacting with potential adopters. Because today is adoption day! ❤️ I’ve shared that we lost our fur baby, Sophie, back in October and that we’re currently fostering another pup (with the potential to adopt). I cannot overstate how much appreciate I have for all those who give of their time and energy to find families for homeless dogs — there are many jobs including transportation, medical care (spay, neuter, vaccinate), foster families, dog walkers, running events to help find homes, and organizing social media and other forms of advertising. To my knowledge, our local chapter is entirely run by volunteers. Please consider checking out your local shelters to see if you can lend a hand!

The artwork in this book was created in ink, using brushes and pans; it was then composed and colored digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Found-Dogs-SPREAD

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


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Everyone Walks Away
Eva Lindström
February 14, 2018
Gecko Press

This book is quite thought provoking and took me some time to digest. Frank is alone as everyone walks away. He keeps noticing Tilly, Paul, and Milan having fun without him. Eventually, Frank goes home and cries into a pot. He adds sugar to his tears and, over the course of two or three hours, he transforms his tears into jam. Then he sets up a cart with tea, toast, and the jam, and invites his friends to join him for a snack. They accept his invitation and, as we turn to the very last page, we see just the cart with crumbs and dirty cups. Frank is no longer at home and I’m left believing he’s off playing with the friends who previously walked away. Once I get past the gag factor of tear jam, there’s a lot to unload and discuss here. Sometimes we need to step away from the things that hurt us. Sometimes solitude is healing. Sometime we can use our sorrow to generously let people into our lives. And sometimes friends don’t even realize they’ve been leaving us out. From reading other reviews, I understand that it’s important to trust children with stories like this and that they understand and interpret more than we expect. But I can also understand why some may not appreciate this story, initially. For example, I shared it with my 16 year old who immediately responded with: “So… he’s feeding everyone his tears? That’s not very sanitary.” 😂

I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect from the illustrations in this picture book:

Everyone-Walks-SPREAD

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


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Stumpkin
Lucy Rush Cummins
July 24, 2018
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

This is a Halloween story about a little pumpkin that is perfect in every way, except for the fact that he has a stump, and not a stem. As all the other pumpkins on the shelf get sold off  through the week before Halloween, Stumpkin is left behind. But never you worry, Stumpkin ends up being A-okay. Oh this one is so very CUTE! I’ll have to pull it out again next October and go pick out a “very nearly” perfect pumpkin when we make our jack-o’-lanterns. OH! And this book has some serious weight to it — thick, heavy pages. With mostly shades of black and white, the artwork showcases splashes of orange, green, and yellow. The illustrations for this book were rendered in gouache, pencil, ink, and brush marker. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Stumpkin-SPREAD

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


To Be Read:

This week I plan to finish reading my ARC of Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by Susan Muaddi Darraj and I hope to keep working on the last 5 books of my #MustReadin2019 list while I put together my 2020 list.

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Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 4/200
I’ll work on my #MustReadin2020 list this week!


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/23/2019 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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

I mentioned in a previous #imwayr post that we lost our border collie back in early October. It was difficult to put her down and we didn’t think we were ready to commit to a new fur baby. However, last week we made the decision to foster a sweet puppy. We said she would have a home for the holidays and that we would just see how it goes while the dog rescue tries to find her a home. Her name is Cocoa and she’s actually pretty chill for being a chihuahua. And she’s SUCH a cuddler! We’re going to give it a couple weeks before deciding on whether to fully adopt, but after just five days with her the kids are pretty ga-ga. Anyway, here we are with Cocoa, in all our bedhead glory, on Christmas morning:

Miller-Christmas2019-TreePic

Thank you for visiting today! I’m publishing this post later than I ever have before, due to Christmas events. So I’m just going to do super short reviews of my reading this week. As always, I hope any late visitors will find something of interest to add to your reading wish list!


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Hazel’s Theory of Evolution
Lisa Jenn Bigelow
October 8, 2019
HarperCollins

You know what? This book was way more EVERYTHING than I expected. I realize it is classified as middle grade literature, but I would say it’s intended for older middle graders as well as the YA crowd. There’s just a little language (ex: damn) and some younger kids may be all giggly in a class read aloud where the word “teets” keeps being mentioned (they live on a goat farm where goats are milked regularly). One of Hazel’s moms has experienced two miscarriages and so there’s a lot of fear and uncertainty when the family discovers she’s pregnant again near the beginning of the book. I don’t want to say too much about the storyline, but Hazel is figuring out who her friends really are while also discovering what it is to be a good friend to someone new. The story has Jewish, transgender, and queer rep AND Hazel loves science, so there’s a lot of STEM strewn throughout. This may be my final 5-star rating for 2019 — really enjoyed it!

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


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The Speed of Falling Objects
Nancy Richardson Fischer
October 1, 2019
Inkyard Press

Danny Warren has been raised by her single mother for most of her life. In this story, her absentee TV star father reaches out to ask for her to go on a trip with him to help while he films another documentary. Danny quickly learns that a teen movie star will be going along, but his presence is not what it appears to be. The main story is kickstarted when their airplane crashes in the middle of the Amazon forest. Everyone who made it out of the crash alive must band together to survive countless dangers. But uniting means trusting. Can they get out of this mess alive?

I loved Fischer’s When Elephants Fly, so I was quite eager to read this one. It was very engaging and so hard to put down. There was one incident near that end that I found highly unlikely, but it didn’t ruin the story — just made me wish I’d read this one in a book group so that I could talk it out. Anyway, I’d give this one 4-stars and I’ll continue to keep my eye on Nancy Richardson Fischer!

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


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Santa’s Underwear
Marty Rhodes Figley
Marty Kelley, illustrator
September 1, 2016
Sleeping Bear Press

Santa is preparing for a long ride on Christmas Eve. Alas, he cannot find his red Christmas underwear!! He looks everywhere without luck, but eventually Rudolph and the Reindeer Crew come to his aid. This one is sure to have young children giggling as Santa scrambles to get dressed!

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

Santas-Underwear-SPREAD

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


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Dibs!
Laura Gehl
Marcin Piwowarski, illustrator
May 7, 2019
Carolrhoda Books

Julian’s little brother, Clancy, learns very quickly that he needs to call dibs on anything he wants. He calls dibs on his parent’s bed, but that’s when things start to go crazy. Clancy calls dibs on a bakery, on an airplane, and even on NASA when he ends up blasting off into space. This leaves Julian happy, having all his parent’s attention again. But eventually he must go into outer space to meet aliens and find his brother. This story is really “out there” if you know what I mean! 🙂

The illustration for this book were created with Photoshop, Painter, and Procreate. I’ll provide one example, below:

Dibs-SPREAD

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


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Dear Boy
Paris Rosenthal
Jason Rosenthal
Holly Hatam, illustrator
April 23, 2019
HarperCollins

In the same spirit of Amy Rosenthal’s Dear Girl, this picture book companion shares so many of the important things to remember, to do, and to experience during boyhood. ❤ The bright and ever changing artwork in this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Dear-Boy-SPREAD

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


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Small in the City
Sydney Smith
September 3, 2019
Neal Porter Books

The young child in this book is “small in the city.” And cities can be dark and loud and scary, so the book showcases a number of scenarios and offers advice on how to find your way. While the snowstorm appears to rage until the very end, the reader is left with a hopeful feeling — there’s always safety at home. Contemplative is the best word to describe this book. It will provide meaningful discussion after the last page. The artwork was created using ink, watercolor, and a bit of gouache. I’ll provide on page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Small-in-the-City-SPREAD

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


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Hair Love
Matthew A. Cherry
Vashti Harrison, illustrator
May 14, 2019
Kokila

What an adorable picture book. Years ago, I once ran a hair blog with my oldest daughter. She was about 5 years old and we tried to share two hair styles a week. It was an opportunity for me to experiment and for us to document our hair journey. We would have LOVED to read and share this book with our hair blog readers back then!! In the story, a young girl named Zuri has wild hair with a mind of its own. But today, Zuri wants her hair to look perfect. Her father tries several ideas out and after a number of trials and errors, they eventually figure it out, together. So precious!! The adorable artwork really brings this one to life. The illustrations were created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Hair-Love-SPREAD

AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2019)

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


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Dragon Night
J.R. Krause
January 22, 2019
Putnam

This is a cute little dragon story with a play on words. The dragon in the story is afraid of the knight. While the boy, Georgie, is afraid of the night. Together they attempt to resolve one another’s fears. And after their adventure, we’re met with a sweet, happy ending. The artwork was rendered with brush, pen, and ink on cotton rag paper and then colored digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Dragon-Night-SPREAD

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


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Nine Months: Before a
Baby is Born
Miranda Paul
Jason Chin, illustrator
April 23, 2019
Neal Porter Books

This nonfiction picture book will be especially wonderful for a child expecting a new sibling. Each page spread features a new month in the growth of a baby in utero. The back matter includes 5 extra pages of more detailed information, including a selected bibliography. How did I not know Jason Chin was the illustrator for this book?! WOW – the artwork is absolutely lovely! The illustrations were created with watercolor and gouache on paper. I’ll provide one example below:

Nine-Months-SPREAD

AWARDS: Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Nominee for Nonfiction (2019)

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


To Be Read:

I have no idea what to place, here. Ever since the weekend we’ve had constant family activities and I’ve had practically NO time to read. We’ve been busy watching movies, playing games, cooking/baking, going to the movie theater, attending the ballet, etc. But I do hope to read a few more picture books in my pile and I plan to finally review I, Cosmo some time later this week. I also started listening to The 12th Candle last week, so it would be great to get to finish that one!


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 306/300 <–met my 2019 goal!!
#MustReadin2019 – 36/42


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/16/2019 #imwayr

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

Ahhhhh, it’s that time of year where there’s lots of activity and I’m struggling to find long stretches of time to read novels. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will have several “must read” titles roll over to 2020. But on the positive side, I’ve mailed off our holiday cards, finished shopping for the kids (including stockings, which are usually a last minute thing), and we purchased almost all the groceries for our Christmas feast. Woohoo, bring on the holiday!

Thank you for visiting. I have two doctor appointments today, but I’ll eventually make the blog rounds to all the #imwayr peeps. I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve been reading this past week!


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Shine!
J.J. and Chris Grabenstein
November 5, 2019
Random House Books for Young Readers

This book really did my heart some good, this week. I wasn’t sure what to expect, based solely on that cover. But it was easily a 5-star ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating from me! It was engaging and everything I hope for from a middle grade novel.

After her father is offered a new music teaching job, twelve-year-old Piper is forced to enroll at Chumley Prep school where she must wear school uniforms and rub shoulders with rich kids. As it turns out, kids of all types attend Chumley and she quickly finds her niche. This year, the school is hosting a brand new Excelsior competition where one student will be named the overall winner. Piper’s new friends decide to work together to help Piper enter every competition and activity she can in an effort to increase the possibility of her winning. But between science fairs, magic shows, astronomy studies, sports events, and working with foster dogs, she slowly discovers her often snooty nemesis, Ainsley, may take the prize after all. Filled with science, tested friendships, and self-discovery, this story has SOOO much “feel good” that I may be choosing it as our read aloud this January. I hope to see Shine! filling elementary, middle school, and public libraries, everywhere!

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


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The Space We’re In
Katya Balen
October 8, 2019 (in the U.S.)
Margaret Ferguson Books

Frank is 10-years-old and he really wanted a little brother. So when he finds out he’s getting his wish, he’s thrilled. But as his little brother, Max, began to age, his family faced unusual behaviors that prevented them from doing what other families might do. For example, if they attempt to go out in public, Max makes loud noises and cannot do anything out of the regular routine without a meltdown. The story truly showcased some of the difficulties associated with living with a sibling that is low on the autistic spectrum. Balen does not candy coat anything that Frank experiences, so beware.

Eventually, Frank’s frustrations begin to boil over as he feels overlooked and neglected. There are even times when he says he hates his brother. He also experiences some self-hatred for not standing up for his brother when a classmate makes fun of him. I’ll be honest, it starts out painful, gets more painful, and just when you think it can’t get more painful, it does — in a very unexpected way. But there’s a silver lining to this one, you just have to wait for it.

I don’t believe this would be classified as “own voices,” but it is heavily based on Katya Balen’s professional experiences. She has worked in several special schools for autistic children and she currently maintains Mainspring Arts, which is a non-profit company that organizes creative projects for neurodivergent people.

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


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The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
January 10, 2012
Dutton Books

As I was making my #MustReadin2019 list around New Year’s Day, I asked everyone in my family to add one book to the list that I *had* to read this year and this was what my 16 year old chose. She read it in one sitting back when she was 15, and now I know why. Sixteen-year-old Hazel has terminal cancer. She’s almost died before being put on a trial medication and she is now just prolonging her time on earth until she’ll no longer be able to draw breath. During a cancer support meeting, she meets Seventeen-year-old Augustus Waters who is now in remission. He’s very attracted to her, but she’s made it clear that she cannot become involved because she won’t live much longer. When she leaves this world, she wants to make as little impact on the living, as possible. It was difficult to put down once I got started (even though I already knew what was going to happen after watching the movie when it came out). It’s not unusual for me to cry when reading a touching book, but it is unusual for a book to make me sob every time I pick it up. I guess what I appreciated most in this book was the perspective — the reminder to stop and be grateful for what we have right now and to live every moment with appreciation. Hopefully we realize that it could all be taken away in a heartbeat.

We finally watched the movie with our daughter, just last night. She’s never seen it before, so it was interesting to see her reaction to the screen interpretation of Green’s book. It’s quite special to get to exchange books with my children and I plan to continue to ask them to add books to my list as they grow into adulthood.

AWARDS: Georgia Peach Book Award (2013), Buxtehuder Bulle (2012), Odyssey Award (2013), Audie Award for Teens (2013), West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Older Readers (2013), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award for Young Adults (2013), Rhode Island Teen Book Award (2014), Evergreen Teen Book Award (2015), Soaring Eagle Book Award (2014), Milwaukee County Teen Book Award (2013), Indies Choice Book Award for Young Adult (2013), Deutscher Jugend literaturpreis for Preis der Jugendjury (2013), Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (2013), Dioraphte Jongerenliteratuurprijs for vertaald boek en publieksprijs (2013), The Inky Awards for Silver Inky (2012), California Young Readers Medal for Young Adult (2015), Lincoln Award (2014), Luisterboek Award (2015), Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction (2012) and Nominee for Best of the Best (2018), Green Mountain Book Award (2014), The Inky Awards Shortlist for Silver Inky (2012), Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice (2015), Missouri Gateway Readers Award (2015), Oklahoma Sequoyah Award for High School (2015), Alabama Author Award for Young Adult (2013), Premio El Templo de las Mil Puertas for Mejor novela extranjera independiente (2012), FAB Award Nominee (2014)

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


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Pluto Gets the Call
Adam Rex
Laurie Keller, illustrator
November 12, 2019
Beach Lane Books

Children are going to LOVE Keller’s bright and bold artwork in this new picture book that showcases Pluto getting the call from Earth’s scientists saying he’s not longer a planet. Pluto’s pretty frustrated, to be honest, but after taking a tour around the galaxy and getting some much-needed consolation from the sun, I think he’s going to be a-okay. Some pages are extremely busy full of speech bubbles and multiple conversations, so you have to take time to scour the entire spread (checking out the little asides and jokes).  The back matter provides a great deal of solar system facts along with an Author’s Note that explains that “People used to say there were twenty-three planets! Then they decided there were none: now there are eight. Science is always learning, just like you.” And the illustrator’s blurb also shares that it took just one day (Venus time) to create all the illustrations for this book. 😉

The humorous illustration note says the artwork for this book was : “rendered in traditional, digital, and galactic media.” I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Pluto-Gets-the-Call-SPREAD

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


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Mr. Scruff
Simon James
September 24, 2019
Candlewick Press

This is a charming, rhyming picture book about dogs and humans who’ve met their match. Most of the pairs we meet have rhyming names, like “Mick” and “Rick.” But when young Jim visits the pet shelter, he meets an older, large dog named Mr. Scruff and he wants to adopt him. Jim’s mom and dad are quick to point out that the dog is so big and old while the boy is so small and young and “Surely a puppy would be more fun?” But Jim is happy to have met his match, even if it breaks a pattern that most people expect. What we also see is that Jim appears to be from a biracial family. Whether intended, or not, this may add another layer to the discussion of how we all find deep and meaningful connection, despite our outward differences. There’s a cute little twist at the very end that’s not to be missed — keep an eye out for this adorable book (and maybe purchase a copy for your local dog rescue)! The illustrations were done in ink and watercolor. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Mr-Scruff-PAGESPREAD

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


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Moth: An Evolution Story
Isabel Thomas
Daniel Egneus, illustrator
June 25, 2019
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

What a stunning nonfiction picture book that chronicles the experiences of the Peppered Moth over many years. In a series of gorgeous illustrations on many backdrops, we learn that the Peppered Moth was once mostly white with black specks so that it could easily be camouflaged against lichen-covered branches. At that time, the rare black moth was easily captured by prey because they stood out against the branches. But over time, humans interfered with the process by building coal powered fires and machines. Pollution forced the Peppered Moth to evolve and change colors for survival! The back matter provides more information on the process — this one is not to be missed!

The illustrations are just as fascinating as the information in this book, and I also noticed the texture of the book paper is very high quality, unlike most of the children’s books I read! The artwork was created with watercolor, crayons, acrylics, collage, and Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Moth-Evolution-SPREAD

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


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Ghost Cat
Kevan Atteberry
June 11, 2019
Neal Porter Books

Even by itself, this is a sweet book that can be understood as a child dealing with the loss of a beloved pet. But it broke my heart to read the true inspiration behind this story. Kevan Atteberry’s wife began experiencing young onset Alzheimer’s disease in her early 50s. It got so bad, she eventually had to be moved into a home for special care before she passed away. As Atteberry began writing this book, he realized the cat was actually a metaphor for his missing wife. In his words from the video, linked below: “This is a story about loss, moving on, keeping what you had, and I like to think a permission to love again.” We see the young boy feeling the cat’s presence in his bed, hearing the cat move through the house, and eventually run right out the door of the house. There’s a sweet twist at the end that will bring a smile to your face!

The artwork for this book was made using digital tools. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Ghost-Cat-SPREAD

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


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The Amazing Idea of You
Charlotte Sullivan Wild
Mary Lundquist, illustrator
February 5, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Alongside green leafy flourishes, each page of this lovely picture book shares poetic words full of hopes and possibilities. Inside a shiny apple seed is the possibility of an orchard. Inside an egg there may be a bird with a song. And inside the mind of a young child are countless ideas and creations. The soft colored artwork in this book was created with pencil, watercolor, and gouache on watercolor paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Amazing-Idea-of-You-SPREAD

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


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The Cat Who Lived with Anne Frank
David Lee Miller
Steven Jay Rubin
Elizabeth Baddeley, illustrator
February 5, 2019
Philomel Books

Despite the somber topic, this is a gorgeous picture book biography. First, yes, Anne Frank had a cat named Mouschi. And, yes, Anne wrote her diary entries to “Kitty.” 🙂 The book is actually written from Mouschi’s perspective as a cat witnessing Anne’s life, but the pages also share bits and pieces from Anne’s diary so that we kinda get two perspectives at once. It is a very gentle story since it does not go into details about Anne’s demise. It ends on a very positive note about Anne’s spirit… “lighting up the world forever.” But the back matter explains that Anne’s father, Otto, is the only one in her family to survive. The back matter also has a note on the characters and places in this story followed by a list of sources for more information. The illustration of her father reading her journal in the very back of the book was very touching! 😦

The artwork for this book was created with ink, acrylic, pencil, and digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Cat-who-lived-with-anne-frank-SPREAD

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


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Hush, Little Bunny
David Ezra Stein
January 22, 2019
Balzer + Bray

This book just BEGS to be sung! In muted, earthy colors, this picture book is a play on the original song Hush, Little Baby.

Hush, little bunny, don’t you cry.
Papa’s gonna give you the big blue sky.
And if that big blue sky clouds over,
Papa’s gonna give you a patch of clover.

Through rain and wind storm and even bullying bunnies, Papa looks out for his little bunny with utmost care. Awww! Even the font of the title makes me feel nostalgic for books from my early childhood. The artwork in this book was created using mixed media on watercolor paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Hush-Little-Bunny-SPREAD

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


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Sheep Dog and Sheep Sheep
Eric Barclay
February 12, 2019
HarperCollins

I just LOVED Sheep Dog and his ability to keep a straight face in this story. Sheep is trying to “help” Sheep Dog do his job much better — getting his hair out of his eyes, finding binoculars, bringing him a map. But at every turn, Sheep is in dire need of rescue. Sheep Dog is so patient and gentle as he saves the day without Sheep even realizing it. The pictures and dialogue will keep children giggling! The artist used pencil and Adobe Photoshop to create the illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Sheep-Dog-Sheep-Sheep-SPREAD

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


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I Dig
Joe Cepeda
May 14, 2019
Holiday House

With just a few words per page, this book is intended for a beginning reader. Two little boys are hanging out at the beach when a large wave crashes to shore. One of the boys discovers a shovel and he begins digging deep into the sand. He unearths a few items, such as a crab and a starfish. In the end, they simple relax, look at the stars, and leave the beach with a new friend in tow. Each page provides excellent context clues in the illustrations to encourage comprehension. The artwork for this book was created with Corel Painter and Adobe Workshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

I-Dig-SPREAD

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


To Be Read:

I still have a wonderful pile of 2019 picture books to read, but this week I plan to start with Small in the City and Dear Boy,. I’ll also be finishing I, Cosmo and I’m hoping to finally start Six of Crows (if I can pry it from my 14-year-old’s hands).


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 297/300
#MustReadin2019 – 36/42


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/9/2019 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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

Our whole family saw Frozen II yesterday afternoon and really enjoyed it — my 5 year old was on the edge of her seat the entire time. In fact, the entire theater was FULL of young children at the matinee and the giggles were just so wonderful! Now I feel like I can officially kickstart the holiday season. So with a fresh layer of snow on our streets, today I’ll be hand addressing long distance holiday cards, baking/decorating some cookies, and tonight we’ll finally be getting the tree up and decorated. On my reading front, I’m in the home stretch for finishing my #MustReadin2019 list. I hope to only end up with 2-3 books to roll over to next year’s list, but it’s sure going to be tough to find much reading time in December. In any case, thank you for visiting today. I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list!


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Guts
(Smile #3)
Raina Telgemeier
September 17, 2019
Scholastic

Last week I read books #1 and #2 of Telgemeier’s memoirs, so this week I was excited to get to book #3. What makes this book so great is the important discussion of anxiety and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Like, I know this isn’t the most comfortable topic to talk about with kids, but Telgemeier’s graphic novel uses both sorrow and humor to express how realistic and painful these issues are. And with a society of highly anxious tweens, pre-teens, and teenagers, it’s NECESSARY. I really wish this book has been around when my oldest was in middle school because she had a strong fear of vomiting and I know it would have been quite comforting to have a mirror to peak into. My 14-year-old finished this series last week and I’m now passing it on to another of my offspring. It’s a great series, no matter your age!

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


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The Year We Fell From Space
A.S. King
October 15, 2019
Arthur A. Levine Books

This book is not getting nearly the attention it deserves, in my opinion. It’s primarily about how divorce impacts an entire family. But Liberty is so clever and her coping mechanisms are fascinating. Everyone in the family is in pain. There are a lot of tears, but I appreciated that there were no flat characters. The relationships are realistic and everyone makes fairly normal mistakes. The word “space” in the title is a metaphor for belonging. And when a child loses their sense of belonging, they may face a number of issues ranging from depression to bullying at school. Another interesting tidbit about the story is that the journal entries go all the way up to October 2, 2019 — less than two weeks from the publication of this book, which I thought was pretty cool. There’s an Author’s Note about apps and other online resources related to mental health as well as about stars and constellations. It was very difficult to put this one down. Highly recommend!!

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


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Children of Virtue and Vengeance
(Legacy of Orïsha #2)
Tomi Adeyemi
December 3, 2019
Henry Holt and Co.

While I cannot say much about the plot line of this second book without spoiling the series for newcomers, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are a lot more characters in book #2, but it’s okay if you cannot keep them all straight. The storyline resides mostly with the individuals you won’t forget. I laughed, punched my fist into the air, and definitely cried. Hard. And just when I needed some comic relief, out came this perfect quote:

“Next time let’s fall for a pair of siblings that don’t come with a crown.”

It’s important to note that Adeyemi wrote this series in response to the large number of blacks being subjected to police brutality in the U.S. — to explore ongoing oppression and to bring the issue of racism and fear to the forefront. And you do feel this perspective between the two battling sides throughout book #1 and book #2. While it’s said to be an all black cast, the magi/diviners are called maggots and are constantly put down while the nobles/royal family are the highest in all of Orïsha. But the story grows out of the fact that one individual from the royal family left home to become an ally to the magi and help them regain their magical powers. In an interview with HuffPost, the “white allies” angle of the storyline was discussed:

asked: The book also chronicles people who begin as antagonists but evolve into something else. Many may read about some of these antagonists and relate them to white allies. Are you making an argument about these allies as well?

Adeyemi: It’s frustrating that a lot of times black people have to find a way to be the bigger people, but I was like, “Logistically, you can’t shut out white people who want to help.” Because we’re still the minority. Even if we all mobilize — even if we all register to vote — even if we were efficient — even if we didn’t have Kanye running around doing what he’s doing — even if we were all together, we still wouldn’t have enough. So we have to include other people. With Zélie and Amari, I wanted to show that. Amari wants to do the right thing, but she has to learn how to do the right thing and how to be the support system she wants to be. And Zélie doesn’t want Amari’s help at all, but she needs to learn that she can’t do it on her own. (You can read the full interview HERE.)

I was AMAZED by the cover art. It was even more beautiful when I held the book in my hands. I stopped, often, just to gaze at Zélie. She’s so fierce and so strong. However, it bothers me that the cover of book #1 was so different — pretty much 2D vs. 3D. I’m not sure if that was done on purpose, but they don’t look like they’re part of the same series. Aaaanyway, I’ve said enough here to give a small taste without spoiling anything. I’ll look forward to reading what others think of this series. I’m completely invested and will anxiously await book #3.

NOTE: After the big social media altercation between Tomi Adeyemi and Nora Roberts over similar book titles, it’s important to note the words “blood and bone” have appeared in MANY book titles over the years. Just do a quick book search in Goodreads and you’ll be bombarded with books you probably weren’t familiar with before now. I’m glad the two eventually worked out their issues, but we can hopefully all be reminded that book titles cannot be plagiarized.

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


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You Make Me Happy
Smriti Prasadam-Halls
Alison Brown, illustrator
January 15, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

This is a sweet picture book about a special friendship between Fox and Porcupine. In rhyming text we see how life is full of surprises, more sunshine, precious hugs, and laughter when these two are together. It’s aimed toward younger elementary grades, but any age would enjoy the loving sentiment. This would make a neat gift for that special someone whether it be a birthday, Valentine’s Day, etc.

The artwork in this book was created with acrylic paint and colored pencil. Each page features a new page spread with such variation in background colors. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

You-Make-Me-Happy-SPREAD

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


To Be Read:

My daughter asked me to read The Fault in Our Stars and I’m liking it, so far! I’ll also be reading an ARC of I, Cosmo since it will be released very soon. And I just barely started Shine! on audiobook, so I hope to finish that this week, too.

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Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 283/300
#MustReadin2019 – 35/42