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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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


To Be Read:

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

 


 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/14/2019 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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

I read a number of great books this week. I’ll discuss a few of them in detail, below. But feel free to connect with me on Goodreads to see my entire reading feed as it happens.


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

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

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

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

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


29386918

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

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

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

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

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


35603805

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

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

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

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


44887340158

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

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

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

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

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

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


31851771

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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


35887584

The Rough Patch
Brian Lies
August 14, 2018
Greenwillow Books

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

screen shot 2019-01-06 at 2.10.25 pm

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


To Be Read:

Pretty in Punxsatawney_RD3

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

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

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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

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

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

On to this week’s reading…


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


To Be Read:

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

 


 

#MustReadin2019 1/5/2019

mustreadin2019-1

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

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

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

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/31/2018 #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!

It’s been a great year of blogging with #IMWAYR and I’m eagerly looking forward to more excellent reading in 2019! I had only one blog visitor last week (Christmas Eve), so I don’t really expect many guests this week either (New Year’s Eve). I’m not even sure if we’ll have the link-up available again until next week. In any case, here’s what I’ve been up to…


Snow-in-LoveSnow in Love
Melissa de la Cruz, Nic Stone,
Aimee Friedman, & Kasie West
October 30, 2018
Point

Snow in Love is a book of four Young Adult short-stories that all take place in December. I especially enjoyed the first (Kasie West) and the last (Nic Stone) stories, but all four really helped put me in the festive holiday spirit. I felt the most creative was Stone’s contribution as she spun an imaginative story about a cat and mouse (AKA scavenger) hunt via texting while being trapped in a large airport with an old friend she hadn’t seen in years. All but one story was about the beginning of a romance and they were all pretty mild on the physical intimacy front. It was either non-existent or simply sweet.

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


The Season of Styx MaloneSeason-of-Styx-Malone
Kekla Magoon
October 16, 2018
Wendy Lamb Books

Ten-year-old Caleb Franklin is worried that his father sees him as extra ordinary, but he wants to be extraordinary. He and his big brother Bobby Gene live in Sutton, Indiana, and their parents initially appear to be overprotective — not allowing them to go anywhere alone and definitely not into the city. One day a silly trade with their friend Cory (Caleb’s and Bobby Gene’s baby sister for Cory’s bag of illegal fireworks) lands them in trouble with not one, but two sets of parents. To make lemonade out of lemons, they agree to use Styx Malone’s services as mediator with their friend, Cory. Styx is older (16) and more experienced in life than they are. And Caleb is completely mesmerized by his coolness. Styx’s plan is The Great Escalator Trade which involves trading one item for something better until they eventually get up to the big item they really want. There are legends told of past successes which inspire the Franklin boys to stick with the program, but must their plan involve lying and theft? At first, Styx seems to be real trouble — he doesn’t care for adults and he even encourages Caleb and Bobby Gene to outright disobey their parents. However, when the whole truth is revealed, it will be difficult for any reader to not empathize with Styx as they better understand the depth of his hidden heartache. And Caleb can find a new level of appreciation for his parents as they all come to terms with the need for some freedom, some adventure, AND definitely some boundaries.

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


Buried-Beneath-the Baobab-TreeBuried Beneath the Baobab Tree
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
September 4, 2018
Katherine Tegen Books

The main character in the story is a young girl who talks about her family life in the small Nigerian village — for example, most girls aren’t given an education (but thankfully, her father champions her education), she must skip school when she’s on her period, she speaks of how her mother travels to/from the market and she anxiously awaits her return, she shares her deep feelings for another well-educated boy from her community, she loves her church family, and she is currently waiting on news about a scholarship program she hopes to win so she can attend college and better support her family. But all her hopes and dreams come crashing down when Boko Haram enters her village on that fateful night. Now her father and older brothers are all dead and she and her little brother have been taken deep into the woods (to different camps). It soon becomes apparent there will be no happy marriage to the boy she loves, no college education, and her friends will slowly convert to this violent religion to avoid death. The story was very informative and downright horrific, but it was also followed by a very lengthy and important Afterword that described the research process along with details about the real-life experiences of these victims — ones who escaped and whose families were willing to be interviewed.

I was stunned by the juxtaposition of American pop-culture right alongside the horrific events in Nigeria — both playing on the radio station with barely a breath taken between the two news stories. It made me painfully aware of how easily we sweep aside these events in favor of knowing which movie is making the most at our box office or who is wearing what brand to an awards ceremony. If hundreds of young American girls were stolen from one of our schools, the entire country would go MAD and demand action. Or would we? In any case, it makes me sick to know this is happening to any human being, particularly in such great numbers. WARNING: This book contains non-graphic murder, beatings, and rape. It’s also on a kindle sale today, so if you’re interested then check out the link below.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.
THE E-BOOK is on sale for $1.99 today, so check it out HERE.


Eleanor & ParkEleanor-and-Park
Rainbow Rowell
October 4, 2016
St. Martin’s Griffin

I asked my daughter to name any book she wanted me to read and without hesitation she said Eleanor & Park. Incidentally, I encountered Rainbow Rowell’s writing before she became a big time author. She was a journalist for the Omaha World Herald (here in Nebraska) and I remember her announcement about her first published book and later reading about her decision to retire from the OWH to be an author. And BOOM, here she is. I always meant to pick up her books after reading her newspaper articles. It seems the majority of preteens and teens adore and relate to her work (even if many parents object), so I’m just a little late to the party.

Red-haired Eleanor comes from a big, messy family and has almost nothing to her name. Park is half-Korean, comes from a close-knit family, and he lives a few doors down from Eleanor. They ride the same bus and cannot stand each other. But since Park had a sudden spark of sympathy and allows Eleanor to sit next to him on the bus, they eventually get to know one another over shared comics and listening to cassette tapes (while barely speaking a word). This is not a happy-happy story. At times it’s downright depressing and so hard to digest. The characters are flawed and often unlikeable, but they’re real. And sometimes the writing absolutely shines and gives you all the feels and appreciation of imperfection. I can definitely see why it’s such a hot title among teens, today.

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


Tuck-EverlastingTuck Everlasting
Natalie Babbitt
1975
Scholastic

Aaaand speaking of older titles. 🙂 I don’t think I ever read this book when I was younger. I’ve had it on my bookshelf for the last few years and finally decided to pick it up over the holiday break. YAY! In the 1700s, the Tuck family (comprised of Tuck, Mae, Miles, and Jesse) drink from a magic spring — everyone but the family cat. Flash forward 87 years later, the family is passing back through Treegap. Winnie discovers the magic spring and so they basically kidnap her for a couple days while they explain the situation. Winnie is struck by their lack of housekeeping skills, the way they eat, and the way they each view eternal life differently. She loves them and they love her. Meanwhile a man in a yellow suit overhears everything and devises a plan to rescue Winnie and purchase the land with the magic spring. In the end, Mae is arrested and is scheduled to be hung. To keep the Tuck’s secret safe, Winnie hides in Mae’s cell while the family escapes. But before they leave, Jesse had given Winnie a bottle of the magic water and told her to drink it after she turns 17 so that they can live together forever — get married, even. What will Winnie decide?

NOTE: I was honestly surprised to find Winnie was only supposed to be 10 years old. Since I saw the 2002 movie adaptation with Alexis Bledel playing Winnie Foster, I guess I assumed Winnie was just a couple years younger than Jessie. So yeah, that was an awkward twist for me. In any case, it’s a classic and I’m glad to finally have read it.

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


Thank You, Omu!Thank-You-Omu
Oge Mora
October 2, 2018
Little Brown & Co.

Omu is making a delicious homemade stew. As the aroma fills the air, people from the street and neighborhood knock on her door in search of a taste. Eventually, Omu is left with no stew for herself. But Omu will not starve. Everyone she fed returns to say “Thank You, Omu!” with their own food to share with her. This is a precious story of having a generous spirit and how it comes back to us in unexpected ways. The back of the book tells us that the collages in this book were created “with acrylic paint, china markers, pastels, patterned paper, and old-book clippings.” I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

IMG_5736

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


How-to-be-a-T-RexHow to Be a T. Rex
Ryan North
Mike Lowery, illustrator
August 21, 2018
Dial Books

Young Sal has decided she’s not going to be a doctor or lawyer or teacher. She’s going to become a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Her big brother said it’s impossible to become a T. Rex, so she sets out to prove him wrong. All along the way she’s sharing the wonderful things about become a T. Rex: No door can hold you, you can eat whatever you want, you’re not afraid of anything, etc. She eventually invites all her friends to be T. Rexes, too (because it can be lonely as an only dinosaur). This one wasn’t my favorite, but one positive is that at the very end, she and her brother are friends, again. I’ll provide one page-spread, below, as an example of the artwork:

IMG_5738

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


A Place for PlutoPlace-for-Pluto
Stef Wade
Melanie Demmer, illustrator
July 1, 2018
Capstone

I grew up in a time when Pluto was definitely considered a planet (we were served nine pizzas, for those who remember!). In August of 2006 the news came down that Pluto was no longer a planet because International Astronomical Union (IAU) re-evaluated the requirements of a planet. Pluto failed the test on one point. So in childlike pictures and witty text, this adorable new picture book explores exactly where we should put Pluto after he was knocked off the list of official planets. Using emotion (and need to belong), Stef Wade explores a number of objects in the solar system to see who Pluto identifies with, most. It really is super cute and I highly recommend for all the little science learners in the community!

After reading this book, I couldn’t help but to do a little research of my own. It appears there’s still a great deal of dissension in the scientific community over requirements. It will be interesting to see what is redefined in our universe over the next 50 years!

IMG_5737.jpg

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


Id-Know-You-Anywhere-My-LoveI’d Know You Anywhere, My Love
Nancy Tillman
August 27, 2013
Feiwel & Friends

Children may dream of becoming any number of animals, but the point of this heart-felt picture book is that no matter what animal you may change into, your parents will recognize your personal traits. It goes through the traits of a rhinoceros, a red fox, a camel, pig, owl, wild spotted pony, bear, ringtail raccoon, blue-footed booby, lion, giraffe, and a koala. At the very end is a picture of a small child asleep in bed, surrounded by several beloved stuffed animals. And yes, that final page brought tears to my eyes. So sweet! The back tells us that the illustrations were created digitally using painting programs. “Layers of illustrative elements are first individually created, then merged to form a composite. At this point, texture and mixed media (primarily chalk, watercolor, and pencil) are applied to complete each illustration.” Each illustration is truly beautiful. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

IMG_5735

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


Shaking Things Up: 14 Young WomenShaking-things-up-2
Who Changed the World
Susan Hood
Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall,
Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper,
Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora,
and Julie Morstad (illustrators)
January 23, 2018
HarperCollins

I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get my hands on this wonderful nonfiction picture book focusing on Mary Anning, Nellie Bly, Annette Kellerman, Molly Williams, Pura Belpre, Frida Kahlo, Jacqueline and Eileen Nearne, Mae Jemison, Maya Lin, Frances Moore Lappe, Angela Zhang, Ruby Bridges, and Malala Yousafzai! It is written by Susan Hood with illustrations by Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin K. Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland and Melissa Sweet. At the very beginning we are provided a timeline (starting in the 1780s) where we can easily see the contributions of each of these 14 amazing women. The combination of poetic text and variety of artwork is a beautiful way to honor each woman. At the very end we find an extensive list of sources, books, websites, and more. It’s an excellent book for any children’s library (or home!).

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


Owl Moon
Jane Yolen
John Schoenherr, illustrator
October 23, 1987
Philomel Books

Winning the Caldecott in 1988, this book probably needs no introduction. But it seemed like an appropriate time of year to read it. A young girl and her father go owling after her bedtime.

There was no wind.
The trees stood still
as giant statues.
And the moon was so bright
the sky seemed to shine.

It’s a long walk into the wood before her father stops and calls:
Whoo-whoo-who-who-whooooooo

But sometimes you do not get an owl’s response. Other times it takes patience and several tries to get your answer.

The illustrations are stunning — definitely not a book to rush through as there’s so much to see on each page. The snowy artwork was a treat for me this season as we had practically no snow this holiday. I think this is the first Christmas since we moved here in 2005 where we didn’t have a white Christmas, so it was comforting to see and read about the crunch of snow underfoot. 🙂

IMG_5747

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


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/24/2018 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! We’ve been busy baking, playing games, and watching movies. But I’ve been able to squeeze in a little reading, as well.


SwingSwing
Kwame Alexander
Mary Rand Hess
October 2, 2018
Blink

Swing is the story of a lovesick teenager named Noah who is scared to tell his good friend, Sam, that he has feelings for her. Noah happens up on some older poetry (written many years ago) between two lovers and it inspires him to begin expressing his feelings artistically. Without his knowledge, one of the poems makes its way to Sam. And this spark abruptly ignites an unexpected fire full of passion and… confusion.

Having read Kwame Alexander’s books, such as The Crossover and Rebound, I was already familiar with the beautiful interweaving of poetry and prose throughout the narrative. However, I especially enjoyed getting to listen to Alexander as narrator on the audiobook. He obviously knows the characters so well and he used jazz music throughout to add to the emotional energy in the story.

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


So DoneSo-Done
Paula Chase
August 14, 2018
Greenwillow Books

Tai and Mila (AKA Bean) are best friends and neighbors who live in Pirates’ Cove. But these two young women are oh so different. Tai loves living in Pirates’ Cove. She is accustomed to the rhythm and purpose behind everything in the neighborhood. Mila has just arrived from spending the entire summer at her aunt’s house and she would be happy if she never had to return to her home. Throughout the story, Chase reveals a very complex friendship that teeters on being “done” — often leaving a lump-in-the-throat over things deeply felt, but not openly shared. In this story, we read of music, ballet, sports, romance, multi-generational families, dealing drugs, non-existent parenting, and sexual assault (with a nod to the #metoo movement as friends learn of the importance of speaking out and standing up for those too afraid to do it on their own). This is an important story that balances on the fence between middle grade and YA adult.

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


FindingLangstonFinding Langston
Lesa Cline-Ransome
August 14, 2018
Holiday House

The year is 1946, and young Langston is mourning the loss of his mother AND his home in Alabama when his father suddenly moves them up to Chicago. Even worse, they have to leave behind Langston’s grandmother. While Langston is bullied in school and rarely feels like he belongs, he discovers that the public library welcomes everyone — including blacks. This is a huge surprise because that was not the case in Alabama. Over the course of the story, Langston returns to the library repeatedly and eventually discovers works by Langston Hughes (and other poets). His father claims his name was just something his mother liked, but after digging around where he should be looking, Langston uncovers some details that reveal everything he needed to know. It’s an emotional story, but not too heavy for middle grade readers — an important look into The Great Migration and how it impacted so many families who hoped to give their children more opportunities than they had in the rural south.

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


Halfway NormalHalfway-Normal
Barbara Dee
September 5, 2017
Aladdin Books

Norah Levy is a cancer survivor returning to public school after two years of treatment for leukemia. As she returns to 7th grade, everyone is surprised and she feels much like an outsider (having missed out on so many changes). Even worse, her two closest friends sometimes feel like strangers and the school wants to bump Norah up a grade level (because she got so far ahead in math and science while homeschooling). When Norah agrees to take the 8th grade classes, she meets Griffin — a new 8th grade student she soon develops a crush on. And while Norah is working hard to to avoid being “cancer girl” in her 8th grade classes, she knows it will eventually come out and she just hopes Griffin won’t abandon her once he discovers who she really is. Oh my, I had all the feels for Norah. This one is really hard hitting and addresses a topic that NEEDS to be represented in middle grade literature.

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


CarmelaCarmela Full of Wishes
Matt De La Peña
October 9, 2018
Penguin Young Readers Group

Carmela is following her older brother throughout their town, running his daily errands. He seems annoyed as she’s following along, caught up in her own world. But once she is injured, he is very attentive and concerned. The book showcases hope and dreams as Carmela finds a dandelion and is prepared to blow out the seeds and make her big wish. The artwork in this book was created with acrylic paint, collage, and a bit of digital manipulation. Here’s one page spread example, below:

Carmela-SPREAD

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


Jackie’s GiftJackies-Gift-1
Sharon Robinson
E.B. Lewis (illustrator)
October 14, 2010
Viking Juvenile

This is such a sweet book, based on a true account. Young Steve Satlow meets his new neighbor, Jackie Robinson, and helps him decorate his Christmas tree. Jackie learns that the Satlow family doesn’t have a Christmas tree, so he decides to go out and buy them one. However, there’s a reason the Satlows do not have a tree — they are Jewish and do not celebrate Christmas. In the end there’s sincere discussion followed by laughter. I love knowing these two families went on to be very dear friends for many years. This is a great book about recognizing and celebrating differences around the holidays.

Jackies-Gift-SPREAD

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


To Be Read:

I’m about halfway through Snow in Love and I also picked up A Place for Pluto and Thank You, Omu! just before the holiday began. So I’ll happily squeeze these titles into our busy family holiday week. Until next week…


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/17/2018 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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

I JUST finished grading the last of my students’ semester portfolios, projects, presentations, and final exams only minutes before starting this blog post. It’s now after 10pm and I’m EXHAUSTED! But I’m glad to say that after today, I’m taking the spring semester off teaching college courses so I can focus more on family. YAY!

On to this week’s reading…


Kiss-Quotient-2018The Kiss Quotient
(The Kiss Quotient #1)
Helen Hoang
June 5, 2018
Berkley

I’ve wanted to read The Kiss Quotient for quite a while, but about 10% into it I thought I was going to be deeply disappointed. One reason I avoid popular adult romance is the whole jump-in-bed-with-anyone-after-the-first-date behavior. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always felt sex should be a sign of closeness and sincere commitment, not just something you do at the end of a date. So I often struggle to relate. In any case, I admit that I’m glad I kept reading because they took an unexpected turn and I found myself quite engrossed in the development of the romantic relationship. The chapters switch focus between the two main characters. Michael’s family is Vietnamese and his father left the family in dire straights, so he took on a job as an escort. Stella is a math whiz with Aspergers whose mother is really pushing for her to get married and have babies, so she’s determined to understand how relationships and intimacy work.

The whole time I kept thinking The Kiss Quotient had a lot of similarities to Pretty Woman, but in reverse. If you read it, let me know if you agree! NOTE: This is an “own voices” novel, as Hoang was diagnosed with Aspergers in 2016. I love how she explains the everyday difficulties of Aspergers in a way that completely normalizes the syndrome.

The book has also been picked up by Lions Gate for film and TV rights, so I imagine we’ll be seeing this one on the big screen in the next couple years.

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


Lu-2018Lu
Track #4
Jason Reynolds
October 23, 2018
Simon & Schuster

Lu is the final installment of Jason Reynold’s middle grade “track” series. We get to know Lu as an only child who, SURPRISE, is expecting a baby sister. But HOW DID THIS HAPPEN since his birth was a sheer miracle. We learn that his father, Goose, used to sell drugs and so now he tries to help people straighten their lives out. Reynolds takes us deep into the lingering regret of the decision to deal — looking at the people those choices impacted and how the pain never fully goes away. We also get to know Lu’s mom as the artistic fruity mom who can barely make it a few feet before needing to vomit from morning sickness. And finally, we really see the track team come together in this one, work out differences as they bond in a way they haven’t yet. That ending just might leave tears on your cheeks. *sniff, sniff*

Over the last year, I’ve fallen in love with the four main characters from this series, feeling like I really know each one. And while they are all very special, I admit Sunny remains my favorite. I seriously cannot WAIT to see what Reynolds does next!

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


Dreamers-2018Dreamers
Yuyi Morales
September 4, 2018
Neal Porter Books

This book was inspired by the author’s real life journey from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to El Paso, Texas. After becoming an immigrant, Morales’ mother in law brought her to the library and it opened up the whole world to her. The artwork is stunning — dream like! The back tell us the pictures were rendered with acrylic paint drawn on paper with ink and brushes and a nib pen that once belonged to Maurice Sendak. Yuyi Morales also photographed and scanned many things to include within her artwork. It’s truly a sight. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Dreamers-SPREAD

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


One-Snowy-Night2018One Snowy Night
M. Christina Butler
Tina Macnaughton, illustrator
May 1, 2013
Good Books

This is an older title that my public library just acquired a few weeks ago. It’s the story of a hedgehog who receives a wooly hat as a gift. But after trying to wear it, he passes it on to a friend as a Christmas present. The hat ends up making the rounds among a number of critters before eventually finding its way back to hedgehog. This is a touch-and-feel book where the red hat is made of a soft velvet for little fingers to enjoy. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

one-snowy-nightSPREAD

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


To Be Read:

I have a nice pile of YA and MG books on my shelf, but am just sooooo glad to be done grading that I can hardly think about what novel to start. I at least know the following picture books are in my line up for reading next week:

 

It’s Monday! What are  YOU reading?