It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/12/2018 #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!

MusicBooksNov2018
Children’s Books on Music

As I’ve mentioned in recent weeks, my college students are using a lot of children’s literature this month. This stack is for a 3-hour course called “Music for the Classroom Teacher” and I have almost all elementary education majors. Sadly, many K-6 schools are no longer hiring certified music teachers or offering official music classes. And we are definitely seeing the slow deterioration of music literacy RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES (and on a rather large scale). Therefore, many colleges have made it a requirement for elementary education majors to take a course on music fundamentals so they can find ways to include limited instruction within the regular classroom.

I was surprised when I found NO mention of using children’s literature in the course textbook or in the lecture notes from past curriculum. Clearly, kid lit is one of the best ways to normalize anything, including music — year round we should include plenty of fiction and nonfiction books on the display shelf about singing, dancing, and playing instruments like the piano, guitar, saxophone, banjo, trombone, violin, etc. So as my students discover practical ways to include music-related books in their classrooms AND in their lessons, they are digging into our libraries and creating an annotated bibliography to keep in their Music Resource Binders. After our local book searching experiences, I do have to wonder: How many children’s books on music are in most elementary classrooms, today?

On to my book reading for the week…


SweepSweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Jonathan Auxier
September 25, 2018
Puffin Books

Nan is loved by the Sweep. He carries her on his shoulders, sacrifices his comfort for hers, and even gets beaten up for her protection. But one day, the Sweep disappears and she has to take matters into her own hands to survive. She becomes a climber for a new sweep (basically she became an indentured servant) and proves herself to be the best climber of the bunch. One horrific day, Nan finds herself trapped inside the confines of a narrow chimney. To force her out (which sometimes means being drastic and breaking your own bones to squeeze through), one of the competing climbers lights a fire beneath her and she quickly loses consciousness and burns up. Except she doesn’t, really. When she wakes up, she’s in a hidden room. And she’s not alone:

The Sweep had raised Nan to believe in impossible things. He had told her countless stories of genies and dragons and witches and fairies. He had made her believe that a thousand wonders were waiting around every corner. But she had learned through hard experience that those stories were not the real world. The real world offered no miracles. No “once upon a time.” No “happily ever after.” And yet, here in this dusty crawl space, she held a miracle in her hands. A miracle with eyes and a heartbeat and a crumbly gray body.

Through the second half of the book I often had damp eyes. There were touching moments that just gave me all the feels, and then just moments later some adorable conversation would have me smiling big or even giggling:

“The letter A makes the sound Aaahhh,” she explained. “It does?” Charlie’s eyes went wide. “How wonderful!” He leaned very close to the paper and pressed the side of his head against it. “What are you doing?” Nan asked. “Shh,” he said. “I want to hear it make the sound Aaahhh.”

And then some amazing conversations popped up with philosophical reflection on childhood, family, tradition, and religion. I could have easily highlighted half the book (but then it wouldn’t really be a highlight, would it – grin):

“Does it make you believe in God?” Miss Bloom stared at Charlie for a long moment. “It makes me believe that the world is full of wonders that I can scarcely imagine. Perhaps that is the same thing.”

It’s such a lovely, warm tale that needs to be experienced, first hand. I dare you not to fall in love with Nan and the Sweep and Charlie and Toby and Miss Bloom — each an important piece of Nan’s sanctuary.

One beauty of this book is that it’s historical fiction, but also magical realism. I found myself looking up information online while reading. Because WOW — how did I not know about this stuff?! At the very end, Jonathan Auxier offers an author’s note that helps fill in more details. So you don’t want to miss that. I highly, highly recommend Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster.

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


BlendedBlended
Sharon M. Draper
November 6, 2018
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Eleven-year-old Isabella is blended — meaning that (1) she’s biracial AND (2) in a blended family where she lives half her time with her white mom (and mom’s boyfriend) and half her time with her black father (and his girlfriend). Mom lives in a humble home with just what she needs and dad is richer than rich. Lucky for Izzy, her school lies just between where each of her parents live. This keeps her halfway sane. However, she still keeps two of everything so that she isn’t completely uprooted every weekend when she goes to the other parent’s house (for example, a book bag she keeps at each home with all the same items in each one).

Isabella experiences racism in many places, including friends who tell her she’s beautiful since she’s “mixed,” store clerks who refer to her as exotic, and other who want to know “what are you, really?” Being half and half is not an easy position and she discovers that she may never live fully in one culture or another. There are some good discussions on this topic and I especially appreciated an important discussion she was able to have with her white mom to explain how differently people look at her (and how many people even wonder if her mom is her “real” mom).

The scariest part of the story comes when Isabella and her soon-to-be step brother, Darren, are pulled over by an officer. If you’ve already read other reviews, then you know it’s bad. But I can happily say that it’s not too frightening and there are lots of lessons to learn and discuss after reading this book. This story will be a mirror for other “blended” children and a helpful window for those who need to understand how different we all experience life, based on our skin color. Oh, and you must eat ice cream while reading this one. Trust me!

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


LifeLikeLifel1k3
(Lifelike #1)
Jay Kristoff
May 29, 2018
Knopf Books for Young Readers

This is a fast-paced book that revolves around the discovery of several lifelike androids, created so human-like, visually, but who have super human powers (such as fast healing, regeneration of limps and organs, and super strength and defense capabilities). In the beginning we meet Eve and Lemon Fresh, best friends who basically scavenge for parts and fight with robot gladiators while barely scraping by with what they can make. Eve is taking care of her Grandfather who is, clearly, knocking on death’s door. One day on their way home they happen upon a crash and discover a very human-like male being inside. Eve immediately recognizes that this being is a high-quality Lifelike and she decides to take his remaining parts with her to sell for credits. And they all live happily ever after… Okay, not exactly. There’s backstabbing, passion, blood, guts, and “you aren’t who I thought you were” in this one, but I cannot carry the storyline further without giving up too much information. Two huge surprises come near the end and they have left me guessing where in the world Kristoff will take us next. WOW! If you enjoy dystopian science fiction with incredible world building, this one’s definitely for you! Book #2 will be released in May, by the way!

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


Meet-YasminMeet Yasmin!
Saadia Faruqi
Hatem Aly, Illustrator
August 1, 2018
Picture Window Books

We get to meet second-grader Yasmin Ahmad who is a spunky, highly imaginative youngster. Readers will love witnessing Yasmin’s resilient personality as she splatters paint to make a unique piece of art, makes unique use of all the unused blocks in her school classroom, and tears her mother’s kameez. There will always be something unexpected with this young adventurer!

Written in short 5-paged chapters, brightly colored illustrations appear every couple pages. Meet Yasmin! will be an excellent addition to any young reader’s collection as of offers an introduction to a sweet, fun, multigenerational, Pakistani American family. There’s additional information in the back section including things to discuss, a glossary of Urdu words, Pakistan Facts, and even a recipe to enjoy.

Here’s one example of the artwork scattered throughout the pages:

Yasmin-SPREAD

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


38398193Giraffe Problems
Jory John
Lane Smith, illustrator
September 25, 2018
Random House Books for Young Readers

Poor Edward the Giraffe is extremely self-conscious about his enormously loooong neck. He’s sure everyone is staring at it all the time. He has tried everything imaginable to hide it or make it blend in, but no such luck. But one day he meets Cyrus the Turtle and he learns just how wonderful his neck can be. In the end, Edward and Cyrus feel much better about their necks. Plus, they both made a new friend!

Giraffe-SPREAD

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


Potato-PantsPotato Pants!
Laurie Keller
October 2, 2018
Henry Holt and Co.

Potato has been waiting for TODAY. Because today is Potato Pants Day and he gets a brand new pair of pants. Yesterday was Eggplant Pants Day, but today is Potato Pants day. Only problem is, Eggplant just flew right by him, knocking him out of the way and taking one of the new pair of potato pants!! And would you believe all the pants are now GONE!! This is a funny little story about apologizing and forgiveness. When you open the first pages, it’s easy to get lost in this adorable little potato world with scenery and clothing, allowing you to find more minute details the longer you stare (LOL @ tuber uber — potato driving a car). These humorous illustrations were created with markers, colored pencils, pen and ink, acrylic paint, potato stamps, collage, and digital drawing. I’ll provide one spread, below:

PotatoPants-SPREAD

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


Wordy-BirdyWordy Birdy
Tammi Sauer
Dave Mottram, illustrator
February 6, 2018
Doubleday Books for Young Readers

Wordy Birdy is completely SPASTIC. She asks tons of questions, but doesn’t wait or listen for the answers. One day Wordy Birdy gets herself into a very dangerous situation and learns a hard lesson about listening to her friends. And this is one lesson her friends won’t ever let her forget. Check out one humorous spread, below:

Wordy-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 clearing the first days of this week to read WUNDERSMITH: THE CALLING OF MORRIGAN CROW. This is book #2 of the new award-winning NEVERMOOR series by Jessica Townsend. It’s coming out tomorrow and I’ve had it on pre-order since I read book #1 last spring. This is supposed to be a 9-book series and so far it has a long list of awards and starred reviews from outlets such as School Library Connection, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/05/2018 #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!

vote-2

I realize not all of my visitors are in the United States, but if you are, be sure to VOTE! We’ve been breaking early turnout records, but the actual election day is still very important. So make sure YOUR voice is heard — the more the merrier!

Today I’m reviewing two books that will be released tomorrow: Middle Grade novel LIZZY AND THE GOOD LUCK GIRL by Susan Lubner and Young Adult novel MAMMOTH by Jill Baguchinsky. I enjoyed both, so be sure to check ’em out, below…


39088675Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl
Susan Lubner
November 6, 2018
Running Press Kids

This is the story of 12-year-old Lizzy Sherman, her best friend Joss, and a surprise visitor named Charlotte. Lizzy has had a rough two years. Her family endured a bad car wreck which ended her mother’s previous pregnancy, killing the baby she carried. After that experience, her mother went into a deep depression and the entire family felt so much sadness over the loss. Since then, Lizzy has looked for signs of good luck in hopes that things will get better.

Lizzy’s mother and father run a diner located just beneath their apartment, and Lizzy’s mother is pregnant again. So now, more than ever, Lizzy is obsessively looking for good signs in the world around her. She sees signs in the clouds, in spilled drinks, in you-name-it!

Both Lizzy and Joss have a special interest in re-homing lost shelter cats. In fact, they are even working on a program through their school to raise money and bring awareness of the need to adopt. However, one morning their love of stray cats leads them into an old, abandoned building where they discover an 11-year-old runaway named Charlotte. Charlotte’s father and mother are in the process of getting a divorce and she can’t bear to be back at home as her father is preparing to leave. Once Lizzy discovers that Charlotte has what appears to be a 4-leaf clover on her hand, she is ready to move Charlotte into her closet and keep her hidden from family until after the baby is born. For luck!

“I tried not to think about the last time Mom had gone in an ambulance. The last time I had been in a hospital was the night we had lost the baby. But that night, I had lost something else, too. For months after the accident, Mom didn’t care about anything anymore. Not the diner. Not Dad. Not me. I wanted it to stop. I wanted a sign that things would be all right… a promise that all the awfulness would go away. More than a pink sky or a frozen puddle, more than anything in the world, I had just wanted my mother.”

With both good humor and sadness, this story is one of hope, uncertainty, friendship, and coming to terms with devastating loss. Nevertheless, this story also addresses running away from problems, lying to friends, and deceiving your parents. There’s so much up for discussion with this one!

My thanks to Netgalley and Running Press Kids for allowing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl releases TOMORROW, so be sure to grab a copy and add it to your reading list.

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


38769727Mammoth
Jill Baguchinsky
November 6, 2018
Turner Publishing

Natalie Page, formerly known as Fat Nat, is a plus-size fashion blogger. She’s also a “paleontology geek” who was awarded a prestigious internship at an Ice Age mammoth dig site close to Austin, Texas. Upon arriving at the dig site, she realizes that Dr. Carver, the world famous paleontologist she’s been fan-girling over for YEARS, will be filming on location during her stay. SWOON!

Through a series of events, Natalie bonds with several of the other interns, makes some bad decisions (landing her on probation), and eventually becomes a topic of national news. This book offers serious empathy for plus-sized women who work very hard to meet societies expectations — from wearing tight body shapers to constantly worrying that people are watching what you eat to instantly guessing any female’s body weight. Nevertheless, Natalie consciously works to overcome those mental roadblocks and discovers that she’s not afraid to stand up for herself — that, even without all the primping and daily fashion photos, she’s pretty darn amazing just being her brilliant, funny, lovely self. And those who really matter in her life can see that already.

When I first read blurbs about this book, I kept hearing things like “female scientist” and “plus-sized character!!” But what I didn’t hear enough about was the engaging, fast-paced storyline. I never wanted to put it down so I finished it in one day. It was a charming read — especially for me since it connected my two main places: Austin, where I grew up, and South Dakota, where the “Mammoth Site” is — barely an hour from where I currently live. So for other Austin fans out there, be aware you’ll hear ALL about the amazing thrifting, delicious barbecue, the famous bats at the bridge, Amy’s ice cream, and Austin being “awesomely weird.”

I hope my friends enjoy this one as much as I did! My thanks to Turner Publishing for shipping me an advanced reader copy of Mammoth in exchange for my honest review. Mammoth releases TOMORROW and I don’t think it will stay on library shelves very long. Don’t forget to add it to your TBR list!

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


Odd-One-OutOdd One Out
Nic Stone
October 9, 2018
Crown Books for Young Readers

This story is told from three different points of view. Courtney “Coop” Cooper, Rae Evelyn Chinand Jupiter Charity-Sanchez each get a chance to share their most private thoughts and feelings as narrator.

Courtney (male) and Jupiter (female) are the best of friends — have been since they were children. Courtney is heterosexual and admittedly attracted to Jupiter, but she has very openly identified as gay and so she has no interest in Jupiter that way. They often sleep together in the same bed, but there’s no romance here.

Rae Chin is new to town and, to her knowledge, she’s heterosexual. She’s definitely attracted to Coop. However, she’s very curious and wants to experiment with Jupiter, too. Jupiter isn’t about experimenting — she knows what she wants and doesn’t want to be a guinnea pig for Rae’s self-discovery, even if she’s obviously attracted to her.

The remainder of the story openly reveals the sexual tension between these three characters. Each person must be open to self-discovery with honesty and bravery. In fact, this is the first time I’ve heard the term heteroflexible, which made perfect sense in this context. Along the way it gets incredibly messy and confusing.

This book took me WAY out of my comfort zone. I really felt for some of the characters because of blatant deception that was happening during this exploration. That said, I can imagine it being helpful for someone who’s conflicted over their sexual preference. In fact, Nic Stone shares that she was very confused over her desires during her adolescent years. She didn’t come out as bisexual to her husband until just a few weeks after they were married. So she’s had a great deal of experience in this arena and has purposefully created a story that explores that messiness for other teens in a similar position.

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 sure I’ll squeeze in a handful of picture books this week, but I’d better only commit to one novel this week since I’ve been so overwhelmed with this new course I’m teaching. I believe this book is nearly 400 pages, so it will still be a good bit of reading. I’ve already heard some rave reviews  — excited to get started this week:

Sweep


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/29/2018 #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!


When-Elephants-FlyWhen Elephants Fly
Nancy Richardson Fischer
September 4, 2018
Harlequin Teen

This will be one of my very top YA reads of 2018 — I’m sure of it. I seriously didn’t know how to even start reading another book in the aftermath of this one. Just had to get that off my chest before I say anything else about this book. 🙂

The story is told from the perspective of T. Lily Decker, a high school senior who is facing more than her fair share of questions about the future. When she was a child, her schizophrenic mother attempted to kill her. And since schizophrenia can be hereditary, T. Lilly has developed a 12-year plan she believes might decrease her risks of developing schizophrenia. If she plays her cards right, she’ll hopefully have a shot at a fairly normal life after the age of 40.

In the meantime, T. Lily finds herself in the middle of a major news story about a baby elephant being rejected by her mother. The experience brings up painful memories of her mother and T. Lily feels compelled to see this news story to the end. And I mean the very end.

This beautiful book is sprinkled with quotes from Peter Pan and The Little Prince weaved between memories of things T. Lily’s mother once said. There are moments where the reader might be unsure of what is real and what is imagined, but it all comes together and makes perfect sense in the end. As I neared the final pages of the book, the full impact of the title hit me. *SOB* I cried harder than I’ve cried in a very, very long time. It’s was quite the reading experience. And one I didn’t want to end.

This book has heartache, devoted friendship, a wee bit of romance, and addresses a wide range of topics including mental illness, homosexuality, child/parent relationships, animal abuse, and even a bit of journalism. I just love books that drag you through the wringer, teach you about things you knew practically nothing about, and THEN make you feel all the feels. For a NUMBER of reasons, I highly recommend When Elephants Fly for any Teen or Young Adult collection.

NOTE: There’s an important Author’s Note about real life inspiration, about schizophrenia, and about elephants, zoos, and the circus. Additionally, there’s a long list of helpful resources for further reading.

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


GrenadeGrenade
Alan Gratz
October 9, 2018
Scholastic Press

Grenade is a heart-racing historical fiction novel centered on the island of Okinawa during World War II. It is written from alternating perspectives: (1) Fourteen year old Hideki is  from the island of Okinawa. He is part of the Blood and Iron Student Corps that is fighting with Japan. He was handed two grenades as he heads off across the island in hopes of stopping the Americans. (2) Ray is a fairly young (we know he’s at least 18) American Marine who just landed at Okinawa. He’s heading across the island in hopes of conquering Japan. In one stunning moment, both stories collide and Hideki’s and Ray’s worlds are forever changed.

There were some horrors you couldn’t fight and couldn’t change. The real courage was just in enduring them.

Yet another excellent historical fiction book by Alan Gratz that examines World War II and provides much-needed empathy on all sides. Get this one in ANY middle grade or young adult collection. I don’t think it will stay on the shelves very long!

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


38256485Good Rosie!
Kate DiCamillo
Harry Bliss, Illustrator
September 4, 2018
Candlewick Press

Told in graphic novel style, Rosie is a “good dog” who lives with George. One day they go to the dog park and she is overwhelmed by so many other dogs, so she keeps her distance until she realizes one of the dogs needs her help. In the end, we discover how three very different dogs become friends. Definitely clever and humorous — this one will be a great one for first day of school or any time a child is heading into a large group of other children. The illustrations are very done in watercolor and are soft, sweet, and appear very realistic in some places. I’ll provide just one spread as an example, below:

IMG_4146

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


Wall-in-the-MiddleThe Wall in the Middle of the Book
Jon Agee
October 2, 2018
Dial Books for Young Readers
Penguin Young Readers Group

Super cute book showcasing two stories going on at once — one on each side of the book. At first, the narrator (who looks to be a young boy in armor), is so happy to be protected on the left side of the book. On the right side are scary wild animals and a dangerous ogre. But before too long, the narrator is trapped on the left side of the book and he needs rescuing. How oh how will he survive?! I love this one — it’s always fun for young readers to discover a big secret even before the narrator does. I’ll provide one example of the artwork, 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.


How-to-Code-a-SandcastleHow to Code a Sandcastle
Josh Funk
Sara Palacios, illustrator
May 15, 2018
Viking/Penguin

Pearl is on her last day of summer vacation and she’s yet to actually build a sand castle. So she brought along her robot, Pascal, in hopes of getting help. She starts by telling Pascal to build a sandcastle, but he just sits there — it’s a no-go! Why? Because her directions are too broad.

“…a coder takes one big problem and breaks it into several smaller ones. If I give Pascal enough instructions that he does know, we’ll build this castle in no time!”

Pearl begins breaking down each step, adding in a loop, and in the end she faces… DISASTER! Her castle is in shambles and she will have to start all over. However, she learns from her mistakes and figures out a much better way to build her castle. It takes patience and diligence, but she finally succeeds.

I’m very pleased to find a new book on coding AND with a female main character. This would be a great way to introduce coding to a young group of children (or a way to reinforce a coding lesson to students who are already learning to code). The illustrations were rendered digitally in combination with gouache and acrylic paintings. I’ll provide one spread, below:

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

This book is the first of a new sequel, so I’ll be interested in seeing what they decide to code in book #2.

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:

These books will be published next week, so I’ll look forward to sharing them next Monday!


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/22/2018 #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!


Wonderland-OConnor

Wonderland
Barbara O’Connor
August 28, 2018
Farrar Straus Giroux

Meet Mavis Jeeter, an almost 11 year old whose mother has taken on a wide variety of jobs for years. At the beginning of Wonderland, Mavis’ mom has taken a new job as housekeeper for the Tully family. And as luck would have it, the Tully family has a daughter who is the same age as Mavis!

Rose Tully is a shy worry wart who does seem to fit in anywhere. Her closest friend is Mr. Duffy, the gatekeeper of their community. But after the loss of Mr. Duffy’s beloved dog, he is extremely depressed and unreliable. Thanks to the arrival of Mavis, the two girls can now concoct and carry out their brilliant plans to brighten Mr. Duffy’s spirits and hopefully even save his job.

A great adventure awaits in this one, for sure! While there was more sadness than I anticipated, it was an important multi-layered story that will encourage discussion about family expectations, dependable friendships, aging, loss/grief, and income disparity.

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


You-Dont-Know-Everything-JillyP

You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P.
Alex Gino
September 25, 2018
Scholastic Press

Like most 7th graders, Jilly P. thinks she has most things in life figured out. But as a white, straight, hearing young adult, she must soon come to grips with the fact that she’s incredibly privileged. Jilly is given the opportunity to learn a lot about life by bearing witness to the oppression her friends and family experience by simply being black or by living in a same-sex marriage or by being born deaf.

I was pleased to see this story address microaggression in a very helpful way, including unintentional discrimination. For example, Jilly’s aunt is black and she gently guides her to better understand the oppression and pain she experiences daily, even when the comments weren’t intended to be hurtful. This allows Jilly to consider her personal responsibility in future racist encounters. In an Author’s Note at the end, Gino says:

“In a world in which so many books are unconsciously written for white audiences, this book is consciously written for white people as a catalyst to talk about modern racism and police violence in the United States.”

This book is nothing if not ambitious, addressing a number of diversity issues and responsibilities our youth face. However, I was impressed with the coverage of the deaf community. I’ve had friends in high school and college who were deaf (who gifted me with my unique name sign), I enjoyed years of attending church services where everything was in sign (no audible sound), and my foreign language in college was ASL. Sadly, this culture is too often misunderstood and, most definitely, underrepresented in children’s and young adult literature. I’m pleased when I see this title like this making their way into the kid lit world!

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


TightTight
Torrey Maldonado
September 4, 2018
Nancy Paulsen Books

Growing up in New York City, 6th grade Bryan knows what is “tight” for him, in a good way — no drama and reading about super heroes in his comics. He’s a pretty chill kid who has never been in a fight and is obviously very close to his mom. Nevertheless, when he bumps into the wrong kind of friends and finds himself constantly in compromising situations, that gets him “tight” in a whole different way — wound up and feeling crazy. Now he must juggle secrets, question his friendships, and confront an almost uncontrollable rage.

Tight will be an excellent path to discussing friendships, competition, parental relationships, and conflict resolution. There’s also a lot of dialogue about comic book heroes, which will resonate with a large number of middle grade and YA readers. NOTE: Super heroes are discussed at length. And if I recall correctly, there is also a discussion of someone pulling up Luke Cage on TV. I’ve not read any of the Luke Cage books, but I thought it worth mentioning that the recent Netflix version is intended for adult viewers, only.

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


Groundwood Logos SpineThey Say Blue
Jillian Tamaki
March 1, 2018
Groundwood Books

In prose that could arguably be poetic at times, a young girl notices all the colors in her world. She describes the sky, water, clouds, flowers, and even her hair. The artwork is just lovely — so imaginative and varied between pages. The illustrations were made with a combination of acrylic paint on watercolor paper and photoshop. I’ll provide two page spreads, below:

IMG_4019IMG_4020

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


2969618Old MacNoah Had an Ark
Sally Lloyd-Jones
Jill Newton, illustrator
January 8, 2008
HarperCollins Publishers

This is an older title that I found this week as my music class is gearing up to go through piles and piles of musical children’s literature. This book is exactly what it sound like: the song from Old MacDonald that’s been altered for Noah. I expected it to be the same old, same old. However, the pages brought the humorous reality of that many animals being stuffed together for so long on the same boat. So I’ll have to share one page-spread that kinda made me giggle. I mean seriously, it would have been rough after a while. But we don’t really talk about that, do we? LOL

IMG_4018

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 didn’t get in as much reading time as I had hoped to last week, so I’ll finally start Grenade this week. YAY! I am also excited to read two new ARCs that will be published in November. I still have a huge pile of music-related picture books, so I’ll be sharing some of those over the coming two months.

 


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/15/2018 #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!


Every-Shiny-ThingEvery Shiny Thing
Cordelia Jensen &
Laurie Morrison
April 17, 2018
Abrams/Amulet Books

I thoroughly enjoy middle grade literature, but what I really LOVE is an authentic middle grade voice. And this book definitely achieved that authenticity while tackling more than one family crisis! The narration oscillates between prose and verse as we get to know both Lauren and Sierra. Lauren comes from a life of financial wealth, which bothers her to some degree. It’s hard for her to understand how some families can provide the best care to their children while others must suffer with the bare minimum. She also adores her brother, Ryan, so she is devastated when he is sent off to a special boarding school for autistic teens. In the same week, Sierra moves in next door as a foster child. Sierra does not come from wealth, so this is a whole new world for her. But Lauren pulls her in and makes her feel welcomed to the community, even at the risk of losing her own childhood best friend. This novel slowly crafts a beautiful, comforting friendship while carefully navigating life complexities such as addiction, the foster care system, autism, kleptomania, the death of a child, and economic disparities.

It did my heart good to read this one! I highly recommend for any middle grade collection whether it be in a school, a public library, or your home. I will definitely be handing my copy off to my daughter. BONUS: The cover of this book shines spectacularly. The book cover photo really cannot capture its brilliance. If you’re curious, you can see a short video I shot of the cover in motion when I first bought the book, last summer: HERE.

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


Dream-CountryDream Country
Shannon Gibney
September 11, 2018
Dutton Books for Young Readers

What a heart-wrenching book this is, but it’s also quite important. I certainly didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started this book. And all weekend since finishing it, I’ve been trying to figure out how to summarize the stories included in this book. I simply cannot do it well in a couple paragraphs. So I’ll start by sharing what the Goodreads bolded intro simply reads:

The heartbreaking story of five generations of young people from a single African-and-American family pursuing an elusive dream of freedom.

^^While that seems like nothing much, it really is enough to jump into this story. There’s such an amazing history between America and Africa and I fear we learn so little of it over the course of our American lives. For example, I did not know that after black Americans became “free men” in America, many were sent back to Africa to start a new life in their “home land” that was supposed to be better than what they could have here in America. But after the long trip back, they were stunned when they were not immediately accepted (and when they were called “white people” even if their skin was just as dark as the indigenous Liberians). That said, Gibney shares the following at the end of the book:

The freed blacks who came to Liberia in the nineteenth century recreated the very conditions of oppression they fled in America. Indeed these America Liberians, as they came to be called by some, and Congo people by others, really did create a colony in Liberia.  In every sense of the word. The government they established recognized their class as citizens at the expense of The indigenous Africans on whose land they settled. And funneled almost all of the resources of the interior to the capitol.  In this way, 95% of Liberia languished for generations.

Furthermore, I was not aware of the modern racism that exists between many black Americans and black Liberian-Americans (who came over AFTER slavery). This entire story, from start to finish, was so educational for me. It was a very helpful introduction to the history behind the present turmoil — both in Africa and right here in America. NOTE: I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Bahni Turpin. Yet again, I’m convinced she can narrate any story in the world with her outstanding artillery of voices and dialects!! Reader Beware: content warning for everything from gruesome violence, drugs, sexually explicit language, and rape.

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


Vanderbeekers2The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden
(The Vanderbeekers #2)
Karina Yan Glaser
September 25, 2018
HMH Books for Young Readers

I must say, I’ve been looking forward to returning to Harlem and seeing what the Vanderbeekers have been up to since book #1. In this installment, Isa has gone off to orchestra camp. Sadly, Mr. Jeet has some sort of stroke and winds up in the hospital for a very long time. The Vanderbeekers look at Mr. Jeet and Miss Josie as part of the family, so they can hardly function while waiting and hoping that Mr. Jeet will return one day soon. In the meantime, the children begin concocting a plan to create a gorgeous, peaceful garden for Mr. Jeet to enjoy once he’s released from the hospital. Everyone chips in to help, including their landlord Mr. Beiderman. However, they soon discover that it’s more difficult than they thought to find the space, resources, and plants needed to create a decent garden (never mind making sure it’s all legal!!).

If you have a bigger family, like mine, then you know how complicated life can be sharing your space with multiple ages and personalities. I like how Yan Glaser writes that sense of chaos right into the story, but also conveys the coziness that comes from such close-knit variety. If you enjoy a happily-ever-after ending that will leave young children smiling and eagerly anticipating book #3, then this one’s definitely for you!

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


Day-You-BeginThe Day You Begin
Jacqueline Woodson
Rafael López, illustrator
August 28, 2018
Nancy Paulsen Books

This is a wonderful, affirming picture book about facing differences and BEING different around other people.

There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.

The focus character changes from page to page to include different races, genders, and ability levels. Both the words and the artwork are beautiful — I cannot imagine an age group that wouldn’t enjoy and benefit from this precious book. I’ll provide one page spread, below:

Day-You-Begin-Spread2

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


AquariumAquarium
Cynthia Alonso
April 3, 2018
Chronicle Books

This is a wordless picture book about a young girl who goes down to a fishing pier at a pond that looks to be not far from her home. While there, she captures a gold fish and brings it home with her in a bottle. At home she has a large assortment of containers and a water hose she experiments with while settling her new fish in. Some of the illustrations are very detailed and will be fun to look at. And the young girl goes between wearing a dress and a bathing suit — great discussion for if she’s imagining things or if she really changed clothes. Eventually we find the young girl running back to the pond to return the fish to its natural habitat. This would be an excellent book for discussing animals and their habitats! The illustrations are rendered in pencil, pen, and digitally. I’ll provide two page-spreads as an example, below:

Aquarium-SPREAD-ACollage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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


To Be Read:

I may be overestimating my reading time, this coming week. Right now we’re on Midterm Break. So with this amazing time to relax with my family, it kinda feels like I’ll be able to accomplish ALL. THE. THINGS. in the coming week. I sure hope my optimism is on target, because I have a large stack of “to be read” books I cannot wait to get to, starting with these three:

 


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/08/2018 #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’ve been keeping up with the “musts” in my life with my home and coursework, but I haven’t had much time at all to read this week. Nevertheless, I’ve been slowly gathering up picture books that relate to music for my students to use in their future “music for classroom teachers” course projects. I had to ask permission from two other colleges to Interlibrary Loan a large number of these music books at the same time and, thankfully, they are happy to help. I was thrilled to come across at least two more at a local library that I won’t have to ILL. YAY! Hope you find something you might enjoy…


Blue-Grass-BoyBlue Grass Boy
The Story of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music
Barb Rosenstock
Edwin Fotheringham, illustrator
March 6, 2018
Calkins Creek/Highlights/Boyds Mills Press

This is a picture book biography of Bill Monroe. Bill grew up the youngest of eight children in the bluegrass state of Kentucky. His eyes were crossed which is why people believe that his ears worked so well with music. His mother died when he was just 10 years old and he found comfort in music after he found an old mandolin lying around. When he was 16, his father died too — that’s when he moved in with his Uncle Pen and began playing in regular performance gigs. Bill also met Arnold Shultz, said to be the most famous traveling picker in the area — gifted with the blues. This is when Bill learned to slide notes and enjoy unique rhythms. Eventually, Bill starts The Blue Grass Boys with a guitarist, a fiddler, an upright bassist, a mandolin, and at last, a banjo. Aaaand the rest is history!

In the back, there’s a longer biography over Monroe’s life, along with a very detailed bibliography for further reading (including several black and white photos of Bill, his family, and even Arnold Shultz). The brightly-colored illustrations are digitally rendered. You’ll find one example, below:

BluegrassBoy-SPREAD

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


Leos-GiftLeo’s Gift
Susan Blackaby
Joellyn Cicciarelli
Carrie Schüler, illustrator
October 11, 2017
Loyola Press

Another great children’s picture book focused on musical aspirations, Leo’s Gift is the story of a young boy who has the talent of playing the piano by ear. Leo’s big sister, Meredith, is forced to practice piano for 30 minutes every night when one day she discover’s Leo’s talent. She would prefer to play basketball, but clearly Leo would love to learn all about music. Leo happens to meet Mr. Alonzo, the music teacher, while he’s waiting for Meredith to get out of basketball practice. And over the course of the entire basketball season, he continues to meet with him to learn and practice. By the end of the story it is Christmas time and Leo gets an opportunity to share a special song for everyone to sing. It’s a very sweet story and will probably be meaningful for those still seeking their special talent (or those needing a little nudge in the direction of practicing on their skills).

I have to say that the artwork by Carrie Schuler is so creative and FUN to look at. There’s so much going on here with patterns and textures, that I could spend all day examining every element of all 15 spreads in detail. Schuler’s bio says that she’s known for layered, textural illustrations composed of ephemera she collects. I’ll share just one spread to showcase her work, below:

LeosGift-SPREAD

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


StolenWords_Jacket.indd

Stolen Words
Melanie Florence
Gabrielle Grimard, illustrator
September 5, 2017
Second Story Press

This is a VERY short picture book at only 24 pages. Yet with hauntingly beautiful illustrations, it is an incredibly POWERFUL telling of how First Nations’ Peoples were treated as they were removed from their parents’ homes and their Cree words were stolen:

Where did they take you, Grandpa? she asked. Away to a school that was cold and lonely, where angry white faces raised their voices and their hands when we used our words, he answered. They took our words and locked them away, punished us until we forgot them, until we sounded like them. Harsh sharp words. So different from the sound of our beautiful ones.

This story gave me chills at one point and brought tears to my eyes. I’m confident this one will stick with me. NOTE: Melanie Florence is of Cree heritage and in her dedication she ends it with “And for my grandfather.” So depending on her personal upbringing and experiences, this may be an #ownvoices story.

I wish I could share more than one spread, but there are only 11 spreads TOTAL in the entire book — meaning I would definitely break copyright (even for “fair use” claiming educational reasons). So if you haven’t yet read this one, I hope you can grab a copy and enjoy the gorgeous artwork and heartfelt words:

StolenWords-SPREAD

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


Tetonic-Plates-Are-On-The-MoveTectonic Plates Are on the Move
Nadia Higgins
Jia Liu, illustrator
January 1, 2018
Cantata Learning

We’ve been experiencing some mild earthquakes in our area the last few years, so I was happy to see a children’s picture book on the topic. This nonfiction book very simply walks the child through an explanation of tectonic plates with bright childlike illustrations demonstrating concepts like the earth’s crust, the continents, and where the tectonic plates meet. Very large font will make this book easier for young children who are still identifying individual letters. A brief glossary is available in the back as well as a brief bibliography and guided reading activities. Tectonic Plates Are on the Move is a picture book set to music, so there’s sheet music and a CD available in the back cover. I’ll provide one spread, below:

TectonicPlates-SPREAD

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


To Be Read:

I’m still working on these two books — Every Shiny Thing is a middle grade novel and Dream Country is a young adult novel. Both are quite engaging, I just haven’t had long stretches of reading time this week. I can’t wait to share them with my readers, next week! 🙂


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/01/2018 #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!

Between travel and family happenings, I’m still a tad lost in overwhelm this semester. However, I found just a little bit of time to read this week. YAY! Once I get out of class this morning, I can’t wait to see what everyone else is up to this week!


Louisianas-Way-HomeLouisiana’s Way Home
Kate DiCamillo
October 2, 2018
Candlewick Press

I was so excited to get to read DiCamillo’s new middle grade book!  This is a continuation of the story that originated in Raymie Nightingale. This installment is told in the voice of 12-year-old Louisiana Elefante and picks up two years later, beginning with Lousiana’s grandma dragging her out of Florida in the middle of the night (leaving behind her dear friends, Raymie and Beverly — presumably forever). On their journey, they quickly hit one obstacle after another and eventually land in a Georgia motel where Lousiana meets a young boy with a crow. Oh my, there’s a lot going on in this story with a variety of interesting characters, each being developed in full DiCamillo detail. But amidst the many experiences and side-adventures, Louisiana’s needs remain the focus.

It was easy to fall into this story as it’s one of hope and bonding. One thing I was pleased to see in this leg of the story (that gives it a bump over Raymie Nightingale) was Louisiana encountering a couple healthy adults who truly care about HER and want to help her do whatever she needs to do. There’s something so difficult about holding in a deep, potentially dark, secret. And middle grade literature, in general, often presents the child and adult as adversaries. Nevertheless, the young reader will find comfort in this story as Louisiana discovers a grown-up she can trust in her big, confusing, and sometimes scary world.

NOTE: While we encounter characters we met in the first book, Louisiana’s Way Home could easily be a stand-alone book for anyone who hasn’t yet read Raymie Nightingale. In fact, dare I mention that I enjoyed Louisiana’s Way Home much more than Raymie Nightingale? I grew far more attached to these characters and the final pages brought me to unexpected tears. Thanks to Candlewick Press and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book for an honest review.

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


Winnies-Great-WarWinnie’s Great War
Lindsay Mattick
Josh Greenhut
Art by Sophie Blackall
September 18, 2018
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

A couple years ago, I read Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear — a children’s book that shares the true story behind Winnie-the-Pooh. It was a little 54-paged picture book, appropriate for a young child. However, in this new installment, Mattick takes that brief glimpse and broadens it into a complete 244-paged tale full of both truth and fantasy elements.

In this book, the reader is witnessing Mattick tell the story of Winnie to her son, young Cole. There are plenty of hard facts and dates and names of real people who were part of the true story of Winnie. And Captain Harry Colebourn’s real diary entries mark the dates and locations along the way. However, I loved how these truths were intertwined with vivid imagination. In the end, we learn that Cole is the great, great, great grandson of Harry Colebourn — he was even named after him! Such a precious story for those of us who grew up loving Winnie-the-Pooh.

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


Charlie-and-MouseCharlie & Mouse
Laurel Snyder
Emily Hughes, illustrator
April 11, 2017
Chronicle Books

Found this cute little easy reader in my college library and had to bring it home — it feels chapter-ish with four distinct sections to the story, but it isn’t too wordy for a beginning reader. The text was super cute as we get to know Charlie and Mouse through humor. The illustrations, rendered by hand in graphite and with Photoshop, really complete the book. Great for predictions, too! I’ll provide one page-spread, below:

IMG_3446b

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


To Be Read:

I’ve just barely started the following two books this week and really hope to finish them both this week.