Monday, July 7, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (7.7.14)

Every Monday bloggers all over the web participate in an effort to share books we have read and what we are excited about digging into. Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee & Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting us all!

What I Read this Week:

Spirit's Key by Edith Cohn
(Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, September 9, 2014 - ARC courtesy of NetGalley)
     On the island where they live, Spirit and her father are different from the others. They are from away, but they also have a talent for "seeing," making them additionally unique. Spirit's father has always been sought out predict the future by holding someone's house key. Spirit's closest companion, a wild dog she called Sky, has died, and other wild dogs are turning up dead around the small island village. The traditional island folk believe this is a sign of great evil. When many of the adults--including Spirit's father--are locked away with "illness," Spirit's determination kicks in, both to be reunited with her father and to help the villagers grow in tolerance for the wild dogs.
     Spirit's Key holds enough adventure, mystery, and gritty characters in it's pages to keep intermediate readers reading. The magical elements of seeing the future and the dogs' ghosts were not distracting the story. The theme of respect for wild life will prompt student readers to think about the ways we impact animals. Readers who can see generalizations may also see the implications of holding on to old beliefs instead of taking opportunities to learn things for what they are, much as the villagers did with their fears of the wild dogs.

Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake, by Julie Sternberg (author) and Matthew Cordell (illustrator)
(Abrams, March 18, 2014)
     When I returned from NCTE '13 with Julie Sternberg's Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and Like Bug Juice on a Burger, my students dove in and passed the books among themselves. They didn't come back to our shelves until the end of the year! I was so grateful to win Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake in Kellee Moye's giveaway. I know my students will be delighted!
     Eleanor, like any other 4th grader, finds herself in quandries. The first two books have their situations, and now Eleanor is experiencing what it is like to be the third wheel. A new student, Ainsley, has moved to her class and become friends with Pearl, Eleanor's best friend. As the tension builds with Eleanor's jealousy and fear of being left out, she bursts, letting out a secret that makes everyone uneasy. How will she repair the damage? An additional subplot includes Eleanor being cast as the lead in a 4th grade play, and in order to succeed, she must overcome her fear of singing alone on stage.
     The books do not have to be read in order, however there are references in this book to the previous two Eleanor experiences. Also, Eleanor is getting older, and explores the possibility of a first crush in this third book.

The Numberlys, by William Joyce, illustrated by William Joyce and Christina Ellis
(Antheneum Books for Young Readers, May 27, 2014)

     The Numberlys live in a world where everything is orderly and neat...and numbers. When they begin to wonder and explore what else could be, the Numberlys begin to building alphabet letters and discover what happens when letters are put together.
     The illustrations in this book will strike you. The initial illustrations are in grayscale, and gradually more color works into the illustrations as the Numberlys' world broadens with the incorporation of letters. Unlike the cover, the book's pages are arranged mostly in a vertical orientation, though the story does require some rotating back and forth. The book jacket itself is printed on clear plastic, so although hard to tell from the image above, the plastic jacket is printed with the title and black/gray scale parts of the cover, and the colored image is on the hardcover book cover underneath. This makes for an interesting visual when holding the book in hand.
     Additionally, the back flap includes a QR code and reference to an app that further enhances the reader's experience. With the iPhone or iPad app, readers can hover their device over the pages in the book for an interactive experience, collecting toys and backgrounds through the pages that can be used for letter and number games on the device. My nephews, 6 and 2.5 years, both enjoyed the bonus features.
    For still more fun, check this website with letter of the day videos.

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art, by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPre
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, February 11, 2014)
     This book is a picture book biography (My collection grows!) of Vasya Kandinsky, a notable artist who is believed to have had synesthesia, a condition of mixed senses. Though encouraged to be proper and intelligent in traditional ways, Kandinsky discovered that music would elicit colors and shapes, and he felt called to creating art. Kandinsky's art was largely abstract and challenged conventionality.
     With beautiful illustrations to compliment the artist as a subject, the story is short in length, includes enough information without being factually heavy, and would be a good text for helping students grasp the condition of synesthesia, which can be abstract and hard to imagine itself.

What I am Currently Reading:
How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied, by Jess Keating
(June 3, 2014)

What I am Reading Next:
Hattie Ever After, by Kirby Larson
Ice Dogs, by Terry Johnson
Hidden Gems, by Katherine Bomer


  1. What a fun combination of books. I think I will have to find "The Numberlys" as that is my kind of kids book. Thanks for sharing, ~ linda

  2. I love Julie Sternberg's Eleanor SO much! I have multiple copies of this series and they are hardly ever in a book basket! I hope there are more stories to come in this series.

    I'm reading How to Outrun a Crocodile right now too. I'm adding The Numberlys to my TBR list. Under the Egg is next up for me!

    Happy Reading!

  3. What a great collection The Noisy Paint Box is high on my wish list - love picture book biographies! Hearing so many great things about How to Outrun a Crocodile!

  4. Spirit's Key reminds me a little bit of Hayao Miyazake's Princess Mononoke - looks like they would go well together. :)