Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (8.4.14)

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:

Rain Reign, by Ann M. Martin
(Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, October 7, 2014, ARC provided by NetGalley)
     Rose's autism and OCD impact her daily life, including relationships with her dad and her classmates. In addition to homonyms and prime numbers, the thing Rose loves most is her dog, Rain. When Rain goes missing during a significant weather event, Rose's world is shaken, and she pushes herself to grow in order to find her dog. But is he hers?
     Ann M. Martin has written another compelling canine story, capturing Rose's character accurately and creating real concern and compassion in her readers through the story. Rose's voice is real and conveyed through the novel's structure and emphasized attention to the homonyms throughout the book. The book is beautiful, and Rose will find a spot in your literary heart alongside other characters like Willow Chance (Counting by 7s) and Oscar (The Real Boy).

Sure Signs of Crazy, by Karen Harrington
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, August 2013)
     Sarah Nelson faces adversity every day when she wakes up, just as she has since age 2, on the day she was rescued from her mother's insane attempt to drown her. Sarah, living with her father and now 12, has moved every time her identity has been realized by her new community. With only a couple close friends, Sarah keeps most of her thoughts, including her fears that she will also become crazy (like her mother) or an alcoholic (like her father) to herself (if she doesn't share them with Plant--yes, a house plant). Through her teacher's summer challenge to write letters in a notebook to people or characters, Sarah reveals her desire for a deeper parental relationship. 
      Sarah had a lot going on in this book, but there was something admirable about the intertwined example of Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) throughout Sarah's story. Her concerns and tribulations as a 12-year old girl were spot on, and emphasized what she felt was missing in her life. While I'm a fan of realistic endings, I was happy this book's ending implied healing for the characters.

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy, by Nathan Hale

(Harry H. Abrams, August, 2012)
     Nathan Hale, the historical figure, was an American martyr, capture and hanged during the Revolutionary War. Nathan Hale, the author, tells his story and provides information about other details of the Revolutionary War in this graphic novel.
     The historical information of the Revolutionary War is embedded in Nathan Hale's retelling of the story, complete with side conversations and interjections of a British officer and a hangman responsible for executing Hale. The graphic novel format will make this informational text appealing to young readers and the writing style--with snarky personalities--will hold their attention while teaching them critical information as well. This book (and others in it's series) is a high priority on my list to books to buy for back-to-school.

Camp Rex, by Molly Idle
(Viking Juvenile, April 22, 2014)

     Rex and his cast of friends strike out on a camping trip, inviting readers to experience camping alongside them with each step, like pitching a tent and making a fire.
     Molly Idle's work is always striking to me, even though her artwork is whimsical and soft, gentle and friendly. This book will be well-loved by younger readers.

Three Bears in a Boat, by David Soman

(Dial, May 20, 2014)

     When the three bears do something they shouldn't and break something they shouldn't, they are faced with a situation and must find a way to remedy it. Believing they can replace the broken item, they set out in search of another, in "the right place." Eventually the bears discover what "the right place" is, unexpectedly.
     When reading picture books as an intermediate teacher, I always try to find the lens through which I would share/use a book in the classroom. I think this book will invite conversation about solving problems the "right" way, and what finding "the right place" was really about for the bears. This could be an open door to conversations about honesty and making amends.

My Pet Book, by Bob Staake
(Random House Books for Young Readers, July 8, 2014)
     Adorable illustrations and skippity rhyming text come together in Bob Staake's My Pet Book, where a boy looking for a pet settles on The book is personified and parallel aspects of pet care are represented in how he selects and cares for his book. 
     I'm looking forward to sharing this with students and asking them to consider what books would be worthy of "pet status" for them. The book will invite reading life conversations, and--I hope--give me a jumping point for talking about and inspiring book love in the classroom. This just may be the book I have been looking for to share with students and parents alike to spawn conversation about personal canons!

My Teacher is a Monster (No, I Am Not), by Peter Brown

(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, July 1, 2014)
     Robert would prefer school if his teacher were not a monster. When Robert runs into his monster-teacher outside of school, in the park, a situation presents itself in which the teacher becomes a little less...and
      Peter Brown's book is humorous in nature and he uses his artwork assists in fully conveying the story's true message. This is a book I will be handing to my colleagues constantly between now and the start of school. It's a healthy invitation to laugh at the little monster inside each of us, but more than that, it's an opportunity to look at our relationships with students from the outside...and think about what it takes to avoid creating monster-fearing students.

What I am Currently Reading:
The Giver, by Lois Lowry (a reread!)

What I am Reading Next:
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!, by Nathan Hale
Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
Projecting Possibilities, by Matt Glover


  1. I loved Three Bears in a Boat. It has gone on my Caldecott favorites shortlist :)

  2. Really excited for Rain Reign. Just saw my first preview for the upcoming Giver movie. Breaks my heart when a favorite book gets turned in to a movie. Hope you enjoy the re-read!

  3. So much good in this post.
    I am excited about Rain Reign. I hadn't heard about it until today, but now I've seen it in 4 different places--intrigued!
    Aren't the Hazardous Tales books good?! I actually was lucky enough to write the teaching guide for the books--they are perfect for the classroom.
    Many of your picture books are ones that I've heard great things about, and I have ordered them from the library. I cannot wait to read them.
    (Also, I'm with Katie. I am sad about The Giver movie. It has been my favorite book since I was 11, and I have reread it SO many times. I know the movie will just make me mad, so I haven't decided if I am even going to go see it....)
    Happy reading this week! :)

  4. I am really looking forward to Rain Reign More and more with every review. Three Bears in a Boat is divine.

  5. I've been thinking that I need to get Nathan Hale's graphic novels series for my lending library as well. Think these titles would appeal to many of my readers. I was crazy about the art in Three Bears in a Boat. I read My Teacher Is a Monster last week too--will definitely be purchasing for my kids' classroom teachers. I may reread The Giver this fall--read it so many years ago and barely remember it!