Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (10.27.14)

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 (and last):

Hissy Fitz, by Patrick Jennings
(EdgemontUSA, January 6, 2015, ARC courtesy of NetGalley)

     Hissy Fitz is a big, old cat who is grumpy about the interference of his human family in his cat life. The book tells of his complaints and describes a cat's possible perspective in response to kind--and not-so-kind--kids who have a pet cat. 
     Cat fanatics will find an appreciation in this book for the cat's point of view. Many descriptions had me recalling the relationship my own childhood cat had with my siblings and me. Though the perspective is realistic, I kept waiting for the story to lift off. The book is mainly a series of strung together events from Hissy's point of view.

Project Mulberry, by Linda Sue Park
(Houghton Mifflin, 2005)
     Julia and Patrick plan to team up and win a prize at the state fair, but they need a project that will impress to earn the prize. Limitations prevent them from raising typical animals, and Julia's mom suggests growing silkworms. While Patrick latches onto the idea, Julia has a distaste for the project, feeling it is too Korean, where she is feeling pressure to be normal--or American. The project, in all it's stages of inception through execution provides Julia with the opportunity to explore her values as she grapples with some difficult ethical issues, and helps her to embrace her cultural identity.
     In keeping with my recent theme of reaching back and reading books I've missed along the way, I'm glad my attention was pointed to this book. Not only is the story of Project Mulberry interesting, the characters believable, and the conflicts engaging to the mind, but Linda Sue Park has done something unique with the format of the text, punctuating the chapters with internal dialogue between the main character and herself. These exchanges enlighten readers to "the story behind the story" and the process of writing, the way the novel evolves. 

Courage for Beginners, by Karen Harrington
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, August 12, 2014)
     Mysti Murphy's daily life has always been impacted by her mother's agoraphobia, but she feels the pinch more when a sudden accident lands her father--the parent who goes places--in the hospital for several months. The timing of the accident coincides with the beginning of middle school, and Mysti's long-time best friend has decided he wants to conduct a "social experiment," so he stops interacting with her in hopes of getting the attention of other students. Left on her own to navigate middle school, cope with the unknowns in her dad's prognosis, and help her family carry on despite a parent who won't leave the house, Mysti has no choice but to summon a little courage.
     Karen Harrington has a second novel that will tug at your heart (the first being Sure Signs of Crazy). Readers will want to coax Mysti along as she works past this broken and hurtful friendship with her long-time friend and will cheer for her new friendship with Rama. They will share her burden as she laments the troubles and undeserved challenges that come with an agoraphobic parent. And, if the reader is a reader like me, they'll appreciate that Harrington's book isn't heavy in happily-ever-after, but more realistic in it's ending.

The Great Greene Heist, by Varian Johnson
(Arthur A. Levine Books, May 27, 2014)
      It is easy to tell from the very beginning, Jackson Greene is the kind of trouble-making student you want to read for. When the young con detects unethical play in the school's Student Council elections, he gathers a cast of diverse characters around him to help foil their plan and insure the right person wins the presidential position--even if that happens to be his ex-best friend.
     I am so glad to finally be caught up on this book that held the attention of so many in my book-loving circles this summer. It is with good reason that everyone has been buzzing about Varian Johnson's adventure/mystery. The characters' stories and scenes weave together seamlessly, and the reader feels a part of Jackson's recruited team, helping to make things right. Johnson makes heroes of unlikely characters, blurring the stereotypical lines of social class in middle school. The book reads like an action movie, which I suspect will appeal to many students and leave them asking for subsequent adventures. I cannot wait to share this title at school.

The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery, by Sandra Markle
(Milbrook Press, August 1, 2014, ARC courtesy of NetGalley)
     When scientists discover the Little Brown Bat population is declining, and, upon investigation, notice an unusual white fuzz on the noses of others, the team goes into action to solve the scientific mystery of what is causing more Little Brown Bats to die. This informational text takes readers on the journey from inquiry about the cause of dying bats to discovery of what is happening. With stunning close-up photos and a narrative style of writing, the text will hold the attention of curious readers, inviting them to be on the inside of active scientific research and discovery.

The Elephant Scientist, by Caitlin O'Connell, Donna Jackson, and Timothy Rodwell
(HMH Books for Young Readers, 2011)
     The Elephant Scientist is a Scientists in the Field text that documents the research about elephants and their ability to communicate through their feet and legs. The text chronicles the research of biologist Caitlin O'Connell and her team as they investigated a suspicion that elephants "listen" to the ground for signs as part of their communication. The step-by-step discoveries and explanation of the team's response to their findings made this a page-turning informational text. 

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, by Dan Santat
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April 8, 2014)
     Beekle has waited patiently for a special friend to dream him up, but after waiting a long while, Beekle takes matters into his own hands and journeys to the real world, a city setting, in search of his special friend.
      Always a fan of Dan Santat's work, the illustrations in Beekle do not disappoint. The story gives a whimsical play to the theme of friendship and imaginary--and not-so-imaginary--friends. (Thank you, Niki Barnes, for this beautiful gift!)

What I am Currently Reading:
Life on Mars, by Jennifer Brown
(Bloomsbury USA Childrens, August 5, 2014)

What I am Reading Next:
The Terrible Two, by Mac Barnett, Jory John, and Kevin Cornell
I Survived True Stories: Five Epic Disasters, by Lauren Tarshis
All the Answers, by Kate Messner


  1. How I love Beekle! Just perfection. I'm quite intrigued by the Karen Harrington titles--adding to the TBR list. Great Greene Heist has been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read--like so many other books. Maybe I'll try reading it aloud to my son after we finish Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.

  2. I loved the Adventures of Beekle! The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery looks like a great read. Ever since doing a research project on Bats with some grade twos a few years ago, the plight of brown bats has fascinated me. I've added it to my to read list.