Monday, October 6, 2014

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (10.6.14)

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:

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere, by Julie T. Lamana
(Chronicle Books, April 8, 2014)
     All Armani wanted was to celebrate her 10th birthday with her family and friends at her home, but nature had something different in store. Set in the city of New Orleans when the nightmare of Hurricane Katrina struck, this book is the account of Armani and her family as they faced obstacles and hardship at every stage of the natural disaster.
     Julie Lamana's writing is beautiful and heartfelt, even while describing the horror of Hurricane Katrina. Her description and portrayal of the cast of characters and their feelings stretched my reader's heart wide (and demanding something of a tissue-quota). Terrible as it was, it was fascinating to read about a historical event of recent past. This book will linger for a long while for me, and it will be passed on to the right reader at the right time...when that is found.

Gracefully Grayson, by Ami Polinsky
(Disney Hyperion, November 4, 2014, ARC courtesy of NetGalley)
     Sixth-grader Grayson Sender lives in Chicago with his aunt and uncle and two cousins after losing his parents in a car accident when he was in preschool. Grayson has long self-identified as female, but keeps his feelings suppressed with realization that the rest of the world would not take kindly to him, expecting gender conformity. Grayson lands the female lead in his school play and finally finds a means for expressing his true self. 
     Ami Polinsky brings to life a courageous character in Grayson and tastefully crafts the conflict--both internal and external--faced by young people who are exploring their sexuality. This book can broaden students' perspectives and touch on the necessity of tolerance for differences. I'm glad to have had this reading experience.

Bugged: How Insects Changed History, by Sarah Albee, illustrated by Robert Leighton
(Walker Childrens, April 15, 2014)
     Throughout time, insects have played a role in history, guiding discovery and impacting the outcome of known events. Bugged provides both detailed research and shorter quips describing instances and examples of the influence of insects on where we are today.
     Students will find the topic highly engaging once introduced to the material between the cover. True to informational books, readers can move fluidly around the pages, reading as little or as much as they like at a time. I imagine that this book will get passed around a lot in my classroom, with some of the more capable readers investing energy in the lengthier passages and my still-developing readers flittering from text box to image to text box to caption collecting bits and pieces as they go. The back matter of this text is wonderful and serves as a great exemplar of organizing vocabulary and sources for future readers.

No Monkeys, No Chocolate, by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young, illustrated by Nicole Wong
(Charlesbridge, 2013)
     Melissa Stewart creates another nonfiction masterpiece as she illustrates the interdependence of organisms related to cocoa beans in the rainforest. By layering each player and explaining their role in the growth and development of cocoa beans, Stewart reinforces the concept that each one is dependent upon the other, that all have a role to play and each link is vital. The illustrations are beautiful, and the tiny worm commentary in the corners of the page are smile-worthy and offer a voice and personality to the page that will entertain readers without detracting from the text. This book presents interesting information in a digestible bite.

Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
(Harry N. Abrams, 2013)
     Rosie has an interest in tinkering with all kinds of gadgets and gizmos, until one day her uncle laughs at a very well-intentioned piece, shutting down Rosie's creative juices. One day Rosie's aunt Rose (fashioned to represent Rosie the Riveter) arrives, and when she expresses a desire to fly, Rosie is again inspired to create and build. But her creation crashes. Rosie is ready to quit again when she is unsuccessful, but Aunt Rose inspires her to look at the creation as a first attempt. 
     Rosie Revere, Engineer is another great fit book for developing a growth mindset in children. I am eager to share this book with my students and anticipate they will have great conversations about the similar theme in this book as The Most Magnificent Thing and Ish

What I am Currently Reading:
Hissy Fitz, by Patrick Jennings
(EgmontUSA, January 6, 2015, ARC courtesy of NetGalley)
The Writing Thief, by Ruth Culham
(International Reading Association, April 28, 2014)

What I am Reading Next:
Half a World Away, by Cynthia Kadohata
Finding Serendipity, by Angelica Banks
The Elephant Scientist, by Caitlin O'Connell and Donna Jackson, illustrated by Timothy Rodwell


  1. I should read Hissy Fitz, although I find cats creepy! Gracefully Grayson was interesting but lacked... something for me.

    1. I'll get back to you on Hissy Fitz. I had a book order arrive this week and was realizing I read everything that came in my order but not the ARC I started! TBR lists...they're only a suggestion, right? Right. :)

  2. Both Rosie Revere and No Monkeys No Chocolate were favourite titles in my classroom last year! My daughter is currently reading Upside Down . . . I will have to grab it from her when she is finished. When I am up to the emotional ride . . .

    1. I can see why. I need to make it a mission to put newer, appealing nonfiction into my classroom library. It's pitiful compared to my fiction shelves!

      I hope you enjoy Lamana's book!

  3. I love the mix of books in your list,Melissa. Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere was such a special book - Armani is a wonderful character, and I think it's important for our kids to continue to read about Katrina and what the people of New Orleans endured.

    1. Tara, I am nothing if not eclectic! :) Thank you for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere as much as I did.

  4. Have you read Ninth Ward of Jewell Parker Rhodes - it sounds like a perfect companion book for Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere. No Monkeys, No Chocolate sounds like a must-read! :)

    1. I hadn't heard of Ninth Ward yet. Thank you for mentioning it!