Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (7.18.16)

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 Recently:

Finding Perfect, by Elly Swartz
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 18, 2016)
     Molly can't help but feel like she is losing more and more control of her world, riddled with her mom's sudden move away from the family, competing challenges with middle school friends, and these routines, and rituals, and numbers...yes, numbers. Molly realizes she needs help, yet, she is also unsure of where to turn and who to trust with the truth that scares her.
     Elly Swartz's debut-novel portrays OCD with sensitivity and honesty. Though Elly is not without her obstacles and challenges, the family and friends in Finding Perfect are loving and supportive. This is another middle grade book that will help build understanding and empathy by opening doors to the realities of mental health that are faced by our children and their loved ones.

Wish, by Barbara O'Connor
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR, August 30, 2016)

     Charlie Reese longs to have a family--the kind that looks like everybody else's and helps her to feel normal and loved. In fact, she has a looonnnggg streak of wishing so every single day in every possible way to wish imaginable. Now that she's living with extended family members who she doesn't know in a small town in the middle of nowhere, Charlie feels her wish is far from becoming a reality. But when her new dog, Wishbone, becomes the center of her universe, she just might start to see things differently.
     Barbara O'Connor's writing is every bit as easy and gentle and true in Wish as in her other novels, and Charlie will be a fast friend for our readers who are in need of one. Wish will push readers--just as it does Charlie--to broaden their definition of what family looks like and grow their hearts a little, too.

Sticks & Stones, by Abby Cooper
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR, July 12, 2016)
     Elyse has a condition in which names she is called appear on the skin of her arms and legs. At first, this is interesting, with words like beautiful and cute. But as Elyse has grown older--and now that she is in middle school--the words haven't always been painless. Negative words like loser and stupid form and itch in a torturous way. What's more, Elyse's newest realization is that even the words she thinks about herself are appearing. Certain she needs a bank of lasting compliments to help her perpetually feel good--and control her condition--Elyse sets out to win the competition to the the leader of her class's three-day expeditionary trip.
     Abby Cooper's first book will raise questions and important conversations in upper elementary and middle school classrooms. This is the kind of book that will have kids exploring themes of kindness and respect and talking about the standards they want to hold each other to. Elyse's understanding and perspective at the end of the book are the kind of growth and confidence we hope to encourage in our students, too.

The Slowest Book Ever, by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
(Boyds Mills Press, April 5, 2016)
     Across categories such as animals, plants, body, space, and more, this book is a collection of nonfiction information about slow things: snails, coral, digestion, dark matter, and more.
     April Pulley Sayre has compiled page after page of interesting (and sometimes obscure) information related to speed that will have students rushing to share "did you know's" with their friends or heading off in search of more evidence that validates their reading. Short sections of digestible information and a witty voice will make this nonfiction appealing to kids.

When Friendship Followed Me Home, by Paul Griffin
(Dial Books, June 7, 2016)     
     When Ben Coffin was adopted by his foster mom, things seemed to fall into place, and when she let him keep a dog he found, things got even better. 
     When Friendship Followed Me Home invites you into easy friendship with Ben and Halley (and Flip). The dynamic between these two characters is full of heart and a beautiful balance of reciprocal admiration and support without being too heavy. Paul Griffin's writing about loss and grief takes a hopeful stance.

Poor Little Guy, by Elanna Allen
(Dial Books, June 7, 2016)
     This "poor little guy" is adorable, quite frankly. On his adventure in the ocean this day, he encounters other sea creatures and appears to be overwhelmed and intimidated...until he takes matters into his own hands.
     You need to read this one for yourself. Really.

Rules of the House, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matt Meyers
(Disney-Hyperion, May 3,  2016)
     On a vacation, feuding brother and sister get an imaginative look at what might happen if the rules of the house aren't followed when broken rules come to life in monstrous form.
     An interesting idea, and the illustrations literally add life to the story. Curious to know what kids think, but I decided it was a little too creepy for my 4-year old nephew this time around.

Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks, by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat
(G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, May 24, 2016)
     Ninja students return--this time, chickens--in the poetic retelling of Hansel and Gretel. The well-schooled ninja chicks are lured into the kitchen of the witchy fox, but true to the original fairytale, they outsmart that fox and get away.
     I love this picture book series by this team. I marvel at the craft of Corey Rosen Schwartz's rhyme and meter and humor. Dan Santat's illustrations are a perfect match for the fun of the story. Read it aloud.

Let Me Finish!, by Minh Le, illustrated by Isabel Roxas
(Disney-Hyperion, June 7, 2016)
      All this boy wants to do is settle down with a good book, but with each attempt, he is interrupted by well-meaning friends who can't help but talk about his selections. 
      A humorous portrayal of the risk we run when we talk (too much!) about the books we love and spoil them for those who haven't read them yet. Upbeat art and the repeated interjections will make readers--young and old--smile.

What Do You Do with a Problem?, by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom
(Compendium, Inc., July 1, 2016)
     When the character identifies a problem as the thing looming and inviting worry and fear, he must decide how to handle it. 
     The book is essentially one extended think-aloud about making the choice to dig into a problem to decide how to handle it, and finding that problems often come with a glimmer of light--opportunity.

The Storyteller, by Evan Turk
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers, June 28, 2016)
     In the tradition of Moroccan storytelling, this is the story of a boy who saved Morocco from the wrath of the Sahara desert. Only it is so much more. Rich with metaphor, The Storyteller is about the power of storytelling to nourish us and honoring traditions to keep culture alive and well.
     The art. The writing. The layers. The message. This book is beautiful.

Good Night, Baddies, by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Julie Kangas
(Beach Lane Books, May 17, 2016)
     Night has come and all across the castle, the villains of your favorite fairytales are getting ready for sleep.
     Each page has a gentle and easy rhyme that gives hints the readers can use (with the pictures of course) to recall the fairytales in which each "baddie" starred. Clever, fun, creative.

What I am Currently Reading:
Celebrating Writers, by Ruth Ayres, with Christi Overman
(Stenhouse, 2013)
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill
(Algonquin, August 9, 2016)

What I am Looking Forward to Reading Soon (in no particular order):
Return Fire, by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Midnight Without a Moon, by Linda Jackson


  1. Hi girly! Many of these are in my towering tbr pile, particularly, Wish and When Friendship Followed Me Home. I have seem Let Me Finish on a few blogs so I am going to have to request that one for sure! Enjoy your reading week!

    1. You really do. It's cute. And Wish...*gush.*

  2. I love Corey Rosen Schwartz's ninja books and need to get my hands on this new one. Thanks for the review. Great book choices.

    1. Aren't they fabulous? I'm a big fan, too. Glad I could give you a nudge!

  3. I am currently reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon, too, but I'm just at the beginning. I've been reading mostly realistic fiction so it's a nice change. I've some of the picture books you mentioned, but The Slowest Book Ever is one that I haven't read yet. It sounds like one my students would like. I received When Friendship Followed Me Home at the ILA conference and I want to read it soon.

  4. So many great books, and thank you for ones new to me, like When Friendship Followed Me Home and Sticks And Stones (fascinating) which sounds like a good read aloud. I have Wish and Finding Perfect already on my list, but thanks for your reviews, too. Have a great week!

    1. I think Sticks & Stones would make a terrific read aloud. I have recommended it to colleagues this way. Thanks, Linda!

  5. I really enjoyed The Slowest Book Ever, and I really appreciated the book's emphasis on slowing down and being present in every moment - it's a nonfiction title with a bit of a philosophical spirit! :)

    1. I liked it a lot, too. I'm not always great about giving nonfiction a fair shot since it's a book gap of mine. The Slowest Book Ever is going to earn a reputation as fun nonfiction in my classroom, I think.

  6. I really need to get my hands on a copy of LET ME FINISH. Meeting Minh Le at nErDcamp was such a treat.

  7. Your list of books inspires me today. I'm glad that there are books being published today that deal with mental health issues. My sister struggles with bipolar and other stuff. I wish we had more fiction like this when we were young. It would have helped all of our family understand her better. I've recently finished Furiously Happy and that one has given me direction for how to support her when she is falling apart.