Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (8.22.16)

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:

Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, by Judith St. George
(Viking Books for Young Readers, 2009)
     In each chapter of this book--each stage of the subjects' lives--Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr bared striking similarities. From their days as children in the face of adversity through their education and into their adult lives, the two men were more alike than they were different.
     Judith St. George presents these parallels in an straightforward and accessible way for middle grade readers. 

The Friendship Experiment, by Erin Teagan
(HMH Books for Young Readers, November 1, 2016)
     Maddie's start to middle school is complicated. Her dear scientist grandfather (whom she adored) died recently, she and her sister suffer from a rare blood disorder, and her best friend is going to a private school, leaving her alone to make a new beginning. All around her, Maddie seems to collect evidence that she is a terrible friend. Can she change the results of her derailment?
      Maddie is a natural, relatable character. Readers will want to talk about her feelings and choices, and will--in the process--help them to think about their own. 

The Fog of Forgetting, by G. A. Morgan
(Islandport Press, 2014)
     Chase, his brothers, and two new friends get more adventure than they bargain for when they hop into a boat to entertain themselves while their parents are away. Their boat is transported through the fog of forgetting to an island world called Ayda. As the kids try to make sense of the new world they've become part of, they learn of the Keepers and their stones and the conflicts that plague this land--one of which is that those who come to Ayda through the fog are unable to make the return trip home.
     Pages turn one after the other while reading for a clearer understanding of the island and it's inhabitants. The Fog of Forgetting is a good blend of adventure, quest, and fantasy. And, it's the first book in a trilogy that wraps up later this fall.

Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer, by Fiona Robinson
(Harry N. Abrams, August 2, 2016)      
    This picture book biography is the story of Ada Lovelace (who was, incidentally, the daughter of Lord Byron). Ada was discouraged by her mother-a mathematician-from all things arts and literature. But Ada found the place where math and poetry overlapped: computer programming.
     Not only did learning about Ada Lovelace leave me wow'ed, but the art in this book created from cut paper--layered and positioned and photographed--is stunning.
My Friend Maggie, by Hannah E. Harrison
(Dial Books, August 9, 2016)
     Maggie has always been Paula's friend, but when the other kids start to point out the things that make Maggie different, Paula feels pressured to go along with the crowd. But what happens when the crowd starts to point out all the ways Paula is different, too?
     This picture book will invite kids to talk about what's important about a friend and will remind us all that kindness triumphs over judgement.
What to Do with a Box, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Chris Sheban
(Creative Editions, March 8, 2016)
      There are endless ways to use an empty cardboard box for play. 
      This picture book celebrates the spirit of imagination and creative play. The art is interesting and lovely; Chris Sheban has incorporated actual cardboard box remnants into his artwork.
Seven and a half Tons of Steel, by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
(Peachtree Publishers, August 1, 2016)     

     One of the beams was pulled from the wreckage of the Twin Towers after the events of September 11th and given to the U.S. Navy. The beam, transported to New Orleans, was weathered by Hurricane Katrina, but eventually repurposed as the bow of the U.S.S. New York.

    This nonfiction picture book tells a lesser known story of something strong and sturdy emerging from a historic day when confidence of all kind was shaken.

This is Our Baby, Born Today, by Varsha Bajaj, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
(Nancy Paulsen Books, August 2, 2016)     

    New babies are special and celebrated, and this picture book shines light on how many parts of a baby's community are proud and happy to join in celebrating.
     The elephants that grace these pages are adorable, the illustrations gentle and so perfectly fitting for the emotions of celebrating new life. This book is on its way to being a great gift book for expectant or new families.
Hello, My Name is Octicorn by Kevin Diller & Justin Lowe, illustrated by Binny Talib
(Balzer + Bray, May 17, 2016)
     Octicorn is different from other creatures in a pretty obvious way. But as his story reveals his likes and dislikes, his interests and wishes, readers can't help but consider that maybe--even with his very different outer appearance--inside we're much more the same.

What I am Currently Reading: 
Flying Lessons & Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh
(Crown Books for Young Readers, January 3, 2017)
A Mindset for Learning, by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz
(Heinemann, 2015)

What I am Looking Forward to Reading Soon (in no particular order):
Chantarelle, by G.A. Morgan
Lucky Broken Girl , by Ruth Behar
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by JK Rowling


  1. Nice assortment of books. The Duel and Ada's Ideas particularly caught my attention. Here is what I did and read last week. Happy reading!

    1. Oh good! I suspect Ada's Ideas is a book I'll be book talking to other teachers a lot in the coming days of back-to-school. I hope you enjoy it!

  2. You have a lot of interesting looking books here on your list. I've asked that our local library get a copy of Ada's Ideas.

    1. It's beautiful. I was caught in admiration just looking at the spine of the book when I shelved it in my classroom yesterday!

  3. I remember being in school and being so jealous of American students because Canadian history is remarkably devoid of duels and other exciting (to students, anyway) events. ;)

  4. Being that I am obsessed with Hamilton, I need to get around to reading THE DUEL very soon!

  5. So many good books here. I will look for Seven and a half Tons of Steel, a new title to me. Thanks for all you shared!

    1. Thanks, Linda. I liked Seven and half Tons of Steel particularly because it was a piece of post-9/11 that I was unfamiliar with.'ll see when you read it. The repurposing of that beam is really a great symbol.

  6. The picture books on your list sound great. I've only read What to Do With a Box. The Fog of Forgetting sounds interesting. I don't read too many fantasies, but should. Many students really love that genre so I need some titles to recommend to them. I'll have to check this one out. I don't know Flying Lessons, but would love to hear more about it. A Mindset for Learning is such a great read. I really want to implement more of the ideas from the book this year.

    1. I'm particular about my fantasy, too, which is what took me so long to give The Fog of Forgetting it's fair game. But I'm looking forward to reading the second book now, so that's a positive for this trilogy!

      I'll get back to you on Flying Lessons, but it might be a bit. My reading life has been dramatically halted since I started spending time in the classroom to prep for school next week. Eek.

  7. What to Do with a Box and Ada's Ideas are both on my TBR list. So many great picture books to choose from! Enjoyed your descriptions of these novels - none of which I have read.

    1. I do believe you'll love both of those. I feel like I have read more picture books than usual this summer, and my purchases for back to school are picture book heavy, for sure.

  8. Definitely added some titles to our TBR stack!! Thank you thank you. Hope your classroom set is going well!!
    Clare and Tammy

    1. So glad you found books that are new to you. Happy Reading! (And thank you for the well wishes. It's coming!)