Monday, August 8, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (8.8.16)

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:

Anything but Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2010)

     Like many characters with autism, Jason finds himself apart from others, struggling to communicate and often waiting for his day to derail. But through his interest in letters and writing, Jason befriends another fan fiction writer on the internet, hidden behind the veil of their virtual relationship. However, Jason worries that if their relationship were not based in the shared online platform, his autism would interfere with their friendship.
     Nora Raleigh Baskin writes with an empathy that is astounding. She lets us climb inside her characters' skin and experience life through their eyes. This is a beautiful story in which readers can experience the struggles of a preteen with autism striving for normal when he is anything but.

Mae and June and the Wonder Wheel, by Charise Mericle Harper, illustrated by Ashley Spires
(HMH Books for Young Readers, February 7, 2017)

     June receives the Wonder Wheel--which offers daily challenges and activities--as a gift from her grandmother. She wants badly to share her Wonder Wheel with the new girl who has moved to the neighborhood, Mae. But becoming Mae's friend is a matter of patience, and June has to watch as her classmate April tries to kindle friendship with Mae also. 

Agatha Parrot and the Heart of Mud, by Kjartan Poskitt, illustrated by Wes Hargis
(Clarion Books, December 27, 2016)
     This series stars Agatha Parrot and her cast of neighborhood friends. In the second book in the series, Agatha gets involved in an email exchange between her older brother and a girl. While her brother wants nothing to do with emailing a girl, Agatha finds that writing under her brother's name actually has a way of serving her and her friend Martha. What will happen when the consequences of Agatha's choices play out?
Maybe Something Beautiful, by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
(HMH Books for Young Readers, April 12, 2016)      
    This picture book is based on the true efforts of the community in San Diego who made it a project to infuse their neighborhoods with bright and brilliant art.
     This IS something beautiful, with messages about art appreciation and transformation a community of caring citizens can make together. The illustrator of this story, Rafael Lopez,was the artist behind the Urban Art Trail in San Diego.
Bring Me a Rock!, by Daniel Miyares
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, June 7, 2016)
     The grasshopper-leader orders the other insects to bring him rocks to stack making his throne higher and higher. But when his throne threatens to topple, who can help?
     Surely this book will open the doors to interesting conversations with students about power, influence, and contributions of all sizes.
Good Night Owl, by Greg Pizzoli
(Disney-Hyperion, April 19, 2016)
      When Owl settles in for the night, he's distracted by a sound--a sound made by a mouse. Before he can sleep, Owl must track down the unwanted guest.
      I love Greg Pizzoli's art and the color palette of this book. I gave this book as a gift to my friends' toddler recently. They report that it has been read and reread often already.

Return, by Aaron Becker
(Chronicle Books, August 2, 2016)     
     In the final book of the Journey Trilogy, the girl ventures beyond her door into the kingdom again. Her dad follows her in this installment, and he becomes part of the story.

     Aaron Becker's art and storytelling are as beautiful and inviting as they were in the previous two books, Journey and Quest, and he has woven all three books together in the illustrations and clever conclusion to the set. 

What a Beautiful Morning!, by Arthur Levine, illustrated by Katie Kath
(Running Kids Press, August 9, 2016)     
     It's apparent Noah loves his time spent with his grandparents, and their traditions are important to him. But when Grandpa suddenly isn't keeping the routines Noah knows, readers will recognize Grandpa's dementia is shaking Noah's comfort and security. Noah finds a way to remind Grandpa of the time they love to spend together.
     Everything about this book is a gentle approach to a hard reality many young readers face with aging family members. Katie Kath's illustrations add to the overall feel of What a Beautiful Morning! and the use of (or absence of) color enhances the mood of Noah's conflict. This book is a soft spot for families to land when looking for a situation that mirrors their own or as a way of opening conversations about memory loss with youngsters.

We Were Here, by Matt de la Pena
(Delacorte Press, 2009)
     Miguel, living under the guilt and self-hatred for his past, has been moved to a group home for teens with a criminal record. He joins forces with two other characters, Mong and Rondell, to plot an escape from the group home. The three go on the run with intent to cross the border to Mexico and imagined futures that will allow them to leave the past behind and start again. But even though Miguel spends his days uncertain about what's happening next (food, sleeping space, places to hide), his his journey and his trials force him to consider what he must do to seek peace and redemption--with himself and others.
     Matt de la Pena's writing is alive, and the characters of We Were Here (though not characters I can relate to easily) became characters I cared for. This YA had me turning pages and wanting to return from breaks in my reading quickly.

What I am Currently Reading: 
A Mindset for Learning, by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz
(Heinemann, 2015)
The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr, by Judith St. George
(Speak, 2009)

What I am Looking Forward to Reading Soon (in no particular order):
The Fog of Forgetting, by G.A. Morgan
The Friendship Experiment, by Erin Teagan
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by JK Rowling


  1. Both Agatha Parrot and Mae and June sound like they would be great for early chapter book readers. I just love a Mindset for Learning. I'm hoping I'll be able to share some of the ideas with teachers at my school this year.

    1. Yes. It's unusual that I get the chance to preview chapter books, so I found myself having to refocus on the intended audience. But both will be titles I'll share with colleagues.

      I wanted to get to A Mindset for Learning sooner, but, is it goes with TBR piles, it kept getting shuffled. I'm glad it's time has come.

  2. I will be featuring Maybe Something Beautiful soonest. It is truly a lovely book - I loved the Afterword too.

    1. It IS lovely. Agreed. Thanks for visiting, Myra.