Monday, September 7, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (9.7.15)

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:

Ruby on the Outside, by Nora Raleigh Baskin
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, June 16, 2015)
     Ruby is grappling with a secret she keeps: her mom is incarcerated. This complicates everything for the 11-year old, but especially friendship. One summer, Ruby meets Maraglit and is filled with so much hope for her new friendship that she has to consider abandoning the rules she has always played by to keep her mom a secret. 
     Ruby on the Outside will appeal to readers who are drawn to realistic fiction as a means of experiencing another person's world. Readers develop empathy for Ruby through the conflict between the inside and the outside. Ruby's raw and difficult questions and emotions around loss, abandonment, self-worth, and normalcy rest on the reader's heart, making her a character you want to reassure and protect and love. 

Drowned City, by Don Brown
(HMH Books for Young Readers, August 4, 2015)
     Drowned City is an informational text about the devastation and horror faced by New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Written and illustrated in graphic novel format, Don Brown's book adds variety to the growing text set of books set during this same historical event (Zane and the Hurricane, Upside-down in the Middle of Nowhere, Marvelous Cornelius, etc.) Drowned City reads like a play-by-play of the sequence of events, and tension and emotion build as time passes and the severity of the situation compounds. Brown is honest and real in his writing, but even the most difficult truths of Hurricane Katrina (looting, disease, death) are presented in a tactful, middle-grade appropriate way.

Sunny Side Up, by Jennifer Holm, illustrated by Matt Holm
(Graphix, August 25, 2015)
     Sunny has looked forward to vacationing in Florida and has grand plans when she visits her grandfather for the summer. However, with the help of flashbacks, the reader realizes Sunny's visit is a temporary relocation while the family grapples with her brother's drug abuse. 
     The Holm's graphic novel memoir will likely be among the most circulated books in my classroom this year. Readers will scoop it up because it is a new, full-color graphic novel, and I hope will linger in the greater messages of the story for longer. Sunny Side Up opens the door for conversations about oppression from drug abuse and other family "secrets," letting readers know they don't have to feel alone.

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, by Josh Funk, illustrated by Brendan Kearney
(Sterling, September 1, 2015)
     When the breakfast duo of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast discover there is only one drop of syrup left in the bottle, a wild adventure ensues as they both race to be the victor.
      The illustrations are bright and playful. The rhyming text of this picture book race is creative and entrancing. Filled with puns and rich word choice, readers will smile their way through the page turns to find out the results. Warning: results may be unpredictable.

The Greatest Catch, by Penny Kittle
(Heinemann, 20o5)
     In a collection of stories from her teaching life, Penny Kittle invites readers to consider what is truly important in the teaching profession. Her true stories evoke laughter, lots of head nodding, and tears at times, too. This is a renewing read, one that encourages our teacher hearts to hold fast to what really matters in our work with learners and reminds us that our work every day is a gift.

What I am Currently Reading:
Shadows of Sherwood, by Kekla Magoon
(Bloomsbury, August 4, 2015)
Upstanders, by Smokey Daniels and Sara Ahmed
(Heinemann, 2014)

What I am Reading Next (in no particular order):
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, by Rodman Philbrick
Death by Toilet Paper, by Donna Gephart
A Night Divided, by Jennifer Nielsen


  1. Nice looking assortment of books. I haven't read any of them yet but a couple are on my wishlist. Here is my Monday Report. Happy reading!

  2. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast is a book I need to check out. It sounds really fun!

    1. It really is, Lisa. I have had the privilege to hear the author read this aloud himself twice now, and it's just pure fun. I hope you enjoy it, too.

  3. Ruby on the Outside sounds good. I know too many children who are in her position. I hope you enjoy Homer Figg. He made me laugh all the way through the Civil War!

    1. Kay, my heart goes out to the children you know. I suspect I have a few, too, who keep their lives quiet and inside.

      Homer Figg has been waiting patiently all summer. I just don't know how to keep him from being bumped down some more!

  4. I just read Sunny Side Up and I loved it! I almost don't want to take it to school. I think I need to buy more copies. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I know what you mean, Jana. My classroom library serves both 5th and 6th graders, two half-day classes. I don't think one copy will satisfy their TBR lists.

  5. I think Drowned City is so well done, glad to see you liked it, too. I need to read the other three, all reviewed well, recent 'good' books. Thanks, Melissa.

    1. I did like it, and it's the first of Don Brown's books that I've read. I'm very curious about The American Dust Bowl now. I added it to my "to-read" list on Goodreads a looong time ago, but I may need to bump it up. Thanks for visiting!

  6. Sunny Side Up just arrived in the mail and we can't wait to read it. What age group do you think should read Ruby on the Outside? Sounds amazing!

  7. I have Sunny Side Up on my post this week. Loved it! Have you listened to podcast, The Yarn. with Colby Sharp and Travis Jonker yet? Ruby on the Outside is a special book. I've given it to two girls in my 6th grade classroom, and they both loved it. Loved Penny Kittles The Greatest Catch! Another great new podcast by Penny Kittle - Stories from the Teaching Life! I blogged about both those podcasts in my DigiLit Sunday posts the last two weeks.

  8. I can't wait to read Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. I'm impatiently waiting for it to come in at my library.

  9. So pleased to see Ruby on the Outside here. I really loved this book when I read it earlier this summer. Sunny Side Up is on my TBR list High up there in fact!

  10. The kids at my library are always looking for new graphic novels - a few of them devoured Smile/Sisters/Drama, so I think Sunny Side Up could be a great recommendation for them! I have also seen Drowned City mentioned on a number of blogs, I really want to pick that one up.

  11. Sunny Side Up and Drowned City sound like two books that would fit our graphic novel quite beautifully. Thanks for sharing!