Monday, September 7, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey as a way to share what you have read and/or reviewed in the past week. It's also a terrific way to find out what other people are reading.

Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers have given this meme a children's literature focus: picture books, middle grade novels, etc. They encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting the other bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.
I have read quite a few picture books this week. I read at least one every day to my students. I also read them at home when I want to unwind from a busy day. I've also been enjoying this Labor Day weekend, because I've had a couple of days to relax and get caught up on some of the longer books I've been wanting to read.
So here is "What I Am Reading" on this Monday:
When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson by Pam Munoz Ryan, Brian Selznick (Illustrator) This book is an awesome biography of Marian Anderson's life. As a little girl she sang beautifully. She grew up to be an internationally acclaimed musician, and yet faced discrimination in her own country. The book chronicles her challenges and triumphs, including singing in front of the Lincoln Memorial in front of over 75,000 people in 1939. Brian Selznik's paintings illustrate this story beautifully.
My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown This is such a fun book about a little boy who has teacher troubles at school and then runs into the same teacher at the park. The time spent in the park changes everything. The watercolor illustrations do an awesome job of showing the emotions and humor of running into your teacher outside of school. Great message that teachers are regular people, too. The teacher seems to come away with a better understanding of the little boy as well.
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis I shared this book with my students as a companion to Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis. After reading it, students made their own Not a Box drawings and wrote about them.
Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends by David Stabler I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley. The author includes a variety of athletes (Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King, Peyton Manning, Danica Patrick, Bobby Orr, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Yao Ming, Gabby Douglas, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Kuhaulua, Julie Krone and Lionel Messi). The author tells about each athlete's childhood and the challenges each of them had to overcome. I like how the author finds interesting details that would hold a child's attention, and also talks about obstacles that children would be able to relate to.
Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo I can't believe it's taken me this long to get a copy of this book and read it! I wish I had a Nana to visit in New York City. I can relate to the little boy that is nervous about the loud noises and crowds of the city. But Nana gives him a new way to look at things. I love the colorful paintings that tell the story as well as the text!
Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Desmond Tutu, A.G. Ford (Illustrator) This is a terrific picture book about a young man who gets picked on by some other boys. With the help of Father Trevor, he learns about the power of forgiveness. The illustrations are awesome and a powerful part of the story. I love that the author never actually says what the mean word was.
I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton I invited one of my students to join me at my table and share this book with me. He and I chatted about spiders. He told me how his mother hates spiders, so he comes to her rescue and squishes them for her. I told him how I'm still scared of spiders so he'll be a big help if we ever see a spider in our room. He read the book to me (giving me an informal way to assess some of his reading skills) and we had great fun smacking our hands on the spiders and looking at the squish marks on the other side of the page. It was a way of starting to build a relationship with a student that has some severe behavior issues.
Big Bad Wolves at School by Stephen Krensky, Brad Sneed (Illustrator) This was a fun book about a misfit wolf trying to fit in at the Big Bad Wolf Academy. The book has a fun message about being yourself, while playing around with fairy tales that we've all grown up with.

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk (Goodreads Author), Brendan Kearney (Illustrator) This book is going to be an awesome addition to my classroom library. Everyone can have a good time with this book. The main characters, Lady Pancake and Sir French toast are racing against each other to get to the last drop of syrup.


 America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell by Don Brown This nonfiction book does a great job of showing what happened on that terrible day, 14 years ago. The text and the watercolor illustrations share the events in a straightforward way, yet capture the horrific scenes and the heroic scenes in a good balance. I'm definitely going to share this book with my fifth grade class this week. My students weren't even born when this terror attack on our country occurred, but it's so important that they know about it. I think this book does it in an honest, yet sensitive way.

 Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean by Jane Lynch, Tricia Tusa (Illustrator) This is a fun rhyming story about a little girl who is a mean bully at school. When someone finally stands up to her, they realize she's not so scary after all. Can she become a nice girl? The illustrations are awesome and I think this will be fun book to share with my students.

 Wild About Us! by Karen Beaumont, Janet Stevens (Illustrations)  Adorable picture book that celebrates all of the qualities that make us unique and special. Rhyming text and wonderful illustrations really make this a terrific book!

 A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech, Harry Bliss (Illustrator) This is a fun picture book that shows us how you can have too much of a good thing. Principal Keene loves his fine, fine school and his fine, fine teachers and students so much, pretty soon everyone is going to school on weekends, holidays and in the summer! Will he come to his senses? Great illustrations support the text.

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio (Goodreads Author), Will Staehle (Illustrations) This book is a spooky adventure that takes place in a very strange hotel. Warren is a twelve-year-old heir to his family's hotel. He has to do most of the work around the place while his lazy uncle, Rupert, and his new wife, Anaconda, have taken over the management. Anaconda, who is very mean and nasty, is on the hunt for a hidden treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye.

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park This is a very powerful book, based on a true story. I learned a lot about the civil war in Sudan from the perspective of Salva. Salva was 11 years old when soldiers attacked his village. Forced to flee the village alone, this story tells his story. We also read about Nya, a girl that has to walk for hours to fetch water daily for her family. These two stories have a connection, and it's awesome. This book came to my classroom library as part of a collection that was purchased last year. I'm glad I finally made time to read it.

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm (Illustrations) This book was awesome! Right off the bat, I loved all of the cultural references from the 1970s! I'm old enough to remember Eastern Airlines, flower decals on my suitcase, 8 track tape players, Polaroid cameras, Tiger Beat & Teen magazines, Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific, Dorothy Hamill's wedge haircut, Tab cola, denim pocket notebooks, Kinney shoe stores, and I could go on and on. I also think that kids today can appreciate this story, because the themes of family secrets and substance abuse are important and (sadly) timeless issues. The book got made me somewhat emotional as Sunny started to come to terms with all of the emotions she had bottled up insider herself. I'm really excited to put this book in my classroom library because I know it'll be very popular. I may need to get more copies!

Have a terrific week and enjoy the books you read!


  1. Wow, you did read a lot this week, Jana. I've used A Long Walk To Water as a read aloud. It is such a powerful story. I love the "Not A . . ." books, good to use for all ages, aren't they? I need to find Lady Pancake. . . So many are sharing how wonderful it is. Thanks for all the new ones & reminding me of those I know, but may have forgotten. Have another great week!

  2. Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific... Sigh. NF what I wouldn't give for a good wedge haircut! Loved Sunny Side Up and ordered 2 copies for my library!

  3. What a list!

    I need to follow up on that Don Brown book. I have just clued in that I should be paying more attention to his writing. When Marian Sang is in my near future, I can see it in a pile from where I sit. And I am very curious to read the spider book, too--I've seen a few other reader friends refer to that one! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I read Nana in the City to my 8th graders the first week of school as a gateway to talk about being brave. Love that book.

  5. Huge amount of reading this week! So many great titles - love seeing Nana here and Desmond - how my students adored that book. It handles forgiveness so well.

  6. I still haven't read A Long Walk to Water - and really looking forward to getting to it soon. I am so excited about Sunny Side Up - unfortunately our library still does not have the title. Nana and Desmond are favourite picturebooks of mine as well. :)