Monday, January 11, 2016

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.
It's been an exhausting week! So tough to get back into the swing of things after having two fun weeks off during the holidays. Unfortunately, many of my students don't read during the break and so it's crucial that we jump right back into reading with both feet! We've read some pretty good books this week, and I hope you have as well!

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey  I had the opportunity to read a digital-ARC of this book from NetGalley. In this modern fairy tale, two adolescent girls from two completely different walks of life team up to discover the dark secrets of Dreadwillow Carse. Queen Sula is dying and her twelve-year-old daughter, Princess Jeniah is set to ascend to power. Aon Greenlaw is a peasant girl who lives in the town of Emberfell.

As Jeniah is preparing to become queen, she learns of the existence of Dreadwillow Carse and the warning that if any monarch enters, then the Monarchy will fall. This only makes her more determined to figure out what's in there.

Aon has always been drawn to the Carse by a sad, haunting tune that only she can hear.

For my complete review, please visit my blog:

The After-Christmas Tree by Linda Wagner Tyler, Susan Davis (Illustrator)  I love reading this aloud to my students on the first day back after winter break. It's always kind of sad when the holidays are over and it's time to take down the tree. In this story, the after-Christmas blues are solved by throwing a winter party where the participants ice skate, collect pinecones, and decorate the tree with birdfeeders and put it out in the yard. The tree has a second season of giving.

The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House by Eric Litwin, Scott Magoon (Illustrator)  Cute story about a couple of youngsters who would rather play and sing instead of going to bed. Mother starts off gently reminding them that it's time for bed, but Hazel and Wally aren't listening. Finally Mother has to be more direct. The illustrations are hilarious, including Wally's "nut butt" on page 10. It would pair nicely with "Power Down, Little Robot" by Anna Staniszewski. It also has a sweet, loving message: So Big Mama Nut, said, 'No matter what, you will always be my sweet little Nuts."

There's also a nice lullaby: "Good night, little Nut, good night.
Good night, little Nut, good night.
I love you the way you are.
You're my nutty shining star.
Good night, little Nut, good night."

You can download the free song and lullaby, and have a nutty sing-along at

Waking Dragons by Jane Yolen, Derek Anderson (Illustrator)  If mornings seem a little hectic in your house, you might get a kick out of this cute book showing all of the work the little knight goes to in order to get the dragons up and ready to fly to school.

Dragons wake up, dragons rise, Dragons open dragon eyes. Double page spread pictures with spare text go a long way to spark the imagination of what a job waking dragons must be. My favorite illustration is the knight brushing a dragon's teeth with his doggy standing next to him ready with a fire extinguisher (IN CASE OF DRAGON BREATH). Another fun picture is of the knight catapulting waffles into the dragons' mouths for breakfast.

Telephone by Mac Barnett, Jen Corace (Illustrator)  Folks who have ever played the game of "Telephone" know all too well how a simple message like, "Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner" can get crazier and crazier each time it is passed along. The book's illustrations show birds on a telephone wire passing this message from Peter's mom. The messages along with the illustrations are a lot of fun and it's sure to keep readers smiling. My favorite is the bird who passes the message, "Tell Peter: Crocodiles are bad liars" as he spies the reptiles playing cards.

I also enjoy looking at the periodic illustrations that show the telephone wire with the birds in silhouette and the people of the neighborhood enjoying their late afternoon/early evening activities. There is so much detail, I found myself flipping pages to look at those double spread pages that occur several times.

Help! We Need a Title! by HervĂ© Tullet   This is a neat book that shows a book trying to come together for its nice, sweet readers. When the reader opens the book, she is greeted by the characters who try to put together a setting and a story. They have trouble getting their act together, so they take us to the author to get him to write a story. The illustrations are very clever, mixed media drawings with tape and scribbles in the margins. As the copy I read was a library book, I couldn't be certain that it wasn't damaged and/or defaced by previous borrowers! I liked the way the book engages and pulls the reader into the construction of a book.

Edward Hopper Paints His World by Robert Burleigh, Wendell Minor (illustrator)  What an awesome picture book biography this is! The reader learns so much about this artist and his work. The paintings illustrating the painter, his paintings and his life are absolutely amazing. You can tell that the author and the illustrator are very passionate about the type of art Edward Hopper forwarded and have studied hard about how to portray it to younger readers. The cover art, depicting the Night Hawk painting, attracted my husband's interest as he was bringing the book home from the library for me. He sat down and read the book before I had a chance and enjoyed it very much. I think I'm going to need to get my own copy of this book!



  1. This spring has seen another bunch of vaguely medieval fantasies, and there are already so many! I should take a look at Dreadwillow, though.

  2. Great picture books, especially The After Christmas Tree - I can't wait to read that. Here in NYC, our trees are turned into mulch and given out to anyone who wants it and also used in the parks.

  3. Thanks for the book, Waking Dragons, new to me & one of my granddaughters loves dragon books, will look for it! I loved Telephone & you saw my review of the Edward Hopper book, just wonderful! I saw some of his paintings at the National Gallery last spring-awesome!

  4. The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse reminds me of one of my favorite old fantasy novels: The Perilous Gard (I think it's the whole word-in-the-title-that-I-first-read-as-a-different-word-then-realized-it's-a-word-I-don't-know thing that they both have going for them :-P ) I just heard about Litwin's Nuts books last week and definitely want to seek them out. Pete the Cat is insanely popular at my library.

  5. I grew up in a reading household - we had bookshelves everywhere in the house, and both my parents always had a book or magazine on the go. It never occurred to me until I was older that there are many households in which no one reads. Ever. It simply boggled my mind. Having studied early literacy I am so thankful for the start I had in life, and I am much more aware now of the importance of early literacy educators, teachers and librarians in helping ensure that children don't get left behind, particularly those who do not necessarily receive the same support at home as I did. Thank you for sharing!

  6. We had the second Nuts Family book - Sing and Dance in Your Polka Dot pants in our Mock Geisel. The video for that is super hilarious!

  7. I have seen the Edward Hopper book in our local library - I'll definitely be checking it out!

  8. I can't decide which book I would like to read most. I think maybe the Edward Hopper one but waking dragons is a very close second. Now that I think about it, that Nuts is one I have to get also.

  9. I love seeing a lot of familiar titles here. Edward Hopper, I found to be really special with a very quiet vibe to it. Telephone and Help We Need a Title are fun books! :)