Monday, January 25, 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.

We're deep into January! Brrrrr! It's too cold to go out, unless I absolutely have to. While everyone else is watching football playoffs, I'm spending my time cooking and getting caught up on picture books that have been on my Want To Read list for a long time. Now that these books have been around for a while, they're usually easy to get from my public library. Hope that you're staying warm and safe. Thankfully, the big snowstorm missed my community! But I know there are millions of people that are snowed in.

On a Slippery Slope by Melody Fitzpatrick  I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley. I think that this book would be pretty popular in my fifth grade classroom. Many of my students really enjoy stories about middle school drama, and this book has plenty of that. This book reminds me a lot of Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell only without the illustrations.

Hannah Smart is starting her first day of middle school in her new town of Maple Ridge. That's stressful enough, especially since many of the kids aren't very nice to her. Hannah's next-door-neighbor and new best friend, Gabby and her super cute brother, A.J., convince her to join the middle school ski and snowboarding club. Because Hannah moved to Maple Ridge from Vermont, everyone assumes she's a skier. Hannah is afraid to let on that she's never skied before, because she's afraid no one will like her.

As this misunderstanding begins to snowball out of control, Hannah takes on a job at the local television station where her father is the new weather reporter. Because Hannah is very clever and resourceful, she winds up with her own on-air weekly segment on the evening news.

As the date of the club's ski trip approaches, Hannah is going to have to either learn how to ski like a pro or come clean to everyone that she doesn't really know how to ski. Along the way, there are all sorts of funny moments of middle school drama that really make this book a lot of fun to read.

For my complete review, please visit my blogpost:

The Angry Little Puffin by Timothy Young    This is a cute, funny book about a misunderstood puffin. He shares the same exhibit space as a group of penguins, so people assume that he's some sort of penguin. All day long he hears people calling him a funny-looking penguin. And just like the child whose been called by the wrong name one too many times, he has a bit of a meltdown.

My favorite line during his rant: "I don't know why penguins get all the, movies, television...even comic books. It's penguins, penguins, penguins! C'mon, THE PUFFIN would be the coolest guy in any comic book!"

The humorous illustrations greet you at the endpapers, with a series of smaller drawings of the puffin having his tantrum. The colorful drawings support the text well.

This would be a fun book to share with kids as way to talk about tantrums, patience and kindness.

Mocha Dick: The Legend and Fury by Brian Heinz, Randall Enos (Illustrations)   Fans of Moby Dick by Herman Melville will be interested in this nonfiction picture book about the giant whale that was the inspiration for that novel. Over decades, whalers tried to capture him unsuccessfully. The book details attacks by the whale who seemed to be retaliating against the hunters.

Round is a Tortilla by by Roseanne Thong, John Parra (Illustrations)  I really enjoyed this concept book, because it's not just for young children. Ostensibly a book of shapes, it shares with so many words and ideas from Hispanic culture. The author has included so much information about the Spanish language, food, and leisure activities that I learned quite a bit from this book.

John Parra's illustrations are so colorful and rich. I just want to climb into each picture and hang around eating and enjoying the fun.

There is a glossary at the end to explain each term in detail. I wish that the author had included pronunciation keys along with the definitions.

Green Is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Thong, John Parra (Illustrations) 
Just like Round Is a Tortilla, Green Is a Chile Pepper is a concept book about colors. But once again, it's also a book that shows us a lot about Hispanic culture - food, family, holidays. While young children can learn about the colors, there's a lot for everyone to learn.

John Parra's illustrations are rich and colorful. The details are delicious and I find myself looking at all that's going on in the pictures over and over again.

Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America's Own Backyard (Scientists in the Field) by Mary Kay Carson, Tom Uhlman (Illustrations)  Motivated by the bitterly cold, winter weather that has settled into my area, I picked this book up to think about fun places to see during summer vacation. This book does an awesome job drawing the reader in to three awesome parks - Yellowstone National Park, Saguaro National Park, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The book is separated into three sections by park, and each section has two chapters that give details and super photographs of the work that scientists and volunteers are doing to study and protect the natural wonders and wildlife in these protected areas.

We learn about the geysers and grizzly bears in Yellowstone, gila monsters and cacti in Saguaro, and salamanders and fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All three of these parks have scientists, ecologists, and tourists who are working together to learn all they can about how to preserve these beautiful places for animals and people to enjoy for years to come. After reading it, I'm inspired to travel to these parks and others like it to see what I can learn and what I can do to help.

Picture Day Perfection by Deborah Diesen, Dan Santat (Illustrations)  This book is a lot of fun to read. It reminds me of some of the awful school pictures I had taken through the years. Although, I was always trying to have my pictures turn out all right. Even as I've gotten older (teachers still have to have their pictures taken), it seems the harder I try to look good, the worse it comes out.

Dan Santat's illustrations are terrific. The endpapers are yearbook style portraits with one frame in the back for the reader to insert a favorite school picture. Although the copy I'm reading is borrowed from the library and you can't really get to the picture frame.

As the day goes along for the boy in this story, the chances of a nice looking picture are getting more and more remote. His hair is messy, his shirt is wrinkled and dirty, he makes a mess in Art class, and he has a nasty scowl on his face. Read on to see how his best laid plans play out.

The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark by by Deborah Diesen, Dan Hanna (Illustrations)

This is a sweet story about Mr. Fish helping out a friend. Our favorite Pout-Pout fish is back in another story. His friend, Ms. Clam, yawned and lost her pearl. It fell down into the deep, dark part of the ocean. Mr. Fish promises to go and find it for her, but as he goes deeper and the water gets darker, he gets more and more frightened of the dark.

This illustrations are terrific. The colorful detail shows all of Mr. Fish's friends and neighbors hanging out on underwater cliffs trying to help and encourage him. When he finally gets help from Miss Shimmer, he becomes brave because he has a friend and they can work together. This book has a really great message for kids about helping each other face

difficult and scary times.

The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School by Deborah Diesen, Dan Hanna (Illustrations)  This is another fun book in Deborah Diesen's Pout-Pout Fish series. In rhyming text, Mr. Fish recalls his first day of school. He remembers how all the other fish seemed to know how to write, make shapes and do math. He was so intimidated because he couldn't do these things. He was ready to quit and then his teacher found him. She guided him to the right class and everything turned out all right. This is a sweet book for kids who are just starting school and might be a bit nervous.

The illustrations are very detailed and colorful. There's quite a bit of humor in them as well. I love the posters on the walls of the classroom and halls. There are quotes from Shark Twain ("Fish aren't slimy, they just ooze personality.") and Sharkespeare ("A fish by any other name, would smell as fishy."). There posters of Great Artists like Michelanjellyo, Leonard Da Pinchy, and Vincent Van Goby.
This book is fun for everyone.

The Letter Home by Timothy Decker While this touching book has spare text and black-and-white drawings, it tells its story beautifully. A medic is writing a letter to his son back home during World War I. The drawings work to show the bleakness of war, not necessarily the violence of war, but it definitely is a contrast to the glamorization of war.

Among my favorite lines: "We must have looked like schoolboys playing in the mud. But we didn't really play much. We just read letters, looked at our watches, slept when we could for as long as we could with our heads down and our ears open."

Among the lighter moments: "Hendricks found a woman's coat. We all laughed at him. We said that he must have just arrived from Paris. He said that it kept him warm."

This would be good to share with students as an opening to further study about war.

Daisy Saves the Day by Shirley Hughes This is a nice historical fiction picture book that shows a bit of what life in England at the beginning of the twentieth century was like. A poor girl has to leave school and home to become a live-in scullery maid for a couple of old ladies. She works really hard scrubbing floors, washing dishes, scouring pots and pans, doing laundry, hauling in coal for the fire, etc.

The only real joy she finds in her circumstances is the little bit of time she finds to read books in her little attic bedroom. The old ladies and the other two servants aren't all that nice to her. And they become even meaner when she embarrasses them by hanging their bloomers outside as part of a decoration for a royal coronation parade.

She saves the house from disaster when she helps put out a fire in the kitchen. And she is rewarded for her bravery.

I like that the book features a young lady who loves to read. School is very important to her and I think that's a nice message for kids to read.




  1. I wish that books like Hannah weren't only available in paperback. Those don't last very long in my school library. I've been reading more picture books lately, but it's hard to find ones that would interest middle school readers. Thanks for the overview of your week.

  2. I loved all that you shared, Jana, have read some, will look for others. That last one sounds interesting for those studying the times of servants. I've read The Letter Home, so poignant. Thanks for all!

  3. Lots of PB suggestions here! I am not a big fan of the Pout Pout fish, but the kids are. The first one I rapped when I read it to the kids :)

  4. What a lot of reading! I'm not familiar with most of these so I have some new titles to add to my TBR list. I'm looking forward to Hannah Smart. I definitely know some readers who would be interested.

  5. Wow, so many books!! A colleague of mine was telling me how much her kids adored the pout-pout fish, I'll have to make sure she knows about his continuing adventures! ;)

  6. I'm very impressed by how much reading you accomplished this week. I want The Angry Little Puffin and The Letter Home for our library.

  7. Wow - that's a LOT of books. The Letter Home caught my eye - something about the way the book cover is packaged reminds me of Edward Gorey - I pinned that title as I would really like to find it in our libraries. Thank you for introducing me to John Parra as well - I will have to find his illustrated books soonest. :)