Monday, February 1, 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 a busy week of teaching school, attending staff development meetings, and just trying to stay warm. Through it all, I managed to do quite a bit of reading. I think that my favorite way to get warm is to get under the blankets and read my books. I'm definitely looking forward to the warmer days of spring. I certainly hope that groundhog doesn't see his shadow tomorrow!

Here's what I've been reading this past week:

Tru and Nelle by G. Neri  I had the opportunity to read a digital-ARC of this book from NetGalley. It truly was a joy to read and I think this will be a very popular book this year. I was initially drawn to this title because of its description: a fictionalized account of Truman Capote's and Harper Lee's friendship during their childhood.

As children, these two famous writers lived next door to each other in Monroeville, Alabama . The story opens in 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression, when Tru is seven and Nelle is six. These two are as different from each other as they could possibly be: Tru dresses in fancy outfits and is very delicate and Nelle is a tomboy who wears overalls and is very outspoken. But it is because of their differences that they become close friends; they are the only ones that understand and appreciate their unique qualities.
For my complete review, please visit my blog:

Groundhog's Day Off by Robb Pearlman, Brett Helquist (Illustrations)  This is a fun picture book and I'm glad I was able to get my hands on a copy in time for Groundhog's Day. Groundhog is burnt out. He's fed up with everyone crowding around his hole one day a year to ask him about one thing only: how much more winter is there going to be? Nobody is interested in him as a person. No one ever asks what he thinks about other subjects.

So he decides he's taking the day off this year! This creates a huge problem for the town. They held auditions for a replacement, but it was a disaster. When Groundhog hears about how much he is missed, he returns and things are much different for him.

The illustrations are just delightful. They are colorful and humorous. I love all of the mishaps during the replacement auditions: Elephant has fallen through the stage floor, Ostrich has stuck his head in the hole, Monkey is a mess of banana-cream-pie, Puppy has an accident due to stage fright, and the rest of the animals are asleep.

I think this book will be fun to share at school. I think I'll be wanting to purchase my own copy before the next Groundhog's Day rolls around.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, Ekua Holmes (Illustrations)    This book was beautiful and awesome. I've wanted to read it for a while. And when I heard that it had won a Caldecott Honor, I was thrilled that it was also available at my library. Carole Boston Weatherford and Ekua Holmes tell such an important story through stunning illustrations and verse. While telling the painful stories of racism and injustice, it also tells of a woman who never gave up or gave in to the voices telling her "no" throughout her life. I really want to share this story with my students, and I definitely want to get my own copy of the book to place in my classroom library permanently. While I've read quite a bit of literature about the Civil Rights Era, I learned A LOT from this book.

Where Are My Books? by Debbie Ridpath Ohi   For those that love their books, and take great care of them (as all BookNerds do), this book will really speak to your heart! Spencer loves his books, especially "Night-Night, Narwhal". He reads it at bedtime every night and puts it in the same place on the shelf so he can always find it. But one day it turns up missing! As more and more of his books disappear, he has to come up with a plan to figure out what's happening.

I love Debbie Ridpath Ohi's illustrations. She does a great job of portraying emotions and reactions through facial expressions and gestures. I also love seeing cameos from "Naked!" and "I'm Bored!" - a poster on Spencer's wall of the little girl and potato, dolls of the little girl and potato at the little girl's tea party, and opened copies of both books lying on the ground with the rest of his books!

I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black, Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Illustrator)  This book was so much fun! Kids are always complaining about being bored. Sometimes they don't realize how boring THEY are when they sit around complaining about being bored. Suddenly the bored little girl is challenged by a potato who says that since she's not a flamingo, she's boring. Challenged by this, the little girl sets out to prove that she's not boring.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi's illustrations are awesome! My favorite is the two-page spread of the little girl turning cartwheels, skipping, and spinning around until she gets so dizzy she almost throws up.

Naked! by Michael Ian Black, Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Illustrator)  This book is just so fun and funny! We had a lot of laughs with this book in our house. The little boy just loves to be naked, and not just in the bathtub. He loves to run through the house naked, slide down the stairs naked, and eat cookies naked. Until he finds a cape. And then he loves running around the house wearing his cape, and nothing else!

The illustrations are just awesome. Let me start by saying that Debbie Ridpath Ohi, has really done a wonderful job capturing the humor of this situation, while at the same time remaining appropriate and tasteful. The little boy is drawn from the side or in shadow or from the shoulders up, so that we don't have worry about young children seeing any of the naughty bits.

Among my favorite illustrations: When the little boy is running down the stairs, all of the portraits on the wall are shocked with wide open mouths and the father is shielding the baby brother like he's about to be harmed by his brother's nudity. I also love the double page spread of the boy doing the Hokey Pokey naked! I'm not sure that I want to have this book in my classroom library, but it's definitely a lot of fun and younger children would love it!

The Library by Sarah Stewart, David Small (Illustrator)   If you love libraries, books and reading (and what BookNerd doesn't?!), then this book will absolutely grab a hold of your heart. The Library tells the story of Elizabeth Brown, who instead of playing with dolls or skating, only likes to read books. One of my favorite illustrations in the book shows a young girl perched on the rail of her front porch with a parasol in one hand reading a book while the neighborhood children play out in the street.

When Elizabeth goes off to boarding school, she hauls a steamer trunk full of books with her. She has so many books, the top bunk in her dorm room collapses under the weight of them all. She spends her evenings reading books instead of going out on dates.

When she buys her home, she very quickly fills it to the rafters with books she has purchased. There comes a point when she has to face the fact that there are just too many books: "When volumes climbed the parlor walls, And blocked the big front door, She had to face the awful fact She could not have one more." The double page spread illustration shows Elizabeth sitting in the middle of mountains of books, which brings to mind a scene from the TV show, "Hoarders".

Eventually she turns her house into a library for the town. She moves in with a friend and spends the rest of her days enjoying books. This is a lovely book and one that I really need to purchase. Unfortunately I have to return this copy of The Library to the library!

The Hueys in the New Sweater by Oliver Jeffers  I really enjoyed this cute picture book. The characters in the story are these odd little creatures called Hueys. They all look the same, act the same and do the same things. But then one day, Rupert knitted a sweater, which created quite a stir and a lot of controversy. Until folks started to knit sweaters just like Rupert's, so they could be different too. The illustrations are simple drawings of creatures that kind of look like eggs. The only color in the drawings are the sweaters. I love the message Oliver Jeffers shares with us of the importance of being yourself instead of doing what everyone else is doing.

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin   This is a lovely book for children to enjoy at bedtime. The rhyming text and beautiful illustrations tell readers about the different animals that carry children off to dreamland. Rabbits, bears, red foxes, robins are a few of the feathered, furred, or finned creatures that you can snuggle in with to find yourself in beautiful dreams.

Give and Take by Chris Raschka  This is an interesting story about a farmer who learns about decision-making from Give and Take. The apple farmer meets Take on the first day that he goes to pick apples. He listens to Take and follows his advice and winds up exhausted with gallons and gallons of pumpkin soup that nobody likes. The next day he meets Give and takes his advice. That doesn't work out so well either, as he winds up with an empty basket and an empty head. When he listens to both Give and Take, he learns the benefits of balance in his decision-making process.

The illustrations are interesting, but rough. It makes the story interesting, but for younger readers it might be a bit confusing. This book could lead to interesting discussions about greed, generosity, making good judgments and decision-making.
 Bear Is Not Tired by Ciara Gavin  For anyone that's ever struggled to stay awake, this book will definitely be a big hit. Bear has such a close relationship with the Duck family with whom he lives. They do everything together. He even frequently forgets that he's not a duck himself. Until winter starts to come and he starts to get very, very sleepy. It's time for him to hibernate, but he doesn't want to miss out on all the fun the Duck family will have during the cold, winter months. So, he decides that he's going to stay awake.

The illustrations in this book are just adorable. My favorites are the paintings of the ducks trying to help keep Bear awake: trying to hold his eyelids open and playing musical instruments loudly. I also love the pictures of the Bear once he falls asleep.

This would be a great bedtime book, as the illustrations of the sleepy bear inspire sleepiness! In fact, I'm starting to feel like I could use a nap!


  1. Oh! We loved The Library when my children were small! I'm not sure about the appeal of Tru and Nelle to middle grade readers, but I know teachers and librarians will love it! I finally requested a copy on Netgalley. I do like the cover and the author! Have a great week!

  2. So much to love here! Dream Animals looks beautiful and Naked just looks hilarious!

  3. Love hearing about Tru and Nelle, a must read for next month, Jana. So many good ones shared today. I love The Library, wonderful story & illustrations. Thanks also for the ones new to me like I'm Bored and Naked. I know a couple of young girls who will love those two books.

  4. what a delightful collection of picture books! I also loved Voice of Freedom. Fannie Lou Hamer is such an inspiration!

  5. I love G. Neri, so I cannot wait to read Tru and Nelle! I hadn’t realized it was on Netgalley!
    I have Voice of Freedom ordered form my library; I cannot wait to read it!
    I love books that celebrate books! :)
    I loved Naked—so funny! And I will read any Jeffers book!
    Happy reading this week! :)

  6. The Library is one of my favorite books! I am glad you liked it, too! I just put in a request for Tru and Nelle! I hope I get it! :) Thanks for sharing!

  7. Oh wow - so many books! Awesome. We still don't have Fannie Lou Hamer in our library - hopefully during the first quarter of the year. Dream Animals also caught my eye.