Monday, March 7, 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.
I've had a pretty good reading week. I read two awesome middle grade novels and some picture books that I've been excited to get my hands on! As we get closer and closer to Spring Break, I'm really looking forward to having some vacation time to just relax and read. Hope you get some time to enjoy your reading as well! Here's a closer look at what I've been reading:
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar   I had the opportunity to read a digital-ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for this review. I am so happy that I read this book, because it was just fantastic! I was expecting it to be pretty good, as a lot of people whose opinions I respect have said positive things about it. But I was still just blown away by how well-written and engaging this story is. I devoured the book in one day, because I just couldn't put it down!

For my complete review, please visit my blog post:
Where You'll Find Me by Natasha Friend   I had the opportunity to read a digital-ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for this review. Wow! I absolutely loved this book. I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. When I read the description of this title on GoodReads, I thought it was going to be a bit of a downer. But, I was swept up into the story very quickly and found myself unable to put it down as I came to care about the characters and really wanted to see what was going to happen. At one point, I found myself grumbling because the phone rang a couple of times while I was reading and I didn't want to tear myself away to answer the call!

For my complete review, please visit my blog:

The Night Gardener by Terry Fan, Eric Fan    This is an awesome picture book that tells the story of a beautiful, magical experience for the people of Grimloch Lane. We experience this story from the perspective of William, a lonely boy who lives at the Grimloch Orphanage. Each morning he awakens to a new topiary wonder on his street: an owl, a cat, a rabbit, and so on. As more and more of the neighborhood's trees become stunning works of art, there is more excitement and wonder. One night, William catches sight of the artist and follows him to the park. This debut book for Terry and Eric Fan has stunning illustrations rendered in graphite and colored digitally. I love how the limited palette at the beginning of the story, becomes more and more colorful as the story develops. I also love the contrast between the darkness in the neighborhood and the brightness coming from streetlights and lit up windows. I know this will be a terrific addition to my classroom library!

Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley    This book is lovely and heartwarming. Before I even opened the book, the cover illustration of Zelda and Aaron playing on a swing together grabbed me and told me this was going to be a sweet story. The endpapers in the front show more scenes of these two best friends playing together in all seasons. And then the text begins with Aaron receiving the sad news that Zelda's family is moving away. Aaron looks forlorn as the packing process has begun. The illustrations really have the reader feeling the same way, especially as we recall these heartbreaking times in our own lives. Moving is often very difficult for both the person going and the person that will be left behind. And then Zelda suggests that before she leaves, they should play together one last time, "like nothing is changing." And they do, and then we find an awesome way that Aaron has helped Zelda adjust to this big change. This is a terrific book to help young readers deal with sad feelings that come whenever there is a move.

Arctic White by Danna Smith, Lee White (Illustrations)    I really enjoyed this picture book because it celebrates the special relationship between a young girl and her grandfather. The two live in the Arctic, where everything is white. The girl searches and searches for color in this cold, snowy world. At last Grandfather takes the girl on a special journey to see something spectacularly colorful. I love that what she sees is so beautiful, she is inspired to recreate it through art! Danna Smith brings this awesome relationship to life, and the watercolor and ink illustrations by Lee White make the beauty in this book complete!

Tiger and Badger by Emily Jenkins, Marie-Louise Gay (Illustrations)    This is a cute picture book about the ups and downs of being best friends. Aimed at younger children, Tiger and Badger are best friends one moment and then squabble over chairs, oranges, toys, etc. At one point they're not best friends anymore. And then they make up! Humorous, colorful illustrations and fights over things that little kids usually fight over will make this a good book to share with primary kids. Good starting point for discussions on how to get along with others.

Virgil & Owen by Paulette Bogan    This is a cute story about friendship. Virgil, the Penguin, finds a polar bear and proudly tells his mother that he's going to keep him. As Virgil commands the polar bear to come with him, he becomes increasingly frustrated as the polar bear splashes around with terns, slips and slides with seals, and twirled and whirled with other penguins. Virgil tries to get the polar bear to come and play with only him and the bear tells him "No." He also tells him his name is Owen and he wants to play with everyone. The tantrum that Virgil throws is cute. Those illustrations are my favorite! In the end, Virgil learns that everyone can be friends. This is a great story for young readers to learn how to play with each other!

Super Jumbo by Fred Koehler     This is a funny picture book about a little elephant that wants to be a superhero. He calls himself Super Jumbo, and goes around looking for people that need help. But like lots of little kids, his help isn't particularly helpful or appreciated. Eventually he finds one of his friends that needs help and realizes that it's awesome to help your friends out. Funny illustrations along with cute text will make this book popular with young readers.

Mr. Lincoln's Way by Patricia Polacco    I shared this book with my fifth grade students today and it was just terrific! It was very inspirational for everyone, the students and me! Mr. Lincoln is just the coolest principal ever. My students said he was cool because he spent time getting to know kids on the playground and finding out what kinds of things they like to do. When he built a relationship with Gene, the school bully, my students thought it was a great way to get Gene to turn his behavior around. The book led to a great discussion about ways we can reach out to people that are having a difficult time getting along with others. This might be a good book to read at the beginning of the school year. The illustrations are awesome (as they are in all of Polacco's books)!

Dr. Seuss by Charlotte Guillain    Because it was Dr. Seuss' birthday I shared this biography that I have in my classroom library. It includes great photographs and interesting facts and details about this famous author. It's a great place to start for anyone researching Dr. Seuss!



  1. Lots of great books this week, Jana! I'll be on the look out for Where You'll Find Me. I had not heard of it before. Glad you enjoyed Hour of the Bees. I agree, it was fantastic!

  2. I just got Before I Leave from the library, will read it soon. I love the look of those 'friendship' books, Jana, Virgil & Owen, and Tiger & Badger. They look very cute. I've heard of Hour of The Bees, but not Where You'll Find Me, so thanks for that too. Many good books here today! Thank you.

  3. What a smashing week of reading! It's always a good sign when a book is so engrossing that anything that disrupts your reading is cause for grumbling!

  4. I simply must read Hour of the Bees! Thanks for the review!

  5. I simply must read Hour of the Bees! Thanks for the review!

  6. So many unfamiliar titles for me! Thank you for sharing all of them. I am a Patricia Polacco fan so I shall definitely try to find this title - I love her teacher-themed books.