Monday, March 14, 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 pretty busy week at school. Some bug is running rampant in our school, as quite a few teachers and students have been out sick. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of substitute teachers in our district. So, everyday I've wound up with five or six extra students in my room that aren't even in my grade level (third graders placed in a fifth grade classroom). As I scrambled to change plans and welcomed the guests in my room with activities that were engaging for all learners, I came home with lots of extra work to grade and little time for pleasure reading. Spring Break can't come fast enough, but we still have to get through this week and next!
At any rate, here is what I was able to enjoy reading last week:
The Inn Between by Marina Cohen, Sarah Watts (Illustrations)     I had the opportunity to read a digital-ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for this review. I enjoyed reading this book. It was a mystery book that pulled me in pretty quickly. Eleven-year-old Quinn is traveling through the desert Southwest with her best friend, Kara Cawston, and her family. The Cawstons are moving away from Denver, Colorado and Quinn is taking this last trip with them as a chance to have a vacation away from her own family. Things have been rough in Quinn's family since her younger sister, Emma, disappeared without a trace several months back.

Midway through the trip, the Cawston family stops to rest for a night at a strange hotel in the middle of the desert, The Inn Between. From the moment they check in, Quinn notices all sorts of strange things: weird guests hanging around in the lobby, no outgoing phone lines for hotel guests to use, no working television in the room. Everyone is so tired and hungry that no one thinks too much about it.

But then Kara's parents disappear without so much as a note to the kids. After eating a huge breakfast in the restaurant and spending time at the swimming pool, Kara's brother, Josh disappears too. Now Quinn and Kara must figure out what happened to the rest of the family and decide how to stay safe themselves!

For my complete review, please visit my blog post:

Bloom by Doreen Cronin, David Small (Illustrations)     This is an awesome picture book with a terrific message! Bloom was an unusual fairy with the magical gift of spinning sand into glass, turning weeds in blossoms, and growing a trickle of rainwater into a racing river. But she was so muddy and dirty, that she was sent away from the kingdom. Later when the glass kingdom starting falling apart, the royal family decided to try to get Bloom to come back an save the kingdom. Both the king and queen failed to get Bloom's help, so it was decided that they should send Genevieve, a small servant girl. Once she finds Bloom, not only does Bloom teach her how to save the kingdom, but she teaches her that girls can do extraordinary things. The ink and watercolor illustrations are fantastic, and do an awesome job of supporting the text. I definitely want to get my own copy to have in my classroom library!

Build, Beaver, Build!: Life at the Longest Beaver Dam by Sandra Markle, Deborah Hocking
This is a wonderful nonfiction picture book resource about a year in the life of a beaver family at Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada. The beaver dam here, made of sticks and mud, is so long (2,788 feet), it's big enough to be photographed by satellites from space. This dam is believed to have been around since the 1970s, as one beaver family after another has lived there and added on to it. The illustrations are beautiful, and really help transport the reader to this wooded pond to see a young beaver grow up. I think my favorite illustration in the book is the scene of winter wonder and the beaver family all snuggled up in their lodge, resting and eating. The book is very informative and offers a wealth of other resources for readers to find out even more. I would love to have this book in my classroom library!

Always Remember by Cece Meng, Jago (Illustrations)     This is a beautiful picture book that deals with the subject death in a very appropriate and heartwarming way. At the opening of the book, an old sea turtle has passed away: "In the end, on his very last day, Old Turtle swam his last swim and took his last breath. With his life complete, the gentle waves took him away." The pages after that show each of Old Turtles friends remembering things he taught them, ways he made them happy, and ways he helped them when they were in trouble. The digitally created artwork is lovely. This would be a great book to help young people, or anyone for that matter, deal with the difficult topic of death.

Girl & Gorilla: Out and About by Rick Walton, Joe Berger (Illustrations)     This is a cute picture book about a girl and a gorilla. They're best friends and they are trying to go to the park. When their original plans don't work out, gorilla tries a bunch of different ways to get to the park. Eventually they walk and think, and wind up at the park. The story might be fun for younger readers. It might be good for teaching about making predictions and solving problems. The illustrations are a lot of fun and really add to the humor of the story.

By Mouse and Frog by Deborah Freedman     This is a cute story about a mouse that is trying to write a story and a frog that comes along and gets carried away adding details galore. Mouse gets upset because Frog has taken over the whole story and has made a mess of it. They work it out and decide to work together. This would be a fun book to share with young people to talk about working together and getting along. It also might be a fun mentor text as the addition of details by both Mouse and Frog make the story better and more interesting.

Three Aesop Fox Fables by Paul Galdone     I'm sharing fable books with my fifth grade students this week, as they will be writing their own fables. The three fables in this book show how fox is generally a trickster in these types of stories. This book includes "The Fox and the Grapes", "The Fox and the Stork", and "The Fox and the Crow". Simple text along with the moral of each story in bold type at the end of each tale will help this book serve as a mentor text for writing a story that teaches a lesson. The illustrations are bold and humorous in the 1970s style that I grew up with, which I enjoy very much.



  1. Wow, The Inn Between sounds quite scary, but kids do like mysteries. I loved Bloom and By Mouse & Frog, too, Jana! Thanks for the other picture books, which also sound good. I've put them on my list, especially Always Remember. Love that you're reading fables. Do you know Arnold Lobel's Fables? It's a book I've used as a mentor text. Happy Reading!

  2. Great books, as always!
    I put The Inn Between on hold after seeing your review.
    Always Remember was gorgeous. I've been trying to find Build, Beaver, Build. The libraries don't have that one yet!

  3. I really liked By Mouse and Frog, such a great story about working together, great to share with kids who are still trying to figure out this whole "group project" thing ;)