Monday, March 21, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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 getting closer and closer to Spring Break! Only four days this week and then the long awaited vacation will have arrived! I'm not sure who's more ready - the students or me! But I'm giddy with anticipation over the chance to rest and READ!!!!!
In the meantime, here's what I've been reading the past week:

The Girl in the Tower by Lisa Schroeder    I had the opportunity to read a digital-ARC of this book from NetGalley. I enjoyed reading it. For those who like to read fairy tale type books with princesses and castles and evil witches, this book will be fun to read. Violet and her mother have been held prisoner by the evil Queen Bogdana ever since Violet was born. The two have spent over ten years locked up in a remote tower on the castle grounds. Their caretakers, George and Maggie, bring them food and other items to make their lives tolerable. George, a gardener, has made a secret garden for Violet to visit. It is in the secret garden that she befriends a pair of hummingbirds, Pax and Peace.

The evil queen, who is really a nasty witch has plans to use feathers from the hummingbirds and a hair from Violet's head to concoct a magical potion that will make her beautiful. To that end, as Violet approaches her eleventh birthday, the Queen takes Violet to live in the castle and become her daughter and a princess. Violet's mother, Nuri, is banished from the castle grounds.

To read my complete review, please visit my blog post:

Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins, Sean Qualls (Illustrations), Selina Alko (Illustrations)    This is a great historical fiction picture book celebrating the lives and friendship of two important figures in American history: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. These two worked tirelessly to gain freedom and rights, namely the right to vote, for women and African Americans. The authors of this book extensively researched the time period in order to present the text and the art accurately. The illustrations, rendered in acrylic paint, collage and colored pencil, are beautiful and do a wonderful job setting the tone of the book. I love the opening of the book, with the paintings of Susan and Frederick sitting by candlelight, sipping tea. This is definitely a book I would love to have in my classroom library.

A Bear's Year by Kathy Duval    This is a gorgeous nonfiction picture book that let's the reader look at a year in the life of a bear. Told in rhyming text, we start the book as the bear starts to sleep for the winter, cuddling her newborn cubs. Next comes spring as the bears awaken and explore the world. The cubs have so much to learn over the summer. In the fall it's time to dig a new den and get ready for another winter. The illustrations, drawings and screen printing, were pieced together digitally. Maybe it's because I've been especially tired lately, but I absolutely adore the pictures of the bears snuggled together in their cozy den for the winter. This is a great book to enjoy for all ages, and I would love to have a copy for my classroom library.

Nanuk the Ice Bear by Jeanette Winter    This is a charming nonfiction book that shows us a year in the life of a polar bear. Nanuk hunts, swims, mates (appropriately, of course!), raises cubs, and worries as they go off on their own. The illustrations, which are framed in the center of each page, are lovely. My favorite shows Nanuk snuggled below ground during the dark winter, welcoming her two tiny cubs into the world. There are some references listed for further reading about polar bears and global warming. This book would be a good starting point for research on either of these two topics.

Sweaterweather: & Other Short Stories by Sara Varon    I checked this book out of my public library because I had heard good things about it and the author. My students really enjoy reading comics and graphic novels. Boy, I really enjoyed this book! I love that each comic has a brief note from the author/artist about the ideas behind it and personal memories attached to it! I always want to know more about the person who creates the stories I read and this one is perfect. I definitely want to get my own copy to have in my classroom library, as I believe it would serve as an awesome mentor text!

Go, Little Green Truck! by Roni Schotter, Julia Kuo (Illustrations)    This is a cute picture book that shows us life on a modern family farm. I think that's a good thing. As a teacher in an urban school district, many of my students don't have personal experience with rural situations and so it would be good to have this book as part of my classroom library. The story centers around an adorable, little green truck that is happy to be a part of the comings and goings of this busy farm. But then, as the farm gets bigger and the hauling needs grow, the little green truck is replaced by a big, blue pick-up truck. Will the family abandon the sweet, first vehicle for a big, gas-guzzling monster? The illustrations are bold, colorful and engaging and they help to support the story.

Duck, Duck, Dinosaur by Kallie George, Oriol Vidal (Illustrations)    This is a cute picture book that shows us that families come in all shapes and sizes. Mama Duck was so excited as she waited for her eggs to hatch. She couldn't wait to start loving her family. The first two eggs hatched, and the first two ducklings, Feather and Flap, were born. As they immediately began to argue about which one was bigger, the largest egg hatched. Spike, a dinosaur, put the size dispute to rest right away. Young children will giggle over the antics of this adorable family. Sibling rivalry runs rampant, but in the end they all love each other very much. The digital illustrations were created on a tablet, and they are bold, bright and very humorous. This book will be lots of fun!

One Big Family by Marc Harshman, Sara Palacios (Illustrations)    This is a charming picture book that shows the fun of traveling to visit relatives at a family reunion. This book reminds me of an updated version of The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. At the end of the summer, the family piles into the car for the long road trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa. The text is somewhat lyrical: "When the crickets sing and the end of summer is near, Grandma and Grandpa say COME." Each page has a similar cadence that ends in a verb. The digital pen and ink illustrations are so cheerful and fun, with pictures of the family in the car, everyone hugging and kissing upon arrival, eating around the table, swimming, campfires, and other lovely family moments. This book would be nice to have in my classroom library, especially in September as summer winds down and school is beginning.



  1. Girl in the Tower looks like one my daughter would enjoy. I put it on hold at the library after seeing your review! Happy reading this week!

  2. Nice assortment of books! I liked The Girl in the Tower and thought it would be fun for my students who are just moving into chapter books. Come see my reading week here. Happy reading!

  3. Hi Jana, what a lot of lovely picture books you have here! The Girl in the Tower sounds interesting for my readers who love those retold fairy tales. I'm really interested in reading Two Friends.

  4. Me, too for The Girl In The Tower. I've read & liked the bear books, but will look for Sweater Weather-looks cute! Thanks, Jana.

  5. Trucks, dinosaurs and princess are all hot commodities at my library, so I'll be sure to be on the lookout for these titles! Have a great week!!

  6. Two Friends looks awesome - love most everything done by Sean Qualls - would have to check this one out.