Monday, April 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.
It's hard to believe there are only 28 days left in the school year. They're going by quickly as we finish state testing, take field trips, and start having the fun end-of-the-year stuff like Field Day and the Fifth Grade party. And as the weather is just so nice, I'm going out to the deck more and more to enjoy reading. Here's what I've been reading this week:

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo  Last week, through the amazing generosity of Mr. John Schumacher (@MrSchuReads) and Margie Myers-Culver (@Loveofxena), I won a copy of Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo. Within days of receiving notice on Twitter, I received my very own copy in the mail.

It didn't take me long to jump right into it with both feet. What a terrific book this is! This wasn't really a surprise since Kate DiCamillo is the author of so many wonderful books including Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, and Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. I knew that I was in for a treat.

"I'm too terrified to go on!" At the opening of this book, Louisiana Elefante utters these words right before she faints at Ida Nee's baton-twirling lesson. Those six words so succinctly state how all of us feel at one time or another. It's this universal emotional state that grabs ahold of the reader and sucks him or her back in time to the summer of 1975 and into the lives of these three girls: Raymie Clarke, Beverly Tapinski, and the aforementioned Louisiana Elefante.

For my complete review, please visit my blog:

Once Was a Time by Leila Sales   I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for this review. And the first word that comes to mind is "Bravo!" I was just blown away by this book!

Charlotte Bromley and her best friend, Kitty McLaughlin were ten-year-old girls growing up in Bristol, England in 1940. World War II was causing everyone to live in fear as Luftwaffe planes dropped bombs over their heads and the Germans were marching across Europe. Charlotte's father, a scientist, had spent years studying time travel and was on the brink of an important discovery. Because of the strategic importance of the ability to travel through time, Charlotte and Kitty found themselves captured and threatened with execution if Charlotte's father didn't reveal what he had discovered.

At a critical moment, just as Charlotte and Kitty were facing mortal danger, Charlotte was suddenly thrown into another place and time. All alone, Charlotte finds herself halfway around the world in America in the 21st century. Not only does she have to find her way in a foreign place without money or relatives or a home, she has no idea how to find her way back to her own place and time.

For my complete review, please visit my blog:

A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins    I just finished this terrific picture book and I'm still smiling and laughing about it. This book would be so much fun to read aloud to my class and have a discussion about drawing conclusions and making predictions. Each time I thought I knew what was going on, I was surprised. It's humor is a bit dark, so I'm not sure if it's right for very young children. But I'm fairly certain fifth graders will like it. The illustrations, rendered in brush marker, gouache, graphite, colored pencil, and charcoal, are perfect! I love how the smiles start disappearing off the faces of the dwindling assortment of animals! I have got to get my own copy of this!

Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes, Elizabeth Zunon (Illustrations)   This is a beautiful poetry picture book that would serve as a terrific mentor text as well. A girl finds a box of poems that her mother wrote as a child in her grandmother's attic. Her grandfather was in the Air Force, and so the family moved from one place to another frequently. The poems reflect her mother's happy memories in each of the different locations. The girl writes poems about her experiences with her grandma as they live out the stories in the poems. The illustrations are just lovely and really complement the book well. I definitely want to have a copy of this in my classroom library!

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco    This a terrific book. I love all of Patricia Polacco books, but I'm always especially moved my her stories of teachers that helped make her who she is. This one is a tribute to art teachers. There was a special teacher at the high school, Miss Chew, who showed special interest in her. But even though she was a very talented young artist, she had a difficult time passing tests in school. Miss Chew not only helped Patricia develop her skills in drawing and painting, she introduced her to a reading specialist that helped Patricia immensely. As in all of Polacco's books, the illustrations do a powerful job of telling the story along with the text. I have to get a copy of this in my classroom!

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers    This is a heartwarming book about a little girl who loved learning about all the wonder of the world around her. She was curious and enthusiastic about stars, oceans, and all the other interesting things in her life. But when there was suddenly an empty chair where previously someone very important to her sat, she decided to put her heart in a safe place where it could never be broken again.

The illustrations are fantastic. According to the author in the title page, "The art for this book was made from all sorts of stuff. Some watercolor, some bits from old books, some gouache, a little amount of technology, some acrylic and even a bit of house paint. I think there is some oil paint on one page. But that might have been an accident."

A Place for Frogs by Melissa Stewart, Higgins Bond (Illustrator)    "Frogs make our world a better place. But sometimes people do things that make it hard for them to live and grow. If we work together to help these special creatures, there will always be a place for frogs."

This is the opening of this awesome nonfiction picture book. I love the gentle, nonjudgmental tone this book takes to share with readers why frogs are special, how they're being harmed, and what can be done to help frogs live and grow. Each double-page spread shares information about a particular type of frog and some of the special circumstances that make the frog's survival difficult.

The illustrations, beautiful acrylic on cold press illustration board, are all double-page paintings that show each frog living in its particular habitat. The paintings really capture what's special and important about helping these animals.

The book is very informative. It also has plenty of information for readers to do further research. I would love to have a copy of this in my classroom library!

You Must Be This Tall by Steven Weinberg    This is a fun picture book about two friends who go to the fair together. They have a terrific time until they want to ride the Rattler. Harold isn't tall enough to go on the ride. The two friends try all sorts of schemes to get on that ride together. Young kids will be able to relate to this. The illustrations are funny and this would be a great book to have in a classroom library.

Listen to Our World by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, Melissa Sweet (Illustrations)   This is a lovely, nonfiction picture book that listens to the sounds of animals from all over the world through the ears and imagination of a child just waking up in the morning:

"In the morning, Mommy gives us wake-up kisses and says, 'Good morning, little one. Can you hear the sounds of our world?"

With the words, "Listen! Listen! Listen!" the reader turns the page and begins the journey. Readers see stunning illustrations rendered in watercolor, handmade papers, and mixed media to learn about gila monsters, parrots, eagles, monkeys, giant pandas, crocodiles, kangaroos, lions, penguins, elephants, and whales. The last few pages give brief information about each one.

The Hueys in What's the Opposite? by Oliver Jeffers   This is a fun concept picture book that might even have older students scratching their heads. Obvious opposites like up and down and high and low end with a tree being chopped down so the kitten stuck in the top branches could get down. The kitten is thankful but a cup of coffee is smashed. Unlucky is being stranded on a hot, desert island. Lucky is a fan washing ashore of the hot, desert island; but the fan requires electricity! Unlucky again. What's the difference between half full and half empty? The illustrations are simple, but cute in the same style that makes the other Huey books in the series popular. This would be fun to have in my classroom library.




  1. You read a nice variety of books this week. I really need to get caught up on Kate DiCamillo's work. I am woefully behind. Come see what my reading week was like. Happy reading!

  2. I have a fascination for frogs so of course I must get A Place for Frogs. I'm also a fan of Patricia Polacco and Oliver Jeffers.

  3. I do enjoy time travel books, so will put Once Was A Time on my list, Jana. I still want to read A Hungry Lion & A Place for Frogs, really loved The Heart And A Bottle. Thanks for all!

  4. I loved "Miss Chew" as well, what a lovely celebration of teachers! And A Hungry Lion is hilarious, definitely a dark sense of humour, but lots of fun as kids start putting the details together. :)

  5. I read You Must Be This Tall and A Hungry Lion to my second grade groups a couple of weeks ago and there is a long hold list for both books :)
    Raymie is a book I want to reread this summer. I liked it, but didn't love it. I want to reread it with a fresh mind!

  6. Such wonderful books - a few happen to be favourites as well (oliver jeffers). I borrowed Raymie from our library last week and really looking forward to reading it.