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 love this time of year. Our state tests are finished, and we have 18 days to focus on finishing up the year with some of the more fun activities. We have Field Day, field trips, dances, parties and end-of-the-year ceremonies to look forward to. Even though these days are super busy, the weather is getting nicer and nicer. These are the days to try to get outside and read.
Here's what I've been reading this week:
At Night by Jonathan Bean What a sweet, heart-warming picture book that would be terrific as a bedtime story. The little girl in the story is snug in her bed as everyone in her family is turning in for the evening. But as she hears her family snoring, she is wide awake. Anyone who's ever had trouble falling asleep will be able to relate to this. As she feels a bit of the evening breeze blowing through her window, she gets the impulse to go up to the roof of their city house. She sits with her pillows and blankets, breathing the night air and looking at the wide world and then she falls asleep. The illustrations are just lovely as we see the charming detail of the family's house rooftop and the loving mother looking on, but not interfering. I love that the cat is following the little girl and looking out for her.
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle This is a lovely, wordless picture book. Flora and a beautiful flamingo engage in a dance together. Stunning illustrations and fun, interactive flaps show the two working together, getting over a mishap together, and having a wonderful time together. This story has a great message about teamwork, friendship, and art. I could practically hear the music as I turned the pages and watched this dance unfold!
Please, Louise by Toni Morrison, Shadra Strickland (Illustrator) This is a delightful picture book that is a celebration of libraries and books! Yay! Everything is dark, gray and scary as Louise walks along the street on a rainy afternoon. As soon as she enters the library, the mood lifts. "Here is a shelter from any storm. In this place you are never alone." The double page illustration, rendered in watercolor, gouache, pencil and crayon, shows bookshelves full of books and a checkout desk. My favorite illustration shows a close up of Louise's face as she is in the middle of a book, "Imagination is an open door. Step in here and let it soar." This book is definitely for Book Nerds everywhere!
If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, Erin E. Stead (Illustrator) Having taking quite a few cruise vacations, I completely understand what it's like sitting and staring at the ocean and watching to see a whale. It takes quite a bit of patience to sit and wait and watch. In the meantime, it's tempting to let your mind and attention wander to other things - clouds, roses, ships, etc. This story has a terrific message about patience and perseverance. The illustrations are just so sweet and heartwarming; they really complement the text very well!
Early Bird by Toni Yuly When I first saw this book, I thought about the early birds in my neighborhood. Now that it's spring and we're starting to sleep with open windows more often, I can't help noticing that our early birds get started with their LOUD chirping, singing and tweeting around 3:30 in the morning (nowhere near sunrise!). But this early bird gets at her day with a long journey across a yard. When the early bird gets the worm, the reader is in for a nice surprise! The nice surprise made this a new favorite book, that might be a terrific mentor text in my classroom library. The lovely illustrations were rendered in pen and ink and digital media.
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell Even though this book is kind of silly, I found myself smiling all the way through it. This is a cute picture book about a little boy that goes around hugging everyone and everything he finds. The illustrations, rendered in watercolor, are adorable and humorous. I love the smile on the turtle's face when he's getting a hug. I also love the oven mitts on the boy's hands when he's hugging a prickly porcupine. It's just a fun book that would be fun to share with young readers.
Maggie and Michael Get Dressed by Denise Fleming This is a cute picture book for young readers who are just beginning to appreciate dressing themselves. It's time for Michael to get dressed. As he gets out each item of clothing, he names the color and the item and then puts it on the dog, Maggie. Little kids will giggle as all of the items are placed on the playful dog. Finally, Michael gets himself dressed and ready for the day. The illustrations were created by pulp painting, a papermaking technique using colored cotton fiber poured through hand-cut stencils. Accents were added with pastel pencil. The results are beautiful illustrations that complement the story nicely.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, Rafael Lopez (Illustrator) This is a beautiful and inspirational picture book that celebrates art transforming a community. Based on the real-life experiences of the illustrator of this book, this is the story of how a little girl brought color to her gray, colorless urban neighborhood. As Mira, the little girl, started giving her own paintings away to spread a little color around, she met a mural artist. Soon she was painting the walls with bright colors. Before too long, many of her friends and neighbors joined in. The mood and the look of the neighborhood was changed completely. At the end of the story, there are photographs and information about the real-life transformation of the East Village, near downtown San Diego, California. The book is wonderfully illustrated with a combination of acrylic on wood, original photography, and digital art. I absolutely have to get a copy of this for my classroom library for next year!
Anything But Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrman, Queen of Magic by Mara Rockliff, Iacopo Bruno (Illustrator) Magic shows are always a big hit. This story, about a young girl in 19th century Europe who longed to be something special, could serve as a great motivational tale. Addie wanted to be something extraordinary, and so she became a talented ballet dancer. But that didn't seem special enough, so she joined a troupe of girls performing tricks on bicycles. Onboard a ship to America, she met her future husband, Alexander Herrmann, a famous magician. They performed all sorts of astonishing, shocking and dazzling tricks together, including shooting Addie out of a cannon. After he passed away, Addie wanted to keep the show going. Because she was worried that people wouldn't come to see a lady magician, she performed one of the most dangerous tricks at time, the bullet-catching trick. This is a well-researched, informative book that I think would be very popular in my classroom library. The informational pages in the back include a website to visit to learn how the bullet-catching trick was performed. The illustrations, which were done in pencil and colored digitally, are very lavish and detailed. It's a beautiful picture book biography.
Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly by Scott Nash I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway. I think this will a nice book to have in my classroom library. The author has taken nine literary classics and condensed them into much shorter poems and songs. The book is digitally illustrated with bold, colorful, humorous artwork. This could be a fun way to introduce these classic works to younger kids. There is more information on each of them at the back of the book.
The Whale by Vita Murrow, Ethan Murrow (Illustrator) This wordless picture book tells an awesome story of teamwork and adventure with beautiful black and white pencil illustrations. Two kids individually decide to find a Great Spotted Whale that had been sighted fifty years ago. Their boats collide, but they still work together to find the whale and prove it to others. This is a book that's fun to read several times to pick up all of the details. I think this would be an awesome book to share with students in my class.
The Typewriter by Bill Thomson For anyone who's ready for a fun day at the beach, this stunningly illustrated wordless picture book is perfect! Three children find an old typewriter on a closed merry-go-round. As soon as they start typing the find themselves at the beach having all sorts of fun and adventure. The artwork is just stunning. Thomson created a handmade model of a bumblebee before beginning his artwork. Using traditional painting techniques, he rendered each illustration in acrylic paint and colored pencils. Amazingly, his illustrations are not photographs or computer-generated images. This book would be a lot of fun to have in my classroom library!
Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? by Eve Bunting, Sergio Ruzzier (Illustrator) This is a cute picture book that deals with the mystery of Duck's missing blue socks. He looks everywhere he can imagine to look. He seeks help from his friends the fox, an ox, and some peacocks. With the help of the peacocks, he discovers his socks in a rather silly place. Young readers would have fun with repetitive, rhyming text. The illustrations, rendered in pen and ink and watercolor, are colorful and whimsical and absolutely perfect for the type of book this is. I especially like the paintings of Duck's cluttered home.
Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives by Lola M. Schaefer, Christopher Sila Neal (Illustrator) This nonfiction picture book would be a great resource to use as a starting point for further research. It's also just a fun book to start the imagination process! This well-researched book presents information about many different animals. She does this by sharing a fascinating number of times in the animal's lifetime that it will perform an act or function. For example, "In one lifetime, this spider will spin 1 papery egg sac." OR "In one lifetime, this caribou will grow and shed 10 sets of antlers." The back of the book shares even more information about each animal. The illustrations, rendered in mixed media, support the text very well. I definitely want to get a copy for my classroom library!