Monday, July 4, 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 hope everyone is having a fun and safe 4th of July holiday weekend!  And just in case you find yourself waiting between the hot dogs and the fireworks after dark, hopefully you've got a great book handy to read!

Here are some of the awesome books I've been reading this past week:

Middle Grade Novels


I borrowed a copy of this book from one of my #BookRelays friends and I really enjoyed reading this middle-grade novel. There's quite a bit of emotion in this one - Cedar Lee's family is having a difficult time coming to terms with the devastating loss of her father and younger brother, Ben, in a car accident the previous year. Cedar's mother buys a house in the town of Iron Creek, so she can have a place that's closer to her family. She plans to live in the house during the summer and rent it out to college students during the rest of the year.

Cedar becomes good friends with Leo Bishop, who helps her get a job working concessions for the Summerlost Shakespeare Festival. Leo is trying to earn enough money for a planned trip to London with his father. Leo and Cedar begin giving unauthorized tours of the important places in Lisette Chamberlain's life. Chamberlain was a famous movie star who grew up in the town and had performed in the festival many years ago. She died under mysterious circumstances at the local hotel twenty years ago.

As the story develops, Cedar becomes more self-confident and more willing to have hope for her future. Her work at the theater and giving the tours with Leo gives her something to think about besides her family's grief. There's also a nice bit of mystery as she and Leo learn more and more about Chamberlain's life.

I like the story development as the summer progresses. I also like the story's themes of friendship, especially the message that friends don't always have to do and like the same things. I also like that these adolescent kids can have a friendship that doesn't necessarily become a romance:
"I thought he was cute and he thought I was cute but it was different than it was when people have crushes. With Leo I'd fallen into another kind of like. I couldn't wait to tell him stuff and I loved hearing him laugh at my jokes. He made me feel like I had a spot in the world. It felt as if Leo and I could like each other all our lives." p. 237

Picture Books

When I was a kid I used to love to get mail, too. I wrote lots of letters to my cousin, and it was so much fun to get letters back! This was before e-mail & text messages changed all that. Anyway, one of my daily activities in the summer was waiting for the mail truck to come past our house! It still is, only now I'm excited to see if any new books are coming my way. So, I can totally relate to the boy in this book. He wants mail, too. And so he writes to his mailbox and tons of crazy stuff starts arriving. Young readers will have a great time to see what comes in the mail and if it gets too far out of hand!  

This is a terrific book to share with young readers, because it has a wonderful message about making new friends. We see the situation through the lens of Louise, whom we grew to love in Louise Loves Art. Louise has a new neighbor and she's anxious to meet her. She goes next door with her little brother and shares her drawings with Andi. When they start drawing together it becomes clear they don't see eye to eye on everything. Kids will enjoy reading to see how these two are going to reconcile these differences and become good friends.  

The young man in this fun picture book has quite an imagination! He pretends to be Secret Agent Man (S.A.M.) as he and his mom go shopping for shoes. After the shopping trip and a nap, he gets the opportunity to come to his mom's rescue! It will be fun to share with students!

This is a fun, clever picture book about a persistent woodpecker named Benny, who will do just about anything to get some waffles. A new waffle diner has opened near the woods, and he decides that he just has to try some waffles because they look and smell so good. He makes several attempts to get into the restaurant and get them, but the waitress kicks him out each time. Young readers will have fun reading to find out how Benny is going to get this breakfast treat.

One of the "Scientists In The Field" series, this nonfiction picture book has fascinating information and photographs detailing the authors' journeys with renowned shark scientists. The first half of the book tells of the work that Greg Skomal, a great white shark biologist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, does studying these animals off the coast of New England. The second half of the book tells of the work being done to study sharks in Mexico by Erick Higuera. There is lots of very detailed information and a list of resources for further study. This would be a great book to have in the classroom as source material for research!

Anyone that's ever wanted a pet of their very own will be able to relate to this book. Rory's friend has a new pet, and they all have a terrific time playing with him. Rory decides he really wants to find a pet, too. This is easier said than done. Young readers will enjoy finding out if Rory is ever going to have his own perfect pet. The digital illustrations are very sweet and help make this a fun book for younger children.

 This nonfiction picture book is somewhat of an index of many of the animals of the northern hemisphere. Beautiful illustrations along with descriptions for most of these animals would make it a nice addition to my classroom library. This book could serve as a good starting point for further research. 

This is a cute picture book that shares a great message with young readers, no one is good at everything, but everyone is good at something. Poor elephant has a tough time playing with his friends: they always find him when they play hide-and-seek, he's too big to play leap frog, hopscotch or tag, and he gets all tangled up when he tries to jump rope. But, even though he's terrible at these games he tries his best anyway. The double spread illustrations are very detailed and humorous. Little kids will get a kick out of reading to see what elephant's favorite game is.  

I bought this book for my classroom library because it looked like a fun, nonfiction picture book. I'm glad I did, because it's got awesome close up photographs of deep sea fish, which is always popular with my students. The book is also funny because it appears to have been taken over by a very chatty blowfish. There's interesting information and a list of resources at the back, so this would be a good book to start research on ocean animals.

Just in time for the Fourth of July comes a fun and imaginative picture book that takes a good look at all of the awesome places in America. The Statue of Liberty has gotten bored standing around in New York Harbor staring at the same stuff all of the time. She decides to take a vacation and see The rest of the country. She visits the St. Louis arch, the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, and many other places. The illustrations are hilarious! My favorite is Lady Liberty photo bombing at Mount Rushmore. Kids will enjoy reading to find out if she's going to make it back in time for the Fourth of July. There is factual information at the back of the book for kids who want to find out more about the Statue of Liberty. 

I'm a sucker for any cute dog book! I love everything about this one, including the cover with the title dog in scuba gear. Young readers will appreciate the friendship that develops between Scuba Dog and a whale. He wants to hang around with his new friend, but he can't hold his breath for very long. Little kids will love reading to find out the steps this dog takes to be able to spend time with and show appreciation for his friend.

With the adorable, whimsical illustrations that makes Sergio Ruzzier's books so sweet, the little guy in this book is very reluctant to pick up a book that doesn't have pictures in it. This is so like many of my students! They lack confidence to plunge into text without the support of illustrations. With some encouragement from a friend, he gives it a try and discovers that not only is he able to read it, he's enjoying it. I would love to share this with my students at the beginning of the school year!  









  1. Summerlost was a good read for me, too. I liked the theme of friendship and I thought the plot that revolved around the theater was interesting. I have not yet picked up Nine, Ten. I am a little hesitant to read it, but I probably will eventually. Louise and Andie sounds like a great picture book. I think books about friendship are important to share with young readers.

  2. I just bought my copy of Nine, Ten and I can't wait for it to come in the mail. Thanks for all the other great recommendations.

  3. I'm a sucker for cute dog books too. I definitely need to check out Scuba Dog. :)

  4. So much to love here, Jana. I can't wait to read Summerlost, read an excerpt & it was good! The Blobfish Book & Lady Liberty's Holiday also sound great, along with others. Thank you, & have a great holiday today!

  5. I have Be Light Like a Bird too, I need to get to it! Loved Summerlost, I hadn't heard much about it when I started it and was so pleasantly surprised. It Came In The Mail - seriously, any book that exclaims, "Boogers" is going to have kid readers!

  6. So many fabulous books here! Just bought Nine, Ten, too - can't wait to read it.

  7. It never fails. You always have such an amazing selection of books for me to go through and ponder where to begin. :) Thanks.

  8. Holy cow! This is a lot of books! I have Summerlost on my list. I plan to read it very soon! Thanks for reminding me. ;)

  9. You read so much! You are so impressive!
    I have Bird to read and review also--I loved My Brother's Shadow by her.
    I have Summerlost on my list, but I have no idea when I'll get to it; however, you made me want to get to it :)
    Going to go add your PB recs to my TBR!

    Happy Fourth, and happy reading this week!

  10. Blobfish are really having their star moment right now, aren't they? :)