Monday, July 18, 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.

We have had a terrific time the last few weeks visiting family in Keokuk, Iowa and Mt. Vernon, Illinois. We've done a lot of driving, eating, visiting, and relaxing. 

Lunch at The Cellar Restaurant in Keokuk, Iowa with my parents

My sister-in-law and her husband in Mt. Vernon, Illinois

I managed to do some reading, too. Although this week, I don't have nearly as many books as I usually do.  But now we're back home, and since it is raining, I have the perfect opportunity to get caught up on reading and laundry!

For all of my friends that attended NerdCampMI, I followed your Tweets and Facebook posts. It looks like everyone had a terrific time.

Here's what I've been reading this past week:

Middle Grade Fiction

This book would be a great pick for anyone who loves historical fiction mixed with fantasy and thriller stories. Serafina is an odd twelve-year-old girl who has spent her entire life living with her father in the basement of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Nobody in the Vanderbilt's house knows that their maintenance man and his daughter live there. Serafina, who enjoys spending time catching rats and mice while everyone else sleeps at night, becomes aware of an evil creature in a black cloak that is connected to the disappearance of several youngsters in the mansion. She befriends the Vanderbilt's nephew, Braeden, in her quest to put an end to the scary nightmare gripping this household. She also learns more about the source of her own peculiar abilities. The book sort of reminds me of the old forties movie, Cat People. There is quite a bit of graphic violence and scary scenes in it, so this might not be appropriate for particularly young or sensitive children. I've had 5th grade students who aren't bothered by scary stories, so it would work in my classroom library. There is lots of action and suspense and it also made me want to learn more about the Biltmore Estate.

Serafina and the Black Cloak Book Trailer 

Picture Books

This cute, funny picture book will be great to read on the first day of school, when we're building our classroom community and setting the behavior expectations. Based on The Golden Rule, this book reminds young readers to treat others the way you would like to be treated. The illustrations are perfect, and according to the author, she "used acrylic paint (which she SHARED with her friends) on Arches watercolor paper to CARINGLY create the illustrations for this book. NO TEASING took place during the making of this book. Everyone involved COOPERATED, MADE GOOD EYE CONTACT, and THANKED each other for their hard work. There was one uncomfortable hair-pulling incident that took place toward the end of the project, but everyone involved promptly APOLOGIZED and have since FORGIVEN each other." 

This is an interesting nonfiction picture book that shows readers different houses around the world. The phrase, "This is my house" is repeated on each page in different languages. This book is awesome for comparing and contrasting homes in different countries. It's also a good mentor text for informational writing. I'm glad to have this in my classroom library.

This is a beautiful story about the special relationship between a little boy and his grandfather. The little boy, Bobby, is named after his grandfather, Bob. They do everything together and Bob tells Bobby all sorts of stories. Bobby's favorite story is how his grandfather taught him to walk. After Bob has a stroke, everything changes. Bobby plays blocks and tells Bob stories and works very hard to help is grandfather recover. This could be a terrific mentor text for stories about special family relationships, but have your tissues ready!   


  1. I always like getting book ideas that can be used as writing mentors. Now One Foot, Now the Others sounds like a really special story. That's not a Tomie dePaola story that I know so I'll have to check it out.

  2. I actually secretly don't mind rainy summer days - when the weather is beautiful I feel guilty sitting inside reading, so it's actually quite nice to be able to curl up on the couch with a good book and not feel like the sunshine is judging me... ;)

  3. I may not get back to that first Serafina, but I liked the 2nd one. Thanks for sharing those picture books, Jana. Do Unto Otters and This Is My House look great!

  4. The cover of Serafina and the Black Cloak is absolutely stunning! I want to read it very much (for reasons beyond the cover--especially your review!). Thanks for sharing!

  5. Serafina is a book I would like to get to soon. I saw the second one at ALA.

  6. I loved Serafina - it is scary, but not over the top! Following my mother's traumatic brain injury, I read picture books with her. Now One Foot, Now the Other, was one of the ones that resonated most with her.