Monday, August 1, 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've turned the calendar page to "August" and all of my teacher friends and students know what that means... Time to start getting ready to come back to school for another year of learning. As my summer is winding down and I'm starting to go back to my classroom to get ready, I've been reading my stack of picture books like crazy. I'm like someone that's about to start a diet...I'm reading as much as I can, because I know that pretty soon I won't have the time to enjoy books like I can in the summer. Anyway, hope you like my super long list of children's books. Hope you've had a good reading week as well!

Middle Grade Fiction


This is a fun transitional book to bridge the gap between picture books and chapter books. Told in Kate DiCamillo's awesome storytelling voice, this book shows that it's not impossible to face your fears, even when it's incredibly difficult to do so. Francine Poulet comes from a long line of proud animal control officers. She's not surprised by anything and she's not afraid of anything, until Mrs. Bissinger calls her to take care of a glowing, screaming raccoon. Young readers will be determined to find out if Francine has met her match. I'm really glad to have this book for my classroom library.

Picture Books

Kids that are nervous and self-conscious on the first day of school will definitely be able to relate to this book. Anya wakes up on the first day of school and discovers that she has grown a tail. The illustrations are hilarious and support the text very well! This one will be very popular on the shelf of my classroom library! 

This is such a sweet picture book that shares with readers Bear's first day of school. He's so excited to be a big bear that can cut up his own pancakes and go off to spend the day learning. But when he gets there, he realizes he misses his stuffed rabbit, Floppy. Young readers will be able to relate and will be anxious to see how Bear solves this problem. Colorful, digital illustrations along with this adorable story will make this book a big hit as kids start back to school! 

This charming picture book about a little girl in early twentieth century Paris trying to find an artist to paint the perfect portrait of her stuffed rabbit presents a great opportunity to introduce and compare the works of four famous artists. One day, Josette Bobette is studying the wall of family portraits and decides there needs to be one of her stuffed companion, Pepette. She goes to the art district in Paris and meets Picasso, Dali, Chagall, and Matisse; all of whom try their hand at capturing the essence of Pepette on their canvases. Which portrait will wind up on the wall? The artwork that goes along with the text is awesome, as it represents the works of these different painters. This would be a terrific book for my classroom library! 

Those who root for the underdog will enjoy this clever picture book. A little fish is swimming along, minding his own business when he's grabbed and bullied by a much bigger animal. But the little fish has way more to him than meets the eye, and he's got a big surprise for his tormentor! Vibrant, digitally colored illustrations go a long way to help tell this story.

What a clever idea for a picture book. This rhyming story takes us home with our favorite villains of fairy tales and shows us what these "baddies" are really like! The cozy illustrations make me want to cuddle up for an evening with them. This could start a good conversation about whether are not anyone is all that bad. Humanizing those that seem really terrible could really help everyone get along better! That's an awesome message that everyone needs these days! I also think the book could serve as a good mentor text for digging deeper into characterization. I definitely want to get my own copy of this one!  

This is a sweet picture book that celebrates the relationship children have with their fathers. It's a hot summer day and this pair decide to cool off in the river. But it's a long, arduous journey to the river, and the little bear is about to give up. This would make a terrific bedtime story for a summertime evening, when everyone can relate to the fun of splashing around and cooling off with loved ones. 

I love the way this wordless picture book (just like Molly Idle's Flora and the Flamingo & Flora and the Penguin) uses art, clever flaps & folds, and the metaphor of dance to show the ups and downs of friendship. In this book, the little girl has two birds with whom to share this friendship dance. And like lots of the kids I teach, sometimes three is difficult because of jealousy issues. This book is beautiful and so much to say to young readers!  

Anyone who's ever suffered from insomnia will be able to relate to Owl's problem in this cute picture book. Owl settles down to go to sleep, but he hears a strange "squeak". He gets up several times to try to figure out what in the world is making this noise. Young readers will get a kick out of the lengths to which Owl will go to solve this mystery. I would suggest that he turn on a fan; sometimes white noise like that helps when I can't sleep. 

This book is such a fun adventure that is also a great celebration of books. There is a naughty, book nibbling monster who escapes from his own book and into the library. The double spread illustration of the library shelves shows so many favorite book titles, I had to pause a moment just to read them all! I also love that the reader has to chase the book nibbler through three other fairy tale books within this book. Very clever and fun! I would love to have a copy for my classroom library, and my own for here at home! 

This is a funny picture book that attempts to give young readers advice about what to do if you spot a bear while walking in the woods. The young man in the book has many of his own ideas aside from the narrator's. Some of the ideas work well, and some don't. I think young readers will laugh as they study the humorous illustrations along with the semi-serious tone of the text. This would be great to have on any bookshelf! 

This fun picture job is an excellent choice to help young readers learn about the importance of patience with our friends. Even great friends can be opposites in many ways. Owen likes to take his time and enjoy lessons and lunch at school. Virgil is always in a hurry to move on to the next activity. Kids will enjoy reading to find out what happens when Virgil gets a little too pushy with Owen. 

This picture book is interesting as it's based on the pre-school song The Wheels on the Bus. Instead of an American bus, it's an Indian tuk tuk. Lots of Indian cultural references and the illustrations are nice. If I had this in my classroom library, I would like to see some sort of glossary. Students in my class might know some references based on context clues and illustrations. Word like "yogi", "chai" or "poppa-doppa-doms" would need more explanation. 

This is a cute picture book that has a great message about inclusiveness and friendship. A boy and his tiny pet elephant wish to attend a pet club meeting. When they get there, there's a sign on the door that says, "Strictly no elephants." But the boy realizes that the club excludes all of the other non traditional pets also. Young readers will be eager to find out what these pets and their owners will do. The artwork for this book, linoleum block prints with pencil and Photoshop, are so sweet and heartwarming that this would be a great book to add to a primary bookshelf! 

This book is sure to have all of the robot fans reading it ready for "robot domination"! In this fun "how to" book, a boy who's been pretending to be a robot is given directions on how to turn himself into a real robot. But readers will love what happens when the boy doesn't want to follow directions to turn himself back! Readers even get to help turn the book into a robot! I definitely think this would be fun to have in the classroom library, and might inspire some other terrific "how to" stories! 

Just about every kid I know loves pizza. So lots of young readers will be able to relate to Raccoon's dilemma. He loves pizza, but no one will let him have any. He always winds up getting chased away with a broom. Lots of laughs and great opportunities to make predictions about how Raccoon solves his problem!  

I love this hilarious sequel to The Day The Crayons Quit. One day Duncan gets a stack of postcards in the mail. They are from some of the crayons he's forgotten all about; like maroon, pea green, and glow-in-the-dark! Young readers will smile as they find out how Duncan is going to welcome his lost crayons home!  

I love how this primary book about all of the different kinds and sizes of families is also a great number concept book. And while at first glance it appears to be a simple counting book, I think it could also be a great conversation starter for fractional concepts, which are always so tricky in my classroom. For example, "One is five. One bunch of bananas. One hand of cards. One family." There are beautiful, corresponding illustrations for numbers 1-10. What an awesome way to illustrate parts of a whole! 

This cute picture book uses rhyming text and mixed media illustrations to celebrate all of the different kinds of families. This is an important, inclusionary book to help young readers know that while there are different family arrangements for everyone, they all love and help each other. 

Here's something to help beat the heat of summer! This beautiful picture book uses poetry, informational text, and stunning artwork to tell readers the ways that different animals deal with winter. I love the mix of poetry with factual information. This is an awesome mentor text for both types of writing! According to the title page, "The images for this book were made through the unlikely marriage of some very old and almost new art mediums. The individual elements of each picture (the animals, trees, snowflakes, etc.) were cut, inked, and printed from linoleum blocks (nearly two hundred of them), and then hand-colored. Those prints were then digitally scanned, composed, and layered to create the illustrations for the poems. The somewhat surprising (and oddly pleasing) result was learning that the slow and backwards art of relief printmaking could bring modern technology down to its level, making everything even more complex and time-consuming." I'm really glad that I have this book to share with my students. 

This book is a fun list of success criteria for being a superhero, compiled by Lava Boy and his sidekick, Captain Magma. Young readers will have a fun watching Lava Boy use his awesome imagination during a busy day of playing, snacking, napping, and helping a neighbor in the garden. Fun paintings illustrate this great list of rules. 

This is an awesome idea! The book has no illustrations, so all of the humor is in the language. Definitely the book was meant to be read aloud! Young kids will giggle at all of the funny words the grown-up reader will be required to say. This also could serve as a good mentor text for using words to convey humor. 

This is a very clever picture book about a little girl, Izzy, and her table setting friends. Izzy is so excited to finally be asked to set the table. All the pieces go in the proper places, but after a while they all get bored with it. Young readers will have so much fun reading to find out how Izzy and her friends mix it up. The illustrations are very cute and work together with the text to make a cute picture book that kids will love. 

This picture book biography uses lush, colorful artwork to tell about Georgia O'Keeffe's time spent in Hawaii in the early part of the twentieth century. This book would be a good starting point for research into this artist's life and work. Readers can also learn a little bit about Hawaii. I wish the author went a little bit deeper into the reasons O'Keeffe was reluctant to paint the pineapple that her sponsors wanted her to paint. I think the motives might be a bit unclear to my students that haven't spent time studying issues surrounding artistic integrity and such. 

This fictionalized account of the true story of a nighttime airplane flight taken by Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt is one that will be inspiring and uplifting to all readers. In 1933, Amelia Earhart was a famous airplane pilot and she was invited to have dinner at the White House by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Both of these women were very adventurous and independent. Great storytelling and beautiful drawings help readers imagine just what this nighttime adventure would have been like. I'm looking forward to sharing this book with my students, as it's a good mentor text for imagining how historic events may have played out. 

I found this book at my library book sale, and it's a fascinating account of the sailing and tragedy of the Titanic. The author uses photographs and text to describe exactly what happened in this tragedy 114 years ago. I know my students will be fascinated by it. It's paperback, though, so I'll have to work hard to keep it from falling apart. 

This is a great nonfiction picture book that uses text and photographs taken at Plimoth Plantation to describe a typical day in the life of a pilgrim girl in 1627. Plimoth Plantation is an outdoor living museum of 17th century Plymouth, MA. Students are usually drawn to the photographs because I think it helps them relate to the informational text. I also think it's a good mentor text for informational writing. I found this copy at my public library's book sale along with Sam Eaton's Day. I'm really excited to have these two books in hardcover, library binding for my students. 

This picture book uses engaging text and lush, colorful illustrations to celebrate the power of storytelling to teach lessons. Osa is a very stubborn and proud little girl. And while she loves telling everyone how smart and wonderful she is, she doesn't particularly care to listen to the stories and experiences of others. Gran'ma notices this behavior and the way the other children have left Osa to play by herself. Young readers will enjoy the colorful story cloth that Gran'ma uses to teach Osa an important lesson about foolish pride. I love the way The author uses Gran'ma and her cloth to tell a story within a story. This could serve as an awesome mentor text to have in my classroom library. 




  1. What a lovely list of picture books. I love the connection to how to and Robosauce. Last spring my students loved looking at this book, but we didn't really connect to it. (Which is okay, I'm simply thankful for your insight!)

  2. Such a great list of books. Some I've read, but many are new to me. Sarah Morton's Day and Samuel Eaton's Day are ones that I've read often to students because it's related to our curriculum here in Massachusetts. Our third grade takes a field trip to Plimoth Plantation every year.

  3. Terrific list, Jana, and some I've put on the list to find. I love the look of Salina Yoon's book, always nice to read. And since the granddaughters are 'table setters", they will love The Table Sets Itself. Thanks!

  4. Lots of PBs here! Nibbles is one I want to read. I loved Orion, but some of there others ones were not favorites. I'm hoping my library will get Nibbles in soon!

  5. Still a work in Progress was an interesting take on a problem. That IS a lot of picture books. Always fun. School is only two weeks away, so I"'m definitely warming up!

  6. I have heard such great things about Still a Work in Progress so I can't wait to read it. And I loved Poor Little Guy. It is one of those books I'll recommend to kids who love the Jon Klassen hat books.

  7. What an amazing collection of picture books! This is the second review of Jo Knowles' book posted today - now I can't wait to read it!

  8. Whoa what a picture book list! I am going to be on the look out for this Ben Clanton title. Robosauce was such a hit in my room I had to hide it for a while so everyone could calm down!

  9. I loved the Wheels on the Tuk-tuk, partly because it reminded me of the time our family lived in Sudan and used tuk-tuks to get around. But I was surprised at how fully engaged my 2 year old grandson was by the book. He loves The Wheels on the Bus, and he was completely smitten by the engaging differences in this book.

  10. I loved the Wheels on the Tuk-tuk, partly because it reminded me of the time our family lived in Sudan and used tuk-tuks to get around. But I was surprised at how fully engaged my 2 year old grandson was by the book. He loves The Wheels on the Bus, and he was completely smitten by the engaging differences in this book.

  11. Wow! What a great collection of picture books! I want to share the one about Painting Pepette with our middle school art teacher, who just asked me for book recommendations. For me, I want to read The Day the Crayons Came Home and must find the What to Do When You SPot a Bear since a black bear has recently been sighted in southern Indiana (for the first time in nearly a century) and is moving ever closer to our county!

  12. it looks like you have been a reading machine! I like that you have some older titles as well as new ones for me to add to my list. I'm looking forward to reading Still a Work in Progress.