Monday, August 15, 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 went in to my school last week to start getting ready. I've got quite a bit to do before the kiddos come! Thankfully I have one more week. School starts on August 24, whether I'm ready or not.

These are just a few of the books that need to be sorted into the classroom library.

I've only just begun to arrange the shelves and furniture of my classroom library.

Clearly, my classroom library has got a long way to go! I went to the warehouse and ordered some more bookcases. Let's see if they come in time!

 Anyway, I haven't had as much time to read. But I have been having fun sorting and processing the "new" books I purchased at library sales, Goodwill, garage sales, etc. So here's what I've read:

Middle Grade Fiction

I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for this review. This was a sweet, heartwarming story about grief and how one family holds on to a special tradition while coping with the loss of a loved one.

Every year when the first apple falls from the tree, Great Aunt Lucy and Great Uncle Arthur come to visit Faith, Peter, and the rest of the family. When "Applesauce Weather" arrives, Aunt Lucy picks apples to make applesauce, while Uncle Arthur sits on the bench telling stories about what happened to his missing finger (every story he tells is different, so no one knows what REALLY happened).

But this year is different. Aunt Lucy has passed away. Uncle Arthur reluctantly comes to visit, but it's awkward because he's grieving, and no one is quite sure what to say or what to do. Peter notices it, and I love the way his character expresses this uncertainty:

"The car pulls up - it's him, all right. He pops the trunk and grabs his suitcase, fast. I picture how he'd always let Aunt Lucy do the hugging while he'd be looking everywhere but us: Luckily, he brought two suitcases. 'Hey, let me get that!' I say. I grab his other suitcase. Let Mom and Dad and Faith stand there and try to figure what to do with all those extra empty arms."

I really like how Faith works so hard to encourage Uncle Arthur to get a "twinkle" in his eye and start telling the stories that he and everyone else enjoy so much. Even though everyone misses Aunt Lucy, they all recognize how special she was and how much she has influenced all of the good traditions that they know.

I think middle grade kids will be able to relate to this, especially those that have enjoyed special relationships with the older adults and relatives in their lives. Losing a loved on is never easy, but books like these might help young readers cope with these feelings. I think this would be a nice addition to any middle grade classroom library.

Mr. Pants: It's Go Time! by Scott McCormick 

This is a fun graphic novel for emerging readers. This chapter book takes us to the last day of summer. Everyone is getting their end of summer treat: Foot Foot has new toy and Grommy gets to go to the Fairy Princess Dream Factory. But will they finish getting school supplies and shoes in time for Mr. pants to be able to play laser tag? It's a book that I'm sure many of my students would like!

Picture Books

This fun picture book twists the "Mary Had a Little Lamb" nursery rhyme that everyone is familiar with and turns Mary into a fashion maven. With adorable illustrations and clever, rhyming text Mary goes to school dressed fabulously and properly accessorized. And once she arrives she gives everyone else from our favorite stories makeovers. All the young readers who aspire to be highly fashionable will love this book! It would be awesome to have on the classroom library shelves!

I wish I had to read this book at the beginning of summer, when I was making my vacation plans. The poems in this anthology take you to wonderful locations like Chinatown (San Francisco), the Grand Canyon, Fenway Park, and many others. The poems are illustrated with digitally colored art by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale. This is a super collection of poems and I'm so glad that it will be in my classroom library this year! 

I'm really glad I took the time to read this book. I've had it in a stack on my living room coffee table for some time. I guess I was meant to read it now, as I prepare for another school year. This story is one I will be anxious to share with my students as a great example of a growth mindset. Before the narrative begins, there is a light blue colored page with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Even if it's called your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.'" Marvelous Cornelius embraced his job as a garbage collector and did his best to entertain people and make them happy all while making the streets sparkle. But when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, he dried his tears and got to work, even though he said, "It would take thousands of me to clean this." We can all learn so much from the way this man dealt with this massive, tragic event. This will be an awesome addition to my classroom library! 

This clever retelling of Cinderella is the story of a young, white pony whose owners sell the farm and leave her behind. The new owner is very nasty to Ponyella, but treats his own two ponies, Bun Bun and Plumpkin, very well. When it's time for all the local ponies to enter the Tippington 25th Annual Grand Royal Pony Championship, Pinyella's fairy godmare shows up in time to help her out. It will be fun for students to compare this story to the original fairy tale. It could also serve as a great mentor text for creating their own fractured fairy tale.

This is an absolutely beautiful picture book that celebrates kindness and universality of the pain and suffering brought upon America on September 11, 2001. Only 9 months after the horrific events of that day, a village in western Kenya is so deeply moved by the story of what happened, they organized a ceremony to present to the American diplomat a gift of 14 cows. This is a very moving story which features stunning artwork. I'm so glad this book will be a part of my classroom library, especially since this year will be the fifteenth anniversary of that day.

This awesome nonfiction book tells us the story of ice cream, a favorite treat of lots of kids and grownups! Informative, engaging text along with colorful illustrations tells us the history of ice cream; the commercial process of making ice cream, and some of the different ways to enjoy it. This will be great to have in my classroom library, but I'm sure it'll make me hungry!

Amelia Bedelia spends the day volunteering at the art museum, and her confusion over figures of speech leads her into all sorts of trouble. These books are popular with my students, and they're good to use when we're studying idioms. I picked up this copy from my local library book sale, and it will be nice to add to the other Amelia Bedelia books I have in my classroom.

This is a nice picture book about a little girl who feels like she's losing her favorite uncle, who's getting married. Young readers can get stressed out by changes in their family, so lots of kids will be able to relate to this story. The story also uses the narrative and the detailed, colorful illustrations to help readers learn more about Chinese wedding customs. This will be a nice addition to my classroom library.   

I'm really glad I found this Newbery Award winning poetry book. There are 14 poems celebrating the unique characteristics of insects. According to a note at the beginning of the book, "The following poems were written to be read aloud by two readers at once, one taking the left-hand part, the other taking the right-hand part. The poems should be read from top to bottom, the two parts meshing as in a musical duet. When both readers have lines at the same horizontal level, those lines are to be spoken simultaneously" This seems like it would be perfect for students to read aloud, reader's theater style.

This is a cute spin of Clement Moore's famous Christmas poem. The children take a field trip to the turkey farm. When they realize what is to become of the cuddly turkeys, they get very upset. I found a copy of this book at the library book sale, and I think it will be fun to have as part of my holiday book collection.

This story was originally written as a children's opera during World War II. According to the book jacket: "The book is based on a Czech opera of the same name ('Brundibar' is Czech slang for 'bumblebee'), with a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, set to music by Hans Krasa. Completed in 1938, the opera was performed fifty-five times by the children of Terezin, the Nazi concentration camp. Krasa, who was Jewish, was also imprisoned in Terezin. He was killed in Auschwitz in 1944."

Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner published this picture book version of this story of a young boy and girl who go to town to get milk for their sick mother. They try to earn money by singing in the town square, but they are bullied by a mean guy (with a Hitler-style mustache). They're befriended by some animals and schoolchildren who help them earn their money.

The book itself is kind of odd for the students in my class. The language is outdated and the themes are unfamiliar. However, it might be an awesome resource in the context of studying World War II and the Holocaust. There are videos of this opera available on YouTube, that would be great companions to this book.

Those crazy pigs are back! This time they wind up on a cruise ship with the narrator. The author uses the rhyming text and funny illustrations to tell how these pigs are all over the ship creating a ruckus! It's kind of silly, but I'm glad some kids will pick it up and have a laugh. This is another one I picked up at the library book sale and it'll be a fun book to have on the classroom library shelves.

I purchased this book at a library book sale and I think it'll be a nice addition to my classroom library. It's a nonfiction picture book that gives information about the nine planets in our solar system and other information about space. It also includes a few websites for further research. This could be a good starting point for a research project.

This book is part of a fun series, which also includes The Teacher From The Black Lagoon & The Principal From The Black Lagoon. There's a new gym teacher at school this year, and the narrator has heard all sorts of wild rumors about how mean he is. The illustrations are humorous. The other books in this series has always been very popular in my classroom library, so I'm glad I can add this one.

This is a fun dragon story to share with young readers. James has a baby dragon named Ashley, and he desperately wants to keep him as a pet. Sir Simon is adamant that a castle is no place for a dragon. He does give James the chance to prove that Ashley is good for something. This will be fun to have in my classroom library.

This is a cute book about a little boy, Henry, who tries a number of ways to become bigger than his older brother, Martin. Young readers who are frustrated that they never seem quite big enough to do the things that older siblings can, will be able to relate to this. Heartwarming illustrations make this older book a welcome addition to my classroom library. 




  1. There's some great titles here. Mr. Pants sounds fun. I've had Marvelous Cornelius in a stack of books I got from the library, but haven't picked it up yet. I'll have to get to it this week.

  2. Thanks for sharing about Mr. Pants. I'll be on the lookout for this one.

  3. Thanks for the list of books. Have a great back to school!

  4. Can't believe we're already looking at getting back to school! Must be an exciting time to be a teacher, getting everything all ready in the calm before the coming storm. ;)

  5. You have some impressive books on your list here. I love the multicultural aspects of Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding. It sounds unique yet common at the same time. Good luck with the classroom organization!

  6. I've recently purchased some Mr. Pants books, I did not have any before! Haven't read them yet, but I've heard good things!

  7. Good luck on a new school year! We start a week from today. Where has summer gone?

    I loved Marvelous Cornelius. Phil Bildner is an amazing picture book writer.

  8. I really want to get 14 Cows before 9/11, so I can read it with my students. I love how it is a positive theme around something so terrible.
    I really like Helen Frost, so I want to read her newest, and I really want to read more Phil Bildner since I have started following him on FB and enjoy his posts.

    Happy reading this week :)

  9. I enjoyed Brundibar - so many themes there that can be unpacked, really. Maurice Sendak infuses so many visual codes/allusions into his art. I just borrowed Marvelous Cornelius from the library and looking forward to reading it.

  10. I love 14 Cows for America! So poignant!

  11. Thanks for posting about Mr. Pants!