Monday, August 8, 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.

Today I'm going in to my school for the first time to start getting ready. I am excited to start cleaning up and getting the room organized. I've got A LOT of new books to establish into my classroom library. I've seen so many awesome pictures on Twitter and Facebook of many of my online friends' rooms, and that has made me antsy to get to it.

At the same time, I have to wonder where the summer went. It seems to go by faster and faster each year. There are two weeks left before the "official" start of the year. I want to get my room together, get organized and plan for an awesome school year. But I also want to make sure I enjoy every last drop of summer! And that means I also want to keep reading all of the kids' books I can get my hands on before I'm too busy to do that!

So here's what I've been reading this past week:

Middle Grade Fiction

I received a digital ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for this review. Judy Moody books are good to transition emerging readers more comfortably into longer chapter books. They are aimed at readers who have outgrown Junie B. Jones. I also think these books remind me a little bit of Ramona Quimby from the popular series by Beverly Cleary.

In this installment, Junie gets a look at her grandmother's Bucket List. Once she gets over her dismay at the implications of this type of list, she decides to make her own list of things she wants to accomplish before she goes to fourth grade. Among the items on her list are learning to do a cartwheel, learning a musical instrument, going to Antarctica, and riding a horse. Some items are easier than others, but Judy is up to the challenge!

I like that Judy has made a list of goals. She's very focused on achieving them. Grandma gently reminds her to be patient, because the whole point of this sort of list is to enjoy the progress and journey toward reaching the goals. It's important to have fun working through the items.

I also like that she learns to focus on others, instead of just herself. Grandma's been working on raising money to help buy children's books for the local library. This inspires Judy to want to help others, too.

I like this book because kids enjoy reading this series. They learn reading skills right along with Judy; in this book she has difficulty learning how to use contractions. But they also can take away great messages about patience and sharing, while enjoying the humor of a precocious third grader.

Picture Books

This is a cute and timely picture book about a little girl who's trying to figure out who POTUS is. She goes to work with her mother, who works in the White House. She's heard her mom talk about POTUS and she's dying to meet this POTUS. There's an awesome twist at the end. This would be a great book to have on the shelf, especially in this election year.

Adorable board book to get little ones ready for Halloween!

I think everyone knows a Bossy Flossy, and at one time or another has been a Bossy Flossy. This cute picture book tells the story of a little girl who wants to tell everyone what to do and how to do it, including her own mother and her teacher at school. Young readers will enjoy finding out what happens when Flossy meets Edward, who also likes to tell everyone what to do. Colorful, collage-style illustrations will pull young children in and make this a popular book on the shelf.

With gorgeous illustrations and engaging, informative text, this awesome nonfiction picture book takes us on the nighttime journey of a coyote trying to find prey so her family can eat. Since coyotes can be found in every state in America, and increasingly in suburban and even urban areas, many children will be able to relate to the narrative style of this informational text and come away with a better understanding of how these animals adapt to the environments and neighborhoods around them. The back of the book provides more information about coyotes and further resources for more study. I would LOVE to have this book in my classroom library!  

This hilarious picture book uses clever, rhyming text and vibrant, funny illustrations to tell the story of a cute, little classroom pet that goes wild when the it gets out of its cage. The children of classroom 2D are so excited to get an adorable, little class pet. Because of its small size, the teacher warned them not to take it out, but they did it anyway. There will be lots of laughs as kids read to find out what if the kids and their teacher will get control of this crazy hamster.  

This picture book by Zachariah OHora is so much fun. Oskar and his brother, Theodore, love spending their Saturdays reading and relaxing in the peace and quiet of the library. But the peace is ruined by a five-headed monster looking for food. Kids will laugh out loud as these two try to figure out a way to get the peace and quiet back and NOT get eaten. The illustrations are awesome, with nods to many of our favorite kidlit authors! 

This is a fun book that is a celebration of friendship no matter what planet you call home! Yelfred and Omek are best buddies on the planet Boborp. They do everything together. But they get very angry at each other when Omek drives Yelfred's new spossip without permission and then schmackles it. The story, along with the illustrations, is hilarious and I think kids will really enjoy it. But I also think this book would be great for teaching reading skills like sounding out the nonsense words and also using context clues to figure out what those words mean. I definitely want to get a copy of this book for my classroom library!

Ooko is a little fox who is looking everywhere for someone to play with. He has a difficult time finding a friend. He tries changing his appearance and his personality, anything to win friends. The sweet narrative style and the humorous illustrations will draw youngsters in to find out if the fox will ever find someone to be his friend.

This book is a beautiful celebration of books and reading. Lucas spends all of his time wishing he could fly. One day his mother gives him a book to read, and he realizes there's more than one way to fly. Gorgeous watercolor illustrations make this a perfect book to share during the first days of school.   

Wow! This book is definitely for everyone and one that I need to purchase for sure! Using the same uplifting narrative style and beautiful illustrations of "What Do You Do With an Idea?", this book captures the heart of what I think has most everyone its grip: fear and anxiety. The little boy in this book is walking around with a fearsome problem (I love that the author doesn't name it) and as he tries to avoid it, it keeps getting bigger. Finally, he faces it and learns something beautiful!  

Bryan Collier's stunning illustrations come together with engaging rhyming text to show readers how to take a different look at familiar things all around us. Readers get a chance to experience the city from the perspectives of a little girl, who incidentally is Bryan Collier's daughter, and a bird flying overhead. According to the Artist's Note at the end of the book, "The art for this book was done in watercolor and collage. I think collage works so well with this story because it illuminates all the smaller elements and shapes to form a whole picture. When I read this text for the first time, I was immediately inspired. In this kaleidoscope of color's and shapes, I hope you can almost hear and taste the sounds and smells of this vibrant and colorful city day. And as night falls and the stars come out, you'll see how city and nature combine in a gentle mix of new tones and shapes to discover." This would be an awesome book to have in my classroom library!

This heartwarming picture book tells the story of Hee Jun and his family as they adjust to their new life in the United States. Everything is so different when his family moved to West Virginia from Korea. Eventually he begins to learn English and fit in with his new friends. This story has a great message about making new friends and being kind to someone who is new in our school community. This would be a great book to share at the beginning of the school year.

This awesome picture book uses lush, painted illustrations and a simple (but powerful) narrative to share a great message with young readers. Everyone has something to contribute, and no one of us is better than all of us. There are great themes of patience and teamwork as great equalizers.  

This fun picture book about a little goblin who defies all of the odds and all the people who don't like him to help out his friend, is going to be a lot of fun to share with kids. Goblin was going about his day as usual, playing with his best friend, Skeleton, when plunderers came an took everything, including his friend. Young readers will have fun trying to find out how Goblin is going to help get his friend back.  

This is a clever picture book that celebrates the special differences in everyone. Octicorn is half octopus and half unicorn, and has a tough time feeling like he fits in. This book has a great message for young readers along with humorous illustrations. 

This fun picture book is a step-by-step guide to becoming a superhero. The book is meant to be humorous, and the suggestions and illustrations certainly are. As a read aloud for younger kids, I might point out that they really shouldn't try to do some of these things themselves, like trying to breathe underwater. I also am not sure I like the kids stealing the cookie jar and taking it up to the treehouse. With that said, kids will enjoy the silly antics of the main character and it could be a good mentor text for writing other step-by-step guides.

This inspiring nonfiction picture book tells the story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay. "A town built on a landfill. A community in need of hope. A girl with a dream. A man with a vision. An ingenious idea." This book really captures the meaning of a growth mindset. The illustrations were created "from a hybrid technique of collage, acrylic glazes and paints, drawings, and digital mediums, then executed on stipple paper." I definitely need to get this book for my classroom library!

Bold, colorful illustrations and playful, rhyming text will make this a fun book to share with children. Pixie is lonely because she lives on a tiny island with no one to play with. One day Beachy the whale washes up on shore, and this starts a marvelous friendship. This is a cute book!

I love doughnuts and grab them whenever I get the chance. This fascinating picture book biography of the inventor of one of my favorite foods is going to be very popular with my students. According to the book's jacket information, the author was "on a tour of the Boston Harbor (and) she heard the guide offhandedly mention, 'The guy who invented the doughnut is buried over there.' That comment made Pat curious, and sleuthing led her to an amazing master mariner with a tasty secret!" The book includes an author's note with more information, a timeline, and a bibliography.

Adorable illustrations of cuddly bears along with simple, rhyming text make this picture book about a bear band lots of fun. This would make a terrific read aloud to small children and could even be a good introduction to the concept of making music with instruments.

Many kids feel like they wish they had a different name, so I think there will be a lot of young readers who enjoy this rhyming picture book. Wilma Lee Wu wishes she could change her name. When she goes to the Change Your Name Store, she gets to try on several different names to find one that is right for her. This book would be a good companion to Thunder Boy by Sherman Alexie, which also deals with how special a person's name is.

This beautiful nonfiction book uses poetic text and breathtaking paintings to tell the story of the hard labor, much of it slave labor, involved in the building of the White House. This has been a topic of conversation lately, since First Lady Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention. This book also has an author's note and resources for further study.   

Opening your mind to different ways of doing things and seeing situations from different perspectives are two awesome messages found in this charming picture book. Lily and Salma are best friends and do everything together, including eat lunch at school. But they each pack different sandwiches. Lily's father packs peanut butter and jelly for Lily and Salma's mom packs hummus in pita bread for her. This leads to an argument between the two girls that spirals out of control. Warm, inviting illustrations and the engaging narrative style of the authors will draw young readers in to find out how these two girls will solve their problem. 

This is an awesome picture book that has a great message for kids. Jeremy really wants to have a new pair of black high-top sneakers with two white stripes. Almost everyone at school has a pair, but him. But Grandma says he needs new snow boots for winter. The engaging and relatable narrative style of the book will draw in young readers to think about the difference between needs and wants and also to learn a great lesson when Jeremy sees an opportunity to look past his own disappointment and do something kind for someone else in need. This would be awesome to have in my classroom library.

This is a nice concept picture book that explores courage by looking at a number of ways that it manifests itself. "There are many kinds of courage. Awesome kinds. And everyday kinds. Still, courage is courage - whatever kind." I would point out, that some of the examples of courage seem more like self-discipline or patience or kindness, rather than courage: "Courage is two candy bars and saving one for tomorrow." But that could make for an interesting discussion; whether or not each example is courage or something else. At any rate, it is a sweet book with heartwarming illustrations.

I guess I just don't understand who the intended audience for this book is or what the message is supposed to be. It's just sort of a creepy narrative about the unfortunate plight of a fish that winds up in a sardine can. If it's trying to share some environmental moral, I don't know of ANY of my students that are willing consumers of sardines. So, it would just sort of leave everyone feeling bad, with no real way for kids to feel hopeful about fixing a problem in the world.    





  1. Lots of great PBs here! Some I still need to read. I really enjoyed When Penny Met POTUS! So fun, would love to see kids' ideas!

  2. Oh, my goodness! I had better not go to the picture book section in the public library, or I may never leave! The illustrations are SO much better than the 80s and 90s books I read to my girls. So pretty!

  3. Lots of great books here for your classroom, Jana. I hope you have fun starting to get it ready! I know some of these, but others will have to go on my list, like Where Are You Going Baby Lincoln? I'm sure I'll enjoy that one. Thanks, Jana.

  4. Woah - so many books!!! Where to even start?!?! Some of these I've read, and some are entirely new to me, which is pretty exciting. I've read a few reviews of Arlene, and the consensus seems to be a resounding "huh?" - sounds like a pretty weird book.

  5. Holy Carumba that is a heck of a lot of picture books. I am familiar with some of them, but many are new to me. I am looking forward to reading City Shapes because I adore Bryan Collier's work. I also love the cover of Coyote Moon.
    I'm one of the weird ones who enjoyed Arlene Sardine. I know a few readers who are kind of warped and would get a kick out of it. That said, I wouldn't purchase it for my school library.

  6. Man! My Goodreads is about to get a bunch of books added to my TBR!
    And I LOVED your meme! Cracked me up. That is about how I feel :) I started today :)

    Have a good beginning of the year! And happy reading!

  7. So many great picturebooks! And so many I want to find in our library! I am happy to share that we do have A Piece of Home (but all copies are out on loan - wow! popular) but we still don't have Ada's Violin :(
    Hope you have a great reading week!

  8. Arlene Sardine is one of my favorite books! It messes with our cultural ideologies around death, which is why it makes most readers uncomfortable.

  9. This seems to be the right place ;). Thanks for including Coyote Moon here, Jana! I'm also a huge fan of both The Hole Story of the DoughnutL Loved the illustrations and the tall tale feel of it.