Monday, September 5, 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.
It's been an awesome week and a half of school. I feel like we're off to a pretty good start this week. I've shared some awesome books with my students and we've had some pretty good discussions. We're also working on building the reading stamina that is going to be crucial to their ability to read and respond to more complex texts.
It's also wonderful to be able to rest for a few days over this holiday weekend. I'm taking this opportunity to enjoy the start of college football, rest and relax at home, and of course enjoy some reading. I feel like I'm so far behind on my reading, especially middle grade novels. I did get a chance to read some more great picture books this week. Hope you're having a great weekend, too. To my teacher friends getting ready to start next week, hope the start of your school year is wonderful. 
Here's what I've been reading:


Giraffes Ruin Everything by Heidi Schulz, Chris Robertson (Illustrations)  
I received a signed copy of this book to share with my students and what an awesome picture book gift it is. I'm really looking forward to sharing this at school next week. It's a funny look at how clumsy and awkward it would be to have a giraffe at a birthday party, or the movies, or on a play date at the park. But it also has a terrific message, that there is good in everyone and sometimes we have to help our friends "fit in". It kind of reminds me of If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, DON'T! By Elise Parsley, which was also a big hit with my students when I read it aloud last week.

Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs by Eric Litwin, Tom Lichtenheld (Illustrator)  
This is a cute picture book about Groovy Joe, a dog who loves to share his ice cream with dinosaurs and then sing about it. The book includes a website with the story and songs. 

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas, Erin E. Stead (Illustrations)  
This is a wonderful picture book to stretch the imagination and make readers think about ways we can be friends to those who are lonely. The Uncorker of Ocean bottles has no name and no friends. It is his job to find and open the bottles that are bobbing on the waves. Then he is supposed to deliver the bottled message to the intended recipient. He goes to great lengths to deliver these letters, but just once he would love for the message to be intended for him. One day, the bottle he finds contains a mystery and he does everything he can to find out where he should deliver it. Readers will get to see just how special new-found friends can be to someone who doesn't have any. The beautiful illustrations by Erin Stead add such heartwarming appeal to this story, that it's sure to become a favorite on any bookshelf.  

88 Instruments by Chris Barton  
This is a cute picture book that shares one boy's difficult time trying to choose a musical instrument to play. This would be a fun book to share with my students, since fourth and fifth grade is when they start to participate in instrumental music. This is the time of year when students are trying to decide what instrument to play. 

Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer by Fiona Robinson  
This beautiful picture book biography tells the story of Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron (the poet) and Anne Milbanke (a mathematician). Because her mother didn't want her to grow up to be like her father, she insisted that Ada spend all of her time studying serious subjects, like math. Even though her creativity was discouraged, she still had a strong, imaginative streak. After she grew up, she spent time working with inventor Charles Babbage, who was trying to create a machine that would perform computations. Ada created the program that would've made it work. Stunning 3-D collage artwork makes this a gorgeous book to be inspire young, creative minds.  

Jack's Worry by Sam Zuppardi  
I think this is a really nice picture book that shows young readers that everyone experiences worries or jitters at one time or another. Jack feels worried about playing his trumpet in the upcoming school concert. The more he tries to ignore his worry, the worse it becomes. When he shares his worry with his mother, she helps him feel a bit better. This book kind of reminds me of What Do You Do With a Problem by Kobi Yamada.  

The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers  
This is a cute picture book about a rabbit who believes he's being followed by a big, black rabbit. He tries to run, but no matter where he goes, the rabbit is always there. Young readers will enjoy the fact that the rabbit is so afraid of his own shadow. This would be a good book for children to practice making predictions. 

Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives by Gene Barretta  
This picture book biography of Thomas Edison presents information about his most famous inventions by comparing people of the present day using modern versions with what was developed in Edison's lab. I think the back and forth between the present and the past is a good way to help young readers relate to the inventions and appreciate the hard work that went into bringing them to fruition. This could be a good mentor text for informational writing and a great resource for research.  

Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta  
This informative nonfiction picture book does a great job of sharing some of Benjamin Franklin's most important inventions in a way that is very accessible to young readers. The book looks at each invention by comparing how we use it now, and how it was developed then (in the eighteenth century). Colorful, engaging illustrations help make this book a good resource to have on any classroom library bookshelf.

A Leaf Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas, Violeta Dabija (Illustrator)  
The author takes a close look at leaves in a poetic way, with rhyming text and whimsical illustrations. "A leaf can be a...shade spiller, mouth filler, tree topper, rain stopper..." At the end of the book, there's a page that gives more information about each aspect of a leaf, plus further resources for those who want to find out more. 

This is the Teacher by Rhonda Gowler Greene, Mike Lester (Illustrations)  
This is a silly cumulative tale about a teacher's crazy day at school. Little kids will giggle at all of the things that happen, and the ending with an exhausted teacher falling into bed and the end of the day. The rhyming text is a bit clunky and awkward, but the funny illustrations and crazy circumstances will win over young readers. 

Grandfather Buffalo by Jim Arnosky  
This is a heartwarming picture book that tells the story of Grandfather Buffalo, the oldest in his herd. As the herd moves along, he follows very slowly. As long as he can see the rest of the buffalo, he's still a part of the herd. When a pregnant buffalo in the herd gives birth to a calf, the old buffalo can be relied on to protect and guide the youngster. This story says a lot about the important relationships we can have with aging relatives. It would be fun to share this with students. 




  1. I'm picking up the Uncorker of Ocean Bottles next week! I have been waiting to read this since I first heard about it. It sounds like my kind of story :)

  2. Wonderful books, some new to me! Laura Purdie Salas has written other books similar to A Leaf Can Be, FYI-all good! I need to find The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles-a long list waiting at my library. 88 Instruments sounds very good too, will remember! Thanks Jana, have another great week! I'm happy school has started well for you.

  3. You have read what looks like a great selection of picture books. Our library doesn't yet have The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles and I keep hearing so much about it. I love that cover.

  4. I really love the illustrations from Uncorker. Stead's work is always so beautiful. I enjoyed 88 Instruments and Giraffes too. I read Groovy Joe super quick at ALA, I got it this week, need to read it again. I think it will be a hit with young readers.

  5. As usual you've got a fantastic selection of beautiful picture books here, some that I've read or heard about, and some that are entirely new to me! Glad to hear the new school year is off to a great start, best of luck!

  6. Jana, so much to comment on here! I loved Giraffe also. He is my new favorite Giraffe :) Uncorker is just beautiful. I love the concept too. I look forward to the others you mentioned!

    Happy reading this week :)

  7. I really want to read The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles I have the feeling this is going to be one I need to own.

  8. My library hasn't yet received Ada's Ideas, but I'm excited to see it. It's especially nice that there are several new Ada Lovelace books out; I love when I can compare and contrast.

  9. Ada's Ideas looks so great, just ordered it. The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles too.