Monday, September 12, 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.


This was a tough weekend, as the fifteenth anniversary of the horrific events on September 11, 2001 brought back all of the pain and heartache of that day. It's important to remember, and it's especially important to share this with our students. My students, fourth and fifth graders, weren't alive on that day. But many of them know a thing or two about that day. I'm glad that we have so many awesome book resources to share this day with them appropriately. 
On Friday, I shared:

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. 
 We discussed the awful part of what happened that day. But I'm glad this book focused on how people in another part of the world desperately wanted to help heal our pain. That led to a conversation about what we can do to help each other learn and be safe. 
Next week, we're going to read:
I'm looking forward to finding out how all my other teacher friends shared the events of this day with their students and children. 
I also managed to finish a Young Adult novel, in addition to a small stack of picture books. Hopefully, I'll find more time to read next week.
Here's what I've been reading:
Young Adult Fiction
I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for this review. While this book's content is definitely too mature for the students in my classroom, I have to say it was a fascinating and compelling look into the world of adolescents struggling with depression and turning to self-harm (i.e. cutting) in order to cope with their despair.

At the beginning of the book, seventeen year old Charlotte Davis (Charlie) finds herself in a rehab center for young people who harm themselves. She won't talk about what led to her admission to this program, but she finds an outlet through crafts and drawing. A complication with her health insurance results in her being released from the program. Unable to stay with her mother in Minneapolis, she boards a bus to Tucson to start a new life.

Without enough money or social supports, she finds herself slipping into her old ways of dealing with difficult circumstances. The story line grabbed hold of me through her search for a job and a place where she could afford to live. All of this is made even more complicated because she's seventeen and doesn't have a checking account, a car, or other important life skills.

The author does a great job of giving Charlie an authentic voice. I think that this could be an important book for young people to read, whether or not they have the same issues as Charlie. This book certainly helps people understand more about depression, and with understanding, we develop empathy and are more inclined to look for ways to help the Charlies around us. This book would probably be all right for high school students to read, although parents and teachers should be aware that there is rough language, drinking, drugs, and sexual content that may require some adult guidance and discussion.
Just like the first two Little Elliot books, this one is so sweet and is packed with so many great teachable moments. Little Elliot and Mouse take a trip across town to the amusement park. But poor Little Elliot is afraid of many of the attractions (too wet, too fast, too dizzy, etc.). Through Mouse's kindness and patience, the two wind up having a terrific time after all. The stylistic digital illustrations, along with the adorable story, make this a wonderful book to share with young children.
This is a fun and engaging picture book that many young readers will be able to relate to. "Ruthie has a problem at school. It is not the students. It is not the classroom. It is not the reading or the writing or the math. It is the Snurtch." All sorts of misbehavior is due to Ruthie's Snurtch. Everyone has there own Snurtch. Acknowledging it seems to be the first step towards getting it under control. The digital illustrations are adorable. 
This is a really cute rhyming picture book that shares all of the different fun things that pets can do and be. Great for little kids considering getting that first pet. The illustrations and light text make this a fun book.
This picture book about Paula and her friend, Maggie, tells the story of friendship, peer pressure, and forgiveness. Paula and Maggie have been best friends forever. But then other kids begin to tell Paula that Maggie is too big and clumsy. Paula begins to hang around with the other kids and pretend that Maggie doesn't exist; until those same kids start making fun of Paula. This book would be great during the first days of school as classes are trying to build classroom communities. This book presents the opportunity to have great discussions about kindness and friendship. Beautiful acrylic paintings illustrate this story wonderfully. 
This nonfiction picture book is simple and easy for young readers to understand, and yet very interesting and engaging. The concept of movement among plants gives the reader pause, since we don't usually think of plants as animated organisms. Their movement is so very slow compared to other creatures, we often don't notice it. The illustrations, created using cut paper collage with watercolor, are lovely. The book also includes more detailed information in the back pages, along with a list of other resources for further research. This would be great to have in my classroom library as a starting point for research about plants.
This is a cute picture book to share with young readers during the first days of school, although it could be used anytime you'd like to have a teachable moment about friendship. Sophie starts school with Bonnie and Baxter, her two squash friends that she grew in her garden. She has no interest in making friends, but squash don't last forever. Adorable illustrations, along with a sweet story, will make this a nice book to share with primary students. 
Have your tissues ready when you read this heartwarming picture book. This book tells the story of two polar bears, Gus and Ida, in New York City's Central Park Zoo who spend all of their waking hours together, playing, swimming, and relaxing. But then, Ida becomes very ill and eventually passes away. The text, along with beautiful digitally rendered illustrations, tell a story that would be good to share with readers who may need help dealing with grief in their personal lives. 
This is a beautifully illustrated picture book that shows what can happen when we let kids wonder and use their imagination. All day long, a little boy is told to keep his head out of the clouds and to stop daydreaming. Finally, he gets to Art class and he can't think of anything to draw until his teacher invites him to use his imagination. 
This was a fun book that I shared with my students. The vibrant illustrations helped tell the story of a young boy who is punished with a blue whale that he has to care for and take everywhere with him. The students were excited to imagine just what it would be like to try to deal with all of the problems an animal this size could cause. A fellow teacher recommended it to me, since my students had recently enjoyed Giraffes Ruin Everything by Heidi Schulz and If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, DON'T. Several of my students seemed to automatically make connections to these other two books.
This beautiful picture book takes readers out of the house into the nighttime world of the country. All of the activities and noises that occur in the dark while everyone else is sleeping, are shared so gently, that this would make a terrific bedtime story. And, as with Rylant's other books, the gift of description really transports you to that lovely nighttime of the country, even if you live in the middle of a big city. My favorite page tells about the rabbits that come to eat the apples that have fallen off the tree, "but only when they think you are asleep." The gorgeous illustrations also help are this book a must-have for my classroom library.       


  1. I have not read nine, ten yet, but I really should pick it up. You are right, there are quite a few books available to share with students. Billy Twitters and His Whale Problem is one I'll have to look for. Mac Barnet and Adam Rex are the creators of a book on my list as well - what a great team. Night in the Country is a classic, like many of Rylant's books!

  2. I'm struggling to believe that it was 15 years ago...for all my tweens at the library, 2001 is just a date that belongs in history books. Still struggling a bit to reconcile myself with the fact that my teenage years are now part of history!

  3. So many great picture books on your list! Girl in Pieces absolutely broke me. Thought it was brilliantly written.

  4. I haven't read anything on your list except 14 Cows! Girl in Pieces sounds like an intense read. I'm not sure I'm up for it though. Have you read Gabi, A Girl in Pieces? I must get a copy of Ida Always!

  5. So many wonderful picture book! I did love Nine, Ten - a powerful story, and unusually told.

  6. So many great books here! I already ordered Ida, Always - and The Snurtch sounds like a book that would be a perfect read-aloud for my teacher-trainees as we talk about student misbehaviour. Also ordered 14 Cows for America based on your recommendation. :)

  7. What a lovely way to frame 9/11 for your students!