Monday, October 31, 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.

The last week has been pretty busy and pretty hard to keep excited kids calm as they prepare for their big night. We celebrated at school on Friday and the kids go Trick-Or-Treating tonight. So I'm sure tomorrow will be lots of fun as the children come down from their sugar highs!

Those are just a few of the pictures I snapped as we enjoyed our Costume Parade. I also managed to get some reading in this week. Here's what I've been reading:

Middle Grade Fiction

Like Magic by Elaine Vickers, Sara Not (Illustrations)  

I had the opportunity to read an ARC of this book, along with the other members of my Twitter #BookRelays group. I really enjoyed this book, and will definitely purchase a copy (or 2 or 3) for my classroom library. The characters are very relatable for the students I teach. Ten-year-olds in desperate need of friendship, they each turn to the gentle help of a librarian at the Salt Lake City Library who provides them with a treasure chest from her lost-and-found drawer. Grace is painfully shy and her best friend has moved away. Jada and her father are starting a new chapter in their lives in Utah, but she still longs to have a relationship with the mother who abandoned her. Malia has been an only child her whole life, but is about to become a big sister. One by one, they borrow this treasure box and take and receive gifts from it that provide comfort and deep meaning for each of them. The suspense builds as you see these girls interact with each other through the connection with this box and wait for them to finally meet each other and receive the magic of friendship that they are all seeking. The story unfolds with chapters that show each character's point of view in turn. This book would be great to teach lessons about theme and point of view. I also think it will be popular has an engaging realistic fiction book. 

Juana and Lucas (Juana and Lucas #1) by Juana Medina  

I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. This is a nice middle grade fiction book about a girl from Bogota, Columbia who is having a difficult time learning to speak English in school. Juana is someone that many kids will relate to as she giggles with her friend on the school bus, prefers recess to class time, and loves her dog, Lucas. When she has to learn English, she doesn't see the point in learning this impossibly complicated language. Young readers will look forward to finding out how she will ultimately motivate herself to do her best to learn it. This book provides opportunities for readers to learn bits of Spanish, and to see the many ways that children from other cultures enjoy many of the same things kids in America do. 

Picture Books

This fascinating picture book gives an excellent description of what it's like to be a real cowboy. The author uses personality traits such as quiet, careful, gentle, and calm to tell about the job of moving cattle over long distances. This is a topic that would be very unfamiliar to the students in my urban classroom. The author's style is very engaging and draws readers into this world that many of us only know from watching Western movies. The warm, beautiful illustrations make this a book I would love to have in my classroom library.


In this cute picture book, a young panda bear is walking along with his father and trying to convince him to let him wear pants. The father is adamant that panda bears don't wear pants: they don't need them and would look ridiculous. Young readers that are beginning to assert their independence and challenge the assumptions of their parents will appreciate this story. The mixed media illustrations are lovely and support the story well. 

This is a cute follow-up to Hooray for Hat! Little Owl is wide awake and looking for a playmate. The trouble is that it's nighttime and all the other animals are sleepy. When the sun comes up and the other animal are awake, Little Owl is ready to sleep! It might be fun for young readers to consider the problems of nocturnal animals! The bright, colorful illustrations help make the story a lot of fun. 

The author of this book sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review. This is a cute picture book with a great message about sharing and friendship. Bunny and Robin are really good friends and do all sorts of special things together. One day Bunny told Robin how much he wished he could fly like him. The Robin wanted to help, so he magically loaned Bunny his wings. Once he got the hang of flying, he loved it. But both came to the realization that it's probably best if Robin keeps his wings and Bunny stays on the ground. The rhyming text and rich vocabulary make this book a good one to have in the classroom library. 

This picture book biography is a fascinating account of the life of Ada Lovelace, who is credited with developing an idea for what would one day become computer programming. The daughter of the writer, Lord Byron, and her mathematical mother, she was fascinated by science, math, and machines. The book gives readers details about her early ideas about flying, her education and family life, and some of her great ideas.

I shared this book with 4th and 5th graders and everyone enjoyed it. It's a cute, rhyming cumulative tale that's got a great message about teamwork. The witch wants to pick her huge pumpkin so she can make a pie. The pumpkin is so big, that she can't get it off the vine. Several of her scary friends (a ghost, a vampire, and a mummy) lend a hand and try to get the pumpkin off the vine. The illustrations of all of these folks trying to get the pumpkin are very funny. Lots of fun to have in my classroom library during Halloween season! 

This Caldecott award winning picture book tells a wonderful story about friendship. Alexander is a mouse and no one in the house is ever happy to see him. He is constantly screamed at and chased away. One day he meets Willy, a wind-up mouse who is adored by the little girl of the house. He is cuddled and gets to sleep in her bed with several other toys. But he can only move around when someone winds him up. Alexander wishes he could be turned into a wind-up mouse, so he could be loved, too. Just as he is about to receive his wish, he makes a decision that teaches readers a great lesson about kindness and friendship. The colorful collage illustrations are awesome!  



  1. Alexander the Wind-up Mouse is so unexpectedly sad that it completely surprised me.

  2. I'm glad that we don't do costumes at school. Here in Ohio, it's essential that winter coats are worked into the costume somehow!

  3. Love seeing your parade pictures, Jana. And all the books are so enticing. I've only read Juana and Lucas of these, will look for the others! That Big Pumpkin sounds nice! Happy Halloween!

  4. I'm so glad you liked Like Magic! I think 5th graders will just love this story about friendship :) I have Juana and Lucas, I need to get to it! I think it will be a good fit for many of my students.

  5. This will be my first Halloween as retired teacher. I am not sorry to be missing all the frenzy. Thanks for this list of books. I've put a hold on Ada Lovelace: The Poet of Science.

  6. Such a great lineup of books!! I'm so excited for Hooray for Today, I loved Hooray for Hats so very much, such a sweet, simple, happy story. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this one, too!!

  7. Alexander and the Windup Mouse was a title I read over and over to my own children. We even had little windup mice!

  8. I love that there are so many picturebook biographies now on Ada Lovelace - amazing woman.