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 Memorial Day! Hope you're having a wonderful day with family and friends. I also hope you're taking a few moments to remember all of the brave men and women who have fought and died making sure that we could enjoy the freedom and liberty that the United States represents.
Summer is soooooooooo close! There are three days left with students. As everyone is getting their Summer Reading piles together, here's what I've been reading:
I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley. I'm really glad that I did, because I enjoyed it even more than I expected to. This middle grade science fiction adventure novel has compelling action that sweeps you up into the story from the very beginning. It also has true-to-life characters that kids will definitely be able to recognize and identify with.
For my complete review, please visit: http://janatheteacher.blogspot.com/2016/05/book-review-drake-equation-by-bart-king.html
This is a picture book in which just about every kid will recognize themselves. Anna is the youngest of six children, and so wants to do the things that the older kids can do. This family lives in the countryside and doesn't have tap water available. The kids make a daily walk to a spring for water. The older kids could carry their containers of water on their heads, but Anna was too young. She couldn't do it without spilling it. I love that we get a peek inside the lives of kids who live in another country and while it's different that they have to carry their water, they share many of the same family activities that we do. I think our students need to see that we have more in common with kids from other cultures than differences. I wish that the story mentioned that this story is set in Jamaica. Except for the Jamaican flag displayed on the side of a roadside stand, there are no other references to the setting. The illustrations are very bright and colorful and show the beauty of this Caribbean country. According to the title page, the artwork was created on canvas and photographed. I think this would be an awesome addition to my classroom library and a good picture book companion to A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.
Despite all of the young children and crying babies that seem to be present on every flight I take, many kids have never traveled by plane before. This picture book does a great job of breaking down the experience step by step. For any kids getting ready to take such a trip, this book would be an awesome resource to cut down on any anxiety about it. And even if there's not a flying trip on the horizon, it's an interesting and informative book. I love the illustrations because there is so much going on on each double page spread. I found myself lingering over each page to see what all the other people were doing and saying (kind of like I do when I'm at the airport).
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom, Brendan Wenzel (Illustrations)
This book is just a joy to read. This cumulative tale tells the story of a boy walking along with a whirly-twirly toy when a snake drops out of a eucalyptus tree and gobbles him up. From the belly of the snake the boy calls out that there's plenty of room and that the snake should eat more. The story goes on with the snake eating more and more. The story kind of reminds me of The Mitten, with so many animals squeezing into such a tight spot. But with rhyming text and a great rhythm to the story, this book would be so much fun to read aloud. The illustrations are bold, colorful, and fun. According to the title page, "the artist used everything imaginable to create the digital illustrations for this book."
All We Know by Linda Ashman, Jane Dyer (Illustrations)
This book is absolutely beautiful. In light, rhyming text a mother shares with her child how everything knows how and when to do the things they do: Ex. " A cloud knows how to rain; the thunder how to boom; a bulb knows when it's time to sleep and when it's time to bloom." And most importantly, the mother already knew how to love the child. This would be lovely to share with a young child as a bedtime story. The illustrations are gorgeous. The paintings kind of remind me of the work of Mary Englebreit.
One Hundred Bones by Yuval Zommer
This is a cute picture book with a great story about friendship, teamwork, and discovery. Scruff, the dog is different than his friends. He did not have a "human friend", so he didn't wear a collar, he wasn't brushed, and he spent many hours digging in dirt. One day when he was digging, he made an amazing discovery. But it took help from his friends and a professor at the museum to excavate these bones and put them together. The digital illustrations are funny and adorable. Young readers and dog lovers will get a kick out of this book.
Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds, Matt Davies (Illustrations)
This is a great picture book with a terrific message about friendship and cliques and fitting in. Nerdy Birdy isn't like the cool birds. His glasses are too big, his wings are too short, he reads, he plays video games and he doesn't hunt like Eagle, Robin, and Cardinal. When he finds a group of friends who likes all the same things as he does, he realizes that there are more nerdy birds than cool birds. Things are great until another bird comes along that the cool birds don't like and even the nerdy birds reject. This big, weird bird is lonely and Nerdy Birdy has a decision to make. This is a great reflection of the way adolescents deal with each other in the middle grades of school. I would love to share this book with students at the beginning of the school year and have it as a permanent volume in my classroom library. The illustrations are funny and cute and do a great job of helping to tell the story. According to the title page, the art for this book was created using pen and ink and watercolor on paper.
The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock, Mary GrandPré (Illustrator)
I really enjoyed reading this picture book biography. I really didn't know very much about Vasya Kandinsky before reading this. I found the text to be very friendly and easy to understand while at the same time telling an inspirational and engaging story. I think that my students will be able to appreciate the excitement at mixing new paints for the first time and wanting to express oneself through painting. The book also has an informative author's note and resources at the back of the book. I loved the illustrations: created using acrylic paint and paper collage by the same artist that created the cover illustrations for the Harry Potter books. I would love to have a copy of this book for my classroom library.
What Happens on Wednesdays by Emily Jenkins, Lauren Castillo (Illustrator)
What a sweet and charming picture book. The little girl as the narrator shares with readers all of the events that occur every Wednesday, from the time she wakes up before dark, to the time she goes to bed at night. Young readers will certainly be able to relate to this book through the activities they have in common with this girl. And for those events that are different, that definitely invites comparison and discussion. The illustrations are the same cozy and warm detailed paintings that are the hallmark of all of Lauren Castillo's work.
The Reader by Amy Hest, Lauren Castillo (illustrator)
This is a cute story about a little boy enjoying a winter day with his dog. The little boy pulls a small suitcase up the hill on his sled. When he gets to the top, he takes a book out of the suitcase and reads it to his dog. Then they get on the sled and slide down. Very simple, yet sweet text that young readers would enjoy. Lauren Castillo's illustrations are always just wonderful!