Monday, January 16, 2017

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.


Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Hopefully in addition to resting, recharging, and watching football, you're taking time to consider the life of one of the most passionate activists of the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King faced many challenges and worked very hard to change people's lives for the better and to bring forth a world where people could be free to pursue their dreams without fear or hatred.
It's been a very busy week with the end of our second grading period, testing mania, and of course crazy winter weather. Through it all, here's what I've managed to read this week:
Young Adult Fiction

The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner 
Reading this young adult coming-of-age/September 11 novel was an awesome experience. There was so much to this book that made me dig in to it and not stop until I was finished. The story opens with a teenage boy, Kyle, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge out of Manhattan after having just witnessed the first of the Twin Towers come down. As the massive wave of people fleeing the city pushes him along, he sees a girl covered in ash and wearing costume wings huddled in a shadow. The girl seems alone, lost, and traumatized. He brings her home to his apartment. His father is a New York City Police officer, his mom and sister are in California trying to return home, and his uncle is paralyzed from a motorcycle accident and lives in the apartment with Kyle and his family.

Kyle has so much to deal with in the hours after the horrific terrorist attack that day. Phone lines are jammed and he can't reach his mom or his dad. Uncle Matt's caregiver can't make it in and so he has to take care of his needs. And then there's the mystery of this girl, who can't remember who she is.

I really like how Gae Polisner shaped these characters and showed the development of special relationships. Not only do we get the development of affection and intimacy between Kyle and this strange girl, but we also get to see Kyle strengthen his relationships with his uncle and his dad. We also see the special way that the girl and Kyle's uncle interact with each other. The events of September 11 changed the way everyone viewed each other and that's shown in the way people on the streets, in the stores, and on the subway nodded and acknowledged each other.

I also liked the contrast between the horrible chaos of the events unfolding in Manhattan and the eerie quietness of Kyle's home. When Kyle is trying to do the normal household things to take care of his uncle and the girl, he notes, "It feels strange to be doing normal things like cooking with the city a mess, and my dad still out there somewhere in the middle of all of it."

The book brought back a lot of memories of that horrible day. But the young people reading this and some of the other awesome books dealing with September 11 need to know what that day was like. They also need to know about the courage and bravery of folks like Kyle's dad (brave first responders who put their own safety and lives aside to help others) and Kyle, who put his own convenience and comfort aside to help the people that needed him at home.
Picture Books

Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer 
This book celebrates autumn beautifully by focusing on one color - yellow. The author uses wonderful descriptions and illustrations to show the sensory pleasures of this particular aspect of the season, when all the leaves are yellow. 

Hank's Big Day: The Story of a Bug by Evan Kuhlman, Chuck Groenink (Illustrations)  
This cute picture book takes readers through a day in the life of a pill bug named Hank. Hank starts at home and journeys through the yard and across the sidewalk to visit his friend, Amelia. I love the continuity and perspective of this story as we watch Hank encounter other bugs, dangers, and distractions. As Hank moves along, the artwork shows where he's been with great attention to detail. I had fun looking back and forth through the pages to see the connections made throughout this story.  

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley, Kate Berube 
This is a fun book that youngsters with big imaginations would certainly enjoy. Nick loves his cats and does everything with them. But when he tries to teach them how to read, they're not interested at all. Young readers will have a great time finding out what it takes to get these two felines into books and reading. 

Night Owl by Toni Yuly 
This is a cute picture book that tell the story of a little owl who loves nighttime and all of the wonderful sounds. When he loses track of Mama Owl, he puts his listening skills to work to find her. This would be a good book to share with young readers as a bedtime story.

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best, Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Illustrations)  
This special picture book tells the inspiring story of Zulay, a blind girl who is determined to run in a foot race at her school's field day. Zulay has lots of friends in first grade. But she still feels self conscious about using her cane. Her teacher works with her to overcome her reluctance to learn how to use it and participate in the race. This would be a great book to have on the shelf to learn more about inclusivity and children with special needs.

Supertruck by Stephen Savage 
I know that when I wake up on a snowy morning, I am always glad to hear Supertruck rumbling through my neighborhood. None of the other brave trucks of the city give much thought to the unassuming garbage truck, in this cute picture book. But when snow begins to bury the city, there's a mysterious hero who makes it so all the other important trucks can do their jobs. This would be fun to share with young readers as a wintertime read.   

A Wonderful Year by Nick Bruel 
This fun picture book takes readers through all four seasons by looking at one girl's adventures. At first glance, the book seems somewhat peculiar and cartoonish. But as I read on, I really started to enjoy the offbeat humor of it along with the connections made between the different parts of the book. I found myself smiling and looking back and forth through the pages of it. This would be a great book to have on the shelf all year long. 

Pete's a Pizza by William Steig 
This is would be a fun picture book to share with young readers on a rainy day. Pete's bummed out because he's supposed to go play ball with his friends, but it's raining. Based on a game the author used to play with his granddaughter, Pete's father turns Pete into a "pizza." I'm sure there would be lots and laughs and giggles along with Pete. 

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling, Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)  
This adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's classic story about a heroic mongoose is beautifully illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. An English family living in India adopts an injured mongoose as a pet. He soon proves his worth by rescuing the household from several deadly snakes. 


  1. Pete's a Pizza is so cute. That was one I used to share with my students when I was a first grade teacher. I thought Hank's Big Day and The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to read were both great, too. I'll have to check out Supertruck. It makes me think of The Little Snowplow by Lora Koehler and Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton.

  2. I love the cover of yellow time. I think I have to buy Hank's Big Day for one of my great nieces who is slightly bug crazy.

  3. I've noted some of the picture books so I can read them to the granddaughters, like The Summer Nick Taught His Cats To Read & the one about Zulay! And I loved The Memory of Things, too, well done about that terrible time. Thanks, Jana.

  4. I had never heard of My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay so I definitely need to check that one out!

  5. The Memory of Things is on my list to read - we've had a few 9/11 themed books and I've had to space them out...the memory is still vivid after all these years.

  6. Absolutely loved The Memory of Things. The writing was exquisite.
    I just got The Summer Nick Taught His Cats.... Looks cute!

  7. I am glad you liked The Memory of Things. I need to read that one. Your picture books are ones we probably need to add to our library. Great list and my TBR continues to grow.

  8. I adore Supertruck and am surprised it isn't more widely known. It's such a great read aloud!

  9. Hank's Big Day looks like loads of fun! - Myra from GatheringBooks