Monday, February 13, 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.


Hope everybody has a nice Valentine's Day tomorrow filled with love and friendship! I can't think of a better way to spend it, than snuggling up with someone you love and reading a good book! Here are the awesome books I read last week: 

Middle Grade Fiction

Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang by Victoria J. Coe

Fenway, his family and friends are back in this awesome sequel to Fenway and Hattie. Now, not only are squirrels hanging around in the Dog Park behind the family's house, but now there's a gang of evil bunnies hanging around the neighborhood wreaking havoc on Food Lady's vegetable garden. To Fenway's dismay, not only are there bunnies running amok in the yard, but now his beloved small human, Hattie has brought one home in a cage and is paying lots of attention to it. Fans of this ornery Jack Russell terrier will have so much fun reading to find out what Fenway and his friends, Goldie and Patches, will do to put and end to the evil bunny menace and restore peace and harmony to the Dog Park yard once more.

I loved this book even more than the first one. I liked that through Fenway's eyes we get to go deeper into Hattie's personality. Middle grade readers will definitely be able to relate to the challenges she faces in dealing with her parents' expectations, her neighborhood friends, and keeping feisty Fenway under control.

My students are excited to continue the Fenway story. I'm anxious to share it with them because it has the same opportunities to discuss point of view and practice inferencing skills. Readers will have to piece together the clues that Fenway is able to describe in order to figure out why Hattie has brought home a bunny in a cage, why Hattie is working so hard to please her parents, and the source of tension between Hattie and her friends.

I also truly appreciate the kindness of the author for mentioning my name in the acknowledgements. My students were over the moon excited to see that when I showed it to them! Authors like Victoria Coe are truly a special gift to young readers!
Picture Books

The Green Umbrella by Jackie Azúa Kramer, Maral Sassouni (illustrator)  
This wonderful picture book shares a story with a terrific message about friendship and sharing. The elephant is taking a walk in the rain with his green umbrella. Along the way he meets several other animals claiming that the umbrella is theirs. These animals all have unique ways that the umbrella is important to them, and stories about their adventures. While the elephant is sure that the umbrella belongs to him, he is glad to share it with all of them. I love all of the imaginative ways that this umbrella could be used: as a boat, a tent, a flying machine, and many more. The illustrations use bright colors and whimsical details to make readers feel like they belong in this growing group of friends. This would be a great addition to any library.

Watersong by Tim McCanna, Richard Smythe (Illustrations)  
With a playful arrangement of words and beautifully rendered watercolor illustrations, this picture book takes a music-like look at a rainstorm through the eyes of a fox in the woods. Starting with a just a few drops, and growing into a strong storm, the reader can experience the beautiful arrangement of the symphony of water, and come away with a whole new way to look at rainy weather.  

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford, Elizabeth Zunon (Illustrations)  
As a child of the 1970s, I remember watching Lena Horne singing with Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street. Whenever she would appear on television, she always had the most engaging smile and beautiful singing voice. This picture book biography, takes readers on a journey through her early years and her determination to fight against racial injustices wherever she encountered them. This book is so well-researched and beautifully illustrated that I think that it would be a great resource to have on the bookshelf. For young readers who weren't born before she passed in 2010, this book would be an excellent starting point for further research. 

I Am Jim Henson by Brad Meltzer, Christopher Eliopoulos (Illustrations)  
I grew up watching Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, so I was really happy to read this book. This picture book biography presents fascinating information about the life of Jim Henson. I love how the the author highlights the ways that Henson was encouraged to read and create by his grandparents. Through hard work and creativity, he was able to create characters and programs that celebrated people getting along together and helping each other. There's a lot to inspire the kids of today to find ways to come together, despite people's differences. The illustrations are somewhat odd, as Henson as a child is drawn as a short figure with a full beard. But, I think that adds to the charm of this book. 

The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering  
This is a sweet story about a little duck whose egg hatched in a violin case lost in the sea after a terrible storm. Captain Alfred's boat full of ducks and his dog were headed home when an unexpected storm hit. The duck was born all alone with only the captain's violin floating nearby. When the duck loves the instrument and starts making music with it, all sorts of wonderful things happen. Beautiful acrylic paintings do an awesome job of helping to tell this beautiful story of love, hope, and music. 

The Bear Who Wasn't There by LeUyen Pham  
This is a fun book that will have readers searching all through the book for a bear who hasn't shown up. There is a duck with a great book idea that would like readers' attention, and he tricks readers and gives miscues so that folks will pay attention to him. The author makes an appearance to try to help readers find the bear, so what will it take to locate him? The author breaks down the third wall to pull readers into the book, and I'm sure this would be awesome to read aloud to young children. 


  1. I enjoyed both Fenway books. Victoria is a special gift to young readers, as well as teachers. She will be presenting at a conference here in Massachusetts so I'm hoping I can actually meet her in person. There are a few books I have to check out on your list. I loved the Muppets as a child, so that is one I'll have to read. Have a great Valentine's as well!

  2. I had to convince 8th graders that Lena Horne was a better person to do for Black History Month than Beyonce. Sigh.

  3. I just introduced Fenway and Hattie to my readers.I hope that they will get excited about this series. Loved The Bear Who Wasn't There

  4. I have The Green Umbrella and Watersong to read from the library.
    Fenway and Hattie will be a special book to us, always!

  5. How great to hear about Victoria's dedication to you and your class, Jana. Love all the books you've shared, just got Watersong from the library, and loved The Bear Who Wasn't there.

  6. The Bear Who Wasn't There looks so much fun!

    Wow, how exciting to be mentioned by an author, it must have been a thrill for your students!

  7. I think I'll have to buy that Lena Horne book just for me!

  8. I can't wait to read The bear Who Wasn't There. I adore Pham's illustrations in the princess in black! I will definitely check out the Lena Horne book.