Monday, February 20, 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.


What beautiful weather for a 3-day weekend! Here in central Ohio, we have received a nice break from the usual mid-February winter weather. With temperatures in the upper 60s, I happily dusted off my deck chair and spent quite a bit of time reading outside. Hope you've enjoyed this President's Day holiday weekend, as well. Here's what I've been reading this past week:
Middle Grade Fiction

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar 
I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar that was generously shared with my Book Relays group. I thought the book was amazing and I feel like I'm quite lucky to have been able to read it. This novel shares the struggle of recovery after Ruthie Mizrahi was seriously injured in a car accident.

It was 1966 and Ruthie's family had recently moved to New York as refugees from Cuba. As difficult as it was for the family to get ahead without knowing much English and having to become accustomed to the fast-paced lifestyle of America, it became even more challenging when the family was in a car accident that left Ruthie in a body cast and confined to her bed for nearly a year.

Suddenly Ruthie was as helpless as a baby and had to rely on help from her family for all of her needs, including going to the bathroom. As time dragged on for her, not only did her leg muscles atrophy, but her self-confidence and independence did as well. Not only would she have to learn to walk again, she would need to build the courage to go back out into the world again.

I loved the character development in this novel as everyone in the family learned to face fears and challenges. Ruthie's mother was very sad to have left her home in Cuba, to face a scary and confusing world in New York. She relied on Ruthie to help her navigate the English-speaking world of places like the supermarket. Once Ruthie was injured, her mother not only became an around-the-clock caregiver, but she also was on her own to make sense of the world. Ruthie, who at the beginning of the book was the hopscotch queen of Queens, becomes a quiet book lover and artist.

I also love the diversity of backgrounds and ideas presented in this book. As Ruthie was recovering and spending so much time examining her beliefs, she began writing letters and prayers to three different gods/angels. She also has friends of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. But the feelings and experiences these kids display will certainly be relatable to readers from all walks of life. So many kids will be able to recognize themselves in this story.

This book has some terrific themes that will help generate great discussions with young readers. At one point, Ruthie is asked by her teacher to write about what freedom means to her. Freedom has so many different dimensions in this story. Ruthie's family came to America looking for freedom. Ruthie longs for the freedom to get up and walk again. But freedom can be scary, too. And I think all readers can recognize a little bit of Ruthie in themselves when the world seems a little bit too big and challenging. We all have days when we want to stay in our safe beds, instead of meeting the day and moving forward.

This book will be available in April. I can't wait to get my own copy. This book would be a great addition to any middle grade classroom library.
Picture Books

Chee-Kee: A Panda in Bearland by Sujean Rim 
This is a good picture book to share with young readers who wish to learn more about the immigrant experience. Chee-Kee and his family have sailed across the ocean from a foreign island to make their new home in Bearland. While his family has brought with them their own traditions, they also are embracing new ways of doing things. Chee-Kee is reluctant to try new ways, and feels like he'll never feel at home. The text and illustrations are very kid-friendly, making this a good one to have on primary bookshelves. 

Tony by Ed Galing, Erin E. Stead (Illustrations)  
This beautifully illustrated picture book uses simple text to tell the story of a friendship that develops between a boy, a horse, and a milk delivery driver. It would be interesting to see how young readers relate to this story, as we don't have home milk delivery service anymore, by truck or by horse. I think all kids can relate to the love of an animal, so I'm sure this would be a good book to have in classroom and school libraries.

Dill & Bizzy: Opposite Day by Nora Ericson, Lisa Ericson (Illustrations)  
This fun picture book tells the story of two strange birds who are best friends. When one of them declares that the day is Opposite Day, all sorts of crazy things happen. Young readers will giggle and have fun imagining their own Opposite Day. This would be a great book to help with a study of opposites.  

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson  
This picture book biography presents a fascinating account of The Children's March for civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. This book is one that will make an impression on young readers, as there aren't a lot of stories about kids their age participating in the marches and protests and being sent to jail. The text is kid-friendly along with beautiful illustrations, making it a super resource for classroom libraries. 

Rabbit Magic by Meg McLaren  
This is a fun picture book in which a magic trick goes wrong and Houdini, the bunny assistant, switches places with the headlining magician. Houdini enjoys the spotlight, but comes to realize that things need to go back to the way they're supposed to be. Awesome illustrations and a fun story loaded with bunny rabbits make this a terrific book to have on the bookshelf. 

Spunky Little Monkey by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, Brian Won (Illustrations)  
Cute book with the rhythm and rhyme that's made the books by Bill Martin, Jr. so popular. Fun digital illustrations will make this an awesome read aloud for young children. 


  1. Lucky Broken Girl sounds amazing. I'll have to add it to my next book order. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  2. Thanks for all those picture books, Jana. I love the look of Chee-Kee, another bear book! Loved Tony too, and we do have milk delivery, so some of our kids would have fun imagining if it came via horse and cart!

  3. These picture books look so good! Tony looks beautiful and gentle, and Spunky Little Monkey looks like so much fun - I'm in love with Brian Won's illustrations, so bright and joyful! Have a great week!

  4. This weather has been so crazy - but so appreciated! I'm going to be so sad when it's back in the 30s next weekend!
    Loved Lucky Broken Girl! I think it was a very wise decision by the author to write it in the younger voice than a memoir.

  5. I look forward to Lucky Broken Girl. It sounds wonderful!

  6. I'm definitely adding Lucky Broken Girl to my TBR as well. Several of the picture books look like ones we need to buy at the library as well. Thaks for sharing!

  7. Isn't it lovely to get a respite from the bitter winter weather? Like many before me, I want to read Lucky Broken Girl. It sounds like a powerful book that will make all of us think hard about what how luck we are to have what we have. My father used a wheelchair from the time he was 26 till when he died. I'm always stunned when people think they couldn't live if they had to live like that.

  8. Looking forward to having Lucky Broken Girl on bookshelves soon - it does sound amazing.

  9. I'm looking for The Youngest Marcher in our library or bookstore. Hopefully soon...