Monday, May 22, 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.


Summer's getting closer and closer. The days of relaxing on the deck with good books to read are almost at hand. Just a few more field trips, parties, and fun times at school to go!
In the midst of completing grade cards and testing, I have managed to get some good reading accomplished. Here's what I've been reading this week:
Middle Grade Fiction

Bubbles by Abby Cooper 
Middle grade readers will definitely be able to relate to Sophie, a twelve year old dealing with the stress of her mom's depression after a breakup with a longtime boyfriend, homework, and the complicated social world of middle school. On top of all that, she's started seeing thought bubbles appear over people's heads and reading what's going on in their minds. It's confusing because these thoughts don't always match outward appearances. The author does a great job capturing the dramatic self-absorption that is typical of adolescent girls, so I believe this book will resonate with these readers. There are some good messages about honesty, friendship, and standing up for yourself that make this a positive chapter book for kids in grades 5 and up. 
Expected publication: July 18th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)  
The House of Power (Atherton #1) by Patrick Carman 
I enjoyed this book that I purchased inexpensively for my Kindle reader. The plot development moves along quickly and draws readers in quickly. Readers are brought into the world of Atherton, created by an eccentric scientist after Earth (the Dark Planet) has been loused up by wars and pollution. Atherton was designed with three levels: Tabletop is in the middle and is where Edgar, the main character works in a fig grove; the Highlands tower above Tabletop and is where the leaders of the planet reside and control the flow of all water downward; and the Flatlands are at the bottom and nothing but big, nasty Cleaners live there. The levels are falling into each other, and soon the world will be flat. The people of each level must figure out how to deal with each other in a totally new way, now that they will be forced to see eye to eye. There are some interesting themes of class struggle, power differentials, and the meaning of friendship. I would've given four stars, but it annoyed me that the book ends abruptly, without any resolution. I realize that's how series books work, but you can conclude one episode and still make readers want more from future installments. Ending the book this way is designed to compel the reader to get the next book in order to get some sense of closure. Manipulation of that sort peeves me a bit, and makes me less likely to read further.
Picture Books

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken 
This beautifully illustrated picture book would be great to help instill a growth mindset in young readers. The author takes what she considers to be mistakes and transforms them into something else that works better. So many of my students wad up their paper, throw it away, and want another sheet to start over whenever they are unhappy with their work. The author takes misshapen body parts, odd looking ink splotches, and other "mistakes" and incorporates them into her process. Great for all ages, this book would be an excellent companion to Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg and A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell. 

Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat's Foster Mom by Suzi Eszterhas  
This wonderful nonfiction picture book uses gorgeous photos and engaging text to tell Suzi Eszterhas' story of fostering a week's old wildcat in the African savanna. Eszterhas was working as a wildlife photographer when rangers asked her to help care for the orphaned serval. Fostering a wild animal is much different than raising a pet, as the goal is to prepare it to return to the wild. The photos that were taken of this experience, show Moto in different stages of development as he learned to hunt, fish, and care for himself. There is lots of fascinating information about this animal, making this a wonderful nonfiction resource to have on any bookshelf. 

Rhino in the House: The Story of Saving Samia by Daniel Kirk  
This wonderful nonfiction picture book tells readers the true story of Anna Merz and the black rhino that she rescued and raised at her wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. Samia wasn't being cared for by its mother, so she brought it home with her and took care of it until it was too big to hang around the house with her. This would be a great companion book to Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat's Foster Mom by Suzi Eszterhas (see above) as they both involve fostering wild animals with the goal of returning them to the wild. This book is beautifully illustrated and includes wonderful resources listed at the end of the narrative.  

Puppy, Puppy, Puppy by Julie Sternberg, Fred Koehler (Illustrations)  
This is a cute book that shares a story of a great friendship that develops between a baby and a puppy. Both are very messy, noisy, and playful. Young readers with either (or both) baby siblings or puppies at home will definitely appreciate the dynamics of the family in this book. 

Tidy by Emily Gravett  
This cute picture book shows young readers what can happen when tries to be a perfectionist. Pete likes the forest to be neat and tidy. He works very hard to keep it that way. But when he lets perfect become the enemy of good, life in the forest becomes nearly impossible. This book could start a great discussion about moderation and not letting the best of intentions get out of hand. The illustrations are very humorous and sweet.  

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander  
This book is a wonderful collection of poems that celebrate the work and style of renowned poets such as Robert Frost, Walter Dean Myers, Emily Dickinson, and many others. These poems are beautifully illustrated with mixed media artwork. This would be a great companion to Keep a Pocket in Your Poem: Classic Poems and Playful Parodies by J. Patrick Lewis and a great addition to any bookshelf. 

This House, Once by Deborah Freedman  
This beautifully illustrated picture book takes young readers deep into the pieces and parts of their homes to consider the history and the origins of where they live. For those that ever wonder what came before, this book would be a great way to start that discussion with young readers. 

Robins!: How They Grow Up by Eileen Christelow  
Reggie is an amusing robin who hangs around in the maple tree in our backyard. This awesome nonfiction picture book tells the story of the first year of a robin's life. With beautiful illustrations and kid-friendly text, young readers will learn all about these birds that are right outside their windows. This is a great nonfiction resource to have on the bookshelf. 

Pickles to Pittsburgh (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs #2) by Judi Barrett, Ron Barrett  
This sequel to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs makes a visit to the legendary city of Chewandswallow. The townspeople have figured out what to do with the copious amounts of food that have fallen from the sky. The generosity of the town will be heartwarming to young readers who are learning to be mindful about waste. The artwork is very similar to the drawings in the first book: larger than life servings of every imaginable food piling up on the streets of Chewandswallow. It's a fun follow-up, but the original book is still the best. 



  1. The Book of Mistakes is a gorgeous book! I have not read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Pickles to Pittsburgh in years. You made me think of my time teaching first grade. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was always a favorite.

  2. Atherton sounds interesting. I'm always looking for good science fiction and high fantasy for my middle graders. Thanks for all the other recommendations!

  3. So many great books, Jana! I loved This House, Once, a really sweet book. I'm interested in Bubbles, what a creative way to show those young tweens! And The Book of Mistakes is on my list, will try to find it, soon! Thanks!

  4. I really want to get my hands on MOTO AND ME but it is not available at either library I frequent.
    I enjoyed BUBBLES. Abby has such a wonderful way of writing that just draws middle grade readers in.

  5. Wow--my reading list just exploded after reading this post! So many books here I want to get my hands on. I'm especially excited about Moto and Me--I love Suzi Eszterhas's other books. And Rhino in the House also looks wonderful.

  6. As usual, your weekly posts just make my TBR pile overflow! :-) How to pick a favourite?!? Puppy Puppy Puppy looks particularly delightful, and The Book of Mistakes has such a great message of perseverance.