Monday, May 8, 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.


Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and I want to thank all of those students, parents, and administrators who took a few moments to recognize the efforts of teachers and all staff members of our school. In addition to the lovely flowers that I received from a student, our staff enjoyed some sweet treats from our principal and a delicious lunch from kind volunteers from Rock City Church. 
We're in the home stretch of this school year. I'm starting to compile my summertime reading list, and I have to say that I'm super excited at the prospect of slowing down and taking the time to savor some great books. In the meantime, here's what I've been reading this week:
Young Adult/Middle Grade Fiction

The Summer of Owen Todd by Tony Abbott 
I had the opportunity to read an ARC of this book as part of my Twitter Book Relays group. This novel, while being very well written, is tough to read. While the book is about many things, at it's core is a painful story of the sexual abuse of an adolescent boy by a trusted adult. Told from the point of view of the victim's best friend, Owen, Sean's victimization takes place over the summer in a touristy Cape Cod town. Sean's mother works long hours at a new job, and hires a young man from their church to babysit. Sean tells Owen some of the things that are happening, but makes Owen swear not to tell anyone about it. He tells Owen that he'll kill himself if he tells anyone. Owen spends the summer terrified about what's happening and what will happen if he tells. It certainly is an awful dilemma, and readers will certainly be able to empathize with the characters. I think that this will be an important book for middle grade students to read. There are messages about the importance of speaking up when something is so terribly wrong, about trusting your parents and other grown ups in your life to help, and helping even when it's painful to do so. The subject matter, while handled appropriately for middle grade readers, does deal with a sensitive issue and so teachers and parents should consider the maturity of their students and children.
Picture Books

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt, Adam Rex (Illustrations)  
I know that my students will love this awesome picture book that tells the origins of "Rock, Paper, Scissors." "Rock, Paper, Scissors" is used to decide so many important issues for them. Drew Daywalt does a terrific job creating the characters' back stories and personalities. The illustrations are hilarious, with nearly every object shown as a living being with eyes (i.e. gum under Mom's home office desk). This would be fun to use as a mentor text to help students create their own legends and origin stories. 

Olivia the Spy by Ian Falconer  
This fun picture book shows young readers what can happen when you eavesdrop. Olivia overhears her mother complaining on the phone about her behavior. Determined to find out what other sorts of things her mother says about her, she takes to spying on her family. Only hearing bits and pieces of conversations, leads to a big worry when Olivia believes her mom is taking her to an institution. Humorous illustrations will make this a fun book to share with young children. This could lead to a great discussion about drawing conclusions and making inferences. 

Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko, Dan Santat (Illustrations)  
Being afraid is a natural part of growing up, and young readers will definitely be able to relate to the young boy in this wonderful picture book. Nicholas is fearful of many things: the dark, bugs, etc. But when he has his little dinosaur with him, he has the confidence to do all sorts of brave things. But then he loses track of his dinosaur, and he feels scared of everything. This is really a sweet book that would be awesome to share with kids. 

 Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds
This beautifully illustrated picture book is a wonderful celebration of dreamers and dreaming. This would serve well as an inspirational and emotional pick-me-up for readers and dreamers of all ages. This belongs on all bookshelves.

Hooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins 
This fun, colorful picture book celebrates all kinds of birds with bold illustrations and rollicking, rhyming text. Young readers will have so much fun imagining themselves flying high with their feathered friends. This would make a great addition to a primary classroom's bookshelf. 

Rain by Sam Usher 
This is a sweet picture book that shares a special time shared between a little boy and his grandfather. It's a gray, rainy day and the little boy is looking forward to playing outside, but his grandfather tells him they need to wait until the rain stops. The boy reads books, while his grandfather does some paperwork. When the rain stops briefly and they go outside to mail a letter, the adventure that they share is perfect. The illustrations are almost magical, as they pull readers into this wonderful and cozy afternoon that these two enjoy. 

Thunder Underground by Jane Yolen, Josée Masse (Illustrations)  
This wonderful collection of poems celebrates the world beneath our feet. With beautiful mixed media drawings, readers get to explore basements, subways, ant cities, and many other aspects of the underground world. Scientific and personal notes on the poems at the end of the book help make this a great starting point for more research. This book would be a terrific resource to have on the bookshelf and would pair well with the Over and Under books (Over and Under the Snow & Over and Under the Pond) by Kate Messner. 

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper 
This is a simple and sweet picture book that tells the story of two cats and the development of a wonderful friendship. It also shares the experience of loss and the circle of life as one pet passes and another one enters the lives of the family members. Children that have lost a pet might find comfort in this gentle story. 

What's the Difference Between a Leopard and a Cheetah? by Lisa Bullard, Debra Bandelin (Illustrator)  
This fascinating nonfiction picture book uses a compare and contrast text structure to share information about leopards and cheetahs with young readers. There are many subtle differences between these two members of the cat family, and the beautifully rendered illustrations and engaging text make this book a nice resource to have in a classroom library. Fun facts and a list of additional resources can be found on the last page. 



  1. So many great picture books! Happy Dreamer is such an inspirational book. I just love all the books Peter Reynolds creates. There are definitely some others here I'll have to check out.

  2. I can't wait to read Happy Dreamer and loved Big Cat, Little Cat. There are so many wonderful picture books available to us. We are lucky. The Summer of Owen Todd, wow, a really serious theme, and certainly is one to be careful about when recommending. I've read several books when kids aren't telling parents what's really going on, and that they need help. Thanks, Jana.

  3. Love your picture books! I've heard the same thing about Owen Todd from other people that have read it. Sounds like a needed book but one you'll have to know your readers when recommending it.

  4. Dad and the Dinosaur looks great. Lots of other great choices too. Thanks for sharing!

  5. The Summer of Owen Todd is a book that needs to be there, but sounds terrifying.
    I'm waiting for my library to get this Sam Usher title. I just put a hold on Big Cat, Little Cat. I'm looking forward to Hooray for Birds!

  6. The cover of Rain just draws me in, it just feels like if you touched it, your fingers would come away wet!

    I'm glad we have stories that deal with difficult topics, even if I don't know that I would necessarily want to read them for recreational purposes...

  7. I've been looking for books with non-narrative structures, and What's the Difference Between a Leopard and a Cheetah looks great!

  8. There is just something about Olivia that appeals to me so. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors looks like SO MUCH FUN! Will have to find that soonest. :)