Monday, June 5, 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 is FINALLY here!  The last two weeks of school have been very hectic, on top of a very nasty bout of strep throat (which I contracted over the Memorial Day weekend).  But now I can dust off my deck chairs, grab my stack of books, and escape all of the madness! Hope you're enjoying your summer reading season with a juicy book, a tall glass of iced tea, and plenty of sunshine!  Here's what I've been reading the last few weeks:
Young Adult/Middle Grade Fiction

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menor 
I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this young adult fiction novel, and I think this one will be very popular with high school readers. The main characters are two teenagers of Indian descent who have just graduated from high school. Dimple will soon be attending Stanford University and Rishi will be going to MIT. They've never met each other, but their parents have "arranged" for them to one day get married. They meet each other at Insomnia Com, a summer workshop/contest for young Web designers. When Dimple becomes aware of this arrangement, she wants nothing to do with it or Rishi. But as they spend more time working together and getting to know each other, Their plans for the future aren't so simple.

I love the characters in this book. Dimple is ambitious and assertive, sometimes even quite hostile, but she just wants to be her own person instead of a carbon copy of her mother. Rishi, has more traditional views about family and his future, but he's so sweet and willing to bend because he has such strong feelings for Dimple. They meet at a technology workshop, and because they're both away from home in a college dorm, they are able to really get to the bottom of how they feel about each other and the future. They also have to deal with other social pressures at Insomnia Com that put their loyalties to the test.

This book deals with some mature themes (sex, underage drinking) that definitely make this more appropriate for high schoolers. But I enjoyed reading it as well, and I could even see this story as a terrific movie!
Moon Shadow by Erin Downing 
I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley, and I'm really excited about this book. Moon Shadow has the perfect blend of magic and realistic fiction to make this a terrific middle grade novel. Lucia was born during a lunar eclipse thirteen years ago. The story opens on her birthday, and she's planning to celebrate by eating space-themed junk food with her friends and watching her birthday eclipse. Lucia is a quiet, shy girl who is often afraid to stand up for herself and tell people what she wants or how she feels. But on the night of her birthday eclipse, something strange happens. She finds herself having strange dreams about being the confident, outgoing person that she would like to be and then waking up to realize these "dreams" actually occurred. Lucia's thirteenth birthday turns out to be the start of things changing for her in dramatic, and sometimes scary, ways.

I think this will be a popular book among middle school aged children. Adolescents experience so much insecurity as they grow and change, and so they will definitely be able to relate to the same self doubts experienced by Lucia and her friends. I know that the idea of having a shadow self, that's not afraid to try new things and have difficult conversations is definitely appealing to me! I can think of several situations where that might be handy! Kids will also like that it's kind of a spooky book, without being too scary or inappropriate.
Picture Books

Lexie the Word Wrangler by Rebecca Van Slyke, Jessie Hartland (Illustrations)  
Lexie lives on a ranch, wrangling words. When strange things start happening, like her bandanna losing its "d" and becoming a banana or the desert getting an extra "s" and becoming sticky and sweet, she realizes she needs to figure out who the word rustler is. This fun picture book shows how much fun playing with words can be. Using bright, humorous paintings to illustrate these wordy circumstances, this would be a fun book to share with young readers. There is a glossary of ranch-related words to help readers at the end of the book. It might be a fun way to inspire kids to create their own wordplay stories.

Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World by Allan Drummond  
This interesting nonfiction picture book shows young readers how the power of organized protests led to much safer streets for bicyclists in Amsterdam. Fifty years ago the streets of Amsterdam were crowded with cars and trucks and bicycling was very dangerous. Maartje Rutten and her friends and neighbors worked very hard to get that changed. Colorful illustrations and informative author notes and resources make this a good nonfiction resource to have on the bookshelf and a good starting point for further research.  

I Don't Draw, I Color! by Adam Lehrhaupt, Felicita Sala (Illustrations)  
This sweet picture book celebrates the creativity inside everyone, no matter what form it takes. The narrator of the book believes he's not very good at drawing, but uses colors, textures, and lines to express emotion, personality, and thoughts. The underlying message is that all children can express themselves, and there's no right or wrong way to do it. The illustrations of this book are rendered in watercolors, drawing and colored pencils, and crayons. The artist really represented the artwork of a youngster very well. This might be a good book to have on the art room shelf. 

The Crane Girl by Curtis Manley, Lin Wang (Contributor)  
I won a signed copy of this beautifully illustrated picture book from GoodReads, and what a wonderful gift it was. This adaptation of a Japanese folk story tells the tale of a boy who rescues a crane that is caught in a trap. Later, a girl shows up at his door and she needs a place to stay. She weaves a beautiful cloth for the boy and his father to help them make money. But then greed overtakes the father and he demands more and more. The book is illustrated with breathtaking paintings and has great themes of kindness, friendship, and greed. It also has haiku poetry throughout the pages and a fascinating author's note about folk tales and poetry at the end.

Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay Haring 
This picture book biography is a fascinating account of the life and inspiring work of Keith Haring, a prolific artist of the 1980s. I had never heard of this artist before I read this book, and the engaging text made me want to learn more. Fortunately, in addition to the awesome artwork included in this book, the author's notes at the end shares information about, which looks like an awesome resource to share with kids. This would be another terrific book for the art room bookshelf!   


  1. Happy Summer! Moon Shadow is high up on my want to read list. The others are all new to me. Thanks for sharing!

  2. We finally have had some great summer weather, too, Jana! Happy summer! Thanks for those two chapter book reviews. I've heard about the first one, not the second & they both sound good. I've noted the picture books, Loved that Word Wrangler, so cute. Thanks for all!

  3. Another great week. I was a bit disappointed that Dimple was more for high school, but do think the magical realism in Moon Shadow will do well.

  4. These all look fantastic, but Pedal Power is definitely on top of my list, because we're really moving towards being more bike-friendly in my city, so I'm sure this will appeal to young readers who are starting to see bikes everywhere!

  5. Great books here! I'm looking forward to reading DIMPLE/RISHI this summer, it's in my stacks! Loved MOON SHADOW :)

  6. Moon Shadow sounds fabulous! Will definitely check it out.

  7. I loved Crane Girl, too. Moon Shadow looks like a perfect book for my sixth grade classroom.

  8. Oooh! I need to read PEDAL POWER! I love Amsterdam. It's one of my favorite cities.