Monday, June 12, 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.
At long last, my favorite time of year is here! The birds are my alarm clock, but I don't have to hurry. I can grab a cup of coffee and head outside! I now spend a lot of time sitting outside, writing and reading. My biggest problem now is where to begin!  So, here's what I've been reading:

Middle Grade Fiction

I had the opportunity to read an ARC of this novel through my #BookRelays friends (and also a digital ARC through NetGalley) and I think that middle school readers will definitely be attracted to the unique plot line and the well-voiced characters. Zinnia has just finished seventh grade by getting herself in trouble for yarn-bombing the school mascot with her older brother, Adam. But when she gets home from school, he has left the family mysteriously, without so much as a note. Adam's abrupt departure from home doesn't help Zinnia's tense relationship with her mother, and to make matters worse, a colony of bees has taken up residence in her hair.

The idea of a mass of bees living on my head certainly makes me cringe, but, while Zinnia doesn't like the situation at all, she is amazingly calm about it. The character development is awesome as Zinnia goes from being a depressed loner, to realizing that sometimes it's good to have friends to help out. The book also has messages about reaching for your dreams, being vulnerable or "letting your hair down", and the interdependence of nature.

This book will be available in August. I would recommend it for middle school students, but it would also be fine for upper elementary students.

This graphic novel is awesome because it has stories in it that so many kids will identify with - elementary students, middle school students, and even high school students. I know that this book totally reminded me of my own elementary school experience, and it also made me nostalgic for the eighties! Shannon and her best friend, Adrienne, have been together since kindergarten. But as they get older, they start hanging out with a clique known as "The Group" and led by Jen. Like all cliques of this age group, one day you're cool, and the next day no one likes you. Kids will definitely understand the anxieties and issues Shannon faces with these on-again, off-again friends. I also think that the kids who enjoy books by Raina Telgemeier, Jenni Holm, Cece Bell, and Victoria Jamieson will eat this book up and beg for more! 

Picture Books

This picture book biography tells the life story of Eugenie Clark, a pioneer in the study of sharks. The text is fascinating and accessible to middle grade readers, making it perfect for classroom libraries. Children this age are very attracted to books about sharks, and this one celebrates a woman who contributed so much to what we understand about these animals. Clark became interested in sharks when she was a child. She spent a great deal of time reading and studying at a time when most women didn't go to college or become scientists. End-of-the-book notes and resources make this book a great starting point for further research. Also, the illustrations are just terrific! 

This heartwarming picture book is a celebration of the love, hopes, and dreams that parents have for their children. "On the night you were born, our world shined bright as the sun," begins the poetic text. The narrator shares the joy felt upon the arrival of the child, and of a dream about what the child would become and who the child would be. Illustrated beautifully using bamboo pen, India ink, and watercolor, this book would be a wonderful gift to new parents at a baby shower, Mother's Day, or Father's Day!  

Young readers will definitely get a giggle or two as they read this picture book that shares the story of a little elephant who definitely prefers not wearing pants as he runs about trying to figure out where he belongs and who will play with him. This book might be a fun way to introduce primary age kids to characteristics of things and classification as Pete compares himself to boulders, squirrels, clouds, and a pigeon. 

This cute picture book begs to be read aloud, with a French accent! This is a fun adventure that has an adorable snail on his way to a yummy salad at the end of the book. This little creature is quite friendly, and invites young readers to tell him about themselves and to kiss him. Colorful illustrations with close-ups of the table, the salad, and the sweet snail will make this a favorite book on a young child's bookshelf. 

This is a very sweet picture book, with heartwarming illustrations, that shares with young readers all the different places to be: happy, sad, mad, bravery, etc. This would be a terrific book to share with young readers at bedtime or any other quiet story time. 

With simple rhyming text and stunning photographs, this poetic look at nature and new life appearing all around make this a wonderful book to share with young readers. An author's note at the back that briefly explains each photo helps with further research for kids that might use this book as a starting point for their own informational writing. This would be a terrific resource to have on any bookshelf. 

This charming picture book has a great message about young children exploring the world around them, while still enjoying the safety and protection of a caring parent. When Joey was born, he spent all of his time in his mother's pouch. But now he's gotten big enough to stick his head out and look around. He wants to hop about, but each time he goes out he gets frightened and returns to the pouch. Young readers will appreciate being shy around new people and the joy of making a new friend. Warm, cheery watercolor illustrations help make this a great book to share with primary aged children at story time.  

This fun picture book has a great lesson about listening to everyone's ideas when planning something fun. Pig, Mouse, and Duck are planning a birthday surprise to include an awesome cake. Pig and a Mouse go at it, but when Duck wants to add an ingredient that isn't in their recipe, they refuse to even consider it. Young readers will giggle when they get to the cute twist at the end. Bold, colorful illustrations will help make this a terrific book to share with primary students. 

Freckleface Strawberry (Freckleface Strawberry #1) by Julianne Moore, LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)  

This is a charming picture book that would be a great way to start a discussion about being comfortable in your own skin and accepting the special qualities that make people unique. The little girl in the story wants to be just like everyone else around her, but she feels very self conscious about her red hair and freckles. She tries several different ways to make them disappear, until she makes an important discovery about herself. This would make a great read aloud for young readers at the beginning of the school year. 

This fun book in the Freckleface Strawberry series shares with young readers the stress of dodgeball, especially when playing with someone who's a powerhouse at the game. Freckleface Strawberry loves days when she gets to go to school early because she loves all of the playground games. But on rainy days, the only choice is dodgeball in the gym. Windy Pants Patrick plays brutally and she is sure that getting hit with the ball will be painful and traumatic. Young readers will enjoy finding out how Freckleface Strawberry overcomes this fearsome problem. This might be a good read aloud at the beginning of the school year when students need reminders of how to play so everyone can have a good time. 

This volume in the Freckleface Strawberry series would be terrific to share with kids at the beginning of the school year. Freckleface Strawberry and Patrick Windy Pants are best friends because they have a lot in common. But the kids at school give them a hard time because boys and girls don't play with each other and they lead them to believe that they have too many differences to be friends. This story could lead to some good discussions about what makes a good friendship and why people should celebrate differences. 

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont, David Catrow (illustrator)  

Budding young artists and fans of the book, No David! by David Shannon will love this colorful picture book. The rhyming text is written to the rhythm and tune of the familiar folk song, "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More", making it a fun, rollicking book to share with young readers. 



  1. Happy Vacation, Jana! You've shared a lot of fun picture books for a lot of smiles! I've noted some. Thank you!

  2. You definitely got right into the swing of things with your reading! Looking forward to meeting Zinnia! Loved many of these titles, I'm looking forward to finding the Jan Thomas one. She has a couple other titles coming out this month, yay!

  3. You've shared a bunch of my favourites this week!!! :-D

    Escargot just looks beyond adorable, and I have a feeling Pete with No Pants will be pure delight. :)

  4. I have Zinnia on my device from netgalley and really need to get to it. I was interested in this Freckleface series, but got really excited when I realized that LeYuen Pham is the illustrator. I adore her work!

  5. Real Friends is just great. I think it is such a special book for kids to read. I wish I'd read it when I was younger! I was very happy to donate this one to a classroom.