Monday, June 26, 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 in full swing!  Our community has their annual fireworks display on the last weekend in June as the culmination of the annual festival.  We are lucky enough to be able to see these fireworks from our own driveway. In fact the view is better in front of our own house than it is from the festival itself! It makes me very happy, because we can enjoy the show without big crowds or having to drive in heavy traffic to get home once it's finished. Once the last firework has popped, I can get back in the house and right back to my book!
Hope you're enjoying your summer and getting plenty of time to relax and read.  Here's what I've been reading: 

Adult Fiction

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I bought a copy of this book a while back, and finally took the time to read it. I am so glad I did! Not only were the characters so well developed and authentic, but the plot was so compelling. Told from the points of view of three different women, this novel takes a hard look at what it was like to be a black maid working for a white woman in the Deep South in the early part of the twentieth century. The women in the story take a huge risk to collaborate on a tell-all book that will share a bunch of nasty secrets of the society ladies of Jackson, Mississippi.

The rising and falling action of the book is awesome, and I would find myself feeling so tense and worried right along with the main characters. I think this is an important book, because it goes to show that while ordinary people tried to take steps to make a difference in the way African Americans were treated, the consequences for taking action could be severe. And so making the decision to help in the effort was very difficult and scary, and many people decided the risks were too great.

This book, with mature themes in it, is definitely for young adults and grownups. It reminds me a lot of Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson.
Picture Books

On the Spot: Countless Funny Stories by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Lea Redmond (Contributor), Sanne te Loo (Contributor)  

It's bittersweet to read this wonderfully fun, interactive picture book knowing that Amy Krouse Rosenthal was taken away from us way too soon. But at the same time, I think that she would love the idea of folks cuddling up with children and having fun sharing a story that can be different every time it's shared. I'm sure there will be many giggles and attempts to find the silliest items to place in the designated spots on the page to complete the rhyming story.

Secrets I Know by Kallie George, Paola Zakimi (Illustrator)  
The sweet, simple text along with the warm, friendly drawings make this a picture book that I would love to climb inside again and again. The little girl doesn't let a rainy day get her down. She has a wonderful imagination so that she's able to put on her raincoat and head outside with her adorable little dog. She lets us in on her secrets: trees are great umbrellas, the umbrella can be turned upside down to become a boat, the seashells in the sandbox can be transformed into a tea party. She visits her friend next door and the imaginative play continues. This would be a terrific story time read to help young readers learn to make the best of their time by being creative and enjoying friends.

Bad Guy by Hannah Barnaby, Mike Yamada (Contributor)  
This picture book takes a fun look at sibling rivalry through the eyes of a naughty little boy with a wild imagination. The little guy in this story likes to think that he's a bad guy, a great villain. He spends his play time trapping super heroes in a cage, stealing treasure and burying it, and plotting his younger sister's demise. The vibrant illustrations that come from someone with a background in movie animation make the narrative even more entertaining, especially when you get to the twists at the end. One of the twists is very subtle, and I found myself going back over it several times and even had my husband go over it! This one would be a terrific way to work on inferencing skills with young readers!  

Flowers for Sarajevo by John McCutcheon, Kristy Caldwell (Illustrations)  
This is a beautiful picture book that shows the horrors of war and one musician's refusal to give up playing in the face of danger and terror. Told from the point of view of young Drasko, a boy selling flowers in the market square, this is the story of Vedran Smailovic, a cellist for the Sarajevo Opera Orchestra. After a bombing that killed 22 people, he emerged from the rehearsal building to play beautiful music. He repeated this act for 22 days in a row, one for each of the victims. The illustrations are stunning and haunting as the background for each is faded as though there's a mist or fog that has descended and the foreground is in bold contrast. There is a CD that accompanies this book that has a recording of a song written by the author, "The Streets of Sarajevo" and also a solo recording of Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor, the tune played by the cellist in the story. There is also a recording of the author sharing his thoughts on this story. This is definitely a terrific resource to share with middle grade students! 

If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas, Jaime Kim (Contributor)  
This beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book shares information about the moon with young readers using lyrical text that reads like a poem. As a little girl is sitting up in her bed and considering the moon, the moon makes the case that it is far too busy to be just hanging in the sky, doing nothing. Each page has a line from the poetic narrative and factual information. The paintings that go along with each point are magnificent. This would be a great way to introduce this information to young readers, with this book as a starting point for further research. It could also serve as a great mentor text for informational writing.  



  1. An amazing list of picture books. I would love to get my hands on a few of these. If you were the moon is one I am particularly intrigued by.

  2. I loved The Help, put Midnight Without Moon on the list, Jana. And I have and loved If You Were The Moon. Laura's books are simply wonderful! Thanks for the new picture books too. Flowers for Sarajevo is one I know I will like, though sad, and now considering the plight of Sudan and Syria. Glad your summer is going well! Thanks!

  3. I really want to read Flowers for Sarajevo. It sounds like a very important book.

  4. You have a fabulous collection of titles here today. I'm looking forward to Midnight Without Moon, Bad Guy, and Secrets I Know.

  5. Years ago we lived on the 18th floor of a downtown apartment building, and had the best view of the summer fireworks from our balcony. I visited our old neighborhood a while back and discovered that they'd built a new high rise building next door, and we would've lost our view! So the timing was definitely right. ;-)

    I loved If You Were the Moon, such a lovely blend of poetry and nonfiction.

  6. The Help was a book I really enjoyed. If You Were the Moon sounds beautiful. How nice to be able to see fireworks right from your house!

  7. So happy you like IF YOU WERE THE MOON--I agree about Jaime Kim's art. Several pbs here already on my tb list--adding ON THE SPOT, which I had not yet heard about. (I've got Textbook by AKR on my Kindle right now to read soon.) Thanks, Jana!