Monday, July 24, 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.

I love summertime and going on vacation to visit family and friends!  We had a wonderful visit with my parents. I love sitting on their deck in Keokuk, Iowa and watching the boats make their way up and down the Mississippi River. We also had a chance to spend some time with my husband's sister and her husband in Mount Vernon, Illinois. We had a great trip and I even had a chance to relax and read! Here's what I've been reading:

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal  

I really enjoyed reading this book! On the one hand, it was thought-provoking and insightful, and on the other hand it was just really funny. There were several places where I laughed out loud, especially in the places where she revealed a truth or observation that I thought only belonged to me. Whenever I realize that we all have some of the same anxieties or peeves, it just makes me feel better, less alone in this world. And I think that is what the author would have wanted. I feel happy that I’ve read this book and gotten to know this author better, and sad to know that she left this world way too soon. And from this book, I now know that feeling is called “wabi-sabi”. While this book is definitely written for adults, and has some language and themes meant for grown-ups, I think that teachers could use selected excerpts as mentor texts for writing personal narratives.
Picture Books

  Claymates by Dev Petty, Lauren Eldridge (Illustrator) 
Playing with clay has never looked more fun and inviting than it does in this awesome picture book! There are two new lumps of clay in the art studio, and they're not quite sure what's going to happen. When the artist is finished, the new figures are glad for the break. Young readers will have fun watching the two friends start playing around with their shapes and features. With all of the new fun shapes the friends become, how will they fix when they hear the artist returning? This would be a fun mentor text to use to help kids create their own clay art and stories!  

The Teacher's Pet by Anica Mrose Rissi, Zachariah OHora (Illustrator)  
This is a fun picture book that shows what happens when the classroom pet grows up and becomes more than just a handful! The illustrations are bold and colorful, but with that older picture book quality that makes it comfortable. This would be fun to read aloud to primary aged students. It would be fun to have them imagine their own classroom pet adventures.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall  
Anyone that's ever faced the high dive (or similar fears) will certainly be able to relate to this awesome picture book. For me there was the high diving board on top of a raft in the middle of the lake at Springbrook Campground. But they had a rule, that if you climbed up the ladder, you had to jump off the diving board. Apparently they were more worried about folks slipping on the ladder trying to come down. I climbed up, lost my nerve, and then spent the entire afternoon up there. Finally I had to jump because my family was ready to leave. At any rate, I loved this book because we can all root for this young man that is trying to muster courage to take the leap. This would be a terrific mentor text for writing personal narratives about facing fears.

Sea Monkey & Bob by Aaron Reynolds, Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Illustrations)   
Friends help each other face their fears and keep each other safe. This adorable picture book has a good message for young readers who often have all sorts of things they're afraid of. Sea Monkey is afraid he'll sink to the bottom of the ocean and Bob is afraid he'll float to the surface. This would be great to share with young readers and talk about all the ways friends help each other.  

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown, Julie Paschkis (Illustrator)  
This is a fascinating picture book biography about the life of Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet of the twentieth century. He grew up loving books and word, and was more interested in writing than playing soccer. He used his poetry to speak out for justice and fairness for the people of his country, putting himself in danger. The illustrations are beautiful and incorporate Spanish words throughout the pages. This would be a great poetry mentor text to have on the classroom shelf. 


  1. Your holidays sound wonderful, Jana. I loved Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, and re-read parts from time to time just to "hear" Amy's voice. The Neruda book looks really lovely, too.

  2. The vacation sounds wonderful, Jana. I loved mine! I used Amy's Encyclopedia often with my middle school students & they loved her ideas. The pieces opened up new ideas for them to write about. Thanks for the other books shared, too. I need especially to find & read Jabari Jumps!

  3. I can't wait to read The Teacher's Pet. I love Zachariah OHora

  4. Sounds like you had a relaxing and fun trip. The Teacher's Pet sounds like a book my elementary readers will like. Waiting for my library to get it.

  5. What beautiful photographs!!
    I still need to read Amy's Encyclopedia. Thank you for sharing it to remind me.
    I LOVE Claymates so much! It celebrates art and creativity and storytelling and humor! :)

    Happy reading this week!

  6. I have loved Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and Amy Krauss Rosenthal ever since I first read this book. I saw her last year (in 2016) at BookExpo and I thought she did not look well. She had a fun new book out, but without her energy to move it, it didn't go anywhere. So sad.