Monday, August 7, 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.


#BookChomp is a fun way for book-lovers to celebrate the fun of reading a good book during the summer, especially with a snack. Go onto Twitter and check out all of the fun pictures of books and snacks! You'll definitely get hungry for books and snacks! Here are my books and snacks for the week:






#BookChomp was definitely a fun week! Here's a closer look of the books I enjoyed this week!
Middle Grade/YA Fiction

Smart Cookie by Elly Swartz 

I had the opportunity to read an ARC of this middle grade novel through my #BookRelays group. As a big fan of Finding Perfect, I was really excited to read Smart Cookie. And I was not disappointed! This book also had the authentic voice of a sixth grade girl dealing emotionally with missing her mother (who had passed away seven years earlier), wishing her father would find someone new to fill the hole in their family, and trying to negotiate the tumultuous world of middle school relationships and academic expectations.

Frankie Greene lives in a Bed & Breakfast with her father and maternal grandmother in the town where her mother had grown up. Her neighbor and friend, Elliot, has her starting to believe that there might be a ghost hanging around and scaring guests away. She’s secretly signed her father up on an online dating website, so maybe he can find someone to make their family complete. She's also trying to figure out why her once-BFF, Jessica, is barely speaking to her. All of these issues have Frankie on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

I think that middle grade students will definitely be able to relate to the main characters and the difficulties they experience coming to terms with family changes, whether through the death of a parent or the breakup of a marriage. There are good opportunities to discuss what makes a family, and ways that others can be included in your circle of relationships.

The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski 
I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for this review. I loved this mystery story of time travel and romance! Winter and her father are guardians of The Wood, a magical forest that contains time portals leading to different places and times. If travelers enter The Wood through these portals, it’s the guardian’s job to return them immediately to their own place and time. There are strict rules governing The Wood and time travelers that guardians are compelled to follow. When Winter’s father disappears under mysterious circumstances, a strange time traveler appears with information, and the forest itself seems to be dying, Winter is forced to break the rules and risk everything to find answers.

I was sucked into this story from the very beginning, and couldn't put the book down until I finished it! I loved that the plot places the characters in modern day central Ohio, dealing with contemporary issues of school, dating, and relationships. But, the moment the characters enter The Wood, “real world” problems are set aside so that the focus is on the larger matter of protecting the time-space continuum from those who would alter it for personal gain and risk destroying everything.

Because the plot develops in both the contemporary world and the magical woods, the author does a good job of giving an authentic voice to Winter, a sixteen-year-old high school student, her friends, and her mother. There's also the fun of bringing characters from the time portal world into Winter’s home life that made me keep turning pages to see how it would all turn out.

This book is YA fiction aimed at high school students. There is violence and some mild expletives, but it's within the context of the war in The Wood. There is some romance in the book, but it remains appropriate for kids this age. In fact, I would be comfortable recommending it for interested mature middle grade readers as the content is no more provocative than what's found in books like The Hunger Games or even Harry Potter.
Picture Books

Freckleface Strawberry: Monster Time! by Julianne Moore, LeUyen Pham (Contributor)  
For fans of the Freckleface Strawberry series, this Step Into Reading story will be lots of fun. Freckleface wants to play Monsters at recess time, but all of her other friends are engaged in other activities. Young readers can find out how Freckleface and her friends can compromise and cooperate to have a fun recess that includes everyone. 

Super Manny Stands Up! by Kelly DiPucchio, Stephanie Graegin (Illustrator)  
Just in time for the start-up of a new school year, this cute picture book has a great message about being brave and standing up for kids that are being bullied. Manny has a wardrobe of capes that he wears at home to fight off an amazing array of enemies: ocean monsters, zombie bears, alien robots. But when a smaller animal is bullied in the school lunchroom, will he remember that he's wearing his invisible cape and that he's still "Super Manny"? This would be a fun read aloud to share during the first days of school and would help to start a conversation about standing up for others. 

Two Truths and a Lie: It's Alive! by Ammi-Joan Paquette, Laurie Ann Thompson 
What a terrific nonfiction resource this book would be for any middle grade classroom library! The authors used fascinating, well-researched information and awesome photographs to create a fun experience, separating fact from fiction. For each chapter, there are three stories: two are true, and one is a made up lie. Readers are encouraged to use critical thinking skills and all of the research tools available to determine which stories are true and which are false. The book includes the answers and an extensive bibliography. I think this book would make a great mentor text for informational writing - maybe students could write their own "Two Truths and a Lie" type stories! 

My Daddy Rules the World: Poems about Dads by Hope Anita Smith  
This is a terrific, heartwarming collection of poems celebrating fathers. The poems are playful, heartfelt, and whimsical as they show dads in all the different roles they play: musicians, barbers, and sports coaches. Illustrated with torn paper collages in warm, inviting colors, this picture book would be an awesome gift on Father's Day or for expectant dads. It would also make a great addition to the poetry collection in any classroom library. 

Mart√≠'s Song for Freedom / Mart√≠ y sus versos por la libertad by Emma Otheguy (Goodreads Author), Adriana Domainguez (Contributor), Josae Martai (Contributor), Beatriz Vidal (Contributor)  
Written in both Spanish and English, this picture book biography tells the story of Jose Marti. Marti was a Cuban writer, who was exiled in the late nineteenth century because he spoke out against the colonial Spanish rulers and slavery. In New York, he continued to write and speak out for Cuban independence. Colorful illustrations complement the text nicely, making this a nice nonfiction resource for the classroom library. 

Go BIG or Go Gnome! by Kirsten Mayer, Laura K. Horton (Illustrations)  
This fun picture book tells the story of Albert, a little gnome who is unable to grow a beard. All the other gnomes grow huge beards, and even have special contests for beards. When Al is unable to fake a beard, he leaves and goes home. It isn't long before his true talent becomes apparent to everyone. The book has a good message for young readers to be true to themselves and to not become discouraged. Everyone has unique talents and abilities. Charming, colorful illustrations make this a terrific book to have on the classroom bookshelf.

When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt, Jill McElmurry (Illustrator)   
This is a good picture book to share with young readers when you want to celebrate all kinds of families! Cardell, a young coyote, is perfectly happy with his family the way they are. His parents live in separate parts of the forest, and he enjoys special time with both of them. But when Otis starts coming to spend time with his mom, Cardell doesn't like it one bit. Lots of children will be able to relate to this, and this could start a good conversation about what a family is. The illustrations are beautifully painted images of Cardell's family life in the desert Southwest.  

The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe (Scientists in the Field) by Loree Griffin Burns, Ellen Harasimowicz (Photographer)  
This awesome nonfiction picture book shares fascinating information along with stunning photography to describe how scientists worked together with bee keepers to understand why colonies of bees were mysteriously collapsing. In 2006, people working in the beekeeping industry discovered that entire beehives were being losing their bees at an alarming rate. Because bees and other pollinators are an important part of producing America's food, it was imperative that scientists get a handle on this problem. This is a terrific nonfiction resource to have on the shelf because it illustrates how scientists approach problems like this, it is very well researched, and it includes lots of resources for further research. It also would make a great mentor text for informational writing as it blends narrative style writing with factual information and includes terrific illustrations.

Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo, Harry Bliss (Illustrator)  
This is a fun picture book to share with young readers that tells the story of Louise. Louise is a barnyard chicken who is bored with her quiet, peaceful life and longs for adventure. Beautiful illustrations and engaging, narrative text takes readers along on adventures on a pirate ship, at a circus, and a bazaar in a faraway land. This book could serve as a good mentor text for narrative writing.  


  1. I enjoyed Smart Cookie. I agree that middle grade readers will be able to relate. Super Manny Stands Up is a favorite picture book of mine from this summer. I'm still waiting for Two Truths and a Lie from the library. It sounds fabulous. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great list of books this week. I love the food pairings!

  3. You were a busy reader this week!
    I read Smart Cookie too and adored it! I spotted pieces of Elly within it which made my heart so happy!
    Loved Two Truths and a Lie. I'm going to have fun with it this year!

  4. I have Two Truths and A Lie, hope to read it soon, Jana. Thanks for sharing the new "Smart Cookie." I loved Finding Perfect and it sounds great. Lots of books to find in your post today! Thanks!

    1. Forgot to say that I loved seeing the "treat/book" tweets. How fun!

  5. Can't wait until there's an e galley of Smart Cookie available. The Hive Detectives has really stuck with me... so much so that I have planted bee gardens around my house! Fun pictures of your books and snacks.

  6. I love the food pairings! What a fun idea. I'll have to hop over to twitter and check it out.

  7. BookChomp sounds a fun thing to do but of course I hear about it as it ends, lol!

  8. BookChomp---SO FUN! I wish I'd known about it sooner!
    When Otis Courted Mama is one of my favorites. I love reading that book to my son. :)

  9. Book Chomp sounds like such a fun idea! You have had an amazing reading week, for sure. Im looking forward to Smart Cookie - sounds like a perfect middle grade selection.

  10. Goo Big or Go Gnome looks adorable, and so much fun!!

  11. I can't wait to read Smart Cookie. I loved finding Perfect. When Otis Courted Mama is a delightful book.
    Two Truths and a Lie: It's Alive! is finally on order at our library. I'm very excited to be first in line when it arrives!

  12. It's a good thing #bookchomp was only one week. How can a photo make me so hungry?