Monday, November 27, 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.

Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. I know I enjoyed relaxing and getting caught up with everyone at my sister-in-law Brenda's house. She prepared an enormous and delicious feast!

Of course after overindulging in all of my favorite foods, I have been working extra hard to get back to living healthy! Even though the weather is cold, I can walk away the pounds with Leslie Sansone right in my kitchen!

In addition to the visiting, eating, and exercising, I've also been reading some awesome books. Here's what I've been reading the past few weeks:

Adult/YA/Middle Grade Fiction

I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for this review. While the mature nature of the story and the adult language make this book inappropriate for middle grade children, the novel could be read by high school students and other young adults. There is a wonderful message that a family can be the people you choose to surround yourself with because there is mutual and unconditional love in the relationship.

Arthur has lunch at the gravesite of his recently deceased wife every day. It is in the cemetery where he meets Maddy, a teenager who also comes daily to escape the excruciating demands of high school life. Arthur helps Maddy when she finds herself in circumstances where she truly needs the love and caring of a family. Arthur, Maddy, and Lucille (Arthur’s next door neighbor) become very close and readers will find themselves drawn into the kitchen to enjoy some of Lucille’s cooking and the comforting way that Arthur helps Maddy believe in herself.

This young adult fiction novel gives readers an expansive sense of what a family is and can be. Daria Esfandyar is about to turn sixteen and her Iranian American family is getting ready to celebrate her birthday with an over-the-top bash in their Beverly Hills community. But when a genealogy project at school reveals some big surprises for Daria, she’s not sure who she even is or what a true family even is. Mature language and themes make this book more appropriate for high schoolers, but it’s definitely got some good messages about honesty, authenticity, and appreciation for everyone’s stories.

I think it’s safe to say that I will never attempt to climb Mount Everest, but this book helped me to see what that experience must be like. The book is so well researched and written, I was riveted from start to finish. This book would be terrific for those who like adventure stories, but it also has some terrific messages about family, friendship, perseverance, and giving. I’m only sorry that it’s taken me so long to read it!         

Picture Books

This is a terrific picture book to discuss point of view with young readers. Nia loves her pet turtle, Alfie, and he loves her, too. Told from alternating points of view, this book shares their experiences. The illustrator did a wonderful job showing the worldview of both the little girl and her pet turtle. This could be a great mentor text to help kids write from different perspectives.

This beautifully written and illustrated picture book shares a special memory of an early morning fishing trip the narrator took with his father. As a family of Vietnamese refugees living in Minnesota, the author’s parents worked multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. The fishing trips helped provide food for the family, but they also were an opportunity for the child to learn about his father’s life in Vietnam, the war, and his relatives. It was also a special time in which the author felt that he was a helping his father and contributing to the family’s wellbeing, even though he was a young boy. This special book could be a great mentor text to help kids write about their own special experiences.

This charming picture book tells the story of an immigrant family’s first Thanksgiving celebration in America. When Mr. Silberklang wins the Thanksgiving raffle at his workplace, the prize is a huge, living turkey. Getting the mischievous bird home on the train, was only the beginning of this family’s holiday. Young readers will have a good time finding out just how this family adjusts their expectations and starts their own special traditions. The humorous drawings support the story wonderfully.

I remember some of the best times during the holidays at relatives’ homes were spent with my cousins, playing in the other room. But you didn’t want to be trapped with the babies, and you were too little to play with the older kids. A swing set in the backyard was perfect. This fun picture book would be awesome to share with youngsters that spend holiday times visiting relatives. The humorous, colorful illustrations show the many obstacles between the boring grownups and the freedom of the backyard.

Thanksgiving is a time that is filled with favorite traditions in many families. This nonfiction picture book biography tells about how Sarah Hale wrote letters to presidents and politicians to convince them to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. It was a difficult undertaking, but she used the power of her pen and persistence to get her way. With awesome illustrations and kid-friendly informational text, this nonfiction resource is a terrific to help young readers understand the history of the holiday. Author notes at the end of the book place Hales efforts in historical context with the Civil War and other events of the time.


  1. I almost picked up Elizabeth Berg's book at the bookstore this weekend, but then I decided on something else. I've enjoyed some of Berg's other books so it's on my radar.

  2. I just saw a review of Elizabeth Berg's book, and you've made it sound good, too, Jana. I loved A Different Pond, so lovely and heart-touching. Thanks for all!

  3. I just ordered Alfie so perfect timing! I am looking forward to reading and sharing with students. I do not have many Thanksgiving books so glad to have some recommendations for next year.

  4. Alfie and A Different Pond are both books on my list of titles I can't wait to read. Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts here.

  5. It was so nice to have some time to just read over break! Although after Thanksgiving, we were busy busy! Looking forward to some winter break reading next!

  6. A Different Pond is one of my favourite picture books from this year. I also liked The Authentics. The Story of Arthur Truluv looks just delightful!