Monday, March 26, 2018

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.

Yesterday was Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday. As we stood outside in the beautiful sunshine celebrating the beginning of Holy Week, waving our palm fronds and following a donkey into the church, we know that the dark days of winter have almost come to an end. We shivered in our coats a bit, but hopefully the days will start turning warmer and warmer. But we do have a few cold, wet, snowy moments left and then it's time to grab the books and head back to our warm, cozy reading spots. Here's what I've been reading this past week:

Middle Grade Fiction

This is a nice middle grade novel that tells the story of an exceptional teacher who is able to forge awesome relationships with his fifth grade students. The story, told from the point of view of seven of his students, starts at the beginning of the school year with these kids getting to know this easy-going first year teacher. As the year goes along, the students are growing and learning how to deal with each other. In the middle of the school year there is a terrible accident, and suddenly each student must deal with his or her feelings of responsibility and also continue the work of self-discovery that their teacher started. The seven students are all different types of kids: the class clown, the new girl, the smart kid, the bully, the slacker, the shy one, and the one with low self-esteem. With all of these different personalities, young readers will certainly be able to relate to one or more of these kids. This book would be a good way to illustrate point of view in literature, and also cause and effect relationships. It also might be a good read aloud at any point during the school year.

All the talk surrounding the movie made me want to read it again...Loved it even more than the first time I read it several years ago!

Picture Books

This is a terrific picture book with a story that will be recognizable by all young readers. The young girl in the book, Annie, is super excited because of an upcoming Career Day at her school. As she shares this news with her family, each family member has very specific ideas about what her costume should be. I love the gracious way that Annie accepts each family members' props for her costume while holding firm in her mind how she wants to present her chosen future career. I also love all of the descriptive ways she talks about her future career. She is supposed to keep her choice secret until the school assembly at the end of the week, and so she give all kinds of clues and descriptions without coming right out and saying "I want to be an astronaut when I grow up." What a nice mentor text for descriptive writing! I also think this is a good book to share with young readers to help develop a growth mindset, relaying the message that kids can grow up to be whatever they wish. The book also has some good endnotes that include biographical information about several women astronauts, information about the moon cycles, and resources for further research, making it a good resource to have on the bookshelf.

It seems that every day there are stories in the news about heartbreaking situations in which so many young people are bullied and feel hopeless that there is anyone to turn to or anything they can do about it. This beautiful picture book, written by someone who was bullied herself and wants to change the conversation, uses gorgeous illustrations and lyrical text to help girls understand that they are special and that they matter and that they can do anything in this world. This would definitely be a terrific book to have on any young person's bookshelf and could generate lots of important discussions.

This fun picture book celebrates the loving fun of taking care of a pet. The little boy in the story begs his mom to let him have a pet. Once she agrees to let him have a puppy, it isn't long before the puppy wants a pet to love and take care of. Of course this starts a whole chain of pets wanting there own pets. It's kind of silly, but the warm, welcoming illustrations and the sweet narrative make this a terrific book to share with young kids.

In the age of social media when so much of our lives are posted in videos and photos on Facebook and Instagram, this book is a humorous poke at all of those parents who have made their kids “famous”. The little girl in this book has been photographed and recorded throughout her entire life. But the book acknowledges that her adoring fans, her parents’ friends and family, love her no matter what. The fun, colorful illustrations and the clever text makes this a cute book to have on the shelf.

This cute, colorful picture book reminds me a lot of Thomas The Tank. The preschoolers I cared for at the time were crazy about that train and we read the books, watched the TV program, and played with all of the toys. With primary color illustrations, and lots of chugga-chugga choo-choo's, this story about a little train engine that wants to be just like his papa will be lots of fun to share with little kids that like to make train noises.

This lovely picture book celebrates imagination, creativity, and the ambition to reach for the stars. The little girl in this book wants to be all sorts of things - an astronaut, a veterinarian, a pastry chef, and so on... But the little girl also has the nagging, doubtful voice at the back of her head telling her all the reasons that she can't achieve the things she dreams. I think everyone has that voice at the back of their head, and we should all be like to this girl and tell it, "Don't tell me I can't!"

Because a blue moon is so special, it inspires a lot of imaginative stories. Anything can happen when there's a blue moon in the sky. With beautiful illustrations rendered in blue ink, the author takes us on an evening stroll with a young boy and his cat. As the two walk together through the woods they find a lake, another blue moon in the lake, and before too long they're on the moon itself. The boy is thrilled for this amazing adventure, but he starts to miss home. When he finds himself safe and warm in his own bed, one would have to wonder whether or not it really happened. This would make a terrific bedtime story for young readers with big imaginations. This could also serve as a fun mentor text to help young writers imagine their own Blue Moon stories.

The digitally colored illustrations, with lots of blue, gold, green and red, along with the gentle, rhyming text make this a lovely book to share with young readers, especially as a bedtime story. Reminiscent of Where The Wild Things Are, this book takes readers on a nighttime journey out to sea where there are all kinds of animals, storms, and adventures waiting.

I absolutely loved the movie Hidden Figures, and this picture book biography is based on the book and the movie. This is the story of the four women who were instrumental to our country's space program as mathematical computers. These women faced racism and sexism, but rose above all that to achieve great things. This book would be awesome to share with young readers to help develop a growth mindset. And with endnotes that include biographical information, timeline information and a glossary, this book is a terrific nonfiction resource to have on the shelf.

There are lots of books that share the story of Harriet Tubman with young readers. However, this one is a beautifully illustrated poetic march backward through time to share all of the important and diverse roles she took on. The book's gorgeously haunting watercolor paintings along with the narrative in verse show us an old woman and then each page takes us back a bit further to Harriet's role as an activist for women's rights, as a spy during the Civil War, as a nurse to wounded soldiers, and as a hero who returned to the South many times to lead slaves north to freedom. The backwards chronology and poetic style make this book a quality mentor text to help young writers discover interesting ways to organize their own informational writing.

This is an adorable, easy-reader picture book with a great message for kids. Mo loves playing football with his after-school team, the Robins. But Mo is much smaller and younger than all the other players. During most games, he sits on the bench next to the coach. When Mo finally gets out on the field, the players on the opposing team assume that no one is really going to throw the ball to Mo. The coach uses the other team's assumptions to the Robins' advantage for a clever ending to the story. Easy-to-read text and humorous illustrations will make this a popular book on the primary bookshelf. This would also be a good book to share with kids to help develop a growth mindset, as Mo is a terrific example of not giving up, but working hard to get better.

What a terrific picture book to have on the shelf for the entire year. With fun, vibrant illustrations showcasing the details of each season, and lyrical poetry celebrating each and every month of the year, this book makes great use of sensory details and descriptive writing. Right now as spring is having a difficult time taking hold, I can really relate to the "March" poem: "March is when a cheerleader no longer cartwheels inside your chest because the forecast is 'SNOW'...

In the 19th century, Canada adopted laws intended to educate aboriginal people by forcing them to attend church-run, government-funded, industrial schools, called residential schools. Children as young as four or five were required to travel far from their homes to attend boarding schools for many months at a time. This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of a little girl who is just days away from leaving home. The girl and her family are using these last days to make sure that the girl takes as many memories, songs, and stories as she can with her. The author does a wonderful job of using sensory details and the illustrations are rendered in the rich colors of autumn - red, orange, and brown. This would be a terrific book to accompany a unit on Native Americans of North America or to share with young readers at the beginning of the school year.


  1. Lots of wonderful books here, Jana. I've read a few, hope to read "I Can Be Anything. . ." soon. I loved Because of Mr. Terrupt, a sweet, sweet book.

  2. You read a lot of fabulous picture books this week Jana.
    I became a Nina Laden fan through her board books. Now I'm waiting for Yellow Kayak.
    Shi-shi-etko and Campbells other book are beautiful books about a terrible time. Since I focus a lot on Canadian focused books, the only book I know of about residential schools in the USA is Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team. Are there others?

  3. I keep seeing Because of Mr. Terupt pop up here and there and I hope to read it before long. I also really want to get my hands on I Am Enough! And I discovered a couple weeks ago that we have Before She Was Harriet, so I plan to check that one out very soon. Thank you for all that shares this week!

  4. Because of Mr. Terupt is a student favorite. Rob Buyea is amazing at writing from different perspectives. Each character is so unique. He lives in my state of Massachusetts so I've been lucky to hear him speak a few times.

  5. You highlighted a lot of great picture books! I loved The Boy and the Blue Moon and I am Famous. I Can Be Anything is new to me and sounds great for #classroombookaday!

  6. "I am enough" has been receiving a lot of love recently - i really am looking forward to reading it. So many gorgeous books here, you've had a very very busy reading week - and all good titles too!