Monday, June 4, 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.

It's finally summer for all of my friends here in central Ohio! School's out and everyone is looking forward to time spent swimming, attending local festivals, and going on car trip vacations. All of those are great opportunities to read! If the weather is nice, take the books outside with a cold glass of lemonade. If it's too hot or stormy outside, relax indoors next to a fan with a good book. Lots of public libraries have fun summer reading programs with opportunities to win fun prizes. Be sure to check out what your library has to offer. Here's what I've been reading this past week:

Just in time for Father's Day, this sweet rhyming picture book celebrates all of the ways fathers show love to their young children. From patiently letting little ones lend a hand to encouraging kids to do their best, dads have so many roles to fill. This book uses lively, lyrical text along with warm, whimsical artwork that will make this a lovely book to share with young children.

In this clever picture book, the text uses one word - dude - throughout the entire story. But that one word takes on so many different meanings and shades of meaning. There is a sweet story about friends having a terrific time at the beach together and another misunderstood shark that will have young readers smiling. This could be a great way to talk about vocabulary, and how one word can have so mean so many different things. This could also be a great mentor text for young writers to create their own one-word stories.

Everyone knows someone like Shark. We're always pretty sure that he or she is up to no good. But Shark always knows just the right thing to say to talk his way out of suspicion. This hilarious picture book is written in the same spirit as Wolfie the Bunny, where looks can be deceiving and friends shouldn't jump to conclusions about someone's motives...Or should they? Bob is the host of an underwater documentary program and it looks as though he's caught Shark in the process of eating the fish, seals, and even people. But each time he's called out, he insists that he's just misunderstood. Fun engaging text that brings to mind news characters like Les Nessman of WKRP in Cincinnati and a vividly illustrated underwater world make this a fun book to share with young readers right before you head to the pool or beach!

The more you share great stories with young readers, the more excited they become about building their own stories. A parent sharing a story about a big bunny gets plenty of editorial assistance from the youngster in this fun picture book, and there's an odd twist at the end of the story. I thought the story help from the youngster was fun, and this could be a good way to talk about building a story from what is already on the page to create one's own tale to suit one's preferences - more scary, more exciting, funnier, etc. 

This is a lovely concept book to share with young children. It presents beautifully illustrated animals with category words such as black and white, color, bright, giant, shape, etc. The artwork was rendered in a variety of media, including cut paper, colored pencil, oil pastels, marker, and computer. This would be a good way to talk about a variety of ELA concepts such as comparing/contrasting, descriptive words, categorization. It might even work as a good mentor text for young writers to try their hand at their own concept books. Their is an end note that talks a bit about endangered animals and a list of the animals used in the book that could serve as a nice starting place for kids to start their own research projects.

Poor Arfy really wants to find a place where he can be someone's dog. Writing sweet letters to homes, businesses, and even and abandoned house, he can't find anyone that wants to have him around. Young readers' will have their heartstrings tugged as they read Arfy's letters. The book does have an endnote with suggestions on how to help homeless animals. This could also be a good way to talk about letter writing with young children.

This picture book biography is an important reminder that women have had a long, tough fight to be treated equally. And even today we can't take those rights for granted. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to overcome many unfair hurdles to attend law school, get a job as an attorney, and be treated as an equal before the law. With engaging narrative text and awesome mixed media illustrations, this book would be a good nonfiction resource to share with middle grade readers. 

Ever since I saw the movie Pete's Dragon when I was a little girl (the one starring Helen Reddy who sang Candle on the Water - yes, I'm THAT old) I've been fascinated by lighthouses. This beautiful picture book tells the story of the life of a lighthouse keeper many years ago. The text of the story doesn't really say how long ago, but there's an author note on the endpaper that states - "Electric lights began to replace oil lamps in the 1920s; soon after, automated machines replaced clockwork, and the keepers' work was done." The artwork showcases the theme of circles - the round rooms of the lighthouse, the circle sweep of the light, the view through the lenses, and more. This would be a great way to talk about the cycles of this family's life - seasons, sickness, meals, daily routines, etc. This would be a great book to share with middle grade kids and maybe even inspire further research on the subject of lighthouses.

During World War II, Japanese-American people living in the western United States were sent to internment camps. This fascinating and heartwarming picture book biography tells the story of a passionate children's librarian in San Diego, Clara Breed, who made sure that her young patrons knew that she cared about them by writing to them, visiting them, and making sure they had books to read. With kid-friendly text and beautifully drawn artwork, this book shares excerpts of those letters, photographs of some of the youngest imprisoned children, and extensive notes and links to some of the powerful articles Ms. Breed published about the injustice of what happened. This book would be great to share with middle grade readers, especially those that might be researching World War II. It also could be a great springboard for discussion to compare what happened to these innocent Americans and the ways people with different backgrounds are marginalized in our country today. The story of Ms. Breed is also a great way to inspire us to look for ways that we can reach out and care for those that need it most.

This is a powerful book to share with high school or middle school readers that would be a good way to start a conversation and build community and relationship. The author shares her experience in way that honors those that have fought their way through oppression, marginalization, and discrimination - on the last page she discusses Roll Call - "Roll Call is an act of naming people who brought you into the room." The poem and the front and back endpapers name those individuals who paved the way, and pays "homage to those that make room for us at the table, or nod to us during conversation to ensure that black girls' voices are heard everywhere."

This 2015 Caldecott Honor winning picture book biography uses spare text and beautiful illustrations to celebrate the life of artist Frida Kahlo. The author uses English and Spanish language to showcase the dreams of Kahlo and the artwork was created with stop-motion puppets made from steel, polymer clay, and wool, acrylic paints, photography, and digital manipulations. This awesome picture book would be terrific on any bookshelf designed to encourage creativity and a growth mindset.

Adult Fiction

I haven't read very many books specifically aimed at middle-aged women, but I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley. This book definitely resonated with me because I am reaching that age (gasp). The main character of this novel, Kate, is fast-approaching her fiftieth birthday and her life is very hectic. Her teenage children are driving her crazy, her unemployed husband is studying to start a second career as a mindfulness counselor, her extended family has a multitude of problems that they look to her to solve, etc. Because she needs to start making some money to keep the family afloat, she decides to try to go back to work in the London money management firm that she left when she had children. But in order to land the job, she lies about her age and claims to be seven years younger than she actually is.

All of this is dealt with very humorously. The protagonist's dry witticisms about the minutiae of the daily grind (disrespectful teenagers, hot flashes, failing memory, exercising, etc.) kind of remind me of Erma Bombeck's writing from years ago. Only Kate must deal with modern day problems such as her teenage daughter's photographed bum going viral on Facebook, Skyping with her mother, and figuring out text message language.

This is obviously an adult book, not for the elementary classroom library. But for women that are dealing with many of the issues addressed in this book, it's a fun summer vacation read!


  1. So many wonderful books!!!I'm really looking forward to trying out DUDE with students - I've had great success with "Moo!", so I think this will be so much fun!

  2. Many books here that look great, Jana. I loved Hello Lighthouse, have Black Girl Magic on my list. Happy Vacation!

  3. I started making a mental list of all the books from your list this week that I want to read and by the end I should just say pretty much everything here. I also enjoyed Hello Lighthouse SO much! And I was just telling my kiddos about Dude, last week. So they are dying to read that one as soon as we have a local copy. I'm adding Wenzel's Hello Hello and No Truth Without Ruth to my TBR list, too. Thank so much for sharing, Jana!

  4. Big Bunny sounds interesting. Dude is a fun book. As is Misunderstood Shark.

  5. Daddies Do sounds sweet! My kids love to see the things that are the same with their families and animal families.

    Hope your summer is off to a great start!

  6. Yay summer!!!!
    I loved Dude (Santat is one of my favorite illustrators!), and I really am looking forward to reading Shark (I love Ame Dyckman so much!).

    Happy reading this week :)

  7. You have some of favorites-Misunderstood Shark and Can I Be Your Dog? And kids just love Dude! Big Bunny is a new one for me so I will definitely put in a request at the library. Have a great week!

  8. Today is our last day of school - I am really looking forward to some extra reading time! Love your picture books. I shared Hello Lighthouse with kids last week and I really didn't expect it, but they LOVED it!

  9. I think I love everything that you shared here - but Write To Me, Black Girl Magic, and Dude definitely caught my eye. Viva Frida happens to be one of my absolute faves. :) It's also school holidays here in Singapore (last week of May til third week of June). :)