Monday, June 25, 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.

Hope everyone is enjoying summer! Last Thursday was the official first day, and while the first few days of the new season we're pretty rainy, the clouds finally lifted and we were able to enjoy the Powell Community fireworks this weekend. Our community has their fireworks to coincide with their local festival. That way we can all enjoy them and still enjoy Fourth of July festivities with family and friends. Anyway, the weather was perfect and always a great kickoff to summer! During the rainy days, I did manage to get in some good reading. Here's what I've been reading:

Middle Grade Fiction

I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this middle grade historical fiction novel from NetGalley in exchange for a review. I absolutely loved this book. Because the story takes place in the summer of 1966, readers are able to enjoy the middle school friendship drama surrounding the ups and downs of the upcoming Beatles concert without the characters being glued to their phones and texting each other right and left.

Trudy Mixer has been an avid Beatles fan ever since their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan show in 1964. From that day forward, she has been the president of her school’s Beatles fan club. It was a popular club in the beginning, but two years later the club’s membership is dwindling. But the Beatles are going to be performing in concert during the summer, and if Trudy can get the chance to meet Paul McCartney, she’s sure she can wind up on top again.

Even though the events of this story take place long before today’s tweens were born (in fact this is stuff from their grandparents’ era), the adolescent characterizations and drama is fresh. Best friends growing apart, blooming love interests, family and school stress are ingredients that keep readers engaged. The story has a good message – everyone is going through their own trials and tribulations and good friends will help see each other through their problems.

Fans of the Beatles and period stories from the sixties will definitely appreciate the cultural references of this novel. Just for fun, I made a Spotify playlist of all the songs mentioned in this book just so I could enjoy listening to the great music in the same way the characters in the story did. This is a terrific middle grade book, appropriate for kids in grades five and up.

The author sent me a review copy to share with my #BookRelays group. This fun middle grade graphic novel tells the story of how Mr. Puffball became a Hollywood stunt cat. This book is filled with cat puns and clever, nostalgic movie jokes. For middle grade kids who like a funny rags to riches story, this would be a fun book to share with them. 

For fans of this fun Mr. Puffball series, comes the third installment. My book group, #BookRelays, was sent a review copy to share. More fun jokes and laughs as Mr. Puffball winds up on a reality TV show. These books are pretty popular among fourth and fifth graders, and I'm sure this one will be as well.

Picture Books

Gertie the Girl Scout is trying to help Bear find something good to eat in this funny cartoon picture book. At first Bear is going to eat a rock, and Gertie soon realizes that Bear has no idea what he should eat. But Gertie soon becomes frustrated and yells at Bear. After they part ways, the come to realize that they need each other. There's some good opportunities to discuss how friends help each other solve problems.

This fun nonfiction picture book teaches young readers about microbes (microscopic organisms) that live everywhere. The authors use humorous text and awesome close up photographs of places like our clothes, our teeth, paper, etc. There is a simple discussion of what these microbes do and how they affect us. This would be a good book to share as an introduction to microbiology or simply as a discussion about germs and why we should wash our hands, brush our teeth, and launder our clothes. 

In an age when there are so many books and articles about how to be happy, sometimes it seems that if we're not happy all the time there's something wrong with us. This sweet picture book brings back our favorite little girl and potato from I'm Bored along with their friend, Flamingo. Flamingo is sad, and while the little girl and the potato do their best to help Flamingo cheer up, they all realize that sometimes it's all right to just let yourself be sad. I love that the friends talk about it and decide that they all still like each other even if one of them is sad. This is a great book to share with young readers, who sometimes have a tough time managing their emotions.

As families sit outside on blankets together to enjoy fireworks displays this summer, they are certain to hear some of Irving Berlin's music, especially "God Bless America". The days leading up to the Fourth of July would be a terrific time to share this interesting picture book biography that tells the story of young Irving Berlin, who fled Russia with his family at the end of the nineteenth century. A poor, homeless young man, Berlin worked very hard as a waiter and learned to write music. As his songs became more famous, people all across America were encouraged by his music during rough times. It might be fun to find some of his music on the internet and share it with youngsters who are probably familiar with several of the songs (even if they don't know it). There is an author's note and a timeline at the back of the book that might serve as a good starting point for further research. 

Kids (and grownups) have always been fascinated by what lies deep beneath the surface of the ocean. This fascinating nonfiction book takes readers onboard ALVIN, a deep-sea submersible craft. The book discusses the details of diving, the dangers the pilot of the submersible might encounter, how the scientists on board collect specimens for study, and many other interesting topics. Years ago, I took a ride on a submarine in Grand Cayman (Atlantis) and loved looking at the underwater life so far down below the surface. This book is has a nice bibliography and list of resources, including websites, at the back. This is a terrific nonfiction resource to have on the shelf.

This beautifully illustrated book uses wonderfully descriptive narrative to tell young readers about a day in the life of a red-tailed hawk. Just like Gianferrari's previous book, Coyote Moon, this book uses very dramatic details and description to show kids the excitement of the hunt for food to feed the hawk family. The author lists more factual information and resources for further research at the back of the book. This is a great nonfiction book to share with young readers.

This fun picture book presents itself as an information text about squirrels. However, the feisty squirrel in the story reluctantly agreed to participate because he believed he would be able to have all the tacos he wanted. When he becomes impatient with where the narrative was going, he takes matters into his own hands. This would be a fun way to talk about story building with young readers and writers. 

Before you know it, the cold winds will blow and make your ears quite uncomfortable. This fascinating picture book biography tells the story of Chester Greenwood, the man widely credited with inventing the earmuffs. Using kid-friendly text and cute illustrations, this book explains that while Greenwood didn't actually invent this important cold-weather ear protector, he greatly improved what was available and patented his ideas. This book is great for helping young readers understand how inventors work and the patent process. This would be a good nonfiction resource for kids participating in their schools' invention convention and for those that want a better understanding of what they see on shows like Shark Tank.

This lovely picture book biography shares with young readers how the artfully nurtured childhood of Henri Matisse led to his becoming a famous artist. The author points out that he was raised in a northern French mill town that was cold and gray. His mother did her best to add color and creativity to their humble home and encouraged him to create art as well. The simple text and beautiful illustrations make this a great starting point for study and research into the life of Henri Matisse. Quick warning for parents and teachers: There is one double page spread with illustrations of nude bodies. Please be aware of this, consider the maturity of your readers, and share this book with guidance and sensitivity. 

This cute picture book has a fun twist and a good message about problem solving and building relationships. One day Josh decides to wear a grocery bag on his head. For the whole day, everyone he encounters throws shade on his choice, telling him why wearing a bag on his head is a bad idea. I like that at dinnertime, his younger sister simply asks him why he was wearing a bag on his head. Wow! It really hit me that the entire day, no one bothered to talk to him or just ask him what was going on. This really has a good lesson about making assumptions about the intentions of others. I also liked that once the sister reached out to build relationship with him, she shared his burden and helped him with his problem. Those that have ever made the unfortunate choice to cut their own hair will also be able to relate to this story!


  1. Some wonderful titles here! I read Hawk Rising this week as well. Really loved this title. Happy summer reading!

  2. I'm looking forward to Hawk Rising and I'm Sad, Jana, two books that are receiving lots of good reviews! Thanks for sharing about She Loves You, will put it on my list! I remember some cousins having a huge argument with their parents when they wanted to see The Beatles in concert. Such a fun time!

  3. I haven't read any of the Mr. Puffball books, but the third is in my stack to read.

  4. I'm Sad sounds like a great book especially for a child who might have some big emotions. I like that it's a book that shows that it's okay to be sad sometimes.

  5. I'm waiting for Do Not Lick This Book to be available in my area and I'm finally adding This is a Taco and I'm Sad to my TBR list. And I guess I'm going to HAVE to read She Loves You. My husband is the biggest Beatles fan EVER. So maybe I'll pass it on to him, too. :) Have a great week, Jana!

  6. I'm Sad looks and sounds so great - there is almost this cult of happiness all around us, when in reality, sometimes things don't go right and life gets hard and you just feel sad, and that's ok!

  7. Such a fun list! I just requested She Loves You (Yeah Yeah Yeah) from the library because I love books set in the 60s :)

  8. What a lovely collection of books this week. I am definitely keen on reading it am excited that my library has it on order. I am of that generation. I remember watching The Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan!
    I just reread I'm Bored and have Naked in a pile of books somewhere. I hope to get to I'm Sad soon!

  9. Oh my goodness. You have so many good books here! I absolutely love that you made a Spotify playlist to listen to the music of She Loves You. This makes me smile.

  10. I was especially taken by the Irving Berlin cover - will have to find that one. Spotify playlist, for the win! I did something similar when I read the graphic memoir, Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos and Me by Lorinne Mapa. :) Have a great reading week! - Myra (GatheringBooks)

  11. You can never go wrong with Maria’s Gianferrari’s books! She is a favorite with me and the second grade class I sponsor for #classroombookaday. Her latest Operation Dog Rescue is coming out in September. It is gorgeous through and through!

  12. I really appreciate the reviews here, especially the nonfiction titles. Thanks.