Monday, July 14, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7.14.14

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

This was a strap it down and read week!
I read quite a bit of picture books, but didn't fit them all in on this post.  Be sure to check out my Goodreads site for more!

Picture Books

The Midnight Library
The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara
4/5 stars
This was a very sweet story about a special nighttime library.  Who could not love a book that says, "And the little librarian and her three assistant owls helped each and every one find a perfect book!"

Alfie Runs Away
Alfie Runs Away by Kenneth M. Cadow
4/5 stars
What drew me to this book was the illustrator - Lauren Castillo.  Ever since I read Troublemaker, I've wanted to get my hands on more books by/illustrated by her.  This book was cute, Alfie decides to run away because his mom wants to give away his favorite pair of shoes!  Lucky for him, his mom helps him pack for this big trip away from home. :)  Don't worry, Alfie doesn't get too far!

The Reader
The Reader by Amy Hest

This book would be perfect to use with young readers to talk about what does it mean to be a reader?  What characteristics do readers have?  What is this reader doing that you envision for yourself as a reader?

The Tree House That Jack Built
The Tree House that Jack Built by Bonnie Verburg
3/5 stars
My Goodreads Review:  I loved the first page of this book that showed the biggest layout of the treehouse.  I would have LOVED to have a treehouse as big as that, with multiple levels to play on and explore.  It reminded me of the 13 Story Treehouse series.  But kind of like that story, this book ended up being about something else besides the treehouse, even though it was the treehouse that drew me into reading the story.  This book was about the animals, but I really wanted it to be about the treehouse.

Memoirs of a Hamster
Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian
4/5 stars
Memoirs of a Goldfish was one of the first stories I used with reluctant readers when I started using texts instead of just intervention materials a few years ago.  I loved that book and thought it was so original.  The follow up, Memoirs of a Hamster, while laugh out loud funny is good, it doesn't quite catch the magic of the original.  However, what I did like about this "sequel", is it had a different formula that the first.  So often, the follow-up book just copies the original, but I'm glad this one was a little different.  I loved Seymour and the evil Pearl (figures the villain is the cat, haha!).

Emily's Blue Period
Emily's Blue Period by Cathleen Daly
5/5 stars
An absolutely amazing book that deals with divorce in a kid-view way.  I think it's important that Emily still has other things that she concentrates on during this difficult time, even though her sub-conscious is clearly dealing with her parents' divorce.  So many of us read books about families or have a family unit at the beginning of the year.  This book is a very important book to include because this book is some of our kids.

Informational Texts

Gifts from the Enemy
Gifts from the Enemy by Trudy Ludwig
5/5 stars
I'm beginning to think that Ludwig absolutely pours heart and soul into her books and then leaves them there!  Her books are always so touching and rarely can you leave them after one sitting.  This book is taken from a longer text about a Polish man who as a child was taken from his family and put in a camp.  However, the big part of this story is the kindness he receives from a stranger, from someone unexpected.

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas
Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox
4/5 stars
Again, I was drawn to this book because of the illustrator, Brian Floca.  I'm a huge fan of his illustrations.  Something about the soft colors, the not-real-but-not-comic people that he draws.  This has a cute story about a very stubborn elephant seal to go along with the lovely illustrations!

Middle Grade

This Journal Belongs to Ratchet
This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy Cavanaugh
5/5 stars
I have been on a roll this summer reading fantastic middle grade books.  This one is no exception!  The most amazing part of this novel is the fact that entire thing is written in a "journal" that Ratchet has written.  Each "chapter" is a writing exercise that Ratchet has completed.  It moves the story forward without it every appearing to be a story.  Beautifully done.  Middle grade readers will relate and understand Ratchet.

Chained by Lynne Kelly
4/5 stars
I chose this book to read because it's one of our 2015 Illinois Bluestem Nominee books and I am making it a goal to read all of them - as many as I can before school starts - by voting time.  Mostly so I can talk about them and book talk them, of course!
This book took me a little bit to get into, but once I did, I was transported to India and was part of Hastin's and Nandita's world.  It ended up being a beautiful story about human and animal nature, what is right/wrong with animal and children treatment and the human spirit. There were some heartbreaking and heartwarming moments.
I think fans of Ivan will really like this book!

Graphic Novels

Fear the Amoeba (Squish, #6)
Squish:  Fear the Amoeba - Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
5/5 stars
I really loved this Squish!  Worried about seeing a scary movie?  Not wanting to appear wimpy in front of your friends?  Team Holm captured this perfectly!

Comics Squad: Recess!
Comic Squad Recess!
5/5 stars
Wonderful compilation of short, graphic novel stories.  So glad to see there will be more!  And did you see the dedication?? To the #NerdyBookClub!  That is awesome!

Earlier chapter books

Invasion of the Ufonuts (Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut)
Arnie the Doughnut and the Invasion of the Ufonuts by Laurie Keller
4/5 stars
Probably not as clever as the first one, but I still really love Arnie!  I really like that Keller includes little arrows on the talk bubbles so young readers will know the order to read them!

Currently Reading

The Enchantress Returns (The Land of Stories, #2)
The Land of Stories:  The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer
Thoroughly enjoying this one!

Mambo in Chinatown
Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok
I loved her Girl in Translation book.  Looking forward to this one!

my PD books:

Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits      Read Write Teach: Choice and Challenge in the Reading-Writing Workshop     Readers Front & Center: Helping All Students Engage with Complex Text

And what are you reading?


  1. WOW!!!! You read all those?! Amazing. I loved Emily's Blue Period, but that's the only one of you list of picture books that I've read. Can't wait to get my hands on The Comic Squad!

  2. Ditto on what Holly said. I hear so many nice things about Emily's Blue Period and The Comic Squad which is on my BUY list.

    After reading Always Abigail, so many people have told me how much they loved Ratchet. This is the top of my I have to read list.

  3. Love you list, read some and adding some to my read/review list now.

  4. Great list! I added a couple to my cart!

  5. Quite the week! This is my first IMWAYR, and you blew me out of the water! Curious to check out "The Reader" in particular, thanks!

  6. I'm impressed by the quantity and quality of books you read this week. Trudy Ludwig was super nice when she read at our store for Storytime Day. I need to check this book out!

  7. My son just read the first two books in The Land of Stories series. He loved them. I need to find time to read them myself now! Have a good week!

  8. This sounds like a great reading week. I'll keep a look out for Chains.

  9. I agree that Memoirs of a Hamster isn't quite as good as the first book, but it's still pretty good. :)

  10. What an amazing list - I had a similar reaction to Chained, but it was a book definitely worth sticking with.

  11. Wow, Michele, this is great. I loved Emily's Blue Period, agree with you that every class should have this as part of their family stories. The book Gifts from The Enemy looks wonderful, as do all your middle grade books, must check out the Ratchet book! I read The Reader a long while ago & have forgotten how sweet it is. Thanks for all you share with us!

  12. Hi there Michele, The Midnight Library reminded me a little bit of The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger - it's a graphic novel that she has written and illustrated herself - definitely not for kids, but roughly same concept, but maybe not quite. :) You'd have to discover for yourself. Gifts from the Enemy sounds like the perfect book to add to our reading list for our current reading theme. Will have to check that one out, hopefully we have that in our libraries.

  13. That's a fantastic pile of books. I am looking forward to Emily's Blue Period and many more of those you mentioned. I have Mambo in Chinatown from the library right now so should be getting to it soon also. At Nerdcamp Jr. I was in the room with the author of Ratchet. I will definitely be getting that and reading it.