Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9.22.14

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.

Don't you love finding a new book or a new series?  Something you're excited to share with students?  Lots of great reading this week!

Picture Books

Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance
Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif
4/5 stars
I loved the illustrations and the colors used in this story!  It has a very sweet central message and one important that all young children should know - believe in yourself, don't worry about what others are thinking!  I thought the writing was lacking a little.  I thought maybe there would be a bigger story line between Frances and the girl who loved music.

Julia's House for Lost Creatures
Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke
4/5 stars
I know this book is well loved by many people, and I thought it was cute, but again, seemed to be a theme this week, thought it was missing a little something.  But the illustrations were fantastic and because of that, I went back and reread it a couple of more times.  I missed how the house "arrived" the first time!

Nana in the City
Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
5/5 stars
I think this was my winner this week.  I actually read it the day it was released, but needed to reread it a few more times and soak it in.  I adore the picture of Nana and the little boy walking through the park with the bike riders!  I love that Nana lives in the city and sees it as something different and takes the time to talk and explain it to her young grandson.  And Nana has such hip glasses!  Different color frames, what a way for a Nana to accessorize!

Mix It Up!
Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet
4/5 stars
A wonderful follow up to Press Here!  These books just show that reading is fun!  I can't wait to share it with students.

Back to Front and Upside Down!
Back to Front and Upside Down! by Claire Alexander
4/5 stars
This book is perfect for the kindergarten and 1st grade classroom.  I found this book on Claire and Tammy's blog awhile ago, and it has a fantastic message and great characters.  Stan finds forming his letters to be a very difficult task - they turn back to front and upside down!  But he learns that it's not scary to ask the teacher for help and with hard work - and a tactile kinesthetic approach to writing letters! - Stan achieves his goal.  I'll be sharing this book with kindergarteners this week!

Freedom Summer
Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles
5/5 stars
Wow.  I really cannot wait to dig into Countdown and Revolution after reading this gem!  Amazing.  This book will be used when our 4th grade students go on their "road trip" through the southeast.  It's an important story that needs to be told.  I love that the Author's Note is at the front of the book.  It gives readers just a glimpse into what they are about to read and some background knowledge to help them understand.  Wiles did an amazing job writing about a tough topic at a level young readers can comprehend.

Graphic Novels

Bird & Squirrel on the Run      Bird & Squirrel on Ice
Bird and Squirrel series by James Burks
4/5 stars
This is a fantastic graphic novel series.  What makes it so good are the characters in the series.  They are full of expression, voice and character.  This series is perfect for the reluctant reader - I think it would be very difficult to NOT get sucked in to the story!
Bird and Squirrel make the best kind of friends - they are total opposites and balance each other out.  Bird is crazy and unpredictable.  He loves to be in the spotlight.  Squirrel is afraid of everything and is very timid.  Both books have fun adventures that find the two working together to get out of the crazy adventure they are on.

Chapter books for 2nd/3rd graders

The Vanishing Coin [The Magic Shop Book 1]
The Vanishing Coin by Kate Egan
4/5 stars
I had 2 teachers talk about this series this week and figured I should check it out.  I had seen it, but hadn't heard too much talk about it, so hadn't given it a try.  Glad they talked me into it!  This book is going to be so perfect for kids in 2nd - 4th grade.  I think 3rd grade is the perfect age for this book.  I can only imagine how this series will be able to hook reluctant readers.  The main character, Mike, is very relatable to a lot of kids who don't cite reading as their favorite thing:  he has trouble concentrating and sitting still, he'd rather be holding an electronic device instead of a book, he's having trouble figuring out his niche at school and while also trying to figure out friendships.  But then, Mike falls upon a magic shop.  Using magic, Mike ends up figuring out a few of those tricky things while finding something he enjoys.  The author adds in directions on a few magic tricks that will make young readers love the series even more.

Middle Grade

Brown Girl Dreaming
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
5/5 stars
There is not much I can say about this beautiful book that hasn't been said many times over.  It was a beautifully written story.  I never knew a novel written in verse could grip me like this one.  So many times I paused just to contemplate some words, lines or a passage. I already bought tickets to go to Woodson's lunch at NCTE and I know it's going to be amazing!

Currently Reading

Fish In A Tree
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Loving Ally's story so far!


  1. I liked Julia's House for Lost Creatures but I also missed the arrival of the house on the back of the giant turtle the first time. I have The Vanishing Coin and something about the Twisted Arm which is the next book in the magic series. I have been pairing them up with "how to do magic tricks" books from my non-fiction section of library and they are checked out regularly.

  2. I love Lauren Castillo's art. So pretty. And I can't wait to read Brown Girl Dreaming...


  3. Still want to get Nana In The City and Mix It Up-both sound very good, Michele. Thanks for all the reviews and heads up about these. You always make my lists longer!

  4. I reread several PBs this week (once reading silently--and much too quickly--to myself and then once aloud with my son) and I was surprised by how much the reading experience changed on the reread. I found Nana in the City a bit slight the first time through and I was really bothered by the picture of the homeless man with the text "The city is filled with scary things" though I understand that's the perception of the boy. But on a second read, I found it a much more satisfying read. One of my favorites of the week as well. I'll be buying Bird & Squirrel and Vanishing Coin for my lending library--think these sound like titles my Children's Lit students would love to read. Thanks! I always find really good book recommendations in your Monday posts. Yours and Carrie's are so dangerous!

  5. I am so glad you loved Freedom Summer--your tweet made my day! brown girl dreaming was also one of my favorites! I am going to get Nana in the City for my mom to read to my son. It looks beautiful. I hope you have a very lovely week!

  6. Freedom Summer is fantastic! Countdown and Revolution are two of my favorite all-time middle grade novels! I read another one by Lauren Castillo this week - The Troublemaker. I loved it. Brown Girl Dreaming is a beautiful book, and I can't wait to get my hands on Fish in a Tree!

  7. Nana in the City seems to be getting great reviews. I'm looking forward to reading Julia's House for Lost Creatures. It looks cute!

  8. I agree with you about Nana. Definitely my favorite picture book of the week.

  9. Yay Bird & Squirrel! I love the series. So much fun!
    Thank you for sharing Nana--I will request it.

    Happy reading this week! :)

  10. I am really enjoying Revolution right now. Wiles does a great job with historical fiction.

  11. Oh, I must get this new Bird and Squirrel! Loved the first. Wonderful picture books on your list this week. Can't wait to find Nana.

  12. Will be at NCTE this November. Will definitely check out Woodson's sessions. :)

  13. Great list! What I appreciate so much about Freedom Summer is that it helps kids realize that the story of civil rights is more complicated - it wasn't just "solved" after the civil rights act.