Monday, July 17, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7.17.18

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.

Last Week's Adventures

I wrote about the books I found at ALA that are perfect for those on the #road2reading.

Here are four nonfiction picture books that should be in your classroom library this fall.

Do not miss these new releases from Scholastic.

Picture Books

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals
Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals by Mo Willems
3/5 stars
Good gift for baby shower/new baby.  The humor will appeal to parents.  The illustrations - bright and basic - will appeal to newborns.

The Almost Impossible Thing
The Almost Impossible Thing by Basak Agaoglu
4/5 stars
Another book to add to your growth mindset collection.  This one about having dreams.

Blue Sky White Stars
Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus
5/5 stars
Beautiful.  I love the poetic words by Naberhaus - it was a perfect length because it avoided being preachy while giving you lots to think about.  The illustrations by Kadir Nelson were perfect.  I don't think they could have been illustrated by anyone else.

Graphic Novels

All's Faire in Middle School
All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
5/5 stars
There is so much to love about this graphic novel.  I am just in awe how Victoria writes and illustrates her graphic novels.  She nails the middle school voice and experience.  So many times I found myself nodding my head or groaning or reminiscing.  I love the way the Renaissance Faire is brought into the book as part of the MC's lives and seeing how it impacts her middle school experience.
Typically, middle grade is considered 6th-7th grade.  Sometimes 7th-8th grade.  Keeping that in mind, that is the audience of this book.  Despite the fact that our main character is entering 6th grade, I think 7th and 8th graders will appreciate the middle school humor and remarks.
I would be remiss in this review if I didn't let educators know that this book does contain some mature parts.  They are minor and irrelevant to the story, other than this topic does start appearing in middle school.  At one point in the book, the characters gawk over what appears to be a "Harlequin Romance" type book and read about the characters taking clothes off.  The word "sex" is mentioned a few times.  No details, no lewd discussions, just your typical middle grade experimenting with the word and romance.  However, because of the popularity of this author, I know there will be readers as young as 2nd grade reaching for this book.  As with any other book, I think it's important that educators/librarians know the content of a book and know their readers.  

Middle Grade

The Someday Birds
The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla
5/5 stars
Hearing a book that might have something to do with birding made me not reach for it.  Just not something I'm interested in.  Seeing a few friends really enjoy it made me take a side glance.  Seeing friends put it on the Mock Newbery made me think I really needed to read it.  And within a few chapters, I knew I had a special book.  Love that feeling, when the unexpected with a book happens.  This book has such heart, has such feelings, that you can't help but fall into the story.  Glad I took another glance!

The Seventh Wish
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
5/5 stars
I'm so late to the party with this book, I'm sure there is nothing I can say that you don't already know.  But after knowing the controversy that has surrounded this book, it just makes me sad.  Because like Charlie's family and like the other families that she sees at the open AA meetings, addiction can happen to ANYONE.  We are fooling ourselves if we think hiding this from readers is going to be helpful in anyway.  After finishing it, I immediately went and talked to my 12 yo about it because she read it... over a year ago.  I'm glad to have been able to have a conversation with her.  Thank you Kate for writing this.

Return to the Isle of the Lost (Descendants, #2)
Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa da la Cruz
3/5 stars
I have a middle grade daughter.  I enjoy talking books with her and I give her a lot of book recommendations.  I don't get as many from her because my books flow right into her hands.  Or, she grabs a book I have reads it first, then tells me to read it.  But since I already knew about it, it's not as big of a recommendation.  So when she really does find a book first, read it and ask me to read it, I take that seriously.  This series is one of those recommendations.
This is the second Descendants book.  It follows the Disney Channel movie "The Descendants".  I'm a big Disney fan, and I love the villain characters.  The books and movies are up my alley, but I've never been a fan of novels based on TV/movie characters.  With that being said, I do think de la Cruz has written a book for middle graders that is not written "down".  This is a book that appeals to the intended audience.   
The first book has some mature scenes (a party that had some form of Disney-fied alcohol and the characters suffered what appeared to be hangovers) but this book stays a bit cleaner.

The Countdown Conspiracy
The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky
5/5 stars
Be sure to return on Thursday for a longer review of this book.  In the meantime, be sure to put it on your TBR.  It publishes August 1st.  Perfect for the reader who loves suspense and excitement, or for a reader who is looking for science fiction/STEM.

Currently Reading

Refugee by Alan Gratz

On Deck

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Rise of the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz
Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
One Amazing Elephant by Linda Oatman High

Happy Reading!


  1. Going to read Conspiracy Countdown this week. You're not the last one to the Seventh Wish party. I just got it this weekend and will read it soon.

  2. I'm always amazed that second graders are reading things like Origami Yoda just because there are illustrations. I never thought about this age group picking up All's Faire or Roller Girl. Thanks for making me consider that!

  3. Thanks for the heads up about All's Faire in Middle School. I'll definitely read that one before I decide where it should go in our library.

  4. So glad that you read Seventh Wish. I think this is such a fantastic read. Many of my 5s read it this year. Can't wait to read Someday Birds. I have it on request at the library.

  5. Great list of books this week. I was glad to have read Refugee. It is a book that will hopefully open some eyes and hearts.

  6. I've ordered a couple of copies of Welcome Baby for my grandchildren. I keep hearing so much love for All's Faire in Middle School, and I don't have a copy to read. I really miss having a library budget sometimes.

  7. I put all three of those pbs on my tbr list, Michele--thanks! Have been seeing BLUE SKY a lot, but hadn't added it. Remedied now! I loved Kate's SEVENTH WISH.