Monday, January 18, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.18.21

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

No blogging last week!  I think the start of 2021 is going to busy.  Looking forward to having this week's Inauguration behind us (praying for peace) and getting into this new presidency.  Looking forward to the hope the next 4 years will bring!



Picture Books

A Sled for Gabo
A Sled for Gabo
written by Emma Otheguy
illustrated by Ana Ramírez González
I adore this sweet little book about friendship and imagination.  It has snowed and young Gabo wants to go play in the snow with the other children.  But he does not have the proper snow boots and hat, nor does he have a sled.  Mami comes to the rescue with lots of socks, waterproof bags for boots, and Papi's hat.  But Gabo is too shy to talk to the other children, nor does he have a sled.  But Tío Tim and Madrina bring a plastic tray from the school cafeteria... could that be used as a sled?  With the imagination from a new friend, Gabo ends up having a great time in the snow.  
This book is perfect for young readers - it definitely warmed my heart!

Stella's Stellar Hair
Stella's Stellar Hair
by Yesenia Moises
I would have gotten lost in this book when I was younger!  The colors and hairstyles are simply beautiful!
A book about identity and figuring out your own style.  Stella needs her hair perfect for the Big Star Little Gala and it's just not cooperating!  After advice from all of her aunties on different planets, she finally figures out her own style.  
I liked how the author included some planet facts in the backmatter and incorporated them into each auntie's hairstyle.

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners
written by Joanna Ho
illustrated by Dung Ho
This book is beautiful!  It's lyrical way of celebrating eyes that are a different shape from others.  Never speaking of races, the book celebrates a young girl and the other women in her family who have "eyes that kiss in the corners" and the stories from their culture.  It's a book about family and love and things a family shares.  A must have for libraries.

Middle Grade

Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger, #1)
Skunk and Badger
written by Amy Timberlake
illustrated by Jon Klassen
A quirky story about curmudgeonly Badger, and the ever-inquisitive and friendly Skunk.  An unlikely pair, especially roommates, who help each other learn more about the world around them and letting others in.
I'm reading this one with young readers right now.  I wasn't sure how they would enjoy it.  It's quirky, it has rich vocabulary, and I wasn't sure if the humor would pass them by or not.  But so far, I think they are enjoying it!  They are enjoying this interesting twosome and are definitely invested as Badger starts behaving poorly.
This one is the first in a series.  Looking forward to reading more about this friendship.  Think of it as Frog and Toad, but with grouchy old characters (although I don't think Badger or Skunk are old, but they certainly have a more "mature" personality!).

Alone
Alone
by Megan E. Freeman
A survival story that is more modern than the beloved Hatchet.  A lengthy story (over 400 pages) but told in verse, readers will be rooting for Maddie and hoping she catches a break while trying to survive for years, on her own.
Heads up - this does have some mature scenes.  Some minor language.  A dilemma with using a gun or not, and a particularly vicious scene with a young animal.  
While I enjoyed the story there were a couple of things that made me think if it could have been better.  It's lengthy, so with it being in verse, it will keep readers sticking with the length.  But, at times I felt like the author skimmed over the details because of it being in verse and wondered if prose would have been a better choice.  Also the ending was very rushed.  You go through this whole, long novel, and then it's just over.  I did read an e-galley and I tend to have trouble falling into those, so that may have something to do with my opinion!

Young Adult

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying, #1)
One of Us is Lying
by Karen M. McManus
I had heard so much about this book and the author.  It's one I've had in my piles for awhile.  I really liked it, but it also wasn't my favorite because of the timing.  I started it right before Winter Break ended, thinking I would be able to finish it before school got too crazy.  Such optimism!  School got crazy and then the overtaking of the Capitol occurred.  I had a hard time reading in the days after that.  Finally finished it the next weekend, but by then I was no longer into the storyline like I was before.  I own the other books by her, so I'll keep at them!

Currently Reading

The Dragon Warrior (The Dragon Warrior, #1)
The Dragon Warrior
by Katie Zhao
I have a dragon round up coming soon for you!


Here's to it being a calm and peaceful week that is full of hope!  

Friday, January 8, 2021

#mustreadin2021 - 1.08.21

 



Better late than never, right?  I've had my 2021 Must Reads list together for awhile, but couldn't find the time to write the post.  Happy to finally be sharing it with you.

I had already had the idea of what my list would look like, but when the #DisruptTexts movement hit some criticism due to an opinion piece in the WSJ, it became solidified.  In my opinion, the op-ed piece completely missed the point of what the #DisruptTexts movement does and focuses on.  

So this year, my must read books are mostly current YA novels that are written by BIPoC authors.  Books that should be read and shared in high school classrooms today.  I have two MG titles that are also #ownvoices novels, as well as the new Barack Obama book.  Because, you know, I need reminding of what a President sounds like while I wait for January 20th...

Now if you have seen President Obama's newest book, you know not only is it a great read, it's also a weight.  Getting through that book in a month would have me forgoing all other reads, which is hard to do.  So that one is split into months - I'll read parts of it starting in January and finishing in April.  I'll have a reason to continue reading since I'm using it as our current book club selection that I do with my sister.

If you have followed my blog, you know that I read one book a month for my Must Read selections.  That way I know I can get to one book that has been languishing in a pile, yet still make time for all the millions of other books I want to read.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you also know that I tend to add a book here or there because it is near impossible to limit a list to just 12 books.  This year was especially hard!

Without further ado, here are the books I must read in 2021!



January:  A Promised Land (parts 1-2) by Barack Obama
February:  A Promised Land (parts 3-4)
March:  A Promised Land (parts 5-6)
April:  A Promised Land (part 7) and Grown by Tiffany Jackson
May:  Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh and Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon
June:  Something to Say by Lisa Moore Ramée and Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
July: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
August:  This is My America by Kim Johnson
September:  The Assignment by Liza Wiemer
October:  The Belles by Dhonielle  Clayton
November:  Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
December:  For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington and Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Should be another great year of reading!  Happy 2021 to all.

Monday, January 4, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.04.21

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.


Happy 2021!  I don't think I've ever been so excited for a New Year!  
I took a few weeks off from blogging to enjoy the holidays.  Today's post will catch you up on the books I read that are must reads!   
Over break I took a lot of time to just read.  I had four days of participating in #StayHomeReadMore and that's when I really got a lot of reading time in.  It felt like such a relief to get lost in a book and reclaim my reading identity.  But as Winter Break ended, more and more responsibilities took over reading time.  While it was nice to get a lot of them done, I do want to keep in check my reading time vs having to do EVERYTHING else time.  That's what it was up until Winter Break.  EVERYTHING else got done and reading was often abandoned.  If you remember, a lot of picture books were read, but nothing with chapters.  Now that the holidays are done, I'm looking forward to reclaiming a little more reading time.  But while I acknowledge that, I also know that with reading comes blogging.  And when I blog, that takes away from reading.  Knowing that, I'm guessing my blog posts will be a bit sparse as I get back into the swing of things, and that's ok.
Have you been able to reflect on your reading time and habits lately?  What kind of goals are you giving yourself?


Last Week's Adventures

A reflection on 2020 reading and my #mustreadin2020 goals



PIcture Books

Spring Stinks
Spring Stinks
by Ryan T. Higgins
Only one picture book this week!  But it's a Bruce one, so that makes it all worthwhile!  This is a new format for the Bruce books, it's labeled a "little Bruce book".  Trimmer in size and length, but it does not lack in humor.  It's spring which makes everyone happy, except for one animal.... I'm guessing you don't need me to tell you who.  Ruth, the bunny, goes on to rejoice in all of spring's glorious smells, but Bruce can't find one that makes him happy.  Readers will be happy as they giggle along with Bruce's grumpiness.  This one publishes tomorrow!

Middle Grade

King and the Dragonflies
King and the Dragonflies
by Kacen Callender
This won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for a reason.  It is beautifully written.  You'll be uplifted, you'll feel despair, your heart will break, but it will be put back together.  So well written.  If this doesn't land high on the Newbery committee's decision later this month I'll be very very surprised.

Girl Giant and the Monkey King
Girl Giant and the Monkey King
by Van Hoang
A Vietnamese myth story, told in the vein of Rick Riordan books - kids will love it!  Thom accidentally releases the mischievous Monkey King from his imprisonment.  But rather than it be a bad thing, Thom is hoping the Monkey King can help her be released from her own imprisonment.  She is super strong, doesn't know why she is super strong, but knows it is messing up her social life and she wants it gone!  The reader can quickly figure out she has this power because she probably got it from a god and it's fun to watch Thom go on this self-discovery journey.  Cliffhanger at the end has me excited for book 2!

Framed! (Framed #1)     Vanished! (Framed #2)
Framed! and Vanished!
by James Ponti
These books were on my #mustreadin2020 list.  I remember Kellee Moye celebrating this series and really wanted to get to it.  I've owned them for awhile (put it this way, it's now a trilogy, but book 3 wasn't out when I got book 2 as a hardcover!), just hadn't read them.  It's a really fun mystery and adventure series.  The main character is super smart and ends up working with the FBI on some cases in the DC area.  The first two books take place in famous DC landmarks which makes it even more fun to read about.  Hand this series to kids who enjoyed Kate Messner's Silver Jaguar Society series.

Shaking Up the House
Shaking Up the House
by Yamile Saied Méndez
Another book that takes place in DC, this time in the White House!  It's a time of transition for the White House, as one White House family gets ready to leave and a new family moves in.  Ingrid and Winnie have grown up in the White House for the last 8 years, but their time is ending.  The president-elect's (a female African American!) children, Skylar and Zora, are moving in a little early to help with the transition to a new school.  While they share a house, Ingrid and Winnie decide to welcome them with a friendly prank.  Of course, the prank is taken a bit wrong and an all out Prank War is started!  Will this start a war between the two families, or will a centuries old tradition be seen as something fun?  Readers will really enjoy this kids-eye view of the most famous house in America.  Publishes tomorrow!
Thank you to Edelweiss for the early e-galley.

Echo Mountain
Echo Mountain
by Lauren Wolk
Holy amazing writing.  A Newbery Honor has already been bestowed to Wolk, but I feel like this one blows Wolf Hollow away.  A historical fiction that takes place on Echo Mountain in the northeast, it's a tale about survival, trust, love, and friendship.  I'm still thinking about the characters and wish there was more to read!

Young Adult

Dear Justyce (Dear Martin, #2)
Dear Justyce
by Nic Stone
I thought Dear Martin was powerful, but this one, woah.
I read this one before the #DisruptTexts blowup happened.  But this book is exactly why #DisruptTexts needs to happen.  My daughter is a sophomore in high school.  She has read several whole class novels, and only one was written by a person of color - A Raisin in the Sun.  That play debuted in 1959.  Why is it our high school readers are reading about topics and events from 1959?  They aren't reading the books for the stories.  They are reading them to learn how to write papers and thesis and introduction sentences.  They are reading them to learn how to spot ethos, pathos, and logos.  They are reading them to find literary devices.  They are reading them to argue about characters and themes.  It's not so they are exposed to different cultures and historical times.  So why can't they read books that are pertinent to their own lives today and do those same things?  Because, this book, there's a lot to be said and written and discussed in this book.

Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles, #4.5)
Stars Above
by Marissa Meyer
This was my last #mustreadin2020 title and I was so glad to be back in the Lunar world.  This collection of short stories tied together and gave more background to the characters from the Lunar Chronicles novels.  If you haven't read them, please add them to your TBR pile!

Adult

Back to Reality: Christmas in Sunshine Lake
Back to Reality
by Erin Downing
This was such a fun book to read at the start of my #StayHomeReadMore reading binge!  If you love watching The Bachelor, this is a must read for you!  It's light, it's fun, and it will make you want to book a stay in a warm and cozy lodge!

Currently Reading

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying, #1)
One of Us is Lying
by Karen M. McManus
It's so fun!


Not sure if I'll have a post next week.  Busy weekend coming up and I'm holding to not adding to my stress!  But I have lots of posts in my head that will be written soon enough :)  Hoping to at least publish my #mustreadin2021 list this week!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Favorites, final update - 12.31.2020

2020 Favorites












While 2020 was a year most of us would like to put behind us, there were some books published that I absolutely loved!  Here's the final roundup of my favorite 2020 titles!  All of these books were published in 2020.  Pictures from the first two posts are at the bottom, or you can view them here:



Picture Books:

Evelyn del Rey Is Moving Away
Evelyn DelRey is Moving Away
written by Meg Medina
illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Fern and Otto: A Story about Two Best Friends
Fern and Otto: A Story About Two Best Friends
by Stephanie Graegin

I Talk Like a River
I Talk Like a River
written by Jordan Scott
illustrated by Sydney Smith

Nana Akua Goes to School
Nana Akua Goes to School
written by Tricia Elam Walker
illustrated by April Harrison

The Boy and the Gorilla
The Boy and the Gorilla
by Jackie Azúa Kramer

Unicorns Are the Worst!
Unicorns Are the Worst
by Alex Willan

Ten Ways to Hear Snow
Ten Ways to Hear Snow
written by Cathy Camper
illustrated by Kenard Pak

The Teachers March!
The Teachers March
written by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace
illustrated by Charley Palmer

The Polio Pioneer: Dr. Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine
The Polio Pioneer:  Dr. Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine
written by Linda Elovitz Marshall
illustrated by Lisa Anchin

Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen
Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen
by Heather Kinser

No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History
No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History
edited by Lindsay Metcalf, Keila Dawson, Jeanette Bradley
illustrated by Jeanette Bradley

Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball
Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball
written by Jen Bryant
illustrated by Frank Morrison

Packs: Strength in Numbers
Packs: Strength in Numbers
by Hannah Salyer

Swish!: The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters
Swish: The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters
written by Suzanne Slade
illustrated by Don Tate

See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog
See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog
written by David LaRouchelle
Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

Middle Grade:

Fighting Words
Fighting Words
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

A Thousand Questions
A Thousand Questions
by Saadia Faruqi

American as Paneer Pie
American as Paneer Pie
by Supriya Kelkar

King and the Dragonflies
King and the Dragonflies
by Kacen Callender

Echo Mountain
Echo Mountain
by Lauren Wolk

Graphic Novels:

Flamer
Flamer
by Mike Curato

Class Act (New Kid, #2)
Class Act
by Jerry Craft

Twins
Twins
written by Varian Johnson
illustrated by Shannon Wright

Lightfall: The Girl & the Galdurian
Lightfall: The Girl and the Galdurian
by Tim Probert

Donut Feed the Squirrels
Donut Feed the Squirrels
by Mika Song

Young Adult:

Punching the Air
Punching the Air
by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Dear Justyce (Dear Martin, #2)
Dear Justyce
by Nic Stone


Favorites from earlier 2020 posts:

Picture books:






Middle Grade:






























































Transitional Chapter Books:






























































Graphic Novels:






































Young Adult:







































I am really looking forward to 2021 books.  I already have one that will go on my favorite list:  The Great Peach Experiment: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Peach Pie by Erin Downing.  Be sure to look for it in April!  Happy 2021 reading!