Monday, February 17, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.17.14

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.

4 day weekend... What does that mean?  More reading time!

I was extremely fortunate to attend Anderson Bookshop's Children's Literature Breakfast this weekend in Naperville.  It was an amazing morning and it makes me so glad to live close enough to attend this annual event. I will post more about it later, as it's deserving of its own post!  One of the wonderful things is the many books I was able to purchase before publication!  Check these out and then check them out on their book birthday!

The Streak: How Joe Dimaggio Became America's Hero
The Streak:  How Joe Dimaggio Became America's Hero by Barb Rosenstock
expected publication:  March 1, 2014
4/5 stars
My review:  Great story for young readers that specifically tells a broad overview of Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak. The author includes great source notes at the end of the book - could be a mentor text to model how author's show how/where they get their information about a topic.

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons
Hi, Koo! by Jon J Muth
expected publication:  February 25, 2014
4/5 stars
Told in haiku verse, this story follows Koo, the panda bear, as he goes through the seasons.

Here Comes Destructosaurus!
Here Comes Destructosaurus by Aaron Reynolds
expected publication:  April 1, 2014
4/5 stars
My review:  A mom is talking to her young child, reminding him to mind his manners, pick up after himself, but always refers to him as "Destructosaurus"! The illustrations match the text so well with the broad sweeping lines of Destructosaurus and the bright colorful chaos he leaves in his wake. Young readers will really enjoy the illustrations and amusing text.

And my favorite new book (thanks Dylan Teut!!!), be sure to check this one out!

Maple by Lori Nichols
5/5 stars
Expected publication:  February 20, 2014
My review:  This is such a beautiful story! Maple gets her name from a maple tree her parents planted in her honor. She grows up with the tree and it becomes an important part of her life. And just as she notices a new seed growing, she gets to experience having a new baby sister, and see this little life grow! Maple helps take care of her new little sister, Willow, and shares the outside and her special tree with her. But the new little seed has grown and we see it is a willow tree.
The story is sweet, but what got me are the illustrations. They are absolutely beautiful! I will spend many rereads of this book, specifically looking at the illustrations!
I can't wait to see the sequel to this book!

Now for the rest of the books I read this week!

Picture Books:
Penguin in Love
Penguin In Love by Salina Yoon
3/5 stars
I love the Penguin stories.  Great for young readers.  This one was not my favorite but it would go well in a friendship unit.

Daisy Gets Lost
Daisy Gets Lost by Chris Raschka
4/5 stars
Squirrel!!!  Even Daisy gets distracted by them!  Cute, almost wordless picture book, would lend itself to some great discussions:  being distracted, the feelings you have when lost, then found.  I think a wordless unit would work well to talking about the illustrations and the craft that went into them - the medium used, how did it enhance the story telling?  how did the illustrator communicate the character's feelings?

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger
3/5 stars
Cute story.  Good to read to explain a bad day!  Good mentor text for how to use those things that happen to us - like having a bad day - and turn it into a good story.
Love Dan Santat's illustrations.

Informational Texts:
Parrots Over Puerto Rico
Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore
5/5 stars
What an amazing book!  I just can't get over the meticulous illustrations!  Very informative and engaging stories about the parrots that have been living for millions of years in Puerto Rico and how they were almost driven to extinction.  Great classroom uses - author's craft of using cause/effect... discussing the environment, how people and animals affect the world around them.  The authors did a fantastic job adding addition information in the back,  including real photographs and additional descriptions, a narrative timeline and sources.
The best part is how the entire book is held sideways, top to bottom... not sure how you describe it!  I think kids will really enjoy this one.
This is a fantastic book to include in a classroom library.  I think all students will enjoy it on some level.

Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems
Poem-Mobiles:  Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian
5/5 stars
Kids will love this collection of car poetry!  Their young imaginations will easily see the need for a car to use in the ocean or a hot dog car that when you're done using it you eat it!  They will also enjoy the highly engaging and intricate illustrations.  Can't wait to share this book with some young readers!

Graphic Novels:
Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta (Lunch Lady, #3)
Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
So glad to have found this series!

Middle Grade:
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
3/5 stars
My review:  I bought this book when it first came out. I love Kate DiCamillo's books. I was so excited to start this book. I tried to start it in December but my daughter snatched it out of my pile. After the Newbery announcement, I knew I needed to start it and soon. I have now finished it and my thoughts as a reader are, ehhh. I don't know if maybe I had built it up too much in my head before I started it and it could never meet those expectations.... Whatever it was, I never fell in love with the book. This is just my opinion and although it is certainly not the opinion of most, it just wasn't the book for me.
With that said, I do think this book would work well in a classroom. There is quite a bit to analyze - the characters (look at the patterns and see what they tell you), the relationship between the characters, the use of words and word choice. I do think Ms. DiCamillo did an excellent job putting in the right words or the right sentence at the right time. Many times I thought - oh, that was a clever use of language! The sophisticated words she used would be an excellent study of using context clues to figure out meaning for a younger reader and for the older reader, the words would lead to a discussion of word choice and analyzing the patterns of similar words.
I couldn't leave this review without some of my favorite quotes. As I said, Ms. DiCamillo did a remarkable job with a single sentence saying so much!
pg. 157 "Shocking, really, that a romance novelist could be so inept at the language of the heart."
pg. 174 "Talk about a sentence you could never predict you would say." LOVE that sentence!!!!
pg. 187 "Good grief, she trusted William Spiver." funny :)
And I, of course, loved the many "Holy Bagumba!"s
But my absolute favorite line from this book was "Holy unexpected occurrences!" I'll be using that one!

This Week:
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
I'm finishing this one today!

Unstoppable by Tim Green
Tim Green is coming to visit our district in April.  Very excited!  I have heard of his books, but have not read any.  I know he mostly appeals to the middle grade crowd.  Have you read his books?  Are they ok for 4th grade?  3rd grade?  Let me know in the comments!

Can't wait to see what everyone else is reading!


  1. Lots of awesome books. I really loved True Blue Scouts... Flora and Ulysses was good, was really surprised on it's Newbery win though!

    What We Read

  2. Yes, it was great to get pre-pub books at the breakfast. I felt like I was getting away with something. ;) I am looking forward to the car poems and Maple.

  3. Hello there Michelle, that's one awesome book loot you got going there. Lots of new picture books to be released soon. Hi Koo in particular seems to be receiving a lot of love lately. Thank you also for sharing your thoughts about Flora & Ulysses - seems like an either you like it or you don't kind of book. Intriguing. We do have a copy of that one so I'm looking forward to reading it soon.