Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3.31.14

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.

Yea for Spring Break reading!  I've had PILES of books to get through!  And although I didn't read everything in those piles, a dent was made!

I read so many picture books this week.  I'll discuss the ones that were real standouts.  If you would like to see all the picture books I read be sure to click on my GoodReads link on the sidebar!

Picture Books

Some Bugs
Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi
5/5 stars
(review featured HERE)

Baseball Is . . .
Baseball Is... by Louise Borden
5/5 stars
This book was a fantastic find.  I was so impressed with the writing that I moved it right up to my list of mentor texts.  The vocabulary is so rich and well organized.  The amount of content in this picture book is impressive.  

Say Hello Like This
Say Hello Like This! by Mary Murphy
4/5 stars
I really like this one for teaching adjectives, and thinking about the appropriate words to describe things.  My first thought was to use this book with very young readers, but I think you could use this with even an older class to help them understand specific word choice.  I like how the author describes how a cat's hello is "prissy and proud".  

EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help From a Hen
EIEIO How Old MacDonald Got His Farm by Judy Sierra
4/5 stars
Very cute take on how Farmer MacDonald changes his city yard (he's tired of mowing it) into a compost growing organic farm... with a little help from one very smart little red hen!

Going Places
Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds
4/5 stars
Use to teach central message - thinking outside of the box is good!

2006 Geisel Award Challenge

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa
Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman
3/5 stars

Amanda Pig and the Really Hot Day
Amanda Pig and the Really Hot Day by Jean Van Leeuwen
3/5 stars

A Splendid Friend, Indeed
A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom
4/5 stars

Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas (Henry and Mudge, #26)
Henry and Mudge and the Great-Grandpas by Cynthia Rylant (2006 Geisel Award winner)
5/5 stars

Waiting for Hi, Fly Guy!, it's on hold for me at the library!

Informational Texts

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
The Scraps Book by Lois Ehlert
5/5 stars
Beautiful book narrated by Ehlert showing readers her inspirations for her artwork from her books, how she creates the art, how she works.  Seeing the personal artifacts that helped create her artwork is very touching.  This would be a perfect companion book to read to a class after they did an author study of her picture books.  I think students would really get into seeing the beginning stages of some of her books!

Sea Turtle Scientist
Sea Turtle Scientist by Stephen R. Swinburne
5/5 stars
I will have to feature this series in another post.  So much to write about!  I learned so much more about these fascinating creatures in this text.

I am Abraham Lincoln
I Am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer
3/5 stars
Good introduction to Abraham Lincoln's life to very young readers.  Written in narrative format.  


Firefly July and Other Very Short Poems
Firefly July poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko
4/5 stars
Poems that are very accessible for young readers, all centered and organized around the seasons.  Variety of poets, but all illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

Early Chapter Books

Like Bug Juice on a Burger (Eleanor, #2)
Like Bug Juice on a Burger by Julie Sternberg
4/5 stars
I really like this series for young readers.  The titles are always very clever and make me laugh.  The main character, Eleanor, goes through similar things kids go through everyday which makes the reader relate to her.  In this book, Eleanor is off to sleep-over summer camp for the first time.  After a rough start, things get better!
This is the second book in the series of three.  While there are small references from the first book, you don't have to read the books in order.

Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake (Eleanor, #3)
Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg
5/5 stars 
My Goodreads summary:  This is the third book in the series, and probably my favorite. I love Eleanor. She is spunky, yet kind. She speaks her mind, but thinks of others. Sternberg has done an excellent job making Eleanor real. She deals with real problems that kids face everyday. Matthew Cordell's illustrations add to the story without being distracting for young chapter book readers. 
This third installment made me love Eleanor more. Eleanor's best friend is Pearl. We've seen her in the other 2 books and know they have a close relationship. In this book Ainsley moves in, and the best friends have to face the test so many friendships go through - can a best friend of 2 go to best friends of 3? Amongst this test, Eleanor's dog is sent away to doggie training camp and Eleanor has to get over stage fright to perform in her class play. As if that's not enough for a fourth grader to deal with, Eleanor gets her first tasting of kids teasing her about a potential crush. 
This series is great for teachers to use when teaching writing. Eleanor and Pearl are prone to using similes, especially at the beginning of each book. And what a great hook in each book. Here's this book's - "I did a mean thing. A very mean thing. To a new girl AND to my best friend. I HATE that I did it. But I did. This is worse than carrot juice on a cupcake or a wasp on my pillow or a dress that's too tight at the neck. I hope you never do anything that mean. I really do." Love these hooks!
And this part is funny, because it's soooo true. "And then the boy who sits behind me, Nicholas Rigby, started humming the Disney song "It's a Small World." He hummed and hummed, just loud enough for me to hear. "Shh!" I told him. I turned and glared at him, too. Because Nicholas Rigby is always getting us in trouble. Plus, I knew I'd never get that song out of my head."

Middle Grade Books

Dangerous by Shannon Hale
4/5 stars
It seems like all the books written these days for middle grade/YA are dystopian society books.  Luckily, this one is something different - space.  I liked that it had a different concept and it wasn't until the end of the book that it got a little far fetched.  Maisie was a fun character.  Strong girl who faces life head on even with a physical disability (think the Schneider Award committee will be reading this one???)

Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy #1)
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
4/5 stars
I read this book with my daughter so we could participate in the Twitter #SharpSchu Book Club!  I read this book when I was a child and then now.  It was definitely two different reads.  I loved the book as a child.  I remember trying to emulate Harriet.  Now, I can't believe what a bully Harriet is and how unbelievable that she never understood how she did something wrong.  Thinking back on the younger me, I really hope I wasn't mean like that!  But, if I took a step back and think about Harriet and how her character inspired many writers, it takes on another meaning!

Every Day After
Every Day After by Laura Golden
5/5 stars
Fantastic historical fiction set place in the Depression-era.  Lizzie is a fantastic character, one that the reader bonds with and wants to climb in the book and help.  So many layers to this book as there are multiple problems that Lizzie has to overcome.

Odd, Weird & Little
Odd, Weird and Little by Patrick Jennings
2/5 stars
My Goodreads summary:  I really liked what this story wanted to tell.  It's about bullying and fitting in.  It's about being brave and being different.  I loved the idea of that story.  The author did a great job of capturing that middle grade voice.  The things the kids do and say happen at school.  It's that line kids cross all the time - being that secretive bully - the one where what you're doing is mean and hurtful but doesn't cross the line of getting suspended or expelled.  Some kids think it's a right of passage, and they are allowed to cut other kids down like that.  But it's not ok.  And it shouldn't be tolerated.  So great idea to the story, but I wish the author had stayed on the realistic fiction side of the story.... It made it seem ridiculous. 

Continuing to Read

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin
Rump by Liesl Shurtliff

Rethinking Intervention: Supporting Struggling Readers and Writers in Grades 3-6 Classrooms
Rethinking Intervention by Shari Frost

Reading with my ears....

Sky Raiders (Five Kingdoms, #1)
Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull
As I've mentioned, this is the first book I've listened to on CD.  It's nice getting a book "read" during a time I don't normally read.  But, it is harder for me to listen to a book than read it.  This is proving I am definitely a visual learner!  There are times I miss something and I can't just flip back a page or go back a paragraph to see where my comprehension broke down.  It's good to stretch ourselves though, try something new!


  1. I thought Rump was very cute, but I LOVE The Hero's Guide series even more. Audio can take some getting used to, but I find that CDs in the car make driving so much nicer and a Playaway keeps me and the dogs moving. Have a great week! ~Megan

    1. I have the Hero's Guide book too... another book in that large TBR pile ;)

  2. Isn't the experience of reading Harriet the Spy then and now stunningly different? I reread it last year and was appalled by how cruel Harriet is. I didn't remember that AT ALL from reading it as a child! I felt like Fitzhugh was really pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable from children and in a children's book--a much more disturbing and interesting book than I had given it credit for being. I have a long commute to work and love listening to audiobooks, especially ones I know I need to read but can't quite get into. I just bought The scraps Book this week--planning to share a few books by Ehlert with my kids and then read the new one. I love books about becoming writers and artists. I love Julie Sternberg's series about Eleanor. Will have to purchase the new one. I don't understand the appeal of the Amanda Pig books. Not my favorites. Cynthia Rylant, on the other hand, can do no wrong in my book! The Geisel challenge is a fun one--I'm going to try to read the titles I haven't read yet.

    1. Yes, agree with you on everything! You get a magical feeling reading Henry and Mudge that doesn't quite make it there with the other ones!

  3. Wow, Michele, I don't know which to be excited about first! I want to read Every Day After and The Scraps Book. Have both, just many others I need to read too! You did get an amazing number of books completed, & it must have been fun! Thanks for sharing so many!

    1. It's crazy how many books we have to read and so little time. I often wish I could read faster, but I want to savor the moment too.... Have a great reading break!

  4. So much goodness on this post!
    I ordered Baseball Is... from the library, and I added many of these to my TBR. (I'm definitely leaving your post open to do some searches at my library to read more.)
    I'm going to read Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake soon--I love that series.
    I've never read Harriet the Spy. That must be fixed.
    Thank you for linking up and happy reading this week! :)

  5. Like everyone I don't know where to start. So without peeking back, I'm going to choose three titles to comment on. 1. LOVED Every Day After - so pleased that you did as well. Well done historical fiction is a treasure. 2. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa! I have all 6 titles in my room. I have kids that adore these books! 3. I am very excited to read this Shannon Hale book. I am a big fan of hers. Okay and one more comment - enjoy Rump! Loved reading this aloud to my class!

  6. Hi there Michele, you have so many wonderful books here. Very interesting to read your take on Harriet the Spy, I remember reading it a few years back and enjoying how spunky the character is. My daughter read it last year I think and she enjoyed it thoroughly too. I wonder what a re-read would bring to my reading experience of the novel. Firefly July caught my eye as I am a huge fan of Janeczko. So many great things here!

  7. I ended up reading Harriet the Spy as well. he characters were unique and unforgettable. The writing had me turning pages. But like another classic- E.B. White's Stuart Little- it felt unresolved. I didn't see any growth in Harriet. She is rude and obnoxious, which I guess is realistic, but her observations don't equate to truth. Towards the end, I was expecting a breakdown in the style of Stephen King's Carrie.