Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.04.14

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.

I feel that push to get all of my reading in as fast as I can!  Trying to read some longer books before school starts...

Picture Books

The Zoo Box
The Zoo Box by Ariel Cohn
4/5 stars
Told in beginning graphic novel format, two siblings that are on their own for the evening, open a box (that is clearly marked Do Not Open on the side) to have chaos come down all around them.  Kids will laugh at how the tables are turned on the kids.  I was thinking that this would be a really good book to use when doing a "What If...." writing topic.  What if.... this happened????

Pardon Me!
Pardon Me by Daniel Miyares
5/5 stars
I saw this on a couple of blogs lately, but as I mentioned, my library did not have it.  Walked into my indie and there it was!  It is such a great tongue-in-cheek book.  As a few of you have mentioned, perfect if you like I Want My Hat Back or I was even thinking of Carnivores.  The illustrations reminded my of the Rio movie and as I was reading the bird's dialogue, I heard it in an English accent a la "Zazoo", the bird from Lion King.  This will be a fun book to share with students this fall.

Ninja Red Riding Hood
Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz
5/5 stars
I loved this one more than the first.  I laughed out loud several times.  In almost every adaptation of the "Red Riding Hood" story, my favorite character is almost always Granny.  No exception in this version!

Soccer Star
Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin
5/5 stars
It took my library a little while to order this book but it was worth the wait.  This book could be included in themes that include sports, working hard for a goal/dream, cultural/background differences.  This is a well told story that comes to life with the illustrations.

Informational Texts

Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story Of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way To Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History!
Mermaid Queen by Shana Corey
5/5 stars
This biography of Annette Kellerman was a fascinating read with my background of swimming.  I love how the author describes Annette in her notes at the end of the book, "champion swimmer, risk-taker, and fashion rebel who invented both water ballet and the modern swimsuit."
This was an easy to read biography that captured the spirit of Kellerman.  I loved seeing how she not only was a modern-day athlete at the beginning of the 1900s, but also pushed the fashion standards of that time!


BookSpeak!: Poems about Books
Book Speak! by Laura Purdie Salas
5/5 stars
Salas writes such beautiful poems, whether it's a book in prose or a collection of poems, I always enjoy reading them.  This collection was no exception.  Describing books or the feel of books or the feel of reading, Salas brings reading to life.  I loved "the sky is falling" which is told in the POV of the book of a reader falling asleep on it!  I loved the description of a book plate - "I'm a paper love tattoo."  Lovely writing!

Graphic Novel

Gaijin: American Prisoner of War
Gaijin:  American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner
5/5 stars
My goodreads review:  What an important book, and why didn't they have books like this when I was in 8th grade?
This historical fiction book told in graphic novel format, is about young Koji who is Japanese-American during the start of the United State's involvement in WWII. Koji and his American mother are forced into a Japanese internment camp. This is the story of racism in America, about a teenager growing up and making difficult decisions, about being from 2 different cultures. There is so much to talk about for upper middle school students. Faulkner does an excellent job bringing the feelings of growing up Japanese during this time in American history and does it in a way that will help the reader understand multiple points of view and understand historic events. Readers have to pay attention to the graphics (which are amazing) and the text to draw inferences and understand the complex story. Amazing book.

Middle Grade

The Enchantress Returns (The Land of Stories, #2)
The Land of Stories:  The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer
5/5 stars
I'm not sure why, but this series hasn't gotten much love from my Nerdy Friends.  I'm not sure why.  Because it was written by a famous actor?  I don't know.  Regardless, I picked this series up when it first came out because of the premise.  A brother and sister end up getting trapped in a book where they meet fairy tale characters and go on an adventure.  Many other books have a similar premise.  This is one that has kept my attention.  I love the action and suspense.  I think Colfer has done an amazing job having these characters come to life.  All of the characteristics that I know about the characters come from the Disney stories.  I feel like he has done a good job of keeping them more in their original storytelling format.  
To get me ready to read the second book, I listened to the first book on audio (I read it 2 years ago) and I loved listening to Colfer read his own work.  First of all, I felt like I was hearing it the way he wanted us to have read the book.  Secondly, he added such personalization to all of the characters.  Finally, he made such an impact that I could "hear" the characters as I read this follow up.  I want to get this book on audio now because I enjoyed it so much.
If you end up picking this series up and trying it out, I'd love to hear your thoughts!  I can't wait to start the third one.

Night of the Twisters
Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman
4/5 stars
I read this book because it is a 2015 IL Bluestem nominee.  This book was originally published in 1984 and there are many references (popular TV shows mentioned are Laverne and Shirley and Happy Days) and vocabulary that will be unfamiliar to today's reader (it mentions the president coming to visit the town - President Jimmy Carter!).  I was also a little surprised at some of the clearly non-PC things that are mentioned!  This book was definitely a little nerve-wracking to read.  It was full of suspense.  Seemed like a lot of accurate descriptions of living through a tornado.  Living in a Chicago suburb, rarely do we get more than a tornado watch, but even those can get kids uptight.  I would suggest know your reader before you hand this book off to anyone to prevent any bad dreams!  Kids who like high action will enjoy this book.

Young Adult

We Were Liars
we were liars by e. lockhart
5/5 stars
Wow.  Tight, beautiful writing.  Lyrical writing.  Strong, hard, damaged story.  There's not much you can say without giving away the book.  It is about a well-off family with money who have their own small, private island.  So much with this family has to do with appearances.  I couldn't help but think about families like the Kennedy's - how people scrutinize every move the entire family makes. 

Currently Reading

Professional reading:
Read Write Teach: Choice and Challenge in the Reading-Writing Workshop     Teaching Reading in Small Groups: Differentiated Instruction for Building Strategic, Independent Readers     Readers Front & Center: Helping All Students Engage with Complex Text
Still plugging away with Read Write Think, but now I've added Teaching Reading in Small Groups to the mix.  Readers Front and Center has gone to the back burner again.  It's an important book, but the others are in the front seat right now!

Still Reading with my ears:
Things Not Seen (Things, #1)
We are 3/4 of the way done with this book.  

Middle Grade:
The Night Gardener
Need to start The Night Gardener to get ready for the next virtual book club!  I'd like to read Peter Nimble too, but that's not going to happen.  Too many other books I want to get to!  

Also going to FINALLY start:
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

I'm not sure what will be next, tune in next week and find out what direction I went towards :)


  1. I like the comparisons you made to Pardon Me.

    I really need to read Gaijin after hearing Matt Faulkner talk about it at nErDcamp.

    1. I'm convinced now, too. Between the reviews coming out of nErDcamp and what you've added here, Michele, it sounds like exactly the kind of historical base that will capture students' attention. Curious also to see how it will fit alongside Kirby Larson's Dash (also featuring a MC in a Japanese internment camp)--or if it will?

  2. No no no, you must read Peter Nimble! The book is so fantastic, just like his fantastic eyes. Thanks for the reminder btw, I had stacked up my week's TBR pile and forgot I needed to read The Night Gardener. I have to wait until just before #virtualbookclub or else I tend to forget my books or blur them with other favorites. This is going to be one of the best book chats we have ever had.

  3. Pardon Me has popped up again and again! Can't wait to read!

  4. I'll really be interested in finding Gaijin: American Prisoner of War-looks like one to add to our library, Michele. And, looking forward to The Night Gardener, on my list. I hope you like A.J. Fikry, I did love it a lot! Thanks for all!

  5. Great list! Am definitely interested in Soccer Star. As for Night of the Twisters, that is one that I remember strongly from reading at a kid - we don't get many tornadoes here in WI but still some. I had a kid last year who loved storm stories, but our library didn't have this one anymore.

  6. I just watched Rio 2 with my friend and her kids, so I might have to check out Pardon Me! I loved We Were Liars and I also love how much readers are NOT spoiling the story for others. You can't say much about it without giving things a way. I think that adds to the intrigue! I really enjoyed The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. It's like a love letter written to book lovers. :) Have a great reading week! ~Megan

  7. Isn't Soccer Star fantastic? My students were so moved by this title. It really made an impact. I shared their responses here: I am looking forward to both Peter Nimble and The Night Gardener. Just got a copy of Peter Nimble.

  8. I am so impressed with how much you are reading!!
    Thank you for the introduction to a new graphic novel. I have ordered it and Soccer Star from my library because I had to get my hands on them after your endorsement. Thank you for sharing.
    I will, one day, read We are Liars as everyone loves it.
    Happy reading this week! :)

  9. I just finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry today! Get ready for a wild ride. That book took me on so many emotional roller coasters. I can't wait to hear your thoughts about it. It is absolutely beautiful.

  10. Night of the Twisters -- that takes me back. I used that book for a lit/author study while I was student teaching (in Nebraska at the time) in 1995. Memories.