Sunday, November 9, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading 11.10.14

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.

With a back injury comes lots of reading!  Really would have preferred to read these books without the injury....  Here are some standouts.  The others that I read this week are on my Goodreads page.

Picture Books

You Are Not Small
You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang
3/5 stars
Cute story - each animal thinks the other is bigger... or smaller than the other.  Until some other animals come!  I would use this for point of view.

Edie's Ensembles
Edie's Ensembles by Ashley Spires
4/5 stars
Edie, the fashionista, goes a little overboard with accessorizing and picking out the perfect ensembles.  First she gets lots of attention and popularity, but how quickly that can all change!  Good lesson.  The digital illustrations are beautiful.  I'm pretty sure I've seen some of the dress designs in People magazine before!  Young fashionistas will love this book!

Sebastian and the Balloon
Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead
3/5 stars
Cute story, but I thought it was lacking just a bit.  I needed more of a closure.  But the illustrations are beautiful - especially the gorgeous balloon!  The colorful afghans that make up the balloon are amazing.  What does the balloon stand for?  Imagination?  Adventure?  Would be fun to ponder with kids!

Graphic Novels

Benny and Penny in Lost and Found: Toon Books Level 2
Benny and Penny in Lost and Found by Geoffrey Hayes
3/5 stars
If you teach 1st or 2nd grade, I think the Benny and Penny series would be perfect for that age level student.  It has a graphic novel format and is longer than a picture book graphic novel and more advanced with the number of frames on each page.  But it has relevant content, whereas the next step up in graphic novels doesn't always have for this age group.

Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl, #1)
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hartke
3/5 stars
I guess I've read too many really good graphic novels lately.  Or maybe this one just didn't speak to me like the others.  My daughter really enjoyed it.  I thought it was good, just not as good as others.  This one seemed to model itself after a more traditional "comic" - more onomatopoeia, more of the story really told through the picture.  I'm interested in seeing who this appeals to at school!

Transitional Chapter Books

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Tales from Deckawoo Drive, #1)
Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo
5/5 stars
This book just kept getting pushed off.  I don't know why.  I love Kate DiCamillo's work.  I love the Mercy Watson series.  It took a back injury to get me to finally sit down and read it.  And oh my, how much I loved it.  I love the way the Great Kate can string together words, whether real or slightly invented, and they are just perfect for that part.  It warms my heart.  I hope she has plans to write many more for this series.  I'd really like to see Officer Tomilello again...

Dory Fantasmagory
Dory Phantasmagory by Abby Hanlon
3/5 stars
The writing was a bit strange.  The plot was thin, at best.  I loved Hanlon's illustrations.  The "bad guy" character reminded me a lot of Viola Swamp.  This book would work great as a read aloud in a 1st or 2nd grade class.  It's a great transitional chapter book for kids in 1st -3rd grades.

The Quirks in Circus Quirkus
The Quirks in Circus Quirkus by Erin Soderberg
4/5 stars
I so love this series.  I think the characters appeal to a wide variety of readers.  The escapades are something little kids will really enjoy reading about.  I love that the author talks to her kids at the dinner table to come up with what will happen to the Quirks kids next.  Maybe that's why these books are so relatable to kids - the ideas came from kids!

The Princess in Black
The Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale
5/5 stars
Another great transitional chapter book series!  I love the full color photos by LeUyen Pham.  This book reminds me a lot of the Mercy Watson series - great story, accessible text, full color layouts.  Girls will love Princess Magnolia and boys will love her horse/unicorn, Blacky.  And the monsters (which in this first book look a little like the Monsters Inc. monsters!).

Adult Read

Leaving Time
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
I really appreciate the thoroughness that Picoult puts into her research on the topic she writes about.  This time it was about elephants.  Similar to her book Lone Wolf, you almost feel like the information you are reading about the animals could be from a "Scientists in the Field" book.  I liked the storyline and got into it more and more as the book went on.  As always, there was a huge twist at the end, and this time I really didn't see it coming.

On Deck

I am going to try and quickly get through the Disaster Strikes series.  I think this is a series many of my reading students will like, so I want to read them and get them into their hands.  I also have The Witch's Boy or the third Land of Stories to read next.  I'll give The Witch's Boy a try and if it doesn't capture my attention right away, move on to the next one!


  1. A lot of people feel the same way as you about Sebastian and the Balloon I think. I probably would be the same way, except after having been to a couple events and listened to Phil talk about the kinds of books he loves and loves to make, this kind of story from him makes total sense to me. He likes quirky stories that aren't heavy-handed and are just stories for their own sake -- not necessarily to impart some sort of wisdom or message. When I look at his books from that lens, I can appreciate them more.

  2. I'm looking forward to reading Princess in Black, which I bought a couple of weeks ago. I also still have the first Quirks book in my TBR. Might have to stick that one on my #MustReadin2015 list. Need more time to read! I loved Dory Fantasmagory--the sibling relationship and Dory's fantastical imagination really appealed to me, and I liked how Hanlon told so much of the story through the illustrations. It felt very picture book to me, which I liked. And a big YES to many more from Kate DiCamillo. Loved Leroy Ninker and Maybelline. Such a terrific read-aloud! Hope your back is better soon.

  3. You were a busy bee this week. Let me tell you---I was thinking of you the entire time I was watching Natalie Lloyd. I almost told her, "My friend Michele adores you, too!" She was incredibly nice with a very deep southern drawl. I loved her.

  4. Wow, Michele, you really read a lot this week-catch-up as you said! I really would like to find You Are (Not) Small, sounds like a nice book. And Dory... looks very cute.

  5. Great list of titles here. I look forward to Leroy Ninker. Kate is so so brilliant.