Monday, December 8, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12.08.14

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.

Looking at the last time I posted on Monday it was right before I left for NCTE where I prophetically wrote that my "reading will probably slow down".  I was so right.

Here's what jumped out in the last 3 weeks of reading!

Picture Books

 by John Rocco

5/5 stars
This book was so worth the wait!  I love John Rocco's art work, but it seems more often than not, his illustrations are darker in color.  The beautiful bright colors, reflecting off all that snow, just pop and beg you to look and look again.  I really hope I only read about this much snow this year, and not experience it!

Coming Home
Coming Home by Greg Ruth
5/5 stars
What an important book.  Told with a minimal amount of words, is the story of a young boy waiting to welcome his parent home from a deployment.  An emotional story that is told mostly through illustrations, it's a book to share and discuss.

Rodeo Red
Rodeo Red by Maripat Perkins
5/5 stars
Add this one to your book release calendar - March 1, 2015.  Great cowgirl story, fantastic vocabulary, it will be a fun read aloud!  And illustrations by the great Molly Idle, you won't want to miss it!

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold
Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman
4/5 stars
The Twitter world has been a-buzz over this book of poetry.  Winter poem on the left page, and additional information about the topic of the poem on the right.  The illustrations captured me even more than the words.

Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole
Santa Clauses:  Short Poems from the North Pole by Bob Raczka
5/5 stars
My daughter and I are reading a haiku a night in this great book.  The illustrations are fun and the haikus put you in the Christmas spirit.  Great addition to my Christmas collection!

Beginning Chapter books

Ling & Ting: Twice as Silly
Ling and Ting Twice as Silly by Grace Lin
4/5 stars
I love Ling and Ting.  I think their stories are so fun.  This book is my favorite in the series.  I love that Lin includes a quick and short explanation as to why their haircuts are still not the same!  This is a great series for 1st and 2nd graders!

Middle Grade

A Grimm Warning (The Land of Stories, #3)
The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer
4/5 starsAnother fun return to the Land of Stories!  Not as strong of a story as the first two, but I was always entertained.  There were a few phrases that I felt were too strongly worded for most middle school readers.  I think Colfer forgets who his audience is from time to time and throws language that we really wish was not included in the book.
The writing in these books will never blow you away, but they always leave me entertained.  I like how "Connor" and "Alex" take the story over and have the fairy tale characters be the secondary characters.  Colfer is smart by not having the fairy tale characters as the lead, because then it doesn't matter to us if he changes details - in my opinion he has done a good job of keeping them true to who they are - but they don't move the story along.  
I had the chance this past summer to quickly talk to Colfer about the books.  He said this one had him doing the most amount of research, since he added the Grimm brothers to the story.  They certainly did not play a huge part, and he definitely took some liberties with them, but it is interesting to think what if the Grimm brothers had left something for us to find nowadays...
In this day and age, I think there have been many books with a fairy tale twist.  I know when I step into this series, it will always be an entertaining ride!
Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky
Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas

4/5 stars
A story about a Japanese family that is sent to a relocation camp after the Pearl Harbor bombings.  I think it went into a little more detail than Dash by Kirby Larson.  A great read for kids who want some historical fiction.Rain Reign
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
5/5 stars
I can't help but be amazed with Martin's writing.  To go from the Babysitter's Club series to this - something with far more substance and voice.  She is such a talented author.
Talk about your heart print story - and so different.  The main character, Rose, has Asperger's and her social awkwardness comes out but Martin does an amazing job of making the reader feel just enough empathy, but at the same time have an understanding of how hard the relationships are for Rose and those close to her.  Your heart will break a little when reading this story.

Currently Reading

I need to finish The Night Gardener (my 2nd time) so I'm ready for our Mock Newbery in a week.  It's just as brilliant and creepy as the first time I read it!

I have quite a bit of nonfiction picture books I need to get through.

I am also going to start one of my #mustreadin2014 books, Laurel Snyder's Bigger Than a Breadbox.

Happy reading to all!


  1. I am a sucker for any book with snow in it! The Long Winter was my favorite Wilder book, and Snowbound with Betsy my favorite Haywood. But I hate snow. May have to look at Blizzard anyway!

  2. Wow! Great list - I loved Winter Bees and Rain Reign, but I haven't read any of the others on your list. Thanks for sharing the Sandra Dallas book - we're reading Duke aloud, so a lot of my kids want to read Dash. They learned about the Japanese internment camps recently, so I'll be recommending this to them.

  3. There was a really interesting piece in the last 2-3 weeks at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast about the illustrations in Winter Bees. I was amazed at the work that goes into the art. A new Ling & Ting! That's certainly one of my very favorite early reader series. Rain Reign is one I was hoping to read this month, but I'm going to be so busy finishing up my reading challenges for the year that I doubt I get to it. But that's ok: it can go on my #mustreadin2015 list!

  4. Rain Reign seems to be all over the place on book blogs with everyone in agreement about it being a special book. And the same is true for Coming Home - two new books to put on my list!

  5. Loved Rain Reign, part of a good story that brings so many questions to discuss. I have Blizzard from the library, looking forward to it, & ordered Santa Clauses for my grandchildren. Can't wait to read it!

  6. Rain Reign is so, so, so brilliant. I am so glad you liked it!!!!
    I love John Rocco, so I'll need to get Blizzard. I'm sure it is beautiful.

    Happy reading this week!

  7. I keep hearing such wonderful things about Rain Reign. It is at the top of my list, but now that you wrote such nice things, I am going to be sure to put it at the tippy top. :)

  8. I love Molly Idle so I'm definitely going to have to check out Rodeo Red.

  9. Thank you for telling us about Blizzards. We can't wait to read it.

  10. I'm glad to hear that Ling and Ting is a fun one. I am a fan of the twins. :)

  11. Hi there Michele. Glad to hear you're rereading The Night Gardener - definitely one of my favourites this 2014. One of my young book club members absolutely adore The Land of Stories - I just shared with her the Goodreads Link to Book 3. Not sure if she has that one yet. :)