Monday, January 5, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.05.15

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.

2015 is off to a great reading start thanks to Winter Break.  I ended 2014 with a bang and started 2015 with a great book.  Here's to fantastic reading in 2015!

Picture Books

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom
All Different Now Juneteenth the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
4/5 stars
I love how the author took a small idea - the moment of emancipation - and explored it through a picture book.  This is a great mentor text for slavery/freedom.  There are great author and illustrator notes in regards to writing/illustrating this moment.  This is another book, that while able to read this to a primary crowd, belongs in the hands of older elementary/intermediate students.  I think they could explore this concept and read the additional notes and have great conversations.  My favorite line, "What was before would be no more."

Goodnight Already!
Goodnight Already! by Jory John
3/5 stars
Jory John teams up with Benji Davies to come up with a picture book that is sure to delight adults and kids.  Adults will sympathize with Bear, who just wants to sleep but is constantly interrupted by Duck.  Kids will love Duck, who is ready to stay up and play!

Middle Grade

All the Answers
All the Answers by Kate Messner
5/5 stars
Thanks to, I was able to read a copy of this book.  I am going to post more on this book later in a Kate Messner January post (I'm reading quite a few of her books this month!).  This book comes out January 27 and I highly recommend it!

Better Nate Than Ever
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
5/5 stars
I've heard about this book for awhile and it made it on my #mustreadin2014 list.  Wow.  It was a great book.  But what make it so amazing to me was the voice.  This story is about Nate's journey to the Big Apple to tryout for a Broadway musical, which is his dream.  Of course, he's doing this on his own, without his parents' permission, much less knowledge.  Nate's view of his trip, his understandings of how the big city works and the Broadway process is a joy to read.  Federle, a Broadway veteran, has not only added his own experience to the story, he creates an authentic voice for Nate.  A book meant for middle grade readers (there was quite a bit of sarcasm that I think intermediate and middle school readers would appreciate, but also some edgy slang), I think this book will entertain many readers, but also speak to kids who see themselves in Nate.  Can't wait to read the sequel.

The Thing About Georgie
The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff
5/5 stars
Another #mustreadin2014 book.  I've owned this book for awhile and I wanted to read it, but just hadn't gotten around to it.  Graff does an amazing job writing about students who have a different perspective.  The first book I read of hers this year was Absolutely Almost and I loved Albie's voice.  I loved this one equally, hearing Georgie's story.  Through my daughter's limb lengthening experiences, we've met many kids with achondroplasia.  The kids we've met are going through limb lengthening - either their legs or arms.  They've elected to go through the surgery to give them a different life experience.  While this is not a topic in the book, some of the challenges that are mentioned - not being able to read light switches, feet on the ground, different shelves - are ones they talk about.  I like that Graff focused on the other part about these kids, that they also have other worries.  Friendship.  Sibling rivalry.  It was a pleasure getting to meet Georgie.  I'll be introducing him to other readers this year!

Winners Take All (All-Star Sports Story)
Winners Take All by Fred Bowen
3/5 stars
While the writing isn't the strongest, I know kids who love sports are going to love this book and others by Bowen.  Seeing as I work with many students who are reluctant readers, sports books are ones that will draw some readers in!

How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel
How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel by Jess Keating
5/5 stars
Ana has quickly become one of my favorite characters.  She has such an authentic middle grade voice.  I loved the first book in the series and I fell quickly in love with this one.  Jess Keating has such a fun way with words.  Here are 2 favorite quotes:

"It's funny how books seem to get heavier after you've written in them.  Like the words you wrote somehow weighed more than the pages itself, holding all of your heavy emotions for you."

"I hate the word 'fine'.  It means anything but fine and everyone knows it."

This book comes out tomorrow.  Add it to your collection!

Stop by my blog this Wednesday to hear more about the book and from Ana!

The Way to Stay in Destiny
The Way to Stay in Destiny by August Scattergood
5/5 stars
I'll have to write more about this book next week - I finished it last night and don't have time to write everything up I want about it.  It celebrates its book birthday tomorrow.  This is an amazing book - make sure it's in your TBR pile!  Much to celebrate about this one!

Transitional Chapter Books

Ranger in Time #1: Rescue on the Oregon Trail
Ranger in Time Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner
5/5 stars
Another book I'll be writing more about in my Kate Messner post.  Love this new series.  It is going to go over well with 2nd - 4th graders.  It's available in the January Scholastic order.  Check it out!

Extraordinary Warren Saves the Day (Extraordinary Warren, #2)
Extraordinary Warren Saves the Day by Sarah Dillard
3/5 stars
I think young readers will enjoy this book for the short chapters and bright illustrations that sort of take on an early graphic novel format.

Currently Reading

Pie by Sarah Weeks

Hope you had a chance to read a lot over the Winter Break.  It's time to return to school, so my reading is definitely going to slow down.
I wrote about my #mustreadin2015 books in this post.  What are you planning on reading this year?


  1. The Way to Stay in Destiny seems to be appearing everywhere. I know I had that book, and now I can't seem to find it. I am going to have to go on a deep search for it because if my book buddy likes it, I know I will, too! :) Happy reading this week, Michele!

  2. Great novels all around. Some that are definitely on my TBR list! Like the Augusta Scattergood title. (Doesn't she have the BEST name?) I am about to read How to Outrun . . . by Jess Keating Really look forward to it. Isn't Nate the best character? What a kid. You will love the sequel! I might even have loved it more.

  3. Great books here, Michele. I'm looking forward to the new Kate Messner books and the new Augusta Scattergood. What a group! I loved Better Nate Than Ever too, & also look forward to the 2nd one. Have a great week!

  4. The Way to Stay in Destiny is a book I am DYING to talk with someone about. But like actually talk, not just write about it.

    Glad you loved Better Nate Than Ever. I agree the voice is hugely memorable.

  5. Great list - all of them are in my TBR pile. Looking forward to Graff's book - Absolutely Almost was such a treasure.

  6. So many new titles to get excited about. I have How to Outrun A Crocodile in a pile here waiting for me and it sounds like I better move it to the top!

  7. Thank you, Michele- so happy to read this!

  8. I haven't read any of Kate Messner's books yet, so looking forward to it. Better Nate Than Ever is one of my 13 year old girl's absolute favourites. :)