Monday, February 2, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.02.15

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.

Slow reading week, but a great week for getting books.  I had an amazing day at ALA on Saturday, I wrote about my day HERE.  That should count for reading since I picked up so many books!
Here's what I did get to this week:

Picture Books

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat
A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins
5/5 stars
This is a fine, fine book.  It's quite amazing, actually.  The premise of the book is the same dessert, Blackberry Fool, is made by 4 different parent-child pairs in 4 different centuries.  The dessert is always made the same way, so the reader sees the pattern of the recipe.  Yet, it's the small details that tell the story but also teach the difference in the time period.  How the families get the recipe, the utensils that are used to make the recipe, how they get the ingredients.  But it also tells about the different time in history - young slaves serving the dessert, multicultural families.  One thing that stayed the same is the love between the parent and child throughout the centuries.  I loved the parent-child connection!
Emily Jenkins did an amazing job with the text - it's a beautiful story that clearly tells the story of how families made and shared this dessert.  Sophie Blackall's illustrations are beautiful, such exquisite detail.  I loved reading her note at the end of the text and learning of her thought process and questions she researched to make her illustrations match the time period.  My favorite fact was learning she had squished blackberries through a sieve with a spoon, just like in the recipe, and used the purple juice to paint the endpapers!
And did you know Emily Jenkins is the real name of E. Lockhart (we were liars)??  Huh, did not know that!

When Otis Courted Mama
When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt
5/5 stars
I was so thrilled to have won this book from Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders!  I had been looking for this book at the library, but they had not ordered it yet.  It's always a lovely surprise to hear you've won something you've been looking for!
What a perfect book for #weneeddiversebooks campaign!  There are many students who have divorced parents who are dating other people.  That can lead a child to question and have feelings of insecurities.  
First of all, I love that this book calls it "courting".  It goes along with the other beautiful vocabulary in the story.  I think by calling it "courting", it takes away any threatening feelings and creates a calm feeling throughout the story.  
I love the vocabulary Appelt uses.  The story takes place in the southwest, and Appelt uses so many wonderful words - saguaro syrup, ocotillo flowers, prickly pear pudding and my favorite southwest word - chaparral (it's just so fun to say!  There's a street in Scottsdale, AZ named Chaparral that I would love to live on just so I could say that name.  The name of the tile in my bathroom is Chaparral something.  I don't think it mattered the color, I was getting that tile!)  Even the names of the characters have a southwest charm - Cardell, Otis, Cleburne...  Makes me really want to get back to Arizona and the Sonoran Desert!
I love this line - "Those stories settled on Cardell's fur like a warm blanket."
Jill McElmurry's illustrations capture the colors of the desert and fit with the text just right!
Make sure you check this book out.  There are students who have been waiting for this book!

Middle Grade

Greenglass House
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
3/5 stars
I wanted to like this book, I had heard good things about it, it has "Newbery buzz" around it.  I could not get into it.  I liked the idea - 2 kids trying to solve a mystery within a rooming house.  It had intrigue, mysterious characters, and a house that has nooks and crannies just waiting to explore.  I'm not sure if it was the extensive narrative.  Lots of details, lots of explaining.  Maybe it was the slow pace of the story.  Maybe it was the lack of heart racing moments that you expect in a mystery.  The ending was fun.  Little moments throughout the story were neat how they were interwoven through the story.  But there were too many stretches of time that I was bored and needed more to happen.
There were lines I enjoyed, enough to mark them:
pg. 129 "Another direct question, thrown down like a gauntlet."
pg. 220 "Nobody said it had to be a story with an ending all neatly tied up like some ridiculous fairy tale.  This story's true, and true stories don't have endings, because things just keep going."

Currently Reading

Stella by Starlight
Stella By Starlight by Sharon Draper
I got to meet Ms. Draper at ALA this weekend.  What a gracious woman.

On Deck

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John
I met them at ALA too.  They really are a stitch.  They could take their show on the road!

I picked up some great picture book F&G's at ALA and read many on the exhibit floor.  I'll feature them in a post later this week!
Happy reading :)


  1. I didn't know Sophie Blackall illustrated Emily Jenkins's new book! Now that's a must-buy for me. I am so obsessed with Sophie Blackall's work. I'm eventually going to get to Greenglass House but I'm reading another book right now that sounds very similar in terms of pacing, lots of explanation, slow-moving plot: The Witch's Boy. I'll need a break with something fact-paced after this!

  2. I have A Fine Dessert and When Otis Courted Mama on my TBR list. Looking forward to reading both. I've had GreenGlass House on my TBR list also but other books keep displacing it. Eventually I'll get to it. I hope you love Stella by Starlight as much as I did! I thought it was just fantastic!

    Happy Reading!

  3. While I appreciated the intricacies in the writing of Greenglass House, I'm not sure that I can think of many students I would hand it off to. They just aren't patient enough. The Terrible Two, on the other hand, will cause riots in my classroom when we get our copy as they all clamber to be the first readers! I'll have to be on watch for A Fine Dessert-lots of good things are being said.

    Looking forward to your ALA recap!

  4. I am awaiting my copy of Stella by Starlight with great anticipation.A Fine Dessert sounds like such an unusual book - the format alone is intriguing. I will have to look for it.

  5. Yay Otis!! I love that book! A wonderful look at a diverse family.
    I need to read Stella. Everything Draper writes is magic.

    Happy reading this week! And happy ALA day! :)

    1. P.S. So glad that you won and loved Otis! Glad we could accommodate :)

  6. Ah! I am so glad you loved it too! I agree--the word, "courting" is marvelous. We really should bring it back. :) I will admit, when I clicked the rafflecopter button to get the winner, I bounced and smiled when I saw your name. I love to send good books to good friends. Have a terrific week! I will let you know how The Secret Hum of Daisy is (if my librarians ever reopen the library with all of the snow)!

  7. I'll look for Sharon Draper's Stella by Starlight at my conference-sounds very good. I get to introduce Kathi Appelt there so will look for her "Otis" book too. It sounds like something teachers of the younger students will need and enjoy. A Fine Desert looks as if it would be a great mentor text. Thanks, Michele!

  8. It was so great finally getting a chance to sit down and talk with you this weekend! Glad you made it home safely!

  9. Such delightful information about Emily Jenkins/ E Lockhart. And this book sounds delightful. I'm not sure if I will read Stella by Starlight. I think I might be the only one I know who didn't like Out of My Mind, but I'm nervous about putting energy into another book by her. It isn't that I hated it, it's just that growing up in a house with a disabled person, I thought her interpretation of others was too negative. I do have Greenglass House and hope to get to it eventually!

  10. No I didn't know that Emily Jenkins is Lockhart! That is exciting! I really want to read A Fine Dessert!

  11. A Fine Dessert looks mighty fine indeed - and illustrated by Sophie Blackall - LOVELOVELOVE! Will definitely order this in for my higher-degree course. I haven't read any book by Sharon Draper yet, and I'm looking forward to getting to know her novels.