Sunday, March 29, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3.30.15

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.

Spring Break reading was good :)
Here are the ones that really stood out.  I reviewed everything on Goodreads.  Check these books out:

Picture Books

Orion and the Dark
Orion and the Dark
 by Emma Yarlett

5/5 stars
I talked about this book briefly after ALA.
I'm so grateful to Jen Vincent for pointing this book out to me!
Being scared of the dark is something many young children face.  Having an illogical fear of something is a rite of passage for young children.  In this book, Orion has many fears, but the big one, is being afraid of the dark.  Until the Dark comes to visit.  Dark reminds me a bit of Beetle - a kind, old soul that has a heart of a giant.  
I think I said "awwww" a couple of times as I read this gem.  Make sure you find a copy of this book.  Maybe like me, it will find its way onto your bookshelf.

You Nest Here with Me
You Nest Here With Me by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple
4/5 stars
Mother-daughter team have created a wonderful bedtime story - visions of parents and children snuggling up to read this story come in my head.
But then the teacher side of me sees how this book is teaching its young readers about nesting habits of birds.  
This lovely fiction story has wonderful end notes, giving us additional information about each bird, their feathers, eggs, nests and other interesting facts.
And, oh yes, Melissa Sweet is the illustrator.  Icing on the cake.

My Pen
My Pen by Christopher Myers
4/5 stars
A pen is a tool that lets our imagination come to life. 
A great story that would leave much to talk about and write about and draw about.  I think this story has a place with older students.  I think they will understand it on a different level.  But young students may love where the pen takes them in the story.  What I love about picture books is they don't have an age limit stuck to them.  They are not just for our primary students.  So many more can enjoy them.

Meet the Dullards
Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker
4/5 stars
Need to teach sarcasm to students?  This is a perfect tongue-in-cheek book that will get them laughing.  A family that finds staring at paint fun?  Mr. and Mrs. Dullard are trying their hardest to keep their young children dull.  But it's hard when a neighbor welcomes them to their new home with... chunky applesauce cake!!  Mr. Dullard even has to ask her to "Please don't use exclamation marks in front of our children."

Young Adult

Vanishing Girls
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
4/5 stars
I like Oliver's books, but... they really make me nervous for my daughter to become a teen! Surely not all teens drink, do drugs, have sex, sneak out, and be mean to everyone, right?????
This one was good too.  Good twist.  But if you're going to read this book, I highly recommend reading it slowly.  Or else you're going to want to go back and reread everything to find what you missed.

Graphic Novels

Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper (Amulet, #1)
Amulet #1: The Storekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
5/5 stars
I've had this one for awhile, just haven't gotten around to it.  I cannot believe how popular these books have been this year.  Very thankful for what this series has done.
This was on my #mustreadin2015 list.  Check it off!

Transitional Chapter Books

Lulu's Mysterious Mission
Lulu's Mysterious Mission by Judith Viorst
5/5 stars
I love Lulu - she's a spunky and a not-so-perfect character.  This third installment is probably my favorite.  She's funnier, more clever, and has even more schemes.  I love how Viorst turns and talks to the reader.  This book makes a beautiful read-aloud - kids will laugh and since it's a series, there's more to read!

Adult Reads

Yellow Crocus
Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim
4/5 stars
I really enjoyed this book.  If you liked The Help, I would recommend this one.  It's a great story about a wet nurse and her charge, a young plantation debutante.  It takes place during the time of the Underground Railroad.  The story was gripping, I didn't want to put it down.  But... the writing was not so good.  Debut author, but you would think the editing would have found some of the holes - week transitions, confusing at times, hard to sometimes follow who was telling the story, parts that needed to be developed.  But, even with all of that, it was a really good story!  It's a quick read.  Highly recommended.

Currently Reading

The Alex Crow
The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

Black Dove, White Raven
Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein


A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan


  1. I was hoping that Lulu would be good for my struggling middle school readers. I found her hilarious, but no one picked up the book this week. I'm looking forward to Black Dove, White Raven as well.

  2. Will look for Orion and the Dark. Have you seen the other one by Lemony Snicket? I liked it. Just saw The Pen somewhere else-will definitely get it, Michele. And the Lauren Oliver. I don't know how many teens go through this, but my former students tell me they can get drugs any time any where at school. I'm hoping they will stay clear!

  3. I just ordered My Pen yesterday--that cover is incredible! I am going to have to get the Sara Pennypacker too. I love her books anyway, and the line about not using exclamation marks is just too funny. I hear about the teen years. My son is in 6th grade, and there is not one thing about middle school that I want him to ever experience--yet there he is every single day. Of course, I managed to navigate through all of that and turn out all right, but somehow it's very hard as a parent to trust that your child will also turn out ok!

  4. Orion and the Dark is already in my shopping cart. I like Lauren Oliver also. Like Natasha Friend's work, her books have an edge that my readers love. I wish I could say that Viorst's Lulu books have been a hit, but unless I really push them, they stay in the library. and then, if I push them on kids, I never know if they really get read. I've added My Pen to my shopping cart. It looks fabulous. The Dullards reminds me of The Stupids series by Harry Allard. Lots of fun!

  5. So many great books - Thank you. Do you think My Pen will inspire young writers?

  6. I just picked up My Pen from the library and am looking forward to reading it.

  7. I never thought about how all of Oliver's books display teen girls in this way. What an excellent point! I have a copy of Vanishing Girls and am looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the review. :)

  8. Your rave reviews of Orion make me want to find a copy! I can't wait to see what you think of this Andrew Smith title. I have a signed copy and will be reading it this summer. Love Andrew Smith and was thrilled to meet him in Vancouver.

  9. I can't wait to see My Pen. I liked Orion and the Dark. Jen was talking it up to me too. ;)

  10. Now I am absolutely excited to read my copy of Alex Crow which I received last week. The Pen looks gorgeous as well as Orion and the Dark which I have yet to find. :)

  11. Btw, are you going to read the rest of Amulet series? It is so good!!!