Sunday, April 5, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4.06.15

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.

A long weekend meant time to catch up on some reading.  Here's what jumped out at me:

Picture Books

Breaking News: Bear Alert
Breaking News Bear Alert by David Biedrzycki
4/5 stars
I picked this one up because it's on the 2016 IL Monarch Choice Award list.  I really enjoyed the story, and the stories in the story!  The main story is 2 bears were awoken from their hibernation and end up hitching a ride from the forest into the city, where havoc ensues.  The majority of the book is told through a news report, with the ticker tape of the events rolling at the bottom of the page.  Within the illustrations, you follow the bears adventure, 2 crooks on a crime spree, and the citizens reacting to everything going on around them.  This book would be fun for students of many ages to read and enjoy.  If you haven't read this one yet, put it on your list!

Max the Brave
Max the Brave by Ed Vere
4/5 stars
This book is going to be perfect for younger readers.  Max is a brave cat who is off to find a mouse, but he's not sure what a mouse looks like and mistakes a few creatures for mice along the way.  Publishes Sept. 8.  Previewed through net galley.

The New Small Person
The New Small Person by Lauren Child
4/5 stars
I've seen many books about welcoming a new sibling into the family, but they're not always  done so a wide range of audience will appreciate it.  Child does a great job creating Elmore, we see his personality and watch it change and develop not at once, but with ebbs and flows.


Something Sure Smells Around Here: Limericks
Something Sure Smells Around Here by Brian P. Cleary
4/5 stars
Limerick poems are often meant to be humorous and Cleary's poems certainly made me laugh out loud a few times.  These short, fun poems will be great for poem-in-your-pocket day!

Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building
Dreaming Up by Christy Hale
4/5 stars
Beautiful combination of poetry, illustrations and photographs.  On the left side is a short poem and an illustration of a child constructing a building using a variety of materials, blocks, toothpicks and gumdrops, couch cushions, chairs and blankets.  And on the right side of the page is a photograph of a real life building that mimics the construction of the child.  Real life and imagination come together!

Informational Texts

Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues
Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares
5/5 stars
This book took me by surprise.  I wish I had know about it when I wrote this post about picture book biographies!  Gorgeous gorgeous book!  The writing is fantastic - drew me in about Pedro Martinez, his family and where he came from, his hard work and determination, and the end notes are wonderful and fulfilled the questions I had at the end.  I love that Tavares includes a graph of Martinez's stats in his years of playing ball.  The illustrations are gorgeous - the closeups, the stills, the settings.  Just beautiful.  This is a book I would like to own!

Middle Grade

A Dog Called Homeless
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean
5/5 stars
Oh my gosh, another book that took me by total surprise.  I did not expect to fall in love with this character as fast as I did.  I wanted to jump in and help Cally, or at least give her a hug.  Lean did an amazing job with the characters.  I was so sad and upset with the dad.  The relationship between Cally and her brother was spot on.  I adored Cally.  I loved her friendship with Sam.  I loved the mystery of the dog.  And the way the book came together?  Well, there were tears.  Please read this book.  And if you have read it, book talk it again so more kids can fall in love with Cally too!
Favorite lines:
pg. 21 "Sometimes you just have to prove people wrong.  Sometimes you just want someone to believe you're more than they think you are."
pg. 55 "Our house had just been built when Mom and Dad moved in.  Everything in it was ours.  The builders made the outside; Mom made the inside."

Graphic Novel

Roller Girl
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
5/5 stars
The buzz you're hearing about this book is correct - it's an awesome book for middle grade readers.  The angst Astrid feels - torn between what has been and what direction she wants to go in - is something so many middle schoolers go through as they learn who they want to be.  The voice was perfect.  I loved seeing Astrid's determination - her successes and failures were sincere.  I loved that Astrid's friend had a Broadway obsession - especially with Hugh Jackman!  I'm not sure everyone will understand the Les Miserables connection, but it resonated with me!
The only issue I had with this book is the mean nickname Astrid is given by her peers.  It contains the word "ass" and that makes this book off limits for my school.  I get why it's in there, but when you work in a K-4 building, there are some things that can't be included.  Boo.

Young Adult

The Alex Crow
The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith
4/5 stars
This was my first Andrew Smith book.  I knew to expect different.  I knew to not be shocked at some of the explicit descriptions.  But I was surprised that I could not get into the story.  This book is told by 3 different voices, and the main voice actually tells a couple of different stories from different time periods.  I knew the stories from each voice would all come together, I just wasn't sure how.  At one point I thought for sure I had it figured out and I was wrong.  I'm glad I was wrong, because the stories intersected in a way that made more sense and came together brilliantly.  About halfway through the story I started liking the 3 characters that were in the main part of the story.  At that point, I didn't want to put the book down because of the story.  I didn't want to put the book down the whole time because the writing was good.  It just took the story a bit longer.

Currently Reading

The Riverman (The Riverman Trilogy, #1)
The Riverman by Aaron Starmer

This is on my #mustreadin2015 list.  I pulled it out because #vbcbooks chat is next Monday and I'd like to participate.  Since it's a must-read, the decision to move it up was pretty easy.

Black Dove, White Raven
Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
still reading this one!


Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
I Was Here by Gayle Forman


  1. Max the Brave looks adorable. I need to find a copy of that one!

    I shamefully admit I ended up abandoning The Alex Crow before I finished chapter 1. I was expecting the loveable, quirky voice I came to know and love from Winger and Grasshopper Jungle. When that voice was absent, I immediately said, "I'm out!" Which I know is horrible, but when I have so much grad school reading and homework to do, I want my pleasure reading books to not involve that much thinking. Terrible I know, but a truth nonetheless.

  2. You've got some amazing picture books on this list! I adored Grasshopper Jungle so much I've been terrified to read more of Smith's work. I'm working myself up to reading Winger which I've heard great stuff about. If I didn't already have Roller Girl in my shopping cart, I would have had to put it there. I had to return The Riverman to the library because it was overdue, and I just had to many other books out. I will have to wait for summer before I try it again I think.

  3. My kids love limericks. Thanks for the suggestions!


  4. Well, I did love A Dog Called Homeless, very well done & sweet, but stark too. Growing Up Pedro is a good story, inspiring. I thought The Riverman was rather spooky, but well written. I'll look for what you think about Black Dove, White Raven, so interesting! Happy Reading, Michele.

  5. I too loved Growing Up Pedro. I'm so eager to get Roller Girl. I have it on an order I put in last week so I hope to get it soon. :)

  6. Except for Pedro, I haven't read any of the others!! I have some reading to do!! I mostly want to read Roller Girl as I LOVE graphic novels! :)

    Happy reading this week! :)

  7. I love Andrew Smith, but I admit I have trouble getting into many of his stories. They are very well-written, and I enjoy reading them, but they put me in different worlds that I am not used to. I will definitely read this one (as I do all of his books), but the cover is a bit scary for me. :)

  8. Yippee! I am so glad you loved A Dog Called Homeless - I have been waiting and hoping that you would! The Riverman - that is a ride. Enjoy.

  9. You have so many wonderful titles here. I was taken by your description of Alex Crow - I just received my review copy and can not wait to sink my teeth into it. I absolutely enjoyed the irreverence of Grasshopper Jungle - so I really am looking forward to reading it. I have a special fascination for PBBs, I should definitely find Growing Up Pedro.

  10. I've checked The Riverman out from the library a couple of times but keep returning it unread. Will look forward to your review to inspire me to read--or not, as the case may be, LOL. I have loved Matt Tavares's other baseball biographies so I will definitely get the one about Pedro. I especially love it when he combines his art, his excellent writing skills, baseball, AND diversity! I bought Roller Girl last week but haven't gotten to it yet. My younger son has read it twice already! I'm so desperate for more middle grade graphic novels for him! Today is a track meet, so I have 6 hours of sit-and-wait time. Maybe I can read Roller Girl in that time!