Monday, July 27, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7.27.15

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.

Well, our Back to School newsletter came out... that means #bookaday is coming to an end.  No more lazy summer days reading.  Wait? Have I had any of those?  Pretty sure that would be a no!  Why do we pack so much in during the summer time and skip on the relaxing?  I need to amend that.  I still have a month left (darn newsletter making me feel like school is a week away!), need to find that hammock in the shade!

Picture Books

The Princess and the Pony
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
3/5 stars
It's funny, and since Scholastic has printed a report that states kids are looking for funny books, then this one is sure to be a hit.  
It has a surprising main character - a princess who is ready to be a warrior.  And a humorous secondary character - the farting pony.  
While not a favorite book for me, I would recommend it to kids because they are going to want to read it.  Again and again.

Maple & Willow Apart
Maple and Willow Apart by Lori Nichols
4/5 stars
The Maple and Willow series is such a perfect one for young readers.  And the illustrations... they are some of my favorite to look at!
Sweet story about the older sibling, Maple, leaving to go to school for the first time and the effect on the sibling that stays home.  

Little Bird's Bad Word
Little Bird's Bad Word by Jacob Grant
5/5 stars
I first read this book at ALA Midwinter and knew it was one I would want to own.  Great themes of how words can hurt and how words can heal.  And it has a funny ending that will leave you chuckling!

Bernice Gets Carried Away
Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah Harrison
4/5 stars
Oh, this book is wonderful just for the pouty pout face of Bernice!
But really, another great story to teach theme and learning a lesson.
And really great illustrations!

Middle Grade

Goodbye Stranger
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
5/5 stars
This was actually my first Rebecca Stead book.  This shouldn't be my last since I have Liar and Spy on my #mustreadin2015 list!
I had heard some good reviews and some ok reviews.  I heard some people say they just didn't get it.  I think when you read reviews before you read a book, there are times when it influences you in a way you don't want it to... and there are times where it actually helps.  This is a time where it helped.  My expectations were set maybe a bit lower.  I didn't have all hype to live up to.  I knew there would be an unnamed character helping telling the story.
And for me, it all fit together.  I loved the multiple voices.  I thought Stead captured middle grade quite well and explored a very relevant topic.  I think there are going to be adults who criticize the sensitive and adult nature of the topic, but I don't think schools should shy away from it.  Kids are growing up faster than ever and social media is having a huge push on that.
I loved the unnamed character's chapters and seeing the parallel from the main story.
I think students 7th-8th grade are really going to enjoy this book.  I think a mature 6th grader, one who will be able to understand and think about the topic, will also enjoy it.
Looking forward to more Rebecca Stead books!

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (Calpurnia Tate, #1)
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
4/5 stars
I have seen so much love for this book.  We've had it in our Guided Reading library for so long and no one has really checked it out.  I wanted to give it a try, but other books always got pushed in front of it.  With a 4 hour trip to nerd camp looming, I figured I would try the audio.  And here's where the audio debate comes into play.  Does every book do well on audio?  For me, the audio of this book actually did harm.  I really did not like it and my opinion was definitely affected.  I listened to 2/3 of the book on audio before I gave up.  Luckily, I switched to the paper copy of the book and found it to be much more enjoyable.  I ended up liking the character, Calpurnia, and what she faced at the turn of the century.  I liked the way the author kept true to what was expected of a girl and did not have a false ending.  As with many historical fiction books, I think this book can be a hard sell for students, especially when my building only goes to 4th grade.  There will always be a student here and there that will like this type of story, and for those students, I will happily place this book in their hands.  At some point, I would like to read the second book, and I will definitely read the print copy, not listen to it!

How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don't Have a Clue (My Life Is a Zoo, #3)
How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don't Have a Clue by Jess Keating
5/5 stars
Have so much love for this book.  In fact, it requires a separate post.  Will write about the series later this week.  Check back in!

Currently Reading

A Curious Tale of the In-Between (Pram, #1)
The Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
Seems to be a bit of a ghost story...

Only a few weeks left, but my reading tower is still that, a tower!  What are some books you want to finish before school starts?


  1. I'm glad reading reviews helped you better understand Goodbye Stranger. That is definitely a book I need to talk about more with people because yes, I didn't entirely get it. I mean, I GOT it, but I was expecting that big aha! moment like I had when I read When You Reach Me and when the threads didn't come together as easily as they did for her first book, I found myself disappointed.

  2. A great list of books this week! I do enjoy reading your opinions of the novels - and interesting how audio impacted your appreciation for Calpernia. I enjoyed this book but didn't love it as much as others seemed to. Love your picture book selections - I just saw Little Bird's Bad Word and thought it looked like a good one and now I must buy it! Would be a good companion to The Very Inappropriate Word by Jim Tobin. Have you read that one? The Princess and the Pony did not appeal but I will still check it out. Pouty Bernice looks adorable! Thank you!

  3. I definitely want to grab Little Bird's Bad Word. I found Goodbye Stranger to be a great book too and agree it needs a more mature reader (not necessarily my young elementary students).

  4. I'm glad I read your Goodbye, Stranger review. I've been on the fence about reading this one, but you've convinced me that there will be 6th. graders who could read this and find it meaningful.

  5. I enjoyed Goodbye Stranger as I have all of Stead's books. They just are complex, & I think good for students' experiences. Fourth grade might be a little young, but it depends on the reader too. I didn't care for Calpurnia as much as others, but some colleagues at school thought it made a great read aloud and brought much conversation about gender expectations to the group. Different strokes. . . Thanks, Michele.

  6. We love Rebecca Stead and can't wait to to read Goodbye Stranger. Love your description of Little Birds Bad Word - That is going on our TBR list.

  7. I need to read Calpurnia Tate. She sees to be right up my alley!!
    I cannot wait to read Goodbye Stranger! I love Rebecca Stead :) My favorite is actually First Light.

    Happy reading this week! :)

  8. Darn those newsletters!!!
    I am so, so glad that Cal Tate perked up for you. I don't think I would have enjoyed it on audio, but I absolutely adored it in print. I had a literature circle set of the book, but it took a lot of prodding to get students to read it. Those who read it--loved it. But I agree with you, that it took a gentle (sometimes not so gentle) push.

  9. Can't wait to read Goodbye Stranger. I hope you will enjoy Liar & Spy--my favorite of her books. I saw the new Maple & Willow title at the bookstore and meant to grab it to read but got distracted by some other shiny new title and forgot! Argh! It's a series I really enjoy. I'm looking forward to reading The Princess and the Pony to my son this week--and to my students in the fall. I know what you mean about feeling like summer is over. I have about 3 weeks left but feel myself moving back into work mode. Of course that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's been a rough summer and I am looking forward to the normal provided by school!

  10. I am SO excited to read Bernice. Harrison's Extraordinary Jane is one of my favorite picture books of all time. I liked Calpurnia a good deal when I first read it, but I don't remember it well at all. The Curious Tale of the In-Between and Goodbye Stranger are two of my most-anticipated reads!

  11. You've gotten a lot of good reading in even though #bookaday didn't really get accomplished. ;-) Same here - I haven't read nearly the amount that I normally do this summer. I look forward to Goodbye, Stranger. I'm excited about a new Maple & Willow book!

  12. Some good books here! I think I must purchase a copy of Little Bird's Bad Word... I love sharing books like that with my kids. Goodbye Stranger has to be on me TBRS (to be read SOON) list. I've heard and heard about it, and planned for it since I heard it was coming out... now I just need to get my hands on it. I'll be excited to see your review of the Jess Keating book. I read How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied and found it to be a funny and interesting read. Thanks for sharing!

  13. You must read more Rebeca Stead. Liar and Spy is wonderful. You will enjoy it! Enjoyed all of your words about each book. Thanks!