Sunday, August 2, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.03.15

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.

I feel like crunch time begins - August is here!  Three weeks left until school, yikes!  Get that reading in :)

Last Week's Posts Last week I wrote about Jess Keating's Ana series.  If you missed it, read it here.
Need some new poetry books?  Read about some great ones here.

Picture Books

Rufus the Writer
Rufus the Writer by Elizabeth Bram
4/5 stars
Rufus decides to set up a story stand.  For a small trade, Rufus will write you a story.  Readers will take away a lesson about being a writer - think about your audience, what kind of story do they want?  What type of writing will you use?  Write about what you know!

The Little Gardener
The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes
4/5 stars
Great book to use with theme/central message.  I really liked the Little Gardener and how hard he works, and what he worked for.  The illustrations are gorgeous, beautiful earthy palette was used.  I also liked that the prized flower in the book was the zinnia, which was an unusual and different choice.  
Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking
Wild Ideas by Elin Kelsey
5/5 stars
I absolutely loved this book.  You can use it in so many ways.  
If taken literally, study it to learn about animal adaptations.  Animals have had to be very clever with solutions to their problems.  In poetic verse, Kelsey spotlights some of these adaptations.
I loved the theme behind the book of creatively solving your problems. 
I think there is much to talk about with this book - what it can teach us, writing mentor text.  Highly recommend this book for your classroom or library!

Your Alien
Your Alien by Tammi Sauer
4/5 stars
Such a sweet story, perfect for the younger grades!
Check out my full recommendation and some teaching ideas here.

The Skunk
The Skunk by Mac Barnett
3/5 stars
This one was tricky for me.  I will review it on Thursday.  Come back and check it out!

Middle Grade

A Curious Tale of the In-Between (Pram, #1)
A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
3/5 stars
I remember when Mr. Schu did a cover reveal of this book a long time ago and this was one where the cover grabbed me.  I've always been intrigued with ghost stories - they either are too creepy for me to read or they pull me right in.  This one was different.  It really was a ghost story of the in-between.  The main character, Pram, can go in between worlds, but the story doesn't take place there.  It's here and there, but mostly it's a story of the living.  The main action of the story doesn't take place until the story is about half way over.  That's when I was more interested and the story started to grab me.  I liked the interactions between Pram and her ghostly friends.  The introduction of Clarence, Pram's first human story, was touching.
When I think about ghost stories, my mind goes to The Night Gardener.  It too, took a little bit to set up, but I think it got to the action faster.  And when it did, I had a hard time putting it down.
I'm interested in seeing the reactions of kids after reading this book.  I wonder if they'll be able to get through the beginning of the story, where so much is being set up, to get to the more gripping part.

Fuzzy Mud
Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
5/5 stars
Definitely a different type of novel for Mr. Sachar, which goes to show you his talent.
This story reminded me a lot of Gordon Korman's Masterminds.  It's a book that has non-stop action and suspense.
Fuzzy Mud also has a bit of science in it as there are chapters that detail a "testimony" from a United States Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment hearing.  In it, we learn more about "Biolene", a single-celled living creature that can be used in automobiles.  However, as we learn, something has gone wrong.
Fuzzy Mud focuses on three main characters - Tamaya, Chad and Marshall.  All three are involved in an unfortunate bullying situation that leaves them fighting for their lives due to a bio-hazard mistake.
Middle grade themes of bullying, knowing when is the right time to tell the truth, and doing the right thing are woven throughout the story, with parallels to the science story line - maybe the adults need to learn some of these lessons too...
Be sure to include this book in your classroom or library this fall!  Fuzzy Mud celebrates its book birthday tomorrow, August 4th!

Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth
Zack Delacruz Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff Anderson
3/5 stars
I think this is a good first start to a promising series.  Read my full recommendation tomorrow!

Currently Reading

Chasing Secrets
Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko

Another Kind of Hurricane
Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith

What is the one book you want to read before school starts?  I still have many!
Happy Reading!


  1. Wild Ideas looks great! I'm always looking for engaging science books to share. The one book I want to finih before school starts in September is Fish in a Tree. Just started it yesterday.
    (My list is here: )

  2. These all look good! Sachar's book looks especially intriguing.

  3. I just picked up Rufus the Writer from the library. I'm looking forward to reading it!

  4. I want to finish the Lost Hero series and I only have one more to go so that's the one I definitely want to finish before school. I also really enjoyed the concept of Fuzzy Mud. It was really well done and doesn't take that long to read.

  5. I enjoy books that help students learn something about writing, such as Ralph Tells a Story, so I am glad you put Rufus the Writer on your list. I definitely want to check it out.

  6. I love historical fiction, so I'm excited to pick up The War that Saved My Life. Looking forward to listening to Echo. Many titles I want to read are on order with the library system. They will probably all arrive at the same time!

  7. Glad to find lots of amazing titles to add to my reading list! Rufus looks so adorable! I enjoyed Emily Hughes' Wild, so it's a delight to find another book written by her! Wild Books is definitely something I'd like to check out. And Louis Sachar is amaaaazing! I enjoyed Holes a lot and his Wayside School series is hilarious. Thanks for sharing Fuzzy Mud. As for The Skunk, I feel the same way. I have no words for it. Heh.

  8. I have Ralph Tells A Story, still need to read it. It surely belongs to all those fun picture books about the writing process. I loved Wild Ideas for all the reasons you gave, Michele, & bought it. It's just terrific. I'll be sure to look for Fuzzy Mud, sounds very interesting. I'll look for your 'Delacruz' review. That too looks good. Thanks for all!

  9. I didn't realize Fuzzy Mud comes out so soon! I'll have to look for it at my bookstore this week. I love all of Sachar's books so much.

  10. Any book by Sachar is a winner - looking forward to this!

  11. I've read so little this summer... I'll be happy reading ANYTHING before school starts! I have a couple of PD books I REALLY need to get through--plus I need to read a couple of YA books so I'll have something to booktalk in my Methods course where we're doing reading/writing workshop. Rufus the Writer is new to me--looks like one I'd love to share in my writing courses. Skunk was tricky for me too. Didn't love it--but I am still thinking about it several weeks later!

  12. Ah! I have not read any of these!! I really need to fix that.
    And you are right--the looming school year is really pressuring me! I need to get more reading in! I haven't read as much as I had hoped, but I have had a blast with my little dude!

    Happy reading this week! :)

  13. I also thought Your Alien was very sweet. I read it to Henry while he was eating breakfast, and he liked all of the colors. Kel and I will be reviewing it soon.

    Happy week, Michele!