Monday, August 10, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.10.15

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'm copying and pasting my Goodreads reviews here.  Had a mini vacation last week, which has put me a bit behind!  But, read some great middle grade books to share with you!

Did you know today is August 10th?  That means it's Picture Book 10 for 10 day!  Thinking about the beginning of the year, I pieced together 10 books that make great texts to use for Quick Writes.  You can check out that post here.  Be sure to visit the hashtag #pb10for10 on Twitter today to find many more picture book ideas!

Picture Books

Bear and Duck
Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson
4/5 stars
Sweet story and one that young readers will enjoy.
Themes to explore:  what makes a good friend?  Being comfortable with who you are.  The grass isn't always greener on the other side.

What Pet Should I Get?
What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss
4/5 stars
It's wonderful to see a new Dr. Seuss book. There were certainly lines from this book that put a smile on my face because of how "Seuss" they were! I think with this new book being published, a whole new generation will be introduced to this beloved author. 
I really enjoyed the notes at the end of the story. Too long for most children to appreciate, I loved learning the little tidbits of information.

Middle Grade

Another Kind of Hurricane
Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith
4/5 stars
Told in two voices, this is the story of two boys - one dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one dealing with the aftermath of losing his best friend in a tragic accident.  The author deftly weaves these two stories together in this heartfelt novel.
Very well written debut novel!

Chasing Secrets
Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko
5/5 stars
This was a fantastic example of historical fiction. Choldenko has woven a fantastic tale that has wonderful themes but centers around the early 1900s when there was fear of the plague arriving in San Francisco. The story pulled me in and I loved Lizzie, she was a strong female character in a time when it was hard to be strong. 
When reading historical fiction, I always appreciate the authors notes, giving additional information about the time period. Choldenko goes above and beyond what I would expect and gives a lot of information, including citing her sources. At the very end is a timeline of actual events. Choldenko gives full acknowledgement that she took some liberties with stretching timelines to fit the story while giving the actual timeline in the endnotes.

The War that Saved My Life
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
5/5 stars
Too many people, whose recommendations I highly respect, told me how wonderful this book is. I knew I would enjoy it. But you also wonder if it's going to live up to the hype. One way I know right away if it will, is how quickly I fall into a book and not think about what other people have said. It happened immediately for me. I think because I can relate so strongly to Ada. Ada has a clubfoot and as a result is living a different kind of life. Having a child who lives with a physical disability makes me instantly sympathetic to this type of character. But it was the mom that brought out the emotions in me. To see a parent treat a child so maliciously was heartbreaking. 
Ada was a very complex character. Her internal conflict was written so well. To see her struggle with what she thought of herself and see it conflict as a stranger shows her kindness - it was well written. I appreciated the conflict and her self-realization took time to develop. 
The setting, while important, was subtly written into the backdrop of the story. I would have appreciated more background and details, but I'm not sure the intended audience of the book would have. 
I hope kids find this book and are gripped by Ada's story.

Currently Reading

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

On Deck

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
I am reading this one for our upcoming informal Twitter chat.  Join us to discuss this book this Wednesday at 9pm EST #handfulchat

Hope you are getting in some great reading this August!


  1. This is the second time I've bumped into The War That Saved My Life - I'll have to check that one out soon....
    My list:

  2. You've got so many fabulous books on this list that I want to read. I'm hoping to join you all for #handfulchat. I loved this book!

  3. Loving all of the historical fiction titles you are featuring. I can't wait to talk about A Handful of Stars!

  4. Unusual Chickens just tickled me for reasons I can't fully explain. What a great selection of books!

  5. I didn't realize Gennifer Choldenko had a new book coming out. I definitely need to check that one out.

  6. I thought I'd missed the Handful of Stars Twitter chat! So glad to see I didn't--though we'll have to see what kind of chaos is happening at home before I can commit to being online in the evening. I will cross my fingers and be hopeful. As always, I want to read everything you review! You have such a way of writing about books!

  7. Yay mini-vacation! I hope you enjoyed yourself!!
    Grandmama just bought Trent the new Seuss book, so I look forward to reading it.
    Enjoy Handful of Stars! Lord does not disappoint. Cannot wait to chat about it.
    All three of the MG novels you read look phenomenal! They are all on my TBR!

    Happy reading this week! :)