Monday, August 17, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.17.15

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.

Welcome to end-of-Bookaday-so-I'm-reading-everything-before-school-starts Part 1.  I'm guessing there will be a Part 2 next week.  I'm sitting next to a stash of picture books with the goal of getting everything read.  Now!

Last week's reading adventures

Last week was madness with Picture Book 10 for 10!  Hope you found some new ones.  Here's my list.

I also reviewed The Skunk here.  It's a book that made me scratch my head and wonder if I was missing something.

Picture Books

Boats for Papa
Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley
4/5 stars
I had heard from many people about the powerful sentiment this book contained.  While the book never tells you where Papa is, most people would infer that Papa is no longer with the family, perhaps due to death, perhaps due to a deployment.  I think this book would be a very important book to read to a reader, especially at a tough time.

First Grade Dropout
First Grade Dropout by Audrey Vernick
4/5 stars
This is one of those books that you have to first read it all the way through to students just so they can absorb the story.  Because they'll get it.  They'll totally understand how the character feels.  Then read it again to talk about what they can learn, their connections to the main character and the other ones, and the solutions (have they ever thought about doing those things?).  This book offers so much.  Great book to use in the fall!

Guess Again!
Guess Again! by Mac Barnett
5/5 stars
Why did I rate this one so highly?  It's not writing-genius.  It's not the most clever book you'll ever read.  But it's one that will make kids want to pick it up again and again and again.  I love those books.  They are the ones that I use to get even the most reluctant reader to smile and enjoy reading time.
There is a riddle on each page and the illustration leads you to think of the answer the riddle in rhyme is making you guess... until you turn the page and get the ridiculous answer.
Thank you to Josh Funk's #pb10for10 blog posting for this gem!

I Don't Like Koala
I Don't Like Koala by Sean Ferrell
4/5 stars
This is a great book.  Most likely for older kids.  Younger kids might get a bit creeped out.  But older kids will love the creepy koala that just won't go away.  The end pages are great.  Lots to talk about in how the text and illustrations work to enhance the overall reading experience.

The Tea Party in the Woods
The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi
4/5 stars
Sometimes, you share a book with students just to wonder at the amazing illustrations.  This book has a very sweet story.  A young girl needs to take a pie to her grandmother's house, but she lives on the other side of the woods.  No big bad wolf in this story, just lovely animal friends.  But it's the illustrations that are the heart and soul of this book.  Just beautiful.  Thank you to Lauren Castillo and Lesley Burnap for introducing me to this story!

Float by Daniel Miyares
5/5 stars
This book has been sitting in my pile for weeks.  I thumbed through it quickly when I got it, but really took the time to sit down and read it just now.  I'm sure you've heard of this book.  But if you're like me and had not gotten to it yet - RUN to your library or bookstore.  It's simply beautiful.  So much emotion on the little boy's face, I can just hear students talking about this book as they read it together.  The end pages are fantastic.  This book is on my Mock Caldecott list, for sure!
This book reminded me just a bit of a rainy Snowy Day.

Informational Texts

The Great Big Green Book
The Great Big Green Book by Mary Hoffman
4/5 stars
This is a book that can be pulled out and used at any point during the year, but I could see a lot of teachers using it in April around Earth Day.
Hoffman and illustrator Ros Asquith are a wonderful team.  The illustrations, which show a lot of diversity, add even more to the text.  
Interestingly enough, I have a copy that was printed in the U.K., so there are some dialectal  and spelling differences (cosy for cozy, gyres for tires, lorries, jumpers, wee).


A Rock Can Be . . .
A Rock Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas
5/5 stars
This book is amazing.  I loved Salas' two other books (Leaf..., Water...) but this one made me so excited for the teaching possibilities.  Before getting into that, I would first just read the book to the students.  Let kids listen to the rolling words of Salas' poem, be mesmerized by Violeta Dabija's illustrations.  But then, another day, dig into all of the possibilities of rocks you can find on the planet Earth!  Because our first graders study rocks and minerals, I could spend days on this book.  After reading this book, what were some new rocks you found?  What are some of the purposes of rocks?  Are there rocks in places you never thought of?  Take time to look through the glossary and the additional information about rocks.  So much information!  

Middle Grade

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones
4/5 stars
Written entirely in letters, the author does a good job moving the story along through the letters.  Featuring a diverse family, the setting is also unusual in that it takes place o a chicken farm with some interesting chickens.
I know a lot of people really loved this book.  I probably leaned more towards 3/5 stars.  I bumped it up because it was a unique book.  I appreciate I can hand this book off to 3rd-4th graders, but I will be interested in seeing how many kids flock (no pun intended) to this book.

A Handful of Stars
A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
5/5 stars
This was a book I finished in a day.  I had a Twitter chat to participate in that night so that helped drive the reading, plus the 3 hour car ride and 3 hour plane ride I had that day!
Cynthia Lord really is a master of writing.  I am constantly amazed at the way she writes her words and phrases.

I think the beginning of Chapter 12 (pgs. 96-97) sums up exactly how I feel right now:
"At the beginning of summer it always feels like there's so much time ahead:  whole empty calendar pages of sunshine, warm sea breezes, midnight thunderstorms, and running barefoot in the grass.  Enough afternoons to do every single thing you wanted to do and even some days left over to do nothing at all.
But somehow summer fills up and flies by.  Instead of feeling hopeful and free and happy as August wore on, I couldn't help feeling sad pangs that when the blueberry festival was over and summer went away, Salma would go with it."
Just change the blueberry festival and Salma to time to reading!

How about this gem:
"I think 'almost' is one of the hardest kinds of losing.  Because you could see all the way to winning before that door shut." pg. 167
So.  True.

Another good life lesson:
"...but I guess that's life.  It's not always fair, but you have to show up and play your best anyway." pg. 183

I'll spotlight my favorite quote in my post tomorrow.  Check back in!

The Way Home Looks Now
The Way Home Looks Now by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
5/5 stars
Another great read.  What I love about this book is that Shang shows that books are not meant to be "boy books" or "girl books".  Books are for everyone.  Why do boys think they can't read Babymouse because it has a pink cover?  Why can't a girl check out Locomotive?
Baseball plays a big role in this book.  Right away, boys ears start to perk up and I lose girls.  But really, this book is about a family healing.  About a young boy who is doing his best to have his family go back to the way they were.  About a young boy who is trying to navigate the way his friends do things and the way his father's traditions conflict with them.  About the way baseball helps heal them.
It was a wonderful read and one I hope is read by all students.

Currently Reading

One Plus One
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
This is one of my #mustreadin2015 books.  It's an adult book, so it's one that I've put off for awhile.  I like it so far, Moyes is a very talented writer.

On Deck

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Another #mustreadin2015 book!

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
My friend, Michelle, sent me an ARC of this book.  I've heard good things about it!

I have a stack of picture books to get through this week.  Tune in next week for Part 2 of end-of-Bookaday-so-I'm-reading-everything-before-school-starts.
I have a few reviews of new books that I'll post later this week.
Hope you're getting in your last few books before school starts!


  1. Thank you, Michelle, for a great list! I've added a bunch to my "TBR" pile!

  2. Michelle, thank you for a great list. I also put a few on my "TBR" pile! I have been wanting to read A Handful of Stars all summer, so that will be next. I loved is a fast read and one that you can return to. I read it with my 5th grade students this year, and then had them read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler, because Selznick actually pays homage to that book in Wonderstruck. Thanks again!

  3. Nice list. I don't read as many picture books or middle grade books as I probably should given that I'm an elementary media specialist for half of each day. Thanks to calling attention to some that should be in my media center. Here is my reading week. Happy reading!

  4. So many wonderful books here. I love that quote about summer. It's exactly how I feel. We have such ideas about what we will do with our time and then it fills up and disappears. I'm so glad we've had time to read though.

  5. Great list of books. Definitely going to add some of the picture books to my to-read list. I haven't read that Jojo Moyes title but Me Before You was one of my all-time favorites. I also enjoyed The Last Letter From Your Lover.

  6. Float just came in the mail on Friday--will get to it this week for sure. I am still laughing about the creepy koala! I think I rated that one 3/5, but honestly, it's stuck with me, so I'd probably bump it up to 4/5 now! As always, your Monday post has me filling my Goodreads Want to Read list! Thank you!

  7. I loved A Handful of Stars too, will be hard to wait for the next one by Cynthia Lord. Thanks for sharing about the tea party again. I'm really looking forward to it. And that final book sounds good, too, Michele. Best wishes on finishing your Book-A-Day!

  8. Next to Handful of Stars, I haven't read any, and now I want to read them all! Thank you for sharing.
    Also, I tweeted the part about August from Handful because I agree that it captures the feelings perfectly.

    Happy reading this week! :)

  9. I loved AHOS so much, too, and now I can't wait to see what Cynthia Lord writes next. The Way Home Looks Now is a book I will definitely have to check out - it seems to figure important themes which my sixth graders will find moving.

  10. I love all of your quotes from Handful. That was a lovely twitter chat - even though you were dealing with lost items and rental cars. This list of picture books contain many that I love and some on my TBR list. Can't wait to find them!

  11. I just remembered I had read Boats for Papa (and was surprised by it) but forgot to include it on any of my recent IMWAYR posts. It seems my spreadsheet is worthless if I don't remember to put things on it.