Monday, August 31, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.31.15

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.

First week of school!  First week of school!  I managed to get some reading in - back to "reading in the edges".

Last week's reading adventures

I celebrated the small things of summer that make me happy here.

With the 10th anniversary of Katrina this past weekend, I collected some great texts that tell the stories of this disaster in this post.

Have you read Wait by Antoinette Portis?  It's a beautiful book.  Read my review here.

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast
Finally, I ended the book celebrated the debut book of a very promising author, Mr. Josh Funk.  Please pick up a copy of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast and then check out some teaching ideas here.

Picture Books

Ask Me
Ask Me by Bernard Waber
3/5 stars
This book is a cute story about a conversation that goes back and forth between a dad and his daughter.  The little girl wants her to dad to ask her questions about what she likes which she goes on to answer.  The story itself is just ok, but I think it would be fun to use at the beginning of the year to have students answer the question "what do you want me to know" or "tell me about what you like".
The illustrations in this book are beautiful, I love the colored pencil drawings.

Prince Fly Guy (Fly Guy #15)
Prince Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold
4/5 stars
I've grown to appreciate the Fly Guy series and what they do for readers.  I've had many readers who needed "that" book and Fly Guy was the one.
Fly Guy helps Buzz write a fairy tale.  Readers will recognize many familiar characters.

Informational Texts

How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz
How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz by Jonah Winter
4/5 stars
The colors, the vocabulary, the way the phrases go together... This book oozes jazz as close as you can get to hearing it.  
Good picture book biography of the man who was a pioneer of jazz music, Jelly Roll Morton.

Graphic Novels

Sunny Side Up
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm
4/5 stars
I love that Jennifer and Matthew Holm have teamed up for something a bit different than their usual collaborations.  This time it's a loosely based memoir on their family, told in a graphic novel format.  While the book may be seen as having a sensitive subject - a family member has a substance abuse problem - it is a conversation that can be had with readers.  This could be a book that is important to a child.  The issue at hand is dealt with in a sensitive manner and the subject matter is not the primary issue.  Instead, the book rightly concentrates on the main character, Sunny, and her being put into a new setting - her grandfather's retirement community.  Luckily she makes a friend and finds something that binds them as friends - comic books!  Meanwhile, the reader can see that Sunny is conflicted with fitting in at her grandfather's while wondering if she was at fault with what happened at home.  Holm deftly weaves the story between the present day and snippets of the past to let us slowly understand the events that lead up to Sunny's current living placement.  I continue to be impressed with the work of the Holm siblings and their understanding of what books - in any format - can do for their readers.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn (Heavenly Nostrils #1)
Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson
4/5 stars
Another graphic novel, but definitely different than Sunny Side Up.
Originally started as a comic in 2012 that ran online, it has since made its debut in newspapers and now in books.  The books chronicle Phoebe and her new best friend, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, who is also a unicorn.  More like a comic book I read as a kid - Peanuts, Garfield or Calvin and Hobbes come to mind - while the story somewhat has a flow, it really is meant as a strip and not one long graphic novel.  Because of how familiar students are with graphic novels and the continuous story they provide, they may need some clarification when beginning a book like this.  But, once they understand how the flow moves the story along, I think readers will get caught up with the humor and laugh-out-loud moments this book provides.  I loved the banter between Phoebe and Marigold.  Will be fun to see students appreciate the humor!

Squish #7: Deadly Disease of Doom
Squish #7: Deadly Disease of Doom by Jennifer Holm
4/5 stars
I love the way the Holm siblings integrate things into their books that make them fun.
With Squish, it's the added pieces of science.  And Babymouse.

Middle Grade

Glory Be
Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
4/5 stars
2016 Bluestem nominee
I read this one with my ears.  And felt like Felicity Pickle was reading me this story!  Cassandra Morris, the narrator for Snicker of Magic, narrated this one too.  
What a great intro to Freedom Summer for young readers.  Augusta Scattergood knows how to tell a good story.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
5/5 stars
I've been very late to the Brian Selznick party.  It's not that I didn't own the books, as evidenced from the Border receipt dated 2007.
I knew I wanted to get to the books so I made sure to put this one on my #mustreadin2015 list.  And it was a Schneider Award winner and it was on our IL Bluestem nominee list last year.
Read it.  Just like Hugo, it's simply amazing.  I probably don't need to go into too much detail about the book since most of you have read it.  If you haven't, run to your library!  What amazes me about both Selznick books I've read so far is his ability to weave stories that span different decades or seemingly different characters together.
Now I'm onto...

Currently Reading

The Marvels
The Marvels
 by Brian Selznick

Yes, it's just as amazing.  I'm more than 1/2 way through - almost the first 400 pages are his amazing illustrations.  I know the story lines are going to come together I just don't know how and I want to get right back to the book now!

On Deck

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen
Firefly Hollow by Alison McGhee
A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher
This book is told from the perspective of Eponine from Les Mis.  I am a ginormous Les Mis fan and can't wait to start this book!

Coming later in the week is my review for this fun picture book.  Check back on Thursday!
Max the Brave

Happy Reading this week!


  1. I hope your first week of school was fabulous! I've been hearing such good things about Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. I wonder how long it will be before our library gets a copy....

  2. I think glory Be is such an excellent book. Can't wait to pick up Josh's book and Sunny Side Up! I featured Ask Me on my blog this week too - we had different reactions though. I thought it was absolutely amazing!

  3. Glory Be is one I need to read, and you've convinced me to try it in audio format. I have to agree with you about Fly Guy--I am definitely not the audience for this series, but it's amazing to see how obsessed 1st graders get with Ted Arnold! I can't wait to get my hands on The Marvels. I have loved everything Brian Selznick. I sometimes require Hugo in Children's Lit, but lately I've been letting students read anything they want for that class, so I just booktalk and encourage.I just ordered Sunny Side Up today--really looking forward to that one. And I just started the second Phoebe and Her Unicorn book. I think Marigold is hilarious.

  4. Hoping it's a terrific week for you, Michele. You managed quite a bit of reading, too. I hope to get to The Marvels by this fall, lots of others taking up time now.

  5. 100% agree about Ask Me! I thought the illustrations were amazing but thought the story was disappointing. I'm going to see if I can find the audio for Glory Be too. I've wanted to read it for a while, and it seems like a really good book to listen to, especially after reading your review!

  6. I can't wait to get the Selznick book! I love his work.

  7. I am impatiently waiting for Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast to show up at my library. Along with Sunny Side Up.

  8. Hi there Michele. I didn't even know that Sunny Side Up was a graphic novel - good to know! :) My heart leapt to my throat when I saw The Marvels of Selznick - I will have to ask my friendly distributor whether they already have this so she can send me a review copy soonest! :)

  9. I haven't read any of these yet. I'm always looking out for graphic novels for my more reluctant readers. El Deafo was one that was a big hit last year.