Monday, January 4, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.04.16

IMWAYR 2015 logo

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.

Last Week's Adventures

I reviewed some upcoming books.  Read these posts to find out about Kristen Kittscher's new book The Tiara on the Terrace or Salina Yoon's new book Be a Friend.

I wrote about my final #mustreadin2015 update.  I didn't finish all of my books, did you?

I celebrated my Reader's Notebook.  I keep track of more than just reading in it!

And I spotlighted some great upcoming 2016 books:
     * upcoming 2016 middle grade books you should check out
     * upcoming 2016 nonfiction picture books you should check out
     * upcoming 2016 picture books you should check out

Picture Books

Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
4/5 stars
Sweet, intergenerational story about how a grandmother and granddaughter help each other with their native languages.

Bright Sky Starry City by Uma Krishnaswami
4/5 stars
In today's science standards, 1st grade students study the night sky and how patterns change throughout the year.  This would be a fun fiction book to use to look at the celestial beings in the sky.  The nonfiction back matter at the end of the book would be wonderful to use for factual information.

Informational Texts

Out of the Woods by Rebecca Bond
5/5 stars
I'm so glad Carrie Gelson talked about this book - it was a wonderful story!
The author first sets up the scene of the story - taking place in a forest in Ontario near a lake.  The author details the three story hotel that our young character, Antonio, lives in.  As a child, I would have poured over the illustrations that show the boarders floor and the floor of the people just traveling through.  
But it's the the one moment in time that will stick in the readers mind.  I think young to older readers will sit still and listen to this story.


One Today by Richard Blanco
4/5 stars
This is the poem that was written for President Obama's Presidential Inauguration for his second term.  It's a wonderful poem to discuss with students.  The illustrations by Dav Pilkey are beautiful.

Middle Grade

Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks
3/5 stars
I remember trying to find this book for so long at the start of last year.  I had heard just enough buzz about the book that I knew I wanted to read it and put it on my #mustreadin2015 list.  I finally got around to reading it, finishing it a little over an hour before the clock struck midnight, signaling the start of 2016!
I liked this story a lot because it struck a chord in me.  The main character, Tuesday, doesn't see herself as a writer.  That's her mom.  A few of the lines at the beginning of the book felt like they were meant just for me:

pg. 51 "She understood that she was in the place where stories happen because somehow she'd been mistaken for a writer."
When people talk to me about what I've written on my blog, I feel the same way, that clearly, they are mistaken for I am no writer...

pg. 81 "It doesn't matter whether you write on a fancy laptop or an old typewriter or, for that matter, with a pen on a paper napkin.  All of that is beside the point.  The point is that stories want to be told."

I enjoyed reading this story, but I think it's a book that needs to be handed off to specific readers.  I'm not sure it will have mass appeal.  Although, my daughter read it when it came out (she was 9yo at the time) and loved it.  

Anyone else read this book?  What did you think?

Ruby Lee and Me by Shannon Hitchcock
3/5 stars
There are two good story lines going on in this book.  The setting is in North Carolina in 1969.  Our main character, Sarah Beth, has a little sister that was hurt in a bad accident on her watch.  The guilt weighs heavily on her as her sister struggles to get better and Sarah must live with her grandparents.  The second story line is the school integration during this time period.  Both stories have promise, yet neither are developed enough, in my opinion.  Both stories stay on the surface, and neither get deep and show real character development.
Historical fiction is sometimes harder for young readers, but this one doesn't dive deep enough into the civil unrest during that time period, so I think it stays readable for them.

Listened with my ears

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
4/5 stars
This book was fun to listen to because of the narrator.  Sisi Aisha Johnson does a fantastic job telling the story.  She is engaging to listen to and I'll be sure to listen to the other two books if she is telling the story!

Currently Reading

When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad
There is a bit lost in translation with this book, but the laugh out loud funny parts are very recognizable.  This book has me chuckling, all the way to full belly laughs!  Makes up for the holes in the story.

On Deck

Coming up next I have the second Terrible Two and Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell.

Happy 2016 reading everyone!


  1. I loved Out Of the Woods! I'm intrigued by Bright Sky, Starry City, I'll have to track it down. The Wolf Wilder was one of my favorite reads of last year. Happy New Year!

  2. Bright Sky, Starry City is on my list, but still haven't read it-sounds very good, and also Finding Serendipity, could be inspiring, right? I loved and purchased Out of The Woods-love stories brought to life that are handed down. Have a wonderful week back, Michele. Thanks for all the reviews. You add to my list in positive ways!

  3. Out of the Woods looks wonderful. I sense an upcoming purchase! I'm hoping to get to Wolf Wilder soon.The list just keeps growing!

  4. I also enjoyed One Today this past week. I didn't know about it until I saw Donalyn mention it recently on Facebook.

  5. I really enjoyed Out of the Woods, it reminds me of a very cheesy short historical film that used to play on television when I was a kid - Heritage Minutes!

    1. Yes, cheesy, but thanks for posting the link. :)

  6. I too loved Out of the Woods. It grabbed my emotions. The illustrations were perfect.

  7. I also enjoyed One Crazy Summer, although I read it with my eyes. I listened to Gone Crazy in Alabama read by Sisi Aisha Johnson. I agreed that she adds something to the sister's story. I'm hoping to listen to P.S. B Eleven. I've come to love these girls. I feel like I am completely out of the loop as most of the rest of these books are new to me.

  8. I have been meaning to purchase One Today for the longest time - your review convinced me that the time is now. I remember this recitation so well!

  9. Thank you for the upcoming 2016 lists! I really appreciate it!
    My library doesn't have Out of the woods... :(
    Glad you liked One Crazy Summer--you should check out the sequel. I liked it even more.

    Happy reading this week!

  10. I am adding Out of the Woods to my list. My library doesn't have it, but I will focus on getting my hands on it. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I am so pleased you liked Out of the Woods! I read it aloud to my class today - we are doing a week's worth of forest setting books for #classroombookaday and then going to learn about how animals survive in winter. The kids loved the book, many of them taking it to their desks to look more at the end pages and illustrations. Really so lovely! I also really like Bright Sky, Starry City - how it mixes fiction and nonfiction.

  12. Oh, what a shame that we don't yet have Out of the Woods - looks like I would enjoy it greatly. Still have yet to find Bright Sky Starry City as well.

  13. Out of the Woods is such a strange and beautiful book. Haunting!