Monday, February 1, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.01.16

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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

Do you do work around critical thinking, synthesizing, writing?  Here's a post about the work I did around this with 4th grade reading students!

Last Stop on Market Street is a great book to use for close reading.  Use this book again and again!

Can't wait to share Fenway and Hattie by Victoria Coe with young readers.  Click here to learn more about this great book!

Interested in nonfiction?  Want to talk about  more nonfiction picture books?  Join us on Goodreads in our Mock Sibert group!  Info here.

Picture Books

Nobody Likes a Goblin
Nobody Likes Goblin
 by Ben Hatke

4/5 stars
publishing June 2016
I've always enjoyed Ben Hatke's illustrations but in my opinion these really are his best.  And I only saw the book on an early e-copy, can't wait to hold the real pages!
Goblin lives alone in the dungeon with his friend, Skeleton, and a few rats.  But what do you do when Adventurers come and kidnap your treasure and your best friend?  You face your fears and go after him, of course!
A fun, fantasy sure to delight young readers!

Little One
Little One by Jo Weaver
4/5 stars
publishing March 1, 2016
Beautiful charcoal illustrations, I can't wait to see the printed version!

Sonya's ChickensSonya's Chickens by Phoebe Wahl
4/5 stars
Good story to use when discussing the food chain, in a farm setting.

Transitional Chapter Books

Long Road to Freedom (Ranger in Time #3)
Ranger in Time: Long Road to Freedom by Kate Messner
4/5 stars
My favorite Ranger so far.  The Underground Railroad is a topic that has always fascinated me.  So large, so expansive, it's amazing how it worked.  This is a book I would have loved as a child.  Ranger, the search and rescue dog who tends to be distracted by squirrels, has to help the children, Sarah and Jesse, to freedom.  Filled with bits and pieces of information about the Underground Railroad, it was a great look at how escaping could have looked for young slave children.  What I love about this series is how Kate Messner always adds additional information in the Author's Notes section at the end of the book.  They are not to be missed.

Puppy Pirates #3: Catnapped!
Puppy Pirates: Catnapped! by Erin Soderberg
4/5 stars
And this one is my favorite Puppy Pirates so far!  It's full of more giggles as young readers will for sure enjoy the battle between pirate kitties vs pirate puppies!  If you haven't introduced a young reader to the Puppy Pirates series, be sure to do that today!  I had cheers when I showed students copies of this new one.  And some giggles - how could you not chuckle at that cover?
And did you see???  A Puppy Pirates Super Special is coming our way this summer!  Wow, "Super Special", doesn't that take you back in the day?  I'd read it just because it's a Super Special!  Can't wait - July 26!

Anna, Banana, and the Puppy Parade (Anna, Banana book 4)
Anna, Banana, and the Puppy Parade by Anica Mrose Rissi
3/5 stars
I really enjoy this series and have found it a good one for some reluctant readers.
The underlying theme of friendship in each of the books is one that hits home for readers.  
And this one has a wonderful starring role for Banana, the adorable wiener dog.  Friendship?  Dogs?  Another winner for Anica Rissi!

Graphic Novels

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
4/5 stars
Loved this middle grade graphic novel.  It hit a lot of middle grade issues head on.  I would've loved reading it when I was in middle grade.

Middle Grade

Far from Fair
Far From Fair by Elana K. Arnold
4/5 stars
Don't let the cover of this book fool you.  Unless things change before publication, it's a book I would recommend for upper middle grade.
Our main character, Odette, has a list of things that are unfair.  And middle graders will completely understand.  It is unfair that Odette has to leave her house and go live in an RV their family has named the Coach.  It's unfair that her parents are always fighting and they have to go live with her sick grandmother.  It's unfair that her grandmother has cancer and is not going to get better.  Dealing with her brother's tantrums are horribly unfair.  And it's so far from fair that she has to share the family cell phone and not have one of her own.
Arnold crafts a story that will attract readers and writes a well written book about a very tough and controversial topic.  
And while this book is being recommended for readers ages 9-12, there is one small and absolutely insignificant scene that will make teachers and school librarians think twice about handing this book over to students.  In one scene, Odette is sleeping in the Coach and overhears her parents in their quarter, making out or having sex.  Yes, that is what is written.  I understand it is in there because the point of the extremely small living quarters.  But I don't think it needed to go that far.  If it had just read she heard her parents kissing, that would be enough to make young readers get Odette's uncomfortable feeling.
This book publishes March 8, 2016.

Full Cicada Moon Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
5/5 stars
This was my first #mustreadin2016 book checked off the list!
I checked this book out from the library after I read about it on Mr. Schu's blog.  I didn't get to it but then found it again at the public library my school district is in and checked it out there.  Despite having 6 weeks to read, I never got around to it.  I think it was around November when things were getting very busy.  I'm glad I put it on my #mustread list because it was a book I loved and couldn't put down once I started.  I loved the main character, Mimi, and I loved her relationship with her family.  The writing was beautiful and there were many lines I lingered over.
Before and after reading this book, I had read the article in the New York Times discussing some of the racial issues with the book.  Just as with all of the conversations that are occurring around books and race today, it made me think and ponder.  I think we can only grow with conversations like these.  While it doesn't change what I thought about the book, it does make me think about what stereotypes I have as I read, how does what I bring to a book, change my thinking?

The Girl in the Well Is Me
The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers
I was intrigued by this book.  The goodreads summary calls it hilarious and heart wrenching.  Sounds like a story that was going to take you through ups and downs.
The premise of the story is Kammie has fallen into a well during an initiation that goes wrong.  Told in the present tense and flashbacks, the reader gets to know Kammie and her family while also understanding what lead her to her present predicament.
The characters in the story are in 6th grade.  While I fully understand that bullying happens at all ages, I think readers and those putting this book in the hands of readers should be aware of the mature themes throughout the book.  The father is in jail for embezzlement, a 6th grade character contemplates suicide, while she is stuck in the well the main character has hallucinations, there is mild language.  Just things to be aware of, either read the book before you pass it off or know your readers.
Never did find the hilarious parts of the book.
This book publishes March 15, 2016.

Lots of books this week!  Mostly because I spent three days in bed.  Horrible virus.  At least I hope that's what it is.
Happy reading this week!


  1. The middle grade books you mention all sound good. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  2. Hope you are feeling better now! It looks like you had good books to keep you company in bed, though. I do want to read Sonya's Chickens. We are in the process of learning about raising chickens in order to start a backyard flock of our own. Happy reading!

  3. Hmmm... with regard to the scene in Far from Fair, I haven't read the book so I probably shouldn't pass judgment until I've read it, but I always wonder why Americans are so squeamish about that word and yet we have no problem with violence. I mean, here you have two people who are (I presume) married. Why is it not OK to talk about sex but it's OK for Jenni and Matt Holm to tackle substance abuse in a book for younger children? I'm not asking these questions to be accusatory. They are merely rhetorical and make me wonder what this says about our culture.

  4. I have to look for out the first two picture books you mentioned. It seemed lots of people this past week were busy reading!

  5. Sorry you have been sick Michele, but that is one heck of a reading week! I need to find the Puppy Pirates book.

  6. The middle grade books sound great - each has issues that I know my kids are interested in and are aware of. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Quite a week of reading, and reviewing! I'm sorry that you've been ill,and hope you're lots better, Michele. Thanks for all, especially excited about those first books you shared that will be out in the next few months. Thanks for taking time to share so much.

  8. You read so much this week - Thank you for letting us know about all of these wonderful books. Full Cicada Moon sounds unbelievable

  9. Carrie also recommended Full Cicada Moon! I plan to read it soon! I loved your review. Thanks for sharing! I hope you have a wonderful week. <3

  10. I want to read Goblins! Hatke is one of my favorites, and I cannot wait to read this one!
    I need to catch up on my Messner books. I was doing a really good job, but she’s gotten ahead of me.
    I think Awkward is one of the best middle grade GNs out there. It is getting passed around my class right now—love it!
    Yay Full Cicada Moon! I loved it too! Carrie sure knows how to recommend books :)
    I’m interested in Far from Fair. I actually am doing an NCTE proposal with Elana :)

    Glad you are feeling better! Happy reading this week :)

  11. I was sad to read your review of Karen Rivers book. Although I wasn't crazy about her last one, my readers and I loved The Encyclopedia of Me. Full Cicada Moon is on my must read in 2016 list. I agree with Kelly before me, Carrie sure does know how to recommend books.

  12. I hope you're feeling better. I am excited to get the Hatke book. I love his work. Awkward is one that I've been wanting to read.

  13. Boy, you are right! There are indeed lots of books here - and great range too. I really like the look of Sonya's Chickens and Full Cicada Moon - they look like my kind of reads. Feel better soonest! :)

  14. I hope you're feeling better! So many great books here. I especially appreciate the detailed reviews of the middle grade titles. All new to me, and now all on my TBR! Far From Far actually sounds like one my son would like, though I'm not sure that cover would appeal to him very much. I need to find a way to get him interested in books besides just the covers! Excited about the Mock Sibert group! Just sent in a request to join.