Monday, February 29, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.29.16 Leap Year Edition

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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.

February 29th is such a fun day.  There's something special when you can only celebrate a day every 4 years!

Last Week's Adventures

I spotlighted a nfpb about a very inspirational woman.  This book can be used in so many units.  See my review of Miss Mary Reporting.

I love finding books that I know kids are going to love.  Pilfer Academy is one of those books.  Read my review here.

This is a literary term that is newer to me - unreliable narrator.  Here are two great picture books you can use to teach this.

Picture Books

Super Jumbo
Super Jumbo by Fred Koehler
4/5 stars
Oh, so funny!  Jumbo has such a big heart and I loved, and laughed at, Jumbo's attempts at being a super hero.  Great book for drawing conclusions.  Young readers have to use the illustration and text to determine what the author is trying to tell us.

Before I Leave
Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley
5/5 stars
Jessixa Bagley is quickly becoming the author/illustrator you go to when you need a book that helps explain a tough issue.
In her newest book, she conquers the fears a friendship has when one person (animal) is moving.  In beautiful words, she absolutely nails the words and feelings a child would have when a close friend is moving.  Heartwarming ending, that stays realistic.

Always Remember
Always Remember by Cece Meng
5/5 stars
Beautiful text to read, but also hold onto when you need a book to help comfort someone when they are experiencing the loss of a loved one.  Because it is written about a sea turtle, it gives just enough distance for a young reader between what they are experiencing and the story.  Focuses on remembering the wonderful thing about the loved one.

The Almost Terrible Playdate
The Almost Terrible Playdate by Richard Torrey
3/5 stars
Good book to use with PreK/Kg crowd.  What starts out as an innocent enough question - what do you want to play? - ends up with neither side agreeing.  Each character - one boy and one girl - come up with suggestions that neither wants to do.  We see each character with a thought bubble that shows what they are visualizing about the other's suggestion.  As the book continues, the visualizations get more and more embellished.  After the usual fight, they both start playing with the same toy, just imagining a bit different than the other what they are doing with them.  I really enjoyed the book up to the ending which seemed, while realistic, not very satisfying.  I was hoping for a bit more common ground.  But, it was realistic, and I think young readers will enjoy it.

Ida, Always
Ida, Always by Caron Levis
5/5 stars
Another book about death, but this time it focuses on a character who is ill, and the other character has to watch his loved one get sicker and sicker until they pass away.  This is a reality for kids and this book will help them see themselves and even help them heal and understand a bit.  Again, the characters are animals which gives students a bit of space between reality and story.  The characters are based on two polar bears, Gus and Ida, who lived in Central Park Zoo.

Middle Grade

Spirit Week Showdown
The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit Week Showdown by Crystal Allen
3/5 stars
My overall feeling of this book is it's fun - fun characters, fun setting (school during Spirit Week) and good theme, but I have a feeling that it will be hard to get many readers into the book.  It takes place in Texas and our main character, Mya, is a hard-core cowgirl.  It makes for a fun read, but I'm not sure if readers will love the cowgirl theme.  I hope early middle graders will give it a try.  I think strong readers in 2nd grade and 3rd graders will like the story.  

Currently Reading

Hour of the Bees
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar
I'm really loving this debut book!  Great new voice!

Do you have new books for me to read?


  1. Super Jumbo looks like a charming book. Ida, Always and Always Remember look like important books that could be comforting to those children who have dealt with such difficulties in their life. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hour of the Bees was depressing, and I'm not sure how I felt about Pilfer Academy. This is the first year that Lemony Snicket hasn't been in demand, and I haven't had kids asking for books like it. Curious to see how it will go over.

  3. Ida Always sounds like a good book to help children with grief and loss.

  4. All new-to-me PBs! Thanks, Michele! I'm especially excited about a new Jessixa Bagley. I thought Boats for Papa got robbed this year!

  5. Time to find Before I Leave, and now you've shared another that seems like a must-have, Michele--Always Remember. I'd also forgotten about Ida, Always-love those bear books!

  6. Hi Michele!

    We would love to have you review some of our children's books! What is the best way to contact you? You can reach me at

    All best,


  7. Before I Leave and Always Remember sound amazing. Thank you for sharing these titles with us. More books for our TBR list :)

  8. I've heard such wonderful things about Hour of the Bees, now I am determined to get my own copy.

  9. I'm looking forward to Before I Leave. :)

  10. I love the look of Ida Always - I have yet to read Bagley's Boats for Papa - and here's another new picturebook - wow, I have to catch up soonest.

  11. I am so happy fro Fred Koehler! He is one of my dad's friends, and he remembers him sketching as they ate breakfast together--so cool how well he is doing! I need to read the newest though. I loved the first one :)

    I hope I get to meet you this week!!