Monday, May 16, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5.16.16

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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

I celebrated our week 3 of my daughter's limb lengthening journey this weekend.

Do you do a unit on empathy?  "Mr. Particular" would be a book to add to your collection!

I have 2 new middle grade books for your TBR lists!  The Sleepover releases this week and Save Me a Seat is already out.  Make sure you read them and get them into students' hands!

I love Chris Bartons' new nonfiction picture book - "Whoosh" - his newest collaboration with illustrator Don Tate.  So many uses for this book, it's one you will want for your library!

Picture Books

Can I Play Too? (Elephant & Piggie, #12)
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems

5/5 stars
So, Elephant and Piggie has seen the end of its series.  But, the "good" thing is I have not read all the books!  This summer I'm going through and finding all of the ones I've missed.
As always, this one made me laugh out loud.  

Finding Wild
Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

4/5 stars
Thanks to Elly Swartz (upcoming Finding Perfect) for telling me about this one!
It is gorgeous.  
Use the text to teach metaphor, to teach the big ideas of looking beyond the surface for something, to keep trying to find what you're looking for, to look at things with new perspectives.
And I love Abigail Halpin's art!  It is stunning!

A Fire Truck Named Red
A Fire Truck Named Red by Randall de Seve
5/5 stars
I had to buy this book after reading last week's Nerdy post.  If you missed it, be sure to check it out here.
Just like de Seve writes in it, picture books are important for all ages.  And if you don't believe that, you need to read Sergio Ruzzier's Nerdy post!  This book looks like it's for younger kids.  And younger kids will love the story.  They will get lost in the story, going back in time to see how Papa would fight fires with his trusty firetruck, Red.  But taking it further, it's older kids who will understand some of the rich themes in this book.  The discussions about wanting something new, but seeing the rich past in something old.  The conversations that can be had about the power of imagination.  This book is a must have for so many age levels.  Make sure this book is on your to-buy list!

Thunder Boy Jr.
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie
5/5 stars
I had held off purchasing this book until I had gotten it from the library.  But after seeing so many positive reviews, and the library here being so slow in getting books into circulation, I bit the bullet and ordered it, sight unseen.
Love it.  When I read this book, I read it that this is a story about a child who is questioning his name - does it make him who he is?  He thinks about what he knows about himself.  I think this is a question that is obviously very self-reflective, but one we should make students think about more often.  Who are they?  What makes them unique?  What do they know about themselves.  Personal identity is something that many people hide from and question.  This book may be one that brings the discussion out, or at least be reflective upon.
As I was waiting for this book to arrive, I happened upon Debbie Reese's posts about this book here and here.  I think they are important to read and be reflective upon based on recent events.
Yuyi Morales stuns with her illustrations, again, but in my opinion, these are my favorite.  Just found another book that is going in the Mock Caldecott unit...

Transitional Chapter Books

Puppy Pirates #4: Sea Sick
Puppy Pirates: Sea Sick by Erin Soderberg

4/5 stars
Do you teach K-4th grade?  This is a series that is a must have!  Readers of all levels appreciate the stories in this series.  I've read all four and I think each one has gotten better than the one before.


Guess Who, Haiku
Guess Who, Haiku by Deanna Caswell
4/5 stars
It's the second book illustrated by Bob Shea in my pile (first one was Fire Truck).
I think this is a great book to use with the PreK/Kg crowd!  A fun introduction to the haiku format, the easy to solve riddles will keep young readers engaged and wanting to read more.  I like that the author included information in the back.

Middle Grade

A Tangle of Knots
A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
5/5 stars
It's a book I've had on my shelf for a really long time.  Glad I finally got to it.
The way the threads of the story were woven together - wonderful writing!  I wonder how younger readers will be able to navigate the multiple perspectives.  It took me awhile to keep everyone straight!

Young Adult

The Memory of Things
The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner

5/5 stars
If I could give this book more stars, I would.  This book cements Gae Polisner as an extremely talented and gifted writer.  
As Gae tells you in the author's notes, this book is a coming of age story that really is about hope.  
Yes, the setting is 9.11.
For most teenage readers, they weren't born, or were mere babies themselves when 9.11 took place.  For them, this is historical fiction.  This book takes the raw emotions, the sights, the smells and most of all, the fear from that day, and brings the setting to the forefront of the story.  
It's not the story.  This story takes place during 9.11 and the events are impacted by 9.11, but it's a story about two teenagers who are each trying to figure out who they are in this world.  Both are dealing with different tragedies when their lives intersect with each other.
Written in different formats when the perspective changes, really draws you into the story, but also marvel at the writing style.
Do not miss this book.  So glad I was able to get a copy from NetGalley!

Currently Reading

Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2)
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
I had to take a little break from my pile of reading to start this one.  I've got a friend hooked on the first book and she's ready for this one.  Time to pass it along!


  1. I have to get a copy of a Puppy Pirates book. The covers just look so cute. I'm currently looking for good series to recommend to my students to give them ideas for summer reading. I think this will be a goo series for some of them. I enjoyed reading her chapter book, The Quirks, which is also a series.

  2. So happy to see your daughter swimming in the pool and to hear that she is off of medications - YEAH! As always, your posts are filled with amazing books. We can't wait to read Thunder Boy Jr. and A Fire Truck Named Red.

  3. I loved The Memory of Things also! I have a number of kids who have really enjoyed the Puppy Pirates series, but I haven't read them yet. Add it to the summer reading pile...Have a great reading week!

  4. I am going to have to find The Memory of Things when it is released. I have heard so many good things about it. Come see what I read last week. Happy reading!

  5. Finding Wild is on its way from the library! And I've been reading the other links you shared concerning Thunder Boy Jr., always interesting to read other perspectives, Michele. I reviewed The Memory of Things, too, and it is a treasure, agreed! Thanks for all, & have a good week!

  6. Now I want my own copy of Thunderboy, Jr. - Sherman Alexie is brilliant.

  7. I have ordered "Finding Wild", "A Fire Truck Named Red", and "Thunder Boy, Jr." from the library. Thanks for the awesome suggestions.

  8. I obviously need to read Thunder Boy Jr. I love Alexie! Did you see him on The Daily Show? So good!
    I'm sad to say I haven't read any of Gae's books--I need to remedy that!

    Happy reading this week :)

  9. Oh wow, I'm starting to feel old...I was in grade 12 in 2001....hard to believe that my youth is becoming historical fiction!! :)

  10. Wow, our lists are similar this week! I read Red and thought it was good, but my son was too young for it. He loves vehicle books, so this surprised me. I think the lack of color made him less interested. I loved Thunder Boy Jr., and I appreciate Debbie's comments, but as a Native American, sometimes I wonder why we should have to always be educating others. It isn't that I don't think a note would be helpful. It would be. But why must Alexie HAVE to include a note? I agree with her, but I have been thinking a lot about this lately.

    I got a bit caught in review books, so I had to pause The Memory of Things, but I am really looking forward to getting back to it. Thanks for your review!

  11. Finding Wild looks beautiful. I definitely need to check that out. So glad you loved The Memory of Things! :)

  12. I found Debbie Reese's posts interesting too. I'm looking forward to getting Thunderboy this week. I am so sad for the last Elephant & Piggie book! I want more! They do reward frequent rereading, though, and I love having a new group of Children's Lit students to introduce to them every semester.

  13. I loved A Tangle of Knotts too! I sooo want to try the recipes.