Monday, August 1, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.01.16

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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

Using animal books as mentor texts for writing.

It's a fall graphic novel round up!

Make sure this book is on your August TBR They All Saw a Cat.  Great book about perspective and what we see.  Reading ideas and science included in this post.

Not as much to share this week.  I've done lots of reading, but most of my reading will be shared in upcoming posts.  Check back during the month of August to hear about:

Pirasaurs!     Unbound: A Novel in Verse     We Are Growing! (Elephant & Piggie like reading!, #2)     The Cookie Fiasco (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!, #1)     Mary Had a Little Glam

Picture Books

The Storyteller
The Storyteller by Evan Turk
5/5 stars
The art of storytelling is all but lost.  But in some cultures, it has such important history, they are trying to bring it back.  Important information that is all given in the author's note - don't skip it!
Beautiful story about how storytelling feeds our soul.  Perfect book to use in a folk/fairy tale unit.  While not a traditional tale, it fits in.  
Book to add to your Mock Caldecott and Mock Newbery lists.

Middle Grade

Ms. Bixby's Last Day
Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson
4/5 stars
This book took me a long time to fall into.  I had heard nothing but fantastic things about this book and I wondered what wasn't I seeing.
I think at first it was because I didn't love the characters enough.  The 3 boys are certainly flawed.  They aren't characters that you want to immediately jump in and hug and make everything all right.  But they need to be that way.
Because their teacher did see the good in them right away.  She saw past their flaws and saw the good, the excellent part of them.
And that's when I fell in love.  Because that is the teacher I want to be.  The one that sees the good.  That can get past what stops others.  And makes that child feel special.
That's when I realized I was holding a special book. 

Young Adult

The Loose Ends List
The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone
5/5 stars
Young adult is tricky for me.  I don't read a lot of it.  Some I really enjoy, and others I don't care for.  I've never been a big fan of books with high school girls who drink, do drugs and have sex, because I'm not sure that's the image we want to portray to today's youth.  But, I also know how young adult readers often look for books that show characters who are not like them, that are living life differently.  
The start of this book was rough for me because I didn't particularly love any of the characters.  The main character's friends are much more concerned with drinking, doing drugs and who is having sex than with thinking about any other big life picture.  As the book progressed, my opinion quickly changed.  The main character ends up being isolated from her friends and the shell of the main character is chipped at until you see who she is and the impact of others around her.
What you need to know about this book is it's about the controversial topic of death with dignity.  It's a topic that seems newer, especially in young adult format.  Firestone did a fantastic job layering this topic with family and relationships and the concept of death and dying and new relationships.
Thank you to Victoria Coe for passing this book along to me!

Currently Reading

The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog
The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz
I'm very intrigued by this book.  Looking forward to starting it!

And what are you reading?


  1. Thanks for your honest review of Ms. Bixby's. I haven't read it yet and definitely plan to so it will be good to know that no matter what I think at first, I should read on.

  2. I can't wait to read The Storyteller which sounds like one I need to purchase. I'm glad you came to like Ms. Bixby, agree that those boys are not the most lovable at first. I'm not sure about the Loose Ends book, but will keep it on my list. It feels that high school kids have so many challenges to face in those years. I know stories help, too. Thanks Michele.

  3. I just loved The Storyteller, both the story and the illustrations. Ms. Bixby is definitely an inspirational teacher.

  4. I liked Ms. Bixby because of the violence to cheesecake and the adventure. Ms. Bixby is a great teacher, but I harbor no illusions about making an impact on my students, no matter what I do. I don't think students today really pay that much attention to us!

  5. I have Mary Had a Little Glam sitting on the floor in my office but just haven't gotten around to reading it yet. That is my goal for this week. :)

  6. So glad that you came around to liking Ms. Bixby - it IS a special book!

  7. I just ordered Mary Had a Little Glam from my library. Can't wait to read it, looks like fun! Have a great week!

  8. After reading your review, just requested Ms. Bixby from my library. Thanks!

  9. I am embarrassed to say that I still haven't read a Gidwitz book. I have A TALE... on my #mustreadin2016 list, so I am hoping to get hooked. I look forward to your thoughts on this one!

  10. I'm so glad that you ended up loving Ms. Bixby. I loved her and those 3 boys also!
    See you soon!

  11. The Storyteller looks good. I've always been fascinated by fairytales and folklore. And another Adam Gidwitz book--I loved his earlier books!

  12. Did you see that Emily Arrow made a song for They All Saw the Cat? I love sharing her songs with students. I think the video will be ready at the end of the month. I saw a video about how the art was done in The Storyteller and am eager to see it.

  13. I too am waiting for Ms. Bixby, but you have piqued my interest in The Loose End List. I agree that there are students who want to read that edgy stuff. In fact, it's how I manage to get some reluctant readers hooked.