Monday, August 20, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.20.18

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 took the past week off to enjoy some time with friends and family before school starts.  But today is the day - time to say goodbye to summer reading and say hello to a new school year!  Every year is an adventure, I wonder what this year will bring!

Here's what you might have missed earlier:

Picture book biographies featuring people who made a difference in the ARTS!

Don't miss these early reader series!

2018 PB10for10 day - books for Social Emotional Learning!

Picture Books

It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!
It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus!
written by Jody Jensen Shaffer
illustrated by Claire Messer
This book and the following are perfect to read with younger classes this fall.  They acknowledge that it's ok to feel excited and nervous for school.  It's ok to have worries and wonders.  Young readers will absolutely relate!

Mae's First Day of School
Mae's First Day of School
by Kate Berube
read the message above :)

One Wave at a Time: A Story about Grief and Healing
One Wave at a Time: A Story About Grief and Healing
written by Holly Thompson
illustrated by Ashley Crowley
Definitely a book I want to be aware of for when it is needed.  It is hard for young children to understand grief.  Adults don't, why should children.  But with words like this that explain the different waves of grief, it will be reassuring for readers to see themselves as they go through the process.  

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice
written by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard
illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
A simple story line with heavy implications.  What starts out as a conversation within two families - one white, one black - about a white police shooting of a black man, ends up with the two kids being able to help a new student with a foreign background.
The resources in the back are invaluable.  I could definitely see them shared within school personnel and families.
I think a book like this is needed, however, it does open a larger racial conversation.  A book that might be best to be shared by parents to their children, as needed.  All reading communities are different, for some this book will be a very welcome and needed discussion springboard.

We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands
We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands
by Rafael López
Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.  Absolutely love the colors and representation in this book.  Publishes in October.

Informational Texts

The Sun Is Kind of a Big Deal
The Sun is Kind of a Big Deal
by Nick Seluk
Perfect for some NGSS science units.  This book talks a lot about patterns in space!  I like this one because there is humor but it is full of information.  Great nonfiction voice.
Look for it in Sept.

Graphic Novels

Mr. Wolf's Class
Mr. Wolf's Class
by Aron Nels Steinke
I was really disappointed with this one but it seems like I am in the minority based on the Goodreads reviews.  Broken up into chapters, each one features a part of a school day with a different student the focus of the chapter.  While the scenarios are probably true to life (Venn Diagrams of preferences of farting vs ice cream, a student getting in trouble for laughing while reading, a student getting in trouble for playing a rude joke on a fellow classmate but not feeling remorseful about it), with the exception of one student being missing for an extended part of the day (because she was sleeping as a result of her baby sibling keeping her up at night), these scenarios are not what I want to share with young readers today.  However, most readers have been enjoying this book so perhaps give it a try and see what you think!

by Kayla Miller
I picked up an ARC of this graphic novel at ALA and this is one I'll definitely be purchasing for my classroom library.  Olive is just trying to find her place with all of her friends and is learning what it's like to click (play on "clique") with a place that feels right for you.  Perfect for early middle grade readers, this is going to feel familiar to a lot of kids.  Hand this off to your students who enjoy the "Babysitter's Club" graphic novels.
Publishes in January 2019.

Middle Grade

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic
The Three Rules of Everyday Magic
by Amanda Rawson Hill
This book gives you all the feels - friendship changing, family changing and trying to figure it all out.  Kate has so much on her shoulders that make you want to jump in the book and help her.  Kate is trying to navigate things at school with her best friend, whose interests and best friend status seems to be changing as she spends more time in drama.  And at home things are changing as her grandmother who is grappling with dementia, moves in with her mom and Kate.  On top of all of this, Kate just wants to find her dad, who we know has left the family and it seems like it's due to a mental health issue.  A lot for anyone to deal with.  But Grammy, on her lucid moments, passes along some tips of everyday magic that is meant to help Kate and her many problems.  
This book felt a little bit like A Snicker of Magic, one of my all time favorite books.  So many heart felt moments and words that stuck to me.  A beautiful book to read and share.

Mystery in the Mansion (Case Closed #1)
Case Closed: Mystery in the Mansion
by Lauren Magaziner
Do you remember reading the Choose Your Own Adventure series??  I do!  I loved how they were quick and easy books to get through, but I hated how I often seemed to get to the "end" within a few choices!  Even after starting over it didn't seem long to get to another road block!
Not so in this book!  Magaziner sets up the mystery and characters and then takes you on twists and turns that you decide.  My favorite part of the books are the puzzles you get to solve along the way.  And rather than take you immediately to the next clue, you get to decide if you want some help to figure it out instead of the immediate answer.  And let's just say I took the help.... pretty much every time!
This book is going to be perfect for the reader who:
  • wants a quick read
  • wants something manageable, maybe someone who couldn't tackle an almost 400 pg book from start to finish
  • likes multiple answers
  • enjoys puzzles 
  • is looking for adventure
  • likes series books
It's a book a reader could tackle on their own, but I also see it being used as a read aloud.  This book would be perfect to try for a week, with students getting to vote on the options.  Then put the book in your library (not that it would last long, you'll need a waiting list) and let kids try more choices on their own!

The Parker Inheritance
The Parker Inheritance
by Varian Johnson
The Great Greene Heist was one of my favorite reads because it was so fun - a book that gets kids excited for reading.  There was so much going on in that book, but it came together in a way that was fun and exciting.  
In The Parker Inheritance we get the same thing - a story that is fun and exciting - but it comes to us as a mystery and historical fiction novel.  The mystery is fun and exciting to try and solve.  Parts of it will make sense to kids, other parts will seem maybe a bit far fetched, but fun to try.  The historical fiction parts were some of my favorites in the book.  I enjoyed seeing how events in the past made an impact on the mystery the characters are trying to solve in the present.
Johnson adds a lot of current topics into this book - racial tensions, gay characters to name a couple.  There are a lot of plot threads to keep track of in this novel.  It will take a mature reader to keep track of it all, but for those who do, this book is one they will remember!

The Benefits of Being an Octopus
The Benefits of Being an Octopus
by Ann Braden
As a teacher, this book reminded me that we have students like this in our schools - kids who don't know where their next meal is coming from, kids who don't know how long they will be in their house, kids who only have stability while in school.  And these kids are often sneaky like an octopus.  They don't let on that their homelife is anything but fine.  We need to see these kids.  We need to let them know they are seen.
Absolutely a heartprint book.  Some mature content in this one with verbal abuse and having a gun pulled out and used in front of a student (no killing).  Great book for middle school readers.
Digital review copy through Edelweiss.

The Mona Lisa Key (Time Castaways #1)
Time Castaways: The Mona Lisa Key
by Liesl Shurtliff
I've read almost every book by Liesl while on vacation.  I continued the tradition by reading most of this while on vacation in Florida!  I would have to read a chapter or two and then get into the pool to cool off :)
A departure from her (Fairly) True Tale series and I love that we hear a new voice from her.  Three siblings end up in a time traveling and shape shifting ship.  On board is a crew that is loyal to the captain who appears to be stopping art and jewel heists and giving back the items at other points in time.  As always, things are not what they seem to be and Mateo, Ruby and Corey soon find out who they can and can't trust.  The first half of the book sets up the characters and time travel.  The second part of the book is a whirlwind as the action really picks up.  This is the first in a series and even though this one hasn't reached its publication date (Sept. 18th) I'm already ready for the next one!

Young Adult

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)
by Neal Shusterman
After all the talk about this book I ended up purchasing it because I knew it was one I would get to, I just didn't know when.  And after some time had gone by and I still hadn't read it, I put it on my #mustreadin2018 list.  I am so grateful for this community because it really does ensure I get to some of the books that I've owned forever and actually read them!
And this book, whoa!  One of the reasons I've put off reading it is it has a topic that I wasn't too sure about - a society where death no longer happens naturally and as a way to keep the population numbers under control, people are killed, randomly, by the Scythe.  The two main characters, Citra and Rowan, have just been chosen to be apprentices.  
And this is why I think Neal Shusterman's writing is brilliant.  He takes a topic that I don't love, creates characters that I'm not sure about, yet makes me fall so deeply into this book, that I can't put it down.
Fantastic read.

Currently Reading

Just Like Jackie
Just Like Jackie
by Lindsey Stoddard
Another book I've owned since its publication.  Glad I'm finally getting to it!

And summer reading is officially over.  I can't believe how busy I was this summer and that I didn't read the number of books I thought I would.  Maybe that means I'll be pleasantly surprised at what I can get to even though I'm busy with school starting :)


  1. Just Like Jackie one of my favorites! We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands looks gorgeous. I love Rafael Lopez's illustrations.

  2. Thanks for including It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus, Michele! Have a great year!

  3. Enjoy Just Like Jackie! I loved that one. Click sounds intriguing - I’ll have to add it to my TBR list!

  4. One Wave at a Time looks like a very important title. This is the first I've heard of it, so I'm adding it to my list. I'm soooo excited about The Three Rules of Everyday Magic -- can't wait to get it in our area. And I have Benefits of Being an Octopus on my list for this week. So many other great titles in your list this week. Thanks for sharing, Michele!

  5. Scythe is one I know I will get to eventually. It seems a little out of my comfort zone, but I hear such good things about it. Enjoy the new school year!

  6. Have a wonderful beginning to your year, Michele. I loved Scythe, & Thunderhead as well, terrific world-building. Thanks for sharing the new We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands. I will look for it, too. I have Just Like Jackie on my list, along with The Parker Inheritance. Someday!

  7. Great list to dig into! Hope you have an awesome school year!

  8. Thank you so much for this list of books Michele. I am hoping to find a copy of One Wave at a Time: A Story About Grief and Healing to read. I've referred it to my nieces and nephews to share with their children since their grandmother (my sister) died recently.

  9. I've seen a few bloggers talking about The Benefits of Being An Octopus and it sounds really interesting. I'll have to check it out! Thanks for all of your suggestions.

  10. I cannot wait to read Click, Case Closed, Parker Inheritance, and Octopus--everyone is saying such great things!

    Happy reading this week :)

  11. So many books you featured I have enjoyed but happy to find new titles too. Octopus is definitely a heartprint book for me. I couidn’t our down Case Closed and The Parker Inheritance. Definitely will look for Mae’s Furst Day and Scthye sounds so interesting that you may have convinced me to read, Have a great week Michele!

  12. This is a great list of books. I really appreciate what you wrote about Scythe. While I was an early reader of that one, it is true that the topic and many of the characters are not easy to be with, but the series has been fantastic.

    I also echo what you wrote about this community. I will read The Parker Inheritance eventually, because of the people here who love it. I am having trouble buying hardcovers lately so that one and Octopus have had to wait. I hope to get to all four of your MG reads sooner or later. Thanks for the great post!

  13. My sons loved both It's Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! and Mr. Wolf's Class. I could see how you were disappointed in it. Because my kids were so thrilled as I turned the pages, it did make me enjoy it, but I get what you mean. :)

  14. Something Happened In Our Town sounds like a book I must read asap! Will have to find it soonest. I am holding off the reading of Scythe until the last book in the series has been published! :)

  15. I can't wait for Ann's book!! It sounds wonderful and it's so important. Thanks for the recs, Michelle!