Monday, March 11, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3.11.19

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 Weeks' Adventures

Some new nonfiction picture book biographies about men who had an impact on our world.

Books for your young readers who are looking for some independent reading.

March is National Women's Month.  Here are some new picture book biographies celebrating some amazing women!

Picture Books

Tracks in the Snow
Tracks in the Snow
by Wong Herbert Yee
This is a book that was recommended at a conference to use when talking about close reading.  The presenter talked about likening it to being a detective and one of the things a detective has to do is look very closely at the clues around them.  

How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps
How to Give Your Cat a Bath in Five Easy Steps
written by Nicola Winstanley
illustrated by John Martz
Anyone who has a cat will relate to this story, no doubt.  A very humorous how to book about giving your cat a bath - what it doesn't say is how to give your cat a bath when it wants nothing to do with water!  Giggles will happen when reading this one out loud!

Long Shot: Never Too Small to Dream Big
Long Shot: Never Too Small to Dream Big
written by Chris Paul
illustrated by Frank Morrison
I found this one in the Scholastic Book Club orders.  I'm always looking to add to my sports collection and when I saw it was illustrated by the great Frank Morrison I was sold!  This is NBA All-Star Chris Paul's story.  His passion for basketball was stronger than his height, which is smaller than a typical basketball player.  Fun story about motivation and determination.

Gittel's Journey: An Ellis Island Story
Gittel's Journey: an Ellis Island Story
written by Lesléa Newman
illustrated by Amy June Bates
Perfect for older readers as this is a longer picture book.  Make sure to add it to your immigration/Ellis Island collection.
This is the story of young Gittel who is immigrating to the United States in the 1890s to escape Russia.  Facing hardships in the crossing, yet also receiving kindness from strangers, it's a good story that gives readers a glimpse of what immigrating was like more than a century ago.  Featuring illustrations that fit with the time period from Amy June Bates, this is a book that will long stay with readers.
Don't miss the author's note giving information about the origins of this fictional story.  Also included is a glossary and bibliography.

Be a Maker
Be a Maker
written by Katey Howes
illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic'
With obvious connections to makerspace activities, this book is a treasure trove of hidden gems related to the STEAM field.  Young readers will love the rhyming text that is a love letter to exploring and creating, making and designing.  Vukovic (illustrator of the Jasmine Toguchi series) has left us little makerspace and designing clues throughout the story - from famous names to their works to design ideas - this book will inspire a new idea to all readers!

written by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Jon Klassen
This is the third book in the shape trilogy and by now, we know enough about the characters that we can make some predictions about the events.  Circle wants to play hide and seek but lays down the rule that you can't hide behind the waterfall because it is too dark.  Want to make a guess who goes back there?  
Of course, the use of eyes is big in this book illustrated by Jon "eyes" Klassen :)
Of course, you'll want to throw this book across the room when you're done reading it because it is written by Mac "open endings" Barnett.
Don't say I didn't warn you....

Being You
Being You
written by Alexs Pate
illustrations by Soud
A powerful picture book that will have an understanding with an older audience.  Featuring children of color - black and brown - and how being you can mean different things.  It might mean being seen one way or another.  And how we need to see past surroundings and see the individual.  Lots to unpack in this picture book!

The Bear, the Piano, the Dog, and the Fiddle
The Bear, the Piano, the Dog, and the Fiddle
by David Litchfield
The Bear and the Piano is a book I use every year.  It has a sweet message and it is so beautifully illustrated.
This follow up is pretty good too!  It definitely has its use when teaching Aha Moment and message/theme.  I'm glad I picked it up!

score by Mo Willems
performance by Amber Ren
I did not know what to expect with this one, but wow, was I blown away.  I always think about what is it, that chance happening, occurrence, that can impact a life?
A young girl's life changes when because of many other events, it allows her to experience a night at the orchestra.  Because of that, because she fell in love with the music, it leads her to study and eventually write and conduct her own music.
Wonderful for cause and effect and theme lessons.  But really wonderful to talk about this with young readers!

Middle Grade

The North Star (The Gemini Mysteries #1)
The Gemini Mysteries:  The North Star
by Kat Shepherd
This mystery ups the standard by adding illustrated scenes at the end of each chapter that leaves a needed clue that moves the storyline along.  I think middle grade readers will really enjoy the first book in this upcoming series.  It reminded me a lot of Varian Johnson's Great Greene Heist with its realistic characters that went on this outlandish adventure to solve a crime.  Looking forward to the next books in the series.

Wicked Nix
Wicked Nix
written by Lena Coakley
illustrated by Jaime Zollars
I came across this book when I found out about the Cartwheel Award (for more info about this click here).  It's a quick read (163 pgs) and I read it in one sitting.  I'm looking forward to getting this one in kids' hands because I'm interested in their thoughts.  Until I got to the twist in the story, I was rather bored.  While it was a bit predictable, it did make the book more fun.  
Anyone else read this one?  Thoughts?

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach
Saint Louis Armstrong Beach
by Brenda Woods
I read Woods' The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA earlier this year and was in awe of the writing.  I've had this one checked out from the library for weeks and I finally got to it.
It's a story that takes place during Hurricane Katrina.  More than half of the story leads up to the hurricane, the last part is during and immediate aftermath.
I appreciate the length of the story (136 pgs) but also wonder if it had been longer could Woods' have gone into more depth with the story.  Parts seemed rushed, especially the Hurricane Katrina parts.  It wrapped up very quickly which made it seem unrealistic, a little too perfect.
There is also some mature content that can limit readers.  The next door neighbor, who is still pretty young - 8th grader?  High school freshman? - has a party that includes alcohol.  This is a set up for the character to get into big trouble and end up on house arrest as punishment from her parents.  Some mild language - many cases of ass being used.  
I liked the story but it's not my favorite Hurricane Katrina setting novel.

Graphic Novel

The Breakaways
The Breakaways
by Cathy G. Johnson
A graphic novel that is perfect for middle school readers!  Readers of this age will see themselves within the pages - characters trying to fit in, figure out who they are and what they believe, and making choices for themselves!  Featuring a diverse cast of characters and a positive LGBTQ representation, this graphic novel will be well read!

Young Adult

Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee
Rayne and Delilah's Midnite Matinee
by Jeff Zentner
Let me start off by saying I will always read Jeff Zentner books.  He has this way of writing that brings you to your knees.  However, this was not my favorite of his.  It was the way the main characters spoke to each other - it's in the this sophisticated, yet teenage way, that I never used.  I find it in John Green novels, Rainbow Rowell's.... but it's the stuff readers love.  I've been told this is how teenagers speak, but it doesn't work for me.  That said, it works for everyone else, so don't take my word and read it yourself.
I did enjoy the romance for Josie and I thought the way that things played out between Delia and her dad were very real.
Read this one and let me know your thoughts!

Currently Reading

Babysitting Nightmares: The Phantom Hour
Babysitting Nightmares: The Phantom Hour
by Kat Shepherd
Kids love the first book in the series, need to get this read so I can pass it along!

Happy Spring Reading!


  1. I have been waiting for my library to get the Bear, the Piano, the Dog, and the Fiddle. Because is in my stack. I opened it long enough to realize that it's much different from previous Mo Willems' books, but I still need to read it. I missed Long Shot in the Scholastic Book Club - too bad because I just placed an order!

  2. It's taken me a while to read your post because I've put everyone on my wish list, except for Gittel's Journey which I just picked up at the library. Thanks much, Michele. So many sound wonderful!

  3. It's funny, I often find that adults (and teens) have a much more visceral reaction to open-ended books than kids, who often happily insert their own endings without giving it a second thought. Books that drive me absolutely bonkers don't seem to trouble them at all! ;-)

  4. What a fabulous collection of books! I haven't read any of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen's Shape series so I've just put Triangle and Square on hold. Hopefully my library will bring Circle in soon. Wicked Nix is on my MustRead list for this year as Is the Serpent King. I have never read a Jeff Zentner novel!

  5. Gittel's Journey looks like a terrific immigration story. I'll definitely have to look for that one at the library. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week!

  6. How to Give Your Cat a Bath in Five Easy Steps looks hilarious -- can't wait for that one! And Because looks great. It's brand new to me, so I'm adding it to my list right now. Thanks so much for sharing, Michele!!

  7. So many gorgeous picturebooks! Gittel's Journey is what caught my eye - unfortunately, we still don't have it yet in our library! You have read so much over the past week - and such a variety, too! :)

  8. Your review makes me want to read The Breakaways. And I love recommending Because.

  9. So many great books here. I missed the first Bear and Piano book so I am going to try to find that one. I agree with the Open Endings of some books too. Very funny. I am interested in The Gemini Mysteries, Because and several others as well. Thanks for the great post!

  10. Circle! I need him :)
    Also, I am excited about The Bear sequel. I loved the first one. I look forward to Breakaways and Jeff Zentner's newest.

    Happy reading this week!