Monday, May 20, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5.20.19

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 Week's Adventures

Some nonfiction picture books that encourage readers to take a look at the world around them.

Simon Spotlight has some fantastic books for readers in the PreK-2nd grade range.  Check these out!

Picture Books

Watch Out for Wolf!
Watch Out for Wolf!
written by Anica Mrose Rissi
illustrated by Charles Santoso
Drawing from a few fairy tale stories and nursery rhymes, these little pigs are trying to plan for a surprise party but that pesky wolf is nearby!  A couple of surprises at the end of this book.

When You Are Brave
When You Are Brave
written by Pat Zietlow Miller
illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
Add this to your social emotional learning collection to talk about what it means to feel brave and where bravery comes from.  Beautiful story!

Dog vs. Ultra Dog
Dog vs. Ultra Dog
written by Troy Wilson
illustrated by Clayton Hanmer
There is a lot about this book that is going to appeal to young readers - a dog story, super heroes, most of the story is told through talk bubbles.  But it also has so much heart - a character that feels like he doesn't quite measure up, comparing yourself to another, best friendships.

My Papi Has a Motorcycle
My Papi Has a Motorcycle
written by Isabel Quintero
illustrated by Zeke Peña
I cannot express how excited I am for the new imprint from Penguin Publishers - Kokila.  What I'm seeing from them is blowing me away.
One of the first picture books to be released is this beauty.  Add it to your list of small moments stories.  A young girl goes on a motorcycle ride with her father.  It's a ride they've taken many times before but with lyrical language by author Quintero, we understand the importance of these rides.  Neighborhoods are explored, familiar faces seen, and excitement just being with her papi.  
I love the illustrations from Peña.  They fit this story so well.  The colors used are these muted pastels that seem right for this California setting.

¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market
¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market
by Raúl the Third
I loved Richard Scarry books when I was little.  The important parts of those books were in the labels by the illustrations.  There was so much to look at in those books, I would pour over a page, looking at each part of the illustration individually, reading the labels, and then finally seeing the illustration as a whole.  
This book brings me back to my early experiences.  It took me such a long time to read this book because I wanted to get lost in the illustrations.  There are so many other stories within those illustrations, I couldn't help but get carried away!
I hope there are more stories coming, I think it would be really popular with readers.

You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks
You Are Home
by Evan Turk
This is a book you're going to want to preorder.  I absolutely got lost in the lyrical language that is a love letter to our National Parks.  The Parks are meant to be welcoming to all, home for everyone.  Animals and plants and flowers and visitors are celebrated in this story.  You won't want to miss the author's note as Turk fully acknowledges that while the Parks are meant to be for everyone and welcome all, not all have felt welcomed.  Also in the backmatter Turk talks about how much of the artwork was done while sitting in the Park and letting the life go on around him while he captured everything going on around him on black paper and pastels.
Also included in the backmatter is a map of the National Parks of the United States and the ones he included in this book.  Did you know the National Parks has a program that allows all 4th graders to enter the parks for free?  Find info here.
This book will absolutely be on my future Mock Caldecott list.  It's simply beautiful.
Publishes June 4th.

The Undefeated
The Undefeated
written by Kwame Alexander
illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Don't be deceived by the fact that this is a picture book.  You're going to need a lot of time when reading and sharing this book.  Read it without the illustrations and just enjoy the words - every word is so important and holds so much meaning.  Read it with the words and pour over the illustrations.  I've long been a fan of Kadir Nelson's illustrations but the significance of these are not lost on me.  Then you'll want to read the Afterword and go through the "Historical Figures and Events Featured in The Undefeated" and go back and reread those pages and look at the illustrations and compare it with the information.  This is a book you'll share over several days.  It's going on my Mock Caldecott and Mock Newbery lists.


A First Book of the Sea
A First Book of the Sea
poems by Nicola Davies
illustrated by Emily Sutton
Another gorgeous book by these two (if you haven't already, be sure to check out Tiny Creatures and Many: The Diversity of Life).  This collection of poetry by Davies focuses around sea life and is divided into four sections: Down by the Shore, Journeys, Under the Sea, and Wonders.  Each poem is beautifully illustrated, many of them would look wonderful on a frame displayed for all to see.

Middle Grade

Other Words for Home
Other Words For Home
by Jasmine Warga
Wow - I hope this book is already on your must read list.  It is fantastic.  Everything about it is so perfect.  
Jude is an immigrant to the United States from Syria.  Her pregnant mother and her travel to America, leaving behind her father and older brother, as they leave war-torn Syria.  The reader journeys with Jude as she leaves behind the life she knows and travels to Cincinnati to live with her uncle, aunt and cousin.  Jude starts at the same middle school as her cousin and finds things that surprise her - good and bad - as she tries to fit in.  
This is a beautiful immigration story and the decision for it to be a novel in verse fits so well.  While Jude has a handle on basic English, there is so much for her to learn.  Told in verse, every word must count, just like how Jude uses her English.
I think this is an important book for middle grade readers.  Whether it is a mirror book for them, or for so many, a window book, it allows readers a perspective that is probably very new to them.
Look for it on May 28th!

The First (Endling #2)
Endling:  The First
by Katherine Applegate
I really enjoyed the first book in this series last fall.  It took me a bit to get into it, but once I did, I found it hard to stop.  This book the action starts right away and it was all I could do to keep up!  Byx and her friends are trying to find an island that may, or may not have more dairnes on it.... all the while trying to escape from those who are trying to find them, in hopes of making sure Byx is the last of her species.  
Applegate has created an amazing world, which I found I had to be very careful when reading to make sure I truly imagined and understood where that part of the story was taking place. 
I feel like so much of the characterization took place in the first book so this one could truly be a plot driven story.  It really was so hard to put down.  The ending is certainly set up for another sequel.  I haven't heard anything about it, but I'm ready for it now!

Planet Earth Is Blue
Planet Earth is Blue
by Nicole Panteleakos
If you enjoy books that pull on your heartstrings, make sure this one is on your list.  It's touching, it's beautiful and it's important.
Nova is a nonverbal, autistic middle schooler living in the 80s.  She's been shuffled around from foster home to foster home with her older sister, Bridget.  Chapters alternate from being told in the third person - the reader sees what is happening to Nova and gets glimpses from time to time about what has happened in her past - to letters written to Bridget by Nova and here, of course, we get to really understand what Nova is thinking.  It's important to notice in the written chapters we witness what is happening to Nova and in the letters we get a first hand account of Nova's thoughts.  This is important since she is nonverbal.  
The story takes place at the same time as the days leading up to the space shuttle Challenger lifting off to space.  Nova is obsessed with space, but even more so with this space encounter because her older sister, Bridget, has promised she'll return on this day.  We don't know why she is gone, but we understand how important it is to Nova that her sister return.
This is a story about family, understanding others, and the ways we protect ourselves.  It is interesting to see how far we've come in understanding those who have autism and ways we communicate.
This was a quick read but one that will stay with me for a long time.

Currently Reading

A Wolf Called Wander
A Wolf Called Wander
by Roseanne Parry
A fantastic book to hand off to your readers who enjoy animal stories.  I'm reading the ARC and it does not have the backmatter which has all the information about wolves and the real wolf this story is based upon.  I'm looking forward to buying a copy so I can read more!

I have a few more ARCs in my pile to read and then loads of books that have recently been published that are screaming for my attention.  Hoping to get many off my plate before heading to ALA in June!


  1. I almost forgot about Watch Out for Wolf! I need to get a copy so I can read it to the first grade class which skyped with Anica Mrose Rissi on World Read Aloud Day. I'm excited about the new imprint, Kokila, too. I loved each of the summer releases they sent me.

  2. I just got A Wolf Called Wander & The Undefeated from the library, & just read another sharing of Planet Earth Is Blue which sounds great, Michele. I gave When You Are Brave to my granddaughter for her birthday. We had read it earlier & she had so much to talk about as we read it. It's a special book! There are many to find and love here. Thanks for sharing so much.

  3. Oh my, everything you've shared looks wonderful! Most of these are on my TBR list, but You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks is new to me. This looks fantastic--adding it to my list, for sure! Thank you for all the shares, Michele.

  4. I have a NetGalley ARC of Planet Earth is Blue and I really need to get on it. I was in high school when the Challenger exploded. I'll never forget how horrified my geometry teacher was when he told us about it. Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

  5. Other Words for Home was SO good, but I got very distracted by the Cincinnati setting- right in my old college stomping grounds! Love the cover!

  6. We have two of the same books on our #IMWAYR-Dog vs. Ultra Dog and Planet Earth is Blue. I added Wolf Called Wander to by TBR. Looking forward to summer when I have more time to read!

  7. So many good books here that I haven't read!

  8. I haven't read any! :( I need to get on my reading game! Thank you for sharing them!

  9. So many wonderful titles here. I have asked our institution's librarians to purchase When You Are Brave - I believe it is a must-have and a much-needed additional title to our Social and Emotional learning bookshelf.