Monday, January 20, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.20.2020

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

Part 2 of animal nonfiction picture books here!

A new chapter book series and additions to a favorite.

Picture Books

At the Mountain's Base
At the Mountain's Base
written by Traci Sorell
illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre
I read this book at ALA this summer and the more I thought about it, the more I enjoyed it.  It arrived at my house at the wrong time (when we were in Peru to watch my daughter swim in the Para Pan Am Games) and I just didn't get back to it until now.
A story about the feelings a family has when a loved one has left to help fight in a battle.  And while the family worries about their loved one, it's being together and sharing in story that allows the family to draw strength during this time.
I love how the illustrations add to the story.  The pilot that is off in battle is a female.  This ties in with the endpages where Sorell talks about the importance of Native women who have served in wars at different points in history.  I also liked seeing the different color threads that are shown figuratively as material that is being woven, as well as the threads of the family members' lives in the story.

Across the Bay
Across the Bay
by Carlos Aponte
First of all this book is beautifully illustrated.  I really loved the colors and the setting of Puerto Rico.  The brightly colored buildings and flora and fauna are captured so beautifully!
But, the story is a problem for me.  Young Carlitos is missing his father.  He does not get to see him, even though he lives across the bay, a ferry ride away.  Carlitos lives with his mother and grandmother, but really just wants to see his father.  He takes it upon himself to find his father and he gathers his money to pay for the ferry ride.  Once he arrives in the capital he talks to many people and shows them his father's pictures, hoping one of them will know his father.  Finally, towards the end, he sees a famous castle (formerly a fortress) and has high hopes his father will be there.  As he runs towards it, the readers sees the photo of his father fall out of his pocket.  Carlitos is very sad once he finds the photo to be missing, but a kind guard reminds him that a person lives forever within our memory.
The problem I have with this book is no one questions a little boy running around a capital city alone, all of the adults he speaks with answers his questions but never asks why he is by himself.  Carlitos gets to the capital by ferry and gets home by ferry.  All by himself.  Once he arrives home, he doesn't get into trouble and gets to go to the beach with his mom and grandmother.  I know him going on the quest by himself is not the point the author was making, but it's what stuck out....

If Pluto Was a Pea
If Pluto Was a Pea
written by Gabrielle Prendergast
illustrated by Rebecca Gerlings
Hmmm.  Questioning this book.  
The storyline follows two kids as they make comparisons amongst the planets.  
The constant is Pluto, which is always a pea.
Pluto the pea is then compared to other circular objects that become the other planets.
Interesting concept - take the known so the comparisons make sense to readers, but I have not been able to find if these size comparisons are accurate.  Maybe they are, but I really don't know.  Without backmatter or even information on the author's website, I'm not sure what the accuracy is.
And while there is brief mention of Pluto not being a planet, why is it the object that is always compared to the other planets?  It's pretty well known that Pluto is small, so I don't think that would hold up why it's the constant.

Old Rock (Is Not Boring)
Old Rock (is not boring) 
by Deb Pilutti
I love this book!  I read it as an F&G and I love the actual copy even more.  It is perfect to talk about the dangers of making assumptions.  It should lead to a great conversation.  Be sure to find this one on Feb. 4th.

Grace Goes to Washington
Grace Goes to Washington
written by Kelly DiPucchio
illustrated by LeUyen Pham
I think the idea of the branches of government and checks and balances can be hard to grasp for young readers.  Anytime you can make a hard to grasp concept become familiar is helpful and going to be more meaningful.  In this book, Grace and her fellow Student Council members are voting on how to spend funds they raised for the school.  By comparing familiar school positions to the branches of government, readers get a better idea of how an unfamiliar idea might look.

Middle Grade

Clean Getaway
Clean Getaway
by Nic Stone
I am so glad Nic Stone is moving into the middle grade arena too.  Hoping she continues to write for this grade level again.
Scoobs and G'ma are on a quest across some of the Southern states.  Along the way, G'ma revisits some of the important Civil Rights-era locations that were important to her - a white woman - and her husband - a black male - who were married in the 1960s.  While they are on their quest, Scoobs learns a lot about his history, but also who his grandmother is.  Scoobs learns his perceptions of people might be different at first glance.
I really like that this book takes place in the present time so young readers today can relate what they learn about the 1960s to their life today.

The Line Tender
The Line Tender
by Kate Allen
What a debut.  As I sit back and reflect it's hard to put into words exactly how I feel.  I could tell you the story, but what sticks with you is how this book makes you feel and think.  It's about death.  It's about living after a loved one dies.  It's about what brings us back into life and living life.  It's about the people we surround ourselves with and holding onto a line with, and for, each each other.

Currently Reading

by Michelle Obama
This book was a Christmas present over a year ago.  I'm sad it took over a year to get to read.  To ensure I got to it this year I added it to my #mustread list.

Hope you get to enjoy some reading time on this long weekend!


  1. I have Becoming & signed, but still haven't read it. It's a need, but don't know when I will get to it! Soon? I wondered the same thing about Across the Bay, but thought that times were different then, perhaps. I'm looking forward to the new Nic Stone & love The Line Tender, feel it will reach some kids who really need it! Thanks, Michele!

  2. Old Rock is on my list this week, too. Such a wonderful picture book!

  3. At the Mountain's Base has been calling me. Can't wait to read it.

  4. Yeah, I'm with you on questioning If Pluto Was a Pea. It's too bad that there's no back matter to clarify the comparisons. But I LOVE the idea if it is accurate! I have Clean Getaway on hold, so hoping to get it before February. I'm also looking forward to reading At the Mountain's Base! I enjoyed The Line Tender, but know it will be too heavy for some students -- gotta be selective on that one. And WOW did I get into Becoming. This week our student body will be watching Southside With You for MLK day -- kinda envious that I'll have to wait to see it (because today won't work out). Thanks for all these wonderful shares, Michele!

  5. I loved Old Rock for it was both humorous and informative. Another reviewer shared The Line Tender and I think the universe is telling me to read it. Have a great week!

  6. I've been thinking about your comment on Carlos Aponte's book. At my book club meeting today we were talking about how much freedom we had as children compared to kids today. We were out of the house in the morning after our chores were done, and returned home in time to help out with supper preparation. I wonder if other cultures are as concerned as we are today about our children's whereabouts.
    I'm looking forward to If Pluto Was a Pea because Gabrielle Prendergast is a local author and I loved Pandas on the Eastside by her.
    Since you and Earl both wrote positively about The Line Tender, I decided to see if my library has it. They do and it is available as an audiobook. I'm looking forward to start listening.

  7. Across the Bay is the kind of book that my preschooler would question as well. She's always concerned about little kids going on adventures alone, and asks why they aren't with their parents. I really want to read The Line Tender. Have a great week!

  8. These all look fun. I will definitely be checking out OLD ROCK.

  9. I loved The Line Tender. Such a moving book. And the double meaning of the title is powerful too.I hope it gets some Newbery love.

    I read Becoming last Christmas, and it made me long for the good old days when the Obamas were in the White House!!

    Old Rock sounds lovely--will look for it :)