Monday, February 3, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.03.2020

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

Last week was the ALAYM Awards - did you watch?  I took a week off of blogging to find some time and catch up (is that really a thing??).

Some science books for your stacks.

These chapter books have been in my stacks for too long!

Picture Books

The Perfect Seat
The Perfect Seat
written by Minh Lê
illustrated by Gus Gordon
I've loved this book since Minh shared it with an audience at ALA Annual this past June.  It's a book I would plan on reading at the beginning of every school year to talk about finding the perfect seat for reading.  Also good to have the conversation how the perfect seat might change, over time or from location to location!

The Upper Case: Trouble in Capital City
The Upper Case: Trouble in Capital City
written by Tara Lazar
illustrated by Ross MacDonald
Perfect to use with older readers to talk about puns and figurative language.

Double Bass Blues
Double Bass Blues
written by Andrea J. Loney
illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
Since I've been watching the ALA Awards, this is the first time a book was announced in the Caldecott category that I had never even heard of it before.  There are always books that are announced that I have not read (I'm looking at you Geisel and Newbery), but to have never even heard of it was a new occurrence.  
I liked this book, and I think it may grow on me as I use it with readers.  The illustrations are very unique.  Between the bright colors and flowing lines and abstract movements, the illustrations really do seem to be echoing music, which is what the story is all about.
We first see young Nic when he is at school playing his double bass.  He looks to be at a private school since all of the students appear to be in a school uniform.  Based on the compliments he receives, the reader can assume that Nic is a pretty good musician.  Next we see him traveling across town via public transportation.  He seems to be going from a nicer area of town, to a more urban area.  People start making fun of Nic for carrying such a large instrument and he isn't getting the same kind of respect as he does at school.  Finally he arrives at his destination which is a place where his grandfather and grandfather's friends are gathered together to play music.  Again, he is well accepted because of his musical talent.
Sparsely told through onomatopoeia and a minimal amount of text, readers really do have to follow along with what is shown in the illustrations to put the whole story together.  I think this book will leave readers with something to think and talk about.  As I continue to read the book, I keep finding something new in the illustrations.
An interesting choice by the Caldecott committee.  Interesting because this book seems to have been plucked out of obscurity - I don't know too many people who had heard of it much less read it - but this book certainly has more to it than first meets the eye.

Middle Grade

I finished a few e-galleys recently.  You'll have to wait a bit for publication but they are all books to add to your TBR!

What Happens Next
What Happens Next
by Claire Swinarski
I had not heard of this title when I requested it, but I can tell you after reading it, it will appeal to middle grade readers!
Abby is the youngest of three sisters and is slightly obsessed with astronomy.  With the upcoming eclipse, everyone is flocking to her small, vacation town located in Wisconsin.  Good for their family cabin rental business, and it brings Dr. Leo Lacamoire to her town.  Dr. Lacamoire, a renown astronomer, may be the key to help her solve a problem with her oldest sister who is dealing with anorexia.  However, what Dr. Lacamoire wants in return may have Abby sneaking around more than she is willing.
Publishes May 19th

Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices
Once Upon an Eid
edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed
A collection of short stories that celebrates and shares some light on the holiday of Eid.  I am celebrating the fact that it is intended for middle grade audiences.
Publishes May 5th

Black Brother, Black Brother
Black Brother Black Brother
by Jewell Parker Rhodes
This is the first book to go on my 2021 Mock Newbery long list.  Wow, is this a story to be shared.  Two brothers from a multiracial family - one presents as white, the other black.  Both go to a prestigious middle school.  One is celebrated as an athletic hero, the other is blamed for things, often because of the color of his skin.  The book jumps right into the social injustice of this but where it goes from there makes the book unique.  Dante, our main character who is considered the black brother, wants to best the kid who is making his life miserable because of the color of his skin by beating him at fencing, a sport he knows nothing about.  I love how Rhodes integrates the rules, moves, and thought processes of fencing into everyday life.  

And some other middle grade books that I read:

Finding Langston
Finding Langston
by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Yikes, I've owned this book for too long and had not read it yet.  I really enjoyed the trim size of this story.  It got to the point and didn't waste a word.  Also enjoyed that the setting was in Chicago and so many famous wordsmiths from this city were mentioned!
A follow up to this one was recently published and I grabbed it from the library this weekend.  Looking forward to the new perspective this story will bring.

Normal: One Kid's Extraordinary Journey
Normal: One Kid's Extraordinary Journey
written by Magdalena and Nathaniel Newman
I plowed through this book.  It's written by a mother and son and gives a very unique perspective of growing up with Treacher Collins Syndrome.  Nathaniel has been billed as the real "Wonder" kid, since his story echoed the book that we've read and loved.  Nathaniel was about the same age as Auggie when Wonder first published.  The book did so much for him and others with craniofacial issues.  
The story goes back and forth between Nathaniel and his mom, Magda, each giving their own perspective to things.  I really appreciated reading both because as a parent of a child with a physical disability, there was a lot I could relate to.
Because it is #ownvoices, I think people need to sit back, read, and think about what Nathaniel has to say.  So much of what he mentions in the book mirrors things my own daughter has said to me.  And I love the exploration of what is "normal" in this book.
Make sure you add this book to your TBR list and your library!

Young Adult

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, #2)
A Heart So Fierce and Broken
by Brigid Kemmerer
This is the follow up to last year's A Curse So Dark and Lonely.  I absolutely love both books in the series and I'm anxiously waiting the next one.
If you have readers that are looking for romance, but you want it on the cleaner side, daring sword fights, magic, royalty.... then you've got to have this series.  I think it's perfect for middle school readers who are looking for something edgy and for young adult readers who want a great story and fun read.  
I love Sarah Maas' Court series - this reminds me of that series but way more cleaner :)

Currently Reading

by Michelle Obama
I've had to take a quick break from reading to finish up some committee work and to get caught up on some assessment reading.  I think I'll still be wrapping some of that up this week which means Michelle is going to have to wait another week still!  It's taken me this long to read it, I'm sure it will be ok to take a bit longer!!

Hope you have a happy reading week!


  1. I enjoyed Normal, too. I like that it gives a kid's true perspective.

  2. The audio of Becoming is so GOOD - she reads it. Highly recommend the audio! Love the early recommendations. I have heard so much about Black Brother Black Brother and Normal - in my cart! Thanks!

  3. Black Brother Black Brother sounds like an amazing book. Have a great reading week!

  4. I loved The Perfect Seat, will look for the others you've recommended, Michele, especially Normal, What Happens Next & Black Brother, Black Brother. There are so many I want to read, just will be patient to take it a few books at a time! Thanks!

  5. I'm looking forward to the release of What Happens Next. Seeing all these astronomy-based middle grade books is very encouraging. And that cover is so pretty! I think I already mentioned that I loved the audiobook of Becoming -- so beautiful and emotional. And I hope to be jumping on the Brigid Kemmerer wagon soon. Thank you for sharing, Michele!

  6. What a wonderful reading week Michele. I've added some to my want to read list and put holds on others.

  7. I cannot wait to read Normal, mostly after reading your tweet about K. I have Double Bass to read and I want to read Curse #2!

    Happy reading this week :)
    P.S. Miss you!

  8. Loved Becoming, and can't wait to read The Perfect Seat. I have long been a fan of Gus Gordon's art, and teaming with Minh Le is a dream :). It looks adorable!

  9. That is a great reading week. I haven't read A Curse So Dark and Lonely yet but I added it to my list. Normal as well looks interesting and I have been thinking about trying to find The Perfect Seat for a while. I also really loved Black Brother, Black Brother. Thanks for the post!