Monday, May 18, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5.18.2020

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.

You'll notice a new look to the blog!  While trying to make some font changes, my entire background theme was erased and I have zero ideas how to get that back!  Ahhhh!  So, we started from something new.  Hope you like it!
This is also two weeks of reading.  It was nice to catch up just a bit!

Last Week's Adventures

I posted "2020 Favorites".  This was the first update, I'll have two more updates throughout the year.

This picture book is perfect for readers who are starting to read independently.  Giveaway is still open!

Picture Books

Southwest Sunrise
Southwest Sunrise
written by Nikki Grimes
illustrated by Wendell Minor
A wonderful mentor text for descriptive writing.
Many grades also teach the regions of the United States.  Would be good to use to talk about the beauty in different parts of our country.
As someone who loves the southwest, I loved seeing things that are known for that region!

Ellie Makes a Friend
Ellie Makes a Friend
by Mike Wu
Ellie, the artistic zoo elephant, is back in a new creative story.  Ping is a panda from China that has just moved to Ellie's zoo.  Ping is also artistic, although her art differs from Ellie's.  At first Ellie is wary of Ping, but as Ellie's friends help her curb her initial jealous feelings and learn more about Ping, Ellie slowly makes a new friend.  Add to your SEL libraries to talk about jealousy and making new friends.

Bo the Brave
Bo the Brave
by Bethan Woollvin
Not quite a fractured fairy tale, although it reads and feels like a fairy tale!  Our fearless main character is out to prove to her older siblings that she has what it takes to capture a monster.  However, once she meets the different monsters, she gains true perspective about really understanding what a monster is.

Brick by Brick
Brick by Brick
by Heidi Woodward Sheffield
Love this book!  I first came across it in Betsy Bird's spring Caldecott guesses and I can see why she put in there.  Gorgeous artwork created through photographs, digital painting, and collage convey the spirit of lovingly putting pieces together to create something.  Mixed in with spanish phrases, the reader sees young Luis' and his love for his Papi, who is creating buildings, brick by brick.  Luis is busy at school learning book by book, but the real magic happens at the end of the book when Luis gets a big surprise!

Swashby and the Sea
Swashby and the Sea
written by Beth Ferry
illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Love this gorgeous book!  
Sometimes you find kindness and family when you're least expecting it.  Sometimes you need a little nudge from a friend to spot it.
That's what happens to old Captain Swashby when he's uses to living in his set waves but a new family moves in next door.

written by Minh Lê
illustrated by Dan Santat
When these two get together for a book it's nothing but magic.
I didn't really know much about this book before starting it and I'm glad I didn't.  I'm going to do the same for you.  Just tell you to get it and read it.  You'll be glad you did.
Oh, and I can't wait to have conversations with young readers about this book and what their idea of "lift" is.

Graphic Novels

Nat Enough (Nat Enough #1)
Nat Enough
by Maria Scrivan
This book is going to be well loved by middle grade readers.  With themes of friendship and fitting in, kids will relate.  
We've seen the story before - an awkward character loses her best friend to someone else, someone more "cool" and popular and the character just wants the friend back.  It bothered me how much the main character held on to this friend and being so mistreated.  The resolution came quickly and a little too clean.

The Crossover
The Crossover (graphic novel adaptation)
written by Kwame Alexander
illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile
I loved this novel in verse that won the Newbery Award.
Not as big of a fan of the graphic novel.  
For some readers, the graphic novel will be more accessible than the novel in verse.  This graphic novel is different from the traditional one in that there aren't the typical frames you see in a graphic novel.  This allows the words to flow similar to how they do in the novel in verse, but for some readers, it is going to be confusing to know who is doing the talking when there are multiple characters on a page and no speech bubbles.  It doesn't differ too much from the novel, but when you have a reader who relies heavily on the visual components, I can see this being tricky.

Middle Grade

We Dream of Space
We Dream of Space
by Erin Entrada Kelly
I feel like this is Kelly's best... so far!  It's not a happy novel, but the way she digs into the characters' emotions is so fantastically written.
We meet three siblings and while each chapter is written from a different perspective, we come to know them as individuals and understand how their dysfunctional family life is woven together.  It all takes place around the time of the Challenger disaster, which comes as everything in their family has slowly unraveled.
I recognized so many 80s references, or as the kids say, the 1900s...  I'm sure many of them will go over kids' heads, but it does add to the setting.
If you're thinking about Mock Newbery, this is one to pay attention to.

What Stars Are Made of
What Stars Are Made Of
by Sarah Allen
I'm really glad to see more disability in kidlit titles being published.  Our MC, Libby, has Turner's Syndrome, which means she was born without a second X/Y chromosome.  She has other challenges that come along with it, like a chin that causes the mean kid to call her FrankinChin, and she has to give herself shots of growth hormones to keep her growing and not being too short.  She also will not be able to have kids when she matures.  She also is diagnosed with a learning disability that explains why she has trouble understanding social skills.  And while these are all things that she lives with, there is so much to her.  Like her knowledge and desire to know all the scientific facts around her.  And how much she loves her family.  And how she might actually get her first real friend. 
Libby has a big plan that she needs to put into action.  She wants to win a contest that is sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute that shines the spotlight on famous women in STEM.  The grand prize will be enough for Libby to be able to help her older sister and brother-in-law who are pregnant with Libby's first niece.  If she works hard and listens to the help of a friend, maybe she'll be able to win.
A heartfelt story.

Young Adult

Ruin and Rising (Shadow and Bone, #3)
Ruin and Rising
by Leigh Bardugo
The conclusion to the GrishaVerse trilogy did not disappoint.  I loved the fusion of fantasy and this made-up world that has flavors of Russian in it.  Just like the second book of the series, the action starts in chapter one and doesn't stop until the conclusion.
I can't wait to see how the stories come to life in the Netflix series. No word on when it drops, but you know I'll be there watching! 

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Grishaverse, #0.5, 2.5, 2.6)
The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
written by Leigh Bardugo
illustrated by Sara Kipin
As you know, I loved the GrishaVerse trilogy and there were two short stories included at the end of two of the books.  Both stories gave background on two characters.  I love learning a little bit more about them.  I was excited to start this one but it didn't do it for me.  They weren't about the characters, instead reimagined short stories, some with familiar storybook characters.  However, Bardugo gives her own twist, reimagining them to fit the GrishaVerse world.

I'll Be the One (I'll Be the One, #1)
I'll Be the One
by Lyla Lee
This one publishes in June.  I can see a lot of teens enjoying this one.  It has a great infusion of K-pop and positive boy image.
Skye is auditioning for a dance/singing competition show that is similar to an American Idol except this one comes with a trip to Korea since it has a K-pop vibe.  Skye tries out for both the singing and dancing portion, even though it disappoints her mom who feels like since Skye is a plus-sized teen, she should not be seen on television.  Skye fights for her right to be there with a judge and other contestants.  She makes friends with other contestants, including a popular model who may just be a love interest.
Fun, positive, and looks like it will be a series, I will enjoy watching what happens to Skye!
Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss.

Currently Reading

Genesis Begins Again
Genesis Begins Again
by Alicia D. Williams
The voice in this one is outstanding.

I got 15 pots planted on Saturday and then spent Sunday inside while it poured all day.  Looking forward to reading on the patio this summer!


  1. Love the new blog look! Added a few to my pile -- especially We Dream of Space, I was looking for my next middle grade read. Thank you (and thanks for your feedback and help with virtual bookroom.)

  2. I don't know much about Lift other than it's a combination picture book/graphic novel, but I have a copy on the way so I'll be reading it soon.

  3. Your new blog layout is beautiful, Michele! What a fantastic accident!! Brick by Brick is new to me, but I'm adding it to my list after reading your thoughts. I have We Dream of Space on hold, but they're saying approximately 6 weeks. Hopefully it'll be sooner! Thanks for the shares.

  4. I, too, think your 'mistake' in the blog layout turned out beautifully, Michele! As for the books, so many for my list & those already on it, like Life. I am missing my library a bunch! I love the description of Brick by Brick but at first was confused because a book by that same title came out a few years ago, about the building of the White House. This new one sounds lovely. I love the idea of Swashby and the Sea! Thanks, Michele!

  5. This is quite a list of books this week. I am really looking forward to Lift. I know someone that ordered it and will let me take a look. I added Swashby and the Sea and Ellie Makes a Friend. There are a few others that look great too. I agreed with what you wrote about What Stars are Made of, thanks for the post and enjoyed the new look!

  6. What an awesome list of books! I've finished all the picture books in my pile that I checked out before the library closed. I'm ready to trade them in for new ones, so I hope they hurry up and open! Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

  7. I LOVE how the blog looks now! Both the new font and the new colors are awesome—the colors remind me of the ocean and sand, which is excellent! I've heard about What Stars Are Made Of, and your thoughts make me want to try it! I'll Be the One sounds great as well, and I'm interested to hear your thoughts on Genesis Begins Again—I just bought a copy, and I've heard no praise about it except the Newbery Honor (I wonder why that is). Thanks for the great post!

  8. I love the texture in the new blog.
    I'm excited about Bo the Brave. I love Bethan Woollvin's take on fairy tales. Your review has convinced me that I must read What Stars Are Made Of.
    I'm going to have to start Leigh Bardugo's GrishaVerse trilogy because I adored Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.
    Thanks so much for the information on all these books.

  9. So many good books this week! Where do I even begin? I can't wait to read Lift and Bo the Brave. I love Bethan Woolvin's feminist message in her picture books so she's become one of my "read without knowing what the book is about" authors.

  10. I reviewed BRICK BY BRICK this week too and plan to read it aloud live tomorrow to a second grade class. Loved the gorgeous illustrations and the themes. Thanks for letting me know about a new Ellie. Loved that little elephant!