Monday, October 26, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10.26.2020

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

Sharing some political nonfiction picture books here.

Books to use with 1st-3rd grade for central message.

Picture Books

Our Favorite Day of the Year
Our Favorite Day of the Year
written by A.E. Ali
illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell
A young class celebrates different favorite days (holidays) throughout the year.  Good to see different holidays being explored in a picture book.

Out the Door
Out the Door
by Christy Hale
From the author who gave us Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World, now she gives us a deceptively simple story of a girl and father on their way through New York City to school.  The book is told entirely through prepositional phrases, which are important for our youngest readers to understand (locational words such as beyond, below, amid, through), yet still has a storyline through the illustrations.  I love how her route is reversed at the end of the story - so clever!

Sullivan, Who Is Always Too Loud
Sullivan Who is Always Too Loud
written by Micol Ostow
illustrated by Brian Biggs
I'm still thinking about this one.
On the one hand, it's a very realistic portrayal of an ADD child.  A child who has trouble regulating noise, whether it be their voice or with whatever they are playing with.  The noise that is created can be jarring to the people around them and inappropriate based on whatever is happening.  Usually it is not done to be bothersome, but something that is hard for the child to control.
Sullivan is one of those kids.  And when he tries to hold his noise inside him, it's like bubbles are forming inside until they just have to release.  I think kids are going to relate to Sullivan.  It is a realistic portrayal and there are situations shown that are uncomfortable - for example when he visibly startles a neighbor and makes the neighbor upset.
By the end, Sullivan is shown using his loud voice in a positive way and the teacher recognizes this situation.  It's realistic that he hasn't figured out how to regulate this forever.  It's just one time, with the teacher and Sullivan, recognizing "it's a start".
I think what doesn't feel right is there is just one time that Sullivan does "the right thing".  He's not "cured" and honestly, that is the realistic portrayal of this.  I think if he figured it all out for the rest of his life, it would have been completely unrealistic.  Maybe it's that Sullivan is always drawn with a huge mouth open every time he is too loud.  The caricature seems more obnoxious than it needs to be?
I'll be interested hearing more thoughts about this one!

Unicorns Are the Worst!
Unicorns Are the Worst!
by Alex Willan
I heard about this one from Kellee Moye, at Unleashing Readers.  It wasn't at my library and she raved about it, so I went ahead and purchased.  Yup, love it.  So fun.  Goblin has a long list as to why unicorns are the worst.  But it's really about perspective, isn't it?  Use it with Bob Shea's Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great.  Both books are pretty great!

Where Is Our Library? (A Story of Patience & Fortitude, #2)
Where Is Our Library?
written by Josh Funk
illustrated by Stevie Lewis
The second book in the "Patience and Fortitude" series (the lion statues outside of the New York Public Library, 5th Street entrance) has the lions searching for one of their very favorite spots - the Children's Section of the library!  It seems to have disappeared.  The lions go on a literary tour of some famous New York City sites to get advice from some literary characters.  The story takes them through numerous branches of the New York Public Library system with some cameos of well-known book covers. 
I enjoyed this book even more than the first one.  It was fun visiting New York City with a literary tour!
Publishes tomorrow!

The Runaway Belly Button
The Runaway Belly Button
written by John Flannery
illustrated by Mika Song
Kids love body parts.  They are funny and weird and reading about a belly button is just that.  This book will for sure get giggles from young readers as they read about a belly button, who is tired of not being effectively cleaned while in the bath, and runs away.  The book ends with another page that will get even more laughter as it eludes to another body part that doesn't get cleaned, as the character is shown looking over her shoulder.
I was kind of creeped out by this circle running around town with some strings on the top of her head.  I'm guessing most young readers will just assume it's hair but I couldn't help but think of belly button lint and that just made me gag a bit....  I'm thinking it will affect me more than a young reader, lol.

A New Green Day
A New Green Day
by Antoinette Portis
Sometimes I buy a book without really knowing anything about it and then I'm so excited to find that I LOVE the book.  Yay, lucky purchase!
That's how it is with Portis' new book.  I've enjoyed so many of her previous books and this one that is full of riddles and metaphors will delight young readers as they guess what comes next in this young girl's day.

Middle Grade

A Thousand Questions
A Thousand Questions
by Saadia Faruqi
LOVED this book!  Faruqi has easily entered onto the MG scene with two books this fall and proves that she can write for a variety of ages.  While I love her Yasmin books, I also love her voice meant for just a little older audience.  
This story introduces us to Sakina, who lives in Pakistan with her family and must work instead of attend school in order to help her family with money.  And we meet Mimi, who is travelling to Pakistan with her mother to visit her grandparents.  Her grandparents live in a wealthy area of Pakistan, and you guessed it, is the home that Mimi and her father work.  Sakina and Mimi are the same age but come from very different backgrounds.  However, though conversation and a willingness to listen to each other, the girls find common ground and help each other (imagine if that's what the adults of the world did...).
The chapters are told in alternating voices and the reader is able to see how each girl thinks about their situation and the world around them.  
Make sure you have this #ownvoices novel in your collection.

A Whale of the Wild
A Whale of the Wild
by Rosanne Parry
By the author of A Wolf Called Wander, we meet two sibling orca whales in this beautifully illustrated novel (Lindsay Moore, Sea Bear) who are on a quest to be reunited with their family after a natural disaster has separated them.  Just like Parry did in Wander, the story is told in the voice of the whales so all perspective is that of this wild animal.  We see how an orca whale views its habitat, feeding patterns, and family circle and habits.  This gives the reader a unique perspective and understanding of the animal.  
The beautiful illustrations enhance the story and will draw in readers who love visuals.  The novel is told in the voice of a brother and sister orca whale and the chapters go back and forth between them.  However, it's not always every other chapter, sometimes the sister has two or three chapters before we hear from the brother.  That would be fine, but the chapters are not labeled with who is doing the talking.  The reader has to be aware of that and to know to look for clues, such as the exact setting or other characters who may be in the scene.  I can see this being confusing for young readers who are not as adept at noticing those details.

The Silver Arrow
The Silver Arrow 
by Lev Grossman
The first MG title for Grossman and it's one I really enjoyed.  I have seen this on some Mock lists and "best of" lists which made me curious about it.  
The first thing I noticed after picking it up from the library was its trim size.  Smaller than the typical MG novel, shorter (just over 250 pages), and full of illustrations, this book will appeal to readers who are still working on their stamina for longer texts.
A fantasy novel (talking animals) that is firmly planted in some realities (I laughed at some of the comments the characters make, sounds just like some students I know), this book kept me turning the pages.  It's a quiet adventure - I wasn't holding my breath - but the brother and sister are on a quest and it's not until later in the book that you find the bigger, global picture of their quest.
This book was a library borrow that became a purchase!

Currently Reading

Fleabrain Loves Franny
Fleabrain Loves Franny
by Joanne Rocklin
This was on my #mustreadin2020 list.  Usually I am so glad I have the list to get me to read the books but this one is starting out super slow.  Hoping I get the chance to fall into it a bit this week.

Happy happy reading!


  1. A Thousand Questions sounds great. I am hoping it's available at my library soon.

  2. I have A Thousand Questions from NetGalley, hoping to read soon! I enjoyed your reviews of different books, Michele, like Sullivan who is always too loud & A Whale of the Wild, good points! I am looking forward to the new one by Josh Funk. I loved the first one! Have a nice week!

  3. Out the Door sounds really good. And I can't help but giggle over your comments on The Runaway Belly Button!! lol I just finished A Place at the Table and I'm looking forward to A Thousand Questions. I hope Fleabrain Loves Franny picks up for you. Thanks for all these shares, Michele!

  4. Just ordered A Thousand Questions - thank you. I also appreciate how you are reading with a critical lens and sharing your questions/lingering concerns with us. I have to think more about doing that ... you are serving as a good mentor for me.

  5. These books sound wonderful! About Sullivan Who is Always Too Loud: I've definitely read books where something bothers me but I can't quite put my finger on it, so I appreciate you being honest about that one! A Thousand Questions sounds excellent—I had no idea both of Faruqi's MG books came out this fall! (What an exciting time for her!) I'm sorry Fleabrain Loves Franny isn't living up to expectations—that's super-frustrating! Thanks for the great post!

  6. Out the Door sounds appealing. Lots of good reviews!