Monday, November 30, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11.30.2020

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

I celebrated graphic novels!  Did you see all of the posts?

And I celebrated a new poetry anthology - Friends and Anemones 

Picture Books

I Want to Sleep Under the Stars! (Unlimited Squirrels, #3)
Unlimited Squirrels in I Want to Sleep Under the Stars 
by Mo Willems
While this book is probably my favorite in the series, I have to say it's not my favorite Mo Willems series.  It gets read because it's a Mo Willems book, but there is so much going on in these early chapter books, I think it can be overwhelming for young readers.
I like the story of this one - the squirrel friends keep misunderstanding exactly what their friend wants, but eventually not only get it right, but make a wish happen for their friend.  I don't love all the extras that come along with the story.  If it had ended once the story was over, I think it would be a better and stronger children's book.

The Ninth Night of Hanukkah
The Ninth Night of Hanukkah
written by Erica S. Perl
illustrated by Shahar Kober
I loved this Hanukkah story that celebrates the power people have of looking for joy within each other and finding ways to celebrate that.
There are so many traditions that surround holidays and those traditions bring happiness and a real sense of that holiday, regardless of the holiday being celebrated.  But sometimes, especially when things go differently than planned, it's ok to look beyond those traditions and celebrate it in a way that still brings joy to the holiday.  This book is perfect for that message.

I Am the Storm
I Am The Storm
written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple
illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell
Storms can be scary and this book acknowledges that and also reminds readers that storms eventually leave.  And while there is clean up involved, communities work together and life goes on and is celebrated.  I like that the story also reminds young readers they are strong too, which may give a young reader just enough courage to fight some fear.
There is some brief backmatter about the storms and wildfires that are mentioned in the story to give additional information.

The Most Beautiful Thing
The Most Beautiful Thing
written by Kao Kalia Yang
illustrated by Khoa Le
The relationships we have with our grandparents are special and treasured.  The knowledge that is passed down from grandparent to grandchild is different, almost more important, than what we learn from our parents.  There is a reverence to their knowledge that makes it all the more special.  Grandparents also have a way of explaining things that make sense to young children.
This is the case for young Kalia.  She lives with her grandmother and in the Hmong tradition, has a special task of caring for her grandmother.  While spending time and taking care of her, Kalia learns of not only stories about her grandmother growing up, but also lessons that she takes to heart.

Ten Ways to Hear Snow
Ten Ways to Hear Snow
written by Cathy Camper
illustrated by Kenard Pak
This was the week of grandparent/grandchild relationship stories!  And this is another must have!  Young readers who live in areas of big snows will surely relate to the idea of snow, something that seems to be quiet and noise-free as something can get, actually has many different sounds.  Young Lina is headed to her grandmother's assisted living home to help her make some food, but she has to walk through a lot of snow to get there.  Along the way, Lina figures out many ways to hear snow, but the final way is told to her by her grandmother.

Middle Grade

by Cynthia Kadohata
Oh, I had so much hope for this one.  The book is a smaller, trim size and it's about a girl and her relationship with an orphaned pig.  I thought it was going to appeal to my heartstrings like Because of Winn Dixie.  It did at first, but then it didn't.  
Young Becca, the only girl in a set of quadruplets, is looking for her thing, what she is known for amongst her siblings.  When she finds Saucy, a young piglet who doesn't look like she will survive the night, Becca knows that this is what she can do - she can love and save this little pig.  And that she does!  But Saucy gets her name honestly as she gets into and destroys so many things, Becca has to keep a list of everything she needs to replace one day.  But the day she bites Becca's mom ends up being a bit too much and Saucy has to go to the pig sanctuary earlier than originally promised.  If the book had cut off right around here, it still would have been a sweet book.  But then it takes a turn and several more events happen and are wrapped up in a matter of chapters.  It becomes a whirlwind, that while a reader will be able to follow it, felt unnecessary and rushed.  The ending gets wrapped up just as fast all of these new events happen.

American as Paneer Pie
American as Paneer Pie
by Supriya Kelkar
Yes yes yes to this middle grade.  Stories like these are exactly what we need for our middle grade readers.  Stories that lay out the microaggressions that marginalized cultures deal with all the time by white people.  The more kids understand how their words affect others, the more we're building a new, kinder, and more understanding generation of citizens.
I love that Kelkar includes swimming as a sport that the main character excels in.  I know my daughter would have loved reading this when she was younger.  And I love that this book mentions several Hindu celebrations including Diwali.  
Be sure to have this middle grade novel in your classroom libraries and be sure to book talk it like crazy!  Get it into readers' hands!

Currently Reading

A Place at the Table
A Place at the Table
by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shoven

I thought I would have more time over the Thanksgiving Break to read, but as always, Christmas traditions kept me busy!  All at home, but that's is ok!  Hope you find time to snuggle under a warm blanket and read!


  1. I loved A Place at the Table, hope you do, too, Michele! I really want to read Ten Ways to Hear Snow & The Most Beautiful Thing is one I hadn't heard of, so thanks for that. I have Paneer Pie on my list, sounds like one to read soon! Thanks for every one you shared!

  2. Even though I loved Kadohata's Checked, I felt the same way about Saucy. Paneer Pie was fantastic, as was A Place at the Table. Maybe I just really like books about food. I may have to snuggle under a warm blanket just to work remotely today. Brr!

  3. I have added The Most Beautiful Thing and Ten Ways to Hear Snow to my list. I love Grandparents books. I always did, because I adored my own Grandmothers, but now that I have become one, I love them even more.
    While reading your remarks about American as Paneer Pie I made the connection to a Canadian title published a while ago, A Group of One by Rachna Gilmore. I wish the term microaggressions had been in my vocabulary then.
    Thanks for sharing these books today.

  4. WOW- you've been busy reading. I added lots to my TBR list - thank you!! Thinking that Nana Akua Goes to School could be added to your Grandparent text set. I am excited to read The Most Beautiful Thing and Ten Ways to Hear the Snow. Thanks!

  5. I love this post! I'm especially excited about books surrounding Hanukkah for next week's reading. Thanks! Happy Holidays!

  6. These books sound great! The Ninth Night of Hanukkah sounds like a great picture book—I think we all need to recognize that holidays will never actually go as perfectly as it seems like everyone else's do. Ten Ways to Hear Snow sounds great as well, as does American as Paneer Pie! It's a shame that Saucy has a weird ending (I feel like a lot of books fall apart right at the end, but I wouldn't expect that from Cynthia Kadohata). I'm hoping to get a copy of A Place at the Table soon—I feel like the only person who still hasn't read it! Thanks for the great post!

  7. For some reason I felt I was being oversaturated with new early reader series so I've been avoiding them for some reason even if they're by authors I like.

  8. Ten Ways to Hear Snow sounds so unique -- and it's completely new to me. I'm adding it to my list and I'll have to get a copy of this one. Thank you for all these shares, Michele!

  9. YAY graphic novels!!! They are truly what I am focusing on getting for my library--they are reader magnets!
    Just got Trent the newest Mo book from B&N signed for Christmas--I cannot wait to give it to him!
    Happy reading this week! :)