Monday, January 4, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.04.21

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.

Happy 2021!  I don't think I've ever been so excited for a New Year!  
I took a few weeks off from blogging to enjoy the holidays.  Today's post will catch you up on the books I read that are must reads!   
Over break I took a lot of time to just read.  I had four days of participating in #StayHomeReadMore and that's when I really got a lot of reading time in.  It felt like such a relief to get lost in a book and reclaim my reading identity.  But as Winter Break ended, more and more responsibilities took over reading time.  While it was nice to get a lot of them done, I do want to keep in check my reading time vs having to do EVERYTHING else time.  That's what it was up until Winter Break.  EVERYTHING else got done and reading was often abandoned.  If you remember, a lot of picture books were read, but nothing with chapters.  Now that the holidays are done, I'm looking forward to reclaiming a little more reading time.  But while I acknowledge that, I also know that with reading comes blogging.  And when I blog, that takes away from reading.  Knowing that, I'm guessing my blog posts will be a bit sparse as I get back into the swing of things, and that's ok.
Have you been able to reflect on your reading time and habits lately?  What kind of goals are you giving yourself?

Last Week's Adventures

A reflection on 2020 reading and my #mustreadin2020 goals

PIcture Books

Spring Stinks
Spring Stinks
by Ryan T. Higgins
Only one picture book this week!  But it's a Bruce one, so that makes it all worthwhile!  This is a new format for the Bruce books, it's labeled a "little Bruce book".  Trimmer in size and length, but it does not lack in humor.  It's spring which makes everyone happy, except for one animal.... I'm guessing you don't need me to tell you who.  Ruth, the bunny, goes on to rejoice in all of spring's glorious smells, but Bruce can't find one that makes him happy.  Readers will be happy as they giggle along with Bruce's grumpiness.  This one publishes tomorrow!

Middle Grade

King and the Dragonflies
King and the Dragonflies
by Kacen Callender
This won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for a reason.  It is beautifully written.  You'll be uplifted, you'll feel despair, your heart will break, but it will be put back together.  So well written.  If this doesn't land high on the Newbery committee's decision later this month I'll be very very surprised.

Girl Giant and the Monkey King
Girl Giant and the Monkey King
by Van Hoang
A Vietnamese myth story, told in the vein of Rick Riordan books - kids will love it!  Thom accidentally releases the mischievous Monkey King from his imprisonment.  But rather than it be a bad thing, Thom is hoping the Monkey King can help her be released from her own imprisonment.  She is super strong, doesn't know why she is super strong, but knows it is messing up her social life and she wants it gone!  The reader can quickly figure out she has this power because she probably got it from a god and it's fun to watch Thom go on this self-discovery journey.  Cliffhanger at the end has me excited for book 2!

Framed! (Framed #1)     Vanished! (Framed #2)
Framed! and Vanished!
by James Ponti
These books were on my #mustreadin2020 list.  I remember Kellee Moye celebrating this series and really wanted to get to it.  I've owned them for awhile (put it this way, it's now a trilogy, but book 3 wasn't out when I got book 2 as a hardcover!), just hadn't read them.  It's a really fun mystery and adventure series.  The main character is super smart and ends up working with the FBI on some cases in the DC area.  The first two books take place in famous DC landmarks which makes it even more fun to read about.  Hand this series to kids who enjoyed Kate Messner's Silver Jaguar Society series.

Shaking Up the House
Shaking Up the House
by Yamile Saied Méndez
Another book that takes place in DC, this time in the White House!  It's a time of transition for the White House, as one White House family gets ready to leave and a new family moves in.  Ingrid and Winnie have grown up in the White House for the last 8 years, but their time is ending.  The president-elect's (a female African American!) children, Skylar and Zora, are moving in a little early to help with the transition to a new school.  While they share a house, Ingrid and Winnie decide to welcome them with a friendly prank.  Of course, the prank is taken a bit wrong and an all out Prank War is started!  Will this start a war between the two families, or will a centuries old tradition be seen as something fun?  Readers will really enjoy this kids-eye view of the most famous house in America.  Publishes tomorrow!
Thank you to Edelweiss for the early e-galley.

Echo Mountain
Echo Mountain
by Lauren Wolk
Holy amazing writing.  A Newbery Honor has already been bestowed to Wolk, but I feel like this one blows Wolf Hollow away.  A historical fiction that takes place on Echo Mountain in the northeast, it's a tale about survival, trust, love, and friendship.  I'm still thinking about the characters and wish there was more to read!

Young Adult

Dear Justyce (Dear Martin, #2)
Dear Justyce
by Nic Stone
I thought Dear Martin was powerful, but this one, woah.
I read this one before the #DisruptTexts blowup happened.  But this book is exactly why #DisruptTexts needs to happen.  My daughter is a sophomore in high school.  She has read several whole class novels, and only one was written by a person of color - A Raisin in the Sun.  That play debuted in 1959.  Why is it our high school readers are reading about topics and events from 1959?  They aren't reading the books for the stories.  They are reading them to learn how to write papers and thesis and introduction sentences.  They are reading them to learn how to spot ethos, pathos, and logos.  They are reading them to find literary devices.  They are reading them to argue about characters and themes.  It's not so they are exposed to different cultures and historical times.  So why can't they read books that are pertinent to their own lives today and do those same things?  Because, this book, there's a lot to be said and written and discussed in this book.

Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles, #4.5)
Stars Above
by Marissa Meyer
This was my last #mustreadin2020 title and I was so glad to be back in the Lunar world.  This collection of short stories tied together and gave more background to the characters from the Lunar Chronicles novels.  If you haven't read them, please add them to your TBR pile!


Back to Reality: Christmas in Sunshine Lake
Back to Reality
by Erin Downing
This was such a fun book to read at the start of my #StayHomeReadMore reading binge!  If you love watching The Bachelor, this is a must read for you!  It's light, it's fun, and it will make you want to book a stay in a warm and cozy lodge!

Currently Reading

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying, #1)
One of Us is Lying
by Karen M. McManus
It's so fun!

Not sure if I'll have a post next week.  Busy weekend coming up and I'm holding to not adding to my stress!  But I have lots of posts in my head that will be written soon enough :)  Hoping to at least publish my #mustreadin2021 list this week!


  1. Echo Mountain is absolutely amazing! I read Santa Bruce to some second graders before the break and I couldn't believe that they had not heard any of the other Bruce books. I am looking forward to sharing this new Bruce book with them.

  2. Whew. Definitely a lot of reading. Try not to stress out. Deep breaths. Whatever it is, you can do it! Adults need more people clapping and cheering them on.

  3. I loved Dear Justyce, too, one everyone needs to read & hopefully "get it" why there are so many "injustices" we are still fighting. I agree with you about the books kids still have to read. It's ridiculous! They're reading what I read so many years ago! Thanks for highlighting King and the Dragonflies. I need to read it, too! And the Monkey King book is new to me, sounds great. Finally, yes, Echo Mountain will be soon! Thanks, Michele, hope you do get in more reading as you wrote.

  4. I definitely agree on Dear Justyce. Just wow. I enjoyed McManus's One of Us is Lying and Two Can Keep a Secret, so I suppose I should carve out some time this year to read One of Us Is Next. I just checked to see if Echo Mountain and King and the Dragonflies was available locally and they're BOTH in our college system as well as on Overdrive, so I'm definitely placing those on my reading wish list for 2021. Thanks for a wonderful post, Michele!

  5. The TOAST series was addicting for sure. I love it'll get more popular through word of mouth.

  6. Honestly, I don't think I'll be setting any goals for myself at all this year, after everything that went sideways last year I think I'll just take things day by day this time around! :)

  7. So glad to hear there is a new Bruce book. He is certainly a kid's favorite. I have been hearing a lot about Shaking Up the House so thanks for sharing your thoughts. Since the pandemic, I have given myself grace when it comes to blogging. Depending on the week, writing reviews do not always come easy. I do my best but don't worry if my posts aren't weekly. Hoping I remember this nugget of wisdom throughout the year.

  8. Keeping up blogging, reading, and having a life all at once is certainly difficult for me (many blog posts of mine get written after it is pitch-black outside), so I can definitely relate to your struggles! I really need to try some of Kacen Callender's books, and King and the Dragonflies sounds like a good place to start! I finally got a copy of Dear Martin that I'll read soon, so I'll keep Dear Justyce in mind to read next! Echo Mountain also sounds great! Thanks for the wonderful post!

  9. I probably should have added Echo Mountain to my must read list for this year, but... I just discovered that my library has it as an audiobook so based on your remarks here, I put a hold on it. I have the James Ponti books on my library for later shelf, so maybe I will get to them.
    I enjoyed this Marissa Meyer series and was happy to learn about all the characters' back stories in this book.

  10. Waaay behind with my reading this year due to the pandemic and our move, but I LOVED Echo Mountain too--such a lovely book!

  11. I need a list of great middle grade and young adult books to read. I think I have a great start if I just look at this post and make a list from these. Thank you for sharing! That mystery series especially piqued my interest.