Monday, February 22, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.22.21

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.

Last Week's Adventures

Don't miss this gorgeously told middle grade novel featuring a quest all about hope.

Picture Books

Time for Kenny
Time for Kenny
by Brian Pinkney
A picture book, early reader.  This story is split into four sections that tell about Kenny's day.  The sections are split by a brightly colored page, but I wish it looked more like chapters to really signify to young readers they were moving on to a different section.  Adding this to my potential Mock Geisel list.

I Dream of Popo
I Dream of Popo
written by Livia Blackburne
illustrated by Julia Kuo
A beautiful story about the love between generations.  It's an immigration story about learning new languages and gaining new traditions but remembering familiar words and customs.  

My Friend!
My Friend!
written by Taye Diggs
illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Another book about black joy!  Check your picture books that have black people in them - if they are all about civil rights and being suppressed, guess what?  Black people have joy too!  Make sure you have books that show this too!  This is a perfect one to add because it's a rhyming story about friendship and helping each other out.

The Sea Knows
The Sea Knows
written by Alice B. McGinty and Alan B. Havis
illustrated by Stephanie Laberis
Perfect book for introducing the ocean biome!  Showing a wealth of opposites, readers are introduced to the many different facets of the sea.  Illustrated by the talented Stephanie Laberis, I loved the wide variety of colors that were used in the illustrations.

Bear Island
Bear Island
by Matthew Cordell
A beautiful book about grief and healing.  
I have read through this book a few times and I have fallen more and more in love with it.  Grieving is hard.  Especially when there are no words to fill this enormous hole.  But compassion can be found in different places along the way, even when we aren't looking for it.  Healing ebbs and flows and certainly takes its time.  All of this is magically captured by Cordell in this book.  It's a must have.

The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable
The Tale of the Mandarin Duck: A Modern Fable
written by Bette Midler
photographs by Michiko Kakutani
illustrated by Joana Avillez
This one took me by surprise.  When you find celebrity authored books, I'm often a bit wary (although as I've found out, most of them are ghost written by authors we know and love).  But this one is perfect for today and it's based on an animal that became quite famous in the New York City area!  The story is about how before the smartphone, people communicated with each other when we were face to face.  But now, everyone just has their face stuck to their phones, we seem to be missing so many missed opportunities of actual communication.  Until, a fancy duck - a mandarin duck - came to NYC and reminded people to put their phones down and talk to each other.  Based on actual occurrences, this story reminds us to look at our surroundings, take them in, and not to lose sight of what's around us.

Middle Grade

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
Ancestors Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
short stories written by Native American authors representing numerous tribes
edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Loved this collection of short stories for middle grade readers.  Each story is connected by an intertribal powwow that is being held in Ann Arbor, MI.  Tribes come from all over to participate in the powwow and dancing and sell merchandise and food.  Readers will meet a variety of kids and families.  Readers will learn new vocabulary from the different languages spoken by tribes.  Readers will gain an understanding of customs and traditions that are specific to tribes, but also things that are in common between them.  I always loved when an item or a character from one story was seen again in another story.  
Whether a reader approaches this book just a few stories at a time, or reads it cover to cover, the reader will walk away with understanding and appreciation for different tribes and their powwows.

by Lisa Fipps
This beautiful novel in verse is one of the most important books about self-image I have ever read.  
Ellie is the youngest child in her family.  She loves to swim and she has a way with words.  She is a kind friend who loves spending time just hanging out with a close friend.
Unfortunately what Ellie is known for is her size.  She's bullied at school.  People in public come up to her and let her know how large she is.  And worst yet, she's bullied at home by her mom and siblings.
But Ellie starts to see a therapist who makes Ellie think about herself in a new light.  There were so many sentences the therapist said that made me want to write them down and plaster them in social settings.
As I said on Twitter, I have a few books that I keep in my collection because they are life changing.  This is one I will keep because it is life affirming.  I hope every middle school child has the opportunity to read this one.

Currently Reading

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)
The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S.
by David Levithan
Just starting this one!

Happy reading!


  1. Thanks, Michelle--I found three picture book titles to add to my reserve list :>)

  2. I'm really looking forward to reading STARFISH by Lisa Fipps! Not only because of the subject matter, but because it's a novel in verse.

  3. I have Bear Island & too many other titles keep me from reading. I saw your sharing of Starfish on twitter, have bookmarked it & put it on hold, too. People need to keep their mouths shut sometimes! Thanks for the others, too, Michele! I liked hearing about the Midler book, was going to skip it!

  4. Starfish sounds great! I'll have to request it from my library.

  5. Don't you just LOVE Aidan and Lucas? I just finished that one. So good! I have so many of these on my TBR list! I have to get to the list again soon. I'm not staying on track like I should. (I just ordered Bear Island and I cannot wait to receive it!) Happy Week of Reading!

  6. I will definitely look for Starfish. Ancestor Approved is sooo good. :) I'll be looking for many of these picture books too. Thanks!

  7. What a great set of books! I really want to read Ancestors Approved, but I'm trying to read some more books off my shelf before I buy even more. I'll put it on my list, though! I think I'll try to get Starfish read as well—I didn't know it was a novel in verse. I looked at your review of Brave in the Woods, and it sounds fantastic as well! Thanks for the great post!

  8. If I'm not mistaken, ALL of your picture books are new to me. And WOW do you sell Starfish with that first line of your comments. Today while I was working in my kitchen, I needed an audiobook to listen to and I just started Ancestors Approved. Really enjoying it so far!

    Thank you for sharing your experience with shelving (in the comments). I really appreciate it! And YES on the varied experiences across Texas -- some never lost power and did just fine while others were utterly terrified with no access to heat, food, or water. Even my siblings' experiences were quite different - while both my brothers had their pipes freeze, only one of them had them burst and destroy an important section of their home. And now comes the dreaded price gouging from energy companies. Ugh! Anyway, thanks so much for the wonderful shares, Michele!

  9. Thanks for sharing this list of books today. Ancestors Approved has been on my want to read list for ages. Today, because of your review here, I checked and see that my library has it on order.
    Thanks so much for reviewing Starfish today. I've added it to my list. Our society's focus on thin drives me nuts.

  10. I had put The Tale of the Mandarin Duck on hold at the library and am waiting for it. Wasn't sure what to expect, but definitely curious about it. I can't wait to read Starfish!