Monday, April 5, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 4.05.21

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

Building middle grade reading stamina with these books, part 1

Nonfiction picture books about athletes!

Picture Books

written by Jennifer Ward
illustrated by Lisa Congdon
In just short phrases on each page, Ward gives us a new perspective of nature as she explores the concept of being round in nature.  While not necessarily round as a perfect circle or sphere, but the idea of it, readers gain a new perspective in the living things around them.  In the author's note on the title layout, Ward even challenges readers to find types of round in layouts, such as arched, curled, looped.  I do wish there was backmatter that gave a little more information about each page (similar to what you find in a Robin Page or April Pulley Sayre book).

The Duck Who Didn't Like Water
The Duck Who Didn't Like Water
by Steve Small
I thought this was going to be about accepting differences in others, or even casting stereotypes, but it actually was a friendship story, and how sometimes for friends you go outside your box, just a little bit.  Duck and Frog accidentally find each other, but their difference of their opinion on water keeps them apart, until Duck comes up with a new plan.

Perfect Pigeons
Perfect Pigeons
by Katherine Battersby
Young readers will easily understand the central message of staying true to yourself and it's ok to not be the same as everyone else.  Pair with Tacky the Penguin.

The Little Library by Margaret McNamara: 9780525578338 | Books
The Little Library
written by Margaret McNamara
illustrated by G. Brian Karas
The kids of Mr. Tiffin's class are back!  This time they are headed to the newly opened school library.  There they meet Librarian Beck who knows just how to watch for kids' interests and find books for them.  This is particularly important for young Jake, who views himself as a slow, yet careful reader.  Because of how long it takes him to read, he doesn't necessarily enjoy it as much as his classmates.  That's all about to change when Librarian Beck sees Jake noticing the craftsmanship of the bookcases and hands him a book about wood making.  It's a book that Jake cherishes the entire school year but is very disappointed when he finds out he has to return it at the end of the school year, before he has finished it.  But it sparks a thought for young Jake as he uses his newly acquired knowledge to build a Little Free Library for his classmates to use while the school is closed for summer.

Meesha Makes Friends
Meesha Makes Friends
by Tom Percival
Part of the "Big Bright Feelings" book series.  Percival has written several others that gives kids the tools for when they have to figure out feelings and navigate tough kid-problems.  This one features Meesha who is shy and would prefer to be alone with the friends she has created.  Other kids are loud, noisy, and don't do things the way she wants to do them.  But that changes when she meets Josh who enjoys similar things as Meesha.  He even helps bring her out of her comfort zone a bit and gets her to interact with other kids.
While a bit didactic, this series also gives young readers the words that are sometimes needed to help solve a problem.

The Farmer and the Circus
The Farmer and the Circus
by Marla Frazee
In 2014, a wordless picture book called The Farmer and the Clown came into our lives.  It was hugely popular, with readers who are not clown enthusiasts (me included) falling in love with the little clown.  It was a heartwarming story with a farmer finding it in his heart to help a young clown who had been separated from his family.  Then last year, we got a sequel and found out it was actually going to be a trilogy.  The Farmer and the Monkey started right where the previous book left off.  The farmer was returning home, but unbeknownst to him, a circus monkey followed him home.  This was a book I could not recommend due to the racist stereotypes that were depicted with the circus monkey.  Now we have the final book in the trilogy.  At its heart, is a story about families and how we can make our own families that are made up of people... or animals... that love each other.  The story is sweet and has a good message.   And while some of the racist stereotypes surrounding the monkey in the second book are not depicted in this one, it still has the clothing and drum that can be seen as stereotypical.  I know using a traveling circus is an important part of this story which lead to the use of a monkey as a character.  Just think that should have been thought through a little more.

Middle Grade

Golden Gate (City Spies, #2)
City Spies: Golden Gate
by James Ponti
If you've held off reading this series, you really want to correct that.  If you don't read it the second it comes through your hands, you will never see it.  Kids love this series and it's understandable.  It's fast.  It's full of adventure, mystery, and suspense.  It's heartwarming.  And the kids are spies.  
In the second book of the series, the adventure takes the City Spies kids all over the globe, but ending up in San Francisco.  There are multiple mysteries to solve in order to get one big mystery to be understood.  One of the unfinished mysteries from book one is further explored in this one.  
I think I loved this one even more than the first book, and that is rare.  
It would be best if you could get multiple copies of the books in this series.  Your hold list will be long!

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1)
Amari and the Night Brothers
by B.B. Alston
I was so grateful for time on Saturday to binge read this book!  I had gotten about halfway through, but with school starting back up after Spring Break, my reading had screeched to a halt.  This is a book that warrants some binge reading!  There is a lot going on in this book.  When I was reading it slowly, I found myself going back and rereading and checking on things I had easily forgotten.  Once I got into the swing of it, it was hard to put down!
Amari has been invited, by her missing brother, to try out for the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs.  Her perfect brother, Quinton, had been working on a secret project when he went missing, and by joining the Bureau, maybe Amari can discover what happened.  
Amari lives in low income housing and knows she has to work hard to try and find a future for herself.  Things have not been going well for her at her school, but maybe being a part of this special place, just maybe she'll find more of her own identity.  Little does she know that there are some hidden parts of her that she was not even aware of.
Wonderful fantasy that has a Black female character who is going to be a mighty force to reckon with!  For the reader who enjoys some magic, lots of adventure and mystery, and series, this is a new one to enjoy!  Already looking forward to book 2.  

Currently Reading

Love Is a Revolution
Love is a Revolution
by Renée Watson

As always, happy reading this week!


  1. Oh, I absolutely adored AMARI. Such a great read! And I'm also looking forward to the next book already!

  2. All the picture books sound great, Michele. I bookmarked City Spies but may not get to them soon. I have "Amari" on my list & it does sound really good. I know many are praising it, too! Thanks, wishing you a good week back!

  3. Loved City Spies-- my students adore spy novels! I wasn't as keen on Amari, although one of my teachers loved it, so I've had a lot of requests. The teacher who loves it had a contest, and the winner got to be the first one to check out the library copy! I did enjoy Love is a Revolution. Love that it had high school characters but nothing too heavy for middle school readers.

  4. I have fallen behind in this Marla Frazee series. I went to put the second on hold, only to discover that my local library system doesn't have it. Of course than meant that I had to suggest they purchase it.
    The Little Library looks delightful. Amari and the Night Brothers was available so I checked it out. Now I just have to find time to listen to it!
    I haven't read any of Love is a Revolution

  5. I agree with you on your assessment of the Farmer and the Monkey. While I liked the story just fine, I also understand that intent does not equal impact and that now probably isn't the time to be publishing children's books with monkeys as characters.

  6. You share a couple of picture books that are new to me. I am very interested in The Little Library for we opened one at my school a few years ago and for my birthday, my husband is building me one so I can share children's books in our neighborhood. Love the message too!

  7. I had never read (or heard of) any of the Tiffin's class books until last week when I got The Little Read Library in my library stack. It's cute - I'll have to check out the others. Love is a Revolution is in my stack to read.

  8. What a great set of books! The Little Library sounds great, and I appreciate your thoughts on Marla Frazee's series. Amari and the Night Brothers sounds excellent—I generally don't read much fantasy (even getting into the Nevermoor series was mostly accidental), but I should see if I ever have time to cram it in! Thanks for the great post!

  9. I'm surprised I haven't read The Little Library considering I visit a LFL every day. Will keep a better look out for the book.

  10. I just requested Little Library from my library, so I hope to get it in a month or so! Thanks for sharing.