Monday, April 19, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 4.19.21

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

Earth Day is this week and here are some books that celebrate the environment!

Some spectacular picture books have recently published.  Don't miss them!

PIcture Books

Early Sunday Morning
Early Sunday Morning
written by Denene Miller
illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Beautiful book about a young girl overcoming her nerves to perform a solo at church.  What I love about this is it bring Black culture to the story and it celebrates a joyous time.  We continue to need books that show marginalized voices celebrating instead of only having books about repression or overcoming obstacles.  And illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.... those are icing on the cake!

The Secret Rhino Society
Secret Rhino Society 
written by Jonathan E. Jacobs
illustrated by Samantha Cotterill
Sometimes we uphold people (or in this case, animals) to a high standard without ever meeting them, that it's surprising when reality doesn't uphold to what our mind decided.  A hippo, an earthworm, and a lightbulb all idolize rhinos.  They create a secret society and clubhouse to celebrate them in.  But once they actually meet a rhino and learn that they aren't all the same, then end up working together to do something everyone really does enjoy - eating!  Kind of a different outcome from where I thought the story was going to go.
Readers will love Cotterill's 3D cut and assembled sets.  I found myself pouring over those even more than the storyline!

Rescuing Mrs. Birdley
Rescuing Mrs. Birdley
written by Aaron Reynolds
illustrated by Emma Reynolds
Very cute and would be fun to read to young readers.  Miranda Montgomery loved watching animal shows and seeing how the host would help animals and return them to their natural habitat.  So when Miranda sees her teacher at the grocery store, she knows it's up to her to bring her back to her natural habitat... school!

The House of Grass and Sky
The House of Grass and Sky
written by Mary Lyn Ray
illustrated by E.B. Goodale
This quiet, beautifully illustrated book makes you think about anything you might have held close to you through the years.  This book is narrated by the house and what the house wants most of all is a family to live in it and children to run through it.  To make memories year after year.  Good mentor text for narrator!

Ambitious Girl
Ambitious Girl
written by Meena Harris
illustrated by Marissa Valdez
Meena Harris knows a thing or two about being ambitious since she comes from a long line of strong females, including her aunt, Kamala Harris!  This empowering book reminds us that we're in control of the words that define us.

Young Adult

by Tiffany D. Jackson
Woah, this book.  It's hard to read, but it's a necessary read.
Enchanted is an aspiring singer.  And when she meets a talented artist who offers to take her under his wing, it's an easy yes.  Never mind she is 17 and he is 28.  It's easy for Enchanted to fall for Korey, and when he returns her affections, she's into him too much to pull back.  Even when the abuse starts, Enchanted talks herself out of leaving because Korey has too much pull over her life - over her singing career and the money he is supposedly giving to fund her family at home.
Told in a back and forth narrative from the present and past, readers get an understanding of what is happening to young girls when a grown male, who should always know better, abuses the situation and their lives.

Adult Novel

The Rose Code
The Rose Code
by Kate Quinn
Another amazing historical fiction story from Kate Quinn.  This time she focuses on Bletchley Park, a country estate in England, where no one knew that some of the most talented people working on the WWII war front were quietly breaking codes.  Codes that successfully lead to many Ally power victories.  However, being a codebreaker and analyst was a stressful occupation because it was kept under the most secrecy.
Quinn introduces us to three females - Beth, Osla, and Mab - opposites in every way but come together under similar circumstances.
The work these cryptanalysis did, is only recently coming to light, as most of them kept their work secret, up to their passing.  It's fascinating learning about what they did and Kate Quinn also wrote an extensive note in the backmatter.
I read The Alice Network a few months ago and really enjoyed it, but this one blew it away, in my opinion.  It started a bit slow as we learn about each character.  Like Quinn's other book that I've read, this book bounces back and forth between time periods which makes the story intriguing to follow.  Once I understood the characters and flow of the story, it really took off and I had a hard time putting it down.

Currently Reading

Firekeeper's Daughter
The Firekeeper's Daughter
by Angeline Boulley
I've heard nothing but rave reviews, looking forward to starting it!

Happy reading!


  1. These picture books are all new to me. Each sounds worth reading.

  2. Except for The House of Grass and Sky, all the picture books are new, so thanks for them, Michele. I have The Firekeeper's Daughter, need to get to it! Thanks also for Grown, sad to hear about but I'm sure young women could learn from it. I loved The Rose Code, too, learned from it as well! Have a great week!

  3. What a great set of books! Early Sunday Morning sounds wonderful—sorry if it was your blog I've already said this on, but the illustrator, Vanessa Brantley Newton, illustrated a transitional chapter book-middle grade book several years ago called Ruby Goldberg's Bright Idea, and it is actually a really fun book that I love way more than makes logical sense!

    Secret Rhino Society sounds excellent, and Grown sounds painful but powerful—I wasn't totally sure what it was about, so I appreciate you clearing that up! The Firekeeper's Daughter sounds great as well—it was just recommended on Unleashing Readers today! Thanks for the great post!

  4. I want to read The House of Grass and Sky, but part of me doesn't, since I need to eventually sell my house and don't want to oversentimentalize it!

  5. I too loved The Rose Code. Kate Quinn manages to knock my socks off with every book she writes.
    Grown sounds like an intense book. I'm not sure I'm ready for it. Maybe when the pandemic is under control I will be able to read books like this again.

  6. Lots of new to me picture books! I now need to see if I can get them from my local library. Thank you for sharing!