Monday, June 7, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6.07.21

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.

I took last week off from blogging!  For the Memorial Day holiday I was excited to relax and just get some things done inside and outside of the house.  Then it was the last two days of school!  I was able to find some solid reading time over the Memorial Day weekend and I'm looking forward to continuing it now that summer is here!  Let summer reading officially begin!

Picture Books

Training Day     Tag Team
El Toro and Friends:  Training Day and Tag Team
by Raúl the Third
colors by Elaine Bay
Readers may already be familiar with some of the characters from the new series "El Toro and Friends" from Raul the Third's ¡Vamos! series.  This series is being marketed towards the Elephant and Piggie crowd - in a similar size and length - and while it may not have the same humor, it does have very likable characters.  The stories are a bit longer in word length, but I love the inclusion of Spanish sentences and traditions and scenes found in Mexico.  I hope to see this series continue!  It's a must have for K-3 libraries.

Memory Jars
Memory Jars
by Vera Brosgol
We've all had that feeling - loving something so much that we just want to bottle it up and keep it forever.  That's exactly what Freda does in the story but then figures out, when it's bottled up, you don't get to experience it and the joy that something special brings.

Coquí in the City
Coquí in the City
by Nomar Perez
Drawing upon his own experiences from when he was 10, Perez writes about immigrating to a new home, but remembering and treasuring the things you love about your native country.

Sunrise Summer
Sunrise Summer
written by Matthew Swanson
illustrated by Robbi Behr
Partly autobiographical, this story is about how a family travels to a remote area of Alaska each summer to catch and sell salmon.  It was fascinating to read, and not at all what I expected!  In the story, the oldest sibling is of the age where she can help in the preparation and catching of the salmon.  Loosely based on the illustrator's experience from when she was younger, there is additional information in the backmatter that further explains that the author and illustrator's family has continued this tradition.  

Middle Grade

The Shape of Thunder
The Shape of Thunder
by Jasmine Warga
Wow wow wow!  Warga's ability to write about such a sensitive topic without it being about that topic and make it deep and compelling!  Just amazing.  This book is about friendship during the very center of grief and whether it can heal or not.  It's about healing and trying to find a way to change events that hurt our very core.  What it's not about is a school shooting.  It's the aftermath of one, but Warga focuses on family, friendship, identity, grief, and hope.  So well done.

Sisters of the Neversea
Sisters of the Neversea
written by Cynthia Leitich Smith
By now, you should know that most version of Peter Pan are problematic.  I grew up with the Disney version and I still enjoy the ride at the Magic Kingdom.  But when as I watch it now I realize a lot of it is just wrong.
Cynthia Leitich Smith's book, as part of her new imprint Heartdrum from Harper Collins, sets out to change a lot of these wrongs, including shining a light on the mischief maker and head racist himself, the character of Peter Pan.  Set in today's world, this modern retelling is so enjoyable and I loved the way Smith wove the familiar story with today's younger generation and their better understanding of the world around them.
Just a heads up, this story is great for kids in third grade and up, but does have numerous ways the word "ass" is used - jackass, silly ass... it didn't really add to the story, wish the language hadn't been used!
Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for the e-galley.

The Best Worst Summer
The Best Worst Summer
by Elizabeth Eulberg
Having grown up in the 80s and having a huge crush on Joey McIntyre from NKOTB made me really really like reading this book!  The 80s references were rad!  Of course, to our readers they are all ancient and old, but it will make this book really fun to talk about with readers.
Told in dual storylines, one taking place in 1989 and one in the present day, the universal themes of friendship, family, and racism are familiar regardless of the decade.  Perfect MG to kick off my summer reading!

Young Adult

Every Body Looking
Every Body Looking
by Candice Iloh
This novel in verse captures that feeling of finally coming into your own identity and figuring out who you want to be, instead of who the grown-ups around you want you to be.
Well written, but a slow story.  I did like how it bounced back and forth between the main character's, Ada, ages.  Ada finally starts to come into her own by the end of the book and that's exactly when I wanted more!
This was one of my May #mustreadin2021 books.

A Vow So Bold and Deadly (Cursebreakers, #3)
A Vow So Bold and Deadly
by Brigid Kemmerer
If you have not read this trilogy, change that now.  I remember receiving an ARC of the first book and slowly reading it while working out.  It was a take on the Beauty and the Beast story.  I liked it, but really fell in love with it towards the end.  Loved the second book and loved loved loved this last one.  I enjoyed how the present day characters fell into the fairy tale setting and brought a dose of reality.  The stories remain pretty chaste until this last book, and even then the romantic scenes are pretty mild.  Always good to have a YA feeling story for older MG readers.

Currently Reading

The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1)
The Gilded Ones
by Namina Forna
I am about 2/3 of the way done with this one and I can tell you it's EXCELLENT!!  The world building, the plot, the characters!  So well done!

I've been giving myself some binge reading time the last three days.  While I know that won't happen everyday of summer vacation, I am hoping it continues!  I have such a stack to get through this summer!  Happy reading to all!


  1. I have The Shape of Thunder already & have ordered The Best Worst Summer & Memory Jars coming from the library! You often share so many I'd like to read, Michele! Coquí in the City & Sunrise Summer sound good, too. Thanks for every one & have a great week beginning your summer!

  2. Congrats on getting through the year! I hope your summer is restful and allows for a lot of reading. Memory Jars sounds like a great read—I love Brosgol's graphic novels, but I haven't had a chance to read any of her picture books. It looks like you've had a chance to read a lot of great MG novels! The Best Worst Summer sounds great, and I love that Sisters of the Neversea reimagines Peter Pan in a non-problematic way. Thanks for the wonderful post, and enjoy your binge-reading!

  3. I loved The Best Worst Summer, but the characters from the 1980s would have been the age of my very first students! Granted, I was only 12 years old than they were, but it still made me feel old. Do miss the fashions-- love me some oversized shoulder pads and bright colors. Glad you had a great week.

  4. Sisters of the Neversea sounds fantastic!

  5. Sunrise Summer is brand new to me and I'm totally intrigued. Adding this one to my list. I knew some fellow students during my undergrad (at Abilene Christian University, which was EXTREMELY pricey even back in the 90s) who went to Alaska every summer and worked extremely long days in a fish cannery. However, they made enough there every summer to cover both of their schooling costs throughout each school year. Sounds like there's a ton of money to be made in the fishing business in Alaska! I'm also so glad to hear more about The Shape of Thunder. Excited to get my hands on it very soon. Thanks, Michele!

  6. So many interesting books here! I've reserved Sisters of Neversea from my local library. Thanks for the recommendations!

  7. You have so many wonderful sounding books on your list today. I'm happy that my library has The Shape of Thunder. It also, finally, has Sisters of the Neversea available as an audiobook so I checked it out. I need lots of audiobooks to help me get through the hours of weeding my garden.

  8. I'm looking forward to reading Memory Jars and Coqui in the City looks wonderful. I definitely need to check that out.