Monday, June 28, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6.28.21

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

Thoughts on decodable readers

PIcture Books

Follow That Frog!
Follow That Frog!
written by Philip C. Stead
illustrated by Matthew Cordell
I hope you've read the other Sadie Adventure stories because they are quite delightful!  This one is a story told by Aunt Josephine, who is a hoot, too!  Aunt Josephine tells Sadie to story of how her travels came to by, all the while someone/thing is incessantly knocking at the door.  Could the story and the knocking be connected?  If you know these stories, you know it's going to be fun to see what happens!

What Happened to You?
What Happened to You?
written by James Catchpole
illustrated by Karen George
I've been waiting awhile to get my hands on this book.  As most of you know, my daughter has a physical disability so I'm always looking for books that she would see herself in.  But at the same time, they make me worried because I want to make sure it's a positive book.
I liked this one a lot.  It's about Joe who is playing make believe at the park.  And then kids come up to him and all they want to know is "what happened to your leg?"  Well, Joe is tired of THAT question and he doesn't really want to answer it.  The kids eventually move past it and play make believe with him and have a great time.  Eventually the little girl who started with the questions has a conversation with Joe, again, but agrees that it doesn't really matter if she knows about his leg or not.
I was very pleased to see that this book was written by an author with a physical disability.  Representation matters.  He also left some fantastic suggestions to parents in his end note.
Before I wrote this review, I gave it to my daughter to read.  She said she liked that he didn't want to talk about his leg because she said sometimes as a kid, not only do you get tired of always answering that question, as a kid you don't always have the words and you don't want to try. 
Then I went and searched for the book and author to see if there was more about how this book came about.  I found this video.  I thought it was very interesting that he said the same thing that my daughter said and it was his response to Sonia Sotomayor's book Just Ask.  While I enjoyed that book,  I also thought it was interesting to hear a different perspective that made me think about how I approach a disabled person.  Definitely one to watch, listen, and think about!

Your Mama
Your Mama
written by NoNieqa Ramos
illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara
A take on the "your mama" line, but it twists it around to shine the light on powerful mamas and the love for their children.  Beautifully illustrated!

Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory
Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory
written by Julie Abery
illustrated by Chris Sasaki
Any picture books about swimming interest me!  This one is about Coach Sakamoto - a science teacher in Maui, who coached some Olympic greats!  When migrant sugar cane workers were in the fields, their children often cooled off from Maui's hot sun in the irrigation ditches.  Mr. Sakamoto would see from his school's windows, the children being threatened by local police, to get out of the ditches.  Mr. Sakamoto made a deal with the company that owned the ditches to coach the kids in the water and give them something productive to do.  This lead to kids working on their strokes and becoming competitive swimmers.  Eventually the sugar company built the swimmers a pool and they continued their training and dedication to one day making the Olympic Games.
The story is told in rhyming verse.  It flows, but I feel like it often misses information.  This story does have backmatter, which does fill in some missing holes.
I enjoy reading stories that are new and not as widely publicized.  They are often motivating and inspiring.

Middle Grade

Ahmed Aziz's Epic Year
Ahmed Aziz's Epic Year
by Nina Hamza
Ahmed is having quite a year.  Recently moved from Hawaii to Minnesota so his father can have treatments for his liver disease.  Now he's the new kid with a rough home life, and it doesn't make it easier when he draws the attention of fellow 7th grader bully, Jack.  
Ahmed's character development was fun to watch because while he might not have been able to see his own growth, it was evident to readers!  Great debut by Hamza!
Thank you to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for the advanced e-galley.

by Reem Faruqi
I love having another novel in verse to hand to readers.  
I think Nurah, the main character of this novel, and Reha, the main character of Rajani LaRocca's Red, White, and Whole, would be characters who got along.  Differences between the stories, but I think they would understand each other.
Unsettled is loosely based on Faruqi's life, which included a move to the United States.  I learned a lot from Nurah's voice and I think young readers will enjoy seeing things from her perspective, as well.

Young Adult

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars, #2)
Rule of Wolves
by Leigh Bardugo
Part of the GrishaVerse, this may have been my favorite one so far.  I'm really not going to say much more than that because there were so many fun parts to this book I want to leave it up to you to discover them.
If you are new to the GrishaVerse, I highly recommend it.  There is a series on Netflix.  It is very fun to see the characters come to life, but I'm a book-to-movie purist.  Meaning, I really prefer when they stick to the book.  I know some things need to change.  But I got so tired of saying "that's not what happened in the book"... and that's not even the referrals between the crossover parts.  So I would suggest starting with the books.  Definitely read the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology first.  I would recommend continuing on with the King of Scars duology, but you could watch the Netflix series after reading the first two sets of books mentioned.
I really really hope Bardugo has more GrishaVerse stories for us... and sooner than later!

Currently Reading

Something to Say
Something to Say
by Lisa Moore Ramee
This one is from my June #mustread list!

Happy reading!


  1. Thanks for sharing What Happened to You! That is a new title for me and would be a great book to add to #classroombookaday reads.

  2. What a great set of books! What Happened to You? sounds like such a great read, and I'm so glad it is #ownvoices and rang true for you and your daughter. Your Mama and Sakamoto's Swim Club sound like great picture books as well. Unsettled sounds like a great novel in verse—I never read enough of those! And Rule of Wolves sounds excellent—so many people online and in real life have been talking about Bardugo's books and the Netflix show that it's actually kind of fun, just to see people so excited about books! Thanks so much for the great post!

  3. Thanks for all your reviews, Michele. I enjoyed your opinion of the Sakamoto book, like when someone sees a need & creates something good from it. And the What Happened to You sounds good, too. I have a niece with Cerebral Palsy, all grown now, yet still gets the questions, also "Where are you from?" because she's Korean. It's a tough call for people who want to be sympathetic yet tiresome for those who have to have answers too often. Thanks for all the rest of the books, too, delightful to read about.

  4. What Happened to You? is new to me. I found the author's video very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I have a stack of picture books to get through and I also bought Unsettled recently. Thanks for all the great titles! More reading to do!

  6. To hear that Rule of Wolves may be your favorite really makes me want to get to King of Scars and it! I have put it off for a bit, but it is 3 books or so away!!!
    I loved Follow that Frog, too! Great series!

    Happy reading this week :)

  7. Thanks for sharing all these books today. I've added What Happened to You? to my list. (Hurrah my library has it!) My father used a wheelchair. He used to say he would prefer people ask the question than pretend he didn't exist.
    I just picked up Siege and Storm, but I have so many books checked out, I'm not sure I will get to them all!
    Thanks for sharing so many interesting books today.

  8. Thank you for these terrific book recommendations. I've put in a library request for Follow That Frog and Your Mama, which my pile of picture books to read will keep getting taller!