Monday, July 5, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7.05.21

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

Chapter Book Summer Series - give these books to kids who think outside of the box

Picture Books

Oh Look, a Cake!
Oh Look, A Cake!
by J.C. McKee
I've seen this book mentioned on a few blogs and I'm glad I got to read it.  It's fun.  It made me laugh.  And it has a surprise ending.

Phoebe Dupree Is Coming to Tea!
Phoebe Dupree Is Coming to Tea!
written by Linda Ashman
illustrated by Alea Marley
Young Abby has done everything she could to plan and prep a perfect tea party for her friend, Phoebe Dupree.  Abby obviously thinks the world of Phoebe and wants everything to be as perfect as Phoebe is.  And you know what happens when you've spent so much time in the planning....  Of course the girls have a wonderful time despite things not going to plan.

Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope
Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope
written by Jodie Patterson
illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow
This is the story of activist/author Jodie Patterson's son, Penelope.  Penelope knows he's a boy, but everyone sees him as a girl.  This is the story of how he was able to work with his mom to, "make a plan to tell everyone we love what we know... you are a boy."
Necessary book for your LGBTQ collection.

Fred Gets Dressed
Fred Gets Dressed
by Peter Brown
Another really important book about acceptance and identity.   Fred is running around the house naked, and quite happy with his status of being dressed!  Until, he gets to his parents closet.  He decides to dress up like his parents.  First, are dad's clothes.  But they are too big and they are too difficult to get on (buttons, ties....).  Then he tries on mom's clothes and wow, they are easy and fun!  Fred next gets into mom's makeup but doesn't know quite what to do with it.  
And then.... his parents walk in.
Instead of getting upset, mom shows Fred how to apply makeup and even dad joins in. 
I found this on Peter Brown's site and I think it's important to read and get more details and background to this lovely story.

On the Trapline
On the Trapline
written by David A. Robertson
illustrated by Julie Flett
A perfect story to use for memory moments.  A boy and his moshom (grandfather in Swampy Cree) are visiting a trapline, which is an area where "people hunt animals and live off the land"; this particular one in a more remote area.  The young boy gets a glimpse into what life was like when his moshom grew up.

Middle Grade

Healer of the Water Monster
Healer of the Water Monster
by Brian Young
This book is rich with Navajo language, culture, and traditions.  It's a magical fantasy story that has a lot of Navajo folklore to tell the story.  Yet it also has issues kids are dealing with - bullying and a family member dealing with alcoholism.
I had trouble getting into this one but eventually fell into the story.  There are a lot of uses of the Dine words and phrases, and while there is a glossary at the end, the way it is organized makes it not easy to use, especially for a middle grade reader.  I wish the publisher had chosen to use footnotes and put them right on the page.
Because of the complexity, I would suggest using it with 5th grade and older.

The Last Super Chef
The Last Super Chef
by Chris Negron
One of my favorite books from last summer was Negron's Dan Unlimited.  I was very excited to see we had a new book to look forward to this summer, and I was not disappointed after finishing it!  
Both Dan Unlimited and The Last Super Chef are realistic fiction novels.  They will both pull at your heartstrings, although in different ways.  But that is pretty much where the similarities end.  You know how some authors have their "genre"?  It's like "their thing"... and all of the plot lines sound the same?  I'm so glad to say these books are different which tells me Mr. Negron knows how to write, and doesn't stick to the same formula!
Curtis, our budding chef, lives with his mom and younger sister, Paige.  When he finds out his favorite cooking show, Super Chef, is getting ready to end but will go out with a kids cooking show, Curtis knows he has to not only try out, but be selected.  See, there's big prize money involved and he sure would love to buy his mom and sister a much bigger house to live in.  And the host of super chef, well, Curtis knows its his real dad who left his little family and now it's time to meet.
The cooking competition is set up just like ones you've seen on TV - mystery boxes, cooking stations, timed challenges.   But the big change is there is not someone selected to go home after each show.  So the five young contestants stay with each other throughout the whole book.  This adds to the character development of not only Curtis, but the other kids.  With there only being five contestants, it was pretty easy to keep track of each one.
There are a couple of twists in the book, one I had figured out pretty early on, the other surprised me.  With all of the different cooking challenges the kids have to face, it keeps the book's momentum going - which is good since it's a longer story.  And despite me reading an e-galley (thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins), I never got restless and was always intrigued to find out what was going to happen next.
The book publishes tomorrow (July 6th), make sure you add it to your list!

Something to Say
Something to Say
by Lisa Moore Ramee
This book was on my #mustread list for the month.  I had selected it because it was a book I had purchased and wanted to read last year, and just never got to it.  I loved Ramee's debut, A Good Kind of Trouble, and was excited to get to this one.
I liked the complexity of the main character, Jenae.  She has a lot going on inside her mind.  She feels like she actually made some life altering things happen and is carrying around a lot of guilt.  Jenae is also an introvert.  It doesn't bother that she doesn't have friends... until a new boy moves to her school.  Aubrey is everything she isn't - extroverted and confident - and he really wants to be Jenae's friend.  Will she let him in and even step out of her comfort zone to help him?  

Adult Novel

Evvie Drake Starts Over
Evvie Drake Starts Over
by Linda Holmes
This one came recommended by my friend, Susan Dee.  And when Susan tells me to read something, I always listen!
This was a wonderful read, especially during summer, when I had time to binge read it!  When we read books about people who are figuring out their identity, it's a theme most often found in our middle grade books.  However, sometimes things change even as you grow older, and you find the need to grow and change some more.  Evvie is figuring out who she is after some pretty big life changes.  She decides to take on a tenant in a small apartment room from her house, and that comes in the form of Dean Tenney.  Dean is a MLB pitcher who is having mental troubles with his baseball game.  Both Dean and Evvie are looking for change, but will they find it with each other?  I really enjoyed this one!

Currently Reading

Off the Record
Off the Record
by Camryn Garrett
I'm halfway through and it's good!!!

Hope you had a happy July 4th weekend!  I'm in denial it's July so I'll just bury myself into some reading and pretend time is not flying by!


  1. I've read Fred Gets Dressed, but you reminded me I forgot to post about it. Thanks for sharing the link - I liked the further insight into the book.

  2. Like Lisa, thanks for the link to more about Fred Gets Dressed, Michele. I love the intent of the book that values acceptance. Thanks for all the others, all new to me except for Something to Say. I enjoyed your review of The Last Super Chef especially & since the granddaughters love all things sloth, I will be sure to get Oh Look! A Cake! It looks like lots of fun. Happy Reading this week!

  3. What a great set of books you've been reading! The picture books you've been reading sound wonderful—Fred Gets Dressed sounds like such a sweet story, and it was great to read more about it on the link you provided. Born Ready and Phoebe DuPree is Coming to Tea both sound great as well! I've seen a lot of praise for Something to Say, and I appreciate your recommendation—and I saw another review just today of The Last Super Chef! And I am also in denial about how quickly the summer is moving—I haven't gotten nearly enough reading done! Thanks so much for the great post!

  4. When you list “middle grade” after the picture book section, what ages is that geared toward? I like how in the chapter book series posts you say what read aloud and independent level it’s geared toward. Is that possible to suggest on the other posts as well? I have a daughter entering 3rd grade who is a fluent reader, but want to make sure that the content is appropriate and understandable to her.

    1. Hi Lyla! Publishers generally say middle grade ranges from 3-7 grade. But like you said, content can vary within that range. And readers and the experiences they bring to a book can vary too. If I don't mention a grade level, it is usually fine content-wise for 3rd grade. If I feel like there is content that is too old for the younger readers, I try and mention the grade level it is better geared for or I might say it is best for middle school (vs middle grade) libraries, since that is usually 6th grade and above. Hope that helps!

  5. Lots of great stuff here, I have been missing your blog (and a few others). I also enjoyed On the Trapline. Oh look, a Cake is new to me and I plan to add it. I have been seeing a little about Fred Gets Dressed and Healer of the Water Monster but really appreciated your comments to add to my thinking. Thanks so writing this post!

  6. You have me intrigued with a surprise ending for Oh Look A Cake. I have not yet read Fred Gets Dressed but heard a lot about it. Thanks for the link to the view to gain insight on the story's background.