Reading, Teaching, Learning

Monday, April 8, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

These are memes started by Teach Mentor Texts and Book Journey, and I'm excited to participate, along with many other bloggers, in reviewing books I read the previous week. I'll be reviewing picture books through adult books.

Here are the books I read this week:
The Dark
I was so excited about this book coming out - what a stellar combination of writer/illustrator! I've read some criticism about the page with lots of text and agreed it seemed like an unusual choice of design.  A Goodreads reviewer posted this link to the editor explaining the design:  I liked the overall story, though, of a young child facing his fear of the dark, and loved the suspense it created. It would be a great text to exemplify personification. Klassen's illustrations are, once again, brilliant. I enjoyed my students' faces lighting up when they saw it propped up on my flip chart ledge! They've come to enjoy Jon Klassen immensely this year, and of course, they love Lemony Snicket. I'll never forget their delighted cheering when we watched the live ALA Awards and This is Not My Hat won the Caldecott!
The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.

art, award-winner, bullying, character-development, grandparents, intermediate-kids-book, metaphor, nature, poetry, realistic-fiction, sensory-details, sports, theme, young-adult-book
Winner of the 2010 E.B. White Read-Aloud Award for Older Readers

I really liked this story of Gianna, a seventh-grader who loves to run and draw. However, she just can't seem to get herself together at school. A huge leaf-collecting project is looming over her head, and she keeps missing deadlines. Bianca, a glittery, narcissistic cross-country teammate constantly bullies her and is next in line to take Gianna's spot at sectionals if Gianna doesn't make a decent grade in science. If that isn't enough pressure, Gianna's beloved granmother, Nonna, is not acting herself. She keeps forgetting things and wandering off and getting lost. Gianna's mother can't seem to face that Nonna needs help and tends to try to fix everything in a controlling way. Thank goodness for Zig, a good friend, who seems to know just what to say and do. I love the metaphors of people and trees, Robert Frost's "Birches" as a touchstone poem throughout the story, and the complex layers of character and plot here. As a teacher, I felt real empathy for Gianna, and am reminded of the pressures we put on kids to meet our stringent expectations when they are all going through so many trials and tibulations. Great story! 
Stardines Swim High Across the Sky: and Other Poems
I'm going to try to review at least one poetry book each week throughout the month of April since it's National Poetry Month.
From the same team that brought us Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant And Other Poems, this is a similar and funny play on words, inventing new creatures by combining meanings. My favorite is the GLOOSE, which is a sticky bird who is "so adhesive That to free it from its plight Requires a lot of people Pulling with a lot of might." Other ones that made me laugh were the Bardvark and Panteater. Kids will love this, and the mixed media art throughout the book is so creative and interesting! Great, higher-level vocabulary, too!
I also reread some books this week and posted those reviews on Saturday's blog post.  Stay tuned for the nonfiction books I read this week on Wednesday's blog post!
The Storyteller
This book has been so difficult to read because of the subject matter.  I will be reviewing this next week since I'm not quite done, but it is apropos that I'm reading it because today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Hold Fast
The Painted Girls
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
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What are YOU reading this week?


  1. The Storyteller looks good.
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is on my TBR list.

    1. The Storyteller is so compelling but so hard to read. The brutality of the Holocaust was horrifying.

  2. The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z caught my attention. I think my daughter would enjoy it. Looking forward to seeing what you think of Hold Fast.

    1. Laura - I hope your daughter enjoys Gianna Z.! Thanks so much for joining my blog!!

  3. Oh my word, my class cheered for This is NOt my hat also. I video taped them, it was so cute. I loved Hold Fast. The Dark looks awesome (indeed and amazing pairing).

    1. That's great that your class was excited about This Is Not My Hat winning the Caldecott, too! It's fun to have kids that involved in the world of books. :-) Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I really love Balliett's books, so I hope her latest is as good as her others. Enjoy your upcoming books!

    The Monster Report

    1. She writes such intelligent mysteries. This one is certainly shaping up to be as good as her others!

  5. LOVED The Storyteller--can't wait to see your review! Henrietta Lacks was good as well.

    1. I'm almost done with The Storyteller. The research she put into it must have been extensive! Thanks so much for stopping by AND joining my blog! :-)

  6. I love The Dark! Klassen's illustrations really make the book.

    Hold Fast was such a great read. I hope the audio lives up to that.

    1. I love the narrator of the audio (Bahni Turpin) is fabulous! She also narrated THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE and was fantastic!