Sunday, April 14, 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:
Otis and the Puppy
I attended a Loren Long event and signing today at Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore, my favorite independent bookstore.  This is my second time meeting Loren Long and listening to him interact with children, read, and explain his creative process. He's so kind, funny, and interesting, and I enjoyed this one just as much as his Nightsong presentation. His new book, Otis and the Puppy, is adorable and delightful! I just love Otis, and the puppy is irresistible. I especially love the illustration on the title page of him stretched out, wagging his tail at a butterfly, because it reminds me of my dog, Ben. When the puppy is introduced to Otis's farm, all the animals love their new friend, and Otis is completely devoted after the puppy curls up on his tire to sleep. Every night after that, the puppy sneaks out of his dog house and sleeps with Otis in the barn, where he feels safe from the dark. One day, the animals and Otis lose the puppy when they are playing hide-and-seek. The puppy had gotten distracted while playing and wandered off into the woods. It gets dark, and after looking for a long time, the farmer decides they will call it a night and look again the next day. Otis could not let the night go by, though, and sets out to rescue the puppy. Even though he, too, is scared of the dark, the puppy must be found. Once again, Long created beautiful pictures with endearing characters who make us cheer for friendship and love.  Here are some pictures and videos from the event:
Loren Long gave away his drawing to this lucky girl!  Dogs from RECYCLED DOGGIES in Cincinnati were there.


Tea Rex
          2013-book, friendship, picture book, humor

I'm a new Molly Idle fan. The first book I read by her was Flora and the Flamingo, and now this one. I just love the humor, expressive characters, and stories she creates. This one is so funny. Two kids invite a T. Rex over for tea and explain the etiquette for a tea party: provide comfortable chairs (LOVE the illustration of the T. Rex sitting in a tiny chair), hold a polite conversation, and provide a variety of tasty treats. The kids are very patient while T. Rex basically destroys the place! However, they are very happy to attend T. Rex's party when he invites them to his house. So cute! Be sure to head over to Kid Lit Frenzy to read about her Tea with Molly Idle event! So jealous! ;-)


A Ball for Daisy

I know I should have read this a long time ago since it was a Caldecott winner!  It is a wordless story of Daisy, whose favorite toy is her red ball. When playing with it at the park one day, another dog steals it away and ruins it. Poor Daisy is distraught. She is filled with sorrow. The pictures of her on the couch are so heartbreaking! Her owner persuades her to go back out to the park, however, and the same dog that ruined her red ball is waiting for her with a new blue ball! They play and all is forgiven. Daisy is happy again! This book can prompt discussions, writing, and drawing about how to convey a story and strong emotions through pictures. Raschka's unique style is lively, bold, and expressive.  I look forward to going back to Blue Manatee to see Raschka on April 27th.
Doug Unplugged

This would be a great book to use for Screen Free Week, coming up April 19-May 5. Doug's parents plug him in to download information about the city. He learns lots of interesting facts, but he suspects he'd learn a lot more if he unplugged and explored the city instead. Sure enough, there are a lot of things he discovers that weren't in his computerized information!


Hold Fast
Hold Fast by Blue Balliett
 2013-book, audio-book, character-who-reads, family, homelessness, intermediate-kids-book, mystery, paired-texts, poetry, strong-girl-character, vocabulary

I listened to Bahni Turpin brilliantly narrate this audio book. She narrated The Mighty Miss Malone, which actually had a lot of similarities to this book. I love Blue Balliett's books. I think she does an amazing job of creating smart, resourceful children as her main characters, an intriguing mystery intertwined with art, and in this book, important issues. Early Pearl and her brother love their father's poetic rhythms and good humor. The Early family live in Chicago and love each other very much. Their father loves books and the poet Langston Hughes and has a job delivering books for the public library. One mysterious day, though, he disappears without a trace. Days go by, and their apartment is destroyed by people looking for their father. Early, her little brother, Jubilation, and their mother are forced to move into a shelter. Early won't give up trying to find out what happened to him. Despite her mother spiraling into depression and hopelessness, she keeps holding fast to dreams. I won't tell you the rest because it would be a spoiler. There is a lot here. I'll be curious what kids think. I think it would make a great read aloud and would pair nicely with Poetry for Young People's Langston Hughes, edited by David Roessel and Arnold Rampersad, illustrated by Benny Andrews. Bryan Collier's illustrated book of I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes would be a great discussion piece, too.

 The Storyteller

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

book, adult-fiction, character-development, character-motivation, character-traits, holocaust, point-of-view, theme, war

 I've been a huge fan of Jodi Picoult ever since I read my first Picoult novel, My Sister's Keeper, which truly was one of the most memorable books I've ever read. She is a unique storyteller, and every time I read a new book by her, I feel like I am reading an old friend. Her style and tone are so familiar. This one, though, steered away from the usual. Somehow, I was completely in the dark about the topic, which is the Holocaust, and so my first plot twist was finding that out, but when she narrates from Minka's point of view, it was difficult to read. I know she has tackled difficult topics before, like school shootings in Nineteen Minutes, but the descriptions of Nazi cruelty was horrifying. It reminded me of parts of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. You wonder if you really want to keep reading, but then you remind yourself that people actually lived that brutal reality, so the least you can do is read it. I realize Unbroken was nonfiction, but Picoult's rendition sure felt real. The art of storytelling was also integral to the plot - the idea that stories are so compelling - enough to keep people alive - and need to be finished/resolved - by the writer OR the reader. Of course, there is her famous twist at the end. It wouldn't be a Picoult novel if there wasn't. I'll never be as impacted as greatly by one of her endings, I don't think, as I was by My Sister's Keeper, just because now I'm expecting it. However, I really didn't see this one coming. I also like the love story, Sage's discovery of her true self, and the horror/monster story interwoven and written by Sage's grandmother. I liked the bread baking idea as symbolism for metamorphosis and hunger, and the exploration of forgiveness. I'm ready for her next one!
11 Birthdays (Willow Falls, #1)

Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Painted Girls
This one is taking me forever, but I'm almost done!
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Come back Wednesday to see the nonfiction books I'm reading.  Also, I'm featuring books I'm rereading on Saturdays in April.
What are YOU reading this week?






  1. Love the idea of a Screen Free Week (though that looks like two weeks, doesn't it?) Another good read for that week is the new book Hello! Hello!

    Here's my It's Monday.

  2. Wonderful selection this week Holly! I LOVED Hold Fast. What fun things you did with Otis and the Puppy! Looked like a blast!

    1. It was such a fun event, and Loren Long is a great guy!

  3. I am going to have to add Otis and the Puppy, Tea and Rex, and 11 Birthdays to our ever growing order for the library. :) They all look so cute, and Wendy Mass is loved by our students!

    1. They will all be great additions to your library!

  4. Love the picture books, we'll have to give Doug Unplugged a try, my 3 sons love to read but love their share of screens too. I have been wanting to read Immortal Life and PAinted Girls and look forward to your review. Here's my Monday What are You Reading list and Blogaversary Amazon Giveaway post if you'd like to stop by! Have a great week!

    1. I will definitely stop by your blog. I hope you get to Immortal Life and Painted Girls!

  5. I am not a big nonfiction reader, but I loved Henrietta Lacks and recommend it to patrons any chance I get.

    1. I'm looking forward to reading it!! I've heard lots of good things.

  6. So many great books! I loved Flora and the Flamingo, too, so I'll be looking for Tea Rex when I go to the bookstore this week. I'll also be on the lookout for Otis and the Puppy and Doug Unplugged. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I enjoyed my picture book reading a lot this week! :-)

  7. Book Love is brilliant- enjoy!

    Really enjoyed this post especially the event with Otis- what a great experience!

    Happy reading this week :)