Monday, April 22, 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:

Oh wow. I wish I had someone to talk to about this book right now! It's a story of friendship and conquering fears, bullying and bravery. SPOILER ALERT: But the end was shocking, and although I usually love stories of loss and legacy, this one seemed unnecessary to me. Don't get me wrong - I really loved this book, though!  I remembered Mr. Schu had an interview with Bob Staake on his blog, so I went back to that and Mr. Staake said maybe what you think happened at the end didn't. That's why I need to process it with someone before I share it with kids! Or maybe not - they can help me process it! And does the allusion to Icarus on the school clock earlier in the book give us a clue about what happened? Is the bluebird an angel? Or did it fly too close to the "sun?" Or did what seemed to happen, happen - the bird was killed by the bullies and the other birds help the boy release the bird into heaven? Questions, questions. That's the brilliance about wordless books - much room for interpretation! I love the choice of making the pictures black, white, and gray except for blue accents and the colorful birds at the end. I also love the strong sense of setting - the markets, taxis, apartments, outdoor cafes, and even an independent bookstore!
Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems

                            2013-book, fable, fairy-tale, picture-book, poetry, point-of-view
Reverso poems, which Marilyn Singer debuted in Mirror Mirror must be incredibly difficult to write! This is a companion book to Mirror Mirror and features more poems from different points of view, meant to read top to bottom, then bottom to top with just a few changes in punctuation and capitalization. Singer gives brief summaries of the fairy tales and fables, some more obscure to kids than others, in the back. In the words of my teenage daughter after I asked her to look at a couple of them, "Wow! It's like magic!"
11 Birthdays (Willow Falls, #1)

I've had the Willow Falls books in my classroom library for a long time and just have never gotten around to reading them. This year, I've had some girls who have been clamoring for them, so I thought it was finally time I got to it! I really enjoyed this first one in the series. Amanda and her friend, Leo, were born on the same day and have shared every birthday since. Sadly, on her 10th birthday, she overheard him saying mean things about her at their party and hasn't talked to Leo for a year. Now it's her 11th birthday, and they will be having separate parties for the first time. EVERYTHING goes wrong that day, and Amanda is glad it's all over when she goes to bed that night. Mysteriously, when she wakes up the next day, she realizes it's NOT over. It's the SAME day!! This is like a kids' version of Groundhog Day. No wonder the kids like this book - the characters are realistic, but the magic is compelling. There is also a mystery about what it will take to finally make the day stop. It's no accident that a white-haired lady named Angelina keeps showing up! I'll have to read the next two now.  This series is not the only Wendy Mass books my 4th grade students love.  They've been reading every Wendy Mass book they can get their hands on.  We also had a very successful book group in the fall who read Mango-Shaped Space. Our theme topic was empathy, and they LOVED that book, so it's been circulating too!
The Painted Girls

2013-book, adult-fiction, art, audio-book, dance, historical-fiction, setting, sisters


I like books like this - historical fiction books about artists and their subjects. Tracy Chevalier and Susan Vreeland have written similar ones. I started listening to the audio version of this while in Marco Island, FL, so I will forever associate this book with the sand, morning sun, and ocean since I would listen to it on my morning walks. Not at all like the Parisian setting in which the story was set!  This one is about the van Goethem sisters - Antoinette, Marie, and Charlotte. It begins in Paris in 1878 when the sisters' father dies, leaving them with their mother who falls into an absinthe-induced existence. After being evicted from their apartment, the sisters begin to figure out how to survive and fiercely hang on to each other. Marie goes to work at the Paris Opera, where she hopes to make it into the famous ballet. Antoinette, who has been dismissed from dancing for being rebellious, tries to make a meager living and falls for the dangerous Emile. Marie captures the attentions of Edgar Degas, and she begins modeling for him. She becomes the Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. The story is told from Antionette's and Maria's points of view, and the setting of 19th century France is described richly - from the opulence and glamour of the opera to the seedy underbelly of the poor and criminal. Throughout the story is interwoven a study of newspaper articles that attributed certain physical facial traits to a life of crime. The author experimented with whether or not Marie, and her facial similarities to those described as being criminal, was affected. I've seen some of Degas's work before, but now that I've read this book, I want to see it again!
Documentary that convinced Cathy M. Buchanan to write The Painted Girls:

Eleanor and Park
The End of Your Life Book Club
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers
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What are YOU reading this week?



  1. I am a fan of Wendy Mass children's novels-so delightful and have been debating whether or not to buy Follow/Follow. I have Mirror/Mirror but my poetry section in the library is already overflowing with terrific titles. I think I will spend my hard-to-stretch budget on non-fiction this time. Thanks for an excellent post.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Julee! It's so hard to decide what to buy for classroom and school libraries - there are so many good titles! With the emphasis on nonfiction coming up, that is probably a good choice, and there are lots of good nonfiction books being published!

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I really enjoyed The Duck Commander on Audio. Had alot of the shows feel to it. Your Book Selection looks good. I have been thinking about getting The End OF Your life Book Club. Would You recommend the audio?

    1. Yes, I would recommend the audio - it's not narrated by the author, but I've really enjoyed it.

  3. I have always loved the Little Dancer sculpture. If you enjoy Rainbow's book you have to read Attachments, delightful.

    1. I will definitely look into that! Thanks!

  4. You have so many great books this week!I want to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Painted Girls and Eleanor and Park. I hope you love them all and have a wonderful week. :)

    1. I'm about halfway through The Immortal Life and am enjoying it. I just started Eleanor and Park and know I will like it already. ;-) Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Oh, my gosh, you are reading sooo many good books!

    I really enjoyed 11 Birthdays but didn't realize the other Mass novels were sequels.

    I've heard such good things about Eleanor and Park - really want to read that one...and also The End of Your Life Book Club. So many good books and so little time!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday -


    Great Books for Kids and Teens

    Book By Book

  6. Wow! You are reading so many great books right now! I always loved Degas's work, and have wanted to read The Painted Girls since I heard about it. I also want to read (maybe listen?) to The End of Your Life Bookclub. I recently read The Immortal Life and LOVED it. I hope you enjoy it and the rest of your week! :)