Sunday, November 10, 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.
These are the books I read this week:
I've read LOTS of picture books since it's Picture Book Month, and I'm previewing many for the kids to explore for Mock Caldecott Club activities.

Awww - cute! Great story and endearing illustrations about a pig who just wants to make a few friends.  Could start some good discussions about first and false impressions.
Jemmy Button
Jemmy Button by Alix Barzelay, illustrated by Valerio Vidali and Jennifer Uman
This book made me kind of sad. This is the story of Orundellico, a boy who lived on the islands of Tierra del Fuego, at the tip of South America. In the early 1800s, he was traded for a mother-of-pearl button and taken to England by Captain Robert Fitzroy to educate him in English customs. Of course, England never quite felt like home to the boy. I like the thick pages and rich illustrations.  There is an interesting story about the collaboration of the illustrators.
Xander's Panda Party
Xander Panda wants to plan a party, but can't quite decide who's on the invitation list. He finally realizes it should be everybody! I like the pages where he's passing out the invitations to all the animals. Very cute!
Dream Friends
This is a sweet story of a girl, Melody, who wants to make friends in a neighborhood where she's new. Because she feels lonely, she dreams of a magical friend, and she wishes she could bring him to the playground, but she can't. While dancing one day, thinking about her dream friend, a girl grows curious and wonders if Melody is playing a new game. Soon, lots of kids join in, and Melody is encircled by new friends. The illustrations are whimsical and colorful, creating a feeling of childhood.

The Beginner's Guide to Running Away from Home
Kids will enjoy the humor and identify with all the annoying things the main character's family does that makes him want to run away - paying more attention to the baby sibling, a brother who gets more privileges, parents who throw away precious candy wrapper collections, etc. They will also like the clay character illustrations. It was sweet when he started to miss home and his cozy bed. I liked the picture of his mom hugging him tightly when he decided to return.
Mr. Wuffles!
I couldn't help but feel sorry for Mr. Wuffles! His well-intentioned owner just doesn't understand why the new toy isn't at all interesting... I know some students who will enjoy this one a lot! Is it wordless?  Well, sort of...
The Tortoise & the Hare
This almost wordless rendition of the classic fable is just gorgeous. The companion to Pinkney's The Lion & the Mouse is not to be missed and will be a beautiful addition to any picture book collection. I loved the Artist's Note at the end because it's always interesting to me to hear how illustrators make their choices.
Warning: Do Not Open This Book!
So cute! Children of all ages will enjoy the warnings to stop turning the pages unless you want a whole lot of trouble to come out! Uh-oh! Now you've gone and done it - monkeys, toucans, and an alligator! Pure mayhem. Maybe you should set a trap... Love the illustrations!

Battle Bunny

What an incredibly funny team - Mac Barnett and Jon Scieszka! I know just the kids who will love this book. It would be hard to read aloud, but when I show my students the book trailer for it and leave it out on my white board ledge, it will be a race to see who will get to it first! I love Donalyn's idea to use it with students to inspire them to do some "editing" of classic tales.

The Day the Crayons Quit
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Cute story about weary and complaining crayons leaving their young owner a stack of letters about how they are overused, underused, and abused. This book would be fun to use to introduce letter writing, personification, or point of view.
Half Brother
I loved this book. I loved it like I loved ENDANGERED and THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. Oppel did an excellent job telling this story about a boy and a chimp and how animals can weave their way into our hearts. This novel makes us think about animal experimentation and testing, responsibilities we have toward science and animals, and the ethics involved in using animals for research. Oppel tells this story without too much sentimentality or didacticism. Zan will tug at your heartstrings, though, so be ready! I'd love to use this book in my 6th grade classroom, but there may be a little too much junior high sexuality, which puts it more in the young adult category.
Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers
Don't let the slimness of this little book fool you. There is a lot of life experience in Anne Lamott's musings over three essential prayers: Help, Thanks, Wow. It almost reads as a stream of consciousness. Lamott has learned that through submission, surrender, and gratitude, God can be the most powerful; Lamott, like the rest of us, has to relearn that truth over and over again, but the older she gets, the more forgiving of herself and others she seems to be. I look forward to reading the follow-up, Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair. I just bought it from the bookstore on Saturday.  Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith is one of my favorite books of all time. Karen Szymusiak  posted this article on writing on Facebook by Anne Lamott.

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

This story about psychic twins and their complicated family lives certainly didn't go where I thought it was going to!  Vi, the twin who made her living as a psychic, predicts an earthquake on October 16th with the help of the other twin, Daisy/Kate, who helps her nail down the date even though she's left her psychic life behind.  The tension building throughout the novel about the impending earthquake does not prepare you for the twist in the end.  I read this with my mom, so I look forward to talking to her about it!
The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story
13 Gifts
I belong to a family of readers, so I like to feature what they're reading every week.  This week, my dad and both daughters are between books, so here are my husband's and mom's books this week:

My husband:

Fire (Graceling Realm, #2)

He liked Graceling a lot, so he decided to read the rest of the series.

My mom:

The Rosie Project

What are YOU reading this week?




  1. You've read so many books this week! You must have a book hook attached to your hat so you can read all day! There are some terrific picture books in your list. I like them all.

    1. I have another pile of picture books to read this week! :-)

  2. RIBBIT is such a great book! I loved it!

    And how much are you loving READING IN THE WILD? I just finished it yesterday and it was amazing!

    1. I need more time to just sit down and read it cover to cover!

  3. Thanks for sharing. You've got some great picture books titles in your list. I've added a few to my hope to purchase list.

  4. The SOLD audiobook is amazing. And difficult. And hear-wrenching. "Enjoy".

  5. Ok, so I just requested 4 of your books from my library (Ribbit, Mr. Wuffles, The Beginner's Guide..., and Battle Bunny). Reading In the Wild is so great. I finished it, but now I want to go back and reread it. Enjoy your week!

  6. This is SOME LIST! Wow!

    I've been recommending Ribbit for several months as a mentor text for teachers to use with primary kids in writing workshop. It's a good one.

    Lots of new titles on here for me to check out. Thanks!

  7. Awestruck at your list! Half Brother sounds amazing - thanks for the video clip!

  8. Oh - I can definitely see you are preparing for Mock Caledcott! Some of these I know, some are just still on my radar like Ribbit and The Beginner's Guide . . . . I'm excited to begin reading Reading in the Wild - it is on its way to me!

  9. Oh my goodness, Holly - these are all amazing books! My heart catches in my throat each time I scroll down through your list. I am so envious that you finally read Battle Bunny! I can't wait to get my hands on that book. I have a feeling I'd be adding The Tortoise and the Hare and Mr Wuffles to my wordless picture book list (we had that as a bimonthly theme a few years back). Thanks for sharing such lovelies here this week. Have an even greater reading week ahead of you!

  10. Ah! I love to see your husband moved onto FIRE. I want to hear which he likes more. I have a theory about why people prefer FIRE over GRACELING or vice-versa. I will share after I get his opinion.

    All of your books looks so fantastic. I love how you take me to another world of reading, as I usually get trapped in YA. :) Thanks for sharing!

  11. Wow, Holly, this is such a full post of great books. Thanks for all the links and trailers, too. I love the Pinkney books and know the ones you featured will be wonderful. Have seen Mr. Wuffles reviewed several times-know I will enjoy it. Lots of take in here-thank you so much!

  12. Holly, how on EARTH did you read all this in only ONE week?! lol Wow! That alone is impressive!

    I've read nearly all the PBs you listed and just love them, and am curious about the many other novels, etc. you listed! SO many books, SO little time...well, not for YOU, Super Speed Reader lol

  13. Wow, I just love your selections this week! Can't wait to get my hands on some of those picture books! Great audiobooks to enjoy… I loved them both. :)