Monday, November 18, 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.
I'm posting this late on Monday, but here is what I read this week:
The Invisible Boy
Part 1 of a 5-part series on You Tube on bullying with Trudy Ludwig as one of the panelists:
I sure was pulling for Brian through the whole story! I love Justin, the new boy! The story of Brian feeling invisible, the sweetness of his character, and Justin's kindness come together for an inspiring book. This is a good reminder for teachers as well as students that some kids feel invisible. All it takes is one friend and advocate to turn things around. The illustrations are powerful, too. I love the addition of color to Brian's character as he begins to feel included.
Year of the Jungle
2013-book, based-on-true-story, memoir, mock-caldecott-2014, picture-book, point-of-view, war

I wish I had read this to my students for Veteran's Day, but I didn't read it for the first time until afterward. Better late than never - I can still share it during our FEAR unit. They'll be excited that it's by Suzanne Collins. Collins writes about a girl whose father goes off to Vietnam, and she's full of questions and fears. I was touched by the picture of Collins as a young girl in 1968 in her leopard costume the year her father was deployed in Vietnam.
Fog Island
One of the 2013 New York Times Best Illustrated Books - I liked the mood/tone of this strange story about two children who venture out to Fog Island in spite of their father's warning. There they meet the wizard-like Fog Man. The illustrations capture the loneliness and spookiness of the journey to the island. It creates a legend/ghost story type feeling. I also liked the mystery of whether or not it was real when the kids wake up in the midst of ruins instead of the Fog Man's castle.  It could be paired with Polar Express in that regard.  The ending is a little odd, however.
Red Kite, Blue Kite

This sad but ultimately triumphant story is based on the experiences of a family friend of the author's during China's Cultural Revolution. Tai Shan has a special relationship with his father and together they fly kites. Even when they are separated for reasons unknown to Tai Shan, they communicate through the kites. The illustrations are made of warm tones and gentle detail, adding to the quiet, bittersweet tone of the narrative. This book would provide a great opportunity to talk about symbolism and would open the doors to more reading about this time in history.  We're doing a unit on tyrants using Scholastic XBooks right now, and one of the kids' choices is Mao Zedong.  This picture book would be a great ladder.
The Mischievians
I like the fact that I read this book on a day that I couldn't find my school badge and key ANYWHERE and when I get home, it was right there on the counter. I think kids will like this book about all the reasons we have annoying things happen to us, like missing socks, missing homework, blisters, hard-to-reach itches, etc. - blame it on the mischievians!
 Descriptions of various types of trains as they travel across country are filled with figurative language and sensory details. I like how the landscape of the country is celebrated as well as the trains. There is a glossary and author's note at the back.
God Got a Dog 
First of all, the cover is stunning. I have to admit, though, at first I was a little disappointed that all the poems were "recycled" from God Went to Beauty School (which I LOVED) because I really wanted new ones. However, with Marla Frazee's illustrations and some of the poems slightly changed with "She" as God instead of "He" (which is not my preference, but I still appreciate the point of view), this collection seems brand new. And even though I've read them all before, multiple times, I still laughed out loud at some lines and sighed at the poignancy of others. These poems remind me a lot of Anne Lamott's view of God. My favorites are "God Went to Beauty School," "God Went to the Doctor," "God Made Spaghetti," and...wait! They're all my favorite!
13 Gifts
The Willow Falls series is a favorite among my 5th graders, so I wanted to make sure I've read them all. I can see why they love these books. Elements of fantasy are interspersed with realistic teenage problems with family, school, friends, self-discovery, and growing up. Characters from previous books in the series are back. Mass makes teens think about existential issues while still dealing with everyday challenges.

Ghost Hawk Sold


My Mom:

My Dad:

War in Lincoln County: A Western Story

My Husband:

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

He's enjoyed this series!  I even heard him talking about it at our party this weekend, letting a friend borrow the first book!
What are YOU reading this week?





  1. Wow Holly - Some really gorgeous books featured here today. I really want to get my hands on God Got a Dog - can't wait to see Frazee's illustrations. My daughter loves Wendy Mass - I need to read more of her work - I read Every Soul a Star and loved it so need to get onto more. I just got Donalyn's book - I am resisting starting it until my reports are over. My reward!

  2. Wonderful post! I just added a bunch of these titles to my list. I am also currently reading Donalyn Miller's new book--and loving it! Hoping to post about chapter 2 tomorrow on my blog. I don't think I want to buy God Got a Dog because I've read all the poems before, but I definitely want to look at the book and see Marla Frazee's illustrations. She's one of my very favorite artists!

  3. Holly, you put up some great books! Ironically, the day before you posted this, I saw Suzanne Collins' book in the kids' dept. at Barnes and was surprised! I had no idea she'd written a picture book, and now knowing what it's about, I'll read it next time I'm there :) Thanks!