Sunday, December 1, 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 didn't write a #IMWAYR post last Monday since I had been in Boston over the weekend for NCTE, so this includes two weeks of reading:
Sleds on Boston Common: A Story from the American Revolution
I bought this book right before NCTE in Boston for obvious reasons - also because I love Louise Borden! I thought this was a unique story of the American Revolution. It shows a child's perspective on what remains important even in times of great conflict.  It also reveals that we can be sympathetic to people on both sides of a war.   Most stories of the American Revolution depict the British soldiers as evil, so this book will be good for discussion in the classroom.  I enjoyed the illustrations and the author's note at the end. I especially love that Louise signed it for me.    We got to hang out a bit at NCTE.  It'll be a great addition to my picture book collection. 

Louise, Holly, Gigi McAllister
         My Brother's Book        
 #15 in the Award Winning Books Challenge (New York Times Best Illustrated Books)
Sendak's strange but captivating last completed work is a tale of longing for his brother. Reading it after Sendak's passing makes it extra poignant. I'm not sure how to categorize the age this allusion to Shakespeare's "Winter Tale" would appeal to, but I think my intermediate students would be intrigued. I want to read this several more times because I think it requires close reading to fully understand all that is here in this little book. 

My favorite part of this beautifully illustrated book about a boy discovering a surprise inside several fossils along the beach is the dog. I love his expressions of joy while riding on the pteranodon's back - even his trip down to the water looked like fun. Thompson's paintings feel so real and lively, you just want to reach out and touch them.
Jane, the Fox, and Me
Jane, the Fox, & Me by Franny Britt, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
 #16 in the Award Winning Books Challenge (New York Times Best Illustrated Books)
This is a beautiful graphic novel about a girl who finds her way. She's bullied, ostracized, and lonely. Reading Jane Eyre and an unexpected friend helps her figure out her own story. Captivating - I think intermediate/middle grade children would love it. I want to read it again since there are some nuances in both the story and illustrations that make it complex enough to read multiple times. No wonder it was one of New York Times Best Illustrated Books of 2013!


audio-book, award-winner, award-winning-books-challenge-2013, character-traits, fears, human-rights, multicultural, realistic-fiction, slavery, strong-girl-character, survival, women, young-adult-book

This is an incredibly horrific story, told honestly and with much heartbreak. To think that sexual slavery of young girls still goes on today is appalling. It amazes me what some human beings can endure and survive. Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi will have you crying and cheering throughout this brutal story.
Whistling Past the Graveyard
I LOVED this book - it's the best adult book I've read in a while, and I also see it as a book young adults would enjoy a lot. I fell in love with the red-headed nine-year-old heroine, Starla, who runs away from her abusive grandmother in the summer of 1963 and enters a world she knows little about. But she's a survivor and a fighter. She befriends Eula, a black woman who "kidnapped" a white baby, on a quest to find her momma in Nashville. Little prepares her for what the journey becomes and what Eula will mean to her. She learns that "'God's plan ain't a free pass. Uh-uh. He give us moments to make choices, and we make them. We accountable for those choices. God's job ain't to make our lives easier, it's to make us better souls by the lessons he give us.'" If you were a fan of The Help, you'll be a fan of Whistling Past the Graveyard!

Dog Songs
Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
This is just a beautiful collection of poetry dedicated to Mary Oliver's dogs, but if you have and love your own dogs, the poems are for you, too. I laughed at some lines and teared up at others. Oliver knows how to tug at your heartstrings and make you look at the world and its simple pleasures in a meaningful way. I love the essay at the end.


Finishing this follow up (which has a BEAUTIFUL cover!) to the amazing The Book Whisperer the day after I got home from NCTE in Boston (I was reading it on the plane) was the perfect way to culminate a weekend of spending time with not only Donalyn, but many dynamic and passionate educators who cultivate the love of reading in their students every day. I found many new gems of wisdom and inspiration in this book that could be implemented in my classroom right away. I love her honesty about telling us how she's evolved and the new ideas as well as the reinforcement of the ones that inspired us in The Book Whisperer. She evaluates and thinks about her teaching practices, researches how she can be better, and teaches us how to be better.  One thing is certain; she is a reader. A wild reader. 
I was lucky enough to sit by her at the Choice Literacy dinner in Boston.  She's so smart and funny!
My family loves to read, too, so I feature their books every week.
My husband:
Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)
My mom:
Unwritten: A Novel
My dad:
Tucker's Reckoning
My 20-year-old is facing exam week, so she'll be studying, not reading for pleasure.  My 17-year-old is taking a break from reading because of AP Lit. :-(  I'm trying to convince her to read the Divergent series!
What are YOU reading this week?





  1. SOLD is an amazing read. Looks like you had a good week of books!

  2. I have just started Donalyn Miller's new book. I LOOOVE the cover, don't you love how it feels, and the colours are my favourites. I will never part from this book just because of the cover!!

  3. I'm reading Reading in the Wild, too. I love her honesty. What she was doing was working, but not as well as she wanted. What to do? Try something different! Love it. Refreshing.

    Here's my It's Monday!

  4. Such a great list Holly! I teach about the revolution in social studies so I'm thinking that I have to get Sleds on Boston Common for my class. I have to admit that it was super-fun to read your post and see a picture of me with you and Louise! So fun!

  5. Wow - what an amazing collection of just read books, Holly. I have Sold in my book bag - definitely high school or 8th. grade reading. I shall have to look into the Revolution picture book for next year, it would be wonderful to share this with my kids - a different perspective.

  6. I do want to read Mary Oliver's dog poems....I really, really do. Enjoy!

    Book Dilettante

  7. Oh, Bitterblue! I love that book. Ghost Hawk looks intriguing too.

    Check out what I'm reading this week.

  8. Really glad to hear your thoughts on Jane, the Fox, and Me as I was just debating whether or not to order it for my library. I just bought Dog Songs after picking it up in the bookstore this past weekend. I couldn't resist it.

  9. Holly - I love reading your blog so much! Thank you for your great list of titles this week! Fossil looks amazing - I loved Bill Thomas's CHALK so really looking forward to seeing this one. Also am looking forward to Maurice Sendak's book. Reading in the Wild is on my Christmas list - how great that you got to meet Donalyn Miller! Thanks for including your photos and the video clips. Happy reading week!

  10. Lots of these are on my list to read, Holly, & have many of them. I hope you like Beholding Bee-I thought it was very good. Thanks for telling just enough to let us know about the book so we can decide whether or not we'd like it!

  11. You have written the third post that I've read that has recommended Donalyn's new book. Hmmm. I loved Sold--that book has stayed with me. I am in awe of how much reading you have done in the week! Wow. My 17 year-old just had to read Heart of Darkness for AP Lit--tough to get excited about that one! Divergent sounds like a lot more fun...
    Have a great week, Holly.

  12. Enjoy Beholding Bee - this is a favourite of mine of 2013. I found Sold so challenging to read too - what a story. I read it all in one sitting. Just heartbreaking.

  13. Oh wow Holly, so many great books added to the AWB Database! Thank you for all these! How amazing! :) Sounds like you all had an amazing time at the NCTE this year - I look forward to attending the one in 2014. Planning it as I type. :) Great to know about Donalyn Miller - I love her The Book Whisperer. :) Have a great reading week!

  14. I read Beholding Bee recently and LOVED it! I love seeing what you're reading - I just add them to my list!

  15. Thank you for lifting up SOLD and sharing the interview with Patricia McCormick. I just returned from Nepal, and I will definitely read this book.