Monday, April 14, 2014

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. 

Sparky! by Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans
Aw, I LOVED this book! I was laughing the whole way through and then loved the sweet ending. The illustrations are hilarious and have a Jon Klassen quality (I wrote this before listening to Appelhans's podcast - see link above) in which he talks about Klassen). Love the thick pages and sepia tones. And I love Sparky. I now want a pet sloth. Pair this up with A Little Book of Sloth.
Firefly July and Other Very Short Poems
Melissa Sweet never disappoints. This beautifully illustrated book of poems compiled by Paul Janeczko and arranged around the seasons is a must have for the classroom library! Some of my favorite poems like "The Red Wheelbarrow" and "Fog" are given new life. It's amazing that Janeczko is the anthologist of almost fifty collections and Stewart has illustrated almost 100 books. What a team!
Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual
This a strange but intriguing book that makes an environmental point about what might happen if we allow birds to go extinct. The illustrations manage to be beautiful and disturbing at the same time. I look forward to more by this new picture book author/illustrator.
Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking: A 14 Day Mystery
art, audio-book, grandparents, intermediate-kids-book, mystery, young-adult-book

I listened to this entertaining mystery, and I loved the narrator's Boston accent. The spunky main character had me rooting for her the whole time, and I thought Dionne's characterization of Grumps was excellent. The way Moxie treated her grandfather's Alzheimer's was touching, and I enjoyed hers and Ollie's friendship. The real life art heist is intriguing - be sure to listen to/read the author's note at the end. This reminded me of Balliett's Chasing Vermeer and Messner's Silver Jaguar Society mysteries.  I'm reading aloud to one of my 6th grade classes.
Grasshopper Jungle


This one was tough for me to decide how to rate/review. I completely understand and appreciate the brilliance of this writer, the raw and honest way he writes, and the ground-breaking storytelling, but it was not my cup of tea. It was gross and disturbing, and I had a hard time liking any of the characters.  I debated abandoning it, but I had to find out how it ended (I guess that tells you that it IS compelling). Many Nerdy Book Club folks wrote excellent reviews, and I respect their love of this book.  I don't want to take anything away from Andrew Smith's talent. He has a ton of fans, and I know there are teens out there who would love this book, but it was not for me.
The Selection (The Selection, #1)
The Summer of Letting Go
Come back later today to see Spin Cams of what my classes are reading!  I forgot to take them on Friday.
My family loves to read, too!
 Libby (21 yrs. old)

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Katie (18) is in the middle of a "Grey's Anatomy" marathon - season 7. ;-)


The Art of Hearing Heartbeats


Death Rides a Chestnut Mare (Danny Duggin, #1)

My husband, Ed

Kill Shot (Mitch Rapp, #2)

What are YOU reading this week?



  1. What a variety of books you have read and are reading! Wow!

    Here's my It's Monday!

  2. My grandson loved reading Sparky with me. Firefly July is a great new poetry addition to my library collection as is anything Melissa Sweet is involved in creating. Besides being a wonderful poetry book, it looks beautiful on display with its eye catch catching colors.

  3. I completely agree with you about the illustrations in Sparky. Definitely have a Jon Klassen vibe about them.

    I hear ya on Grasshopper Jungle. I actually really liked the characters, but once it got to the gross parts, I was starting to lose interest. What kept me reading was the fact that Smith created such a perfect exposition to get me behind the main character that the gross parts didn't gross me out as much because I was so intent on Austin's journey that I wanted to see how it ended for him.

  4. Sparky videos are adorable. The book cover caught my attention right away. Great collection of books. Enjoy!

  5. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is on my wishlist, I enjoy that you share the books others in your family are reading also, Have a good week.

  6. Sparky looks sweet, lol

    Marathon of Grey's, sounds delightful and fun

  7. I enjoyed reading your review of Grasshopper. I feel like my Nerdy license is going to be revoked sometimes when I just don't love certain books! I have that book at home… I want to start it, but am a little nervous because of all the buzz! I have Aviary Wonders for tonight to read! The trailer is awesome! Thanks for sharing everything :)

  8. I <3 <3 <3 Sparky. Cannot even begin to tell you how adorable and sweet it is! Great taste ;)

    Happy reading this week! :) The Brunette Librarian's Blog

  9. I can't wait to see Sparky! That sloth video was ridiculously adorable. Also, I wholeheartedly agree with your stance on Grasshopper Jungle. I get why people are a-buzz, but it just wasn't by favorite. And I am totally ok with gross. I also feel this way about John Green's books. Totally respect him, his devoted readers, and all the love he gets, but his books are not my favorites either. To each there own, right? Thanks for sharing all these goodies. Off to watch the sloths again...~Megan

  10. Wow! So many great books this week, Holly! I featured Sparky on my last week's IMWAYR list - it is a delightful book! The video was adorable! Sloths seem to be quite a trend in picture books these days! Have you read Lost Sloth? It's hilarious! I just bought Firefly in July - isn't it wonderful! I love books about seasons and these poems fit perfectly with my poetry unit! I'm intreged by some of books your family is reading - Thinking Fast and Slow and The Art of Hearing Heartbreaks - both are now on my radar! Thank you for sharing so many great titles!

  11. Thank you for your honest review of Grasshopper. I have heard whispers of similar opinions, but very few people are willing to post it for others to see. I haven't read it yet because I am wary, but I do have a copy. I will keep your review in mind when I get to it! Have a great reading week!

  12. Sloths are just so stinkin' adorable. Sparky is a cute book. Not sure I am in love with the ending, but I know my students will like it. I have Grasshopper Jungle, but I have read enough reviews to know that it's likely not exactly my cup of tea either. I am a little apprehensive, but am going to jump in anyway.

  13. I'm happy to hear others who feel the same about Grasshopper Jungle. Definitely not for me, but I respect Alex Smith's talent. I LOVE the sloth video. Can't wait to show my kids! Great post!

  14. Sparky arrived in the mail today. We were so excited to finally get it! Thanks for sharing what your family is reading. It is so nice to learn about books for all different age groups.

  15. Isn't Sparky! awesome? I appreciate your comments about Grasshopper Jungle. Thinking I might not read it - the gross/disturbing will not be for me I think. Like you, I have read great reviews but nothing that convinces me that I will like it.

  16. Hi there Holly, I love your thoughtful review of Grasshopper Jungle - and your acknowledgment of how compelling the narrative is and that it simply is not for you. There are truly books like that, and it takes a very sensitive reviewer such as yourself to draw out its strengths while at the same time sharing your candid thoughts and insights about the novel. I am now very excited to read it. :)

    I am looking forward to knowing Sparky and loving him too, Firefly July is also receiving a lot of love, and that Aviary book which Carrie also shared a few weeks back, I just know I would absolutely adore. I'm glad to see a Daniel Kahneman book here - I have just discussed his "creative insight" this morning as I talked about critical and creative thinking skills in one of my course modules with the Singapore Army. Gave me a weird sense of deja vu seeing his book here after we have discussed him extensively and watched his youtube clip this morning. That's good reading material right there! :)