Monday, May 19, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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. 
Extraordinary Jane
I smiled all the way through this book. Who wouldn't fall in love with Jane, the ordinary, extraordinary little dog?! The illustrations are just priceless. Poor Jane just doesn't feel like she measures up to her graceful mother, her strong father, her brave brothers, fearless sisters, or the amazing circus performers. She tries everything! It turns out she's best at just being Jane. And that is extraordinary.
I was drawn to this book by the cover! The watercolor of a city filled with umbrella-clad pedestrians and one lone chicken is irresistible. "Peggy lived in a small house on a quiet street" and filled her days with ordinary activities until she was blown away by a blustery wind. Thus began her adventure in the big city, but there's no place like home.
Buddy and the Bunnies: In Don't Play with Your Food
Bob Shea has such a sense of fun and creates great read alouds for young children. Kids will love the easily duped monster and the cute, clever bunnies.
Goodnight Songs
This collection of Margaret Wise Brown unpublished poems were stumbled upon by Amy Gary and published in this beautiful book, illustrated by various children's literature artists. I'm amazed by Brown's ability to turn simple words, rhymes, and repetitions into pure magic. Goodnight Moon was one of my daughters' favorites were they were young. This book would make the perfect baby gift. A CD of music accompanies it.
Eric, The Boy Who Lost His Gravity
Eric gets really, really mad at his sister when she messes with all his toys and play. How is it HE is the one who gets in trouble?! He gets SO mad he actually lifts right up off the floor. After he cools off, he falls back down, and his sister is the one who gets really, really mad because she can't find Bunny, the stuffed animal. I thought the scribbled facial expressions were pretty funny.
 Two Speckled Eggs
The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story
In an interview I saw, R.J. Palacio was asked why she didn't include Julian's point of view in Wonder, and she said that she didn't want him to have a voice. When we hear someone's story, we feel empathy, and she didn't want that. I wonder if she needed the distance from writing the novel to feel compelled to tell Julian's story. At the beginning of the chapter I didn't think there was going to be redemption since Julian was unlikable as ever. His parents were equally unlikable, especially his mother. It wasn't until he stayed with his French grandmother over the summer that Julian started to change. Once again, Mr. Browne was amazing and shed some light on Julian's behavior. He also validated Julian's sense of worth so that he could make the change. Palacio tried to take on an awful lot in 80 short pages, but she did tackle another big theme. I'll be curious to see what reactions my students have to this added chapter. Will they forgive Julian? Knowing my students, they will. I liked that I read Wonder aloud to my current fifth graders last year when I had them in fourth grade. They've had a year and a half distance from the book, and even though they were curious about Julian's perspective, they couldn't get it. From now on, students will have access to Julian's chapter immediately after they finish Wonder. That will be a completely different experience. "But the good thing about life, Julian," she continued, "is that we can fix our mistakes sometimes. We learn from them. We get better. I never made a mistake like the one I made with Tourteau again, not with anyone in my life. And I have had a very, very long life. You will learn from your mistake, too. You must promise yourself that you will never behave like that with anyone else again. One mistake does not define you, Julian. Do you understand me? You must simply act better next time."' - Julian's grandmother
The Elite (The Selection, #2)
While this series is not especially deep, it is compelling. I am reading it for the same reason I watch "The Bachelor" - the drama and romance. :-)  I have some girls in my class that are ripping through the series, too. I have to get the final book, The One, back from one of them since I let her borrow it. Now I'm ready to find out how it all ends.
The History of Us
THEN: Eloise has to return to Cincinnati and live in her childhood mansion after landing a job at Harvard in order to take care of her sister's three children when Rachel,and her husband die in tragic accident. This incident is briefly described, and we don't know much about the years that Eloise raised the children except for brief flashbacks during the NOW section. NOW: The story fast forwards 20 years to when the children are young adults. Much angst gathers around family relationships, romance, the house, the city, and jobs. The family has to figure out what is important and what home and happiness means. I have to be honest - I found the characters pretty annoying and dysfunctional. It was fun, however, to have a novel set in my own nearby city, Cincinnati.
Dash - Life Between the Numbers
The Boy on the Wooden Box
My family loves to read, too!
My Accidental Jihad
Iron Skillet Bill: Thomas Monroe Helm

My husband, Ed:
Protect and Defend (Mitch Rapp, #10)
My daughter, Katie (18):
The Longest Ride
My daughter, Libby (21):

Thinking, Fast and Slow
What are YOU reading this week? 




  1. Loved The Julian Chapter, I think distance was helpful for R.J. Palacio, brilliant... So many books to add to the 'to-be-read' list, thanks, can't wait... :)

  2. The Boy on the Wooden Box was such a special book! I will have to get around to reading the Julian chapter - interesting that Palacio decided to take on his perspective.

  3. Wow! What a great list of books this week, Holly! Some I know (Goodnight Songs, Peggy and The Boy on the Wooden Box - but many new ones for me. I love the look of Two Speckled Eggs and the Boy Who Lost Gravity. I'm hearing lots about the Julian Chapter - such a clever idea to focus on another character of the same story. I have heard the same things about The History of Us. Extraordinary Jane looks hilarious! Thanks for sharing!

  4. So many great books this week! I smiled throughout Extraordinary Jane and then the last page just made me sob. Such a powerful message, that no matter how ordinary we think we are, that is still enough for the people who love us.

  5. So many picture books I want to read here! Extraordinary Jane looks wonderful. I need to let the students in my Children's Lit class know about the Julian chapter because Wonder was the favorite book for many in the class. I appreciated reading your perspective in the different reading experience that Wonder will be for readers now that the Julian chapter is available to read as soon as you finish the book.

  6. I'd love to know where you find all these book trailers and author interviews. Whenever I search for one to show my students I can only find student made videos. Thanks!
    Are We There Yet?

    1. Sometimes the student made ones are the only ones available. I just look to make sure the trailer is made by a publisher. If the book is new, you have better luck. Not very many older ones have official trailers. It's fun when you find them, though!

  7. Oh man, you have given me quite a few books to look into before our next library trip! Have a wonderful week. :)

  8. Dash and The Julian Chapter are going on my TBR. Those are the two that caught my eye. I loved The Boy on the Box. It's such a great story. I also love the book because the woman who did the cover art lives in my community and her children ran cross country with my son. I love her photographs and have one on my wall.

    1. Oh wow! What an amazing connection!!! The cover art of both Wonder and The Julian Chapter is so intriguing.

  9. The Boy on the Wooden Box is quite amazing. Is it good on audio? I want to read both Extraordinary Jane and Peggy - they are both on my radar! Two Speckled Eggs looks adorable.

    1. Yes!! The audio is excellent! The narrator (not the author) does a great job. I was able to find it and download it from our library on Overdrive. Love that app!

  10. My daughter was so excited to find out that there's a sequel to Wonder, which she absolutely loved. I personally didn't get the chance to read it yet, but she was gushing about it. Looks like I know exactly what to get her for Christmas. Haha. I would have to find Peggy for sure, looks really gorgeous. I was given a copy of Goodnight Songs by my good friend Pepper Roxas who illustrated the book cover. I really am looking forward to reading it very very soon. :)

  11. I've had Goodnight Songs on my reserve list for a couple of months. I am not sure what is going on that I haven't gotten it yet!
    The Bachelor is a guilty pleasure of mine, so I think I may have to check out The Elite too! :)