Monday, April 27, 2015

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.

Almost two months have passed since I posted a #IMWAYR!!  Yikes.  I need to get back in the habit.  Here are some recent reads that I enjoyed:


Blue Birds

I enjoyed this multiple first person narrative, told in verse. Rose's May B. was a favorite of mine, so I had been looking forward to this one. Like May B., Alis, an English girl newly arrived in Roanoke, and Kimi, a native Roanoke girl, are strong and brave. They become friends, communicating secretly, and find companionship in each other, even when the adults around them start to hate each other. Their friendship could be deadly for their families, but they can't bring themselves to end their friendship. Birds throughout the story symbolize the hope and peace they find in their friendship, and one of them is faced with a choice that could change her life forever. Great Author's Note at the end. I'd pair this one up with Susan Cooper's Ghost Hawk.  

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust

Hidden by Loic Dauvillier

Since my students love graphic novels so much, this is a great way to introduce them to the Holocaust or contribute to their knowledge of it.  Pair it with Number the Stars or Boy on the Wooden Box. It  addresses a common issue with people who have endured war or tragedy - they are reluctant to talk about it. However, it is important to share the story. The grandmother who finally describes her experiences as a young Jewish girl during WWII to her granddaughter has ensured that it will never be forgotten.  This novel is perfect for intermediate grades.  One page deals with circumcision, so that may need to be explained.


I loved Endangered when it came out, so I was excited to read this one.  It's very different from Endangered, but just as amazing.  I was pulled into the "Inside" jungle of Gabon with Luc, an orphan rescued from terrible Monsieur Tatagani, who was holding the boy in awful conditions in order to pay off debts incurred by the death of his mother, by a professor who claims to be studying chimpanzees for National Geographic.  My heart went out to Luc, the little adorable vervet, and the chimps Luc befriended.  I loved it so much I chose it for my 6th graders' last read aloud of the year.  Can't wait for Schrefer's next one!  I'm a fan.

Paper Towns

Paper Towns by John Green

Since the brilliant John Green's novel, Paper Towns,  is the next to become a major blockbuster, I thought it was time for me to read it.  Once again, Green's hilarious, poignant, and smart storytelling grabbed me from the beginning and swept me along on a fabulous ride.   Q's epic and desperate journey with his quirky friends to find Margo will make an awesome movie.

Read Between the Lines

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles
My first thought when I finished this book was that it was depressing. I had a hard time with all the negative views of parents, families, the teen condition, and the world in general. After processing it for a couple days, though, I saw that each story ended with hope, however small.  I love that the whole idea for the story came from Knowles being flipped off. 

    The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics    

This is an incredible result of what must have been extensive research - a story of the University of Washington's rowing team's quest for gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Brown gives us an idea of the grit and resolve it takes to be a rower with the story of Joe Rantz's heartbreaking childhood. Abandoned by his father and stepmother, he was left to survive on his own at a very young age, never being allowed to be a part of the family. True to a classic quest story, Joe's journey to find where he belonged ends with his transformation after being a part of the amazing U. of Washington team. I loved the fact that Seabiscuit and Louis Zamperini, subjects of my favorite narrative nonfiction author, Laura Hillenbrand's, books, wove their way through the story. The Great Depression and Hitler's rise to power also come into play as the backdrop of this amazing narrative. I listened to it on audio and loved the narrator. Highly recommended!


  1. Thanks for sharing! I'm finishing "Us" by David Nicholls. My TBR pile is growing...I need to read, read, read!

  2. These all look good. I read Joseph Bruchac's March Toward the Thunder, another Civil War story. It wasn't the main story, but one of the characters was a disguised female soldier who joined to protect her husband. I just finished Seabiscuit, so I'm intrigued by The Boys in the Boat.

  3. I definitely want to read Threatened now that I have your review, Holly - an unusual story, and it sounds powerful.

  4. Looks like you've been quite busy reading at least! Have you read Behind Rebel Lines? It is a middle grade novel about the true story of Sarah Emma Edmonds who was a Civil War soldier and spy.

  5. You've got some really interesting books on your list that I want to read, especially Glory O'Brien's HIstory of the Future and Hidden. Have you read Debbie Reese's post about the Caroline Starr Rose books?

  6. Wow! There are lots of great titles there. I very much want to read Blue Birds. I may need to sneak in more YA reads this summer for some John Green and Jo Knowles.

  7. You have 3 must reads and 2 favorites in this post!
    Isn't Paper Towns and Threatened brilliant?! Very different but both so well done!
    As for the must reads: I need to get to Blue Birds (and May B!), Hidden, and Read Between the Lines. I'm avoiding reviews of Jo's book, so I didn't read yours; however, I can assume it is as good as the rest of hers.

    Happy reading this week! :)

  8. Wow! You mention so many books I'm interested in, including Paper Towns and I Shall Be Near to You. I loved The Martian. I hope you're enjoying it!

  9. I'm still scratching my head about the last chapter in Read Between the Lines trying to figure out why it was the only one to be written in 3rd person.

  10. Goodness gracious. There are so many good books here, that I don't know which to comment on! I loved HIDDEN. It was very well done. I also loved THREATENED and agree that it is very different from ENDANGERED--but in a good way! I am going to start Glory O'Brien soon, so I am interested to hear what you think about it when you finish! I hope you have a wonderful week!

  11. Wow, lots of good books here, Holly. I just loved Endangered and Threatened, really good stories that integrate the animal info too so beautifully. Thanks for your opinion about Girl On A Train. I bought it, but still haven't read it, think I would enjoy it no matter if the characters are difficult. I also loved The Boys In The Boat-fascinating story! Thanks for catching up!

  12. I like how you include video clips! You share so much information. Thank you.

  13. I am looking forward to finding and reading The Girl In The Train - I binge-read Gone Girl and I heard that there are resonances with this novel. The Boys In the Boat - sounds riveting - I like stories that demonstrate grit and determination.

  14. I've heard great things about The Girl on the Train, but I don't have any time to read adult books now! I just requested Blue Birds after reading your post-thanks!