Monday, June 22, 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.
I haven't posted in a month, so I'm catching up!!  I would normally read a lot more in a month, but my life has been CRAZY busy lately!

I love the thick pages and muted colors of this book about all types of homes. Gorgeous, sometimes whimsical (Atlantian homes, hollow tree homes, sea homes, and a Moonian home), illustrations accompany spare text. I could see this as being a great addition to my HOME/FAMILY unit and having kids not only describe and illustrate their own homes, but imagine someone's else's home, also. This book reminds me a little of Ted Kooser and Jon Klassen's House Held Up By Trees.

The power of the pen! Whether it be writing, art, or any other creative expression, this book encourages readers to make something and let their imagination soar. Beautiful pen and ink illustrations.
2015-book, animals, bookaday2015, family, humor, kindness, mock-caldecott-2016

What a winning combination - Philip C. Stead and Matthew Cordell!! Stead's sweet and humorous story about Sadie sending "mail" to Great-Aunt Josephine to keep her company is made even sweeter and funnier by Cordell's energetic, quirky illustrations. I love the endearing quality of Cordell's work - I'm a big fan! Embedded in this story are the values of kindness, kept promises, and dedication to family.
So cute! Deborah Freedman is able to capture expression, personality, and friendship so perfectly in her words and illustrations. This would be the perfect book to teach collaboration, creativity, cooperation, conflict and resolution, and character traits. Love it!

Yard Sale
Yard Sale by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
2015-book, bookaday2015, family, home, love, mock-caldecott-2016, moving, picture-book

This one really tugged at my heartstrings. Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo capture a young girl's heartbreak at having to move and sell things that are important to her, but realizing it's family that really matters.
Wolfie the Bunny
Adorable. Hilarious. Sweet. Kids will LOVE this one.  Dot will especially make them laugh.
Last Stop on Market Street
"He wondered how his nana always found beautiful where he never even thought to look." This is a beautiful story of a grandmother teaching her grandson about beauty, social responsibility, and appreciating life. CJ's and his grandmother's differences in perspective throughout the book until the end reminded me of Lauren Castillo's Nana in the City. Loved the illustrations, also - the city's people are full of diversity. CJ's grandmother helps him learn to appreciate the differences. The spotted dog is adorable.
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
“When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice.” I listened to this one, and now I'd like to go back and read the print version. I loved Mim's acidic but lovable, humorous, and smart voice. This is a journey story, and the characters reminded me a lot of John Green's characters. Mim meets good, quirky characters along the way. I thought Arnold captured the complications of mental illness and medication well. I enjoyed this story, and I think teens will love it. I'm watching this one as a strong Printz contender.
  Bone Gap
I wanted to like this book so badly because of the Nerdy Book Club love, but instead, I thought it was creepy and disturbing. A creepy and disturbing book doesn't always turn me off, but this one left me feeling uneasy and icky and would hesitate to give it to a teen - at least, a young teen. With that being said, I recognize the excellent writing and thought the exploration of Finn's disability (to name it would be a spoiler) was fascinating. I also thought the story brought up interesting aspects of what beauty is and how people view anomalies. Furthermore, Roza and Petey are characters that make excellent book club discussions. When I read the acknowledgments, I had to chuckle at Franny Billingsley's "I want more magic" feedback. I think that's exactly what I wanted less of - I'm clearly in the minority though!

I was really looking forward to reading another book by Water for Elephants author, Sara Gruen. I LOVED Water for Elephants! I was a little disappointed by this one, though. There seemed to be many comparisons with The Great Gatsby (which was not the problem - I loved The Great Gatsby)- the inane wealthy lives, the threesome (I even thought of You, Me, and Dupree), the betrayals, etc. Lots of dysfunction and family feuds. Those can all be parts of a great story, but overall, it fell flat for me. There wasn't one character I liked or cheered on. I did like the idea of hunting for the Loch Ness Monster, but there wasn't a whole lot about that. It'll be interesting to talk about it at book club. I'll be interested to see what others have to say about it.
God's Story, Your Story: When His Becomes Yours
I read this book because I'll be co-teaching an upcoming online class at my church on John Eldredge's book, Epic: The Story God is Telling. They are excellent companion books, and both authors urge us to take a look at our own story within God's larger story. We are a part of His story, and He is a part of ours. It gives one a great sense of purpose and meaning. I was very touched by the ending of this one - Lucado's graduation analogy.

   The War that Saved My Life
Off to read what YOU read this week!










  1. What a fine collection for all ages and reading wishes! I think I shall begin with "My Pen" and Max Lucado's book. Thanks for this wonderful share!
    Visiting from Literacy Musing Mondays.
    ~ linda

  2. So many great titles you read this week, Holly! Many of them were mentioned at the All Write conference. I just started listening to Bone Gap so I found your review of it interesting. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet, but I can see where you are coming from. Enjoy your week!

  3. I am very eager to read Christopher Myers' book. That's the one I will look for next. Have fun with Unusual Chickens. It cracked me up.

  4. Such great books this week! I especially loved Wolfie the Bunny and Special Delivery.

  5. I have The War that Saved my Life on my TBR summer list. The Bone Gap looks great too!

  6. Mosquitoland sounds amazing - Market Street is just to a joy to read, Holly, for all ages.

  7. Those are GREAT picture books! I loved all of them.
    I really appreciated your honest reviews of the Gruen novel and Bone Gap. I have Bone Gap to read, but I've heard more and more "eh" reviews lately. I'm putting it off for a bit because I really want to spend time reading the books that I can't wait to get to this summer.

  8. We just finished reading The War that Saved My Life - What an amazing story. Last Stop on Market Street is one of those books that we will read again and again. It teaches both young and old important lessons about perspective.

  9. So many amazing books on your list. I actually loved Bone Gap. There is so much going on. Although it is a bit creepy, I loved the connection to the Persephone myth only Rosa was able to free herself. I like the idea of Mosquitoland, but I think I will wait until I'm recovered from my end of school year exhaustion before I get into anything that intense.

  10. Oh my goodness. You have been busy! Your description of HOME is beautiful. I want to read it now! I adored the fun in BY MOUSE AND FROG and am glad you liked it, too. Thanks for sharing these great books. I plan to read Mosquitoland soon. Hopefully, we can compare notes!

  11. Glad you've caught back up! I am really intrigued by My Pen (love Christopher Myers!), and you featured a lot of great picture books I've been making my way through lately too. Happy reading!

  12. I just got myself a copy of Bone Gap and I really look forward to reading it. My Pen and Home sound like must-read books. :)