Monday, July 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.
Lion, Lion
This book has a story for me! I won artwork by Larry Day (featuring the LION and the little boy) at Nerd Camp earlier this month. I was very excited to meet the author of the book he illustrated (who happens to be his wife) and Larry right after I claimed my prize. It was interesting that I won the art because all the other works of art that I was interested in I knew the illustrator and the books they were from - except this one! I put raffle tickets in the bag for this one just because I loved the lion and the boy, the beautiful, rich colors, and thought the illustration was awesome. After I won it, I thought I better buy the book, so I did. As Miriam Busch was signing the book for me, I realized my phone went dead, and I couldn't take a picture of me with her (Larry had signed it already and was signing someone else's book when this was happening, I think). I was so disappointed! My friend, Megan, was in the bathroom at the time, so I couldn't even borrow her phone. Lo and behold, and only at Nerd Camp, there was another illustrator/author, Ruth McNally Bershaw, standing by to rescue me. She SKETCHED us as we were standing there and handed me the sketch!!!! WOW! WAY better than a photo! Both the Larry Day art AND the sketch of Miriam and me are being framed at my favorite framing store and will be added to my collection of children's book illustrations in my classroom! I finally got to read the book and loved it. Kids are going to love the surprises and twist in this book, the endearing LION, the funny, colorful illustrations of all the animals, and the brave boy.
Holly Mueller's photo.
Holly Mueller's photo.
How to Draw a Dragon
Douglas Florian books always make me smile. The fantastic, humorous art, the quirky verse, and the kids in his books are great! Each two-page spread features a colorful, unique, and creative dragon, a child (I appreciate the diversity of the children!), and tips on how to draw the dragon.
Boats for Papa
Oh my, this one is a tear-jerker. Beautiful illustrations accompany a poignant story about a few stages of grief (denial, acceptance) and the love of a mother. One of my favorites this year!
Roller Girl
I loved this graphic novel about a 12-year-old and her experiences with roller derby, changing identity, and learning about what friendship really means. Her chosen sport also teaches Astrid a lot about determination and grit. Moms could learn a few things, too, about how to handle a little girl growing into a teenager from Astrid's mother. I know this will be a favorite in my classroom!   I better order multiple copies!
      Rescue on the Oregon Trail (Ranger in Time, #1)      Danger in Ancient Rome (Ranger in Time, #2)   
2015-book, adventure, dogs, early-middle-grade, historical-fiction, historytime-travel

Rescue on Oregon Trail:

              I loved this first book of a new historical fiction/time travel series for young readers! Once again, Kate Messner knows exactly how to appeal to any and all levels/ages of readers. It's amazing. Ranger is a search-and-rescue dog, and when he finds a first aid kit that transports him back in time to 1850, his skills come in handy on the Oregon Trail. I love Ranger's devotion to his present-time owner, Luke, even when doing what he can for the families in the past. Kids will love Ranger while also learning lots of history!
Danger in Ancient Rome
This follow up to the first in a series of time-travel historical fiction books featuring Ranger, the search-and-rescue dog, was a little more violent and action-packed. It will appeal to early middle to middle graders who love adventure, survival stories, and history. Lots of facts about gladiators sneak into the narrative, and there is a great Author's Note and glossary at the end. Ranger's antics will delight dog lovers!
Young Adult
When I Was the Greatest


Megan and I listened to the audio of this book to and from NErDcampMI. Ali is a kid living in Brooklyn with his kid sister, Jazz, and mother, who works multiple jobs to make ends meet. His neighborhood is noisy, full of action, and sometimes dangerous, but Ali stays clean. Jazz loves giving everyone nicknames, including the brothers who moved next door. Noodles becomes his best friend, even though he's constantly looking for trouble, and Needles has Tourette's Syndrome. He gets his nickname from his love of knitting, which he learns when Ali's mother teaches it to him to calm him down. Noodles is hard on Needles, which really bothers Ali. When a misunderstanding turns into a brawl at a party, Ali has to figure out how to stay on the right side of the tracks. There is a lot going on in this story, and I loved how Reynolds dealt with decisions, emotions, the urban setting, family, forgiveness, values, and friendship. It was nice to read a young adult novel in which the character decides NOT to participate in things that many YA novels celebrate (sex, drugs). Lots to talk about in this novel. Also, don't let the cover scare you away.  This book SHOULD be included in your teen libraries.
The Hunted (The Living #2)
Strong follow up to The Living.  I highly recommend both - teens will love them!
The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

Wow.  This book was intense!  I've argued that as a whole series, Legend is strong than the Divergent and Hunger Games series.  I'm waiting for the movies - I hope someone is making them! This one promises to be just as strong.  However, while I would recommend Legend to some of my mature 6th grade readers, this one is for older kids!  There are more mature themes and more intense violence in this story.  Adeline is a great character, though, because she has built up anger from her father's abuse and abilities that are potentially greater than any of The Young Elites' powers if she can learn to control them.  I hate that I have to wait now for the 2nd installment!
The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)
                           adult, adult-fiction, characters-with-disabilities, gifted-character

I finally got around to reading this novel, and I'm glad I did. I loved it! It's smart, funny, and thought-provoking. It helped me think about Asberger's in a new way, and I enjoyed the budding romance between Don and Rosie.  I'm excited about the movie - Jennifer Lawrence is being talked about to play Rosie - perfect choice!


  1. When I Was the Greatest is still in my pile. One day I'll get to it.
    I met Ruth at an indie a few days after nerdcamp. She drew a fantastic picture for my daughter and sang her happy birthday. So nice!

  2. You have been on a reading tear! I've out each of the YA books on my TBR list, Holly, thanks for the great reviews.

  3. You've been busy. Glad to hear about a YA book that doesn't celebrate poor choices. I keep seeing Boats for Papa and Lion Lion - time to request them. Happy reading!

  4. Hi, Holly! Thanks for some great information on a LOT of titles. I've read Roller Girl and The Ranger in Time books (Kate's historical research on these and the content included in the books is fantastic!) I loved reading your story about Lion, Lion. I'm going to have to check that one out! When I read YA, it's usually for my own enjoyment, as I don't teach kids higher than 5th grade-- gifted readers--but not always ready for mature themes. I've heard so much great stuff about When I Was the Greatest, but the cover HAS always bothered me! Your comments have convinced me to read it! Finding time to read books for grown-ups seems so rare, but I'm really intrigued by The Rosie Project. Thanks again for some great ideas. Happy reading this week!

  5. So neat about the art, Holly. That is a special memory! Thanks for the heads up on so many books. I want to read the new Matt de la Pena book, really enjoyed the first one. And I loved the Legend books, and am happy to hear how much you enjoyed The Young Elites too. Marie Lu is someone to watch for for a long time. The picture books look great too-lots to love all through the post. Thank you!

  6. Enjoyed your always.
    Side note: How do I get to the other blog you are on this summer? Leading a group?

  7. Love your list this week, Holly! So many books I have not read and a few I'm looking forward to reading! I am very excited about Roller Girl - heard so many wonderful things about it! Boats for Papa is one I am also wanting to read. Douglas Florian is one of my top favorite poets and this one looks amazing! Also great for instructional writing! My son loved The Young Elites but I haven't read it yet. I loved your story about winning the art and the book looks amazing. I also loved The Rose Project - so many LOL moments. Haven't read the sequel yet - but it's in my pile! Kate Messner can do no wrong in my eyes - love everything she writes! Thanks, Holly!