Monday, August 31, 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.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music
I read this right after Engle's memoir in verse, Enchanted Air, so the bright colors of Cuba (guava pink, lime green, pineapple yellow) and "the rattling jawbone of a musical mule" were still etched in my mind. Inspired by the true story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl, who broke the taboo against female drummers in Cuba in the 1930s, Drum Dream Girl will inspire young readers to pursue their passions and break glass ceilings. Engle's lovely poetry and the vivid purples, oranges, greens, and reds in Rafael Lopez's illustrations capture a young girl's dreams of making music with drums.

My attention was brought to these books because I saw them on several Picture Book 10 for 10 lists.  They're perfect for sharing at the beginning of the school year to talk about identity, self-esteem, bullying, kindness, standing up for others, etc.  Clever and simple, these stories can help build a community of caring and confident learners.
The Princess and the Pony

Oh my goodness - so silly, but I laughed aloud at the hilarious pictures of the pony.  Kids will, of course, laugh hysterically at the farting.  Sometimes, you don't always get what you ask for, like the princess learned.  However, she also learns to make the best of what she got.  The pony might not be a big, strong warrior horse, but it turns out to win the day anyway, in all its cuteness.

Rude Cakes

Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins

 2015-book, humor, beginning-of-school, manners, picture-book
Another silly, but funny book. Kids would enjoy this humorous look at manners - perfect for the beginning of school.
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir

I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but look at this one! So beautiful. Fortunately, the inside matches the outside - a beautiful memoir in verse by Cuban-American Margarita Engle. It's full of gorgeous language that describes the angst of growing up, feeling torn between two countries, longing for adventure and travel, not always fitting in, confusion over politics and culture clashes, the beauty of Cuba and America, the love of art, stories, and poetry, and so much more. It makes me want to visit Cuba! I was just as absorbed in this story as I was in Brown Girl Dreaming - they will sit side by side on my bookshelf.
The Dumbest Idea Ever!


Funny, honest, and inspiring! Great example for kids about how ideas for writing evolve.  This will join the other graphic memoir texts in my library: Smile, Sisters, El Deafo. 
Saint Anything
Words in the Dust


  1. I have become completely smitten with Margarita Engle's work since I read Enchanted Air and then followed it up with Drum Dream Girl. I must get my hands on everything she's written. I'm so excited she's going to be at ALAN this year.

  2. I've requested Enchanted Air from the library and now I need to add Drum Dream Girl. My list of WTR books continues to grow!

  3. I love all of Margarita's books, can't wait to read Enchanted Air. Drum Dream Girl is beautiful, I agree. I just got Princess and The Pony from the library, can't wait. Thanks Holly, will also look for Words In The Dust.

  4. I've been hearing so many great things about Enchanted Air. I'll have to get it on my list at some point. I enjoy Kathryn Otoshi's work. Lots to talk about with students.

  5. I have read very little by Margartia Engle and really need to remedy that. I shared Otoshi's PBs in my Children's Lit class and they were a huge hit--turned up on several students' Top 10 lists at the end of the semester. Really simple concepts and executions to convey big important ideas. I loved Dumbest Idea Ever--a really fun and engaging GN. I have developed a wee bit of an obsession with Princess and Pony--the illustrations seriously crack me up. The pony's eyes! And girth! And those sweaters!

  6. I fell in love with all of Margarita Engle's novels and picturebooks - and these two are gorgeous publications this year. Loved both Enchanted Air and Drum Dream Girl.