Monday, September 7, 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.
The Grasshopper & the Ants

Jerry Pinkney's art is just amazing in this retelling of a popular fable. The detail, colors, and beauty of the illustrations in this book could keep you gazing, wondering, and appreciating for a long time. I especially loved the changing of the seasons. Pinkney decides to add a bonus moral to this traditional tale - Generously share your bounty. I'd be interested in what kids think of this ending.
 Wherever You Go


This picture book will join Aaron Becker's JOURNEY when I start my JOURNEY unit in January. It is also a perfect one for my HOME/FAMILY unit. I love the expressions of wonder and joy on the rabbit's face, the owl in the bike basket, all the places they see and weather/seasons they experience, and the sentiments of the verses. Sweet!
I Don't Want to Be a Frog

So cute! I love the funny illustrations. Kids will enjoy the exchange between an unhappy frog child and his bespectacled dad - the child wanting to be anything else but a slimy, wet, bug-eating frog, and the dad's patient but slightly exasperated explanations of why he can't be anything else but a frog. Finally, the wolf is the one to convince him it's not so bad to be who he is!
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat

What a clever idea for a book! Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall brilliantly follow 4 different parents and children through different eras and places, making the same dessert - a blackberry fool. You see the progression of technology, culture, families, homes, etc. I love that both the author and illustrator chose to include a slave family toward the beginning to show the reality of the 1800s and a father/son duo in a multicultural family at the end to show how inclusive our culture has become. The various places are interesting, too. One thing that doesn't change is the shared, loving experience of making something delicious and enjoying it with family and friends.  There is a recipe for blackberry fool in the back, and wonderful notes from the author and illustrator. This is one of my favorite picture books of the year!
The Allegra Biscotti Collection  (The Allegra Biscotti Collection, #1)
art, character-motivation, creativity, fashion, friendship, intermediate-kids-bookyoung-adult-book

I bought this book because I found out one of my fifth graders liked sketching fashion designs. I tweeted out to the #nerdybookclub folks to see if anyone knew of titles with characters who liked fashion, and Gary Anderson tweeted back with this. I thought it was entertaining, funny, and a great title to recommend to my student. It reminded me a lot of All Four Stars by Tara Dairman, another book I'm going to recommend to this girl because she also likes to cook! This story intrigued me enough to want to read more of the series.

Sunny Side Up


Wow. Jennifer and Matt Holm have tackled a very important issue in graphic novel format - substance abuse. It's also about the complicated relationships of siblings, a grandfather's love and support, honesty, secret-keeping, parents' decisions when a family crisis occurs, and ultimately, a testimony to how important it is for a family to see the truth and deal with it compassionately. There is so much to appreciate in the book - the strong sense of setting (since I grew up in the 70s, I loved the time period AND my parents and in-laws live in retirement communities in Florida, so I could fully relate to that), the story structure with flashbacks, the comic books, the friendship that developed between Sunny and her comic-loving Cuban-American friend, the alligator, the search for lost things (the frames on page 158 broke my heart), the references to the Bicentennial, the Pompeii metaphor, and the long-awaited trip to Disney World. I also appreciated the ambiguity of the ending - will her brother be okay? The more I think and write about this book, the more I realize how well done it is. I will be very interested in what my students say about it.
I wrote, too, about THE YARN, a podcast series with Colby Sharp and Travis Jonker, in this post.  The first season is all about Sunny Side Up and includes a must-listen interview with both Jen and Matt talking about how this story was born.


  1. Holly - I so hope you enjoy Nest - this book really got to me. What beautiful picture books you read this week. Many are ones I know and also really like. A Fine Dessert, well, wow, agreed so very clever. I can't wait to read Sunny Side up. I will pick it up next time I am at the bookstore.

  2. I loved Nest, A Fine Dessert, and I Don't Want To Be A Frog (so cute), but love the look of those first 2 you shared, Holly. Wherever You Go is so inviting. Thanks, & I do need to read Sunny Side Up, soon!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing that fun KidLit TV video with Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall. Now I definitely want to read A Fine Dessert to my students and make blackberry fool with them -- and paint with blackberry gloop! :)

  4. Sunny Sideup is a funny, important, quirky, and loveable graphic novel. I am a big fan!
    Thank you always for everything you share in your IMWAYR posts. I love seeing the trailers/extra info.

    Happy reading this week! :)

  5. A Fine Dessert looks like very good fun. I love books that incorporate food! Thanks for sharing!