It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!
It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!
Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.
We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.
Last Week’s Posts
**Click on any picture to view the post**
Last Week’s Journeys
Kellee: Last week, as planned, I finished Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach and I cannot wait to get close to the release date so I can review it for you. If you have not read any Herbach, start now! I also had a VERY long doctor’s appointment this week (for prenatal glucose testing), so I was able to get three graphic novels read while there! First, I read Explorer: The Lost Islands edited by Kazu Kibuishi and I am just so impressed with everything he does and this book is no different. I also read both of the Salem Hyde books by Frank Cammuso. His Knights of the Lunch Table books are a HUGE hit in my classroom, so when I heard he had a new series I made sure to get my hands on them. I will review all of these as they deserve to be shared.
Ricki: Thank you for the congratulations about my new son! I am absolutely in love with him. The week before he was born, I read a professional development book called Celebrating Writers by Ruth Ayres. This is a FANTASTIC book for teachers of writing. It gives great suggestions to help students celebrate their writing. I also read Thrice Told Tales by Catherine Lewis–another amazing book for teachers. It is based on the nursery rhyme of “Three Blind Mice.” Each page is a different literary term within the context of the nursery rhyme. I wish I had this book when I was still in the high school. I actually learned some literary terms as I read it. I also read two great National Geographic books that would be enjoyable for beginning readers to explore nonfiction—Amelia Earhart by Caroline Gilpin and Meerkats by Laura Marsh. Since my son has been born, I read Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott while nursing. This is a great book that explores grief with a very interesting plot. The main character’s mother is being kept on life support only because she is pregnant. I didn’t realize the plot when I started it—it was a depressing book to read while nursing!
This Week’s Expeditions
Kellee: I started The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley followed by a couple of other graphic novels (and maybe even enough time to start some of my YA TBR) and, since I got my new phone, I hope to start listening to The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Ricki: This week, I want to read The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher. I am hoping to get through it, but no promises with the new baby.
Upcoming Week’s Posts
So, what are you reading?
Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!
Will & Whit
Author and Illustrator: Laura Lee Gulledge
Published May 17th, 2013 by Abrams
Goodreads Summary: Wilhelmina “Will” Huxstep is a creative soul struggling to come to terms with a family tragedy. She crafts whimsical lamps, in part to deal with her fear of the dark. As she wraps up another summer in her mountain town, she longs for unplugged adventures with her fellow creative friends, Autumn, Noel, and Reese. Little does she know that she will get her wish in the form of an arts carnival and a blackout, courtesy of a hurricane named Whitney, which forces Will to face her fear of darkness.
Laura Lee Gulledge’s signature visual metaphors will be on full display in this all-new graphic novel, a moving look at shedding light on the dark corners of life.
My Review: This book was NOT what I thought it was going to be! I had read Gulledge’s last graphic novel, Page by Paige, so I knew that it was going to be unique, but if you look at the cover you assume Will & Whit are the main characters and there is going to be some sort of romance. That is so off track of what the book is actually about. Will is actually Wilhelmina, our main character, who is dealing with some darkness in her life and fights it by making lamps (some of them are really beautiful and I wish I could buy them). Whit, on the other hand, is not her love interest. Whit is Hurricane Whitney who hits Will’s town and causes Will to really face some of the darkness. So, where does the romance come in? There is a little bit, but you will be so surprised as to what the cover means! I was.
There are also a wonderful set of supporting characters who make the book even more special. I also love the inclusion of art (visual and performing) and antiques within the novel.
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: The themes in this graphic novel are definitely worth talking about in the classroom. I also loved the nuances throughout that Gulledge uses to set the mood (the novel’s mood and Will’s mood). Gulledge is a skilled artist and Will’s darkness holding her back is so beautifully put into the story (like the summary says–visual metaphors).
Discussion Questions: How does Gulledge use images throughout the novel to show Will’s emotional state?; How does Whit help Will overcome her darkness?
Read This If You Loved: Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge, Friends with Boy by Faith Erin Hicks, Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Squish: Game On!
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Illustrator: Matthew Holm
Published May 1st, 2013 by Random House
Goodreads Summary: Beep! Beep! Squish can’t get enough of his awesome new video game Mitosis! (Mitosis is what happens when cells divide. Who says video games can’t be educational?) In fact, he may even be “obsessed”! He plays at home . . . at school. . . even in his sleep! Are video games taking over Squish’s life?! And can Squish’s favorite comic book hero, Super Amoeba, stop the Creeping Black Mold that’s taking over Small Pond? Find out in Squish #5: Game On–saving the world, one cell at a time!
Yowza! You can draw comics, too! Look in the back to find out how to draw one of the Squish characters! Also includes instructions for a sensational science experiment you can do at home! Shazam!
My Review: I love the Squish series. The series is so wonderful for many reasons, but I like them specifically because it balances humor, entertainment, and education. I also really like the characters, especially Squish, and one of the things I love about Squish is his love of comic books and his chosen hero, Super Amoeba. This book in the Squish series deals with a dilemma that many children face: books vs. video games and balancing time. Will Squish be able to fight the video game addiction?
Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: Students love Squish. This one will be no different. It has all of the humor yet education of the first 5 and continues to have situations that its readers will connect with.
Discussion Questions: How do you balance your time between reading and video games?; Have you ever found yourself being addicted to something? What did you do?
Visit Squish 5‘s Amazon page to “Click to Look Inside”
Read This If You Loved: Babymouse (series) by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, Squish (series) by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, Lunch Lady (series) by Jarrett Krosoczka
On Tuesday, November 26th, during the ALAN Workshop, I was lucky enough to be able to moderate a panel of the authors of the books above: Mariah Fredericks, Tupelo Hassman, Adele Griffin, and Paul Rudnick. The panel title was: “Celebrating Strong Female Characters Young Woman Take Center Stage: The Fight to Be Heard in a Testosterone World.”
If you do not know these authors, let me introduce you:
- Mariah Fredericks grew up in New York City and uses her experiences in New York and an alternative school there in her books. She has had a lot of jobs and most of them involved books: she’s reviewed books, shelved books, and sold books. She now focuses her time on writing books and says it is the best job she’s had so far. Mariah is the author of 8 young adult novels including the In the Cards series, Crunch Time, and her newest, Season of the Witch.
- Adele Griffin is a two-time National Book Award finalist and the highly acclaimed author of numerous books for young adult and middle grade readers. Her works include Where I Want to Be, the Vampire Island series, and her most recent thriller Loud Awake and Lost.
- Tupelo Hassman’s work has appeared in a variety of journals, magazines, and newspapers such as The Boston Globe, Harper’s Bazaar, The Paris Review Daily, and The Portland Review Literary Journal. Tupelo is the first American ever to win London’s Literary Death Match. Her first novel, girl child, is a 2013 Alex Award winner.
- Paul Rudnick. Paul is a frequent contributor to the NewYorker, Vanity Fair, and Entertainment Weekly. He is an Obie award winning-playwright and also was the screenwriter for such movies like Sister Act and Stepford Wives. Gorgeous is his first young adult novel.
Like their authors, the books the panel were discussing are equally as impressive (Goodreads summaries):
- Season of the Witch (published October 8th, 2013 by Schwartz & Wade): Like Fredericks’s The Girl in the Park, here is a page-turner that perfectly captures the world of New York City private schools, as it explores the notion of power among teenage girls. Publisher’s Weekly, in a starred review, raves, “Fredericks again proves her gift for conveying the intensity of adolescence, while exploring the ways girls’ sexuality is used against them and asking why ‘we all have to be predators and prey.’”Queen Bee Chloe is going to make Toni suffer for whatever transpired between Toni and Chloe’s boyfriend, Oliver, over the summer. From day one of eleventh grade, she has Toni branded as a super slut, and it isn’t long before things get so ugly that Toni fears for her safety. What’s a scared, powerless, and fed-up teenager to do? Guided by Cassandra—a girl with some serious problems of her own—Toni decides to stop playing the victim and take control. Cassandra has been experimenting with witchcraft, and together they cast a spell on Chloe that may actually cause her death. Could Toni have really made such an awful thing happen?
- girlchild (Published February 14th, 2012 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux): Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own. But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice (Disposal of Outgrown Uniforms; The Right Use of Your Body; Finding Your Way When Lost) for tips to get off the Calle: that is, Calle de los Flores, the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop.Rory’s been told she is “third generation in a line of apparent imbeciles, feeble-minded bastards surely on the road to whoredom.” But she’s determined to prove the County and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good. From diary entries, social worker’s reports, half-recalled memories, story problems, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother’s letters, Rory crafts a devastating collage that shows us her world while she searches for the way out of it. Girlchildis a heart-stopping and original debut.
- Loud Awake and Lost (Published November 12th, 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers): LOUD. There was an accident. Ember knows at least that much. She was driving. The car was totaled. She suffered back injuries and brain trauma. But she is alive. That’s the only thing left she can cling to.AWAKE. Eight months later, Ember feels broken. The pieces of her former self no longer fit together. She can’t even remember the six weeks of her life leading up to the accident. Where was she going? Who was she with? And what happened during those six weeks that her friends and family won’t talk about?LOST. One by one, Ember discovers the answers to these questions, like a twisted game of dominos. And little by little, the person she used to be slips further and further away.
In the wake of her critically praised young adult psychological thrillers,Tighter and All You Never Wanted, National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin has created another triumph. Loud Awake & Lost is an unflinching story of loss and recovery.
- Gorgeous (Published April 30th, 2013 by Scholastic Press): Inner beauty wants out…When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle’s mother dies, she’s summoned from her Missouri trailer park to meet Tom Kelly, the world’s top designer. He makes her an impossible offer: He’ll create three dresses to transform Becky from a nothing special girl into the most beautiful woman who ever lived.Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, or that he’s producing a hidden camera show called World’s Most Gullible Poor People. But she accepts, and she’s remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself – an awkward mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see pure five-alarm hotness.Soon Rebecca is on the cover of Vogue, the new Hollywood darling, and dating celebrities. Then Becky meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But to love her back, Gregory would have to look past the blinding Rebecca to see the real girl inside. And Becky knows there’s not enough magic in the world.
A screamingly defiant, hugely naughty, and impossibly fun free fall past the cat walks, the red carpets, and even the halls of Buckingham Palace,Gorgeous does the impossible: It makes you see yourself clearly for the first time.
I am so lucky to have been able to moderate these amazing authors and talk about such an important topic as strong female protagonists. Each of these books will find a home in classroom and school libraries where readers will be inspired by their protagonists.
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: September 10th, 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin
GoodReads Summary: A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Review: I can’t remember reading a book that felt so authentic to and aligned with my own experiences. I have this urge to buy hundreds of copies of this book and pass them out to college freshmen. Freshman year of college is an incredibly difficult time, and this book helped me remember it vividly. From Rowell’s descriptions of the domesticated squirrels to the awkwardness of roommate interactions to the feeling of entering the dining hall for the first time and not knowing where to go or where to sit (and feeling sure everyone is watching you), this book perfectly captures the minute details of college life–and all of the insecurities that come with it. I loved the parallels cast between Simon Snow’s story and Cather’s, and it inspired me to want to be a writer. This is a beautifully compelling story that will resonate with readers.
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This would be a great book to teach along with a creative writing unit. It would inspire students to want to become stronger writers. Students could write their own fanfictions or alternate storytelling (like Nick and Cather did). Cather’s struggles as a writer are inspirational, and I am betting that most people, like me, close this book and want to get out their computers and start writing.
Very few authors are able to hone in on the minute details of humanity. I noticed Rowell’s incredible ability to do this in Eleanor & Park, and she certainly did not stop there. I would love to copy passages of this book for close readings. This would really help students understand good, powerful writing.
Discussion Questions: Cather finds it difficult to write about any world other than that of Simon Snow. Why do you think that might be?; How are Cather and Wren different? Do you think there are any underlying reasons for their differences?; What is Nick’s purpose in the novel? What does he show about Cather?
“I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”
“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)”
Read This If You Loved: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Looking for Alaska by John Green, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian
Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday
Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!
Ye Olde Weird but True!
Author: National Geographic Kids
Published October 8th, 2013 by National Geographic Children’s Books
Goodreads Summary: Nothing attracts young readers like the weird but true…especially when the weird truth is hundreds of years old. Ye Olde Weird But True, the newest addition to the blockbuster Weird But True series, is packed with 300 wacky facts for history lovers ages 6 and up.
In this latest addition to this phenomenal series, readers will have more zany fun, this time from the pages of history! Ye Olde Weird But True delivers 100 percent new content, with 500 more of the amazing facts and photos that kids just can’t get enough of.
My Review and Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Students love these books (as do I)! They are fascinated with all of the facts and it causes such conversation in the classroom. What I would love to see done with them is take them beyond the just fun books that students read parts of and put aside. I can picture bringing out all of my Weird but True books and allowing students to choose a fact from them and researching the fact. They would then share their fact with the class—a little mini research project. I did this years ago with Sharks where I let them choose any facts or question about sharks, research, and share and it was a very successful project because everyone was so engaged. I could see the same thing happening with the Weird but True books because the students would be able to pick a topic that interests them. I can just picture one student researching using maggots to clean wounds in the 19th century while the student next to him researches Roy Chapman Andrews, the real Indiana Jones.
Discussion Questions: Find a Weird but True fact and research more information about it. After doing so, share with the class what you learned.
We Flagged: “The oldest known musical instrument is a 42,000-year-old flute made out of vulture bone.” (p. 38)
“One of the oldest maps in the world was drawn on a mammoth tusk.” (p. 110)
“French King Francis I once won a wrestling match against English King Henry VIII.” (p. 191)
Read This If You Loved: Any fact books, The Gruesome Truth About…. books
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.
Today’s Topic: Top Ten 2014 Releases We Are Dying To Read
We can’t wait to get our hands on these titles!
1. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Shockingly grotesque coming-of-age story? Count me in. The plot description of this book looks awesome, and I love Andrew Smith’s writing.
2. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
I will read any book written by this incredible woman. She only writes excellence. I will be pre-ordering this one.
3. Champion by Marie Lu
I didn’t think Prodigy could live up to the greatness of Legend. But I might argue it was even better! I have high hopes for the third book in the series and can’t wait for its release.
4. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
I am very ready for the second book in The 5th Wave series. We don’t even have a cover yet, so I better be prepared to wait.
5. ___________ by John Green
Is this cheating? John Green, I am ready for your next book. Let’s do this, friend.
1. ________ by John Green
I’m cheating too!
2. Ashes (Seeds of America #3) by Laurie Halse Anderson
I’ve been waiting and waiting for this book and it is finally going to arrive in 2014!
3. Princess in Black by Shannon Hale
Love a good princess to kick butt heroine story!
4. Sisters (Smile #2) by Raina Telgemeier
I cannot wait to hear more about Raina’s life (and my students will be so excited as well!).
5. The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner
I’m a big fan of Gae and the premise of this novel sounds very good.
Which 2014 releases are you most excited for?