Monday, May 23, 2022

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5-23-22


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.


Last week I read and enjoyed:
When a book completely changes the way you think about travel, that warrants 5 stars. While it is full of tips, details, and examples of how to find cheaper airfare, it can be boiled down essentially to this: find a cheap flight first, then build your trip around that rather than choosing the destination first.

While that is an oversimplification of the book, that beginning premise helps the reader with a mindshift about travel and how it's better to approach travel by taking more, cheaper flights than fewer expensive ones.

Too bad the pandemic made me a tad agoraphobic, but now that I have this information in my back pocket, I can start thinking about the potential for travel again.


Gibberish by Young Vo
Gibberish tells the story of a young boy named Dat who is new to the English language and what that feels like to be the new kid at school who doesn't understand everyone. That story arc isn't new, but the way Young Vo tells it and illustrates it is unlike anything I've seen before. His use of black and white cartoonish illustrations for Dat's surroundings along with emojis for dialogue that he doesn't understand really immerses the reader into Dat's world of unknowing. As Dat becomes more attuned to the English-speaking world and begins understanding more, his surroundings become more colorful and less cartoonish.

This book is brilliant and so incredibly innovative. I'm calling it now: 2023 Caldecott medalist. I will be shocked if it doesn't at least win an honor.

How to Hug a Pufferfish by Ellie Peterson
A sweet and humorous book about consent about a good-natured pufferfish who just... prefers a heads-up if you want to hug him. And important book to add to the collection of books that are currently written about consent. Pair with Can I Give You a Squish by Emily Neilson.


School is Wherever I Am by Ellie Peterson
Learning happens everywhere... it doesn't have to only be in a building we call school.


The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
A tribute to the joys of summer when kids played in the street and always knew to come home when the streetlights came on with not an electronic device in sight.


Currently reading:

Moonflower by Kacen Callender


Currently reading with my ears:

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

Monday, May 16, 2022

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-16-22

 

It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.



I recently read and loved:
We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett
While I am not a parent, even this book made me emotional imagining reading this to my own child. The poetic text is made even more beautiful with the gentle illustrations. A great book to gift to new parents.

See You Soon by Mariame Kabe, illustrated by Bianca Diaz
Queenie must spend the next two years with her grandmother while her mother is in jail. See You Soon is a picture book that asks adult and kid readers alike to emotionally invest in a family story that often doesn't get told in the pages of a children's book. This book is a beautiful testament to the love shown in all kinds of families, particularly the ones that are often othered by those who are part of a "traditional" middle class family who frequently see their stories told in the pages of books.

Pair this with Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Pena and use it as a reading ladder to Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.


To Change a Planet by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell
Christina Soontornvat has written a picture book that addresses climate change both with urgency and hope. The economy of language in this book is also worth noting... there are no superfluous words. Everything is so carefully placed and precise without sounding like it's trying too hard.


Currently reading:

Take More Vacations: How to Search Better, Book Cheaper, and Travel the World by Scott Keyes


Currently reading with my ears:

Notorious by Gordon Korman

Monday, May 9, 2022

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-9-22


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

It's been a heavy week, friends. I hope you are all taking care of yourselves and have the support you need. 

Since the last time I posted, I decided, after the announcement of the person who will soon be buying Twitter, along with the steady decline of that platform and how people behave and use it, I've decided that I'm likely going to delete my account. I still have my account for now, but will no longer be actively using it. If you'd like to engage with me via social media, feel free to follow me on Instagram or TikTok.


I recently read and enjoyed:
As a longtime and loyal listener of Pantsuit Politics (as well as a show contributor by creating a teaching guide for their infrastructure series and also created an episode for their premium channel for teacher appreciation week called 5 Things Teachers Wish the General Public Knew) I didn't find necessarily anything new in this book. After listening to Sarah and Beth multiple times per week for the past six years, this book was a way to reinforce their greatest hits in writing. I enjoyed reading it and spending more time with them, but I didn't necessarily feel like there were any new revelations. For those picking this book up without having that experience with them, this book will be revelatory. To me it was a nice visit with some ladies who have felt like friends for the past six years.


Suggested Reading by David Connis
When an elite private school's administration and board vote to put a list of 50 books on their "prohibited media" list (interesting how they don't want the students to use the word banned), Clara Evans decides to run an underground library out of her locker.

Welp. This book has become even more relevant and prescient in 2022 than when it was published in 2019.


Starfish by Lisa Fipps
She had me at: "It's unknown how many students' lives librarians have saved by welcoming loners at lunch," on p. 31

I finished this book last night and haven't gotten Ellie's story out of my head all day. 


The Wild Garden by Cynthia Cliff
Jilly and her grandfather love exploring the wild place near their village where they forage for food as well as observe the animals and plant life, so when the townspeople decide to expand their community garden into the wild place, Jilly and her grandfather know they must do something to bring awareness to the community that a bigger garden doesn't necessarily make a better garden.


Currently reading:

Moonflower by Kacen Callender


Currently reading with my ears:

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore

Monday, April 25, 2022

It's Monday! What are you reading? 4-25-22

 

It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

I recently attended my first in-person author event since the pandemic began and it was for 2022 Printz Award winner Angeline Boulley. Here is my recap about the amazing event.


I recently read and loved:
The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander
I still need to sit and process what an important book I just read. From Kwame's opening " Note from the Author" to the very last page, I was completely immersed in the story and could feel its gravitas as I was reading. The second I closed the book, I started looking into the history behind the story because I knew from reading it that there was so much I didn't actually know. And that is the mark of a great author of historical fiction: to reveal a moment of history through fiction that many people didn't know about and inspire them to learn more. I hope this book will also be a catalyst to move beyond Euro-centric history and compel readers, both kids and adults alike, to learn more about African history that is rarely or never taught in school in the U.S.

Abdul's Story by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Tiffany Rose
A beautiful book about a young boy who struggles with writing but loves telling stories and what an impact a visit from an author makes on how he views himself as a writer.


I'm Terrified of Bath Time by Simon Rich, illustrated by Tom Toro
You think kids are scared of bathtime? Wait till you hear from the bathtub.

A humorous story with clever illustrations that is sure to put any kid's mind at ease who is afraid of bathtime by making them laugh out loud. 


Anglerfish: Sea Devil of the Deep by Elaine M. Alexander, illustrated by Fiona Fogg
A page-turning books with captivating illustrations all about the fascinating creature that patrols the midnight zone of the ocean with its bioluminescence.


Currently reading:

Now What? How to Move Forward When We're Divided (about Basically Everything) by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers


Currently reading with my ears:

Suggested Reading by David Connis


Purchasing books from any of the above Bookshop affiliate links support independent bookstores and gives me a small percentage of the sale. 

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Author Event Recap: Angeline Boulley

Last night, for the first time in over two years, I attended an in-person author event. I could have cried from happiness. 

And to have the author be the current Printz award winner, Angeline Boulley, made it that much better. Hearing Angeline speak tonight made me even all the more certain that Firekeeper’s Daughter was the perfect choice for the 2022 Printz Award. 

The first thing she told us that blew everyone's minds was that the inspiration for the story was actually a small kernel of something that happened in her own life... when she was in high school, she had a friend in another town that kept trying to set her up with this guy because she thought he was her perfect type. For some reason though, it never worked out that they could meet. A little while later, Angeline was like, "Oh, it's too bad you were never able to set me up with that guy," And her friend said, "Oh yeah... that wouldn't have worked out. We found out he was actually an FBI agent posing as a student." That moment always stayed with her and she always wondered, "What would have happened if I HAD been set up with that guy?" which led her to write Firekeeper's Daughter

Something a lot of people question about reading this book is the time period in which it is set: the early 2000s. She talked about three very specific reasons for why she set it in that time period: 
1) Meth was starting to explode across rural America
2) Casinos were starting to become an important business for native communities across Michigan
3) She needed GPS to exist but still be imprecise

Finally, I loved what she said about writing as an indigenous author, not for the white gaze, but as a way to honor her community. So for example, she pushed back on her editor's request to include a glossary in the back of the book and said that if she did her job as an author then the reader could pick up those meanings in context while also recognizing that we shouldn't always assume that the default reader is white. She also said something really profound that I had to write down in my notes app on my phone: 

I write to preserve my culture. 
I edit to protect it.

I think it is safe to say that she has both preserved and protected her culture in this beautiful book and I can't wait to read more of her work in the future. 

Monday, April 4, 2022

It's Monday! What are you reading? 4-4-22

 

It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

Here are a few fun book-themed TikToks I made recently:
@bibliophilebeth When a package from Scholastic arrives and the 2022 book you’ve been most excited to read is inside. 🤩🥰 #schoollibrarian #librariansoftiktok ♬ Little Things - Adrian Berenguer

Last week I reviewed:


I recently read and enjoyed:
This Book is Not For You! by Shannon Hale, illustrated by Tracy Subisak
A perfect book to start the discussion with students the absurdity of “girl books” and “boy books.” I’m grateful that Shannon Hale thought write a book that could be used as an opportunity to have a whole-class discussion on this topic since teachers and librarians are often having them on the side with individual students or small groups.

Violet and the Crumbs: A Gluten-Free Adventure by Abigail Rayner, illustrated by Molly Ruttan
Violet used to love going to parties but now that she can't eat gluten, she avoids them entirely. Her Celiac Disease makes navigating social situations difficult, but she knows in order to live with her Celiac she needs to learn how to advocate for herself. A simple but effective introduction for kids to Celiac Disease.

Show the World! by Angela Dalton, illustrated by Daria Peoples
A book that celebrates the need people have for a creative outlet. Would be a great introductory book to Genius Hour.

Patience, Patches! by Christy Mihaly, illustrated by Cheryl Murray
A sweet story told from the dog’s point of view about when a new baby joins the family. This type of story arc has been done many times before but what makes this book stand out is the same-sex couple who are the parents in the story along with the perfect emotional pacing.

Currently reading: 

The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander


Currently reading with my ears:

Thoughts and Prayers by Bryan Bliss

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin by Kip Wilson

The year is 1932 in Berlin and now that Hilde is eighteen, she must leave her orphanage and set out on her own. She quickly discovers, however, that finding a job is near impossible in these economically depressed times. But fate intervenes one night when she meets Rosa, who brings Hilde to Café Lila where she meets a cast of characters that soon become her chosen family. 

As Berlin falls further and further into the authoritarian grip of the Nazis who are scapegoating Jews and the queer community, Hilde along with the employees and patrons of Café Lila continue to remain quietly hopeful and defiant... until trouble comes loudly knocking on their door. 

Just as the title suggests, this YA historical fiction in verse by Kip Wilson is dazzling.  Berlin is my favorite city on earth, mostly because there has always been a provocative, defiant, avant-garde, and counter-cultural energy about it. That was true in 2004 when I visited for the first time, and it was certainly true when this novel takes place. 

But just as this book is a window into 1930s Germany, it's also an alarming mirror to societies, including American society, that allow idealogues and populists to rise to power. 

In addition to being a cautionary historical fiction in verse, The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin is also a gentle queer/lesbian love story, which is a much-needed addition to the canon of LGBTQ+ YA fiction, which seems to lean more heavily towards male romance. Because this book is many things (historical fiction, novel in verse, queer romance, a cautionary tale for modern times), there would be potential in the hands of a less adept writer for this book to have taken on too much. But never fear, dear reader, Kip Wilson manages to weave all of these elements perfectly and seamlessly. 


The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin by Kip Wilson*
Published: March 29, 2022
Publisher: Versify
Pages: 416
Genre: Historical Fiction/LGBTQ+ Romance
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: Advance listening copy provided by publisher

*Purchasing the book from the above Bookshop affiliate link supports independent bookstores and gives me a small percentage of the sale.