Monday, February 1, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 2-1-16


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.

I skipped out on posting last week because, oh boy, was it a crazy week! We had six showings on our house, all of which gave not very much notice, so we had to figure out what the heck to do with the dogs in a short amount of time. But it was all worth it because it resulted in THREE offers, one of them was sight unseen! So it looks like this moving to Ann Arbor thing is really going to happen.

So this post will be based on what I've read over the past two weeks.

On my teaching blog, I reviewed:

Write What Matters: For Yourself, For Others by Tom Romano


I finished reading with my ears:

Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
This is one of those books that didn't receive much buzz, but it is a delightful middle grade novel that is accessible to all kinds of readers.


Picture books I enjoyed:
 
Rain! by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Christian Robinson
A story to show how other people's attitudes can affect others. A perfectly delightful heartprint book.


I Am Yoga by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds 
A book that is so beautiful and calming, I'm considering buying it for myself and reading it when my anxiety is getting the better of me.  

 
My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
A great book to pair with The Crossover, as it has a similar kind of hip hop vibe and groove to it.  


Currently reading:

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo  


Currently reading with my ears:

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson 

Monday, January 18, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 1-18-16


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.


I thought with finally finishing grad school I would have more time for leisure reading. Except I forgot the part about buying a new house and trying to sell our current condo. So yeah. reading continues to remain on the backburner. I did manage to read a few picture books last week though. These are the ones I enjoyed the most:

Mixed Me! by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
I loved the illustrations and liked the text for the most part. It lacked cohesion and flow in a few places, but overall I really liked this book.


Little Tree by Loren Long
A beautiful, simple story about knowing when it's time to let go so you can grow.  


Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins 
Hilarious! A definite must-read to students! 


Currently (still) reading:

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
I have a confession to make: I've only read like 2 pages of this book so far. I need to get serious about reading it, especially because Sepetys is coming to Michigan in February!


Currently (still) reading with my ears:

Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
I'm really enjoying this audiobook so far. I love the dual narrators. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 1-11-16


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.

Happy ALA Youth Media Awards day! Yesterday I wrote my predictions for winners.  I was also the guest poster on Nerdy Book Club yesterday: Top Ten Books That Colored My Whitewashed World.

Last week I finished reading:

Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd 
A solid, page-turning novel about the Civil Rights era and the Freedom Riders

I finished reading with my ears:

Juba! by Walter Dean Myers  
I just didn't connect with this one. I have a feeling I was missing some things by listening to the audio as opposed to reading the book, although the audiobook narrator was entertaining to listen to.


Picture books I read last week:
 
Water is Water by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin
Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Matt Davies
Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennpacker, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri


Currently reading:

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys


Currently reading with my ears:

Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 ALA Youth Media Award Predictions

Last year before the ALA Youth Media Awards, I wrote a "hopes and wishes" post. I was very invested in the outcome of last year's awards because it was the first time I would actually be in attendance for the announcement of the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, et. al. This year my prediction list is smaller because finishing grad school prevented me from reading as much as I usually do and also because I am not as intense about the outcome as I was last year. Don't get me wrong, I am still going to be watching the live webcast and sharing my enthusiasm. I just am a little more chill about it this year.

So here is my list of predictions/wishes for 2016

Caldecott

Waiting by Kevin Henkes
Kevin Henkes is no stranger to the ALA Youth Media Awards, which is why I would normally not wish for Waiting to be the Caldecott medalist. I'm a fan of rooting for the underdog, what can I say? And let's be honest here, this book is not an underdog. It's been buzzed about since it first came out in September. However, there is something so special and endearing about this book without being saccharine and/or didactic. I would not be upset in the least to see this book win or get an honor.


Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael  Lopez

I have no doubt the Pura Belpre committee will give this book a nod, but I would love to see it get some Caldecott love. The vibrant, dreamlike illustrations pair beautifully with Margarita Engle's simple yet poetic verse. 


The Moon is Going to Addy's House by Ida Pearle

I am amazed at how much movement is conveyed in these cut-paper illustrations. And I especially love that the illustrations feel both retro and modern at the same time. 


Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson
I kind of forgot about this book until I read that this was Betsy Bird's final prediction to take the medal. But then I went back and read my review and I agree with her whole-heartedly that this book's time has come.


Newbery
 
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

I didn't read very much middle grade this year, so it's probably not best to hinge all my bets on one book, but I'm doing it anyway. This is my one and only prediction. Go big or go home. 


Printz

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
The Printz is so hard to predict. But if I were a betting woman, I'd say this book gets some love tomorrow.


Coretta Scott King

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
I'd love to see this get some Printz love too but I'm fairly certain the CSK committee will give it a nod.

Monday, January 4, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 1-4-16


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.

Happy New Year! I can't believe it's 2016 already. Time seems to indeed go faster the older you get.

Last week I posted my top 15 favorite books of 2015. I was also honored to be part of the Nerdy YA Award announcements last week when I wrote the review for The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds. Also, on my teaching blog I wrote about my One Little Word for 2016 and my weekly post of curated links.


Last week I finished reading:
 
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
A compulsively page-turning book with some twists and turns I wasn't expecting. Thank you Nicola Yoon for helping me out of my reading rut!  


I finished reading with my ears:
 
A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern 
I don't have much to say about this book. It was a good story and enjoyable to listen to, but I'm not sure I'll remember much about it in a few weeks. 


Picture books I enjoyed last week:


Counting Lions by Katie Cotton, illustrated by  Stephen Walton
It's hard to believe that the illustrations in this unconventional counting book are drawings and not photographs. Simply stunning.

Fire Engine No. 9 by Mike Austin
When I first read that Betsy Bird put this on her list of possible Caldecott predictions, at first I scoffed. But then I read it and realized she is right on the money. The illustrations are bright, bold, and timeless. It's a book that appeals to kids and adults alike. 

Dear Yeti by James Kwan
There has been a spate of picture books lately featuring yetis. I'm into it. :) 

One Today by Richard Blanco, illustrated by Dav Pilkey
Beautiful poem that was written and read for 2013 inauguration of President Obama's second term. Dav Pilkey's vibrant, hopeful, and dream-like illustrations pair beautifully with the text.

Waddle! Waddle! by James Proimos
I see this book being a Geisel contender. 


Currently reading:

Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd 


Currently reading with my ears:

Juba! by Walter Dean Myers  

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 15 favorite books of 2015

Holy cow! How did it get to be December 31st already? I am completely unprepared to write this traditional end-of-year post but here we go.

I did not even come close to my goal of reading 515 books in 2015. I was so busy with finishing my last semester of grad school this fall that reading sort of fell off the priority list. I only read 394 books this year, 76 of which were novel-length.

Despite not making my reading goal, I have to say that 2015 was a great year for books. I didn't read much middle grade this year, but I had many YA and picture book favorites.

Picture books:

Waiting by Kevin Henkes
I get the sense that this is a book the Caldecott committee is discussing at length. It has beautiful illustrations, it bares no obvious lessons (award committees tend to shy away from didacticism), and disguises itself as a simple story shrouded in complexity (the Waiting for Godot of the kid lit world as Betsy Bird likes to call it). Henkes fills your heart with affection for these sweet, quirky toys sitting on the windowsill waiting for nothing in particular it seems... 


The Moon is Going to Addy's House by Ida Pearle

Poetry doesn't always have to come in words. Sometimes poetry speaks in pictures, movement, music, or all of these things at once. The Moon is Going to Addy's House is a beautiful example of how poetry can be created in the confluence of art forms. It is a book that feels both classic and modern, both back in time and of the time. 


Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael  Lopez

This is the story of Millo Castro Zaladarriaga, a young Cuban girl who wanted desperately to play the drums, but she lived in a time when only boys were allowed to play them. This book is a gorgeous poem that celebrates the power of a passion, which is paired beautifully with Rafael Lopez's vibrant, dreamlike illustrations.

 
 This is Sadie by Sara O'Leary, illustrated by Julie Morstad   
This book is everything. This book is about as perfect as a book could possibly be. This book isn't just about Sadie. This book is about us all. We are all Sadie. Some of us just have to look harder to find her within ourselves than others. But she is there. To quote one of my 8th graders, "Sadie represents the child within us all."


Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold The Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli  
This is what all nonfiction should be: exciting, engaging, and page-turning. Wow! Any guy who conned Al Capone and lived is a guy worth reading about.  


Graphic novels:

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L Holm & Matthew Holm  
I was born in the very late 70s (Two months before 1980, in fact) but despite the fact that this book takes place in 1975-1976, an incredible sense of familiarity and nostalgia from my own childhood came creeping into my experience of reading this book. Little details as simple as the screen door on Sunny's house in Pennsylvania to the way the Sears logo looked back then, Jenni and Matt Holm clearly did their research on even the smallest of details from this time period. More importantly though, Jenni and Matt Holm tell a heartfelt and compassionate story about a young girl who comes to realize the torment her family is experiencing at the hand of her brother who is overcoming substance abuse. It is through Sunny's experience that many kids will see their own families and the ways a family member's struggles become an entire family's burden.


Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley 
In this graphic memoir, Knisely, accompanies her grandparents, who are failing in health and mental faculties, on a Caribbean cruise. It is a sensitive, earnest, fatalistic look at family and mortality, yet also done somehow with a lighthearted touch.


Middle Grade:
 
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

This is one of the most stunning audiobooks I have ever listened to. As someone who studied classical piano for over a decade, the musical themes and accompanying soundtrack with the audiobook made this story come alive. Echo is a book for not only the readers in your life who love music, but also for those sensitive readers who are looking for books to be transcendent – to give you an experience beyond your emotions, becoming almost a spiritual experience. And that is what makes Echo more than just a heartprint book for me – it is a book that feeds my soul.


Young Adult:

Stand Off by Andrew Smith
Ryan Dean West is my all-time favorite character in YA literature. I'm so glad Andrew Smith brought him back for a sequel to help readers heal from the sadness that occurred at the end of Winger

 
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely 
Books save lives. And they change hearts and minds. This will be one of those books. This book is in your face enough to start conversations, but nuanced enough to make it more than a black vs. white, us vs. them issue.  This book is a great ladder to Ta-Nehisi Coates' book which is also on my list of favorite books of 2015.


Enchanted Air  by Margarita Engle
Before I read Engle's memoir in verse, I had very little desire to ever visit Cuba someday. During and after reading Engle's memoir in verse, I have now very eagerly added it to my bucket list.


Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
An incredibly powerful and personal tale of a young man's descent into the depths of schizophrenia. The book is a masterfully woven extended metaphor that would benefit a close reading of certain passages because important details are sure to be missed upon first reading.


Solitaire by Alice Oseman  

Tori Spring is a modern-day female Holden Caulfield. Solitaire is a genius work of young adult fiction. It is both literary and accessible. It's a book that I think hasn't been given enough marketing buzz, and so I will be personally recommending it to anyone who likes a good angsty teen drama with a whip-smart, self-deprecating protagonist.  


Adult non-fiction:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A book that will continue conversations started by All American Boys by looking further into the depths of white privilege and how black bodies are treated in this country. A book every white American should read and one that will make you uncomfortable. That's supposed to happen. And while you wade around in your discomfort, just know that many others continue to drown.


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert 

Big Magic is a revelation. It is a paradigm shift in how we should approach creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert posits that we need to throw away the trope of the tormented artist in favor of lightness, curiosity and play in our creative work. She has definitely inspired me in how I will approach my writing life from this moment forward. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 12-28-15


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.

Bring on Christmas break! I'm making up for all the reading I missed out on over these past few months because of finishing up my last semester of grad school.

I finished reading:

The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd
While it took me longer to get into this book than A Snicker of Magic (I was in by page 1 of that one), The Key to Extraordinary still has that sweet, sensitive, magical prose that Natalie Lloyd is becoming known for. 

 
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
An enjoyable read, though I liked Wonderstruck and The Invention of Hugo Cabret better.


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Transformative. World-view changing. A book every American should read.


Currently reading:
 
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon


Currently reading with my ears:
 
A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern