Monday, March 16, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 3-16-20


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.

Well... this has been a week. And it looks like I'll be getting more time to read for the next few weeks. How's your social distancing going? 


Here's what I've been reading lately...

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
I’m grateful to Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi for the difficult journey they are taking young people and educators on in this important book. In it, they help readers see how racism is a system that our country has been building on since before its inception. This book helps the reader see how our racist history continues to impact our present and compels us to change the future.


When the Babies Came to Stay by Christine McDonnell, illustrated by Jeanette Bradley
This book is funny, heartwarming, and delightfully quirky. When four babies show up on an island with no explanation for how they got there, the town librarian raises them like her own. But they also belong to the island, as a harbormaster, ferryman, fisherman, and mayor all have a hand in taking care of them. Proving it takes a village to raise a child. Or in this case, an island.


Night Animals Need Sleep Too by Gianna Marino
Even funnier than the original.


The Bear in My Family by Maya Tatsukawa
A little boy thinks his older sibling is really a bear, which starts out as a bad thing, but maybe it's actually not as bad as he thinks.


The Seedling That Didn't Want to Grow by Britta Teckentrup
We all grow at our own pace and in our own due time.


Currently Reading...
I can't tell you because it's top secret Walden Award reading. You'll find out who the winner is very soon.

Monday, February 10, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 2-10-2020



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 feel like I say this a lot, but it's been a minute, friends. Walden Award reading and a grad school class I'm taking has been keeping me away from my own personal reading. So here are a few books I've read and loved in the past couple months that I actually CAN share on my blog.

I recently reviewed:

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan


I recently read and enjoyed:

New Kid by Jerry Craft
An important book that explores themes of race, friendship, identity, microagressions, and privilege -- all in the package of an appealing middle grade graphic novel. I especially love that New Kid takes on a new meaning at the end of the story. A wonderful choice for the 2020 Newbery medal.


Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Loveis Wise
Even thought Zetta Elliott said that she doesn't consider herself a poet in the introduction of this book of poetry, but I'd venture to say that she's a legit, real-deal poet. I'd love to see more books of poetry by her in the future.


Facts Vs. Opinions Vs. Robots by Michael Rex
In a media landscape where everyone seems to have their own set of facts depending on their partisan beliefs, it's clear that it's time to revisit the difference between facts and opinions, starting with very young children. But also, it wouldn't hurt for some adults to read this book either. I especially love that this book doesn't just break down the difference between facts and opinions, but also discusses what can happen when we dismiss other people's opinions, especially when they're our friends.


With All My Heart by Stephanie Stansbie, illustrated by Richard Smythe
A sweet book about a parent's love as they see their child grow. Loved the cute cutouts from page to page.


The Cool Bean by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald
A fun book that reminds us all that we don’t have to be friends with everyone but it’s still cool to be kind and respectful to everyone.


Humpty Dumpty Lived Near a Wall by Derek Hughes, illustrated by Nathan Christopher
If Dan Santat’s After the Fall were created by Edward Gorey... but not, because despite the dark and dismal setting, it manages to still end on a somewhat hopeful note.


The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis
Gorgeous writing and illustrations about the winter solstice.
Read this book when you’re getting your hygge on.



We Love Babies by Jill Esbaum
We love babies, yes we do. We love babies, how about you?
Having a bad day? Need some cuteness in your life? Look no further.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." -- Jorge Luis Borges

Jamie Bunn was only trying to help the boy she had a crush on, but she ends up getting herself caught up in a cheating scandal at school. So her punishment is to do community service at her town's public library.

While spending her summer at the library, she comes face to face with members of the community she would not normally interact with: an elderly patron who tries to downplay his health issues, a man who has come on financial hard times, and even the girl who humiliated Jamie in front of her entire class.

But as the summer continues on, Jamie soon realizes that her summer of punishment is actually a blessing in disguise. Not only does she see firsthand what value the library holds for her community, but she also gets to have a front row seat to civic participation at work when her town's mayor is on a mission to close the library in order to save the town money.

A Kind of Paradise is the middle grade book answer to the The Public, the 2018 movie starring Emilio Estevez, about a renegade librarian who is on a mission to save his job while he gets himself caught up in a sit-in with homeless patrons who refuse to leave due to the extreme cold outside. Just as The Public is not a perfect movie, A Kind of Paradise has its flaws, but enumerating a long list in this book review would be missing the point of the book, which is to show kids and remind adults that libraries are important centerpieces of our community and they mean more to so many people than just borrowing books. The library is one of the few places that you can go in America today where you are not expected to spend any money, especially even more so now that many libraries are doing away with fines.

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan
Published: April 30, 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 303
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade
Disclosure: Audiobook copy provided by publisher

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Monday, December 2, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 12-2-19



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'm back from NCTE and the ALAN Workshop and while I love going every year, I am finding my feelings of FOMO growing weaker and my desire to rest and recharge even stronger. Having said that though, here are a few highlights:

OOOOHHHH MMMYYYY. Getting to meet George Takei and thanking him for his activism and patriotism. 


Getting to help Jennifer Buehler moderate an amazing panel/roundtable session called YA Lit is Complex! with Samira Ahmed, Brandy Colbert, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Kekla Magoon, and Matt Mendez
 

Hanging out with Walden Award winner and finalists Elizabeth Acevedo, Emily X.R. Pan, and Adib Khorram at the ALAN Workshop


Visiting Edgar Allan Poe's home and grave


And apropos of nothing, finding this cute boutique called Cloud 9 that had this adorable sloth dress. It had pockets. I bought it. Duh. 


But back to the books...

I recently reviewed:

Saturday by Oge Mora


I recently read and enjoyed:

Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship by Marie Kondo and Salina Yoon
#KonMarie for kids


Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex, illustrated by Laurie Keller
Pluto may no longer be a planet but we love him even more for it.


16 Words: William Carlos Williams and the Red Wheelbarrow by Lisa Rogers and Chuck Groenink
If you’ve always wanted to know the inspiration for William Carlos Williams’ brief but thoughtful poems, look no further than this sweet picture book.


Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley
I am a huge fan of Lucy Knisley's graphic memoirs so I was elated to discover that she has a new middle grade fiction graphic novel. This book does not disappoint. It is a fictionalized version of her own childhood experience of moving from the city to a farm and learning how to deal with not only the culture shock of going from an urban to rural environment, but also the drama of a new blended family, gaining a step-father and step-sisters.


They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
When George Takei was 5 years old, his family was ripped from their home by American soldiers and sent to a Japanese Internment Camp, labeled "Alien Enemy" despite being American citizens. This is the story of that experience as well as his reflections on how that impacted his political views in later years. You would think it would embitter a person, but instead it compelled him to be an active and involved citizen, reminding us all that in no other country would it be possible for him to be a political prisoner as a child and then giving a speech as an adult in the home of the man (President Roosevelt) who imprisoned him. This book is an important exercise in putting things into perspective.


Kent State by Deborah Wiles
This book is structured like a novel in verse but it’s so much more than that. The varying perspectives are of collective voices and points of view, showing the reader just how difficult it was to get a consensus on what happened on that campus back in May of 1970. But even more important than that, Deborah Wiles circles it back around and points to how this moment in history still matters today and compels you, the reader, to be a vocal and participating citizen in our democracy. Put this book at the top of your TBR pile. I promise you won’t be able to put it down.


Currently reading: 

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Saturday by Oge Mora

Saturday is Ava's favorite day because she gets to spend it with her mother. So when everything during this particular Saturday seems to go terribly wrong, it is a test of Ava and her mother's resilience and sense of humor.

Oge Mora's sophomore effort is even more lovely and endearing than her Caldecott honor book Thank You, Omu. It reminds me a great deal of Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson. I wouldn't be surprised to also see some Caldecott hardware on this book come January. For what it's worth, this is one of my favorite picture books of 2019. 



Saturday by Oge Mora
Published: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 40
Genre/Format: Picture Book
Audience: Primary
Disclosure: Purchased Copy

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Monday, November 18, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 11-18-19



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 reviewed:

Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon
Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness


I recently read and loved:

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
This book made my foodie heart so happy (and hungry).


Know My Name by Chanel Miller
If you're a high school English teacher I'm going to need you to be brave and consider replacing one of those dusty old books by a dead white guy with this book instead. It is a book that every teenage and college-age boy needs to read. It is a book that will start conversations and make them consider, understand, and even FEEL what it's like to lose your own bodily autonomy and therefore understand what consent REALLY means. Chanel Miller's gift of writing is like nothing I have ever experienced and I have read a lot of books in my lifetime. I listened to the audiobook of this but I feel like I have to go back and read the physical book too just to savor her lingering words.


The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar, illustrated by Alea Marley
A beautiful book that seamlessly weaves the story of a boy who practices Sikhism, but doesn't become didactic. It is the story of Harpreet Singh, a young boy who moves from California to a place that is cold and gets lots of snow. The colors he wears indicate his moods and feelings so when he moves to a new place and doesn't feel like he fits in, he no longer wears bright colors because he doesn't want to be noticed. I love the meaningful but brief note about Sikhism at the end to help better educate readers about Sikh identity and how that relates to their clothing.


Bob Ross and Peapod the Squirrel by Robb Pearlman, illustrated by Jason Kayser with Bob Ross
Bob Ross in a picture book? YES PLEASE!!!!


Currently Reading:

Frankly in Love by David Yoon


Currently reading with my ears:

Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance by Emily Fletcher

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Audiobook Review: Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van Ness


If you don't know who Jonathan Van Ness is, stop reading this review right now and go watch the first season of the new Queer Eye. He is the grooming expert who managed to be sweet, unassuming, and fierce all at the same time. He will quickly become your favorite of the Fab 5. 

So do yourself a favor if you're going to partake in this book: listen to the audiobook. Hearing Jonathan narrate his own story is essential for making it the most fulfilling reading experience possible.

This book will take you on an emotional roller coaster. Jonathan Van Ness has gone through so much trauma in his life that it's amazing what a positive, sunny outlook he has. He can come across so sunny and cheerful on Queer Eye that in the back of your mind, a viewer might wonder if he lacks substance.

Well dear reader, you need not worry. Johnathan Van Ness has substance in spades. Just be aware: there are trigger warnings all over the place in this book: drug use, sexual abuse, prostitution, and death. If you've dealt with any of these things that you might not be ready to tackle, it is probably best you set this book aside until you are ready.


Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness 
Published: September 24, 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins
Physical book length: 288 pages
Audiobook Length: 5 hours and 50 minutes
Genre: Memoir
Audience: Adults/Queer Eye fans/LGBTQIA+ identifying and allies
Disclosure: Audiobook provided by publisher

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound