Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith

Sam Abernathy is known as the boy who fell into a well and spent three days at the bottom when he was four years old. So he's already famous in his small Texas town. But pair that with being the age of a sixth grader who starts middle school in eighth grade and he's a regular sideshow.

While learning how to navigate the halls of middle school, Sam also learns how to avoid James Jenkins, the boy who is responsible for Sam falling in the well to begin with. He also must figure out how to disappoint his father who likes to take his son on survival expeditions that Sam absolutely hates, and wants his son to go to MIT when Sam would prefer to go to culinary school.

In true Andrew Smith fashion, he has managed to write a story that is both hilarious and poignant with a dash of absurdity, but this time for a middle grade audience. For those readers who wonder how a young adult author who has made a name for himself in his use of obscenities and pushing the envelope, one might wonder how that translates to a middle grade audience. Well, dear reader, don't you worry. Smith came up with a genius way around his inability to use swear words while also implying them, but you'll just have to read for yourself to find out how.

For loyal readers of Smith's YA novel Stand Off, you will be particularly elated to discover that his first middle grade novel is about the endearing and annoying young roommate of Ryan Dean West. If that's not a reason to read it, I don't know what is. But just in case you haven't read Stand Off (which if you're a middle grade reader, I hope you haven't), then just know that this book stands alone and leads readers nicely into both Winger and Stand Off when they are older. But also, I think Smith sets this story up nicely for writing another middle grade novel about another character in this book, James Jenkins (hint, hint Andrew if you're reading this).


The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith
Published: March 26, 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 272
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Magical Realism
Audience: Middle Grade
Disclosure: ARC received at 2018 NCTE convention

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, April 15, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 4-15-19


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 page.


Last week I reviewed:

Zoe's Terrific, Colorific Experiment by Zoe Perisco


Picture Books I Read and Enjoyed:

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
This beautiful book moved me so deeply. The rhythm and cadence of the poem are expertly paired with the page turns and illustrations, and in one case, an incredibly moving and jarring lack of illustrations. I hope the Caldecott AND Newbery committees will be talking abut this one.


Little Taco Truck by Tanya Valentine, illustrated by Jorge Martin
A picture book that makes my foodie heart very happy (and hungry). Also: the symbolism of a story making room for a little taco truck is not lost on me given the divisive rhetoric about immigrants in the U.S.


Music for Mister Moon by Phillip and Erin Stead
Phillip Stead's books never follow a logical predictability to them, but are always delightfully quirky and have a dignified absurdity to them. This book is no different.


You are Light by Aaron Becker
Innovative and touching


When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Deenihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
When a young girl doesn’t know why her grandma gives her a lemon tree for her birthday, it eventually becomes clear when she uses the lemons to make lemonade (literally) to make money so she can buy herself her own gifts, for herself and the community. A beautiful reminder that the greatest gifts we can give are the ones that keep on giving.




How to Two by David Soman
When I picked up this book, I didn't quite know what to expect based on the title. I kind of thought it was going to be an instruction manual on how to be 2 years old. But I like the real version better. Essentially, it's about encouraging kids to always let others join in their circle, or as Glennon Doyle says, permanently standing in a horseshoe so others can join.


Dandy by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Charles Santoso
Oh the things daddies will do for their daughters.... even leave weeds on the lawn.


Tomorrow Most Likely by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Lane Smith
Oh the possibilities that tomorrow brings! I love that Dave Eggers has found a new niche in writing picture books for kids.


The Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli
The Book Hog loves books so much. He loves smelling them. He loves owning them. He even looks at them while he sits on the toilet. But the Book Hog has a secret: he can't actually read. So when he has an opportunity to attend storytime at the library, his book-loving heart jumps at the chance. This book really speaks to the idea that adults can instill a love of books in kids before they can even read. There is something about actually holding a book that is powerful. And adults have the power to nurture that in kids at a very early age.


B is for Baller: the Ultimate Basketball Alphabet by James Littlejohn, illustrated by Matthew Shipley
This ABC book about basketball has swag. Pair it with Kwame Alexander's The Crossover and you'll have readers clamoring for more books like this, which are less about the alphabet and more about the cool groove about it. 


My Island by Stephanie Demasse-Pottier, illustrated by Deng Soun Ratanavanh
Stunning story and illustrations, which aren't just artistic, but feel almost like the illustrator has an interior design background the way that space and color are in such harmony with one another.


Currently reading:

Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Emily Carroll
I wondered how I would feel about this given what an important book this is for the legacy of young adult literature. I needn't have worried. It is just as powerful as the original and manages to feel both new and timeless. 


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Georgia's Terrific, Colorific Experiment by Zoe Perisco


Georgia lives in a family of artists, but she wants to be a SCIENTIST. So she decides that she needs to design the perfect experiment to show the world her scientific prowess. When her artistic, imaginative family tries to help her by giving her advice, she tells them to leave her alone, only to soon discover that maybe art and science really do hold hands with each other.


Georgia's Terrific, Colorfic Experiment is sort of the picture book embodiment of this poster you see circulating around the internet:


So often we look at science and art as opposing forces. But these two ways of thinking really do need to hold hands with each other in order to make our world safer, fairer, and more humane. It is why I think so many people are concerned about the STEM movement and asked for STEM programs in schools to now become STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Mathematics). When we forget about the creativity and imagination involved in our academic endeavors, this is when dangerous decisions are made on behalf of humanity. Schools that are running both STEM and STEAM programs would benefit from reading books like Georgia's Terrific, Colorific Experiment to students and staff alike as to prevent a myopic way of thinking. 


Georgia's Terrific, Colorific Experiment by Zoe Perisco
Published: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Pages: 32
Genre/Format: Picture Book
Audience: STEM/STEAM schools
Disclosure: Library 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, March 25, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 3-25-19



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 page.

Hi friends! It's been a minute. Walden committee reading has me consumed so I don't have time to post every week, but I'm here now and have tons of reading to share with you. 


I recently finished reading:

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas 
While I found The Hate U Give more compelling, I also found this book a fantastic follow-up to THUG. I’m actually looking more forward to this movie adaption than THUG because the music is going to be fire!


Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
In a time when boredom no longer exists because we constantly have devices to keep us busy, a book that reminds us of the power of imagination and the need for kids to be bored to develop their creativity is a welcome addition to the world of graphic novels.


Picture books I've read and loved:

Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks by Jacky Davis and Giselle Potter
A quiet story about 2 dogs who are unlikely friends, one is young and energetic, the other old and slow, yet they still manage to be good friends and stick together.


Another by Christian Robinson
I love that Christian Robinson’s illustrations have a childlike whimsy while also managing to be sophisticated at the same time. Those qualities are especially on display in this wordless picture book where his illustrations do all the heavy lifting and show us just what a brilliant storyteller he truly is.


What a Cold Needs by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Chris Sheban
I don’t know how, but Barbara Bottner and Chris Sheban found a way for me to wish I could be a sick kid again and spend all day reading, sleeping, and snuggling with pets and parents.


Because by Mo Willems
Music can change you. Your life can change the course of others’ lives for the better. This book is one is a palpable experience of the ways in which music can change you. I may have cried whilst reading.


Which One Doesn't Belong? Playing with Shapes by Christopher Danielson
You know how standardized tests project that there is only one answer on a multiple choice question even if more than one of the choices seem plausible? Yeah, well this book spits in the face of that and I love it.


Currently Reading:

Shortest Way Home: One Mayor's Challenge and a Model for America's Future by Pete Buttigieg
The more I learn about this guy, the more I like him. Right now he is my top choice for the Democratic nominee for president.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Blog Tour + Giveaway: The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly


Charlie O’Reilly is an only child. Which is why it makes everyone uncomfortable when he talks abut his brother.

Liam. His eight-year-old kid brother, who, up until a year ago, slept in the bunk above Charlie, took pride in being as annoying as possible, and was the only person who could make Charlie laugh until it hurt.

Then came the morning when the bunk, and Liam, disappeared forever. No one even remembers him—not Charlie’s mother, who has been lost in her own troubles; and not Charlie’s father, who is gone frequently on business trips. The only person who believes Charlie is his best friend, Ana—even if she has no memory of Liam, she is as determined as Charlie is to figure out what happened to him.

The search seems hopeless—until Charlie receives a mysterious note, written in Liam’s handwriting. The note leads Charlie and Ana to make some profound discoveries about a magic they didn’t know existed, and they soon realize that if they’re going to save Liam, they may need to risk being forgotten themselves, forever.

Rebecca K.S. Ansari’s debut novel is a stunning contemporary fantasy about love, loss, and the power to forgive that we all have in side us—even if we sometimes forget it’s there.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca K.S. Ansari is a former ER doctor. The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly is her first book. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, four sons, and some seriously massive pets.

GIVEAWAY! 
  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly
  • US/Canada only
  • Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter

a Rafflecopter giveaway
THE MISSING PIECE OF CHARILE O’REILLY BLOG TOUR
March 8 Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub
March 9 The Book Monsters @TheBookMonsters
March 11 LitCoach Lou @litcoachlou
March 12 Bluestocking Thinking @BlueSockGirl
March 13 A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust @bethshaum
March 14 Maria’s Mélange @mariaselke
March 15 Unleashing Readers @unleashreaders
March 29 Writers’ Rumpus @kirsticall

Monday, February 18, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 2-18-19



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 page.


These are the picture books I really enjoyed last week:

The Story of Rock and The Story of Rap  illustrated by Lindsey Sagar
Adorable rhyming baby board books for the budding musicians in your lives. My only criticism is that the author and illustrator are not mentioned. The illustrator is listed in very tiny print on the back of the book with the copyright information, but authors and illustrators should get a prominent place somewhere on the book.


The New Neighbors by Sarah McIntyre
When rats move into the building, the bunnies are excited to meet their new neighbors. All of the other animals in the building put ideas into their heads about how untidy and inconsiderate rats are. An important book to read and discuss with kids about how our preconceived notions and prejudices can do more harm than good.


How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Frank Morrison
At NCTE in November, I had the privilege of meeting Carole Boston Weatherford. I wish I had known about this book at the time so I could've thanked her for it. The fact that she not only included how and why this song was originally written, but a few historical moments when Amazing Grace met the Zeitgeist of what was happening in our culture, specifically with Mahalia Jackson and Barack Obama.


Pass Go and Collect $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Steve Salerno
Hey kids, let’s learn about irony today. Here’s an example: a woman who invented a game to teach people the injustices of capitalism, only to be swindled out of millions of dollars for her own invention so a bunch of greedy men could make that money by asking her to sign off on her patent so they could sell her game.

Oh wait. I better not teach THAT for fear of being accused of being a loser teacher who indoctrinates her students as socialists.


Currently reading:

Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

Monday, February 11, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 2-11-19


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 have one more day on my The Lost Girl giveaway


I recently finished reading: 

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
An important book that addresses the difficulty of being LGBTQ in a Muslim family. We hear so much about Christian intolerance toward the LGBTQ community, but not as much Muslim intolerance. This book will help a whole lot of teens in Muslim families feel seen and heard. 


Picture books I enjoyed the past few weeks:

Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings
A sweet story, told epistolary style, about a dog looking for his family. The visual clues in the illustrations make the ending rather predictable, but no less heartwarming.


How to Be a Lion by Ed Vere
There is no one way to be a lion. A lovely book that subtly subverts toxic masculinity.


Dad By My Side by Soosh
Speaking of toxic masculinity, this is one of the sweetest father-daughter relationships I’ve ever seen in a book. The father is a gentle giant and represents the exact opposite of toxic masculinity. He shows readers what gentle masculinity is about.


Currently reading:

Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell


Currently reading with my ears:

When My Heart Joins the Thousand by A.J. Steiger