Monday, July 25, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 7-25-16


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.

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 reviewed:

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer and Matthew Holm


Picture book that stood out in the pile:

Arlene Sardine by Chris Raschka
This stood out for a less than positive reason. I seriously didn't understand the point of this book. Arlene wants to be a sardine and end up on somebody's plate? And midway through the book (*SPOILER ALERT*) Arlene dies and ends up in a Sardine can? I'm not against books that teach kids about the realities of life, but I just didn't understand at all why Arlene's goal was to end up in a sardine tin. This one is worth reading just for the simple act of asking yourself "What the heck did I just read?" at the end.


Still reading:
 
Static by Eric Laster
I tried to have this one done last night so I could say that I read it instead of still reading it, but alas I was just too tired.


Still reading with my ears: (because it's TWENTY-NINE CDs long!)

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow 
 

Status update: I'm on disc 11 now. I definitely won't be finishing before it's due back to the library this Sunday. 


Also reading with my ears on my iPhone:

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer and Matthew Holm

From Goodreads:
Sunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer.  At first she thought Florida might be fun -- it is the home of Disney World, after all.  But the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park.  It’s full of . . . old people.  Really old people.

Luckily, Sunny isn’t the only kid around.  She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they’re having adventures of their own: facing off against golfball-eating alligators, runaway cats, and mysteriously disappearing neighbors.  But the question remains -- why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place?  The answer lies in a family secret that won’t be secret to Sunny much longer. . .



I had sworn up and down that I posted a review for this book, but then I went back on Goodreads to see when I read this book and realized it was in the throes of my last semester of grad school. Ah! So that's why I never got around to posting a review of this lovely graphic novel. 

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.


Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm
Published: August 25, 2015
Publisher: GRAPHIX
Pages: 224
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Graphic Novel
Audience: Middle Grade
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, July 18, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 7-18-16


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.

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 finished reading: 

Nine, Ten by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Four seemingly disparate stories come together in a meaningful and important way at the end — especially in today's political climate of fear and mistrust. 


Picture books last week that stood out in the pile:

Unlike Other Monsters by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Colin Jack 
Yet another example of why we must not stop reading picture books to kids when they are older. This book speaks much more to upper elementary and middle school friendship issues than primary ones. Lots of opportunity for rich, important discussions here, but done with that distinct dash of humor and chutzpah we've come to know and love from Audrey Vernick's fictional picture books. 


It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton 
I love the adorable characters that Ben Clanton creates in his picture books. He's become a must-read author/illustrator for me.  

 
A Tiger Tail by Mike Boldt
When Anya wakes up on the first day of school with a tiger tail, she tries to find every possible way to not go to school. But she might just be surprised by what she discovers when she finally does make it to school. A lovely story about acceptance (of others AND ourselves) and celebrating differences. 


A Child's First Book of Trump by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
Political satire takes the form of a children's picture book to hilarious results.  


Currently reading:
 
Static by Eric Laster 
I'm about 1/3 of the way through this one and it is really an intriguing premise: the main character's brother is murdered and he comes back and communicates from the dead via phone call every fifty minutes as part of his afterlife therapy. The dead brother doesn't think he was murdered but the police think otherwise. It's a book that, while it's a mystery, it doesn't take itself too seriously and so I'm enjoying that bit of subversiveness about it. The tone of it kind of reminds me a bit of Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix, so if you enjoyed that book, you might want to check this one out.


Still reading with my ears: (because it's TWENTY-NINE CDs long!)

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow 
 

I'm currently on CD 8. And since it's the summertime and I'm not driving to work every day, this has been much more slow-going than it normally would be. I'm enjoying finding the little pockets of the narrative that I can clearly see were part of the musical, but this is definitely some dry reading material. I can't believe Lin-Manuel Miranda picked this up as vacation reading! Dude is a serious reader.   

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Happy National Ice Cream Day!

If you're new to the blog, you might not know that I am obsessed with ice cream. But I'm not just a typical vanilla or chocolate girl. No, they have to be unusual flavors like olive oil or maple bacon.

Needless to say, I can't let a day like National Ice Cream Day go by without sharing my love of frozen dairy treats with you, dear readers.

So are you tired of the same old chocolate and vanilla ice cream? Need some ideas for how to celebrate National Ice Cream Day? I got you covered.
The Perfect Scoop, a pint of Jeni's, and A Snicker of Magic. How are YOU celebration National Ice Cream Day?

Make your own ice cream at home with these books:
The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer

Or, if you'd rather not make your own ice cream, buy some Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream from your local grocery store, online or one of their scoop shops.

Other amazing ice cream places you should try sometime:
New York City, NY: Big Gay Ice Cream (order the Salty Pimp)
Silver Spring, MD: Moorenko's  (you can also buy pints of Moorenko's at select locations)
Ferndale, MI: Treat Dreams

Best novel to read whilst eating ice cream:
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd (My version of the signature ice cream flavor, Blackberry Sunrise)

And since I'm always seeking out weird and wonderful ice cream flavors, please share with me your favorite places to get ice cream and what flavors I should try there.

Monday, July 11, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 7-11-16


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.

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 nErDcamp day!!!! I'm looking forward to hanging out and learning from so many of my Nerdy Book Club friends and making some new ones too. 


Last week's blog tour posts:

Interview with Matt Weiss, author of Please Be Nice to Sharks
Guest post: Lana Wayne Koehler, author of Ah-Choo!


Last week I reviewed:

Girl Last Seen  by Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown


Picture books that stood out in the pile: 

Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Jon J. Muth
The illustrations by Jon J. Muth are absolutely lovely, but the star of this picture book is the lyrical and sensory text as Tess wills the hot, stagnant air of summer to bring on the rain. 


Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Not so much a story as a celebration of the rhythm, groove, and improvisational style of jazz music. Something that young children can certainly relate to even though we tend to not think of jazz as a very accessible genre of music for children. As I was reading this book, I could imagine it being read with a drummer quietly tapping on some high hat cymbals and an upright bass player accompanying the words a walking bass line. 


Currently reading: 

Nine, Ten by Nora Raleigh Baskin


Still reading with my ears: (because it's TWENTY-NINE CDs long!)

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

What I've Been Up To (Besides Reading)

It's been a while since I've done any posts that revolve around food or travel. I think about those things all the time, but I haven't written about them in a while.

My body is continuing to heal from all the digestive/IBS issues that have exacerbated the past few years and I finally found a solution with the Low FODMAP diet. I feel like going through that 6 week elimination two summers ago was my body's way of purging all the toxins that were causing my digestive system to overreact to almost everything I ate. I can't say that I can eat now with reckless abandon, but I have been able to add some foods back into my diet that were causing me problems before.

What else have I been up to? Well, I won't be writing about any big trips this year because my husband and I elected not to take a big summer vacation this year like we always do. Why is that? Well, because we just moved to Ann Arbor.

A horrible, sweaty picture of my husband and me post-run in front of our new house
I have always loved this town. This is both a physically, culturally, and politically active community, and as such, I have felt more motivated to get out of the house and get moving. I can now walk and ride my bike to places, whereas before, our neighborhood was not conducive to walking or bike riding. 

I also recently left my social media coordinator position with NCTE due to some reorganization they've been doing, but no worries because I accepted a full time position at my school next year. I will be teaching my regular 8th grade English classes, but then I will also be the K-8 librarian! To say I'm excited would be an understatement.

Since things seem to be falling into place, I'm hoping to start writing more regular posts here on the blog, especially food and book-related posts. Travel? Those posts will likely continue to be few and far between unfortunately.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Ah-Choo! Blog Tour: Author Guest Post

I asked my mom if I could have
a pet, or even two.

But every time I brought one home,
my sister went

Ah-Choo!


I'm happy to have Lana Wayne Koehler on the blog today, one of the authors of the book Ah-Choo! It's a story about a boy who wants so badly to have a pet but he can't because his sister is allergic. The text is clever and rhythmical and would make a wonderful class read aloud.


Take it away Lana...


As I sit in my air-conditioned office watching the squirrels scamper up and down trees in the yard, I

wonder what would happen if a squirrel had allergies. Would their eyes itch? Would their nose run? Would they sneeze?

My eyes itch, my nose runs, and I do sneeze—often! I’ve had allergies most of my life and it was when I was sitting in my allergist’s office that I thought about writing a children’s book about allergies.


While doing my research for the book, I found out that allergies in humans are well documented and common. In fact, they’re one of the most common diseases in the USA. They affect 30% of adults and 40% of children. Most people exhibit classic signs such as coughing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. For some, allergies can lead to more serious complications like asthma, hives, and even death. It’s the third most common disease in children under the age of 18.


Author photo provided from www.lanakoehler.com
Allergies have always been a big part of my life. Like a lot of people, I spend most of the summer months avoiding grass, trees, and pollen.


However, animals are the biggest allergy of all for me. 


I know that a lot of people love their pet cats. Unfortunately, cats are especially lethal for me. I can go into an allergy attack if I sit in a chair after a cat owner has been there. Sometimes, it’s put a real damper in my ability to travel.


A few years ago, I was offered the opportunity to spend the summer vacationing in the south of France. The owners of the house where we would stay had a cat. What could I do? It was the south of France! So I cautiously accepted their kind invitation. Fortunately, a relative was able to care for the cat and I was able to spend the summer living out my dream in France!


In Ah-Choo!, I wanted the brother to be sympathetic to his sister’s plight. While he REALLY wants a pet, he’s willing to go to any lengths to find one that won’t make her sneeze.  Who wouldn’t want a big brother like that?


Some of the animals in the book are exotic. Has anyone here ever seen a dog from Kathmandu? It’s a special breed from Nepal and our illustrator, Ken Min, did a fabulous job of depicting him.  Ken mentioned that he had to do a lot of research to find pictures of some of the pets. His humorous approach really brings the animals to life!


Gloria G. Adams and I had fun with the repetition in Ah-Choo!. As a former librarian, Gloria knew that it would engage the children for story hour. We also hoped that kids at home would have fun sneezing along with the little girl. We’d love to hear how your children or grandchildren react to the sneezing.  Visit our Facebook pages: Lana Wayne Koehler, Author or Gloria G. Adams. Leave a post and we’ll reply!


Although I don’t have any specific allergies to food, I do have sensitivities to foods like breads and sugar. And, while I’m not allergic, I don’t eat oatmeal. EVER!


Not eating certain foods has put a damper on my ability to eat my way through a city like I did when I was younger. Since I’m from Upstate New York, I grew up on all kinds of spicy, exotic, delicious foods. Sometimes, I still indulge in the foodie delights of my youth and bear the consequences.


Looking ahead, I suppose that it’s time to think about writing a book about food allergies and sensitivities. What would that look like?


Which puts me back in my office looking out at the squirrels scampering up and down the trees in our yard and wondering what would happen if any of them had an allergy to nuts…


Resources:




American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Allergy Facts. http://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/allergies


Thanks for joining me on the blog today Lana!

Ah-Choo! by Lana Wayne Koehler and Gloria Adams, illustrated by Ken Min
Published: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
Audience: Primary
Disclosure: Finished 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