Monday, July 29, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 7-29-19



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.

Hey friends! It's been a minute. It's hard to write about everything I've been reading when what I've been reading lately has been award committee reading. 

Here's what I've been up to lately:

  1. I got a new job! I'm still a school librarian but it will be at a school in the same town where I live so the commute is shorter AND the pay is better. 
  2. I'm back in grad school. Wayne State University just introduced an experimental graduate program for teachers to get their media specialist certification in Michigan for only 15 credits. Since I don't have an official librarian degree, this is a great way to get my certification so I can make myself legit. :) 
  3. I was named chair of the 2020 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award committee. I am elated at this appointment because I love the Walden Award so much. 
  4. The 2019 Walden Award was just announced last week and I love every single one of these books so much. 


The winner is: 
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The finalists are:
Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan

I hope if you haven't read any of these books yet and you teach middle or high school students, you consider reading them and sharing them with your students. The criteria of the Walden Award are meant to encourage teachers to use them in the classroom. They are: 1. Literary merit 2. widespread teen appeal 3. Positive approach to life.

Here are a few books I've read and loved lately that were outside of my Walden reading:

Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
This book made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me... rage. 

Rage for the lack of education in reproductive health in our country.
Rage for the U.S.'s increasing maternal mortality rate. 
Rage that for our all focus on the baby's health, we ignore the mother. 
Rage that I had to learn these things in a graphic memoir because no one seems to care about the reproductive health of women in this country. 

This book might be Lucy Knisley's memoir of how childbirth almost killed her, but it is also a well-researched call-to-action that we must do better for women in this country. Pregnant women aren't just vessels to hold growing humans. Their health and wellness matters just as much as that of the child. And for some reason, not just our culture, but our healthcare system seems to have completely forgotten that.



Truman by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
When Sarah leaves for her first day of school, Truman the Turtle waits impatiently for her to return, but when she doesn’t come back as soon as he’d like, he goes on a quest to find her. But he’s a tortoise. So you can probably already guess that he doesn’t get very far very quickly. The writing in this book is lovely and the story tugs at your heartstrings. I’ve never had any desire to have a pet turtle until reading this book.


The Sloth Who Slowed Down by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Vivienne To
For the speediest family in the world, a pet sloth is just the thing to help them slow down and enjoy life.


People Don't Bite People by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Molly Idle
Well who knew there was a niche for picture books that deal with kids who bite? You can’t get much cuter than Lisa Wheeler’s rhyming verse and Molly Idle’s soft yet colorful illustrations.


Currently reading:

First We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Story About Anxiety by Sarah Wilson


Currently reading with my ears:

Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry

Monday, June 10, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 6-10-19


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:

Guts by Raina Telgemeier
The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith 


I also recently read and loved:

Sunny Rolls the Dice by Jennifer and Matthew Holm
The way Jennifer and Matthew Holm along with their colorist, Lark Pien, have grounded these Sunny narratives in a time and place is what makes this graphic novel series stand out among others. Not only do the fashions and decor of the 1970s come alive in these books, but everything also manages to feel trendy and fashionable, like you're living in that time with the characters rather than reading it from a distance. 


We Got This: Equity, Access, and the Quest to Be Who Our Students Need Us to Be by Cornelius Minor
This book is so important. It perfectly marries teacher advocacy, teacher research, and social justice while making all those hard topics easily digestible.


The Big Book Adventure by Emily Ford, illustrated Tim Warnes
Two friends go on many adventures through the books they read and then share their adventures by letting them borrow each other's books. I love how the illustration style changes with each new story adventure the friends find themselves in.


I Will Race You Through This Book by Jonathan Fenske
A picture book that young readers will no doubt read over and over again as they work on fluency and confidence.

Friday, May 31, 2019

ARC Review: Guts by Raina Telgemeier

When Raina and her mom wake up one night with a case of the stomach flu, they both think it will pass quickly. But soon, Raina finds herself getting sick whenever she feels anxious about food, school, and life at home in her crowded apartment. Guts is her journey of discovering how anxiety manifested in physical ways in her life and how she managed her fears. 

I wanted this book to be longer. Not because it felt incomplete, but because I saw so much of myself in Raina's story and I had someone to commiserate with. I have suffered from anxiety and IBS since middle school, so this story felt like my story. 

I think this will be an important book for kids and adults to talk openly about mental health struggles, particularly anxiety, and will help to normalize going to therapy. My favorite line from the book was when Raina is in a session with her therapist and struggling to find the words to explain how she feels:

"Thoughts can exist...
Feelings can exist...
But words do not always exist."


Finding the words for your thoughts and feelings is exactly why there should be no shame in going to therapy. To be able to name a feeling is so freeing. I'm grateful that a book like this will exist for kids to help give words to their thoughts and feelings. The fact that Raina is so open about these struggles will help end the shame and stigma many people feel about mental health and digestive issues. 


Guts by Raina Telgemeier
Expected Publication: September 17, 2019
Publisher: Graphix
Pages: 215
Genre/Format: Graphic Memoir
Audience: Middle Grade
Disclosure: ARC 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

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 Goodreads 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 Goodreads 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.