Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My 14 favroite books of 2014


2014 was a good year for books. There were so many I read this year that stuck with me and touched my heart. This is my narrowed-down list of the 14 books of 2014 that will have a lasting impact on me and that I will remember long after 2014 is over.

Links take you to reviews I have written or someone else who reviewed/talked about the book better than I could.


Favorite Adult Novel

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A love story to books, bookstores, and book people. I can't stress enough that this book is an absolute must-read, even if adult fiction is not your usual fare


Favorite Young Adult Novels

When I was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
A wonderful testament to family, friendship, and counter-narratives. A lovely tribute to Reynolds' neighborhood of Bed Stuy in Brooklyn and the people who live there.


The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner
A perfect, beautiful summer read. But instead of mindless fluff that perhaps most people equate with beach reads, this one has soul. The characters Gae Polisner has created in this book are so loveable despite their flaws. Francesca and Frankie Sky will stay with me for a long time.


Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Despite the ridiculous, somewhat gimmicky premise of this book, it is surprisingly poignant and universally relateable. I'm grateful I was able to hear Whaley talk about this book personally, otherwise I'm not sure I would have ever read it. 


Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
I don't even know how to describe this book. It defies labels. Andrew Smith has created something provocative and discussion-worthy with Grasshopper Jungle. While this is not a book I would have read on my own -- I chose to read it due to the number of people who are talking about it -- I'm really glad I picked it up. You are definitely missing out on a cultural conversation by not reading it. 


Favorite Middle Grade Novels:

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
I've staked my claim that this is the book I will be rooting for to win the Newbery in early February. Newbery or not, A Snicker of Magic will undoubtedly be a children's classic. The link above takes you to my Nerdy Book Club review. I also interviewed Natalie here on the blog.


The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
That sneaky Jenni Holm. She always writes novels that I initially think I'm not going to like and then every time manages to make me fall in love with them. Not only will kids love this book, but there is a lot of worthwhile discussion to have about what it means to grow old and what a privilege it is to do so.


The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando
This book kind of snuck up on me. I was expecting this to be a light, fluffy read but what I actually discovered is that Tara Altebrando has written a novel about middle school mean girl behavior so spot-on, that it took me back to a place I didn't want to go to. But it is for that reason that books like The Battle of Darcy Lane are important. They show kids and remind adults just how hard it is to survive this time in your life -- and that it does get better.


Favorite Picture Books:

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison
An ordinary little dog lives at the circus among extraodinary, talented animals, and yet everyone loves Jane just the way she is. The illustrations in Extraordinary Jane are some of the most endearing I have ever laid eyes on and they tell more of the story than the words do. By the time I got to the last page I was weeping. I have such a soft spot for dogs, what can I say, and Hannah Harrison just knows how to illustrate love into her paintings.  


The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
After I finished The Adventures of Beekle, I just had to sit and let it linger for a while before I could do anything else. The illustrations are bright and vibrant and the story will warm your heart and tickle the back of your throat as you choke back a few tears.



Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton
Sometimes wrecking things is fun. Most of the time it will get people mad at you. I think we've all known some Rexes in our lives, which is why this book rings so true despite the fantastical characters contained inside its pages.


Edgar's Second Word by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Priscilla Burris
Hazel can't wait for her baby brother to arrive. She practices reading aloud with her stuffed bunny Rodrigo, anticipating the day when she and her brother can read and discuss books together. When Edgar does finally say his first word, both Hazel and her mother are elated. But they soon find out that Edgar's first word causes more trouble than they anticipated. Lovers of Mo Willems's Knuffle Bunny books will undoubtedly fall in love with Hazel and Edgar.


Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
This book gave me the feels. Despite not being a true biography of Frida Kahlo's life, this book is so much bigger that. It felt like a living, breathing poem and was simply enchanting. 


Firebird by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers
I know I'm a crier by nature so perhaps telling you that I was tearing up by page one doesn't hold much weight, but I generally don't cry at the beginning of a book. Firebird is the story of a young girl of color who aspires to be a ballerina someday, but sees only the obstacles before her. You get the sense that Copeland is writing this story not only to all the African American girls who dream of being dancers, but also looking back at herself when she first started out.


Narrowing this list down was hard. I probably could have done my 20 favorite books of 2014, but I figured I'd keep it at 14. What were your favorite books this year?



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

Ali knows his neighborhood in Brooklyn has a bad rap, but he likes to stay above the fray. He's a kid who looks after his mom and his sister, and avoids the guns, drugs, and gangs that sometimes plague Bed Stuy.

One day, two boys Ali's age move in next door, and they immediately strike up a friendship. Noodles and Needles are brothers and Needles has Tourette's. Needles frequently has tics and shouts out inappropriate words, but Ali's mom has discovered a way to help calm his tics: knitting (thus his nickname). Despite the fact that Needles' condition seems to bother no one in their neighborhood, Noodles clearly harbors a great deal of resentment towards his brother that eventually comes to a boiling point when Needles takes a hit for something that was Noodles' fault. 

When I Was the Greatest first came on my radar back in April when Jason Reynolds was part of an event at Literati Bookstore with John Corey Whaley and Brendan Kiely. Reynolds' debut novel is a much-needed counter-narrative in the canon of young adult literature that prominently features black characters. So often books with African Americans are either historical fiction or gritty narratives that feature protagonists who are part of gangs or other criminal activities. Jason Reynolds, however, has written a gentle story about a young man who always wants to do right by his family and friends. Ali's tenderness towards his mom and sister and even his mostly absent father is not only touching, it is a desperately needed narrative for kids and young adults -- as both a mirror and a window. Fans of Jacqueline Woodson's After Tupac and D Foster will enjoy this character-driven story and want to keep sitting on the stoop with Ali, Noodles, and Needles long after the last page is turned. And it is passages like this one, that will leave a lasting impression on the reader. I know it did on me:

"Let's  pretend this punching bag is your father. What do you want to do to him?" He slowly released my fist. My nails were digging so deep into my palm that I thought I had broken the skin.

"Show me," he said again, this time nudging my shoulder. 

I turned toward the punching bag, opened my fist, and wrapped my arms around it.

Malloy sat there in his chair staring at six-year-old me, hugging a punching bag like it was a person.

With writing like that, Jason Reynolds has staked his claim as a force to be reckoned with in the world of young adult literature. The future is bright for this young writer and I can't wait to see what great things are in his future. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if he has a Coretta Scott King Award and maybe even a Schneider Family Book Award grace the cover of this book in early February.


When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
Published: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Atheneum
Pages: 232
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
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, December 29, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? 12-29-14

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

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.

2014 is almost over! When did that happen?

I finally finished (and surpassed) my 100 novel-length book goal for the year. Woo hoo! I also read over 500 books total for the year. Overall, this was a great reading year.

Here is a snippet of my reading last week...


I reviewed:

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
Gus and Me by Keith and Theodora Richards


I finished reading:

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
What a wonderful testament to family, friendship, and counter-narratives. Thank you Jason Reynolds for this beautiful, positive tribute to your neighborhood of Bed Stuy in Brooklyn. Fans of Jacqueline Woodson's After Tupac and D Foster will enjoy this character-driven story and want to keep sitting on the stoop with Ali, Noodles, and Needles long after the last page is turned. I want to write a longer review of this one soon but I fear I won't be able to do it justice. 


I finished reading with my ears:

Blackbird by Anna Carey
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle  
Will be reviewing these soon.


My favorite picture book from last week was:

Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light
Louise loves art and her brother, Art. Love the French/beatnik vibe Louise had about her. 


Currently reading:
 
The Way to Stay in Destiny by Augusta Scattergood 


Currently reading with my ears:

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar by Keith and Theodora Richards

Keith Richards is best known for being the guitarist in one of the most famous rock bands in the word, The Rolling Stones. As a child growing up in London, Keith would visit his Grandad Gus and they would go for long walks, exploring their city. One day, while out on one of their walks, Gus and Keith visited a music store and the young boy was transfixed by all of the instruments, in particular the guitars.

Back at home, Gus told Keith that when he was tall enough to reach the guitar on top of the piano, he could "have a go." Gus taught Keith how to hold the guitar, strum simple chords, and said that the day he learned how to play Malagueña, he could play anything. Of course, it wasn't long before Keith was impressing his granddad with his talent and passion.

Gus and Me is a special book. Not only does it celebrate the bond between grandchild and grandparent, but it shows that when there is a person in your life to nurture a passion, great things are possible. I did not expect that a book by Keith Richards would make me cry, but wouldn't you know it, the moment Gus heard Keith playing Malagueña for the first time, it got me all teary-eyed

Don't miss Keith narrating the story on the accompanying CD, which also includes riffs from Malagueña interspersed throughout the narrative to help set the tone and emotion of the story.

Keith's daughter Theodora, named after her great grandfather Gus (Theodore Augustus Dupree), consulted her father and dug through family photos to create the pen and ink illustrations in Gus and Me, which I believe would be a perfect book to give a young budding musician, especially one where musical passions have been passed down and nurtured in his or her family.


Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar by Keith Richards, illustrated by Theodora Richards
Published: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Audience: Primary/Middle Grade
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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

He had a gun in his hand. I'm sure of it. I laid eyes on it. I mean, I must have. The deep-stabbing kind of fear I felt; that doesn't come from nowhere. Certainly not from a Snickers bar. I know I stared into the deep black hole in that glinting barrel.  


The shooting or Tariq Johnson takes place in the fictional urban neighborhood of Underhill. We don't know where Underhill is, and as a result, the reader gets a sense that it could be Everytown, U.S.A. Even so, readers immediately understand that How It Went Down is a book that was inspired by the Trayvon Martin shooting. And yet, despite being written before the most recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, it also shares striking similarities to these stories too.

Told in short, page-turning chapters and multiple POVs, this timely novel gets to the heart of people's perceptions and how our own prejudices and experiences impact what we see -- or what we think we see. Did Tariq Johnson have a gun when Jack Franklin shot him? Or was it just a Snickers bar? Was he part of the neighborhood gang? Or did he keep his pact with his best friend Tyrell that they would never be a part of that life? The narrative of "how it went down" and who Tariq was changes depending on who's telling the story, so when readers reach the end of the novel, they are left with more questions than answers. Was Tariq good or bad? And just what do those words mean anyway? 

While some of the voices felt a tad inconsistent in places, which is understandable given the number of characters who are narrating the story, overall, How It Went Down is an important, discussion-prompting story, and one that will appeal to many teens.  


How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon 
Published: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Pages: 336
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
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, December 22, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? 12-22-14

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

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 quite the productive week here on the blog. Check out all that I've reviewed and posted.


Last week's reviews:
   
X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
The Palm of My Heart: Poems by African American Children, edited by Davida Adedjouma, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie


Edible Colors by Jennifer Vogel Bass
What a Party! by Ana Maria Machado, illustrated by Helene Moureau


Current giveaways:

ARC of X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele


Last week I also finished reading:

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
I have a review scheduled to post for this book tomorrow, but the quick review is that booktalking this one before Christmas break caused a lot of 8th graders to fight over who got to take it home and read it over break.


Currently reading:

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds


Currently and still reading with my ears:

Blackbird by Anna Carey
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Edible Colors by Jennifer Vogel Bass

Did you know that:

broccoli can be purple,
bananas can be red,
and cherries can be yellow? 


As a foodie, I dig books like this. Not only does Jennifer Vogel Bass introduce kids to colors by showing fruits and veggies that we are familiar with like yellow corn, orange carrots, and green cucumbers, but in Edible Colors, she also familiarizes them to unusual, lesser-known varieties of fruits and veggies such as purple carrots, red dacca bananas, blue jade corn, and white queen tomatoes, which Bass grows her in very own garden in New Jersey.

In order for kids to grow up and have a healthy relationship with food, we should be making the process of where food comes from more transparent and less mysterious. As a child, I was an extremely picky eater, and rarely ate vegetables. But food was always something my parents just placed in front of me, never sharing how they made it, where it came from, or involving me in the process. As I grew into adulthood and had to learn to cook for myself, I was tired of my regular bland palate and began educating myself and experimenting with different flavors, textures, and foods. Parents who lament about their kids being picky eaters should start bringing them into the kitchen and garden to broaden their palate and expand their curiosity for a variety of foods.

The fruits and vegetables in Edible Colors are presented in photographs taken against a stark white background to allow for their colors to be the star.  This will undoubtedly make you want to take a trip to the farmers market to hunt down some of the fruits and veggies you may have never seen before. I know I am anxious to seek out a purple bell pepper, a black Spanish radish, and a Buddha's Hand citron after reading this.

Parents looking to expand their children's palate should look no further than Edible Colors.


Edible Colors by Jennifer Vogel Bass
Published: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 32
Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book
Audience: Primary
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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Midwinter's Eve giveaway hop: Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele


For my portion of this blog hop, I am giving away a copy of:


Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele
Published: May 20, 2014
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Pages: 208
Genre: Memoir/How-to
Audience: Young Adult


Goodreads Summary:
The star of the hit show Glee shares her experiences and insider tips on beauty, fashion, inner strength, and more in an illustrated book that’s part memoir, part how-to, and part style guide.

Lea Michele is one of the hardest working performers in show business. Whether she’s starring as Rachel Berry on Glee, rocking a glamorous look on the red carpet, recording her solo album, or acting as the spokesperson for L’Oreal, Lea is the ultimate multi-tasker. She knows better than anyone that it is difficult to be your best self and keep things in perspective when your to-do list is overflowing and you are faced with challenges, so she’s developed a foolproof system for remaining healthy and centered. In Brunette Ambition, she reveals the lessons and advice that have worked for her--from beauty and fashion secrets to fitness tips, and career insights. Supplemented with never-before-seen photos and revealing anecdotes, it’s the book Lea wishes she’d had in her teens and early twenties: A practical and inspirational guide to harnessing tenacity and passion and living the fullest life, no matter what obstacles life puts in your way.



Terms and conditions:
Must be 13 or older to enter and have a U.S. mailing address
One winner will be selected
Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out my other giveaway going on until December 26th:
ARC of X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon 

Also visit the other blogs in this giveaway hop

Friday, December 19, 2014

What a Party! by Ana Maria Machado, illustrated by Helene Moureau

A child's birthday soon turns into a raucous neighborhood party rife with food, friends, pets, music, and dancing.

Playing on the tossed salad metaphor of diversity rather than a melting pot, What a Party! celebrates multiculturalism by, well, celebrating. I love that this book highlights cultural differences by maintaining that we come together by sharing and celebrating those differences rather than keeping to ourselves and our own cultures. And what this book further maintains is that food is the great equalizer. Just when has food never succeeded in bringing people together? :) 




What a Party! by Ana Maria Machado, illustrated by Helene Moureau
Published: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Audience: Primary
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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

ARC giveaway: X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon

I was recently lucky enough to receive an ARC of the amazing book X: A Novel that comes out on January 6, 2015. I was so moved by this book that I have been telling every teacher I know that they need to read it. It is a book that spoke to my heart and soul. Read my review here. Not only was I lucky enough to receive a copy for myself, but Candlewick also provided me with an extra copy to give away.

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Candlewick
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction
Audience: Young Adult

Goodreads Summary:
Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that's nothing but a pack of lies—after all, his father's been murdered, his mother's been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer.

But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory when what starts as some small-time hustling quickly spins out of control. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can't run forever.

X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.



Terms and conditions:
Must be 13 or older to enter and have a U.S. mailing address
One winner will be selected
Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon

I am Malcolm.
I am my father’s son. But to be my father’s son means that they will always come for me.

They will always come for me, and I will always succumb.

 


Malcolm Little's young life is fraught with heartache and tragedy. After his father's murder, his family begins to unravel, no thanks to the white officials who have cut his desperate family off of government assistance and deemed his mother an unfit parent. In addition to his family unraveling, so too do his dreams when a teacher whom Malcolm trusts discourages him from aspiring to be a lawyer, despite the fact that Malcolm is a top student and also class president. His teacher only sees his skin color rather than young Malcolm's potential.

It's at this moment in his life that Malcolm wonders why he bothers even trying anymore and decides to escape to Boston where his half-sister Ella lives. It is here that Malcolm is tempted away from his once promising future into a world of nightclubs, hustling, and drugs. Malcolm thinks he has found a freedom in abandoning his past, but it's only a matter of time before the freedom he thinks he's found comes crashing down around him.

X is a fictionalized portrayal of a young Malcolm X's life, co-written by Kekla Magoon and Malcolm's daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz. This is a story that is incredibly timely given the animosity and resentment occurring in our country right now with the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Malcolm X's fight for civil rights was demonized when he was alive and is still done so to this day. In that regard, there are so many parallels that can be made from not only Malcolm's public life, but also his youth in the 1940s (when this novel takes place), to the struggles of African Americans still going on in 2014.

As I was reading X, there were many occasions when I had to put the book down to process and contemplate what I had just read. The scene with Malcolm's teacher was one such occasion because I knew despite the incendiary language used in that moment, it was something that I needed to share with my students. We are taught the power of the N word from a very young age. It is a word so powerful it can no longer be spoken. But it wasn't until the aftermath of the moment when Malcolm is called that horrific word by his teacher that I could fully internalize its power. I wanted my students to experience that same moment of horror and indignation.

X is a profound novel. It is one that can change hearts and minds. I know it did mine.


I'm not meant to be part of the things that are wrong with the world, but neither am I meant to run from them. 
I'm meant to fight against them. 
I can't hold my own in the ring, but out in the world, I do know how to fight. 
With words. 
With truth. 


Download the teachers' guide

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Candlewick
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: ARC received for review from 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, December 16, 2014

The Palm of My Heart: Poems by African American Children, edited by Davida Adedjouma, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Black stride? It's:
the arch of my back
the curve of my spine
the way I stand
and my stance is
pride


 

Oh this book. It will bring a tear to your eye and give you hope. The poems contained inside its scant pages are small but they are mighty. It is a heartprint book in every sense of the word. And just like the short poems contained therein, so too is this review.



The Palm of My Heart: Poems by African American Children, edited by Davida
Adedjouma, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Published: September 1, 1996
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Pages: 32
Genre: Poetry Picture Book
Audience: Primary/Middle Grade/Young Adult
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, December 15, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? 12-15-14

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

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 on my teaching blog:
5 things I loved about last week

I was the guest poster on the NCTE blog yesterday:
The Story of One is the Story of Many



Last week I reviewed:

Sugar Hill: Harlem's Historic Neighborhood by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie 


I finished reading:

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
This book will stay with me for a long time. There were many occasions when I had to just stop and put the book down to contemplate what I had just read. With all of the racial animosity and resentment occurring in our country right now, this book is as relevant as ever. A must-own for any high school teacher's classroom library. I will be writing a lengthier review on here on the blog soon. 


Favorite picture books from last week:

What a Party! by Ana Maria Machado, illustrated by Helene Moureau
The Palm of My Heart: Poems by African American Children, edited by Davida  Adedjouma, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
I have a full reviews of both of these books scheduled for later this week but, spoiler alert, I loved them both.


Little Roja Riding Hood by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Susan Guevara
A fun, modern twist on Little Red Riding Hood, told in unabashed, bilingual rhyming verse. Little Roja Riding Hood subverts the traditional fairy tale trope with style and swagger.


Currently reading:

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon


Currently and still reading with my ears:

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex 
Blackbird by Anna Cary
Still enjoying my re-listen of Smekday. I started off quite dubious of Blackbird because it's written in 2nd-person POV, which seemed forced and inauthentic at first, but I think that's just because I'm not well-versed in books told from this POV that it didn't feel natural at first. Now that I've started to settle into the story, I'm starting to feel it more. The publisher synopsis calls this The Maze Runner meets Code Name Verity but I think it has more of a Bourne Identity vibe to it.