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

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Audiobook Review: Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon

When Adam Rippon became the media darling of the 2018 Winter Olympics, it was because he made the decision to soak in the experience of the Olympics rather than pushing to win the gold medal. At 28, he knew that was likely not possible. But what he didn't expect was that despite not going home with a gold medal, Adam Rippon really was the winner of the 2018 Olympics. He was joyful and sassy and shared every exciting moment with his fans.

Adam's sass has become his trademark personality trait, but sass can quickly come off as bitchiness if you're not careful. The reason his sass never comes off as bitchy in this book or in his life is because Adam is not a catty gossip. If he is talking smack about anyone, it is only himself. The only time he speaks overwhelmingly negatively about people in this book are when he describes the actions of a possessive, borderline abusive ex-boyfriend, when he describes the horrible behavior of his former coach Nikolai Morozov, and also when he discusses the manipulative behavior of Mike Pence when he tried to have a meeting with Adam before the Olympics. But as you learn in comedy, always punch up, not down. He spoke truth to power in those moments and used the rest of the book to be both hard on himself and to give himself some grace.

Verdict: I wanted to be BFFs with Adam before reading this and I want to be even more so now that I've read what an amazing, hardworking, honorable man he is -- despite the Khardashian-like trashiness he tries to portray himself as in front of the cameras. That facade is all a fun ruse, a joke he even lets the public in on, but if you don't know a lot about him, doesn't always translate for those who see him on TV in small doses. Also, other than missing out on the included photographs in the physical book, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook instead of the physical book because, of course, Adam narrates it himself.

My only criticism of this book is more a commentary on our culture. All I could think about when I was listening to the audiobook is how much the public would not allow or excuse Adam's behavior in a female skater. She WOULD come off as bitchy and ungrateful and be expected to not show any sort of humor or emotion. So as much as I love Adam, I also recognize that loving this persona that he has created would only be granted to a man and not to a woman.


Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon
Published: October 15, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 256
Audiobook length: 8 hours, 19 minutes
Genre: Memoir
Audience: Adults/Skating Fans/ LGBTQIA + identifying and allies
Disclosure: Audiobook purchased with my Libro.fm credits, which supports The Brain Lair Bookstore

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, October 14, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 10-14-19



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 read and enjoyed:

So You Want to Start a Podcast by Kristen Meinzer
No, I don't want to start a podcast, but I love Kristen Meinzer's podcast, BY THE BOOK, and so when I had the opportunity to listen to her narrate her own audiobook, I decided to give it a try. I love Kristin's voice and I love her practical, detailed advice for potential podcasters.


The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Long-Lost Home by Maryrose Wood
A lovely end to a wonderful series


Kevin the Unicorn: It's Not All Rainbows by Jessika Von Innerebner
Even unicorns can have bad days. And that's okay.

A great message to counteract the pervasive "good vibes only" messages we're being given that has turned into toxic positivity -- i.e., encouraging a positive outlook at the expense of exploring necessary negative emotions that need to be expressed in order to be fully human.


Why? by Adam Rex, illustrated by Claire Keane
A super-villain with daddy issues meets his match when he runs into a little girl who only asks one question over and over.


Frankie's Scared of Everything by Matthew Franklin
Will Frankie succumb to his fears or will he use them to his advantage? Interesting sort of street art style to the illustrations though I think they still need more refinement to be in the same league as a regular children’s book illustrator.


Little Muir's Song by John Muir, illustrated by Susie Ghahremani
"The sun shines not on us but in us.
The rivers flow not past, but through us."

Short, stunning writing in board book format from John Muir's journals.


A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
A gorgeous book that gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at how MLK's most famous speech came to be -- in fact, it almost didn't.


The President Sang Amazing Grace: A Book About Finding Grace After Unspeakable Tragedy by Zoe Mulford, illustrated by Jeff Scher
This book left me in tears. A beautiful tribute to a tragic moment in our nation's history.


Currently (still) reading:

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys


Currently reading with my ears:


Over the Top: A Raw Journey of Self-Love
by Jonathan Van Ness
I am absolutely loving listening to Jonathon narrate his own story. I was only a few minutes in and I had to stop the audiobook to write down a quote because I identified with it so much:


Monday, September 30, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 9-30-19



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 read and enjoyed:

What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by April Harrison
A beautiful story about a young boy who has lost much but still finds a way to give. I can see this book being in Caldecott contention


Vroom! by Barbara McClintock
Young girls can dream of being race car drivers too.


Field Trip to the Moon by John L. Hare
On a field trip to the moon, one young student gets left behind and makes some new friends. A fantastic wordless picture book.


Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival by Lindsay Moore
Stunning writing and beautiful illustrations


Currently (still) reading:

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys


Currently reading with my ears:


Akata Witch
by Nnedi Okorafor

Monday, September 23, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 9-23-19



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 everyone. It's been a while. I am on Instagram more these days than I am my blog so feel free to follow me @BethShaum (especially if you also love pugs, which I also post a lot of pictures of). 


Here's what I've finished reading recently:

This Book of Mine by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
A tender book that considers what it means to love a book. The spare text says so much in so few words and David Small’s nuanced illustrations pick up where the text leaves off.


A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy, illustrated by Kayla Harren
A girl that celebrates and questions what it means to be masculine, challenging those toxic tropes we’ve created in our culture.


Skulls! by Blair Thornburgh, illustrated by Scott Campbell

A picture book that reminds us to love and respect the safe place we keep our brains. Love the humorous, whimsical, yet only slightly morbid illustration style.


It's Your World Now! by Barry Falls
With what has been written and discussed about Dr. Seuss in recent years, many educators are shying away from using and recommending his books. If you're looking for an inspirational book for a rite of passage (most notably graduation) that's an alternative to Dr. Seuss's Oh the Places You'll Go, this book would be a good choice.


The Green Giant by Katie Cottle
Sort of a version of Jack and the Beanstalk if Jack were a young girl living in modern times and the giant were friendly and green.


Billie Jean! How Tennis Star Billie Jean King Changed Women's Sports by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
She was warned.
She was given an explanation.
Nevertheless, she persisted.



Just Because by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
A young girl asks a lot of life’s big questions right before bed and her father gets creative with this responses. This book is sure to be a children’s classic.

Currently reading:

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

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.