Monday, October 26, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 10-26-2020

 

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 loved:
What Grew in Larry's Garden by Laura Alary, illustrated by Kass Reich
This book had my heart. A little girl named Grace likes to help her neighbor Larry with his beautiful backyard garden and throughout their friendship, they find ways to problem-solve not only in the garden, but in the community as well.

This Old Dog by Martha Brockenbrough, illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo
A succinct, yet stunningly written and heartfelt book that reminds us all what a privilege it is to love an old dog.

Saturdays are for Stella by Candy Wellins, illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan
George loves that he gets to spend every Saturday with his Grandma Stella. They do all sorts of fun (and sometimes not-so-fun) things together. Until one day Stella is no longer there to spend every Saturday with. And now George has decided to cross out all the Saturdays on his calendar. That is, until a new Stella enters his life. A story that is a testament to the beauty and heartbreak of the cyclical nature of life.


The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
It's really difficult to explain the emotional impact of this story without reading it for yourself. It manages to be lighthearted while also possessing a gravitas that is not overly didactic when it comes to how we should treat refugees and asylum seekers. This story is going to linger in my mind for a long time.


Peanut Goes for the Gold by Jonathan Van Ness, illustrated by Gillian Reid
Jonathan Van Ness, of Queer Eye fame, has created a lovely story about a guinea pig who identifies as nonbinary and marches to the beat of their own drum. This isn’t so much a teaching book as it is a book that seamlessly utilizes the singular they pronoun as a way to normalize it in speech and writing for kids and adults alike. There is no direct instruction here about what it means to use the singular they. it is just used in the story and is therefore normalized.


I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith
A moving poem about a boy with a stutter. The writing uses accessible figurative language to give the reader an opportunity to better understand what it means to live with a stutter.


Currently (Still) Reading:
I Have Something to Tell You by Chasten Buttigieg



Currently (Still) Reading with My Ears:
Parkland by Dave Cullen


Monday, October 19, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10-19-20

 

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 read and loved:
Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
A moving account of one man's quest to right the wrongs of the unjustly imprisoned and sentenced to death.


We Are Called to Be a Movement by William J. Barber II
This book is a sermon given by Reverend William Barber at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. Reverend Barber is one of the foremost civil rights leaders of our country right now and deserves to be placed in the pantheon of other great civil rights leaders of past and present. His connection to social justice with scripture is masterful and his words give me hope. This sermon connects two verses of scripture one from the book of psalms and one from the gospel of Luke to show that the people that society shuns and rejects are the ones Jesus calls on to be a movement for change. So in rejecting the rejected, we are going against the teachings of Jesus and scripture.


Resistance: A Songwriter's Story of Hope, Change, and Courage by Tori Amos
Tori Amos became the defining musical artist of my adolescence and young adulthood. Reading this beautiful memoir took me back to many memories from that time. While I can’t say I generally understand all the words of her songs, the music still speaks more than the words. And while Tori’s artistic process is clearly not typical, bordering on avant-garde, her ability to articulate how art is political by its very existence is on full display in Resistance.


The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu
This beautiful story about how two twin sisters navigate the world in very different ways moved me so deeply. I’ve never read a middle grade novel where a main character was clearly an empath and for Anne Ursu to pair that with magical realism and feminist/girl power themes makes this one of my favorite middle grade novel I’ve read in a really long time.


Lift by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat
Lovers of Journey by Aaron Becker will see many comparisons to Lift by Minh Le, a story about a little girl who recovers an old elevator button in the trash that whisks her away to new and wondrous places.


Gnome by Fred Blunt
A funny story that explains the “origin” of the garden gnome: rude gnomes get turned to stone by witches who then put the gnomes in their garden collection.


Kevin the Unicorn: Why Can't We Be Bestie-corns? by Jessika von Innerebner
A great book that illustrates to kids that you don’t have to be friends with everyone if you’re not compatible — it’s perfectly OK to just be friendly.


Felix and the Monsters by Monica and Josh Holtsclaw
I love how everything in this book is done subtly, whether it’s the political message that walls designed to keep people away are for tearing down or the humorous use of music, with the main character earnestly playing the keytar, Felix and the Monsters just begs to be read aloud to groups of kids of all ages.


Girl on a Motorcycle by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Julie Morstad
A beautiful book with stylish, moody illustrations that celebrates the beauty of travel and the reminder that the quote by Tolkien is true: not all who wander are lost.


Southwest Sunrise by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Wendell Minor
Jayden moves from New York City to New Mexico and is sure he’s going to hate it, especially all the beiges and lack of color in the desert. But slowly he comes to appreciate all colors he does find and eventually discovers the wonder of his new home.


Currently reading:
I Have Something to Tell You by Chasten Buttigieg



Currently Reading with My Ears:
Parkland by Dave Cullen

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Short & Sweet by Josh Funk


Josh Funk is back with another Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast adventure, this time the two friends are feeling a little stale. Professor Biscotti has a contraption in his lab that will help to despoil them, but in an attempt to make them fresh again, they instead transform into little kids! Now it's a race against the clock for Professor Biscotti and Baron von Waffle to try to transform Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast back to their old selves.

I adore every picture book that Josh Funk creates, but I hold a special place in my heart for his Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast books. Not only is Josh one of the most effective and adept authors when it comes to rhyming picture books, which can get hokey really quickly, but this series speaks to the foodie in me loves his playful use of food in these stories. Phrases like the Fjords of Farfalle, Bran Canyon, and the Great Wall of Pine Nuts gave me a good chuckle (and made me a little bit hungry). 

But even better than his rhyming and clever use of foodie phrases, are his incredible book trailers which he created, recorded, and SANG himself. Yes, I think it's safe to say that Josh Funk is a jack of all picture book trades. 


Also watch the trailers from the previous books in the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series:




Short & Sweet by Josh Funk, illustrated by Brendan Kearney
Published: September 1, 2020
Publisher: Sterling
Pages: 40
Genre/ Format: Picture Book
Audience: Primary
Disclosure: Digital copy of book provided by author


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, September 14, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 9-14-2020

                              
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 loved:
Your Name Is a Song
Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
A beautiful book that is a reminder to everyone, teachers especially, that names are sacred and we must respect them enough to learn how to pronounce them.

A Journey Toward Hope
A Journey Toward Hope by Victor Hinojosa and Coert Vorhees, illustrated by Susan Guevara
A beautiful, heart-wrenching story about a group of children making the dangerous journey from Guatemala and El Salvador to seek asylum in the United States.

Currently Reading:
Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Point-Less: An English Teacher's Guide to More Meaningful Grading

My Life in the Fish Tank


Currently reading with my ears:
Invisible Ghosts
Invisible Ghosts by Robin Schneider

Monday, September 7, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 9-7-2020


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.


Happy Labor Day! Since my last post at the end of July, a lot has happened. I have started school in person. I am now teaching 8th grade English again. And while I am grateful that I still have a job and I have an amazing class this year 1) I am grieving not being in the library this year and pray that this job shift is only temporary 2) I am extremely worried about being back in person, especially since I live and work in a college town.

But anyway. Here's what I've been up to reading-wise the past six weeks.
Say It Louder!: Black Voters, White Narratives, and Saving Our Democracy
Say It Louder! Black Voters, White Narratives, and Saving Our Democracy by Tiffany D. Cross
Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. I loved Tiffany Cross's conviction in both her writing style and her narration of the audioibook.

Despite a media narrative that states otherwise, Black voters are not a monolith. And the criticism that they blindly vote for Democrats because there's some sort of unspoken rule in the Black community is incredibly disingenuous and lacks any sort of intellectual curiosity when it comes to Black America's motivations. The fact of the matter is, the Black community recognizes that all politics and systems in America seek to harm them in some way; they just choose to vote for the party that harms them the least. They are under no delusions that voting for Democrats is also not going to harm them in some way. They're just choosing the path of least resistance and least harm.

I love how Tiffany Cross provides readers (and listeners) with historical context and supplants that sense of intellectual curiosity that has been lacking in the media as to why Black America votes the way they do.

Cloud and Wallfish
Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet
Berlin is my absolute favorite city in the entire world. The past and the present hold hands with each other in such interesting and seamless ways, and yet the city has a youthful energy that is almost palpable. So reading a book that takes place in East Berlin in 1989 just as the Iron Curtain is crumbling, it reminded me of all of that intrigue and beating pulse of the city.

Salma the Syrian Chef
Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron
Salma just moved to Vancouver, Canada from Syria as a refugee. Despite missing her home and her father back in Syria, Salma and her mom are building a community in their new home. But Salma still sees the sadness in her mother and wants to cheer her up. She decides to enlist the help of her new community and make one of her mother's favorite dishes, but not without a few problems along the way. This is a beautiful story that shows just how powerful and impactful a welcoming community can be that provides safety nets for people who are struggling or in danger.


Natsumi's Song of Summer by Robert Paul Weston, illustrated by Nisa Saburi
An enchanting story of family, friendship, and summertime in Japan.

Izzy and Frank
Izzy and Frank by Katrina Lehman, illustrated by Sophie Beer
Izzy loves her lighthouse home and especially loves her seagull friend, Frank. But then she has to move away from the home and friend she loves to the big city and she is sure she'll never see Frank again. But then one day, Frank finds her and brings her memories of her old home.

How to Write a Story
How to Write a Story by Kate Messner, illustrated by Mark Siegel
An excellent mentor text to use with students when doing any sort of fiction writing in class. I plan to use this when I do NaNoWriMo with my 8th graders.

That's Life!
That's Life! by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld
If this book had been written by a different author, it would have come off as hokey, didactic, and full of nothing but cliches and platitude. It's basically the picture book version of the Frank Sinatra song of the same name. But somehow the way Ame Dyckman does it, paired with Cori Doerrfeld's endearing illustrations, this book is an inspiring revelation.


Drawing on Walls: A story of Keith Haring by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Josh Cochran
An inspiring and heartfelt picture book biography of the artist Keith Haring. His work really takes me back to when I was a child/teen in the late 80s/early 90s because his work really was part of the cultural zeitgeist.

How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Their Big Idea
How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Their Big Idea by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Ziyue Chen
A compelling account of women's suffrage in America 

Shirley Chisholm is a Verb!
Shirley Chisholm is a Verb! by Veronica Chambers, illustrated by Rachelle Baker
Fighting Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed, was the first Black woman ever elected to Congress and the first woman to run for president. The fantastic biography, emphasizes all the ways Shirley Chisholm lived her life by doing.

Luci Soars
Luci Soars by Lulu Delacre
What if your shadow is what is keeping you rooted to the ground and preventing you from flying?


Currently Reading:
Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Point-Less: An English Teacher's Guide to More Meaningful Grading

Monday, July 27, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 7-27-2020


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.



My anxiety has been sky high this past week. The thought of returning to school in a few weeks just makes me completely despondent. So, if you're feeling like me, I thought I would share with you a couple things I watched that are book-related that made me feel less anxious





Both The Baby-Sitters Club and Timmy Failure were exactly what I needed this past week. The character-driven stories and low-conflict plots were easy to watch and made me feel like I was wearing a comfortable pair of pajamas. I highly recommend both, but especially The Baby-Sitters Club. It has a lovely 90s aesthetic and nostalgia and yet it is updated for 2020 by including poignant feminist, identity, and social justice themes. I'm really hoping another season is in the works. 


Last week I finished reading:

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone 

I loved that the sequel to Dear Martin is told from Quan's perspective, a character we were introduced to in the first book, but made a lot of assumptions about. Dear Justyce gives him his own voice and his own story.


I also read and loved:

I Yoga You by Genevieve Santos
This is a beautiful rhyming board book that uses yoga poses to talk about the ways parents love their children.


Currently Reading:

Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe by Carole Boston Weatherford 



Currently Reading with My Ears:

Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn't, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think by David Litt