It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YAThis week I read: 

The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen
This did not disappoint, I’d had it on my tbr list and was reminded of it during #titletalk last month. Had to go out the next day and get the second book.

The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen
I wasn’t kidding, I went to the library the next day to get this one and finished it in a day. Love this series for middle grades fantasy, would be a nice precursor to the Graceling series as a “world building” fantasy.

Hidden Roots by Joseph Bruchac
This was required reading for the students in my online graduate children’s lit course so I wanted to reread it. A great entry into discussion about representations of American Indians in children’s literature.

This Week I’m Reading:

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
I’ve missed you Gansey. And Blue. And Adam, Ronan, and Noah.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
We’ve decided to use this as one of the required texts for our fall children’s literature course and I’ve never read it. Super excited because Patrick Ness is a brilliant writer.

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading (Nov. 5 edition)

I’m back! Be sure to visit teachmentortexts to see what others have been reading!

Over the past few weeks I’ve read:

Bear Has a Story to Tell – written by Philip C. Stead & illustrated by Erin Stead
Another lovely story by the team that brought us Amos McGee. 

Boot and Shoe – written & illustrated by Marla Frazee
Frazee’s writing and artistic style make her storytelling an absolute delight. I especially love the ways that she blends colors to show depth and movement.  

This is Not My Hat – written & illustrated by Jon Klassen
Another fantastic story by Jon Klassen. My 8-year-old and I read this together standing in our local independent bookstore. She kept flipping back and forth between pages and pointing out how much the eye on the “big fish” was telling her. 

One Crazy Summer – written by Rita Williams Garcia
This was a reread for me in preparation for a discussion in my children’s literature courses. I was again blown away by Williams’ writing, particularly her character development. This book is a must read example of historical fiction. 

Blackout -written & illustrated by John Rocco
I read this aloud to my students last week as we talked about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the role that children’s literature could play. 

This week I’ll be reading…

Graceling – written by Kristin Cashore
Another reread for me, I’ve been listening to the audio and reading depending on my location (car or home). This will be the first time I’ve used this book in my children’s literature courses and I’m anxious to hear what my students think when we discuss it next week. I love it as an example of fantasy – creating a consistant and believable world, and also as a book to talk about female characters. 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret – written & illustrated by Brian Selznick
My 8-year-old is reading this to me. While I’ve read it before (and even used it in class), having her read it to me is making it an entirely new experience as she shares her thinking and questions while she reads. 

Teaching Literacy for Love and Wisdom – written by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm & Bruce Novak
I’m working on my dissertation right now, and this book is both inspiration and a source of knowledge for me. 

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I made a huge discovery about myself. I can walk on the treadmill and read at the same time! I love reading and I am very undisciplined about exercise so it is a perfect combination. As a result, I’ve finally finished a book I’ve been trying to finish for more than a week, started on another, and completed one that has been on top of my tbr pile for far too long.

I finished The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater. A lovely example of a fantasy novel that draws on folklore (something we just talked about in my children’s literature class last week!) I also like the way that we hear the story told from boy Puck and Sean’s points of view – but I tend to love multi-vocal stories. The way that Steifvater writes about the connections that both characters have with horses and the land felt so very authentic to me. I immediately recommended it to my cousin, who could BE Puck (you know, if it weren’t a fantasy fictional story).

I finally read A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban. This has been on my tbr pile for a while. My friend, Colby Sharp, is a big fan of Linda’s and I’ve been wanting to read it. I read it in an evening, immediately gave it 5 stars on goodreads, and handed it to my 12-year-old daughter as a “must read”. For more, see yesterday’s blog post. (It needed it’s own post, it was that amazing.)

I reread The Arrival, The Red Tree, Eric, and Sketches from a Nameless Land by Shaun Tan. My children’s literature students read, wrote about, and discussed The Arrival last week. Every time I read Tan’s books, I’m blown away by the way he creates multiple levels of story, and therefore, response. I picked up Sketches from A Nameless Land when I was in Australia this summer, it is amazing to be able to read about Tan’s process and get a glimpse at his creative process. Hoping that this will be available in the US soon.

I started reading A Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz. I absolutely loved A Tale Dark and Grimm because of the way that Gidwitz turns upside down (and inside out) what we think we know about fairy tales. This follow up is not disappointing. I also love that the narrator talks to the reader – nothing like breaking the fourth wall in an artful way.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading…

Be sure to check out the fabulous teachmentortexts to see what others are reading!

This week I read:

Homer written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper

The calm and steady character of Homer the dog are integrated into every aspect of this book; from a simple yet meaningful text to gorgeous water color illustrations. Framed, single-page spreads show Homer’s vantage point from the porch throughout the day. Occasional double-page spreads with full bleeds “speak” for Homer without needing text. This is a dog who is completely satisfied with his life.

House Held Up By Trees written by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen

I reread this book in preparation for a discussion about realistic fiction in my children’s literature course this week. Kooser’s prose is beautifully written and the accompanying illustrations showcase a variety of points of view. The color palate is subtle and is a great example of green representing life, even when it seems it may not go on.

Grandpa Green written and illustrated by Lane Smith

I’ve read this book many times and was not disappointed on this reread. The students in my children’s literature course are also reading (and rereading) it in preparation for our first class discussion and their first papers. I’m always struck by the intricacies of the illustrations and the different ways that I think about the grandson and his grandfather.

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

This story has not disappointed. Schlitz’s ability to weave together magic, history, social class, and mystery create a tale that engaged me from the first page. She gives enough information to bring me in without making things predictable. I’m looking forward to finishing off the last few chapters tonight!

This coming week:

I’m still working on No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, it’s next on my tbr stack. I also picked up The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater at the library yesterday. I’ve not read any of her books, but she is going to be at our local independent bookstore this coming friday and I’m planning on taking my daughter. I was hoping to get her newest, The Raven Boys, but it was checked out.

It’s Monday, What Are YOU Reading?!

Thanks to my amazing colleagues over at Teach Mentor Texts for hosting this meme each week. Please check out their blog if you haven’t already!!!

This past week I read:

Same Sun Here by Silas House & Neela Vaswani 

I’m still processing this book. What I love best about it is the way that it can push against adult assumptions about the ways that children and young people think. So often I hear statements like, “kids don’t notice that” but THEY DO. This is a lovely story told through an exchange of letters between pen pals. Though at times a bit didactic, the overall premise and story are lovely and thought-provoking.

The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech

This book did NOT disappoint. I love stories that push you to figure out connections when it seems as if there isn’t one. As an Irish girl myself, I’m particularly fond of the ways that Creech’s writing is similar to some oral storytelling traditions. Both Naomi and Lizzy are multi-dimensional, rich, intriguing characters who are accompanied by an intriguiging supporting cast.

I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson

I read this in preparation for an upcoming meeting. An instructor of one of our sections of multicultural and diverse children’s literature course selected this as a required text for students. All three instructors for the course invited the rest of us from the MSU Children’s Literature Team to read the book and discuss it at our next meeting. I’m looking forward to the discussion. This book hung over me for a good while after I finished it. It is a multi-dimensional story that invites the reader to consider classicism, racism, family, friendship, and incest.

Voice in the Park by Anthony Browne

This is a book that I have read more times than I can remember. It used to be the first book that students in my children’s literature course discussed and wrote about. We still use it in the course as a model. The richness of the illustrations and multi-vocal text never cease to provide new insights and responses. I reread it every semester 2-3 times in preparation for our “elements of illustrations” discussion.

This coming week I’ll be reading:

No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the LIfe and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson with artwork by R. Gregory Christie

I’m super excited to read this book. I had requested in from my local library before I left for Australia but didn’t have time to give it a good read. I love historical pieces that stretch me as a reader and this one has that potential.

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

Another book that I’ve heard some buzz about that I can’t wait to read. I met Laura at a conference last year and she was absolutely lovely and so generous with her time. I loved Good Masters Sweet Ladies and can’t wait to read this one!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I’m working on creating a “school-year” reading routine for myself. During the summer months I have some more flexibility and don’t need to be quite as plan-full. Thankfully, our local library had some great new books to get me started!

Remember to check out Teach Mentor Texts to see what others have been reading!

What I read last week:

The Hueys in The New Sweater written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers is a genius – both as a storyteller and illustrator. When we talk about picture books in my children’s literature course, I want the students to understand the role of brevity – both in text and illustration – and this is fantastic example.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combination story by Monica Brown illustrations by Sara Palacios

This thoughtful story about a young girl who is a “creative, unique, bilingual, Peruvian-Scottish-American, soccer-playing artist” is published with both english and spanish text. I love the potential discussions that could follow a reading of this about identity, how we define ourselves, and diversity.

The Obstinate Pen written and illustrated by Frank W. Dormer

Funny story about a pen that people just don’t want to listen to, when a young boy finally does some wonderful things happen.

The Insomniacs written by Karina Wolf illustrated by The Brothers Hilts

I loved this quirky story about a family who is adjusting to moving across multiple time zones and finding a rhythm that works for them. As someone who struggles with insomnia, it is refreshing to read – and see – it set in a positive “light”. (I know it’s a bad pun, couldn’t help myself.)

Isabella’s Garden written by Glenda Millard and illustrated by Rebecca Cool

Rich, vibrant illustrations accompany this sweet add-on story in the style of “the House the Jack Built”. This is particularly close to my heart because I was able to see some of the original artwork at an exhibit in Sydney, Australia over the summer.

What I’m reading now

Same Sun Here by Silas House & Neela Vaswani

So far I’m loving the dual voices in this book about pen pals from New York City and Kentucky.

It’s Monday, June 11 – What Are You Reading?

Be sure to check out the host of “It’s Monday…” TeachMentorTexts to see what others are reading! 

This week I had a VERY productive reading week and am feeling energized by it!

I finally finished Graceling by Kristin Cashore and absolutely loved it, particularly the rich, multidimensional characters of Katsa and Po. I think something that I appreciate about this as an example of YA fantasy is that while there is a romance element to the story, it is not what defines the characters – particularly the female characters Katsa. I can’t wait to read Fire and Bitterblue.

I also read Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker. This is a lovely story about 2 young girls who think that they have nothing in common, but come to find out that they do in more ways than they imagined possible.

In preparation for my upcoming trip to Australia, I’m reading as much children’s and YA lit by Australian authors and illustrators as I can get my hands on. I read the following picture books:

Sun Mother Wakes the World adapted by Diane Wolkstein and illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft is an absoultely stunning creation story based on beliefs of the indigenous peoples of Australia. The illustrations are stunning and a thorough author’s note at the end explains known origins of the story.

Ready to Dream by Donna Jo Napoli and Elena Furrow with illustrations by Bronwyn Bancroft tells the story of Ally and her mother’s trip to Australia. Ally’s dreams of becoming an artist are enlightened and encouraged by her new friend Pauline, who is an aboriginal artist. Bancroft’s illustrations (which remind me a bit of Faith Ringold’s paintings) are beautiful and add a depth to the connection between the child and her new artist friend.

W is for Wombat: My First Australian Wombat by Bronwyn Bancroft is an ABC board book full of Bancroft’s delightful illustrations that a first glance may seem like a simple text. After multiple readings, it made me think about assumptions that I hold as well as similarities between the U.S. and Australia (hawk, island, river) and differences (dingo, joey, platypus, and quokka).

Fox by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks is a truly unique story that begs to be read and discussed multiple times. I could say much more, but need to reread it a few times first. The complexity is incredible – I love the way it pushes me to think about how picture books and children’s literature can be defined.

Half a World Away by Libby Gleeson with illustrations by Freya Blackwood
Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson with illustrations by Freya Blackwood

Molly and her Dad by Jan Ormerod & Carold Thompson

Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker – I was familiar with both Window and Mirror by Baker but had never read this title. Like her other stories, Baker asks readers to reflect on their place in the world and their role in the environment.

I read all of the following Mem Fox titles (which by no means represent all she has written!):

Hello Baby illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild illustrated by Marla Frazee

The Goblin and the Empty Chair illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon

The Magic Hat illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Possum Magic illustrated by Julie Vivas

Koala Lou illustrated by Pamela Lofts

I’ll be writing more about some of these titles during July and August when I am in Australia.

This coming week I’ll be reading…

… more titles by Australian authors and illustrators.

And though not children’s literature, I’m also reading Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers – inspired by Paul Hankin’s post over at Nerdy Book Club. Anyone interested in teaching and/or reading should read it!