Monday, May 25, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week:

Gameworld is a fun middle grade novel about some children who end up inside a video game for real. It was full of action, but I never connected with the characters. I loved that it had diverse characters, but it was only okay - not a favorite.  Mexican Whiteboy was fantastic. Matt de la Peña tore me up with this one. Danny is struggling with a lot of things - his relationships with his parents, his identity and his pitching too. This was a young adult story that felt real and true. I will be recommending this one a lot.

I zipped through the YA book More Happy Than Not a second time this week and reviewed it over at Rich in Color. I love, love, love, this book even though Silvera made me cry multiple times.


An Age of License: A Travelogue was a nice quick travel book in graphic novel format. It is probably one to classify as New Adult since it's about Lucy in her twenties. I have really liked Lucy Knisley's books. Relish is still my favorite. She has a nice mix of humor and serious contemplation. It has inspired me to look for a nice notebook or journal for my summer vacation. I want to be intentional about my journaling during my travels this time. That would be a first.


Flight of the Honey Bee and River Story were both sent to me by Candlewick.  They are two very nice non-fiction picture books. The bee book is nicely done following a scout bee through a typical day. The River Story is beautiful and shares about rivers in simple flowing (couldn't help myself) text. Miffy at the Zoo is part of my effort to read some Dutch children's lit before I visit Amsterdam later this year. It was a cute little book. 


Cooking from the Heart: The Hmong Kitchen in America is a fascinating cookbook. It shares more than just recipes. There is history tucked away in and around the recipes. There are also essays, poetry and some great pictures. I have tried a few of the recipes and they were yummy. I look forward to trying more of them in the future. 

The Coming Week:
 
I'm listening to both Lockwood & Co. and Baseball in April. When I finish with those, I'll start listening to a young adult novel Love Edy. I've started The Zodiac Legacy and will likely finish that up this week. I'm also reading a guidebook for the traveling we'll be doing later this year. It almost feels like a research project, but a fun one. I have a pile of books sitting around, but I'm not sure which one will come next. Have a great week of reading!

Reading Challenge Update 
Diversity on the Shelf/Diverse Books - 94/100
Goodreads - 190/520
#MustRead2015 - 28/53
Diversity Reading Challenge - 9/12
Around the World With Books 2015

 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Celebrate!

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Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

We are just about to run off to a graduation ceremony so this will be brief. Some of my celebrations for the week are:

* Our exchange student from South Korea had a great experience and is getting to participate in graduation ceremonies today.

* All but one of my office cabinets are empty and the contents are packed into boxes ready for removal after the final day of school.

* A co-worker and I got to sneak away for 15 minutes yesterday and grab an iced chai before diving back into packing.

* On our walk today, my dog and I met a nice couple and their dog. We shared laughter and smiles.

* I talked to my grandmother today and we had a fun conversation. My 90 year old grandma has a lot of spunk.

* I appreciate that other people's memoirs can bring me to my own memories. I appreciate Lucy Knisley's works because they always lead me to my own past.

Now we are off to celebrate the graduates of 2015!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week: 

I finished Korea Unmasked this afternoon. The author is Korean and has written about other countries before, but it is hard to take the many stereotypes and the simplification of culture. I know he's trying to give a quick overview in a humorous way, but it isn't necessary to do it in a way that perpetuates stereotypes. A Korean person gave me the book and there were aspects that I enjoyed, like learning some of the history, but it's definitely problematic.

Escaping the Tiger was a tough book to read. It shares the story of a young boy and his family who have left their home in Laos after the U.S. troops pulled out of Vietnam. They end up in a refugee camp. Most of the story takes place in the camp. It's not an easy time for the family, but they try to keep their hopes up for a chance to make a new start. It's a book that tells of situations that many members of my community also experienced before they came to the U.S. 

I got an ARC of I Am Princess X at ALA Midwinter and finally picked it up this weekend. It's a novel/graphic novel hybrid, but the ARC didn't have most of the illustrations. It's hard to judge it without those, but it was entertaining. From my Goodreads review, "This is a fun mystery with a few twists. I don't think it's meant to be taken too seriously though. Some things are way to coincidental, but it worked for me."

Surviving Santiago was my favorite book that I finished this week. I got the ARC at Midwinter and will be writing up a full review next week over at Rich in Color. It's a sequel/companion to Gringolandia but it could be read alone. I become more of a Lyn Miller-Lachmann fan every time I read one of her books. 

Eep! was a book I read in honor of an upcoming trip to Amsterdam. I thought I ought to read at least a few books from that neck of the woods before I head over. Eep! is quite a unique book. There's a fantasy element and it was a cute story. It's a difficult thing to explain without spoiling things, but it seemed to be about love and goodbyes. 

Currently Reading: 

I am loving Mexican Whiteboy. I only have a few more chapters left. Matt de la Peña has pulled me into Danny's life. Gameworld is okay, but I wanted to like it more than I do. I started The Screaming Staircase on audio, but it expired (checked out digitally) and now I think I'll have to start over. Cooking from the Heart is a Hmong American cookbook. There are many recipes, but it also has some great information, essays and even some poems in it, so I am making my way through slowly. I've made the Thai Bubble Tea (very sweet, but yummy) and the Coconut Sticky Rice with Mangoes - also sweet and yummy.  I want to try some more of the recipes.

Have a great week of reading!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Celebrate!

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Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.


I'm excited to be finished with the beading portion of my bracelet. I've been beading at the Ho-Chunk craft night for a while now and have worked on two different projects depending on the night. Now I just have to sew it onto the material that will go around my wrist. The words are Ho-Chunk and loosely mean to read. It's nice to have Wednesday evenings to look forward to where we can sit and chat while making something. I'm also learning more and more about the Ho-Chunk community.


This week I also started to make some of the yummy recipes in the Hmong cook book Cooking from the Heart. Coconut sticky rice with mango slices is delicious. It smells heavenly too.

My eyes are struggling, but they are adjusting to my new glasses. It was time for bifocals. That makes me feel old, but the new glasses are definitely helpful.

There are fourteen days of school left with students. We've had a year full of change and challenges, but there aren't many more days left and packing has started up again. Students and staff are looking forward to getting out of the old building and moving into the new spaces in the fall. These are exciting times.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge


Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more non-fiction. I am thankful that she has this challenge because I know I have read more nonfiction texts as a result.

A Ticket Around the World by Natalia Diaz and Melissa Owens
Illustrated by Kim Smith
Review copy: Won in a Publisher giveaway at TeachingBooks.net


Goodreads summary: Join a young boy as he hops around the globe, visiting friends in 13 different countries spanning all six populated continents. Along the way, he introduces us to each friend’s environment and customs, and shares interesting facts about each country’s culture, language, food, geography, wildlife, landmarks and more. Each country has a dedicated spread with a small map that shows geography and landmarks, letting readers imagine they are traveling, too. The format makes it easy to spot similarities and differences between countries.

This informational picture book brings engaging nonfiction content to younger readers by showing them how other children just like them live around the world. Playful, realistic illustrations done with stylized realism lend warmth and whimsy to the book, making each locale feel welcoming. A Ticket Around the World will leave readers feeling like they’ve toured the globe without ever having left home.

Countries included: Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Greece, Canada, Brazil, France, Georgia, Botswana, China, Philippines, Australia, United States and Jordan.

My thoughts: This is a fun way to get a feel for people and places around the world. Facts are shared about each country including population figures, language(s), typical foods and events along with other interesting information. I enjoyed seeing many ways people live their lives around the world.

It was interesting to see the greetings in different languages. My favorite part of the book was when the narrator visited the United States. he said, "Hello and buenos dias!" because he is visiting a boy with grandparents who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico. I often get bothered when people stress the idea that the U.S. is, or should be, English only. We have two states now (Alaska and Hawaii) that have more than one official language and we have many people in the U.S. who speak other languages. I love it when a text honors multiple languages in the U.S. and this one certainly does.

I can see a family or classroom reading this and going beyond the text. A class could read the spread about a country and then find it on a globe or Google Earth. They could also ask questions about the countries and look for the answers. It could also be a mentor text and a class could work in groups or individually to create more pages for the book or their own class book. There are many great extensions that are possible.

Monday, May 11, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week: 
Nonfiction 


All of these were nice nonfiction books for the elementary level. The standout to me was Raindrops Roll. The photographs were fabulous. They didn't just support the text, they were beautiful too.

Picture Books


Red: A Crayon's Story stole my heart this week. Red is a crayon with a label issue. The label says red, but it's not matching what who Red really is inside. Loved this! One is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers is a counting book that introduces many aspects of Chinese culture along the way.

Middle Grade to Young Adult


I enjoyed Roller Girl just as much as I expected to after hearing so many Nerdybookclub members gushing about it. Roller Girl is another graphic novel that many of my students are going to love. Raina Telgemeier fans will eat it up. It's realistic, funny, and has emotions that many tweens will relate to easily. I'm excited to share this one. I also got myself to a roller derby bout because of reading it. I wanted to really see what it was like. Fortunately our local roller derby team had their season opener this weekend and I was able to attend. Go Mississippi Valley Mayhem!




Gathering Fireflies was a great look at the Hmong American experience across generations. It was written and self-published by a local woman and I appreciate the chance to hear a modern Hmong story that weaves in the past and present. My only quibble was the format. It was a novel in verse, but it was one that didn't seem to need to be in verse format. I know it was free verse, but it didn't feel like poetry and my mind wished for paragraphs instead. It's still a valuable book though, especially for libraries and classrooms that serve Hmong Americans.

I got an ARC of More Happy Than Not when I was at ALA Mid-winter. Happily, I also met the author briefly and got my book signed. I was excited to finally read it. It's definitely a book to make you think and if you're like me, maybe even shed a few tears. I'll formally review it over at Rich in Color next week. If you're a realistic fiction fan and can tolerate a smidge of medical sci-fi, you won't want to miss this one.

I also read and reviewed Fred this week. Click here to read the review and enter the giveaway (10 picture books!!).

I also highlighted A Fine Dessert for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.


The Coming Week: I'm reading the middle grade book Eep! and Escaping the Tiger with my eyes and am listening to both Mexican White Boy and The Screaming Staircase. I'm also reading an ARC of Surviving Santiago to review in a couple of weeks. I hope you have some fun reading plans also. Happy reading!

Reading Challenge Update
Goodreads - 177/520
#MustRead2015 - 28/53

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Celebrate!

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Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.


We have had an exchange student with us for almost ten months now. He is from South Korea. This week a package came from his parents that included stamps for each of us that have our name on them. They are beautiful. They also sent me a handmade purse. These were unexpected and exciting gifts. Our time with their son has been easy so we don't need gifts, but we certainly appreciate them. The name seals are fascinating. If you haven't heard of them before, here is a great post by Shahan Cheong that explains about them.

Here is what mine looks like:


Beyond gifts, I'm also celebrating warm weather. It is so wonderful to be able to go outside with bare feet or sandals and short sleeves. We will still have some cool days and rain coming as we usually do in spring, but the severe cold is past. Flowers are starting to bloom and green is everywhere. It makes my heart smile.

I am celebrating the staff at my school. We have had a difficult year, but we are making it and we are doing it with laughter. There have been times with complaining, I won't lie, but we have also found ways to laugh about the difficulties.

Yesterday I had time to breathe (my one little word). My husband is out of town, my daughter was at work, and our exchange student was out with friends. I had the house to myself. I read, walked the dog, and caught up on blogging tasks for Rich in Color. It was a relaxing evening. I enjoyed doing those things, but I also liked that I didn't feel the least bit guilty about not focusing on anyone else.

Tonight we are going to our first Roller Derby and I'm really looking forward to that. I just read the book Roller Girl yesterday and it seems like a bout is in order. I love when books lead to something fun in real life. 

Have a wonderful week!