Monday, March 23, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you go to my Goodreads account, you can see what I have read recently & click on the books to learn more.

On the Blog:

Last week in books:

It's been quite a week as we transitioned to students learning from home. I read the adult fiction book Royal Holiday as a fun romantic bit of escapism. One Man Guy was YA for a similar reason. the rest are what I happen to have. I prepared a little, but our libraries did close rapidly without a lot of notice. All of these were on the lighthearted side except The Way to Bea which was still not too intense. I'm looking for light right now. Stand Up, Yumi Chung! was fun. Finding Mumbo is a cute book written by young people. You may watch a reading of it here

The Coming Week: I'm trying to stick to entertaining and light reading from what I have here at home. 

Reading Challenge Updates: 
#MustReadin2020 - 13/36
#YARC2020 - 20/55

Monday, March 16, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you go to my Goodreads account, you can see what I have read recently & click on the books to learn more.

On the Blog:

Last week in books:

On Friday we learned that WI schools will be closing at the end of the day this coming Tuesday. This has meant a lot of stress. The biggest issue at this point is all of the unknowns. We have no idea how this will be going. My mind has not been in the best state for sitting and holding a book, but I have been listening to books a little. I finished listening to Tigers, Not Daughters today via Libro.fm's teacher account. It's a unique and haunting family story. Go, Girls, Go! is a cute picture book showing girls in various modes of transportation. Kitten Lady's Big Book of Little Kittens is flat out adorable and way more informative than I suspected. The Kitten Lady is apparently a well-known online personality and this book is about how she fosters kittens. I've been doing a lot of indoor rock climbing so I grabbed Buster Climbs the Walls. It's okay, but nothing noteworthy. Two different podcasts I listen to had featured Number One Chinese Restaurant so I wanted to see why. It's an interesting family saga revolving around the restaurant. Motivations are interesting, but I found it a little meh. Others got more out of it. I have already read My Papi has a Motorcycle, but this week I also listened to the audio which is read by the author. It was awesome. 

The Coming Week: I'm listening to Stand Up, Yumi Chung! and I have several books from Netgalley and Edelweiss that I need to get to. I also checked out a rather large pile of books from the public library as I suspected they would be closing in the near future. They will also close on Wed.

Reading Challenge Updates: 
#MustReadin2020 - 13/36
#YARC2020 - 19/55

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Review: Astrid & Apollo

Title: Astrid & Apollo and the Starry Campout (Astrid & Apollo #1)
Author: V.T. Bidania
Illustrator: Dara Lashia Lee
Publisher: Picture Window Books an imprint of Capstone
Pages: 64
Review copy: Digital ARC via Netgalley
Availability: August 1, 2020

Summary: Astrid is afraid of the dark and doesn't want to go on her family camping trip. But her twin brother, Apollo, is excited. When they encounter scary things such as crawly bugs and the creepy dark, Apollo helps his twin through them. And when they encounter the scariest thing of all, Astrid might just be the one to save the starry campout.

Review: I cannot even express how excited I am about this series. This is the first and only early chapter book series to feature a Hmong American family. This first book in the series introduces the eight year old twins and their family as they go on a camping trip.

Along the way, we learn about their Hmong names and their meanings. Astrid, or Gao Nou, is apprehensive about camping, but her twin helps convince her to give it a try by framing it as an adventure. Their cousin Lily had told some horror stories about a camping trip she had been on, but this camping trip is not a horrifying even though they do encounter some intimidating critters at one point.

This is a fun and entertaining beginning chapter book that anyone could enjoy. The mishaps and frights are amusing and so is their little sister and her amazingly noisy screams. My youngest would completely relate to detesting bugs and bathrooms on campouts as Astrid does.

What makes this book more than just a typical chapter book though is the inclusion of Hmong American culture. This is something that will be interesting for other readers, but for Hmong American readers this is filled with many opportunities for connections. Between the smattering of Hmong words, egg rolls, papaya salad, Thai chili peppers, Hmong sausage, and even mention of Hmong Village Mall, there is much that Hmong American students may find familiar. Even though the mall is several hours away in St. Paul, many of my students have been there or know of the mall. The back matter also includes a brief history of how Hmong people came to be in the U.S. which is almost always new information for non-Hmong folks. A list of popular Hmong foods with their descriptions follows the historical notes.

There are many Hmong Americans in our community and across Wisconsin and Minnesota along with several other locations in the U.S. and this book is one way for readers to get a small glimpse into the Hmong American culture or even see themselves reflected on the page.

Recommendation: This is a great early chapter book for any library or home with young readers and it is essential in communities where Hmong Americans are living. The story is engaging and the chapters are brief, but challenging enough for readers just beginning to read chapter books. I cannot wait to share this series with my students, my community, and anyone else I can persuade to read it.

Extra: Author FAQ

Monday, March 9, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you go to my Goodreads account, you can see what I have read recently & click on the books to learn more.

On the Blog:

Last week in books:

The most exciting book I read was Astrid and Apollo provided by the publisher via Netgalley. I've been eagerly awaiting this first book in a series of early chapter books. I will formally review it later this week. It comes out on August 1st and features a Hmong American family. The first book is a camping trip adventure, the second is a fishing trip, the third is soccer, and the final one is Hmong New Year. I am so happy to have this series coming since we have a large Hmong American community in our area. I can't wait for it to be in our school library and in classrooms. 


These five are my favorites of the piles of picture books I read this week. This Book is Gray is a fun book about color or lack thereof. Eek You Reek! is an amusing series of poems about smelly animals.  Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons is a very interesting book about the enslaved woman who *spoiler* escaoed from George Washington and his family. You Loves Ewe! is another hilarious word play book from Cece Bell. A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story is a memoir of a girl who was the first African American child to ride the carousel in a segregated amusement park. The carousel is now in Washington D.C. 


I've been loving my time at the climbing gym and one of the college students recommended Girls on the Rocks. It's a great intro to climbing for women and girls. I found it very informative and encouraging. The other two books are very definitely written for adult readers. Funny Boy is about a young gay Tamil boy growing up in Sri Lanka. There is violence being perpetrated on citizens based on whether they are Sinhalese or Tamil during that time so he is questioning his sexuality, but is also living through some major racially motivated violence. Funny is what his father calls him due to his behavior. This is not a comedy by any means. The Kiss Quotient on the other hand, is a romantic comedy. And by romantic, I mean romance, but also some serious amounts of physical contact between the couple. Descriptive. I don't want anyone jumping in without knowing that. This is inspired by Pretty Woman, but has a role reversal with the woman being the wealthy person in the relationship. Also, the main character, Stella, has an Asperger's diagnosis and her love interest is Vietnamese American. I heard a podcast episode about it from Books and Boba and was intrigued. It's way out of my typical reading zone, but was very fun and I stayed up waaaay too late reading it. 
The Coming Week:
I just started to listen to the Advance Audio Copy of Tigers, Not Daughters on Libro.fm. Have a good week full of reading.

Reading Challenge Updates: 
#MustReadin2020 - 13/36
#YARC2020 - 18/55
#YARC2020 Update

One more I forgot for Feb: b, Book and Me
March: Song of the Crimson Flower, Funny Boy & The Kiss Quotient

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Review: Feast of Peas

Title: Feast of Peas
Author: Kashmira Sheth
Illustrator: Jeffrey Ebbeler
Publisher: Peachtree
Format: Picture book
Review copy: Provided by publisher
Availability: On shelves now

Summary: Hard-working Jiva might not be the only one anticipating a delicious feast of peas from his garden.

Every morning, Jiva works in his garden until the sun turns as red as a bride's sari. He plants peas and beans, potatoes and tomatoes, eggplants and okra in his vegetable patch. When his friend Ruvji admires his plants Jiva sings,

Plump peas, sweet peas
Lined- up-in-the-shell peas. 
Peas to munch, peas to crunch 
I want a feast of peas for lunch.

But each time Jiva is ready to pick the peas for his feast, they're already gone. What has happened? 

From the award-winning author and illustrator team who created Tiger in My Soup, this original story set in India features a deliciously amusing mystery about gardening, anticipation, hard work, and generosity.

Review: Peas were never my favorite when I was growing up, but if this book had existed then, perhaps my opinion would have been more favorable. Jiva and Ruvji could likely convince most anyone that peas are one of the best foods in existence. Jiva rhapsodizes about them repeatedly in his song and Ruvji continues to makes eyes at the peas and repeat that "peas are delicious."

The story is a bit of a trickster tale and will be a delight for readers of all ages. The peas are the treasure Jiva and Ruvji would both like to enjoy, but things do not go as planned for either of the friends. Between the text and especially the vivid and lively illustrations, readers can collect clues and make some inferences about the mystery.

Those peas must have looked spectacular because both of the friends kept smacking their lips. Quite honestly, I love that phrase. It has a smacking sound to it and is super fun to read aloud as is Jiva's bouncy song.

The illustrations provide an abundance of information for the story with the setting, but also with the animals. Young readers will have a great time finding a wide variety of critters throughout and the ghost is especially fun. The ghost is slightly creepy, but not too scary since it has a sense of humor and performs a fanciful dance.

Recommendation: This is another wonderful tale from Kashmira Sheth and I'm excited to add it to our library. It will be a humorous and engaging read aloud and I'd recommend it highly for any library serving young readers. It would also be perfect for any home library. Feast of Peas would be great paired with Tiger in My Soup or any number of books featuring gardens and animals like If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson or Ka's Garden/Kab Lub Vaj by Maggie McHugh and Dr. Bee Lo.

Extra: 
Teacher's Guide

Sunday, March 1, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you go to my Goodreads account, you can see what I have read recently & click on the books to learn more.

On the Blog:

Last week in books:

Magination Press sent me a few books to preview. There were a few standouts that revolved around families. My Maddy opens with the explanation that most Mommies are girls and most daddies are boys, but lots of parents are neither. The term maddy is a combination of the words mommy and daddy that may be used with parents who are nonbinary. It's a lovely book by Gayle Pitman, the author of This Day in June

Another nice one was Accordionly (April, 2020). It features a child with two grandfathers who play the accordion. Music is the way they communicate with each other since one speaks German and the other speaks Spanish. Finally, Papa, Daddy, and Riley (May, 2020) is another sweet book about family. 
Song of the Crimson Flower is a sweet tale of love and magic. It's part of a duology, but it seemed like it could be a stand-a-lone. I didn't feel lost or anything and I didn't know it was a companion book until I was finished reading. The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters was a lively story of sisters traveling together in India following the death of their mother. It has both humor and grief. 

I read many other picture books too.

The Coming Week:
I just downloaded a few more books from libro.fm and plan to listen to those and I have another stack of picture books to read this week. Have a good week full of reading.

Reading Challenge Updates: 
#MustReadin2020 - 12/36
#YARC2020 - 15/55

Monday, February 24, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you go to my Goodreads account, you can see what I have read recently & click on the books to learn more.

On the Blog:

Last week in books:

I read Yes No Maybe So for the Rich in Color March book discussion. It's a really great YA that gives a look into activism along with a sweet relationship. I got a copy of Feast of Peas by Kashmira Sheth from the publisher. It's a fun and humorous picture book I'll be reviewing soon. Curses and Kisses is another ALC (Advanced Listening Copy) that I got from Libro.fm for teachers. I wanted to read it because its' by Sandhya Menon, but didn't realize precisely what it was. I know it's problematic, but Beauty and the Beast was always my favorite fairy tale. I loved it because it was the only story I knew that wasn't love strictly because of how someone looks. Anyway, this is the first book in a YA series that consists of modern retellings. This has many similarities, but is also its own unique tale. I laughed aloud many times and had many smiles. It's light and perfect reading for relaxing. Let's Make Ramen! is a very fun graphic novel cookbook. I tried one recipe and it was yummy. It begins with a history of ramen and is extremely thorough in the different components. "All the Real Indians Died Off": And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans is by the Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, the same author of An Indigenous History of the United States. It digs into the many stereotypes and myths about Native people.

The Coming Week:
I am still reading new Eric Gansworth memoir Apple (ARC from Edelweiss) and am listening to The Gravity of Us via Libro.fm. I just got approved for American as Paneer Pie so I may start that one too. Have a great week.

Reading Challenge Updates: 
#MustReadin2020 - 12/36
#YARC2020 - 13/55