Sunday, August 27, 2017

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 want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on Blogs: 
by Jennifer Ziegler

by Aditi Khorana

Last Week in Books:
I had a great week filled with tons of books. Here are the ones that stood out from the rest.




The Coming Week:

We start school this week. I'm not sure what I'll be reading, but hope to get in a few good books before classes begin on Friday.

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2017 - 449/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2017 - 193/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
#OwnVoices Challenge - 109/125
#MustReadin2017 - 21/24

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: Revenge of the Happy Campers

Title: Revenge of the Happy Campers
Author: Jennifer Ziegler
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 267
Review copy: Final copy via author
Availability: On shelves now

Summary: The Brewster triplets, Dawn, Darby, and Delaney, are always up for an adventure, whether it's ruining a wedding (for good reasons!) or turning a Christmas pageant tradition on its head. But now they're about to go where they've never gone before: Camping!

They're spending spring break with Aunt Jane, at the campground she and their mom used to go as kids. But the first morning there, they run into a trio of boys, and one starts bragging about his plan to become the President of the United States. Clearly this is Dawn's destiny, and the two, well, don't become fast friends.

Between Dawn and Raj's competition to see who's the best leader, some unfortunate encounters with nature, and how disappointed Aunt Jane is at every turn, this camping thing is sure looking like a bad idea. And when their final contest ends with a washed-out bridge, an injured boy, and a rainstorm, it might take six future leaders of the country to keep this from being the worst trip ever!


Review: The Brewster triplets manage to get into all kinds of amusing situations off at camp. They have adult supervision, but they are also given enough independence that they can have adventures. As usual, they are plotting, planning, and putting their plans into effect with much humor and more than a few mistakes. There are moments of tension, but nothing really terrible happens to anyone aside from some hurt feelings and bumps and bruises. That reminds me of the turtle who shows up in the story in a rather surprising location. 

Middle grade readers who want a fun romp will enjoy this one. It was a great summer read for me and even during the rest of the year, it will bring summer back to mind.

The political aspect was also interesting. The sisters and their competition are democratically minded, but learn a lot about good leadership as they try to get things done. Dawn and her rival come to learn that leadership is not just ordering people around. 

Recommendation: Readers who enjoyed the first two Brewster Triplets books will definitely want to grab this one. It would likely work as a stand-alone, but would be best read following the other two. It's a great story for those who want a summer story to make them smile.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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 want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on Blogs: 

Rich in Color

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge

Last Week in Books:
The Coming Week:
This is the final week of summer vacation for me and I am trying to finish up books that need to be reviewed as quickly as possible. I want to read Akata Warrior. I am also finishing up the audio of A Crown of Wishes. Otherwise, it will be a hodgepodge. I wish you a great week of reading. 

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2017 - 399/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2017 - 178/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
#OwnVoices Challenge - 103/125
#MustReadin2017 - 21/24

Celebrate!


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 adore sunflowers. They are beautiful on their own, but when there are thousands of them together, they are stunning. I appreciate that they both look like the sun and look to the sun. This field of sunflowers was planted in memory of a young woman who also loved sunflowers. Haley died in a car accident in 2015 and her family planted these flowers in her memory. They also share the beauty with others and allow anyone to come and walk through the path through this amazing field. One of my children went with me and we took a leisurely walk through this spot of loveliness. I'm thankful Haley's family is finding peace in this gift. I never met Haley or her family before this weekend, but with this field they are sharing her with us all in a special way. What a wonderful celebration of her life.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Non Fiction Picture Book Challenge - Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix


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 nonfiction.

illustrated by Man One

This is another great title from the Readers to Eaters publishing company. They seem to focus on books about slow and local whole foods. Chef Roy Choi is a wonderful biography. First off, the endpapers are decorated with ramen!! Awesome. The book shows a bit of his early life like how food was very important in his family when he grew up. There were even meals that they created together as they interacted with one another. We learn about Sohn-maash or the "flavors in our fingertips." It reminds me of how my grandmother baked things with love. There were other Korean words and phrases explained in the book.
 
Roy Choi had an indirect path to food trucks, but his experiences helped prepare him for that type of work. I love that the book shares some of his Korean heritage, but also shows how things from his community also blended with that to create something wonderful and new. 

Speaking of blending, the art is a mix also. Since this is a book about street food, they invited a street artist to illustrate the book. The art has a graffiti look to it at times and shouts city. 

This would be a great book to use when talking about persistence or that failure doesn't mean everything is over. It's great for teaching resilience too. One of the pages is talking about his career as a fancy chef. "Roy was a success--until he wasn't." That was when he got the nudge to open a taco truck which ultimately was a more fulfilling job for him. 

Since our community is seeing an uptick in food trucks, this is a book I am happy to have around. It has many great things going for it. It would also work well paired with the middle grade fiction book Stef Soto, Taco Queen which centers around a family who owns a taco truck. It's a lovely book that like Chef Roy, features a comittment to food and community. I haven't read it yet, but there is also a fun looking picture book called Food Trucks! by Mark Todd I might have to get.

Roy maintains a Twitter account so you can find out what he is up to. He has expanded way beyond one simple food truck at this point.

Monday, August 14, 2017

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 want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on Blogs: 
Celebrate!

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - Creekfinding: A True Story

Last Week in Books:

My favorite picture book this week was Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner. It's another great nonfiction nature book that is engaging and informative. I also really enjoyed The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana. I had looked forward to this book after interviewing the author for Rich in Color. The story is rich and lovely in so many ways. Braiding Sweetgrass was phenomenal. I loved this nonfiction book that shares about science and nature from a Native perspective. Young Frank Architect is cute. Pete with No Pants was amusing, but just okay for me. I don't often read celebrity books, but I grabbed The Adventures of Abdi by Madonna because I am interviewing an author on Rich in Color whose name is Abdi. He happens to be a Madonna fan so he mentioned the book in a video he made with Epic Reads. It's not geographically specific, but is said to be far away. It's a fantastical tale of a boy and a jeweler and a king. It wasn't outright horrible, but I wouldn't likely buy it.

The Coming Week:
I'm reading The Star-Touched Queen right now and had to pause my audio book due to scratches on the 5th CD. Ack! I may get back to it someday in print instead. I'm not sure what I will tackle next, but I'm sure to pack as many books in as possible in these last few weeks before school begins. Have a great week!

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2017 - 388/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2017 - 172/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
#OwnVoices Challenge - 103/125
#MustReadin2017 - 20/24

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Celebrate!


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.

This weekend it is difficult to celebrate. The events in Charlottesville remind us all that there is a lot of hate in our country even though we often don't acknowledge it. The White supremacists who were protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue were not chanting anything loving or up-lifting. If there is anything to celebrate, it is that there are also people in our country who speak out and want to disrupt this kind of thinking.

Yesterday the Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) group in our area organized and held signs along one of our major streets. The signs said things like "Hate has no home here," "We stand against White supremacy," "Reclaim humanity" and "No hate." There were a few jeers and shouts, but it was encouraging to hear more cheers and many honks and see lots of thumbs ups. Tonight there will be a candlelight service down by the river. People are finding ways to show we value everyone and to stand up against this injustice and evil. Yes, I said evil.
Some people are saying this is not their America, but I am sorry to say it is. This is exactly the America we have right now and it won't change until we face that. I watched I Am Not Your Negro last night. James Baldwin had so many wise words to say about race. One thing stood out to me in relation to this weekend. He said, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." This is the America we have and saying it isn't won't change a thing. I want to be a part of that change.

There shouldn't be families mourning this weekend because a city has decided to remove a statue honoring Lee. Heather Heyer was run down and killed by a White supremacist. Her FB photo says, "If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention." Today I celebrate those who are paying attention and will act because they care about others. I have a voice in my community and with my family and I plan to use it.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2017



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 nonfiction.

Last month I was part of a class through Earth Partnership called Indigenous Arts and Sciences. I wrote about it here.  An important focus of that class was restoration of land and water so I was really excited to come across the book Creekfinding: A True Story written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Claudia McGehee. Creekfinding is the true story of Michael Osterholm and his restoration of Brook Creek in the middle of Iowa farmland. He purchased a farm and found out where the creek used to be. He then had a dream to restore the land to what it had once been. In the note at the end his words are recorded, "I hope kids will remember from this story that we can change the world by acting on our dreams."

The illustrations are beautiful woodcut prints and really support the story well. They help it feel close to nature. Also, sometimes the text is woven into the illustrations for readers to find.

I love that the book starts with an excavator. That will really pull in readers who like big machinery. The first page says, "Sometimes excavators help find lost creeks. How do they do that?" The text often encourages readers to wonder about things. The content is awesome, but the way it is delivered makes the book really powerful. The book really pushes readers to think about what happened and how it happened. I don't think readers can remain passive while reading this story.

I'm excited to share Creekfinding with students and teachers. I have been planning to teach about ecological restoration this year and this book is pretty much perfect for that. It will pair well with a few other books I had in mind also.


Written by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal


Written by Phyllis Root
Illustrated by Betsy Bowen


by Henry Cole

One final book isn't a picture book, but is a fabulous look at restoring the human relationship with the natural world. I'm reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and am absolutely loving it. I am recommending it to all the adults I come into contact with lately. It's lovely and all kinds of educational.
Written by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Sunday, August 6, 2017

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 want to know more about what I've been reading, visit my Goodreads shelf.

Last Week on Blogs:



by Leah Henderson

This Week in Books:

I've read a lot of picture books lately and have been enjoying them. Lucía is fabulous. I also really liked The One Day House and Creekfinding. My two middle grade reads were excellent too - Clayton Byrd Goes Underground and Stef Soto, Taco Queen.

The Coming Week:
I'm reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kemmerer and am loving it. She shares some wonderful wisdom. I'm looking forward to starting The Library of Fates this week. I'm not sure what else will fall into my hands. Have a great week!

Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2017 - 382/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2017 - 171/225 (goal = 50% of my books by and/or about POC)
#OwnVoices Challenge - 101/125
#MustReadin2017 - 20/24

Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: Busy Builders Kits



Airport Author: Timothy Knapman
Fire Station Author: Chris Oxlade
Construction Site Author: Katherine Sully
Illustrator: Carles Ballesteros
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
Review copies: Full kits provided by publisher
Availability: On shelves now

Airport Summary:  Pack your bags and get ready for an exciting flight to a faraway destination in Busy Builders: Airport. This three-dimensional interactive kit takes young children behind the scenes at a busy airport, allowing them to see how all the flights and passengers move smoothly through the terminal. The fact book introduces kids to the various procedures at an airport—from check-in to arrival—using cute illustrations and simple text. The box folds out to form an airport terminal, and the included model pieces for the runway, air-control tower, airplane, and baggage carts provide hours of interactive entertainment.

Includes:
32-page fact book
3-D airport terminal
48 model pieces


Review: The book is highly visual and includes brief blurbs to explain most things in the pictures. Children will likely bounce through the book reading the parts that interest them most. It follows the chronological procedures passengers experience. The book isn't telling a story exactly, but lays out information in a logical way.  It also includes the instructions for putting together the model pieces. The kit makes it interactive and a ton of fun. I'm looking forward to having all three kits available in a table in my library. Students will definitely enjoy putting things together. 

I tried all three kits and found all three books to be chock full of information. They are bright, colorful, and engaging. The kits are really fun to put together, but may be challenging for tiny fingers. Some guidance may be required for the very young, but the pictures are pretty easy to understand even if children can't read all of the instructions. One of the kits did give me some difficulty because the cuts in the cardboard were not lined up with the pictures, but the other two were fine. A couple of the pieces tore as I tried to fit them together so these aren't meant to be put together and taken apart hundreds of times. The cardboard will stand up to gentle play, but I am not expecting these to last a long time since I have over 500 students.

Recommendation: These are great kits for the little builders in your life. The kits are engaging and are challenging enough to keep anyone occupied for quite some time. The books add some interesting information and will likely last longer than the rest of the kit. I'm excited to share them with students this fall. They will be great to use during our community and transportation units.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review: Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer!/Esteban de Luna, ¡rescatador de bebés!

Title: Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer!/Esteban de Luna, ¡rescatador de bebés!
Author: Larissa M. Mercado-López
Illustrator: Alex Pardo DeLange
Publisher: Piñata Books
Pages: 32
Review copy: Final copy from publisher
Availability: On shelves now

Summary: In this bilingual picture book, a young boy discovers that he can be a hero even though he doesn't have magical powers.

Review: Esteban has become disenchanted with his cape. He has consistently worn it all over the place, but he isn't able to leap over tall buildings or do any of the amazing things superheroes can do. He even decides maybe he should just sell his cape, but he wears it one last time. This time, he is able to do a super thing. 

I appreciate that the story shows how everyday actions can still be super. We are all able to do helpful things. The illustrations are cute and cheerful. I think this would be great to read along with superhero books. I read another book last week that would also pair well with it - Super Manny Stands Up! It also features a caped hero showing everyday heroics. It would also go well with Nana in the City which has a cape that inspires courage.

Recommendation: This is a sweet story that would work well with preschool and kindergarten age students - especially if they have access to capes to wear.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: One Shadow on the Wall

Title: One Shadow on the Wall
Author: Leah Henderson
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pages: 438
Genre: Contemporary
Review Copy: Final copy via publisher
Availability: On shelves now

Summary: An orphaned boy in contemporary Senegal must decide between doing what is right and what is easy as he struggles to keep a promise he made to his dying father.

Eleven-year-old Mor was used to hearing his father’s voice, even if no one else could since his father’s death. It was comforting. It was also a reminder that Mor had made a promise to his father before he passed: keep your sisters safe. Keep the family together. But almost as soon as they are orphaned, that promise seems impossible to keep. With an aunt from the big city ready to separate him and his sisters as soon as she arrives, and a gang of boys from a nearby village wanting everything he has—including his spirit—Mor is tested in ways he never imagined.

With only the hot summer months to prove himself, Mor must face a choice. Does he listen to his father and keep his heart true, but risk breaking his promise through failure? Or is it easier to just join the Danka Boys, whom in all their maliciousness are at least loyal to their own?


Review: Mor and his family completely stole my heart. Mor hears his father and sees his mother after they have died. He knows his parents would want the children to stay together so he's determined to do that at any cost. He tries. Oh, how he tries, but the responsibilities are tough. He learns so many things the hard way. Something will go right and then two things will go wrong. It is hard to see him face so many disappointments, but readers will be cheering him on all the way through. 

The gang is on his trail and brings about many of Mor's difficulties. They also offer safety and protection though. Henderson does a particularly good job of showing how children and teens can get caught up in such a situation. The gang members are individuals and have stories. They have their reasons for having joined and readers see that gang activity may not be as clear-cut as one would imagine. I think there are gang members who never believed they would have anything to do with a gang and yet there they are.

It may not look like it on the surface, but this is a survival story. Mor has a loving community, but he does isolate himself with the secrets he is holding. There are many strong and caring adults that help Mor and his sisters. I appreciated seeing the way they looked out for the children. One in particular is an elder fisherman named Demba. Many of the children make fun of him and believe he is crazy. Mor spends a lot of time with Demba and learns that Demba's differences are not what they appear. 

Recommendation: This is a fabulous book that may cause a little heartache, but it's also heartwarming. Mor's persistence and hope are lovely to behold. It's a little long for a middle grade novel, but it moves quickly and is well worth the time.