Monday, September 20, 2021

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 see more of my reading, visit my Goodreads shelves here

Blogpost from Last Week:

Books Read Last Week: 
I read A Neighborhood Walk: A Musical Journey by Pilar Winter Hill and illustrated by Olivia Duchess. This picture book is filled with sounds and once I realized it was written by a young musician, I fell down a YouTube rabbit hole. This first video introduces Pilar and her typical practice routine.

   

And in the video, you learn about Lindsey Stirling who is another amazing violinist. So of course, I had to track down one of her videos also. Wow. Just wow.

 

I did finish reading the ARC of the translated novel How Do You Live? and it is a pretty philosophical book. I really enjoyed it and will review it later. 

Halal Hot Dogs is a super fun family and food picture book. Humor and food are two of my favorite things in books. 

Tokyo Ever After was a fun YA rom-com that was similar to The Princess Diaries. It takes place in Japan and was a perfect weekend read.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 was my only adult book for the week, but it was pretty amazing and unforgettable. One of my favorite Korean actors was in the movie made from the book. I couldn't find the movie to watch, but it had such interesting comments in the reviews, I went ahead and found the translated book. It is a book that really examines some of the ways that societal expectations of women can impact people in many ways. I will be thinking about this one for a long time. Here's the movie trailer to give you an idea.
   

This book and the movie stirred up strong feelings in Korea around feminism and gender. Another video that discusses a little of that is here

The Coming Week: I'm in between books, but look forward to grabbing something fun from the stacks of books that just came at school. Have a great week. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

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 see more of my reading, visit my Goodreads shelves here

Recent Blogposts:

Books Read Last Week: 
I read two awesome picture books this week. I'm Sorry by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by the amazing and awesome human Debbie Ridpath Ohi was released Tuesday. It's a great book that walks readers through how and why to say I'm sorry. I already have a waiting list for it. Also, I think I've said it before, but if you haven't yet checked out the resources that Debbie provides online, you are truly missing out. Another picture book I enjoyed is Thao by Thao Lam. It's a great way to have a conversation about what it's like to have a name that people are mispronouncing and making fun of daily. This is based on the author's own experiences. The art is fun with interesting fonts and collage. I read it with fifth grade and it generated a good conversation.

I read an ARC of the YA rom-com It All Comes Back to You. I'll write up a full review soon, but did enjoy reading it. 

The Coming Week: I just started reading an ARC of a book translated from Japanese. How Do You Live? was written by Genzaburō Yoshino and was originally published in 1937. Hayao Miyazaki is making a movie of this book so it got an English translation ahead of the movie release. It was Miyazaki's favorite book from his childhood. It's a thinking type of book and I'm enjoying it so far. Have a great week!

Monday, September 6, 2021

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 see more of my reading, visit my Goodreads shelves here

Recent Blogposts:


Books Read Last Week: 

Ahmed Aziz's Epic Year is a fantastic middle grade book about being the new kid, family, identity, friendship, and reading. I enjoyed how literature was woven into the story, but do wish that some newer titles had been used as texts in Ahmed's class. The book was one that I read all in one sitting and it made me laugh and also cry so I'll definitely be recommending it to young readers.

The First Blade of Sweetgrass is a quiet picture book about a grandmother and grandchild harvesting sweetgrass. I am happy to have this as it's a great way for students to learn more about this important plant. Our school is on Ho-Chunk land and this is one of the medicines that is used by the Ho-Chunk people. It's also a lovely book about being with and learning from grandparents. 

The Coming Week: I'm still listening to Up All Night and am still working my way through ARCs. Next up is a YA - It All Comes Back to You. Have a great week!

Review: Pahua and the Soul Stealer

Young Hmong girl stands holding a sword. There is a black cat on her shoulder. She is in a tunnel with many tusks on the walls and ceiling. Another young girl is behind her shining a flashlight ahead and grabbing a sword from her back.
Title: Pahua and the Soul Stealer

Author: Lori M. Lee 

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents

Pages: 432

Review copy: Digital ARC via Netgalley 

Availability: September 7, 2021 

Summary: Pahua Moua has a bit of a reputation for being a weirdo. A lonely eleven-year-old Hmong girl with the unique ability to see spirits, she spends her summer days babysitting her little brother and playing with her best friend, a cat spirit no one else can see. 

One day Pahua accidentally untethers an angry spirit from the haunted bridge in her neighborhood--whoops. When her brother suddenly falls sick and can't be awoken, Pahua fears that the bridge spirit has stolen his soul. She returns to the scene of the crime with her aunt's old shaman tools, hoping to confront the spirit and demand her brother's return. Instead, she summons a demon.

Thankfully, a warrior shaman with a bit of an attitude problem shows up at the last minute and saves her butt. With the help of this guide, Pahua will have to find her way through the spirit worlds and rescue her brother's soul before it's too late. Little does she know she'll have her own discoveries to make along the way. . . .

My thoughts: I'm so excited for students to get their hands on this book. Like the other Rick Riordan Presents books, this is also jam packed with action and fascinating storytelling. Each book in the imprint is written with inspiration from traditional stories and this one is based on the Hmong stories that Lori M. Lee grew up hearing. 

There are Hmong stories scattered throughout the book and the warrior shaman Pahua meets helps explain a lot of things about Hmong practices and beliefs in between their many adventures. There are also Hmong symbols at the beginning of chapters. Readers unfamiliar with Hmong storytelling and culture may not notice everything, but Hmong readers are sure to recognize the many Hmong symbols, foods, words, and much more. 

The spirit cat and the many other spirits that Pahua encounters are each unique and intriguing. Young readers may find the story to be slightly creepy, but it is not terrifying horror. It seems to be just enough scariness to send shivers up the spine on occasion without overwhelming the typical middle grade reader.

I flew through the story at a fast pace in a hurry to see what would come next. Traveling through the spirit realm with Pahua was quite a ride and I was very happy to be on the journey.

Recommendation: Pahua and her companions are sure to entertain and delight middle grade readers as they attempt to finish their quest. This will be a winner with readers who love fantasy and lots of action. There is also plenty of humor too. I'm really looking forward to sharing it with my students and hope that many readers get a chance to meet Pahua. 

Extra: Schedule of Virtual Events with the Author

Monday, August 30, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading? & #MustReadin2021 Update

Square that says #IMWAYR 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 see more of my reading, visit my Goodreads shelves here

Recent Blogposts:
Book cover featuring the golden mask that was with the king in his tomb. There are swirls of light and dusty swirling air around it. The mask is golden with blue accents. There are two snakes up at the forehead.

What I've Been Up To: I start back with students this Wednesday so I've been trying to do as many things as possible before my life gets busy. One of the most fun things I got to do was go climbing with Jen who is one of the co-hosts of It's Monday! What are you reading? It was super fun. 

I am smiling and wearing a helmet. Behind me are bluffs and a lake well below me. There is a forest below full of green trees. The sky is blue with some white puffy clouds.

I am on a rope nearing the top of a rocky bluff. There are a few trees along the edges.

Books Read Over Past Weeks: 

Adult - I read several professional development books over the past two weeks. 5 Different Kinds of Nonfiction by Melissa Stewart is definitely helpful for any teacher or librarian who uses or teaches about nonfiction. Through this book, I have better ideas of how to talk about nonfiction and some great ways to use nonfiction in my library and classroom. 

Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ-Inclusive Literacy Instruction in the Elementary Classroom is a fantastic resource for both those who are or will be purposefully filling their library or classroom library with LGBTQ resources and for those who may not have that freedom. There are great ideas for both situations. While I am able to purchase many LGBTQ resources, I know that there are teachers and librarians in situations where that isn't the case and there were many suggestions for inclusion with the use of pretty much any kinds of resources. 

No More Culturally Irrelevant Teaching is pretty much what it says. It's a book that provides suggestions and strategies for teaching in culturally relevant ways. The contributors share some of their successes and some of their mis-steps too. 

I also finally got my hands on the memoir Crying in H Mart. I love learning about other people's lived experiences. Michelle Zauner shares many of the challenges in her life and the high points too. She had me laughing and crying.

Middle Grade - The Curse of the Mummy was fascinating and I reviewed it [linked above] because it was so well done. I think it will be useful in upper elementary and middle school classes. I appreciated that colonialism is not ignored as a factor. Candace Fleming provides context and other perspectives beyond just the archaeologists. Finding Junie Kim is a book that also wowed me. I read it for a virtual book event hosted by Sarah Park Dahlen and Edie Campbell in September. The relationships in the book are meaningful and moving. Ellen Oh has also done a wonderful job with the dual timelines in the present and in the past during her grandparents' wartime experiences. It's soooo good. 

Early Chapter Books - I got the digital versions of the newest Astrid & Apollo books. I read The Magic Pepper and the Tae Kwon Do Champs. They are both excellent and many of my students have been eager to read the second set of this series. Four were released in the past and now there are eight altogether. They are really well done and of course, I am always eager to see more Hmong representation. 

The Coming Week: I'm still reading Pahua and the Soul Stealer and am listening to Up All Night. I need to read quite a few ARCs so I will get going on those. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun's Tomb

Book cover featuring the golden mask that was with the king in his tomb. There are swirls of light and dusty swirling air around it. The mask is golden with blue accents. There are two snakes up at the forehead.
Title:
 The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun's Tomb
Author: Candace Fleming 
Publisher: Scholastic Focus
Pages: 304
Review copy: ARC via author
Availability: September 7, 2021

Summary: Candace Fleming presents the edge-of-your-seat true story of the search for Tutankhamun's tomb, the Western public's belief that the dig was cursed, and the battle for ownership of the treasures within.

During the reign of the New Kingdom of Egypt, the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun ruled and died tragically young. In order to send him on his way into the afterlife, his tomb was filled with every treasure he would need after death. And then, it was lost to time, buried in the sands of the Valley of the Kings.

His tomb was also said to be cursed.

Centuries later, as Egypt-mania gripped Europe, two Brits—a rich earl with a habit for gambling and a disreputable, determined archeologist—worked for years to rediscover and open Tutankhamun's tomb. But once it was uncovered, would ancient powers take their revenge for disturbing and even looting the pharaoh's resting place? What else could explain the mysterious illnesses, accidents, and deaths that began once it was found?

My thoughts: Narrative nonfiction is probably my favorite and I started reading it in Junior High. Fiction had my heart, but when I read an awesome novel and wanted to learn more about a related topic, narrative nonfiction was my go-to for information. Even diehard fiction lovers can appreciate The Curse of the Mummy because it reads like a novel. Fleming has crafted an intriguing and thought-provoking story that carries a ton of information and questions about this king. 

The chapters are interspersed with brief commentary about rumors surrounding the curse. These tidbits are on black pages so it is easy to distinguished the rumors from the actual facts. She uses the phrase fake news at least once so readers can draw parallels to the current day.

This is mostly a chronological narrative, but it doesn't just tell the individual actions and happenings that occurred around the site of the tomb, but some of the things that led to British people digging up the artifacts of Egypt and even taking some of them out of the country. She asks questions and provides the background for readers to consider colonialism and some of its affects. Readers will also likely be questioning if it is a good thing to disturb the tomb a teenager who would never have envisioned how his body would be taken apart, studied, and put on display for so many people. 

It's a book about a particular set of circumstances, but it is a book that is meant to inspire curiosity and model questioning the processes and ways in which we move through the world. 

Recommendation: This is a significant book that would be an awesome addition to any library or classroom serving middle grade readers. I believe it will work best with readers on the higher end of middle grade, but it would also be an incredible read aloud with those on the younger end. There is much to discuss and many parallels to be drawn between current events. I immediately thought of the museum scene in Black Panther and so many of the Indigenous nations here in what is currently known as the United States that are working toward repatriation of remains and artifacts. Fleming respects her readers so she does not overly simplify the content and while it is a challenging book, it is well worth the read.

**Update: There are also Indigenous archeologists at work that it would be great to learn about or connect with around this book, like Marvin Defoe the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. You may listen to a podcast about the work he is part of at Frog Bay or read the transcript.

Extras:
Short book talk by the author


Longer video from SLJ Day of Dialog including her writing process & about her goals with the text

Monday, August 16, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Square that says #IMWAYR 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 see more of my reading, visit my Goodreads shelves here

Recent Blogposts:

What I've Been Up To: 
For the past two weeks I've been in our school library for summer school. It was great to see the students and have time to get some administrative duties done and even some re-arranging of books. Our county has rising COVID numbers so it's concerning to think about how the school year will go, but in one more week all of the teachers will be back and I'm sure we'll give it our best effort.

Books Read Over Past Weeks: 
Adult Letting Go of Literary Whiteness: Antiracist Literature Instruction for White Students is directed toward high school English teachers, but I found it helpful for critiquing literature in general. It actually fits well with So Many Beginnings (review above) as they both interrogate the literary canon. It was interesting to have read them so close to each other. 

Young Adult - I finished We Will Always Be Here which is a history of LGBTQ+ activism specifically in WI. It was a book that the local public library was giving away and they also had an event. I wasn't able to attend, but appreciated knowing this history.

Middle Grade - Stamped (for kids) is a great resource for younger readers. I'm glad there's one that is tailored to the elementary school readers now. 

Tales of the Feathered Serpent: Rise of the Halfling King is the first in a graphic novel series that I am excited about. It is an adaptations of a Mayan myth and is full of action, adventure, a huge snake, and more. I can't wait to see more in the series.

Allergic is a great realistic graphic novel about a girl whose dreams are destroyed when she finds out she is too allergic to own a furry pet. It shows her disappointment, but also her determination to do what she needed to do to change her circumstances if possible. There is also another character with a different kind of allergy so there is conversation about allergies in an organic way. It's also a friendship and family story. 

Picture Books - There are too many to list here, but these are the highlights.
Becoming Vanessa is a fabulous first day of school book about identity. 

We All Play is sure to inspire movement and smiles. Julie Flett's illustrations of children and animals playing are just perfect.

Brayden Speaks Up is his own story about his stutter and how he spoke up and also had a connection with President Biden.

The 20th anniversary of September 11th is this year so it is unsurprising to find books showing up in displays and on lists. I read 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 flag and learned a lot about this flag I hadn't known existed or at least didn't remember. In addition, I read two about a tree that survived. Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree and This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth. They were both interesting and each have a slightly different perspective. I have to say that reading about 9/11 hits differently now that I have been to the site and have seen the memorial and museum. 

How to Apologize lays out some excellent advice about apologies. I know this one could be useful for all ages. 

From the Tops of the Trees is another gorgeous book from Kao Kalia Yang. It takes place in a refugee camp and is about the hope and resilience of her father and how that shaped her life. I read the ARC since it's available on Netgalley. 

An Equal Shot shows the history of Title IX in an easy to understand manner. 

Goodnight Veggies is a bright and fun look at a garden and a worm wearing a sock and shoe. 

Nugget and Dog is a hilarious beginner graphic novel. The first pages explain how to read a graphic novel. The story itself had me laughing. Thunder and Cluck is another in this series and it also had me rolling. 

Let's Find Momo is an adorable look and find book that has only two or three objects to find in the bright and crisp photographs that always have Momo hidden somewhere in addition to the other things. I had fun seeking everything myself. 

I am a big Kate Messner fan and she has created an awesome nonfiction picture book biography of Dr. Fauci. Readers see him as a child and see his curiosity and persistence over the years. There is a lot of helpful backmatter too. 

The Coming Week: I am still working on 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and Writing Instruction with Children's Books. I have also started the adult memoir Crying in H Mart, the middle grade Pahua and the Soul Stealer and am listening to Up All Night. This is my final full week before going back to work so I am hoping to get a lot of reading accomplished. Have a great week!