Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading?

Jen & Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts host a meme every Monday that invites people to share the children's and young adult books they have been reading over the past week and what they plan on reading the following week.

You may find more complete information about what I am reading at or by clicking on the Goodreads widget along the side of my blog.

Past Week:
Newbery Challenge

It is hard to choose a favorite between these because they are all so different, survival, animal fantasy, and realistic fiction. Summer of the Swans moved me, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH entertained me, and Julie of the Wolves made me question. The questioning led me to this review at the website Alaska Native Knowledge Network. I wish that Jean Craighead George had done a little more consulting before publishing, but the writing itself was well done. There were some inaccuracies and though I am sure she felt she was honoring the indigenous people, I am not sure that it turned out that way.

Caldecott Challenge

I really, really, really, love Lon Po Po. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story is wonderful too. I love that the eldest daughter uses wisdom in this difficult situation rather than needing an outside source of rescue. Hey, Al is a bit creepy to me, though I enjoy the pictures. I also like the moral, but am saddened that they are still stuck in the same place with no escape in sight.

Picture Books

I read too many picture books to share them all, but these were two that I really enjoyed. Both show a unique culture and family. Saltypie (my favorite book of the week) is a piece of history from the author's own life. Tim Tingle is quickly becoming an author that I want to know more about. I am always excited to see literature that presents modern Native Americans in daily life. A Mango in the Hand was very fun and I think that it would work well as a read aloud and could be used for discussion about proverbs and maybe as a jumpstart for some writing. 


I loved reading this great poetry collection related to the life and works of Marc Chagall. Fun fact learned: The title of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof was inspired by one of his paintings. Cool.

Professional Development

I thoroughly enjoyed this challenging work. It prompts us to ask several questions when reading information such as: why was it written, whose perspective is presented, is it believable, does it match up with other sources? These are questions that I want my students to ask when they are looking at information online and when they are reading non-fiction texts of any kind. I want them to be thinkers and questioners, not just blind consumers of information. Their teachers need to model this in the classroom.

For the Coming Week: Now that one of my professional books is complete I will look to finish another, but I am not sure yet which one. I will begin reading Slave Dancer for the Newbery Challenge and also work on Laugh with the Moon and of course I will hit some picture books along the way. Since National Novel Writing Month AKA NaNoWriMo begins this week and I have a half-marathon next weekend, my reading may slow down, but it won't come to a complete halt. Have a great week of reading!


  1. Julie of the Wolves still circulates well because of the action and adventure-- hadn't thought that it did a poor job at portraying indigenous people. Will have to reread. Do you think part of the problem is that it's 40 years old and just dated?

    1. In the review from the Alaska Native Knowledge Network, it seems that she mixed and merged two cultures & had animals behave in ways that wouldn't happen & a few other things. Nothing horrifyingly bad, but I think the worst is the melding of two completely different groups of people as if they are interchangeable is a bit problematic.

  2. I have a copy of Julie of the Wolves here at home - but I haven't had a chance to read it yet. The issues of authenticity in writing as well as remaining true to the experience, by (as you've pointed out) doing research and consulting - are quite common nowadays, but as Ms Yingling noted it may not be the sinequanon during this period. Lon Po Po is also a favorite for us in GatheringBooks, Fats has done an extensive review of that one a year ago, I think. Will look for Saltypie in our libraries. :)

    1. Yes, I think that audiences weren't as discriminating about cultural authenticity in those days. I tend to look a little closer at texts that are written by an outsider to a culture and I often look to that community to find out what their perspective is about the book so I know if what I am getting is accurate.

  3. I think I'll seek out those reviews when I read Julie of the Wolves again. I believe you are right about how we expect more research and authenticity now than they might have when the book was written. You are really plugging along on the challenge! Congrats!

  4. I really enjoy sharing Lon Po Po with children. The story, artwork, and culture are all portrayed in such a beautiful way. I also appreciate the vocabulary used throughout the story. I always thought the words were used in a way that there were high expectations for the reader, but words weren't used unnecessarily. I would love to fill my own personal library with books like Lon Po Po. :)
    Also, interesting thoughts on Julie of the Wolves. I enjoy action adventure books and this one was a favorite of mine. I haven't read it in a few years and think maybe I should do a reread as well.