Monday, November 29, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are You Reading? information on this image is in the first paragraph on the blog.

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

Where Have I Been? 
I really haven't been anywhere exactly, I just needed to have a break from blogging here for a bit. I think the beginning of the school year is always a lot of stress and this year was no exception. It's hard to explain why I feel more tired than usual, but I think Pernille Ripp explained it well in her recent blog post "Perhaps Like Me."

I'm back, at least for this week and I've scheduled my Rich in Color posts now so I will have a break there until mid-January. 

Blogposts from Rich in Color While I Wasn't Posting Here:

Highlights of Recent Reads: The challenges of the school year have affected how I spend my time, but I have also been teaching a short online class through UW-Madison and am taking two language classes online. I am on my third session of Spanish and have also started attending a Korean class. I know, for someone who is feeling drained, this seems strange, but teaching the class was a great way to interact with library colleagues and kind of distance myself from my own school. The language classes are also a way to use my brain in a completely different way. I can just focus on my flashcards and not think about other things. It's also really fun to learn how to write and read in Korean. I even entered an art contest for the first time ever and won first place in my age group for calligraphy on a watercolor painting of fall leaves. The repetition of the calligraphy was meditative. With all of this, I haven't been doing much reading beyond that required for my Rich in Color blogging. 

We read Jade Fire Gold for a group discussion at Rich in Color and it was a nice step back into fantasy. I also read Too Bright to See for the class I was teaching. It's a great middle grade book about identity, ghosts, and more. It's a tricky one to talk about without giving spoilers though so I won't go much beyond that. One day I picked up Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry because it looked like a fun YA rom-com and it definitely was. I re-read The Astonishing Color of After for a book club meeting and it was excellent the second time through too. This weekend I also enjoyed reading A Clash of Steel which was a reimagining of Treasure Island. I don't know how many times I read Treasure Island as a child, but I loved the original and this is a fabulous story in that style. 

The Coming Week: It's really difficult to predict what I'll be reading next, but I have several ARCs that I need to get to including the sequel to Aristotle and Dante and the upcoming book by Axie Oh, The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea. Have a great week!

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!

Sunday, August 1, 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 Blogpost:
XOXO Book cover. A young woman and young man are standing facing each other with hands on the others' waist. They're in the street lined with traditional Korean buildings and the Seoul skyline is visible in the distance.

What I've Been Up To: 
I haven't posted for a few weeks, but I've had family visiting and have been enjoying the outdoors quite a bit. My son and I met this fun friend out on a recent hike. It appears to be a Timber Rattlesnake unless we are mistaken. It did rattle at us and it was large enough to be interesting even if it was one of those snakes that pretend to be a rattler.

Forest walking path. Greenery on left. A large snake is stretched out from the greenery into the path. At least two feet of it are visible. It has dark brown marks spaced every few inches.

Yesterday we only saw a very young deer and the mother. Way less exciting, but still fun. 

Books Read Over Past Weeks: 
I've read quite a few books over the past few weeks and here are a few that were stand outs. I got to read quite a few excellent nonfiction books. 

Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party's Promise to the People is an incredibly thorough history of the organization for middle grade and young adult readers. I'll feature it at Rich in Color soon.

As expected the middle grade Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You is well done and makes the information from the previously published books more accessible for young readers.

Sharice's Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman is a picture book that knocked my socks off. I had been excited for it, but had not made the connection that Sharice is Ho-Chunk. Our school is on the ancestral lands of the Ho-Chunk and they are one of the Native Nations in our state. There are very few books available featuring Ho-Chunk people that are in the current day so this is a wonderful resource. It was also very intriguing for other reasons including her mixed-martial arts experience that will be sure to interest many young readers.

Areli is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA recipient. This is an important picture book narrative that shows Areli's experience with the many challenges she and her family face. It is also a story of love and what a family will do to be together.  

A Day for Rememberin': The First Memorial Day is a picture book that shares some of the history of Memorial Day which is something I had never learned about before this. 

The Little Feminist board books are wonderful. The photographs are just fantastic. There is one about families, one about hair, and one about different ways people get around. 

I think I had read an ARC in the past, but I got to re-read We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know and it is simply a must have picture book. 

Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race is a board book that does an excellent job of discussing and providing for discussion about race, skin color, and injustice. 

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America is an adult nonfiction book about the many way laws and governmental policies created the segregation present in our country. I had to take quite a few breaks while reading this because much of it was both infuriating and heartbreaking. 

There were also several fiction books that will stick with me for a while. 

YA - Luck of the Titanic was another incredible historical fiction novel from Stacey Lee.

Middle Grade - The graphic novel The Legend of Auntie Po is wonderful. It has a character that is similar to Paul Bunyan and takes place in a logging camp that is predominantly employing white men of European decent, but also has a significant amount of Chinese workers. One has a daughter and she is telling the story. It is rich in details of the time and place, but also delves into friendship, family, identity, and belonging.

Take Back the Block is an interesting book to have been reading while I was reading The Color of Law. It's about a sixth grader who has a friend that is displaced by gentrification happening in the community. Wes is sad about it, but it becomes more of a concern when developers start trying to get his parents and neighbors to sell so they can continue to change the community. This is a compelling story, but would also be a good entry to discussions about activism, gentrification, and other social issues. 

A fun early chapter book is Too Small Tola by Atinuke. Tola is small, but finds that she is still capable of doing a lot of hard things as she and her grandmother go to the market. It's a fun story and also gives readers a glimpse into what it's like to move through a market in Lagos.

I'm running out of steam, but I also really enjoyed reading these fiction picture books: Hair Twins, Laxmi's Mooch, Training Day by Raul the Third, The Electric Slide and Kai, and Home is in Between

The Coming Week: I was super excited to get a copy of Melissa Stewart's new book about nonfiction texts, 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and Writing Instruction with Children's Books and will be reading it this week (or at least starting to read it). I'm also reading We Will Always Be Here: A Guide to Exploring and Understanding the History of LGBTQ) Activism in Wisconsin. I am working at summer school this week, so I will likely read some kidlit too, but that will be more random I think. Have a great week!

Monday, July 12, 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 Blogpost:
Books Read Last Week: 
Cover images of the books listed below the image.


My clear favorite this week was the middle grade novel Amina's Song which was a sequel to Amina's Voice. It's a beautiful story of family and how Amina sorts through having family on two different continents. I also really appreciated the way that she tries to change the perception that her peers have of Pakistan and the people who live there. It's truly a wonderful story and I hope it is read by many people. 

Another favorite this week was the picture book I Dream of Popo which again is showing love between family members who are living very far away from each other. It's based on the author's own relationship with her grandmother after her family moved to the U.S. when she was young. You can feel the love expressed in the pages. 

The two adult romances were for a book club I participated in that had the author as a guest. We were reading the second book in a series so I read both #1 and #2. I found the first one to be a lot of fun, but the second one seemed to have been rushed to publication. The story was also fun, but it could have benefitted from one more rounds of edits. 

Josie Dances, The Powwow Thief, and Swift Fox All Along all featured Indigenous families. Josie Dances stood out to me as it shows the family members all contributing to the creation of Josie's regalia for her to wear when she dances at the powwow. It's sweet. The mystery is an interesting combination of brief chapter book, picture book and graphic novel. It has a few elements of each format. 

Sadiq wants to stitch tells of a young boy who wants to sew, but his mother says that in their community, men take care of the sheep, they don't sew. He loves sewing though and tries to find a way to make that happen for himself. 

Amira's Picture Day centers around Eid and a young girl who is missing school for the holiday, but will also miss class pictures and while the holiday is exciting, it's hard to miss something that is also important to her. 

The drag queen book is a re-wording of the song The Wheels on the Bus. It shows different activities or aspects of drag queens with the format of the song. They are dancing their way through San Francisco and there are bright bold colors. The illustrations are the most interesting part of the book to me.

The Coming Week: I have family coming to visit this week, so I'm not sure what I'll pick up or if I'll get to many books. I wish you some awesome reading!

Monday, July 5, 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 Blogpost:

Books Read Last Week: 
Three book covers. Not Here to Be Liked has a young woman leaning on a desk. Over her shoulder is a young man at a desk who is glancing back at her. Polo Cowboy has a young woman with a polo mallet and a young man wearing a cowboy hat. The Forest of Stolen Girls as the title in red and illustration in black and white. It has many leaves and two young women facing away from each other and mostly hidden by the leaves.

I really enjoyed the ARC of Not Here to Be Liked. I read this young adult novel so I could prepare interview questions for the author so that is something to look forward to. It's a romance, but also has a lot to say about feminism and gender discrimination. Look for it in September. 

The Forest of Stolen Girls is a historical mystery set on Jeju Island in Korea. Girls have been going missing and a detective who was investigating has also disappeared. One of his daughters makes the journey to see if she can find out where her father has gone. It's intriguing throughout and the suspense made me push through fairly quickly. 

Polo Cowboy is the middle grade sequel to Ghetto Cowboy or as they have retitled it for the Netflix movie, Concrete Cowboy. I read the first book quite a few years ago, but luckily the publisher sent a copy of the first one with the ARC so I could remind myself of what happened before. This is a great story about friendship, and maybe a little more. It's also about family, love, loss, and of course polo. I didn't know much about the sport, but that knowledge isn't necessary for understanding the plot. Look for this one in October.

I've slowed down significantly on my reading. I have been doing a lot outside. I've been busy in the school garden, kayaking, hiking, riding my bicycle, and visiting with friends. I've also started studying Spanish. It feels like my summers are way busier than the school year sometimes. 

The Coming Week: Alta California is still in progress. I didn't get to Arsenic and Adobo, but maybe this week it will happen. 

Have a great week!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Review: The Whole Hole Story

A young Black girl is climbing a ladder that leads to a hole. There is confetti type things and colorful air breezing out of the hole.
Title:
The Whole HOLE Story 
Author: Vivian McInerny 
Illustrator: Ken Lamug 
Publisher: Versify 
Pages: 32 
Review copy: Digital copy via illustrator 
Availability: On shelves now 

Summary: Zia is used to the hole in her pocket—she frequently fills it with frogs and other objects. And as it gets bigger and bigger, she starts to wonder what might happen . . . if she fell right through. Would she cover it with a blanket to catch an elephant, or dig a tunnel to the other side of the world? The possibilities are endless, and readers will love following Zia’s adventurous imagination from beginning to end.

My review: What a fantastical adventure and a great one to add to my list of portal books. Zia travels through this delightful world of her own making. It's like a dream sequence, but she has determined that it will not be a scary place so all is cheerful.

The illustrations are playful and Zia's expressions are a lot of fun. It would be a great mentor text for imaginative writing or illustrating. It seems like a book that would really inspire readers to think about what they would do if they had their own portal world to explore. 

Recommendation: This will be a fun addition to any collection particularly if you are looking for fantasy picture books. I'm happy to have another example of portal fantasy to share with students during our genre unit. 

Possible Pairings: 
Picture Books
Another by Christian Robinson
Door by JiHyeon Lee
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
Journey, Quest, and Return by Aaron Becker
Lift by Minh Lê illustrated by Dan Santat
Polo and the Dragon by Régis Faller
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett illustrated by Jon Klassen
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Graphic novels
Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi
Glitch by Sarah Graley
Mal & Chad: Food Fight by Stephen McCranie
Paths & Portals by Gene Luen Yang
Where's Halmoni? by Julie Kim

Novels
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
The Barren Grounds by David Robertson
Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
Heir Apparent by Vivan Vande Velde
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Alberto Hernandez
The Serpent's Secret by Sayantani DasGupta
Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Monday, June 28, 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


Books I've Read Recently: 
I read a playful picture book The Whole Hole Story which I will review here tomorrow. 

I also read the YA poetry collection Somebody Give This Heart a Pen. I looked for it after watching an excellent interview with her from Candlewick as part of their Black Creators Series.  

In Search of Safety: Voices of Refugees was pretty incredible. I appreciate hearing accounts of refugees willing to share their stories. 

In adult reading, I enjoyed Gray Hair Don't Care which is a rom-com. For a book club I also read Summer of '69 which was a family story set in the year of my birth. It was an interesting story by itself, but the time period made it even more intriguing to me. 

The Coming Week: I am still making my way through Alta California. It's not super compelling, but it does have a lot of information about the California coast and since I've been to many of the places or have heard of them, I like finding out more about the areas. I'll probably keep working through it, but I'm not quite halfway finished. I also picked up Arsenic and Adobo from the library hold shelf after hearing the the author interview on Books and Boba so will likely get started on that. Have a great week!