Sunday, October 29, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/30/17

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is 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 I 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. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
The kids and I read more of Stick Cat, I've been reading Braving the Wilderness before bed, and I'm almost done with The First Rule of Punk. 
Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'll be reading more Stick Cat and finishing up The First Rule of Punk. I have a feeling I'll be reading Braving the Wilderness for while but I did get Jason Reynold's Long Way Down and started reading some of it. I can't wait to read the rest! I also have Real Friends by Shannon Hale from the book fair and Peanut wouldn't tell me the ending because he wants me to read it for myself!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Yo Soy Muslim

Title: Yo Soy Muslim: A Father's Letter to His Daughter 
Author: Mark Gonzales  
Illustrator: Mehrdokht Amini 
Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 29th, 2017 
Genre/Format:  
GoodReads Summary: From Muslim and Latino poet Mark Gonzales comes a touching and lyrical picture book about a parent who encourages their child to find joy and pride in all aspects of their multicultural identity.

Dear little one,
…know you are wondrous.
A child of crescent moons,
a builder of mosques,
a descendant of brilliance,
an ancestor in training.

Written as a letter from a father to his daughter, Yo Soy Muslim is a celebration of social harmony and multicultural identities. The vivid and elegant verse, accompanied by magical and vibrant illustrations, highlights the diversity of the Muslim community as well as Indigenous identity. A literary journey of discovery and wonder, Yo Soy Muslim is sure to inspire adults and children alike. 
What I Think: Over the summer I watched a video that talked about how many people are hispanic and Jewish. This book reminded me of that because Mark Gonzales is Latino and Muslim and this book is written as a letter to his daughter. These are two examples of how important it is to learn people's stories and not assume things about people. As a reader who is Latina but not Muslim, I loved his words to his daughter and I love reading how he talks to his daughter about navigating the world and being proud of who she is. My dad's letter to me or my letter to my sons might be similar but still different. 
     As a mentor text, I love the idea of asking parents to write letters to their kids or even to have kids write letters to themselves. As much as we all have different experiences, as humans, we do also have things in common. I love this book and this idea of writing letters to ourselves as an opportunity to explore these commonalities and differences and to expand our understanding of how we are each unique but still need to be loved and lifted up. 
     Last week, a teacher friend asked me how to respond to a student telling her about reading the Bible as his independent reading at home. While we have to be cautious about discussing religion in school, I still think we can have conversations about the fact that people have different beliefs and that people have their right to their own beliefs. This book is another opportunity to show how people have different beliefs...but again, how we are all humans and are connected even though we have different beliefs and opinions.
Snatch of Text:  
"There are questions we al ask when we are learning what it means to be human. 

Who invented my hands?
Why wasn't I born with wings?
And
does the moon ever get lonely?"
Writing Prompt: Why did Mark Gonzales choose to write this book as a letter to his daughter? How does that choice impact the purpose behind his words?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/23/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is 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 I 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. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
The boys and I finished Stick Dog and we started Stick Cat! I read more of Enticing Hard to Read Writers and My Lady Jane. I also started Braving the Wilderness and The First Rule of Punk. So many good books!

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week I'm excited to read Stick Cat, My Lady Jane, Enticing Hard to Reach Writers, Braving the Wilderness, and The First Rule of Punk. 

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/16/17

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is 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 I 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. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
This week we had fun reading more of Stickdog! We are almost done! I also started reading On The Run: Chasing the Faloncers by Gordon Korman with Peanut and we had some interesting conversations. I started listening to My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. I'm also reading Ruth Ayres' next book Enticing Hard to Read Writers and it's amazing.

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'll be finishing up Stickdog and Enticing Hard to Read Writers. My plan is to continue On The Run: Chasing the Faloncers and My Lady Jane but I anticipate they might take a little longer to finish. I also bought BrenĂ© Brown's newest book Braving the Wilderness and am excited to start reading it as well!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Creepy Pair of Underwear

Title: Creepy Pair of Underwear 
Author: Aaron Reynolds 
Illustrator: Peter Brown  
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers 
Publication Date: August 15th, 2017 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary: Jasper Rabbit is NOT a little bunny anymore. He’s not afraid of the dark, and he’s definitely not afraid of something as silly as underwear. But when the lights go out, suddenly his new big rabbit underwear glows in the dark. A ghoulish, greenish glow. If Jasper didn’t know any better he’d say his undies were a little, well, creepy. Jasper’s not scared obviously, he’s just done with creepy underwear. But after trying everything to get rid of them, they keep coming back! 
What I Think: Happy Friday the 13th! What a perfect day to celebrate Creepy Pair of Underwear! It's so fun to see Jasper again. As I was reading, I thought of Edgar Allan Poe's Tell-Tale Heart and the song The Cat Came Back. My elementary school music teacher sang The Cat Came Back With Us so it would be cool to connect the song and this book with younger students. With older students, you could definitely tie this to Tell-Tale Heart. What a perfect opportunity to compare and contrast different texts for mood and also to look closely at how illustrations work with the text to contribute to the mood of a story. 
     Speaking of looking at how the texts and illustrations work together, the snatch of text I share below is an example of how Aaron Reynolds uses dialogue to show us what the characters are thinking and feeling but at the same time, Peter Brown uses the illustrations to hit the message home. As a mentor text, this is perfect for looking at how important dialogue is but also how description of what a character is doing when speaking allows an writer to really show how a character thinks and feels. To practice this, ask students to look at the page where Jasper is begging his mom for the creepy underwear and come up with a sentence to describe what they see in the illustrations or what they visualize in their head. Then have them try it in their own writing. Show, don't tell at its finest!
Snatch of Text:  
     "'Mom! Mom! Can we get these?" Jasper pleaded.
     'I think they're a little too creepy,' said Mom.
     'They're not creepy! They're cool!' said Jasper. 'I'm not a little bunny anymore. I'm a big rabbit now!'"

     "...the underwear glowed. A ghoulish, greenish glow."
Writing Prompt: How does the author use dialogue to show what the characters are thinking and feeling?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Wishtree

Title: Wishtree 
Author: Katherine Applegate 
Illustrator: Charles Santoso
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this "wishtree" watches over the neighborhood.
You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.  

What I Think: Oh, Katherine Applegate. She's done it again. I love Wishtree so much. It's another book from her with a whole lot of heart. And the most fascinating thing is the main character is a tree who has a whole lot of heart. I'm so excited to share this with young readers because I'm sure it will spark great discussion. 
     As I was reading I kept thinking of Paul Fleischman's Seedfolks and I might go reread it to see how they might connect. Overall, the tone in Wishtree reminded me of Seedfolks but I also saw similarities in the themes.
     The tone of Wishtree is so clear because Katherine so purely writes Red (the wishtree) as a character. It's beautiful. When I think about characters in my own writing, I think about who they are and what I know about them that my readers might never know. I make sure I know what they have gone through as characters before the story starts because all those little experiences shape who they are. Everything that has happened to them is part of why they make the decisions they do. It's not always easy for a writer to not include all of these past experiences...I've seen lots of student writers tell readers way too much early on. I *might* happen to also do this in my own writing, especially in first drafts. But in revisions, I can usually spot when I'm telling and either delete my rambling or find a way to work it in without dumping all the information in one spot. 
     One other way Wishtree can be used as a mentor text is to look at foreshadowing. Katherine gives us really subtle clues of theme throughout the book. I pulled two examples to share in the snatch of text. Both of these come at the end of a chapter. Red is so wise but if readers stop and think about what he's pointing out along the way, we can start to recognize some foreshadowing in the story. As a writer, I've found that I'm able to find little snippets of clues I can leave for my reader along the way. Some of them make it into my first draft but I find that I'm better able to add in foreshadowing during revisions when I know where my story is going overall. One of my favorite mentor texts for foreshadowing is One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo with illustrations by David Small. There are so many clues along the way if you just slow down and really pay attention. The trick to being able to pepper in foreshadowing as a writer is to recognize how authors use foreshadowing as a reader. And Wishtree allows you to do just that!
Snatch of Text: 
     "If this were a fairy tale, I would tell you there was something magical about Samar. That she cast a spell on the animals, perhaps. Animals don't just leave their nests and burrows willingly. They are afraid of people, with good reason. 
     But this isn't a fairy tale, and there was no spell. Animals compete for resources, just like humans.
     They eat one another. They fight for dominance. Nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. But sometimes surprises happen. And Samar, every spring night, reminded me there is beauty in stillness and grace in acceptance. 
     And that you're never too old to be surprised." 

     "Watching Bongo soar, I considered, not for the first time, my rambling roots. What would it be like to fly? To burrow? To swim? To gallop?
     Delightful, no doubt. Sheer joy. And yet. I wouldn't trade a single rootlet for any of it. 
     It is a great gift indeed to love who you are."
Writing Prompt: Why does Katherine Applegate choose to end two chapters with the phrases like the snatches of text above? 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/9/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is 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 I 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. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Gah! I have no idea where the week went...I read a little of Solo but didn't finish and the boys and I are still reading Stick Dog.  I've been reading for my Pitch Wars mentee and I also started an advance copy of Ruth Ayres' next book Enticing Readers.
Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Okay, really, I'm going to finish Solo this week and also Stick Dog.  I'm also excited to finish Enticing Readers and I ordered a copy of BrenĂ© Brown's Braving the Wilderness. 

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street

Title: The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street 
Author: Lindsay Currie 
Publisher: Aladdin 
Publication Date: October 10th, 2017 
Genre/Format: Mystery/Fiction/Middle Grade Novel 
GoodReads Summary: A girl unravels a centuries-old mystery after moving into a haunted house in this deliciously suspenseful mystery.

Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones.

When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. A secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years.
With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her! 
What I Think: I would have loved The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street when I was in middle school! I read Mary Downing Hahn and Lois Duncan and Agatha Christie and I would have loved to have had this book to read too. 
     I love a good, spooky, ghost story but I love even more a strong main character and Tessa is exactly that. She has to move to a new place and make new friends and her house is haunted but she is super brave. Even when she's scared, she's still super strong. Tessa is the perfect example of a main character who takes matters into her own hands. She doesn't wait for things to happen, she makes them happen and I love that - as a reader and a writer.
     Character agency is a tricky thing. Writers need to make sure the story is weighing down on a character but that the character takes charge and impacts the plot at the same time. It took me a long time to figure this out. Two things helped me to zone in on this. One is to pay attention to instances when a character can easily talk things out with another character and issues can easily be resolved. If that's the case, then the character should talk it out. And the second thing, is to look for opportunities where a character can take matters into his or her hands. Instead of wallowing or worrying, have him or her take the initiative. Those are the characters readers want to follow in a story. 
     Besides having Tessa and an awesome cast of supporting characters, Peculiar Incident has a really intriguing setting. I might be a little biased seeing as I grew up north of Chicago, but I love that it's set in such a well known city and brings us to a maybe not so well known place. The setting has a certain character all of its own and it adds to the mood, making The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street a particularly creepy read!   
Snatch of Text: 
     "I shut that door when I left. I know this because I remember thinking it might stop Jonah from getting into my art supplies. Now it's open. And the air whoosing out is icy...not much warmer than the temperature inside our freezer.
     Creeping slowly, I press on the door until it's standing fully open. And that' swhen I see them. My pastels. The blue and the magenta are sitting at the base of my bed again. Only this time, so is the sketchpad I put away this morning.
     And it's open..." 
Writing Prompt: Write about a time in your life when you were scared but you figured out how to be brave and face a situation. 
Thank you to Simon and Schuster
for sending me a copy of this book to review!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Caleb and Kit

Title: Caleb and Kit     
Author: Beth Vrabel 
Publisher: Running Press 
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Twelve-year-old Caleb is shorter, frailer, and more protected than most kids his age. That's because he has cystic fibrosis, a diagnosis meaning lungs that fill with mucus and a shortened lifespan. Caleb tries not to let his disorder define him, but it can be hard with an overprotective, prying mom and a big brother who is perfect in every way.

Then Caleb meets Kit-a vibrant, independent, and free girl who lives in a house in the woods-and his world changes instantly. Kit reads Caleb's palm and tells him they are destined to become friends. She calls birds down from the sky, turns every day into an adventure, and never sees him as his disorder. Her magic is contagious, making Caleb question the rules and order in his life. But being Kit's friend means embracing deception and, more and more, danger. Soon Caleb will have to decide if his friendship with Kit is really what's best for him-or Kit.

What I Think: Navigating relationships is something kids have to go through but also something that lasts into adulthood. Caleb has a lot of different relationships to manage in this book! I feel for him but I also love that Beth makes him relatable and shows the reality of what it's like to be a friend, a brother, and a son. I would recommend this to readers who enjoyed Lisa Graff's Lost In The Sun.
     As a mentor text, this book is an opportunity to look at expanding small moments when writing personal narrative. Students can think about their own relationships and experiences and choose one moment to zone in on and describe for the reader. Students can take this opportunity to be descriptive and to use the five senses to build imagery and bring readers into the moment with them. Oftentimes, writers tell the story bit by bit, outlining a list of everything that happened. But it's important to be able to pause in a moment and zoom in on what's happening. You know those pictures where you get a 360 degree view? You can swipe from side to side and up and down to get a look all around. That's what we need to do as writers. Stop, turn around, and describe everything using our five senses so our readers can feel what it's like to be there too.
Snatch of Text: "Each step I took made my shoes suck deeper into mud with a squelching sound, and each time I lifted my feet it made my chest hurt. A few more yards in and I realized I was in trouble. My chest burned. I tried to ignore it. The pain twisted and coiled around my ribs - not like I couldn't breathe but like my body didn't want to." (p. 9)
Writing Prompt: Write about a time in your life when your brain wanted to do something but your body didn't or couldn't cooperate. Write about a time in your life when you were in a disagreement with someone close to you.

Bonus fun! Enter Beth’s #WhereIEscape giveaway and/or post your own photo of a place you go to get away from the world!
Thank you to Running Press Kids
for sending me a copy of this book to review!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/2/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is 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 I 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. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Last week I finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the boys and we started Stick Dog by Tom Watson. It's funny so far! I read Caleb and Kit so I can finally review it. I'm still reading Solo too. 
Click on the image above to read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week I'm really excited to keep reading Stick Dog with the boys! It's just so fun! And I'm excited to finish up Solo. After that...I'll have to raid my TBR and surprise myself!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!