Monday, November 26, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/26/2018

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 I finished reading How Georgia Became O'Keefe and it was so fascinating. I had a wonderful weekend with family and friends and didn't get much other reading in. 

Last Week's Posts:
Click on the image above to read my post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I realized that part of what held me back from reading Ponytail and Redwood was that I haven't read Knockout yet so I'm planning to read that and then I can get to Ponytail and Redwood. I also have We've Got This and Gamechanger so I have some great professional reading to get to this week too!

This Week's Posts:
Check back throughout the week to read these posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're 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, November 25, 2018

Sanity & Tallulah

Title: Sanity & Tallulah 
Author: Molly Brooks 
Illustrator: Molly Brooks 
Publisher: Disney Hyperion 
Publication Date: October 16th, 2018
Genre/Format: Adventure/Graphic Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega are best friends on Wilnick, the dilapidated space station they call home at the end of the galaxy. So naturally, when gifted scientist Sanity uses her lab skills and energy allowance to create a definitely-illegal-but-impossibly-cute three-headed kitten, she has to show Tallulah. But Princess, Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds is a bit of a handful, and it isn't long before the kitten escapes to wreak havoc on the space station. The girls will have to turn Wilnick upside down to find her, but not before causing the whole place to evacuate! Can they save their home before it's too late?

Readers will be over the moon for this rollicking space adventure by debut author Molly Brooks. 
What I Think: YES! This book is so much fun. I had the opportunity to meet and moderate a panel with Molly Brooks last weekend at NCTE (check out some resources we shared here). Our session focused on strong female protagonists and it was cool to hear Molly talk about how she specifically wanted to create a space adventure with girl protagonists. Sanity and Tallulah remind me a bit of Bink and Gollie. They are so much, different, but still good friends to each other. 
     One of the hardest things for me as a writer is figuring out plot and what happens in a story. I'm constantly looking for mentor texts that help me think about how a story unravels and how the arc takes shape. It's important to consider what is happening in each scene and how the action moves the story forward. Sanity & Tallulah offers a great example of how action drives the story forwrd. Sometimes it takes a book like this with such a stark example to start to really think about a craft move like plot. Talking about this is especially important with writers in fourth grade and up. They have a lot to say but sometimes their stories lack arc and helping them see how action drives the story forward is important....hard but important.

Monday, November 19, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/19/2018

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 I read more of How Georgia Became O'Keefe and I read Sanity and Tallulah, a fantastic space adventure graphic novel, by Molly Brooks and The Moon Within, a Latinx coming-of-age novel verse by Aida Salazar. 

Last Week's Posts:

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm so excited to read Ponytail and Redwood by K.A. Holt!!! But it's also Thanksgiving which means I hope to have time to finish How Georgia Became O'Keefe. I also still haven't read I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sánchez so I need to do that!

This Week's Posts:
 

Check back throughout the week to read these posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're 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!


Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Power of Female Protagonists - Seeing is Believing

I'm in Houston this weekend for the NCTE Annual Convention. It's been amazing so far and I'm excited for today and my two sessions. One session is on innovative non-fiction and the other is called "Becoming the Leaders: The Power of Female Protagonists to Empower All Student Voices." I already know it's going to be a fantastic conversation with Molly Brooks, Alex Gino, Mae Respicio, Laura Shovan, and Linda Williams Jackson.
I'm honored to be part of this amazing group and can't wait for the conversation we are going to have. On the plane ride here to Houston, we had a female pilot. I overhead a woman on the plane say, "And we had a female pilot. I've didn't know there were female pilots. I mean, I knew there were, but I didn't really know."

It stood out to me because I could hear the importance of representation and believing something when you see it. I couldn't remember ever having a female pilot before so it made me stop and think too. There is power in seeing yourself. There is power in seeing a variety of people and knowing truly seeing that each person is unique and valued and in then truly seeing that you are unique and valued.

Below I have a list of recommended reading to share from the amazing authors that I'll be talking with today: Molly Brooks, Alex Gino, Mae Respicio, Laura Shovan, and Linda Williams Jackson. My contribution is this wonderful video from Bomba Estéreo. Their song Soy Yo is a celebration of being yourself and a reminder to love who you are. I hope you enjoy it!


Recommended Reading
The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai
Ernestine, Catastrophe Queen by Merrill Wyatt
Evangeline of the Bayou by Jan Eldredge
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
George by Alex Gino
Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve
The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio
The Laura Line by Crystal Allen
Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson
The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour
Patina by Jason Reynolds
Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate & Sword by Henry Lien
Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks
A Sky Full of Stars by Linda Williams Jackson
Skylark and Wallcreeper by Anne O’Brien Carelli
Spin the Golden Lightbulb by Jackie Yeager
Takedown by Laura Shovan
The Unforgettable Guinevere St Clair by Amy Makechnie
Unidentified Suburban Object by Mike Jung
The 11:11 Wish by Kim Tomsic

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

We Don't Eat Our Classmates

Title: We Don't Eat Our Classmates 
Author: Ryan T. Higgins 
Illustrator: Ryan T. Higgins 
Publisher: Disney Hyperion 
Publication Date: June 19th, 2018 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary: It's the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can't wait to meet her classmates. But it's hard to make human friends when they're so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. . . .
What I Think: When this book came out, Franki Sibberson asked me if I had read it because of our long discussions about I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. Well, I finally got to reading this and I loved it. You can imagine what might happen when a t-rex goes to school! 
     I absolutely loved how the theme of this book look at how we treat others and how we hope to be treated. It's such a hard concept for kids to grasp and I find myself as a mom going over this again and again with my kids. This book offers a fresh look at this ever important lesson. 
     As a mentor text, I spotted the illustrations and the attention Ryan paid to the characters and their facial expression. They stood out because the story centers on Penelope but the children at school convey their own emotions about how the story is unfolding mostly through the looks on their faces. When I read with my kids, we were cracking up at the faces they were making. Kindergartners spend a lot of time drawing as writing and this extends into first and second grade...but it doesn't have to stop there. Any writer can use drawings to help flesh out their writing. In fact, when a writer draws, they have to show the character and the scene and this helps as they develop what they might include in their written text. Taking time to talk to young writers about their drawings is important. Often they draw happy faces or sad faces but there are so many other emotions they could show in their drawings. Looking at We Don't Eat Our Classmates through the lens of a writer who draws gives writers an opportunity to think about how to show emotion in their drawings. This is also an opportunity to talk about visual literacy when you ask students to stop and notice and discuss what they notice in the illustrations.
     This book would also make a great study for writers of any age who incorporate drawings or illustrations into their writing. 
Snatch of Text: 
When she got home, her dad asked about her first day of school. 

"I didn't make any friends!" Penelope cried. "None of the children wanted to play with me!"

"Penelope Rex," her father asked , "did you eat your classmates?"

"Well...maybe sort of just a little bit."

Monday, November 12, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/12/2018

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:
Little Bean and I read The Chocolate Touch for book club and then I listened to more of Undefeated with Peanut. I listened to more of Meet Cute and started listening to Love Warrior too. I ended up reading lots of nonfiction this week to prep for NCTE and I also read some of How Georgia Became O'Keefe and highly recommend it!

Last Week's Posts:

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm excited to read more of How Georgia Became O'Keefe. I also have Sanity and Tallulah that I'm excited to read and Meet Cute and Love Warrior on audio. I'm super excited to be traveling to Houston for NCTE this week so I should have plane and shuttle time to get some reading/listening in!

This Week's Posts:
Check back throughout the week to read these posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're 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, November 7, 2018

Julián is a Mermaid

Title: Julián is a Mermaid 
Author: Jessica Love 
Illustrator: Jessica Love
Publisher: Candlewick 
Publication Date: May 22nd, 2018 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: In an exuberant picture book, a glimpse of costumed mermaids leaves one boy flooded with wonder and ready to dazzle the world.

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a periwinkle curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality. 
What I Think: Kids are amazing. They notice things and they pay attention and sometimes, if you're a certain kind of person who they think they can trust, they'll share things with you. Not a day goes by that I don't find myself in awe of young people and thankful that I get to serve kids as my job. Not to mention that I get to be a mom to two awesome kids. 
     Reading Julián is Mermaid highlights a special moment between a boy and his grandmother and illustrates how easy it is for an adult to see a child and to encourage a child. The snatch of text I pulled below shows two lines of dialogue that I believe are pivotal. Dialogue is a powerful tool for writers. Writers in kindergarten and first grade can add speech bubbles to their drawings. Older writers can make the connection between the speech bubbles in their drawings to the text they write. And even older writers can think about how dialogue is a way to describe and show the reader a multitude of things. 
     In these two lines, we see Julián ask a question and Abuela answer him. When I read these two lines, I see so much about who they are and how they interact. Julián asks a question without revealing what he's thinking. And Abuela responds similarly. She could have dismissed him, she could have shared her thoughts - good or bad - about the mermaids, she could have judged him. But she doesn't. And in not doing so, she gives Julián space to share his thoughts. Asking writers to look at dialogue and think about how much what a character says reveals about him, her, or them helps them then think about how to use dialogue intentionally in their own writing. It's not easy to do but looking at books like Julián is a Mermaid as a mentor texts helps show young writers what is possible. 
    Also! I've been more intentional about talking to young writers about using different languages in their writing. It's important that we let students know that this is okay. If they don't get the message that this is okay, they might not ever try it. 
Snatch of Text: 
"Abuela, did you see the mermaids?"
"I saw them, mijo."

Updated November 25th, 2018:
After sharing my post, I read this blog post from Dr. Laura Jiménez which led me to think more critically about Julián is a Mermaid. I still believe it is a beautiful book and appreciate the relationship Julian has with his grandmother but I realize now that this might be an over-idealistic representation of reality for many LGBTQ+ people. I invite you to read the ideas shared in her blog post. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/5/2018

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:
I listened to more stories from Meet Cute and I read more of Take Joy by Jane Yolen. Peanut and I started listening to Undefeated by Steve Sheinkin together. I also read a fantastic stack of books that I've been collecting from the library and finally had time to read.

Last Week's Posts:

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I should be able to finish up Meet Cute this week and I have Breakout by Kate Messner and The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio to read.

This Week's Posts:
Check back throughout the week to read these posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're 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, November 4, 2018

Celebrating Process Thanks to Georges Seurat

For the last two weeks we've been exploring Chicago with our family who visited us from Guatemala. Two years ago, when we went to Guatemala, my kids got to meet my cousin's kids and they had a blast hanging out. They played Uno and Rock, Paper, Scissors, Splits and laughed and laughed and laughed. Now they had the chance to visit us and the kids had just as much fun.

We got to take them to one of my favorite Chicago museums, The Art Institute of Chicago. I was a little nervous because we were taking seven kids all under eleven into a place where you have to be quiet, you have to control your body, and you cannot touch things. 

The kids were actually really good and we made it to many of the well-known pieces. My cousin and her husband bought the City Pass which included the audio guide tour at the Art Institute. While he was listening to the description of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, I looked at some of the other paintings nearby. 
Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte 

An iconic piece famous for the pointillist technique

Across the room, I noticed this small painting that resembled the larger painting I know so well. But it wasn't exactly the same. I leaned in and read the description. 
It reads, "This small oil on a thin wood panel is one of 24 painted studies Georges Seurat made while conceiving the large, celebrated painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (also on view in this gallery)." It goes on to outline the differences between this sample and the final piece.
I've spent a lot of time since this summer thinking about how to revise my novel. I've read books on craft, I've sought out mentor texts, I've redone my story arc, I've done a lot of character work, I've processed feedback from agents. I've done all this as a way to mentally prepare for revision. There have been lots of feelings...it's not easy to dive into revisions again. Revision is hard work. I find a lot of solace in the idea of revision. Knowing that I have the opportunity to take my crummy first draft to a better is encouraging. But that doesn't mean revision is easy or that I like it. 

Collecting stories of process and sharing the process is so important. I love learning about others and their process but it also helps me to share my own process because it allows me to reflect. Austin Kleon's Show Your Work is one of my favorite books that celebrates process. 

Seeing this panel was a reminder that even artists who have their pieces hanging in art museums and are recognized around the world still had to go through a process. The art didn't just magically flow from their brush to the canvas. Sometimes it's easy to see the product and forget the process that got them there. 


Ada's Violin

Title: Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
Author: Susan Hood  
Illustrator: Sally Wern Comport 
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: From award-winning author Susan Hood and illustrator Sally Wern Comport comes the extraordinary true tale of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, an orchestra made up of children playing instruments built from recycled trash.
Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option...until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.

What I Think: I fell in love with Ada's Violin right away and for so many reasons. I absolutely love narrative nonfiction picture books. We get to read a beautifully told story that is actually true. This book called to me because when I was in 4th grade, I signed up to play the violin in the school orchestra. Seeing a book about a violin player was very exciting. Reading about the town of Cateura in Paraguy reminded me of my friend Jennifer and her cartonera project inspired from Cartoneras in Argentina. You can read more about it here and here and watch the video below.
When I think about my own kids, I think about how lucky they are to have their basic needs met and how much they have in their lives. We still have fun being creative and have done our own version of Cain's Arcade and the cardboard challenge before. (You can watch more about this below.) We paint rocks and they turn every box that comes into our house into something. But it's so easy to not make time for things like this. Reading Ada's Violin was a good reminder to pause and be thankful for everything we have available to us and to make time for creativity and especially being creative with how we use and reuse materials in our house. 

As a mentor text, I pulled the very first line from this beautiful picture book because it stood out to me. First of all, there's some alliteration there for writers to notice. But beyond that, it's a first line that orients the reader with just a few words. There isn't much description and we don't have a lot of details but it's still easy to start to visualize the town Ada might live in. I love this is a mentor text because it's short and simple and students could try and write their own version of this opening line for their own stories, whether they are writing nonfiction, personal narrative, or any other kind of narrative. 
Snatch of Text: "Ada Rios grew up in a town made of trash."

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/11/2019

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!   It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme ho...