Monday May 20th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme and share all of your reading from picture books to young adult reads! Such a fantastic way to learn about “new to you” titles by exploring all of the blog posts shared! Share your own reading on twitter via the hashtag #IMWAYR

This week has been a lot about books! A LOT of books! A lot of reading. Early morning reading. Reading over coffee. Reading while folding the laundry (I have this down to an art) Much browsing, some (well, a little more than some :-)) buying and many bookstore hours passed surrounded by . . . books! Is there any better way to spend one’s time?

For the second week in a row, I have narrowed my picture books down to my ten favourites of the week to share here:

If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead I spent a week one summer in a house by the sea, wanting to see a whale. I never did. I think I needed this book to help me out. It reveals the ins and outs of waiting. And wondering. And hoping. And wow, is it gorgeous! This is my new go to gift book because adults and children alike will love it. (I might add that the first person I gifted it to was me!)

If you want to see a whale

Wilfred written and illustrated by Ryan Higgins Last week on my #IMWAYR journey through blog posts I happened upon this title on Nicole’s blog Bluestocking Thinking She called this book a “keeper” and I must agree. It is absolutely odd. Wilfred is a big hairy monster in a land of bald beings. But odd is wonderful. And this book is so much more – a story of kindness and friendship and of being compassionate. I loved this little story and cannot wait to share it with my students.


Line 135 written by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine The previous book by these two – Little Bird was one of my favourite titles of 2012. In fact, it will likely be a favourite of all time. Line 135 has a very different feel. But it shares something that I love with Little Bird: it celebrates a beautiful sense of self and human connection. A picture book adults will love – themes of travel, wonder, being who you are. But, if shared right with a group of children – this could be magic.

Line 135

How to by Julie Morstad Morstad is a picture perfect picture book illustrator. She sends memories, dreams, wonder and magic from the page to her reader. Find this book. Buy it. Treasure it. Read it often and believe in everything.


Ben Rides On written and illustrated by Matt Davies I want to say everything about this book because I found it so wonderfully fun! And sweet. And funny . . . But I am going to try and say nothing more. This book needs to be experienced. Read it without expectation or bias and enjoy . . . 

ben rides on

Fantastic review of this book on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

A Stick is an Excellent Thing written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by LeUyen Pham A celebration of the outdoors and playful encounters! Should be read while lounging under a tree or marching through meadows.

A Stick is anExcellent Thing

The Secret Message written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Bruce Whatley Mina Javaherbin, with her wonderfully generous spirit, sent us this beautiful story and it was such a pleasure to share it with my class! We are currently creating art pieces in response and I hope to be able to share them later this week! A story about how precious freedom is! Shared by Mina from her childhood memories of being told this story (based on a poem by Rumi) by her father.

The Secret message

Kumak’s Fish written and illustrated by Michael Bania Some might know that fishing is a lot about patience and definitely something about luck. But how about cooperation? And hooking sticks? And an entire village? Much fun in this delightful story set in the Arctic.

Kumak's Fish

Lilly’s Chocolate Heart written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes I bought this in board book version for our buddy reading with the Ks. Lilly has the best ideas about chocolate. Enough said.


Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers written and illustrated by Calef Brown My class adored the humour in so many of these poems! Fun things to do? Count the cavities (and promise to be better about brushing!), debate the merits of raising fleas for income and explain how quickly you could catch that runaway waffle and gobble it up! With all Brown’s books, it is the illustrations that make them especially amazing!

dutch sneakers

This was a special week for our class because Calef Brown (the real guy) came to visit our school! Kala, who has been a super fan of Brown’s whimsical words and quirky art kept a countdown sign outside of our classroom. Finally, it was zero more sleeps and truly – Calef Brown Day!


Students were thrilled to show Calef the art we had done inspired by his book Pirateria! It doesn’t get any more special than being able to invite an author/illustrator to come and check out a bulletin board he inspired! Thank you Calef Brown!


In other reading, I finished four novels: 

Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff Mystery. Fantasy. Magic. This book had it all! Requires the reader to remain completely alert to follow this story through its multiple narrators. Fun, certainly. Wonderful for middle grade readers.

A Tangle of Knots

Stolen written by Lucy Christopher This is the book that had the biggest impact on me this week. I started it early Friday morning and resented my errands of the day for intruding into my reading time. Don’t begin this book without some hours of uninterrupted reading time ahead. And be prepared for a tough read. This is a story of kidnapping and it has much good, bad and ugly yet by the end, nothing is clear. We know for certain that Gemma has been taken. We know she is in the middle of nowhere. We watch her attempts at escape, her terrifying interactions with the middle of the Australian desert (full of nothing and camels and red sand and poisonous everything) and settle into her memories and confusion. Her interactions with her abductor are psychologically intimate and raw. Yet her kidnapper is also the one who rescues her often. Is it care or control? Love or obsession? Nothing is black or white. Beautifully written. Haunting.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky Yes, I am a Charlie fan. Yes, this is a must read book. Sad and funny and vulnerable and worrisome. Fantastic characters. Addictive.


Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu This novel touched on a theme I have never read about in a middle grade or young adult novel – hoarding. Lucy is the youngest of three children and the only one still living with her mother, until she is old enough to move out. Her mother’s hoarding makes her home life basically unbearable and a desperate secret. The conditions she lives in are truly disgusting. She keeps going by holding on to dreams of a “normal” life two years away when she is old enough to leave home. But then something happens that changes all of her plans.

dirty little secrets


Next up? I borrowed Bigger than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder from my daughter’s collection. And I plan on jumping in to a number of fairytales that I will then share with my reading group. We currently believe that fairy tales are the ultimate in drama and can’t get enough of them!

27 thoughts on “Monday May 20th, 2013

  1. Oddly, Kate Klise came out with a book about a father who is a hoarder, Homesick. I recently read Omololu’s Transcendence and liked it, so will take a look at this one.

    • Thank you for this recommendation – I just requested it from the library. Such a challenging way for a child to have to live. Seems that hoarding is becoming more and more of a mental health issue.

    • So pleased you found some titles of interest! I think How To is absolutely beautiful and would make a wonderful writing or art prompt as well as a beautiful gift book.

  2. Thanks for telling about the poetry too, Carrie. I have A Stick Is An Excellent Thing-so good! Don’t know the other pic books, but will find them! Thanks! I’m looking forward to reading A Tangle of Knots!

    • I was lucky to be at the bookstore on the day when a number of books had just been released so found many latest and greatest! My students are really beginning to enjoy poetry – meeting Calef Brown really helped them realize how much fun it is to play with language!

    • A Tangle of Knots is certainly popular amongst the #IMWAYR community! I had only read Sophie Simon Solves them All by Graff but my daughter is a big fan. I will have to try some of her other titles. Happy Reading!

  3. Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said you had done a lot of reading this week. Wilfred is on my To Be Purchased list. The Secret Message by Mina Javaherbin is bound to be good. She is awesome. I still pull GOAL off my shelf for book talks. Boys especially love it. Great post.

    • I took Wilfred to dinner last night to share with the adult set! He is well loved by all! I love Goal! The soccer connection was BIG with my students! They wanted to talk and talk about this book.

  4. You sold me on Wilfred with “absolutely odd”! I have heard great things about Stolen, but haven’t read it myself. I have to confess that the movie Perks of Being a Wallflower worked better for me than the book! Have a great reading week.

    • I haven’t seen Perks as a movie. Can totally see it being a movie. And now that I’ve read the book, I have no excuse! (Except that I’m always reading!) Wilfred is truly delightful. And odd all around! In the best of ways!

  5. Added A Stick Is An Excellent Thing to my TBR. My youngest is always finding sticks and pretending they’re swords or wands or robot arms.
    I had a student who wanted to read Stolen, so I bought it for my classroom library. I have it on my Printz list to read, and I can’t wait to get to it. I know it will be powerful in so many ways.

    • Extremely powerful and haunting. It was Maggie Stiefvater’s review on Goodreads that convinced me to read it. Oh do I hear you on the sticks – my ten year old still uses them to battle everything – the hedge, the air . . . 🙂

  6. Lots of great reading this week! I too hold a special place for Little Bird in my heart, so I’m eager to check out Line 123. And I’m glad you enjoyed If You Want to See a Whale and Tangle of Knots!! Stolen sounds intense — YA or adult?

    • Stolen is VERY intense I would say YA/A but older teen for sure. Line 123 is quite different than Little Bird but if you don’t compare it, you can enjoy it for what it is. I loved If You Want to See a Whale – the illustrations are just so exquisite and it is such a special thing – to even think of seeing a whale – even for us West Coast residents!

  7. Carrie! Your reviews make me want to grab the picture books NOW. Pronto. I just checked – we have The Secret Message in our libraries so I would be going there this evening to pick it up! I am a huge Rumi fan. Poetry moves me like no other. Reading while folding clothes, come on now, that art I would have to master too! My daughter and I sing while folding clothes, but reading, that I haven’t tried yet! 😛 What a special visit by Calef Brown! I haven’t explored his books yet, I know I have to soonest! We still don’t have a copy of “How to” – I’m hoping we’d have that soon. I own a copy of Perks of Being a Wallflower – but I’m saving that for our next bimonthly theme in July/August. 🙂

    • Hi Myra – We did part 2 of 3 parts of our art project inspired by The Secret Message! Love this story but the kids wanted to do their own art around it. So fun! Calef Brown is so delightful and such a wonderfully kind person. Kids all still talking about him this week. It was very special! Reading while folding clothes can only be done with picture books – it is all in the propping 🙂

  8. Thank you, as always, for recommending such great books to us all! I just requested If you Want to See a Whale (because I love seeing whales!) and A Stick is a Wonderful Thing. And from the library today I collected an arm full of titles you shared last week! Yay you and Yay books and Yay sharing!

    • I agree – Hurray for the #IMWAYR community. I always find so many fantastic titles! It is my best source of great titles to read and share. If you Want to See a Whale is simply gorgeous! Look also for Ben Rides On! I think your students will find it hilarious. LOTS to talk about

  9. Carrie what a plate of yum yum books. Thanks for featuring my book amongst all these great ones. I’m honored and now off to expand my “to read” list.
    Before I go I want to mention to your readers that on my website I have read the actual poem I based The Secret Message on in Persian, the language Rumi wrote it in. You can hear the music of the poem the way Rumi imagined. You can also hear the line by line translation of that specific poem by yours truly.
    It has some Persian music in the background which in my opinion needs some editing but I ran out of money to pay for editorial.
    I hope readers enjoy it for now until I can produce a better reading.
    It’s free.

  10. How To and The Perks of Being a Wallflowers are definitely on my TBR list. The latter’s been recommended to be a lot lately. And thanks for talking about How To. I agree some books are just meant to be experienced!

  11. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Two Versions of Rumi’s Fable/Folktale in “The Secret Message” and “The Parrot And The Merchant” – Gathering Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.