Monday August 5th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?


Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult reads!

I had an amazing week for picture books. Amazing. I am pretty sure I met some of the picture books that will make my favourites of the year list.

Here are the books I’ve been raving about this week:

Building our House by Jonathan Bean This book had special meaning for me because a few years ago we renovated our house. By we, I mean our contractors, but we spent many days wandering around the construction site that once was and would again be, our home. We climbed up ladders and visualized stairs and walls and rooms and life. I love how the illustrations in this book document a story as much as the text does. And the author’s note in the back with photographs of Jonathan Bean’s own history of a childhood spent amongst foundation and fields and beams made this story all the more special. Head over to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast to see more:  sketches, storyboards and photographs. Amazing!

Building our House #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov I saw the cover of this book and had to have it. I loved what it hinted at: creativity, focus, absurdity, inventiveness . . . I was not disappointed. The language is fun. The entire family is involved and Papa models the curiousity and persistence of an inventor. This book is “almost true” based on the life of Lodner Phillips who really did build The Whitefish, an actual functioning submarine.

Papa's Mechanical Fish #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Once Upon a Northern Night written by Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault One of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time. Lyrical, soothing and visually beautiful. Let the text lull you to sleep with dreams of the magic and quiet of winter. Arsenault’s illustrations are exquisite.

Once upon a northern night #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Mighty Lalouche written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. I found this story absolutely delightful! The illustrations are stunning and add much to an already engaging story. The messages here are important: perseverance, being true to yourself, finding happiness . . . But there are also levels to this story that are just going to engage children in the joy and humour of boxing adventures and the triumph of the underdog. I cannot wait to read this aloud to my class!

The Mighty Lalouche #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Mama, is it Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure A simple but gorgeous story about the waiting for summer through the seasons. Celebrates the joy of outdoors, the changing seasons and the wonder of nature.

Mama, Is it Summer yet? #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco There is so much I love about this story. I love that Grandpa is actively involved (leading in fact) the adventure of racing over fields and country roads in search of a bee tree. I love the spirit of community. And of course, that it ends with a message about the wonder of books and reading . . . Well! 🙂

The Bee Tree #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman  A story of friendship, of adventure and of bravery. My favourite page is snail looking over the page and down, down, down . . . just before he considers leaping. It’s really a fantastic reminder that courage is not in the doing but in the moments of contemplation leading up to the decision.

 The Story of Fish and Snail #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah Ohora So many books try to capture the essence of the preschool age child and they don’t come close to doing any justice. They have too much sweet. Or too much whiny. Or precociousness that isn’t cute. Only some nail the tantrum and the moments leading up to it with any sort of sense of realism. This book is divine. It really reveals what it is like to be a small being and have to navigate the world while attempting to contain emotional highs and lows. Absolutely adorable. I think this might be my new “must have it” gift for new parents. Captures the preschool mind, heart and will beautifully.

 No Fits, Nilson! #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Some nonfiction titles I loved:

The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham Wow. This is a fascinating biography that not only makes math seem absolutely engrossing but gives us a glimpse into a mind that was truly one track. A beautiful balance between the mathematical life and the other life of Paul Erdos. Accessible and intriguing for younger readers/listeners. A definite book to be explored multiple times.

The Boy who loved math #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Healthy Kids (A Global Fund for Children book) by Maya Ajmera, Victoria Dunning and Cynthia Pon I shared this title (and other related books) on my Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post.

Healthy Kids #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

 I also finished two novels.

Maggot Moon written by Sally Gardner Sigh. This YA read was not an easy one. It literally made my skin crawl. Part of me wanted to shake this book off – it is full of horror and upset and pain. If the text and happenings weren’t enough to make the reader tremble, the black and white illustrations lining the bottom of pages serve to ensure that one is always uncomfortable. This book is a mystery. It is set in an alternative history – tells us a powerful dystopian fable. But it is also about courage and the power of friendship. I have really never read anything quite like this story – even though it has clear parallels and not so subtle nuances that speak to our own recent and atrocious history of war, oppression and brutality. Clearly young adult, fully compelling, this story is not one I will soon forget. Gardner delivers a very important story. Highly recommended.

Maggot Moon #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

After Ever After written by Jordan Sonnenblick I read (and loved) Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie a few weeks ago and couldn’t wait to read this companion book. It made me cry. And laugh. And appreciate life. What more does one need from a story? I am fast becoming a huge Sonnenblick fan.

After ever After #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I am starting Sold by Patricia McCormick 

What are you reading this week?

21 thoughts on “Monday August 5th, 2013

  1. Carrie, thanks for sharing some of the older published books, too, like The Bee Tree. It helps not to have to buy “all” the ones you review. Maggot Moon-I will at least put it on the list, but it sounds so sad. Love the idea of Building Our House-a good one for our school library. There is always some younger child who wants to study construction. The sketches on “impossible things” are awesome! Thanks for that link too!

    • Agreed – a great book to have in the school library – Building our House. I’m glad you enjoyed the sketches and photos – I loved looking through everything on Seven Impossible . . . ‘s post. Maggot Moon is sad. Brutally sad. But a very important read. I spent some time at a bookstore this week – hence many of these new titles although found a few at our public library and a few are new purchases with a gift card I came across when cleaning! Lucky!

  2. Thanks for these recommendations! I hadn’t heard of several of the picture books you mentioned–they look lovely. I just finished John Greene’s The Fault In Our Stars, and your mention of Sonnenblick’s After Ever After reminded me that the two would make a good pairing for discussion with teen readers. Thanks again!

    Natalie @

    • Yes – a great pairing. Challenging to read about cancer and mortality in those that are so young – yet, the stories are full of inspiration. I was pretty excited by the picture books I found this week!

  3. The way you talk about Maggot Moon reminds me of how I felt about The Marbury Lens. So disturbing, yet powerful and compelling. I still need to read the sequel, but I am not in the mood to be uncomfortable right now. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness is painful enough! Have a great week

  4. Indeed a lovely week! I too really enjoyed Building A House and Papa’s Mechanical Fish, and I have a very special spot in my reading heart for The Bee Tree. I would seriously weep like a crazed fan-girl if I ever met Patricia Polacco. Of course many of your other titles have made their way to the TBR, but I’m most excited to seek out Once Upon a Northern Light! Looks lovely!

    • Lorna – it is so lovely. Lyrical, beautiful – almost retro-ish illustrations. I love everything by Arsenault! Building a House was admired by kids and adults alike when we had friends for dinner last night. Everyone loved it!

  5. So happy to read this post this week! I’ve had a very blah picture book reading week with my sons, but I love the books on your list that I’ve already read and feel sure I’ll love the ones I haven’t read too. We have The Bee Tree in our TBR stack and now I’m off to the library with my new list! Thank you!! I’ve been on a Sophie Blackall kick lately and read her book for grown-ups, Missed Connections, this week. Have you seen it? I loved it!

    • Thank you Elisabeth – I just requested Missed Connections from my library and I am #1 on the list! Looks amazing – I love her art work. We had friends for dinner last night who marvel at her illustrations when they read Ivy and Bean with their daughter. So pleased that you found some titles that are inspirational! Happy book hunting!

  6. Sold is so great! Enjoy (though it isn’t an easy book, it is beautifully written and so important!)

    You listed so many great picture books that I’ve read and ones I definitely want to read. Papa’s Mechanical Fish is one that I really want to read, but unfortunately my library doesn’t have it 😦 Hopefully they’ll get it soon!

    Happy reading this week 🙂

    • Kellee – I actually woke up early this a.m. and finished Sold before I even got out of bed. Whoa. Important, yes. Told my husband to make sure his librarian has it on the shelf at the high school where he works. Papa’s Mechanical Fish is so much fun. My own kids loved it!

  7. Hi there Carrie! Just when I think I know my picture books I visit your post and realize there is still so much left for me to read! My Pinterest has been languishing but it comes alive when I visit your Monday reading posts. Will check out these books. 🙂 Sold raised a lot of discussion during the Asian Festival of Children’s Content last year. It was well recommended by one speaker but was also decried as a poor representation of Muslim culture by another speaker. Very interesting, really.

    • Myra – I am so pleased that you found some new titles. This was one amazing week for picture books! Interesting about Sold – I have now read it. It was a very upsetting story – I appreciate hearing these two perspectives. I wouldn’t know how well it represents the culture but now it makes me curious to read some more reviews and see what I can find out.

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