Monday March 24th, 2014

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 novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. One of the very best ways to discover what to read next!

I read some wonderful picture books this week. Here are my ten favourites:

Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Okay, Wow. This book is so absolutely charming. And wonderfully slow – yes, like a sloth. There are giggle worthy images – like the sloth in a box having just arrived by Express Mail. Or when we see that Sparky (the sloth) can win at a game – if it is Statue where you need to stand very still.  It is about our desires and vulnerabilities. Why else post a sign about a Trained Sloth Extravaganza where you plan to prove that your pet sloth is really quite amazing? And spend days teaching him tricks . . . ? If you make it through the book and aren’t sold, the last page will get you. And then you like me, will have to buy this book or . . . send away for it to be delivered by Express Mail.

Sparky! #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Promise written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Laura Carlin

When I saw that Nicola Davies – my go to author for nonfiction titles had written a fiction title, I had to find it. And read it. And own it. I plan to read this book to my students along with The Curious Garden by Peter Brown and The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Ering. All three titles share similar messages – nature is essential, being part of a growing landscape is transformative and filling the world with more green can enrich our lives and build our communities. Only criticism – I love all of the images in the book, except the cover. Wish they had chosen a different illustration to feature. But peek under the book jacket for another gorgeous image.

The Promise #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Boy and the Airplane by Mark Pett

I really wasn’t prepared for how funny I found this book. Funny as in completely amusing – it caught me off guard in the best of the ways. A little boy loses his airplane on the rooftop. He tries in vain to get it down. His eventual strategy works – but it might not be what we all might choose. Another title I now want to own for my wordless collection.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Soccer Star written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Renato Alarcão 

This book is set in Brazil and tells the story of young children living in poverty. Their days are full of work while their heads are full of dreams. Maybe they will be future soccer stars like Garrincha, Pelé and Ronaldo and find a way to lift their families out of poverty. The dreams give light and energy to the hardships of everyday and the evening soccer game is a treasured, shared time daily. I reviewed this book with my students responses in more detail here.

Soccer Star  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Lila and the Secret of Rain written by David Conway and illustrated by Jude Daly

I am always on the lookout for folktales and stories set in other places. I am excited to add this to my classroom collection. Lila’s village in Kenya is experiencing drought. Her grandfather whispers the secret of rain to her. Lila sets out on a quest to bring rain to her village. She does this by sharing her sadness with the sky. A beautiful book.

Lila and the Secret of the Rain  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Letter Lunch by Elisa Gutierrez

Love the stores full of letters, letters scattered in plants, the bottles of vowels and the Z on the top of the mountain. The fact that it is wordless makes it even more powerful. Perfect for a reader who loves to get lost in the details. So much to explore in this book.

Letter Lunch #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Cave Baby written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Emily Gravett

A celebration of children’s art and colourful pictures. A rhyming read aloud title with the talented Gravett as illustrator. Can see this being a read and reread aloud for persistent toddlers who will be delighted by it!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Friends by Eric Carle

Lovely for story time. Reminiscent about a lost childhood friend, Carle celebrates a best friend and his imaginative search for her over time and distance after she moved away.

 Friends #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Eric the Boy who Lost his Gravity by Jenni Desmond

What happens when we get really angry? An interesting take on how it feels. Highlights the sibling wars of early childhood and the blame game of the parents. Interesting. Pair it with When Sophie gets Angry- Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang. Anger and managing our emotions are things we should be talking about with children. These books give us a jumping off point.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Running with the Horses by Alison Lester

What a book. This is a longer picture book set in WWII. Nina and her father must rescue Lipizzaner stallions that they look after at the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses in Vienna. Nina rides Zelda, an older mare, who her father suspects is not up for the journey into the safety of the countryside. Courage. Adventure. History. Alison Lester has written and illustrated a beautiful book. She does note that while the story was inspired by the rescue of the Lipizzaner stallions, it is not meant to be a historically accurate account of the actual events.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Novels I finished (all on my #MustReadin2014 list):

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle

Add me to the long list of readers who has been utterly charmed by the character Nate Foster. I loved his small town inexperience. His candor. His charm. The fact that he talks about his parent’s marriage problems, personal problems and parenting problems. I love that he talks about not knowing who he might like in the future and that he hasn’t got a gender all picked out yet. I love his friendship with his best friend. And then there is his audition. Okay, I basically just loved all of it.

Better Nate than Ever #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

I sat down to read this book one evening during a “family read in” (fireplace on, everyone grab a book and snuggle on the couch) and I didn’t put it down until I finished it. Beautiful writing. Touching story. My heart ached and soared. I have been thinking about this book for days. For many reasons. One of which is that I have a student that would so benefit by being “found” and loved by John and Marta.

 The Boy on the Porch #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Allegiant by Veroncia Roth

I really hate writing negative reviews and I shouldn’t be because I should have abandoned the book but I didn’t for a few reasons 1) at about 200 pages in, I was getting into it 2) it was on my #MustReadin2014 list 3) I had to get to the controversial ending

But . . . Here is what irked me 1) Characters were constantly fiddling with the hem of their shirts. Huh? But everyone doing this often. 2) The writing just wasn’t good.  Biggest issue? The dual narration and not being able to remember who was telling the story at certain points. Don’t think Roth really delivered in Tobias’ voice 3) Reading should never feel like a chore and I had to force myself to sit and read both at the beginning and after about page 250.

Still I did finish. In the end, I enjoyed Divergent and should have just stopped there. Much preferred the Legend trilogy if anyone is in the mood for YA dystopia.

 Allegiant #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 23/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 147/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 12/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 42/65 complete

Speaking of #MustReadin2014 – for anyone participating in this challenge, we talked about sharing our progress at the end of March. I am planning to do a post for April 1st. Anyone else in? Doesn’t have to be huge and full of reviews, unless you want it to be. Maybe just a list of titles you’ve read so far. Highlighting some favourites? Ratings? I know this community will bring their own style and signature to it! I will start tweeting some reminders using the hashtag #MustReadin2014 over the next week.

30 thoughts on “Monday March 24th, 2014

  1. Beautiful picture books, Carrie. This time I know quite a few, but love the idea of Lila & The Secret of Rain, and The boy who lost his gravity. Running Horse also looks interesting. I saw the Lipazzaners in a performance long ago-incredible feats. I have the Nate book, just haven’t gotten to it. Finally, someone just told me NOT to read Legend (which I have) because they didn’t like it. I enjoyed all 3 of the Roth books, but can’t remember the middle one enough to say anything back to you in reply. Interesting, maybe my forgetting tells the tale right there. Have a good week!

    • I really like Alison Lester more and more as an author/illustrator so I was thrilled to find this book about the horses at the library. I think the cover is just so gorgeous. I can imagine that performance of the Lipizzaners would have been memorable. I think dystopian fiction is a very interesting genre – some things just aren’t going to be appealing with some readers. But I thought Lu’s Legend series was more consistently written and I really liked the characters. Lots of action but the plot line always made sense. I would consider reading them. 🙂

  2. I agree with your statements about Allegiant. I kept having to flip to the chapter start so I reset my mental character voice. Sometimes in my head I was hearing Tris speak but then realized Tobias was playing a trick on me speaking like a girl.

  3. As always, I have some more PB to read after checking out this post!
    I’ve had Nate sitting by my bedside since early January. I can’t wait to read it. Just so many other books to read as well! I really wish sleeping wasn’t a necessity!
    I will start getting an April 1 post ready for my #MustReads. I’ve got a few done, but feel like my big dent will happen in the summer!

    • The summer is the perfect time to plow through titles on our TBR list! So pleased you are in for an update post! It will be fun to see what everyone is reading and enjoying. Happy reading this week!

  4. Ooh! A new Emily Gravett! Love everything she does. My favorite animal is the cheetah, so naturally my second-favorite animal is the sloth, LOL. Think I’m going to have to order Sparky. Soccer Star looks like another must-have. I did stop reading the Divergent series after Book 1. I enjoyed Divergent well enough, but dystopian series are really not my thing, and reading one in a series is enough for me to be able to recommend to students. Sounds like Allegiant could have used a little more simmer/revision time. Many of my students have read the whole series and are livid over the ending. I am hoping to listen to Better Nate than Ever on audio–if my library ever gets it OR if I finally break down and purchase an Audible subscription. A check-in for #MustReadin2014 sounds like a great idea. That’s one list I’m actually making progress on (#nerdbery and #yashelfofshame–just made up that hashtag!–still stand at 0/12. SIGH.) Much as I love Nicola Davies, The Promise’s cover is not very appealing. Glad to know the images inside are much better!

    • Sparky! is a must own. Hate to say it but it’s true. My students really loved Soccer Star. So much to talk about. Allegiant could have used a lot of things . . . I do like well done dystopian novels. This just wasn’t one of them. But as I said, Legend really great. Nate is a character you need to meet! I am starting the 2nd Nate book tonight. Yippee!

  5. WOW! You have really kicked your challenges’ butts! Very impressive. You must be so proud 🙂
    As always, you have introduced me to picture books I do not know. Now that I have a son, it is overwhelming trying to make sure he is exposed to all the great books in the world.
    I want to read Better Nate than Ever and The Boy on the Porch as well–definitely both on my TBR. Anything by Sharon Creech is brilliant.

    Happy reading this week! 🙂

    • I am certainly getting there with these challenges. I have a huge pile of nonfiction titles I want to read next so will likely meet that challenge before the summer. I have been finding so much fantastic nonfiction this year! Enjoy all of the reading you do with that little guy of yours! So many fantastic books!

  6. Confession: I haven’t read ALLEGIANT because I was a bit let down by INSURGENT. I am glad to see that someone else is shared my feelings because I was keeping them buried inside of me!!! I completely agree with the LEGEND trilogy. I loved LEGEND and enjoyed PRODIGY even more! I haven’t gotten to CHAMPION, but perhaps that is the next book on my list! I just need to find it in my stacks first! 🙂 Have a great reading week!

    • I really liked all 3 titles in the Legend series. I should also have stopped at Divergent because all downhill after that . . . I really enjoyed the Allie Condie trilogy – Matched, etc as well.

  7. Oh dear–an expensive post to read, today. Soccer Star, Lila, and The Boy Who Lost His Gravity all just went into my cart. The Sharon Creech one has been on my list for a while. My daughter keeps telling me that she is bringing it home from the library. Thank you so much for the great recommendations, Carrie!

    • I’m so pleased you found some titles here! I loved Soccer Star and was so interested in all of the discussions we had about this book. Powerful in the classroom. The Boy on the Porch is a lovely read – I hope she brings it home for you soon!

  8. All of the picture books look terrific, especially Running With the Horses. I appreciate your honesty about Allegiant. Divergent has been in my TBR pile for months and I just haven’t been able to get into it. Thanks for sharing!

  9. So glad you loved Nate. If possible, I loved Five, Six, Seven, Nate even more! I’m ordering sparky and Eric Carle for the library. I love Eric Carle so much I once ordered Eric Carle fabric and have a quilt half finished. Since there are no grandchildren on the horizon, I’m not rushing to get it finished…

    • I did love Nate! And am going to read Five, Six, Seven Nate starting now! Sparky! is just so darn adorable. And hilarious. You will love it! A must read aloud. Oh I think there will be some grandchildren – just not for a bit. That son of yours is quite magical with children 🙂

  10. Hi there Carrie, I already bought a copy of Better Nate than Ever for my daughter but she hasn’t started it yet, as she is now in Book 4 of Harry Potter. I’m pretty excited to read it though, probably very soon. I’m glad to read your thoughts about the Divergent series – solidifies my resolve to postpone reading the novels for awhile, it just seems pretty derivative of so many other dystopian novels. Love the picturebooks you have here, and I’m glad you enjoyed The Promise. I shared it with my higher-degree class last night and they loved it too. I should find Soccer Star and Lila and the Secret of Rain – they sound like multicultural titles I must add to my text-set. Sparky sounds adorable too. So many great books!

    • The Promise is really well done. I am excited to read it with my class. Nate is a wonderful character! When your daughter returns from the wonderful land of Harry Potter, I am sure she will adore him!

  11. I will do a #mustreadin2014 update too. I have been hideously bad about tweeting out when I finish. I have read a lot of them though. Thanks for the reminder.

  12. Oh Carrie, your posts just make me smile for so many reasons. First, thank you for sharing Sparky-I can just tell he is my kind of sloth, and can’t wait for my requested copy to arrive. Second, the image of the family snuggled on the couch in front of a cozy fire paints such a peaceful picture in my mind. Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

    • Thanks Nicole. We do love our family reading time. I feel so blessed that I still can read aloud to my children at age 11 and we all enjoy it so much. And we also have that read alongside time too. You will love Sparky!

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