Monday, July 25, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 07/25/16

It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.

Last 2 Weeks' Posts

  • Kid Lit Blog Hop for July. This monthly hop features posts on all aspects of Kid Lit including those by bloggers, authors, and more.

Picture Books

Sawdust Carpets (2005) by Amelia Lau Carling (also available in Spanish). This book shares about the Holy Week tradition of creating temporary carpets out of sawdust on the streets in Antigua, Guatemala. The story is told in semi-autobiographical fashion through the eyes of a young Chinese-Guatemalan girl as she and her family travel to Antigua for the celebrations. An author's note at the beginning and a glossary at the end add additional information about these traditions. A neat addition to any collection of holiday-themed picture books!

Middle Grade

Lunch Money (2005) by Andrew Clements. I received this book as an end-of-year gift from one of my third graders who said that it was her favorite book ever. I have a basket of Andrew Clements books in our classroom library and use Frindle for book club discussions, but this was one I had not yet read. It was ... ok. Main character Greg is obsessed with money, profits, and making more money, but when his entrepreneurial habits get him in trouble at school, he has to get even more creative. There are some of the same social justice / kid-power types of moves as in Frindle, but the characters and situations just didn't grab me in the same way.

Middle School

Drama (2012) by Raina Telgemeier. This realistic-fiction graphic novel focuses on seventh-grader Cassie, and the drama of the title refers both to her interests in theater set design as well as the kinds of drama one expects in middle school - issues with friends and relationships. Drama has made the ALA's 2014 list of the Top 10 Most-Challenged Books in the US because of its inclusion of gay characters and relationships. I am delighted to have a signed copy of this book to add to my classroom library (thank you, #nErDcampMI!).


The Redemption of Althalus (2000) by David and Leigh Eddings. I somehow missed the Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series as a kid but was encouraged to read them a few years back as a kid. They are incredibly entertaining and enjoyable, with impressive world-building. The Redemption of Althalus is a stand-alone novel but shares many of those same traits. The characters and dialogue are engaging and often quite humorous, though I empathize with GoodReads reviews complaints about the length (800 pages) and the seeming inevitability of the action sequences.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Américas Awards: honorable mention and commended picture books

The Américas Awards honor authors, illustrators, and publishers for quality children's and young adult books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the US. Both primary and secondary reading levels are chosen. This award was founded in 1993. Click here for more about the Américas Award, including the most recent winnersA list of all previous winners can be found here.

This post shares my reviews of some wonderful picture books that have won an Honorable Mention or Commended. Click here to read award-winning picture books or for winning novels. (To see a compilation of many diverse book awards, please read Spotlight on Diverse Book Awards or click on the Award-Winning Books tag.)

Américas Honorable Mention Picture Books

2016: Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras [Sibert Award winner and a Pura Belpré Honor book]. Written in a similar style to Diego Rivera, this book combines biography with an interpretation of Posada's works and their application in a modern setting. Our Spanish students often do activities related to Day of the Dead, and this would be a great book to give them more background about how this artistic style developed. (Click on Part 1 or Part 2 to read more about other books written and/or illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh.)

2015: Migrant: the journey of a Mexican worker (2014) by José Manuel Mateo and illustrated by Javier Martínez Pedro. This book is an incredible work of art. Designed in the style of a codex, the book is one giant illustration that folds down in on itself to become the book. One side has the text in English, the other in Spanish. The story itself is a realistic version of the folktale above, only this time the two children and their mother head north in search of their father who has not returned.

2014: Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: a migrant's tale (2013)  [a Pura Belpré Honor book]. Written in the style of a fable or folktale, Pancho Rabbit deals with the very real-world issue of illegal immigration from Mexico into the United States. When Pancho's father does not return from "El Norte," Pancho sets out to find him and bring him back, with the help of a coyote he meets along the way.

This was my first year sharing this story with children, and my students and I had some very powerful conversations both before and after reading it. We had studied historical immigration in an earlier unit, so they could make a lot of connections between past and current immigration - and to many of their own family's immigration stories. (Click on Part 1 or Part 2 to read more about other books written and/or illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh.)

2002: Frida by Jonah Winter is a typical biography with imaginative illustrations that emphasizes Frida's childhood inspirations and injuries and how they impacted her as an artist.

1998: Cendrillon: a Caribbean Cinderella by Robert D. San Souci and illustrated by Brian Pickney. Another Cendrillon, this one is set in the Caribbean and told through the voice of the godmother, who liberally sprinkles the text with French-Creole words and phrases (glossary provided at the end). This story is loosely based around a nineteenth-century French Creole tale and expanded with historically-appropriate details about life in Martinique. (Click here to read more Cinderella stories from around the world.)

Américas Commended Picture Books

2015: Dalia's Wondrous Hair / El cabello maravilloso de Dalia (2014) by Laura Lacámara. Dalia wakes up one morning to find that her hair has greatly expanding in height and volume, so she does what any little girl would do ... and decides to stick a bunch of things from nature into it to get her mother to guess what kind of tree she is. Wait, what? Even with the folktale-inspired style, I'm still not sure what the point of this story is, though the author does include notes about butterfly gardens and the Cuban plants and animals featured in the story. Bilingual English / Spanish.

2015: 'Twas Nochebuena: a Christmas story in English and Spanish (2014) by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by Sara Palacios. This story is a rhythmic take on the famous Night Before Christmas, focused instead on Nochebuena traditions. The text jumps easily between English and Spanish, with most Spanish words easily understood from the context and illustrations (or, in doubt, from the Glossary in the back). The setting is never made explicit, so the story could just as easily depict a family in the US as one in Mexico or Guatemala (where the author herself experienced Nochebuena). A fun addition to your holiday picture books.

2015: Green is a Chile Pepper: a book of colors (2014) by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and illustrated by John Parra [a Pura Belpré Honor Book]. This concept book features a given color over one or two two-page spreads with several descriptive statements about objects that are that color, highlighting objects and items common in Latino culture. A detailed glossary at the end provides background on many of these items and events. This would be a great mentor texts for student writing.

2014: Maria Had a Little Llama / María Tenía una Llamita (2013) by Angela Dominguez [a Pura Belpré Honor Book for Illustration]. The text of this picture book hews closely to the original rhyme (though not all readers might remember the additional stanzas), but the illustrations add a wealth of information in this unique, indigenous take on a classic tale.

Need more? Click here to read about more Award-Winning Books.


Shared with #DiverseKidLit

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kid Lit Blog Hop for July

It's Summer time! We want to welcome you to the July 2016 Kid Lit Blog Hop. This exciting, monthly hop is where we develop an engaged group of people who love everything that has to do with children's literature. Everyone is welcome to join us: bloggers, authors, publicist, and publishers!

NEW THIS MONTH: please consider joining the Kid Lit Blog Hopper Facebook fan page. This page will have all the news and information related to the hop plus ongoing posts, giveaways, news articles, etc. related to Kid's Lit. Check it out and of course, please like the page.

So for our hop, simply make a post related to Children’s literature and add it to the linky. (Please make sure to add your direct post only.) If you are an author, feel free to link to your blog.

Once you are done, then hop around to visit others. Please follow the co-host and visit at least the two people above your link. Please leave a comment when you do visit, we all like those.
Also, it would be appreciated if you grab the Kid Lit Blog Hop Badge and display it on your blog and/or your post.

We would also be grateful if you tweet #KidLitBlogHop and/or posted on Facebook about the blog hop. Let’s grow this wonderful community.

Our next hop will be August 17, 2016. The hosts will be around to see you.

Reading AuthorsHostess
Julie Grasso, Author/Blogger
Cheryl Carpinello, Author/Blogger
Pragmatic Mom
The Logonauts
Spark and Pook
Hits and Misses

Happy Hopping!

Link Up Below:

Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 7/18/16

It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.

Middle Grade


The Trickster's Tale (The Unbelievable FIB, book 1), originally published under the title The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB (2015) by Adam Shaughnessy. This new fantasy series quickly introduces readers to a familiar conceit: that the world of myth and the world of reality are more related than they might seem. In this take, new friends Pru and ABE find themselves meeting the mysterious Mister Fox as the world of Norse mythology descends on their sleepy New England town.

The series is pitched well at the middle of middle grade and could be a great choice for readers interested in Rick Riordan but who don't yet have the stamina for his lengthy (and teenage / relationship angsty) tomes. The second book in the series, Over the Underworld, debuts in September, and I hope to have a review up soon (I received an ARC at #nErDcampMI). You can read a free preview of book two on Kindle.

This one rose of the top of my TBR stack, because I happened to win an awesome mystery box created by author Adam Shaughnessy from the #nErDcampMI art raffle. You'll have to read the book to learn the significance of the magnifying glass, and I'm keeping mum about the secret compartment ...

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Find and Share Diverse Children's Books! #diversekidlit

Diverse Children's Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children's books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.


We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, August 6th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Theme Idea for August

We thought it might be fun to try having a suggested theme for the next linkup. Those who are interested in participating in the theme would have from now until the next linkup (August 6th) to write a post based around the theme and then share it with the rest of us. You do not have to focus on a given theme to participate in the linkup, but we thought it might encourage folks to explore and share new diverse books.

The theme for the August 6th linkup is ... Diverse Books for Back to School. Please consider sharing a favorite book (or books) either about school / back to school or that might make a great read aloud during those first few weeks of school. We look forward to seeing your choices!

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most clicked post from the previous #DiverseKidLit linkup comes from Acorn BooksChicken Man by Michelle Edwards. This book is the winner of a National Jewish Book Award and tells the story of a character named Rody, nicknamed Chicken Man, and how his joy in his work makes everyone on the kibbutz want to try his job next. Make sure you read to the end of the post for an incredibly-tasty looking recipe for Teigelach cookies.

My #DiverseKidLit Shout Out

Rather than recommend a specific book this time, I'd like to highlight a really important blog post from last week. Franki Sibberson over at A Year of Reading published a post entitled What Can We Do? that grapples with her thoughts over the sad events of the past few weeks. She shares her commitment to action (both personal and in her classroom) as well as a wealth of links to important articles and reflections. Whether you are a teacher or not, you will find some valuable information here.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live?

Receive an email reminder for each new #diversekidlit linkup

Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Friday, July 15, 2016

New Book Alert: The Girl Who Drank the Moon 08/09/16

I am delighted to share with you about Kelly Barnhill's newest book, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, which arrives in stores on August 9th. (Stop reading right now, and mark your calendar!)

I received an ARC of this book at #nErDcampMI and proceeded to devour it almost immediately. It is an incredibly well-crafted tale set in a familiar fantasy setting - the small town, the downtrodden inhabitants, the problematic ancient traditions. But as soon as the perspective shifts from the villagers to the feared witch in the woods, the reader realizes that there is quite a bit more going on within this story.

The characters are delightful, and there were so many lines that made me laugh out loud. Expectations are overturned, and the more of a background you have in fairy tales and folktales, the more there is to appreciate. The book is being marketed to the upper half of middle grade, and I think that it will find readers and fans among a wide-range of ages and grade levels.

As soon as I finished reading, I wanted more. Lucky for me (and for you), this week Entertainment Weekly has published a brief, two-part prequel for the book. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.

I can't wait to gush about this book to students! (And, if you can't wait, Amazon has released the first few chapters for free on Kindle.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

#3rdfor3rd: Big Nate series

Welcome to #3rdfor3rd where I share books that my third graders recommend for other third graders. (Please note that my third graders read a wide variety of books across a wide variety of genres, levels, and topics. Do not think that these books are "only" for third graders.) Read more about this book recommendation series and format here.

Books for the Summer

Book recommendation by Anand

If you are looking for the summer read Big Nate Great Minds Think Alike by Lincoln Pierce. It is a great graphic novel about a kid named Nate that goes to dentition a lot. He has friends named Francis (who is the smart kid) and Teddy ( who is a chill dude).

This graphic novel is really funny and there is really weird things in the book too.

If you are done with the book there are a lot of Big Nate books like Big Nate on a Roll,Big Nate in a Class by Himself, and Big Nate Dibs on This Chair.

So are you going to read this hilarious book?

Click here or the #3rdfor3rd tag for even more great book recommendations!