Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 03/23/15

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 Week's Posts

  • You Nest Here with Me. This incredibly lovely lullaby of a new book features poetry by Jane Yolen and her daughter and illustrations by Melissa Sweet. So much to love!

Picture Books

Mama Panya's Pancakes: a village tale from Kenya (2005) by Mary and Rich Chamberlin and illustrated by Julia Carins. This generosity tale grows as Mama Panya and Adika head to market to buy supplies to make pancakes and Adika continues to invite more friends along the way, but of course everything works out fine by the end. The lengthy end notes contain awkwardly laid out pages about village life in Kenya, animals, Kiswahili, a map with random facts, and a recipe for pancakes. This book felt like a miss to me. The story is too predictable and seems to trivialize poverty, and the end notes are a jumble of things with no information about the author's connections to the story or country.

The Mangrove Tree: planting trees to feed families (2011) by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore. This poem / narrative biography features Gordon H. Sato and his work to grove mangrove tree forests along the coast of Eritrea. It is an interesting story, and one that I should add to my collection of Biographies about People and Trees. The "poem" part, however, I could do without, as its "This is the house that Jack built" format really did not do anything for me or for the story. The book has a detailed author's note about Mr. Soto and his work, including web links and a bibliography.

Little Humans (2014) by Brandon Stanton. I love the idea behind Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York project and was very curious about this version about kids and for kids. The photographs are incredible, and I love the diversity of kids, poses, and locations. The text is pretty meh and actually seems geared far too young, which might turn school-aged kids off. I also wish that there had been back matter with details about the kids. My students love the Children Just Like Me series and have a million questions about these kids, their ages, and their lives.

Battle Bunny (2013) by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett and illustrated by Matthew Myers (and Alex). Young Alex, not pleased by Birthday Bunny, the new gift book from his grandmother, has taken matters into his own hands. Behold, Battle Bunny! My students found this absurd dual-level picture book an absolute hoot, and they enjoy trying to read aloud solely one storyline or the other. It also sparked some interesting conversations about the creation and ideas behind this book. (H/T Juliana at Juliana Lee Writer.)

Award-Winning Books Reading Challenge update: 10 books, 2 dedicated posts

Dive into Diversity Challenge update: 56 books, 19 dedicated posts

ReFoReMo: For the month of March, I am also participating in the Read for Research Month Challenge. While my picture book reading is growing exponentially, I will try not to be too overwhelming with how many I include here for IMWAYR. Additional books that are new to me will be logged on GoodReads, and rereads will just be logged in my notes.

Happy Reading!


  1. I definitely didn't feel like the text was necessary in Little Humans. I would have loved a longer book too. My 6th-grader adored the book, but the text made it a little too juvenile for him. I am hoping to borrow Beth Shaum's Battle Bunny creative project where students create their own books by scribbling all over an older title. I've been collecting books for the last year for that purpose.

    1. If your students need an audience, my third graders are SO enamored of Battle Bunny, I know they would love to read others in that style!

  2. Battle Bunny didn't really work for me, but many students at our school loved it. I appreciate your forthright reviews of Mama Panya's Pancakes and The Mangrove Tree. I'm going to find a copy of Little Humans to check it out for myself.

    1. Thanks, Cheriee. For me, Battle Bunny was all about the concept and the student buy-in.

  3. Isn't Battle Bunny hilarious?! I love Sciezka's wit - there is a website where you can actually download a pdf copy of the battle bunny without the markings - were you able to make use of that with your class? I'd be interested to see the versions that children can come up with. The Mangrove Tree is definitely a powerful book, too bad the cumulative aspect of the tale did not work for you, I thought it was part of its charm. :)

    1. I will have to go sleuthing for "Birthday Bunny," too funny! My kids managed their own retellings of it just through close examination.

      As for the Mangrove Tree's cumulative tale, it was more from a read aloud perspective - it would cause lots of groans and angst among my third graders, but I could see it working for other ages.


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