Monday, July 27, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/27/15

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

Picture Books

This Day in June (2014) by Gayle E. Pitman and illustrated by Kristyna Litten. This book came up in a lot of blogs after the Supreme Court's decision about gay marriage in June. The brief poetic descriptions detail different scenes in a pride parade with an extensive Reading Guide at the end explaining some of the background and history behind the different groups, organizations, and people represented. There is also a note to parents and caregivers about talking to children about LGBT and sexual orientation. The illustrations also do a great job of depicting a diversity of people. (H/T Alex at Randomly Reading.)

Peace is an Offering (2015) by Annette LeBox and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. This lyrical, rhyming picture book describes peace in a variety of ways and situations, and the illustrations feature a diverse group of children and adults. This could be a great book for a discussion not just about peace but also about building a classroom community. (H/T Linda at Teacher Dance.)

The Earth Shook: a Persian tale (2009) by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska. This invented folktale was inspired by an actual earthquake in Iran in 2003. The story follows Parisa, the only human survivor, as she seeks out other animals to learn what makes a human. This sparse, repetitively structured text reminds me a bit of  Jon Muth's take on Tolstoy in The Three Questions. (H/T Myra at Gathering Books.)

Gecko's Complaint: a Balinese folktale (2003) retold by Ann Martin Bowler and illustrated by I Gusti Made Sukanada. (Bilingual version also available.) This story from Indonesia bears a striking similarity to Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears in that a line of complaints keeps getting traced back and back and back. In this case, the animals find that the rain is to blame, not the mosquito, but interestingly, rain is given credit for supporting mosquitoes! It makes me curious about the evolution and history of both tales.

What if Everybody Did That? (2010) By Ellen Javernick and illustrated by Colleen M. Madden. The concept of this book is immediately apparent - what if one supposedly innocuous action (tossing a soda can out a window, interrupting read aloud, etc) was repeated by everyone? Rather than make you think about it, however, the illustrator puts the question on the left-hand page with the exaggerated result on the right-hand page. This would have been a much stronger book if you had to wait until the page turn to see the impact, because it would also force kids to imagine the results of the actions for themselves first.


Secrets of the Sky Caves: danger and discovery on Nepal's Mustang Cliffs (2014) by Sandra K. Athans. This book tells the story of a several year archaeological investigation of the sky caves in a remote area of Nepal. The author is the sister of one of the mountain climbers who helped enter and explore the caves, and her background knowledge seems about that qualified. What could have been a fascinating look at a forgotten way of life is mainly a laundry list of what they did or saw each year with almost no larger history or cultural story. Apparently her young nephew and niece were also on the expeditions but rather than give them a voice or allow the reader to connect to them in any way, they are just mentioned off-hand and appear a few times in the photographs. Not really sure what the publishers saw in this one, other than potential.

Middle Grade

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer (2015) by Kelly Jones and illustrated by Katie Kath. This is a delightfully humorous and spunky book told entirely through letters written by main character Sophie. After her family inherits her Great Uncle Jim's farm, Sophie begins to slowly discover some of the farms secrets, including the fact that there should have been chickens! Mystery, intrigue, and chicken superpowers, this book has it all, as well as a diverse main character (her mother is Mexican-American and her father's family hails from Norway) and some hilarious illustrations. (H/T to Mr. Schu and #WeNeedDiverseBooks.)

Challenges and Summer Plans

#Bookaday Challenge update: days read a book 53/56, books read 90+/90 !!

Award-Winning Books Reading Challenge update: 12 books, 2 dedicated posts

Dive into Diversity Challenge update: 154 books, 34 dedicated posts (Poems in the Attic)

Happy Reading!


  1. The Day the Earth Shook sounds really interesting - and this is the second positive review I've read about it. On my list it goes!

    1. It's a really interesting, if a bit unusual, book.

  2. We can't wait to read The Earth Shook by Donna Jo Napoli. We are big fans of her work. Thank you for sharing that title with us.

  3. I've added your top three picture books to my TBR list-- and they'll probably end up on my TBB (to be bought) list, too.... I'm especially intrigued by This Day in June. I appreciate your notes on that book-- I want to read it as much for the notes for teachers and parents as anything else! The LBGT topic is coming up more and more often in books for younger and younger children. I really have no personal problem with that. I do, however, have parents who don't handle the topic well, and I've been really dancing around the issue about how to handle it with my classroom library. Maybe this will give me some thoughts. Peace is an Offering is one that sounds perfect for the beginning of the year. Unusual Chickens has been on my list for a while-- I need to pick that one up. Thanks for some great ideas!

    1. Glad to help, Virginia! I do think you will find some useful information in This Day in June, and I hope it helps you with your less-informed parents. Also, you do not want to miss out on Unusual Chickens!

  4. I really loved This Day in June--and was thrilled when it showed up on two of my Children's Lit students Top Ten of the semester lists. I loved the illustrations in The Earth Shook. "Chicken superpowers" has me intrigued about the Kelly Jones title. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Elisabeth. Those unusual chickens are pretty entertaining ...

  5. Some great books to add to my list. Peace is an offering sounds great. Thanks for sharing!

  6. This Day in June looks interesting and important--thank you for putting it on my radar!
    I also really love your "If you loved" graphic! What a great idea :)

    Happy reading this week!
    Unleashing Readers

    1. Thanks, Kellee. I borrowed the graphic from We Need Diverse Books. They are publishing a different one each day during the summer - I really want my students to design their own too.


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