Monday, February 29, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 2/29/16

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 Weeks' Posts

  • Why Attend an EdCamp? Just got back from my second EdCamp and wanted to share some thoughts about what makes an EdCamp such a great professional development opportunity.
  • If You Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid ... My students are sharing book recommendations, following the "If you like ... read this next ..." format. This quadruple review provides four different ideas of series to suggest to Wimpy Kid fans.
Follow The Logonauts on Facebook! This week I decided to start a Facebook page for The Logonauts. Many parents and teachers are on Facebook, so it seemed like a great way to connect. Please consider "liking" to get updates via your Facebook feed, thanks!

Picture Books

Billy's Booger: a memoir (sorta) (2015) by William Joyce and his younger self. This book-within a book is a memoir of the author writing about his own childhood dream of being an author, and he submits a fictional story about an adventurous booger (which is also included within the main book). This book has been in my classroom for a week now, and I've found that many students are immediately drawn to the title but it isn't a book I've seen them revisiting.

This is one of several books I am catching up on to be prepared for the upcoming March Book Madness - who, helpfully, made the list of picture books available earlier, so I hope to have all of them in my classroom for the big launch on March 1st.

Blackout (2011) by John Rocco [a Caldecott Honor book]. Also a March Book Madness contender. This book is based around a big city blackout and the ability to see the stars. There is also a great underlying story about the role of technology in our lives and the importance of spending quality time with family.

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray (2015) by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Tucker Nichols. This lengthy picture book (104 pages) allows Dave Eggers' deadpan wit to flourish against the simple cut-paper illustrations. It also gives space for the kinds of asides and comments not often found in nonfiction picture books. (One of my favorite two page spreads: "Everyone was excited about the design. / I like it very much, said this man. / My aunt likes it very much, said this woman. / This third person was chewing food but seemed to agree with the other two people.") I do wish, however, that they had added an author's note with a bibliography and references. (H/T Elisabeth at The Dirigible Plum.)

Belle the Last Mule at Gee's Bend: a Civil Rights story (2011) by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud with illustrations by John Holyfield. This fascinating true story tells about the life of a mule name Belle and her connections to the Civil Rights movement, culminating in helping to pull the casket of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It also provides good background about other Civil Rights issues including voting rights. The author's note includes additional information and a photograph of Belle and Ada with the coffin. (A review copy of the book was provided by the Candlewick Best in Class mailing. All thoughts are my own.)

Heart and Soul: the Story of American and African Americans (2011) by Kadir Nelson [Winner of the 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award and Honor Award for Illustration]. Also stretching the definition of picture book, this 108-page tome is a true work of art. Kadir Nelson shared a bit of the story behind writing this book during his author-breakfast speech at NCTE last November, and I am so glad to have finally gotten around to reading it. The family-history narrative frame helps make the book personal as well as help kids understand just how recently so many of these things happened. (Or, as comedian Louis CK once put it a few years back, "I’ve heard educated white people say, 'slavery was 400 years ago.' No, it very wasn’t. It was 140 years a ... that’s two 70-year-old ladies living and dying back to back. That’s how recently you could buy a guy.") This is why education is so important. This book deserves a spot in history classrooms.

Happy Reading!


  1. Nice assortment of books. I enjoy reading Blackout with my students. Come see what I read here. Happy reading!

  2. Blackout is one of "go to" texts - so many layers of meaning in that book. Thanks for telling us about Belle, the Last Mule and Heart and Soul - We know the authors but didn't know these titles.

    1. Thanks! Great point about Blackout. I do feel like the story has more going for it than Blizzard.

  3. I liked Billy's Booger a lot. I think as a read aloud along with discussion about the message it would be appreciated by students and offer some inspiration for fiction writing.

  4. I absolutely loved Heart and Soul. I need to read the new Dave Eggers book. It sounds fab.


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