Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? The Post-#PB10for10 edition #IMWAYR 08/22/16

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 Week's Posts

Picture Books

#pb10for10 is always an incredible opportunity to find out new picture books. I ordered stacks of books from my library, so several of my reviews are going to be shorter this week!

Red: a crayon's story (2015) by Michael Hall. This book nearly made me cry. It is a perfectly-written metaphor for any child who feels different inside than they look on the outside. There is so much fodder for great conversations here about expectations, assumptions, being true to yourself, and accepting others for who they are. I look forward to sharing this book with my middle schoolers.

Ida, Always (2016) by Caron Levis and Charles Santoso. ... and then I read this book next, and I bawled. Ida, Always is a powerful story about death, both impending death and the grief that follows. Having lost a close family member only a month ago, this book hit my hard, but it was very beautifully done. Not sure I could make it through a read aloud of this one, but I will definitely make sure it is in our Mock Caldecott conversations later in the year.

Yaks Yak: animal word pairs (2016) by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt. This book is just plain, nerdy wordplay fun. All of the sentences are pairs (or triads) of homographs - words that are spelled / pronounced the same but have different meanings. Additional humor is provided in the illustrations. I'd say you could use this as an extension activity to have kids create their own homograph sentences, but I don't know if there are many that were missed!

What James Said (2015) by Liz Rosenberg and illustrated by Matt Myers. Friends fight. And sometimes those fights start over a misunderstanding. Here, a bit of gossip/telephone garbles a message from one friend to another. I could see using this with my third graders who often had a lot of proxy fights like this one, but the resolution feels really quick and easy.

Mustache Baby (2013) by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Joy Ang. What happens when you give birth to a baby with a mustache? He faces an existential crisis about whether it is a good-guy or a bad-guy mustache! This book is pure silliness, and the illustrations provide some great examples of contradicting the text. There is also a sequel, Mustache Baby Meets His Match. (Also, apparently this is a big thing, because when I googled "mustache baby" for the book cover there were a LOT of images of real babies in ridiculous getups.)

And some misses (or just not quites)

Norman Normal (2016) by Tara Lazar and illustrated by S. Britt. Another take on being yourself rather than following other people's ideas of "normal." This one seemed to drag it on a little long for me. You get the idea right away, but the idea just keeps getting belabored. Interesting anecdote: author Tara Lazar never communicated to the artist exactly what (animal / color / etc.) Norman was, so she too was surprised by the choice of a giant purple orangutan.

Hello, My Name is Octicorn (2016) by Kevin Diller and Justin Lowe. A bit of a sillier take on being yourself and struggling with not fitting in. This one was humorous, but I felt like there was more potential than was realized.

Finding Wild (2016) by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Abigail Halpin. I loved the idea of celebrating "wild" and in seeking it out in all places, but this is another one where I really wanted there to bit just a little something more. (Some lovely illustrations though, so it will be in the mix for our Mock Caldecott initial conversations at least.)

Drum City (2010) by Thea Guidone and illustrated by Vanessa Newton. This is a lyrical poem of a picture book centered around the idea of a child creating a makeshift drum and inspiring the town. And then everyone walks around drumming. And ... that's it. I liked the colorful illustrations and the diverse cast of characters, but I wasn't sure what to do with the story.

The Sword in the Stove (2016) by Frank Dormer. Two cartoonish characters are looking for their friend Harold and trying to cook but keep being flummoxed by finding unexpected things inside their stove. And then there's a "twist." This one wasn't for me.

Middle Grade

I posted my full review of Moo earlier in the week (read it here). So good!

Happy Reading!


  1. Nice assortment of books. I liked that you included both hits and misses. Here is what I did and read last week. Happy reading!

  2. Your review of Moo convinced me I need to read it, although like you, I am also a hard core Sharon Creech fan. I agree with you about Finding Wild - fabulous illustrations, but it didn't work for me completely.

  3. Isn't Red wonderful? Such a simple, but very powerful story about being accepted and loved for who you are, regardless of what labels the world has put on you.

  4. My list grew & grew with @PB10for10 too, Katie. So many great PBs available for us! I'm really looking forward to Moo!

  5. Red is one of my favorite picture books of all time. I am so glad it touched you, too!

  6. So wonderful that many of your selections were inspired by #pb10for10 lists! Isn't Ida a lovely emotional story? I look forward to sharing this book in the fall.


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