A well-timed “ice day” this week gave me a little extra time for reading, so I didn’t let it go to waste! I read several more books on my #MustReadin2017 list, and I got to tackle a large stack of books that were on the 2016 Nerdies Picture Book list. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week…
Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon
After reading The Sun is Also a Star just a few weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Nicola Yoon’s debut novel, Everything, Everything. The premise of this book is that the narrator, Madeline, has been completely confined to her home for her entire life because she is “allergic to the world around her.” Kept company only by her mother and her nurse, Carla, her monotonous days are suddenly disrupted by the arrival of a new family next door–particularly their son, Olly. As Madeline watches him through her window, increasingly intrigued by his dark and mysterious ways, he begins to notice her and establish contact. Inevitably, their relationship advances, though at great risk–even being in the same room with Olly puts Madeline in grave danger. This book was full of twists and turns and lots of heart, and I found myself unable to put it down. While I didn’t love it quite as much as The Sun is Also a Star (I was missing the various perspectives Yoon included in that story), I definitely enjoyed reading this YA novel and look forward to more from this author.
Middle Grade Novels
Towers Falling, by Jewell Parker Rhoades
As I’ve read several different middle grade and YA novels about 9/11 over the past several months, I’ve felt a deep appreciation for all of the different perspectives each author has brought to keeping the memories of this day embedded in our hearts. Towers Falling, written for middle grade students, is the story of a homeless girl in New York who is struggling to find her way as she balances the stresses of a home life with younger siblings, an overworked mother, and an ill father with trying to fit in at a new school. As she settles in at her new school, her father’s illness escalates as she begins to learn about the tragic events of 9/11. While I didn’t love this book as much as Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story, I felt that this book brought another perspective to understanding how many people are still living each day with the consequences of September 11th.
Paper Wishes, by Lois Sepahban
Paper Wishes, another book from my #MustReadin2017 list, is a beautifully written book about a Japanese family that is relocated to a camp during World War II. As Manami and her family leave their peaceful island home to go live in a camp in the desert, her beloved dog is confiscated and she loses her voice. This book is an amazing story about finding your voice, finding yourself, and finding peace in circumstances that are beyond your control. I highly recommend this as a historical fiction novel, especially to some of the middle grade readers at my school who have fallen in love with Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky this year.
Two Naomis, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick
I really enjoyed this contemporary middle grade novel about two girls–both, of course, named Naomi–who find themselves battling with conflicting feelings when they are forced to come together because their parents begin dating each other. What I really loved about this novel is that it shifted back and forth from the perspective of one Naomi to the other, really giving the reader an understanding of how complicated their relationship was and how they felt toward one another. I think middle grade girls, especially those in blended families, will really enjoy reading this novel.
Wild Feelings, by David Milgram
I read this as a bedtime story with my kids. We loved the cute illustrations and talking about different feelings, but some of it went over their heads. This would be a good book to use to talk about emotions.
Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty
I loved this STEM-themed book! Rosie learns the value of trial-and-error as she creates, builds, and problem-solves. Highly recommend for elementary classrooms!
Ida, Always, by Caron Levis
This book was absolutely beautiful (and one of the most heart wrenching picture books I’ve read). Polar bears Gus and Ida are best friends who live and dream together in a zoo until Ida becomes terminally ill. As they share her last days together, and as Gus grieves her loss, readers experience both the grief and peace of her passing.
These Hands, by Margaret H. Mason
These Hands addresses a complicated issue for kids in a very unique way. As the grandfather in the story shares all of the things he can do with his hands with his grandson–playing ball, playing piano–he also shares something he was not allowed to do with his hands: make bread at the Wonderbread factory. This story of civil rights illustrates the power that lies within each of us and the tremendous amount of courage it takes for change to happen.
The Night Gardener, by Terry & Eric Fan
The Night Gardener is one of those absolutely amazing picture books that relies on the pictures to fill in the story. The gorgeous illustrations in this book show how a community, especially the orphanage that lies at its heart, are transformed by the daily appearance of beautiful topiaries created by a Night Gardener. This is a book I’m excited to use with older elementary students!
Penguin Problems, by Jory John
Adorable story about a penguin who will not stop complaining. About everything. The sun, the temperature, other penguins–nothing escapes his criticism in this cute book about finding the positive around you. It was slightly over my preschooler’s head, but I think it will be loved by elementary-age readers.
Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask To Be In This Book), by Julie Falatko
This was one of my favorites this week! We read Snappsy as a bedtime story, and while I think parts of it were (again) over my kids’ heads, there were several parts where we laughed out loud. This book is witty and charming, and will be a great mentor text for thinking about point of view and perspective.
Be a Friend, by Salina Yoon
This is a story that is meant to be read over and over again. This book celebrates individuality and being “different”–and how there is a just right friend out there for everyone. The illustrations inspired a lot of discussion, and this book will be an excellent addition to any classroom library!
Shy, by Deborah Freedman
The soft illustrations of this gentle book are gorgeous. The story of Shy, who learns to go out in the world, leaves readers with a quiet confidence about trying new things and embracing the world around you.
We Found a Hat, by Jon Klassen
I loved the first two books in this trilogy and was not disappointed in this final book in the series! As two turtles find one hat in the desert and both want it for their own, they battle the inner conflict of their friendship against their desire for the hat. Just as in the other two books, Klassen leaves the reader thinking deeply about the motivations and relationships between characters while using simple words and engaging illustrations.
Worm Loves Worm, J.J. Austrian
This simple picture book, a tale of two worms getting married, opens up big conversations. Throughout the book, the worms plan their wedding by “the way it’s always been”–until it’s time to decide who will be the bride and who will be the groom. As both worms embrace both roles, readers realize that what truly matters is that the two worms love one another.
Thunder Boy, Jr., by Sherman Alexie
This may be one of the first picture books I’ve read that features Native American culture from a standpoint that is not historical, making me realize how much books that celebrate the diversity of this culture are needed in our libraries. This is the story of Thunder Boy, Jr., who dislikes his name because the name he shares with his father is so unusual. Throughout the book, he tries on new names until he finds one that is “just right” at the end of the book.
Let Me Finish, by Minh Le
This book is perfect for anyone who has ever had a book spoiled by someone who has already read it. As the main character begins book after book, different characters keep popping up to spoil the ending. This is one I can’t wait to share as a read aloud with older readers as we kick off book talks and book clubs next year!
Du Iz Tak?, by Carson Ellis
By far the most creative picture book I’ve read this week, Du Iz Tak? takes a seemingly ordinary event in nature and makes it extraordinary with invented language and bold illustrations. As the creatures in this book interact around the growth of a plant, I was enchanted by their interactions and completely caught up in trying to decipher their language. This is another book that will be great for both younger and older elementary readers.
Reading Progress Check-in
- 2017 Total Progress: 35/230 books read
- 8/100 chapter books
- 2 graphic novels
- #MustReadin2017 Progress: 7/30
- My reading goals for the week:
- Read at least one YA and one Middle Grade novel
- Read one graphic novel
- Read at least 3 new picture books
What is #IMWAYR?
Each Monday this year, I hope to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I’ve done during the week, from picture books to young adult novels.