#IMWAYR January 23, 2017

Squeezing in time to read is getting trickier as the demands of the spring semester are starting to pick up! I’m being very conscious about setting aside at least a few minutes each night to read for enjoyment (and sneaking in some time here and there on the weekend whenever I can, too). Here’s what I’ve been reading this week!

YA Novels

Ashes, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Guilty confession: I skipped the middle book in this trilogy. I read Chains last summer and was excited to get my hands on a copy of the third and final book in the series this week. Ashes is the final installment in Revolutionary Era story of Isabel, a teenage slave who begins a journey seeking freedom and soon finds herself facing more challenges than she ever imagined. As the country is on the verge of war, Isabel and her friend Curzon set out to find her sister, Ruth, who has been deceitfully separated from her by their owner. As Isabel and Ruth are reunited in Ashes, together they must face the challenges of war, love, suffering, and learning to forgive as they find themselves in the heart of the Battle of Yorktown. I highly recommend this book for 5th grade and up, especially for readers who are fans of historical fiction (and for anyone who is a Hamilfan!).

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Middle Grade Novels

Some Kind of Happiness, by Claire Legrand

When Finley Hart is sent to live with her grandparents for the summer, surrounded by family she has never met while her parents work on some “marital issues”, the only way she copes with the changes in her life are by writing stories of the Everwood, a magical forest inhabited by mystical creatures, darkness, and an orphan girl. Soon Finley has drawn her cousins and new friends into her imaginary world, entering dangerous territory as she digs up secrets from the past that the Hart family would rather keep buried. This book had me hooked until the very last page, drawing me in with the depth of both the story and the emotions running through it. This novel is a perfect read for students in upper elementary and middle school.

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The Distance to Home, by Jenn Bishop
This book is Bishop’s debut novel, and it’s amazing. It is set up as parallel stories: Last Summer, when Quinnen is dealing with her changing relationship with her teenage sister and fighting to lead her baseball team to the championship, and This Summer, when Quinnen is drowning in her grief after losing her sister and turning her back on everything she used to love. This novel is both heartbreaking and hopeful, and is another outstanding addition to any upper elementary/middle school classroom library.

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Picture Books

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret, by Bob Shea
Ballet Cat is absolutely the best thing to happen to graphic novels for early readers since Elephant and Piggie. My kids absolutely loved Dance, Dance, Underpants, and this book gained almost as many giggles at bedtime. As Sparkles the Pony gathers the courage throughout the story to tell Ballet Cat his secret, he is completely unaware that Ballet Cat has a secret of her own. This is a fun book about friendship and trust that will absolutely be loved by primary readers.


Build, Dogs, Build: A Tall Tail, by James Horvath
My kids love this trilogy of books about a construction team of dogs. Build, Dogs, Build: A Tall Tail is an adorable story about a canine construction crew who must demolish a building and construct a skyscraper. Not only does this book incorporate a lot of great vocabulary words in a fun, lyrical context, but kids also fall in love with searching for Jinx the cat on each page to see what trouble he has gotten into. This book is a great addition to a primary classroom library!


Float, by Daniel Miyares
I have to confess that I have a terrible habit of speeding past the illustrations in picture books, so it takes a special book to make me slow down and appreciate the details in the pictures. Float, the first wordless picture book I’ve read in awhile, is a beautifully illustrated book about a little boy who takes a paper boat out to sail on a rainy day. Miyares’ thoughtful use of spacing and color really drew me into this story, and this is a book I would love to use with students for an illustration study!

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Bad Kitty Does Not Like Candy, by Nick Bruel
I loved including the Bad Kitty series in my classroom library when I taught primary grades, and I am loving introducing this series to my own kids now. In this story, Bad Kitty is offered several different foods, many quite silly, but his eyes are only on a giant jar of candy–until he actually gets his paws on it and realizes that things aren’t always as wonderful as you expect. This book was a simple and fun bedtime story.

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Dear Dragon, by Josh Funk
After seeing this book pop up on several lists at the end of 2016, I added it as one of a few picture books on my #MustReadin2017 list. This is a fast-paced rhyming book of letters between a little boy and his pen pal who is, unbeknownst to him, a dragon. This would be a fun book to include in an early elementary classroom, especially with its bright and busy illustrations.

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Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, by Mo Willems
I may not have mentioned before how much I absolutely love Mo Willems, but…I absolutely love Mo Willems. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs is one of few titles written by Willems that I had not previously read, and I really enjoyed sharing it with my kids at bedtime this week. While some of the sarcasm and obvious foreshadowing was lost on my preschoolers, they loved the bold pictures and the simple twist on a familiar story (and, of course, finding the Pigeon hiding in the story). This is a book that I’m positive early elementary readers would absolutely love.

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A Pocket for Corduroy, by Don Freeman

This book was one of my favorites as a child, and I was excited to share it with my own kids this week–and was thrilled that they fell in love with it just as much as I did. They had millions of questions about why Corduroy got lost in a laundromat, why he wanted a pocket, and why there was a box of soap. My son even commented at the end how much he loved the pictures and asked if I could tell him about the illustrator. I love that this book still holds as much charm and appeal for this generation as it did for mine!


Reading Progress Check-in

  • 2017 Total Progress: 46/230 books read
    • 11/100 chapter books
    • 2 graphic novels
  • #MustReadin2017 Progress: 12/30
  • My reading goals for the week:
    • Read something nonfiction
    • Finish 2 more #MustReadin2017 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.


2 thoughts on “#IMWAYR January 23, 2017

  1. I’m familiar with most of these picture books (the bad kitty one is new to me) Your reviews of Some Kind of Happiness and The Distance to Home make them seem very compelling. I have no idea when I’ll find time to read them, but…


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