It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/13/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

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It’s finally happening, y’all. WE ARE MOVING!! We have a firm closing date set for this Friday, July 17th. I’m a mixed jumble of emotions, right now. This is the only home all five of my children have ever known. In fact, our youngest two children were actually born IN THIS HOUSE — one downstairs and one upstairs in our bedroom. ❤ We have loved our home and have done so much to it over the last 14+ years. However, one bathing facility for seven people proves difficult as the kids are aging. And the kids need more living room space if they want to invite friends over for dinner, games, or movie nights. We feel quite lucky that this new home became available when it did. Even better, it’s only a block up the road from our current house. So we won’t really be forfeiting our amazing, longterm neighbors. Woohoo!! Be thinking of us this week as we face grueling heat while we pack and move. And send us all your positive thoughts and prayers that our old home will sell sooner rather than later!

Thank you for visiting, today. Clearly, I’m not getting as much reading done this month, so I’m going to make this post super short. So look up into the first image in this post. Everything in that book pile I either finished reading this week or I’m currently still reading. LOL I’ll just have to finish writing my reviews once we’re on the other side of this move. However, I’ll plan to make it around to everyone’s posts throughout the week.


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/6/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

Thank you for visiting, today! We have two more weeks until closing on our new home (unless we get lucky enough for them to move up the date), but I did squeeze in a little reading. Maybe you’ll find something here to add to your wish list.


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Thunderhead
(Arc of a Scythe #2)
Neal Shusterman
January 9, 2018
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

With all the packing, cleaning, and landscaping going on in our current home, I’ve had little time to read with my eyes. I initially checked book #2 of this series out over two months ago. I even asked the library to extend my check out when it was due (which they did by a few days). So when I still hadn’t finished it at the end of my extended checkout period, I bought the kindle book so that I wouldn’t have to wait for a new copy. And when I made my purchase, Amazon offered the Audible book as a second copy for just an additional $7.49 over the e-book price. I like that the two reading options sync so that the reader can go back and forth between reading with their eyes and reading with their ears. And that’s exactly what I did — read a few chapters with my eyes, then slip to audiobook while I worked outside in the yard.! Anyway, this book left us on a crazy cliffhanger. Now I have to decide if I’m willing to wait for the 3rd book from the library or if I’m going to just purchase the e-book, again. This is my 3rd book for the Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge, hosted by Sue Jackson. I really like this series and especially enjoy the fact that it raises a lot of thoughts and questions about life and death.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Just Mercy: A Story
of Justice and Redemption
Bryan Stevenson
October 21, 2014
Spiegel & Grau

I can’t gather my thoughts and words well enough to say what should be said about this book. What Bryan Stevenson does, day in and day out, is very important work. He’s an attorney who runs a nonprofit company to represent inmates who cannot afford their own attorneys. He focuses primarily on death row inmates and those have been sentences to life in prison. But it’s far more than that. I was stunned by the various experiences he shared and cried on numerous occasions. The abuses of the system cannot be denied — particularly when it comes to Black suspects who are incarcerated without fair trials and who are, then, abused after being jailed. I was appalled and just wanted to send all my money to Stevenson. But even with the finances, he must be so emotionally depleted at times. This is grueling work to not only to witness his clients being abused on a regular basis, but to additionally face racism as a Black attorney. I plan to watch the movie just as soon as we can purchase a copy (I think it was available for free for June, but I missed it). I cannot recommend this one enough!!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Look! I Wrote a Book!
(and You Can Too!)
Sally Lloyd-Jones
Neal Layton, illustrator
July 23, 2019
Schwartz & Wade Books

I came across this picture book on Overdrive and thought it was pretty cute. A young girl explains everything she knows about writing a book, from where to get your ideas, to types of stories, to knowing your audience, and all the way to selling your book. As we work hard to teach children that they are writers and authors, add this book to the discussion — did she leave anything important out of the process? Great discussion material. The illustrations were rendered in mixed media. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Look-I-Wrote-a-Book-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Harold & Hog Pretend For Real!
(Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! #6)
Dan Santat
Mo Willems
May 7, 2019
Hyperion Books for Children

Need I say anything about this book? Our family was HUGE fans of everything related to Elephant & Piggie. So witnessing Harold and  Hog as they pretend to be Elephant and Piggie was hiLARious! LOL I wish we owned the entire series!! I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Harold-and-Hog-PRETEND

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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How to Catch a Unicorn
Adam Wallace
Andy Elkerton, illustrator
March 5, 2019
Sourcebooks Wonderland

A few weeks ago I shared “How to Catch a Dragon,” also by Adam Wallace. So while this isn’t an official series, there are definitely similarities. In this story, the unicorn has magical properties, like the ability to ride a rainbow, they can shrink, shoot (fart??) glitter, have a shiny horn, and they are super fast! The children chase one sneaky unicorn through the zoo all day long, but eventually they’re outwitted. 🙂 This book doesn’t show how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide a page spread as an example:

Catch-a-Unicorn-SPREAD5

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m just barely started on Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes and am hoping to finish it before next Monday. Sadly, I’m out of newer picture books and don’t intend to be getting a new batch until after this move. So I guess we’ll just see how the month pans out.

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Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 223/250
Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge — 3


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/29/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

Quick Update: We got our home appraisal back and it was high enough to give us the immediate equity to do everything we need to do on our new home. Furthermore, the seller’s agreed to replace the roof before closing. Whew! For now we pretty much just sit tight and wait for the new roof and all the paperwork to be completed. We should close on or before July 20th, so we’re down to the last three weeks. While we are all very excited, there’s also been some sadness about leaving this house. Even the kids have started mentioning how they’ll miss this place. It is the only home any of our children have ever known (our oldest was 2 when we moved in and she’ll turn 17 later this summer). In fact, some were even BORN in this home. So yeah, totally mixed emotions. Still, we look forward to finally being settled and having the space we’ve needed for a very long time.

Thank you for visiting, today! With all the house prep we’re still doing, I was only able to actually finish my picture books. Hopefully you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading wish list.


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Kat & Juju
Kataneh Vahdani
July 1, 2020
Two Lions

As part of the Amazon First Reads program, I picked up this little book last week. Kat is shy. She doesn’t know how to have a friend or how to be a friend. On her birthday, she inherits a new best friend who is very different from her. Over the course of their time together, she learns all about helping others until, at last, she finds her bravery. The illustrations are simply adorable. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Kat-and-Juju-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Cezanne’s Parrot
Amy Guglielmo
Brett Helquist, illustrator
February 11, 2020
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

This picture book biography shares the difficult experiences of Paul Cezanne, a French painter who wasn’t truly appreciated for a very long time. I pretty much knew nothing about Cezanne, so this was very educational for me. As is so often the experience of artists, Cezanne wasn’t sincerely appreciated until he learned to not worry about what others thought about his work. The humor in this story is found in Cezanne’s pet parrot, Bisou, who refuses to say ‘Cezanne is a great painter!’ Heehee! The back matter includes an Author’s Note, a bibliography, source notes, and a list of the paintings that were depicted in the story. The artwork for this book was done in oil on paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Cezannes-Parrot-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Cyclops of Central Park
Madelyn Rosenberg
Victoria Tentler-Krylov, illustrator
February 11, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

At first glance, the artwork in this book appeared far too busy for my tastes. But there’s a deep and important lesson in this story that made me better appreciate each crazy illustration. Cyclops lives in the Central Park cave with his flock of sheep. One sheep named Eugene has always been enamored by the world. And, sure enough, he goes missing. In the wild hunt to find his lost sheep, Cyclops finds a deeper appreciation for the world. It’s quite meaningful and there’s a sweetness that’s not to be missed! The artwork for this book was painted in watercolor and gouache, and completed with Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Cyclops-of-Central-Park-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Fry Bread:
A Native American Family Story
Kevin Noble Maillard
Juana Martinez-Neal, illustrator
October 22, 2019
Roaring Brook Press

I’ve been waiting for this one for a loooong while after seeing so many in my reading community talk about it. Fry Bread, a beloved Native American food, can be everything from something to detect with our senses (flavor, sound, color) to location (state, nation). It encompasses so much meaning, depending on who you ask. By the end, it makes the reader want to eat fry bread. So it’s a good thing that the author provides his own recipe with detailed directions. The artwork in this book is something to behold — plan to spend loads of time exploring the entire page as the details and facial expressions are extraordinary! Be sure to examine the back matter, which includes nine pages of detailed information, including an Author’s Note and references. The illustrations for this book were done in acrylics, colored pencils, and graphite on hand-textured paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Fry-Bread-SPREAD5

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


42873951._SX318_The Upper Case:
Trouble in Capital City
(Private I #2)
Tara Lazar
Ross Macdonald, illustrator
October 15, 2019
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

What a clever little book! The story is written with a play on words. While younger emerging readers will enjoy hearing about upper/lower case letters they’re still learning about, older children will more easily appreciate all the little jokes along the way. This book is part of a series, but I was able to know what was going on even without having read book #1. The publisher doesn’t share how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:Upper-Case-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival
Lindsay Moore
January 22, 2019
Greenwillow Books

Written in poetic text matched by gorgeous artwork on every page, this lovely picture book ends the same way it begins — with a polar bear that has learned how to hope and wait from its polar bear mother. The back matter includes a great deal more information about polar bears, the ringed seal, the walrus, the Greenland shark, the narwhal, and the bowhead whale. The full-colored art was rendered in graphite, watercolor, drawing inks, conte crayon, and color pencil. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Sea-Bear-SPREAD3

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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How Do You Do?
Larissa Theule
Gianna Marino, illustrator
January 15, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books 

What a perfect picture book for middle-of-summer reading:

The day was hot.
The day before had also been hot.
And the day before that.
And the day before that.

Yep. Pretty much what we’ve been experiencing, lately. But this book has a lovely message about how meeting someone new makes all the difference in the world. GREAT book for discussion! The illustrations for this book were created with gouache on watercolor paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

How-do-you-do-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


25634503The Bureau of Misplaced Dads
Éric Veillé
Pauline Martin, illustrator
August 1, 2015
Kids Can Press

Awwww. This picture book about a child who misplaces his dad is super cute. Who knew there were so many dads who have been misplaced. Thankfully, this youngster finds his dad right where he left him. ❤ The illustrations remind me so much of books I read during my childhood. The artwork was rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Bureau-misplaced-dads-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

It’s been a slow reading week, but I’m still working on Thunderhead and Just Mercy. Both are fantastic! I just wish I could drum up more reading time with all this cleaning and packing. 🙂

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 218/200
Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge — 2


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/22/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

I’m posting pretty late this week. So for anyone who happens to read this week: I’m beyond exhausted. And I’m so sorry that I haven’t made it around to everyone’s posts from last week. I’m usually committed to checking in with everyone who links up, so this has been a very odd week. Preparing a home that’s been lived in for over 14 years by two adults and five children is NO laughing matter. I spent weeks, plus the last two nights in a row pulling almost all-nighters cleaning, painting, and packing while my children slept. I even piled up every book I have checked out and returned them to the local libraries, except for one — because I was so worried that I might pack a library book. Eeeek! So, aside from the fact that we’re still cleaning and painting and preparing for a (hopeful) big move this summer, I have far fewer books on hand than normal. We’re not out of the woods on our home purchase. Things have become rather complicated on the financial end and we’re still waiting on the appraisal on our home, so we could still be in for a huge disappointment by this week’s end. But I just wanted to thank everyone for your support and optimism on behalf of our family.

If you dropped by this week, thank you for visiting! I hope you find something to add to your ‘to be read’ list. And, as always, please feel free to share what you’ve been reading, in the comments.


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How to Be an Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi
August 13, 2019
One World

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while, now. So I finally used an Audible credit and listened to Ibram X. Kendi’s narration while I cleaned and packed last week. Anything I say cannot truly do this book justice, so I thought I’d just share a couple quotes:

What’s the problem with being ‘not racist?’ It is a claim that signifies neutrality. ‘I am not a racist. But neither am I aggressively against racism.’ But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist,’ it is antiracist… The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.

The construct of ‘race neutrality’ actually feeds white nationalists’ victimhood by positing the notion that any policy protecting or advancing non-white Americans toward equity is reverse discrimination.

This book was fascination, painful, and hopeful. I enjoyed how Kendi went back and forth between his personal history/experiences and major historical information full of facts and shocking statistics that I fear too many are not familiar with. I cannot recommend it enough!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


34565022._SY475_Braving the Wilderness:
The Quest for True Belonging and
the Courage to Stand Alone
Brené Brown
September 12, 2017
Random House

This was yet another book I’ve been wanting to read. And without much time to read with my eyes, I was excited when it became available as an audiobook on Overdrive. I especially enjoy it when an author narrates their own work — the vocal inflection is meaning, all on its own. So, I’ll share yet another quote to help frame the types of truth shared in this book:

The foundation of courage is vulnerability. The ability to navigate uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. It takes courage to open ourselves up to joy. In fact, as I’ve written in other books, I believe joy is probably the most vulnerable emotion we experience. We’re afraid that if we allow ourselves to feel it, we’ll get blind sighted by disaster or disappointment. That’s why in moments of real joy, many of us dress rehearsal tragedy. We see our child leave for prom and all we can think is car crash. We get excited about an upcoming vacation and we start thinking hurricane. We try to beat our vulnerability to the punch by imagining the worst or by feeling nothing in hopes that the other shoe won’t drop. I call it foreboding joy. The only way to combat foreboding joy is gratitude. Across the years, the men and women who could most fully lean into joy were those who practiced gratitude. In those vulnerable moments of individual or collective joy, we need to practice gratitude. 

Whoa. Right? I still need to read Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly (which I own), but this one was fantastic and I heartily recommend!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The World Needs More Purple People
Kristen Bell
Benjamin Hart
Daniel Wiseman, illustrator
June 2, 2020
Random House Books for Young Readers

I’m so grateful to my friend, Lauren, for making sure I get my hands on some books that aren’t available at our local libraries. She dropped this one off last week and it’s super cute. I loved the message of what it means to be purple. And trust me, you WANT to be a purple person if you aren’t already! I couldn’t find a note on how Wiseman created the art, but I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Purple-People-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Be You!
Peter H. Reynolds
March 3, 2020
Orchard Book

Another find by Lauren, who shares my love of Peter H. Reynolds! Be You! is an encouraging picture book that dares every one of us to be ourselves — to concentrate on learning and growing, being adventurous, kind, persistent, brave, and patient. The message is timeless and Reynolds artwork is simply lovely, as always. While the book doesn’t share how the illustrations were created, I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Be-You-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Hard Work, but It’s Worth It:
The Life of Jimmy Carter
Bethany Hegedus
Kyung Eun Han, illustrator
January 28, 2020
Balzer + Bray

I was four years old when Jimmy Carter became president, so I don’t remember much from his presidency. But this little picture book was very helpful in describing his childhood, his move into politics, his humanitarian efforts, and his eventual award of the Nobel Peace Prize. The back matter includes a detailed Author’s Note followed by an extensive three-paged timeline, bibliography, and online resources. The artist used Corel Painter to create the digital illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Hard-Work-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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How to Catch a Dragon
Adam Wallace
Andy Elkerton, illustrator
November 5, 2019
Sourcebooks Wonderland

Written in rhyming text with adorable digitally painted artwork, a group of young children are chasing down a dragon. The story is set in China during the Chinese New Year and would make a fun fictional read while studying the holiday. The back matter includes a two paged spread of the poetic text written in three languages. The art was first sketched , then painted digitally with brushes designed by the artist. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Catch-a-Dragon-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Spend It!
(A Moneybunny Book)
Cinders McLeod
March 5, 2019
Nancy Paulsen Books

Making spending choices is hard! Sonny is looking through his allowance jar and comparing it to all that he wants to buy. Should he continue to save his three carrots until he has 100 carrots to buy the big item he wants? Or should he buy something smaller with his three carrots? In the end, he makes a choice that was just right for him. What a great way for children to think about their own financial decisions! The illustrations were drawn with HB pencil on Mylar film and then digitally colored.

Spend-It-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Not Your Nest!
Gideon Sterer
Andrea Tsurumi, illustrator
March 5, 2019
Dial Books

Poor little yellow bird. He keeps taking his time to design a nest, collect the sticks, and build it just the way he likes it. But then an animal takes it over when he’s ready to make himself at home. Apparently, the wild can be an unsettling place to home build, because this happens to him again and again. Fear not, in the end everyone has a better understanding of what they need when little yellow bird is finally at home! The artwork for this book was inked with pencil and colored digitally.

Not-Your-Nest-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish
Beth Ferry
Tom Lichtenheld, illustrator
February 12, 2019
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

As the title suggests, these are the ten rules of making a birthday wish. Most rules have exceptions, though. For example, you should have balloons, unless you are a rhinoceros or swordfish. And most people celebrate every year. …unless their life cycle is only a week or one day long. Then they should celebrate immediately. HAHA! The illustrations were done in pencil, watercolor, colored pencil, and pastel.

Ten-Rules-of-Birthday-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Babysitter from Another Planet
Stephen Savage
February 12, 2019
Neal Porter Books

With only a few words per page, this picture book shares the story of a brother and sister who encountered a babysitter from another planet when their mom and dad went out to the movies. This babysitter can do everything a human babysitter can do and MORE, including making the children float through the house. The artwork was created using digital techniques.

Babysitter-Planet-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m still working on Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman and I just started listening to Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 210/200
Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge — 2


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/15/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

It’s been a week of sweaty and dirty work at the Miller home. We’ve been moving things from our garage to storage and we’re doing as much decluttering as we can in the process. We’re replacing broken/ugly items around the house, touch-up painting where necessary, and cleaning, cleaning, CLEANING. And yet there’s still so much more work to be done. I’m exhausted as I type this post and I seriously lack time to say much about my reading. But I’m here. Oh, and I hope everyone has a Happy Father’s Day this coming weekend! Whew.

bigbooksummerI’m going to take Sue’s advice and just share that I am participating in the 2020 Big Book Summer Challenge within my weekly #imwayr post. I believe this is my third summer to do this and I hope to wipe a few “big books” off my list. If you have several bigger books you’ve been meaning to get to, feel free to join us HERE. This week I finished my first two “big books”: A Place to Belong and Black Enough. And I started Thunderhead. YAY!

Thank you for visiting! I don’t have much time to blog, so these book shares will be very short and sweet, today.


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A Place to Belong
Cynthia Kadohata
Julia Kuo, illustrator
May 14, 2019
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

This story follows 12-year-old Hanako and her Japanese-American family as they are freed from Japanese internment camps and decide to return to Hiroshima after the United States dropped the atomic bomb. When they return, they have basically nothing, the children struggle with their Japanese, and they’re so very hungry. At least when they were in the internment camps, they were given food! It’s a thoughtful look at America as they attempt to weigh the positive and negative sides to our country’s role in WWII and their treatment of Japanese-Americans. I learned a great deal and hope this one will make it into many middle grade libraries in 2020. My only criticism might be that it’s a bit long for middle grade.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Black Enough: Stories of Being
Young & Black in America
Ibi Zoboi, Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth,
Dhonielle Clayton,Brandy Colbert, Jay Coles,
Lamar Giles, Leah Henderson, Justina Ireland,
Varian Johnson, Kekla Magoon, Tochi Onyebuchi,
Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani,
Renée Watson, Rita Williams-Garcia
January 8, 2019
Balzer + Bray

I thought this anthology was fantastic! Each story was unique and each shared a glimpse into the life of a black teen in America. There was very little to these stories that were stereotypical teen lives — there were details that drew me in and left me appreciating the character, but kinda feeling sad that each story wasn’t a full book all of its own so that I could see how the rest of their lives played out. That’s when I know an anthology is really good!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots
Michael Rex
February 11, 2020
Nancy Paulsen Books

This is a really cute picture book that provides guidelines for children learning how to distinguish between fact and opinion. I liked that they even had a scenario where you have to “wait until we have more information” before being able to stay if a statement is a fact or opinion. Very cute illustrations and kids will be laughing through several scenes. The artwork was 100% created digitally using Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Fact-vs-Opinion-vs-Robot-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Tooth Fairy vs. the Easter Bunny
Jamie L.B. Deenihan
Erin Hunting, illustrator
February 11, 2020
Penguin Workshop

Perhaps you’re already familiar with The Tooth Fairy vs. Santa (published last October)? Well, this is a continuation of the turf war between The Tooth Fairy and another magical being who serves children, each year. Young Veda loses her tooth the night before Easter and she writes a letter with a special request that will require the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny working together. But are they even capable of such a thing? The cute ending leaves the reader feeling there will be a sequel with yet another magical character. This book does not share how the artwork was created, but it appears to be digitally rendered. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Tooth-Fairy-vs-Easter-Bunny-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Three Ways to Trap a Leprechaun
Tara Lazar
Vivienne To, illustrator
January 7, 2020
HarperCollins

And while we’re on the topic of the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, might as well throw Leprechauns in the mix. LOL When I taught Kindergarten, I remember painting little green foot prints all around our room and leaving signs that Leprechauns had visited our classroom the night before St. Patrick’s Day. This would have been the perfect book to read the day before! Claire and her little brother Sam attempt to catch a Leprechaun multiple times in the same night. Will they finally be successful? The back matter has a two page spread all about how to catch a Leprechaun through research, design, having the right supplies, building, and patiently waiting. The book doesn’t share how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Three-Ways-Leprechaun-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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I Am Just Right
David McPhail
March 19, 2019
Holiday House

An adorable little bunny shares the frustrations of getting bigger. He’s too big for his crib, his shirt, his shoes, etc. However, growing is nothing to fear because he’s just right in so many other ways. The artwork in this book was created with watercolor over pen and ink. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

I-Am-Just-Right-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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What About Harry?
Derek Anderson
February 19, 2019
HarperCollins

Sam and Harry are best friends, but when they begin to compare themselves to one another, Sam’s work is always better. Feeling deflated, Harry leaves in a huff. But over time, the two friends realize they are happier together. It’s a little busy, but I really loved this picture book and know it will speak to the hearts of young children caught in comparison mode. The artwork in this book was created with ink and Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

What-About-Harry-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Home Builders
Varsha Bajaj
Simona Mulazzani, illustrator
February 12, 2019
Nancy Paulsen Books

What a beautiful picture book, showcasing the various types of habitats built by different forest creatures. In poetic text, we learn about the various types of homes that are built and when watch as each animal waits for the arrival of their babies. The illustrations allow the reader to see underground, into a bee’s hive, into nests, etc. as each home withstands a variety of weather/seasons. The artwork in this book was done in mixed media, including acrylic, colored pencil, and collage on paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Home-Builders-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Out of This World:
The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington
Michelle Markel
Amanda Hall, illustrator
January 22, 2019
Balzer + Bray

This was a fascinating picture book biography of Leonora Carrington. I’m not sure why I didn’t know anything about Carrington’s life before now, because she rubbed shoulders with many artists I do know of, including Pablo Picasso and Frida Kahlo. During her childhood she struggled to pay attaching in school and was even expelled from multiple schools. She also refused to choose a husband, despite her parent’s urging, but later married her greatest art teacher, Max Ernst. And when she dove into art, she enjoyed fantastical elements (influenced by surrealism). So very interesting! The back matter includes an Author’s Note, and Illustrator’s Note, and a Selected Bibliography. The artist used watercolor inks and gouache, layered with hard and soft pencil crayons. I’ll provide one past spread to serve as an example, below:

Out-of-this-World-Carrington-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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First Laugh–Welcome, Baby!
Rose Ann Tahe
Nancy Bo Flood
Jonathan Nelson, illustrator
August 4, 2018
Charlesbridge Publishing

Others in our #imwayr community have shared this book and so I was thrilled when it became available through my public library. The First Laugh Celebration is a Navajo tradition that welcomes a baby into the family and clan. This book shows a Navajo family watching and waiting through all the yawns, smiles, and scowls until a young baby finally laughs. Sooo precious! ❤ I was sad to read that author Rose Ann Tahe became suddenly ill and passed away in the final weeks before the printing of this book. But I’m grateful that the family pushed to fulfill Tahe’s wishes and share this story with the world. The back matter includes Author’s Notes, an Illustrator’s Note, and a great deal of information about the Navajo First Laugh celebration, as well as infant celebrations from other cultures. The illustrations are drawn with pencils and finished with ballpoint pen and Photoshop. I’ll provide one past spread, below:

First-Laugh-Baby-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I didn’t have a ton of reading-with-my-eyes time this week, so I’m still working on Thunderhead. I also started listening to Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness. And so far it’s AMAZING!

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 200/200 — time to increase my goal…
Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge — 2


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/8/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

were-movingBIG NEWS: It looks like we really are moving! After looking at homes over the last two years, and having two options fall through, we began to wonder if this would ever happen. There aren’t many affordable larger homes that come up for sale in our town, to begin with. But about two weeks ago a home that was previous well out of our price range had a hefty price drop. So we finally asked our realtor for a viewing and VOILA! It had the perfect room arrangement and location for our needs. We made an offer, they countered, we countered back, and we eventually came to a verbal agreement just last Friday. So we’re now in a slight state of shock as we begin packing up 14+ years worth of stuff for a family of seven while finishing prepping our current home for sale. Interestingly enough, our move-in date might very well coincide with our 25th anniversary. How crazy is THAT?! Needless to say, I will be forfeiting much of my summer reading time and my blog may lack coherence and depth over the next two months. We’d love your positive thoughts, moving advice, and prayers as we navigate these murky home selling/buying waters!

Thank you for visiting today! Whether it’s a new release or an older title, I always hope readers will find something of interest to add to their wish list.


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Tornado Brain
Cat Patrick
May 5, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Don’t let that cutesy cover fool you, there’s more than meets the eye in this hard-hitting story. Tess and Frankie are fraternal twins, but Frankie will openly share that she has certain needs that Tess does not. For example, Frankie doesn’t ever like to be touched, loud noises bother her, and she needs a very reliable routine. Frankie is also well aware of the fact that she has trouble making friends. That’s why she’s so bothered by the fact that Colette is no longer her friend. And why is that? Ooof. This story has a slowly unfolding mystery that kept me glued to the narration! With such young characters, this story was far deeper than I anticipated. I especially liked that it is told from a neurodiverse character’s perspective. It’s so important to have books like this in the world to serve as both a mirror and window for readers. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing me the audiobook of Tornado Brain!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
Support local bookstores through Bookstore link HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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We Dream of Space
Erin Entrada Kelly
May 5, 2020
Greenwillow Books

I was looking forward to reading this book, especially considering the fact that the three Nelson-Thomas siblings were around the age I was during the historic launch of the Challenger. Cash, Fitch, and Bird are all very different children, growing up together in a rather unhappy home. Cash keeps failing 7th grade and if he keeps this up, he’s going to fall into a grade level below his younger siblings. Fitch is a crazy ball of anger — he struggles to keep himself calm when the littlest things attempt to set him off. And Bird is a thoughtful science geek, constantly dreaming of space. Her goal is to become NASA’s first female shuttle commander, some day. We all know what happened to the Spaceshuttle Challenger, but as the story led up to that fateful day, there was so much hope in what that launch would accomplish. It was incredibly sad to witness Bird’s stunned response to the incident as she began to spiral away from her deepest dreams. But it’s in those shocking moments that family so often jumps in to help us hold it together. Does the Nelson-Thomas family have what it takes to recognize what she needs? There’s so much to discuss in this story. I can’t wait to see what other readers think — particularly those who were in middle school and high school during that historic moment. There were so many pop culture things mentioned in this story that took me right back to that time period. For example: Slimfast, Diet Tab, trading stickers (huge hobby!), hacky sack, ThunderCats TV show, and Miss Pac-Man. This was definitely a walk down memory lane while getting an intimate glimpse into the lives of the Nelson-Thomas family.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Bear Must Go On
Dev Petty
Brandon Todd, illustrator
March 17, 2020
Philomel Books

The Bear Must Go On is a cute picture book about four forest animal friends who “leap before they look.” While meticulously planning out every detail of putting on a show from the curtain to the tickets to what food will be served, they invited everyone in the forest to attend and forgot one very important detail: TO PLAN A SHOW!! But don’t worry, together these furry friends were able to discover the things that truly matter when performing on stage. The artwork in this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Bear-Must-Go-On-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Old Rock (Is Not Boring)
Deb Pilutti
February 4, 2020
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers 

Old Rock can teach younger listeners a thing or two about perspective. Hummingbird, Spotted Beetle, and Tall Pine hound Old Rock over how boring his life must be since he doesn’t fly, or see much, or dance. But his long years have shown him so many wonderful things, which he shares with his friends. Most of all, he is not even a little bit bored sitting in such a nice spot at the edge of a clearing in the middle of a forest. The back matter provides a “historical fiction” timeline of Old Rock’s life, beginning 1.8 billion years ago when old rock was formed under the earth’s crust and ending with present day Old Rock, sitting in the forest. The illustrations in this book were done with casein on watercolor paper and a bit of digital painting. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Old-Rock-Is-Not-Boring-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Word Pirates
Susan Cooper
Steven Kellogg, illustrator
September 24, 2019
Neal Porter Books 

These creepy-looking pirates may scare us with their need to steal words and eat them. But once they are forced into a duel with a word wizard (author), they learn they simply cannot match the power of words. She throws lines at them from books like Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs, and Where the Wild Things Are. When they head off to their own little island, they discover that even ruffians can learn to read and WRITE! 🙂 The artwork in this book was created with a variety of materials including colored inks, watercolors, colored pencils, and acrylic paints. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

Word-Pirates-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Big and Little:
A Story of Opposites
Cheryl Pilgrim
April 23, 2019
Holiday House 

With the help of fantastic artwork, an entire story is told in opposites, like big/little, near/far, and over/under. I loved the way this was created because parents or teachers can simply remove the words and have children figure out what the set of opposites is supposed to be on each page. Such a fun story! We don’t learn how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

Big-and-Little-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Home Is a Window
Stephanie Ledyard
Chris Sasaki, illustrator
April 23, 2019
Neal Porter Books 

What an appropriate read for our family’s current situation. Moving away from the only home my children have ever known won’t be as easy as it sounds. Sooo many memories are made in a house. But in this book, a young girl celebrates all of the lovely things that make up a home that are NOT dependent on a single location. For example, “Home is a table with something good and the people gathered there. Home is washing, rinsing, and drying, and whenever a dish gets broken, someone to help you sweep.” I love it! The artwork for this book was created using digital tools. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Home-is-a-Window-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Baby Dragon, Baby Dragon!
Melissa Marr
Lena Podesta, illustrator
March 26, 2019
Nancy Paulsen Books

In this picture book, a young dragon swoops through the castle, upsetting everyone. So a young girl leaves her chores and spends the day going on an adventure with the dragon. Toward the end, she shows the dragon how to stay calm so they can eat dinner in the castle. Nothing really spectacular happens other than keeping the dragon safe and busy, so I got the feeling the dragon was maybe a metaphor for a younger sibling that needed taming? Also, with the way this is written with short phrases on each page, it really felt like it was supposed to rhyme (but it doesn’t). I thought it was just me, but found it funny that other reviewers were commenting on the same odd feeling. In any case, my young dragon lover will definitely enjoy this book — particularly since it’s a GIRL spending the day with the dragon. The illustrations for this book were made using pencil, ink, and gouache, and with the help of a computer. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Baby-Dragon-Baby-Dragon-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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My Happy Year by E. Bluebird
Paul Meisel
March 12, 2019
Holiday House 

What a lovely nonfiction book documenting a year in the life of a Bluebird. Written from the perspective of a baby Bluebird, each page documents the date, starting June 1st (“Today is my birthday!”) and going through June 4th of the following year. We learn about what baby Bluebirds eat, when their eyes open, when they get feathers, how they learn to fly, when they fly south, and so much more! Front matter includes a migration map and more details about the Bluebird, while the back matter includes a glossary of terms and plans for building your own Bluebird house. The artwork is gorgeous with some close up illustrations mixed with large landscaped scenes. It was created with acrylic ink on Strathmore paper, digitally enhanced. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

My-Happy-Year-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Monkey Time
Michael Hall
February 26, 2019
Greenwillow Books 

The is one of the more unusual books I’ve read. Monkey appears to be sitting in circular tree where little orange balls keep popping out at the top. Each orange ball equals a minute. And every time his arms circle around the tree, another one pops out. The entire time, the orange minute balls are teasing the Monkey:

Ha-ha. You missed me
…you are a slowpoke
we are running circles around you, Monkey!”

When Monkey finally catches an orange minute, he starts to eat it. But then all the minutes sport wings and happily fly away. Not even joking. LOL But alas, we need books of all types and this one could be a fun addition to math lessons on telling time. In the back matter, there’s a section on Monkey’s Rainforest Friends, sharing more details about other animals that can be found in a tropical rainforest. And truthfully, it wasn’t until I read that page that I went back through the book and noticed there are other animals hiding on the pages. So there’s some environmental science cross-over that can be used in here. The last page talks more specifically about calculating time with seconds, minutes, hours and days. The artwork in this book consists of digitally combined collages of painted and cut paper. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Monkey-Time-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I finally started Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman and I am thoroughly enjoying it, so far! This week I plan to finish listening to A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata. And I have a magnificent pile of picture books from my college library, so I will be reading several of those, including Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex and I Am Just Right by David McPhail.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 190/200
Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge — Ugh, I still need to write this post!! Go check out Sue’s Big Book Summer Challenge if you’d like to join the challenge.


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/1/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

49360778NOTE: Congratulations to Ben Gartner whose The Eye of Ra is a Next Generation Award-winning Finalist in the Children’s / Juvenile Fiction category of the Indie Book Awards!! And if that wasn’t good enough news, I’m pleased to learn that Ben is working on book #2 in this series — something I had truly hoped would happen. If you haven’t yet gotten your hands on The Eye of Ra, maybe you can grab up a copy this summer. E-copies are available HERE or you can support your local bookstores by purchasing a print copy HERE.

How’s everyone holding up? I’ll come clean — I’m not doing so great. I’m terribly upset over the state of my nation, right now. Things were already feeling uncertain with COVID-19, but after the horrific death of George Floyd in Minnesota, the sorrow and uncertainty has risen to a level that leaves me on the brink of tears all day long. I haven’t felt much like writing/reviewing, but I know routine is important during times of shocking change. Therefore I will keep moving forward, one step at a time.

Considering the turmoil my nation is experiencing, it’s important to note that we severely lack books written about non-white characters. I’m always delighted when I find good options to share with children, so today I will use part of this post to share some wonderful recent picture books that provide a mirror for my Black brothers and sisters. Some of these titles are equally important as windows for those of us with white privilege (because, while we are all just human beings on the inside, we sometimes need a gentle reminder that we do not all experience the world in the same way). So whether it’s a new release or an older title, I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list.


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We Are Not From Here
Jenny Torres Sanchez
May 19, 2020
Philomel Books

I don’t want to spoil this story by revealing too may details, so I’ll keep this brief. Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña are teens being threatened so much that it’s no longer safe to remain in their country. So they make the gut-wrenching decision to leave the only home they’ve known and begin the devastating journey through the deadly dessert and into the United States. It’s a grueling and tearful journey, but based on many real-life experiences. And that’s all I’m going to share of the plot line. 🙂 But I’ll also say that it’s absolutely heartbreaking and will keep the reader on the edge of their seat until they discover how it all ends.

Americans generally have such a limited understanding of the reasons why so many cross the border to get into our country without going through so-called “proper channels.” Ignorance is bliss, y’all. Because this story made me feel such anger and sorrow at the lack of options for people literally running for their lives. This story forces the reader to consider — if your family was being threatened, held at gunpoint, children being raped, your food/money being stolen, while you basically become slaves to hostile community leaders, would you take a major risk and break the law in order to save your family? Perhaps you’ll never truly know. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing me the audiobook of We Are Not From Here.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
Support local bookstores through Bookstore link HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Santiago’s Road Home
Alexandra Diaz
May 5, 2020
Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

This storyline is similar to We Are Not From Here, but not quite as horrific. Award-winning author Alexandra Diaz shares the story of Santiago, a young boy who has been physically abused by his abuela and then is passed around between relatives who do not want him. One day he’s sent away from yet another family member with just enough money for a bus fare back to abuela’s house. Hungry, lonely, and with only what he has on his back, Santiago strikes up an unlikely conversation with a mother and child who, as he discovers, are traveling to the United States. Together, they arrange for safe passage to meet up with family and find work to keep them all from starving. But when bullets begin flying and the party becomes separated, how long will they remain in ICE before they’re sent back to Mexico. And will Santiago be forced to continue living with abuela’s abuse? So heartbreaking, but also brings on all the feels at times.

The back matter has an Author’s note about immigration and the different parts of this story that were true to form. For example, as mentioned in We Are From Here, the detainees were given foil blankets for weeks — they would fold them up and place them in their pockets during the day time, and use them to hold in heat during the night. And breast milk really is brought in from nursing mothers to their babies, since children are separated from their parents. At the very end, there’s a lengthy Glossary with many Spanish words and phrases, including their meaning and ways they could be used in common conversation. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing me the audiobook of Santiago’s Road Home.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
Support local bookstores through Bookstore link HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Women Artists A to Z
Melanie Labarge
Caroline Corrigan, illustrator
February 11, 2020
Dial Books

As one could gather from the title, this book shares 26 letters of the alphabet that correspond to female artists based on different traits they had. For example, Yayoi Kusama is known for her use of dots (D) in her artwork. Elizabeth Catlett is known for her use of ink (I) in her artwork. And Xenobia Bailey is known for her yarn-based artwork (Y). Each page is full of colorful illustrations, but none of the original artists’ work is showcased – it’s all depicted by a single artist (Caroline Corrigan). The back matter includes far more details on each of the selected artists, including when they lived, where they lived, and important information about their contribution to the world of art. The illustrations for this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Women-Artists-A-to-Z-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Ready to Fly:
How Sylvia Townsend Became the
Bookmobile Ballerina
Lea Lyon, A. LaFaye
Jessica Gibson, illustrator
January 28, 2020
HarperCollins

Sylvia Townsend was a young African American girl growing up in 1950s America. Unfortunately, this meant she could not take dance lessons and join the white learners, like she wanted to. So she studied books from the bookmobile to learn all the ins and outs of dance. Her fourth grade teacher encouraged her and eventually other young Black girls asked her to teach them how to dance before they enter a school talent show, together. This is where Sylvia gets her big break and is invited to join a real dance studio with a professional dance instructor. Readers will definitely want to check out the back matter with references, many photos and detail about the history of the Bookmobile, and an Author’s Note. In the front matter, there’s also “A Note on Hopes and Dreams” written by Sylvia Robertson Townsend that showcases the importance of a parent noticing and encouraging their child’s interests. The artist used Photoshop CC and a Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet to create the digital illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Ready-to-Fly-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Althea Gibson:
The Story of Tennis’ Fleet-of-Foot Girl
Megan Reid
Laura Freeman, illustrator
January 21, 2020
Balzer + Bray

Growing up in Harlem during the 1940s, Althea Gibson was known as “the quickest, tallest, most fearless athlete.” She played stickball, basketball, and tennis on the hot asphalt and was known as the fleet-of-foot girl who was good at everything she tried. Due to her skin color, she couldn’t attend the fancy tennis clubs, but as she became too good to ignore, many people began fighting for her to be included in the US Championships. This eventually got her to Wimbledon in 1957 where she won a championship two years in a row! The back matter includes an Author’s Note and a list of important dates with more interesting details about Gibson’s life. The artist used Adobe Photoshop to create the digital illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Althea-Gibson-Fleet-Foot-SPREADwz

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Ruby Finds a Worry
Tom Percival
September 3, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Ruby has a worry. But when she attempts to ignore it, it only grows bigger. No matter what she does, it is always with her in school, on the bus, and even in the movie theater. Obviously, it is dominating her life. Eventually, she learns that everyone has worries and that sometimes the best thing you can do is talk about them. I love the adorable illustrations in this story and am so happy to see this important message available for children who suffer from anxiety (and for those who need empathy for others who suffer). The artwork in this book was created digitally using Kyle T. Webster’s natural media brushes for Photoshop and a selection of hand-painted textures. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Ruby-Finds-a-Worry-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Hands Up!
Breanna J. McDaniel
Shane W. Evans, illustrator
January 22, 2019
Dial Books

I loved how this picture book depicted the numerous ways we raise our hands, whether it’s to stretch, to be called on in class, to select a book off a high shelf, in ballet class, in worship services, and in so many other ways. In the back, McDaniel talks about her niece who she worries cannot always show her full range of emotions and strength because she’s a Black girl and will often be seen as a victim or villain. Forgive me while I direct quote a chunk of text, from the Author’s Note:

For many people, the phrase “hands up” brings forward difficult emotions like anger, sadness, frustration, and fear. With this story, I wanted to emphasize the ways I’ve experienced that phrase as part of my everyday life, at home, at play, in church, and at protests with young people leading the way. I want the world to remember that black kids are just that — kids, people with mommas and daddies and teachers and friends, with lives full of happiness and struggle and triumph and even sadness.

Powerful! It’s a beautiful recollection of the many ways we raise our hands, particularly during childhood. The lovely artwork in this picture book was created digitally with mixed media. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Hands-Up-Breanna-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Meet Miss Fancy
Irene Latham
John Holyfield, illustrator
January 8, 2019
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

This is a precious story about a young boy named Frank, who loved elephants. But when he and his fellow classmates raised enough money to bring Miss Fancy to Birmingham, black children were not allowed to touch or ride her. But as Miss Fancy escapes the zoo, Frank ends up saving the day using peanuts to lure her back home. While this story contains fictional characters like Frank and his mother, there was a real life elephant named Miss Fancy. And schoolchildren really did raise enough money (in pennies) to purchase her from the circus. Furthermore, there really were segregation laws that prevented African American families from coming into certain places, like the zoo. So this historical experience was written right into the storyline. An Author’s Note shares more about Miss Fancy’s life before and after her time in Birmingham. While the book doesn’t share how the artwork was created, I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

Meet-Miss-Fancy-SPREAD2

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Beautiful
Stacy McAnulty
Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, illustrator
September 13, 2016
Running Press Kids

This was a re-read, which I greatly enjoyed. Each page shares well-known stereotypes of  young girls and flips them on their heads. There will be ZERO gender conformity for these outgoing kiddos! The girls are obviously very happy, curious, and, of course, beautiful! I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of the artwork, below:

Beautiful-McAnulty-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

My list feels unmanageable right now. I mean, I have books coming out my ears — books I already own that I recently purchased and am having trouble squeezing into my summer schedule. So first, I’d like to (finally!) start reading Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman as my first Big Book Summer Challenge read. Then I plan to review Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick. And I just checked out 30+ new picture books through ILL, so I’m looking forward to at least reading Bear Must Go On by Dev Petty and Old Rock (Is Not Boring) by Deb Pilutti with my younger daughter and son this week.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 180/200


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/25/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

STRING-AROUND-FINGER-9x10Sue of Book by Book is kickstarting her annual Big Book Summer Challenge RIGHT NOW (but you can join in any time, this summer)! Any book with 400 pages or more qualifies as a “big book” for this challenge and it always begins Memorial Day weekend and runs through Labor Day weekend (September 7, this year). Challenge participants link up with Sue and share our experiences in a Goodreads group that she creates just for us. NOTE: This is not a competition, it’s just a chance to squeeze in any big books you’ve been meaning to get to. And you get a supportive group to cheer you along. I believe this is my third year to participate and it is always an encouragement to be a part of the community. I’ll write up a blog post later this week to share any titles I hope to squeeze in between now and September.

Thank you for visiting, today! I’m moving quickly this morning, but I wanted to note that in this post I am sharing two new picture books being published this month: Ray by Marianna Coppo and The Story of Alexander Hamilton by Christine Platt and illustrated by Raquel Martín. So if these sound new to you, be sure to check them out.


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Turtle Boy
M. Evan Wolkenstein
May 5, 2020
Delacorte Press

Oh my. I didn’t know what I was stepping into when I started this book. It’s another one of those “the cover isn’t nearly as serious as the book” scenarios that caught me 100% off guard. So just a fair warning that this one is heavy and meaningful and will definitely require some Kleenex. Will Levine loves turtles. He collects them from the pond behind his school and takes care of them at home. The kids at school call him Turtle Boy, but it’s not because he likes turtles. Nope, that would have been fine. He is bullied relentlessly at school and called Turtle Boy because of his odd-looking chin. But hold on to your hats, folks, because Will’s life is about to change in a way he never imagined. His bar mitzvah community service project lands him in a hospital, helping a patient who doesn’t even seem to like him. While there were plenty of somber moments that brought tears to my eyes, I seriously laughed out loud SO hard on several occasions. Such beautiful, meaningful writing. Be sure to pick up a copy and see why this story landed a starred review from Booklist.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Ways to Make Sunshine
Renée Watson
April 28, 2020
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

This sweet little early chapter book was such a fun addition to my reading week. Ryan Hart is the youngest in her family. That’s right, HER family. She was named Ryan because she is to become a great leader. And her parents don’t shy away from reminding her of her name meaning, whenever appropriate. At the opening of this story, Ryan’s family is facing some major life changes after her father lost his job with the USPS (how appropriate, considering our current situation), so they will be moving to a new (old) house across town. I wouldn’t say there was a major plot line with a big rise and fall, but the charming smaller plots were enough for a young child to easily follow and enjoy. There’s a teeny bit of mystery mixed into this story along with Ryan’s repeated attempts to overcome stage fright. And Ryan loves trying new recipes, so there’s a lot of trial and error baking in her household. (I may never forgive you, Renée Watson, for introducing me to Tillamook Marionberry Pie ice cream in this story. YUMMO!) I was practically giddy over the little illustrations scattered throughout the chapters. Soooo precious… and worth stopping to appreciate all the lovely little details. Make sure this title makes it into your children’s libraries!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Red, White & Royal Blue
Casey McQuiston
May 14, 2019
St. Martin’s Griffin

I’ve had this one on my list since it was released last spring. There are a few books that seem especially important reads if I plan to keep my finger on the pulse of YA and New Adult literature, and this one definitely qualifies with its insane popularity (wow @ 112,854 ratings already on Goodreads)! Known especially for having both Latinx and LGBTQ+ representation, this is the story of a relationship between the only son of the American president (Alex Claremont) and a Welsh Prince (Henry, Prince of Whales). Alex is a politician at heart, but there are just some people in the political scene he cannot stand. That includes Prince Henry. The guy is so snooty that he cannot even handle being in the same room with him. After a surprising altercation with the prince, including photos that were released to the tabloids, the American presidential team plans a damage control scheme to make Alex and Henry appear to be the best of friends. It’s an extremely fast-paced story that was hard to put down until the very end.

I found it very interesting how historical facts and details were woven into the storyline — including a number of quotes from past letters and books, particularly romantic notes or poems passed between political leaders and their loved ones. I couldn’t help but marvel at the intimate letters and poetry, realizing this book must have involved some serious research (which I’d love to chat with McQuiston about some time!).

AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award for Romance and for Debut Novel (2019), Alex Award (2020)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Ray
Marianna Coppo
May 26, 2020
Penguin Random House Canada
Tundra Books

Ray is an average closet lightbulb. Turn him on and he sees everything his family stores in the closet. But it’s the same old 41 items, every time. When the light is turned off, he becomes bored and drifts off to sleep — a sleep without dreams. However, today is Ray’s lucky day! He feels spinning as his family removes him from the closet fixture and places him in a lantern that they take on a camping trip. He encounters a number of new things on this journey, including the biggest lightbulb in the world (sun). After all these grand new experiences, he now knows that even after returning to his closet, his life will never ever be the same again. I think the point to this sweet book came through easily and youngsters will relate to the way a change in scenery can impact our thoughts and dreams. What a great story to use with children when discussing all the new things they learned and discovered on a recent trip or while having a new experience. The simple artwork is really sweet natured with soft colors. Thank you to Netgalley and to Tundra Books for approving an advance reader’s copy so that I would provide my honest review. This book will be published tomorrow, May 26th.

The artwork in this book was rendered in tempera, pastels and digital collage. I’ll provide one page spread from the Advance Reader’s Copy to serve as an example, below:

Ray-lightbulb-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Story of Alexander Hamilton
A Biography Book for New Readers
Christine Platt
Raquel Martín, illustrator
May 19, 2020
Callisto Media/Rockridge Press

Thanks to Callisto Media and to Netgalley for providing an Advance Reading Copy so that I could share my honest review. The Story of Alexander Hamilton is a children’s biography chapter book with scattered illustrations and charts. It begins with a Table of Contents outlining chapters 1 through 8. I must admit, I learned quite a bit about Hamilton from this little 43-paged book. It was especially helpful to have thought-providing questions posed throughout the chapters — thinking questions that will help children stop and ponder things like: what must life have been like when… ? There are also things like “Myth & Fact,” a family tree, famous quotes, and maps to remind the reader where things took place throughout Alexander Hamilton’s life. Comprehension questions are also posed as a quiz at the very end with an answer key provided. The book concludes with a glossary and bibliography of books, government websites, and historical sites that can be visited. One thing I noted during my examination of this book was that the ARC has a family tree where it indicates Alexander’s birth as 1775, so hopefully that will be corrected in the final print copy.

I contacted the illustrator (Raquel Martín) and she shared that her artwork was created with gouache and finished digitally. I’ll provide one page spread from the ARC (subject to change) to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

The-Story-of-Alexander-Hamilton-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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My Brother the Duck
Pat Zietlow Miller
April 21, 2020
Chronicle Books

Stella has a new baby brother, but she’s pretty sure he’s not your normal baby brother. Could he, by chance, be a baby duck? Stella immediately gets busy testing her hypothesis by asking questions and gathering data. The twist ending to this book will bring on a few giggles, for sure. By the way, if you’re short on print picture books at the moment, Amazon Prime members can access this title for free right now through the Prime Reading Library.

The illustrations in this book were rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

My-Brother-the-Duck-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Nest That Wren Built
Randi Sonenshine
Anne Hunter, Illustrator
March 10, 2020
Candlewick Press

In this gorgeous poetic nonfiction picture book we confront the familiar rhyming text (in the manner of The House That Jack Built) which concludes each page with “…the nest that Wren built.” This book is an outstanding addition to either the study of birds/Wrens or of life cycles, and will be especially perfect for spring time. The back matter finishes the book with an illustrated glossary followed by a page full of Wren Facts. The soft, detailed illustrations in this book were done in ink and colored pencil on tinted paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

The-Nest-that-Wren-Built-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Love from the Crayons
(Crayons)
Drew Daywalt
Oliver Jeffers, Illustrator
December 24, 2019
Penguin Workshop

 In this very short book, each page shares both positive and negative actions, feelings, or metaphors that are associated with a specific color of love. It’s a tiny package, but could be nicely used as a mentor text. The book doesn’t share specifically how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Love-from-the-Crayons-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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A Tiger Like Me
Michael Engler
Joëlle Tourlonias, illustrator
September 1, 2019
Amazon Crossing Kids

With absolutely enchanting illustrations, a young boy proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that he’s really a tiger. The text reads like poetry and each page ends with a similar phrase of, “Because I am a tiger…” Oh SO cute! And such a wonderful bedtime story for youngsters. This is another title that can be accessed for free right now if you’re an Amazon Prime Member. Just check out their Prime Reading Library through your online account.

AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2019)

The adorable artwork was rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

A-Tiger-Like-Me-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Nobody Hugs a Cactus
Carter Goodrich
April 16, 2019
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Hank is a very little potted cactus, but he packs a very hot head. He wants people to stay quiet and off his grass. As characters continue to pass by, his frustrations grows on every page until he’s suddenly aware of how lonely he is. Awww. What will Hank do to make up for his past behavior? The expressions on this little cactus are utterly adorable! I’m getting some teen Groot vibes, here. I’m certain they would be good friends! As this obviously takes place in the southwest, the artwork is mostly in dusty browns and reds. The illustrations in this book were rendered in watercolor. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Nobody-Hugs-a-Cactus-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m just a little way into We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez and I hope to start Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick before the end of this week. Then I’d like to spend a bit of my reading time this week looking over my TBR list to decide what to tackle for the Big Book Summer Challenge.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 171/200


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/18/2020 #imwayr

2020-5-18-COLLAGE

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

Thank you for visiting today! In my stack this week I am reviewing two brand new books: The Elephant’s Girl will be released tomorrow, Tuesday, May 19th, and Felix After the Rain was officially released last week. Whether it’s a new release or an older title, I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list.


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The Elephant’s Girl
Celesta Rimington
May 19, 2020
Crown Books for Young Readers

Lex Willow was only a toddler when, seven years ago, she was found inside the elephant habitat at the Lexington Zoo, after a devastating tornado. She was being guarded by Nyah, a young elephant, and was found only because a ghost pointed the way to where she was located. When a lengthy search turned up no family, she was allowed to live in the zoo with Roger Marsh, the zoo’s train engineer, as her guardian. Lex’s best friend, Fisher, also lives inside the zoo since his parents are both zoo employees. While Fisher attends a local public school, Lex is homeschooled because the school children made fun of her, pointing out the fact that she talks to the wind and by also calling her Elephant Girl. So in the present, Lex discovers a ‘misplaced spirit’ who has a mystery that must be uncovered. Lex feels compelled to reveal the secrets she uncovers, even if it includes damaging zoo property. But she eventually bites off more than she can chew, risking losing permission to live on zoo property any more.

When I agreed to review this book, I didn’t even know it was set in Lexington, Nebraska — not too far from where I live. So all the references to weather and other local hot spots in the area were spot on! Also worth noting is the fact that Lex’s homeschool teacher, who happens to be Fisher’s mom, is requiring her to write a paper comparing herself to Karana from the book Island of the Blue Dolphins. So there are a number of ways she examines her experiences throughout that story. I usually examine parent/child relationships in coming of age books, but in this book it’s complicated by her unusual circumstances of being taken in by a zoo employee who hasn’t officially adopted her. But it’s still a beautiful relationship with mutual respect — the type that I would hope all children have with their biological or adoptive parents.

This book is Celesta Rimington’s debut novel, but it certainly didn’t read like one. The writing was so beautiful and I easily slipped into the story, admiring her descriptive language and in-depth understanding of Lex. Furthermore, Rimington went to great measures to research elephant communications, zoos, and the circus. Additionally, she worked for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, so there was plenty of personal experiences to guide her on her research path, leading to this book. I happily recommend this story to young readers who love mysterious adventures. That said, the story will be equally engaging for adult readers who long to remember the feeling of being young, curious, open-minded, and often misunderstood. My thanks to Netgalley and Crown Books for providing me with an Advance Reader’s Copy so that I could give an honest review. This title is scheduled to be published tomorrow, May 19th.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Clap When You Land
Elizabeth Acevedo
May 5, 2020
Quill Tree Books

I really enjoyed Acevedo’s With the Fire on High and The Poet X, so I jumped at the chance to read her latest novel told in verse. This story was told from two perspectives — a young teen who lives in New York City and another who lives in Dominican Republic. There’s not only self-discovery and immense grief for a lost father, but an uncovering of deeply hidden family secrets that bring these two characters together. Clap When You Land is an #ownvoices story that includes Latinx and LGBTQ representation. I expect to see this in teen and YA libraries, everywhere.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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When Stars Are Scattered
Victoria Jamieson
Omar Mohamed
April 14, 2020
Dial Books

I would easily name this book one of the most important books I’ve read in 2020 to encourage understanding and empathy. This story is autobiographical, friends. Co-author Omar Mohamed is the Somali man who lived the story and dedicated himself to sharing it with the world. He flawlessly addresses poverty, illness, parental loss, disabilities, immigration, education, sexism, and SO much more in this book. It’s full of sadness and devastation, but there’s a continual thread of optimism throughout as faith gave refugees the courage to always be patient and never give up hope. Any time something good happened to them, they would continue to ask: Why us? There are so many others more deserving. While this is a graphic novel, I have to give a HUGE yell out for the audiobook. I listen to a lot of books while I work around the house or in the yard and this would definitely make my five all-time favorite audiobooks. There were multiple narrators and the sound effects were so realistic that sometimes I forgot they weren’t happening in my own home. There’s an important Afterword about Omar and Hassan, but I won’t share all the finer details here for those who don’t want to know the outcome. But for more information about Omar Mohamed and what he’s up to today, you can visit  https://www.refugeestrong.org/ And one final note: If there’s a new refugee in your community, take the opportunity to introduce yourself and open yourself up to learning about them and their story.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Felix After the Rain
Dunja Jogan
Olivia Hellewell
May 15, 2020
Tiny Owl Publishing

Felix is carrying a burden — a heavy burden. All of his pain and worries are packed into a suitcase he is carrying with him — the loss of his grandmother, hurtful things his father said to him, etc. But after a good rain, he’s able to release his feelings and feel much lighter. The story is sweet and important. However, the text will need some discussion to help young children unpack the meaning. This will work well for children who’ve faced trauma and who need some nudging on how to express their hurt and grieve. My thanks to Netgalley and Tiny Owl Publishing for sending me an ARC in exchange for my honest review. I have seen at least three different dates of publication, but Netgalley says May 15th, so it should be available for ordering right away.

While I’m not sure what changes will be made to the font and artwork in the final edition, I thought I would  share this one illustrations from the e-ARC as an example of what to expect:

Felix-after-the-rain-ILLUSTRATION

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Save the Ocean
(Save the Earth #1)
Bethany Stahl
April 26, 2019

The Kindle edition of this little picture book was on sale this week, so I picked up a copy. It’s the story of a young mermaid named Kaleisha and a sea turtle named Agwe. Agwe accidentally eats a plastic bag when it looks too much like a jellyfish. When Kaleisha saves him, it is evident that we need to work harder to keep the oceans clean. The artwork appears to be rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread, below, to serve as an example of what to expect:

Save-the-Ocean-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Flubby Is Not a Good Pet!
(Flubby #1)
Jennifer E. Morris
April 23, 2019
Penguin Workshop

Awwww. Emergent readers who appreciate cats will love Flubby, even though he is NOT a good pet. With repetitive text, we learn that Flubby doesn’t do any of the cool stuff other pets do, like sing or play catch. Still, he needs his owner and she needs him.

AWARDS: Geisel Award Nominee (2020)

The book does not share how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide a page spread as an example, below:

Flubby-is-Not-a-Good-Pet-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Truck Full of Ducks
Ross Burach
March 27, 2018
Scholastic Press

With bright, bold, and expressive artwork, this funny picture book introduces us to a delivery truck driver who cannot find the customer who ordered a truck full of ducks. Everywhere he stops, the individual says they did not order a truck full of ducks. Eventually they enter a dark and spooky forest where things appear to take a turn for the worst. But I’m happy to report, SPOILER: everyone makes it out alive. 🙂 The artwork in this book was created with pencil, crayon, acrylic paint, and digital coloring. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Truck-Full-of-Ducks-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Before She Was Harriet
Lesa Cline-Ransome
James E. Ransome, illustrator
November 7, 2017
Holiday House

What exactly do you know about Harriet Tubman outside of her role in the underground railroad? Written in verse, we learn about her life before and after that experience. What a fascinating woman! I always enjoy James. E. Ransome’s artwork. The depth in color and shadow captivates my eyes and emotions. Plus, check out all those awards!

AWARDS: Charlotte Zolotow Award Nominee for Highly Commended Title (2018), Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for Younger Children Honor (2018), Audie Award for Young Listeners (2019), South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Picture Book (2020), Coretta Scott King Award Nominee for Illustrator Honor (2018) NAACP Image Award Nominee for Children (2018)

The book doesn’t share how, exactly, Ransome created his artwork, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Before-She-Was-Harriet-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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I See a Cat
Paul Meisel
September 5, 2017
Holiday House

Page after page shows the dog alone in the house, looking out the window. And on every spread, it begins with the repetitive words, “I see…” This particular dogs sees everything — a cat, a bird, a fly, a squirrel to some mice, a bee, and a boy. This book must be written about my dog. She sees and hears everything and barks often! 🙂

AWARDS: Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Nominee (2018)

The artwork was created with watercolor, acrylic and pencil on Strathmore paper with digital enhancements.

I-See-a-Cat-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Grand Mosque of Paris:
a Story of How Muslims Rescued
Jews During the Holocaust
Karen Gray Ruelle
Deborah Durland DeSaix
September 15, 2009
Holiday House

While this picture book contains much larger blocks of text than the typical children’s book, it was incredibly enlightening. Page spreads of dark, shadowy illustrations showcase the many locations and ways Jewish people were protected by Muslims in Paris during World War II. The Grand Mosque of Paris was quite instrumental in moving those in danger from one location to another, but it is important to note that there was also a general call to all Muslims to protect Jews as if they were family:

“Yesterday, the Jews of Paris were arrested. The elderly, the women, and the children. In exile like ourselves, workers like ourselves. They are our brothers. Their children are like our own children. Anyone who encounters one of his children must give that child shelter and protection for as long as misfortune–or sorrow–lasts. Oh man of my country, your heart is generous.”

The back matter is rather extensive, including a lengthy afterword which explained the tedious process in collecting whatever historical data still exists. You’ll also find a glossary of terms, acknowledgements, references, and a bibliography which lists publications, films, interviews, a website, and a long list of recommended books and films. The artwork in this book was created with oil paint applied with brushes, paper towels, and all twenty fingers. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Grand-Mosque-of-Paris-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Doorbell Rang
Pat Hutchins
October 26, 1989
Greenwillow Books

Last week I shared The Bell Rang and it made me recall an older book with a similar title from the 80s: The Doorbell Rang. So I asked my husband to bring it home from work. During my early years of teaching, I was a reading teacher for Kindergarten students and this was a hot title for a fun K/1 math lesson (practical division). The story starts off with “Ma” making a batch of a dozen cookies for her two kids to share between them. But before they can dig in, two neighbors show up. So then they must divide the cookies between four people. The doorbell keeps ringing as more kids show up, until everyone had just one cookie on their plates. So what will happen when the doorbell rings, yet again? It’s a really cute ending and goes well with a box of Cookie Crisp cereal (or a batch of homemade cookies if you’re doing a math activity with a smaller group of children). 🙂 Also worth noting is the diversity of skin colors in a children’s book from the 80s!

The full-color paints were done in ink and watercolor. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Doorbell-Rang-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m right in the middle of reading Turtle Boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein, and WOW is it good!! I guess I wasn’t expecting much, but I have laughed so hard and felt so much. I just got Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson and so I hope to start that by Wednesday. And I am planning to start the audiobook of Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, this week to listen to while I garden and do housework.

2020-5-18-TBR


Family Snapshot:

I have to skip most of this section this week. Just no time to gather up all of the family details, since it’s so late. However, I do know that my longer term reads are still Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein, Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman, The One Year Book of Devotionals #1 (daily read with the kids, all year), and we’ve started Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer as a family read aloud in preparation for the movie release on Disney Plus (June 12th).


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 162/200


What are YOU reading?

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/11/2020 #imwayr

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

Not much time to chat this week, due to Mother’s Day festivities. But I’m excited to share that my family surprised me with a used iPad to replace my failing iPad mini. I use it to read a lot of my Netgalley and Kindle books, but lately the mini hasn’t been sleeping or waking properly. In fact, it hasn’t been allowing me to change apps without restarting the device. So I’m grateful to have a new (and hopefully better functioning) iPad. Bring on the e-books! 😀

Thank you for visiting, today! Please feel free to share any great reads you’ve encountered this past week, in the comments. And whether it’s a new book or an older title, I hope you find something of interest in this post to add to your reading wish list.


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The One and Only Bob
(The One and Only Ivan #2)
Katherine Applegate
May 5, 2020
HarperCollins

2013 Newbery Medal winner The One and Only Ivan stole my heart, so I was super excited when The One and Only Bob was available this week through Overdrive audiobooks. Narrated by Danny DeVito, this story is told by Ivan’s little canine friend, Bob. I won’t spoil the details of the story, except to say that I love how this one spends some wonderful time examining courage and regrets.

I was afraid. A coward. There’s a certain freedom that comes with owning your faults.”

But there are also important lessons in forgiveness — forgiveness of others AND especially of one’s self. I still think book #1 is my favorite, but I wish I’d re-read it just before starting this one. Kids will definitely connect with Bob and be excited to learn more about what’s going on with Ivan and Ruby.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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If These Wings Could Fly
Kyrie McCauley
March 3, 2020
Katherine Tegen Books

**SOBS** When I got just a few chapters into this book, I couldn’t help but think WHY AM I NOT HEARING MORE ABOUT KYRIE MCCAULEY?! Well duh. It looks like this is her YA debut! I was really hoping to find a good YA novel to complete my week and this book was pretty much perfection for me. TRIGGER: Domestic violence. (But I deeply appreciate how the abuser is given a layered presence. While you may feel hatred toward the abuse, the story examines where it stems from. So powerful.)

The book spans four months — the first chapter begins on September 2nd and the final chapter begins on January 1st. Some favorite quotes:

When the legacy is anger, the inheritance is fear.”

Sometimes I really wish he were just mean through and through. Evil is easy to hate. But broken. Broken can love and be loved.

I love how the main character notices that someone else’s dad has “a version of loud that isn’t angry.” Oooof.

Also important to know is the fact that there’s a bit of magical realism in this book, but it doesn’t completely dominate the story. It could even be attributed to the mental confusion experienced by victims of domestic abuse (but I personally don’t think that’s the case). No spoilers here, but I will say that if I never much liked crows before, I kinda do now. So wise. So instinctive. So protective. I look forward to seeing what others in our reading community think!!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Far Away
Lisa Graff
March 19, 2019
Philomel Books

I can tell you, for sure, that this isn’t a book I would have chosen to read all on my own after reading the synopsis. I feel uncomfortable reading about deceit and I wasn’t sure what angle the story would take on psychic mediums. All that said, I’m glad I took a chance because this was a good read.

CJ (Caraway June) is being raised by her Aunt Nic, who just happens to be a famous medium. CJ knows that her mother died when she was little, but Aunt Nic sometimes intercedes and lets CJ’s mother talk to her. CJ completely believes in her aunt’s abilities and sees “spirit” as a powerful being. However, one day she and her new friend, Jax, meet a surprise visitor who shares details about her aunt that threaten to unravel all CJ has ever believed in. This one is a quick read and there’s lots to discuss about family relationships, anxiety, and spiritual beliefs.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Bear and the Star
Lola M. Schaefer
Bethanne Andersen, illustrator
September 24, 2019
Greenwillow Books

This poetic story has a Christmas-y feeling as there’s snow, a new star, the people in the story seems to be wearing a lot of read and green, and everyone is hoping for peace. This is a soothing read with calming illustrations that will work especially well as a bedtime tale for young listeners. Oil paints on gessoed Arches printmaking paper were used to prepare the full-color art. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Bear-and-the-Star-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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When a Tiger Comes to Dinner
Jessica Olien
April 9, 2019
Balzer + Bray

Let’s get one thing straight: There’s lots to learn about tigers before you invite one to dinner. Like, how do you say hello? What will the tiger want to eat? What games does a tiger like to play? It’s a good thing that mouse has an expert book on how to impress a tiger. Surely there will be no surprises, right? 🙂 The front and back matter doesn’t say how the artwork was created, but it appears to be rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

When-a-Tiger-Comes-to-Dinner-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Dragons Get Colds Too
Rebecca Roan
Charles Santoso, illustrator
February 12, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

In this funny picture book, we’re given steps #1 through #7 on how to care for a dragon when it gets sick. Each step is followed by a “fact” and a “tip.” Hilarious brightly-colored illustrations accompany each step, including full page spreads between each step which showcase just how difficult the task will be. Sometimes “how to” books make any task seem so easy, and children will most definitely pick up on the humor and the comparison to caring for a sick young child. The artwork for this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Dragons-Get-Colds-Too-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Bell Rang
James E. Ransome
January 15, 2019
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Written in stanzas, The Bell Rang is a gorgeous picture book that shares a week in the life of a young female slave. It begins on Monday as the bell rings. Each day, after the bell rings, daddy gathers wood and mama cooks. Then her parents go off to work on the plantation while she goes with the “young’uns” to Miss Sarah Mae’s. Thursday is different, however, because her brother is missing. Ben risked his life for freedom and all the family can do is wait and cry and pray that he made it to safety. Not knowing is heartbreaking, yet hopeful. The last page simply ends with “Monday…” but there’s a bird flying away, seemingly indicating freedom for Ben. An Author’s Note talks about what it was like when a slave ran for freedom and how slave owners encouraged family ties to suppress running.

AWARDS: Coretta Scott King Book Award Nominee for Illustrator (2020), A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2019, ALA Notable Children’s Books (2020)

The beautiful illustrations for this book were rendered in acrylics. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

The-Bell-Rang

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Book in the Book in the Book
Julien Baer
Simon Bailly, illustrator
January 8, 2019
Holiday House

What a fantastically entertaining little book. The story is exactly as the title indicates — a book in a book in a book. With repetitive text, each story has an identical storyline with a young boy named Thomas, but the illustrations make them all quite unique because of the setting. And in each story, a boy named Thomas eventually finds a new book to open. On the last page we see him walking away and a book is left in the sand. This one would be great for a discussing the power of illustrations, or how the setting can change the feeling of the book, or whether Thomas ever found a book to begin with — could it all have just been a dream? There are no notes on the artwork, but I’ll provide one page spread to show how the second book is found, below:

Book-in-the-Book-in-the-BookSPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Vast Wonder of the World:
Biologist Ernest Everett Just
Mélina Mangal
Luisa Uribe, illustrator
November 1, 2018
Milbrook Press

This is one of the most fascinating picture book biographies I’ve read. Ernest Everett Just faced a number of difficulties early on, including the death of his father at age four, severe lasting impact of typhoid fever (meaning losing the ability to read), the death of his mother before college, attending Dartmouth College while working to pay his tuition while also sending money back home to support his siblings, and simply making his way in the world of academia as a black man during years of dreaded segregation. Nevertheless, his contributions to science were ground breaking, particularly in regards to his discoveries of the egg cell. This book needs to be in every school and public library! My one disappointment would be that there were no dates or years found within the book, but this certainly wouldn’t deter me from sharing with young readers. The illustrations in this book were created using pencil, paper, and Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Vast-Wonder-of-the-World-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Harriet Gets Carried Away
Jessie Sima
March 6, 2018
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Harriet is a lot like my youngest. She likes to wear costumes all the time. And in this quirky little picture book, she goes to the store in a penguin costume to buy party hats for her party, but ends up leaving with some real life penguins. And let’s just say you’ll never guess how Harriet makes it back home. What a crazy experience! The illustrations for this book were rendered in Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Harriet-Gets-Carried-Away-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

This week I plan to finish up an ARC of The Elephant’s Girl by Celesta Rimington. It takes place not far from where I live, so that’s kinda cool! I also started listening to Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. Acevedo is one of the narrators and so I knew I’d enjoy her narration style after enjoying the audiobook of With the Fire on High! I really hope to start When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson before the end of the week — I’ve heard such great things. I’m also currently waiting for a new batch of 30+ picture books to arrive through ILL, so that should be fun!

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 150/200


What are YOU reading?