It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 04/16/2018 #imwayr

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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!


Good-DogGood Dog
Dan Gemeinhart
March 27, 2018

Oh my, I really really enjoyed Good Dog.  I was unsure and really guarded during the first third of it, so I struggled to fall into the story initially. But WOW did Gemeinhart bring it home! I mean, I broke down during one reading. It was one of those can-hardly-breathe sobs, and my children and husband came over to ask me if I was okay. With heaving breaths, I couldn’t talk. We lost my beloved dog of 17ish years over a decade ago, but this read dug up so many of those gushy feelings of unconditional love that my sweet fur-baby and I shared. You never forget. So… the premise: Brodie is Aidan’s dog. Brodie has died and has gone on to a purgatory-like doggy afterlife. However, he is trying to piece together how he died with only bits and pieces of memory coming back to him. He just knows that his boy is in danger. He and another dog, Tuck, decide to go back as ghosts to check on Brodie’s boy in an effort to find lasting peace. Once they arrive back in the land of the living, they almost immediately encounter hell hounds who, they discover, can touch and hurt them. They also encounter Patsy, a dead cat, who teaches them the ways of safely being dead in the living world. There’s only so much time and energy they can spend before their soul will be lost forever. Therefore, they spend much of the story finding ways around the demons-like hounds to accomplish their mission. This is a story of love, of honor, of weakness and strength, and of redemption and forgiveness. And like so many “good dogs,” Brodie may have the energy of a child, but he also possesses the wise heart of an elder:

But Brodie’s heart? It knew a hero when it saw one. And Patsy was a hero there on that bridge, even if she’d never ever been one before. You don’t have to have been a hero before to be one when you really need to. We can all be a hero anytime we decide to be. Believe me. Because a hero? A hero isn’t a person. A hero is a choice. And Patsy made one.

I don’t want to say much more about the story line because the less you know, probably the better. Nevertheless, I should mention there are some frightening elements of abuse (both animal and child abuse) and some bullying that a young reader should be aware of before encountering this story. There’s also a small element of surprise when we actually meet the narrator in the final chapter of the book. Enjoy!


Poet-XThe Poet X
Elizabeth Acevedo
March 6, 2018

For National Poetry Month, what better to read than a wonderful new YA book told in verse? This is my first Acevedo read, so I was NOT prepared for the fierce energy in this story. The Poet X is told from the experiences of Xiomara (See-oh-MAH-ruh). She’s a large, strong, Afro-Latina (Dominicana) teen living in Harlem who says very little, but has on occasion found reason to speak with her fists. Her twin brother, Xavier (who she lovingly refers to as simply “Twin”), gives her a journal where she begins recording her thoughts and poems. With Spanish worked into her mostly-English diary, Xiomara discusses school, her sexuality (including desires and experience with masturbation), her parent’s relationship, music, religion, sexual harassment, falling in love, and poetry, poetry, poetry. I love how she describes her love-interest in relation to writing poetry:

He’s not elegant enough for a sonnet,
too well-thought-out for a free write,
taking too much space in my thoughts
to ever be a haiku.

Over the months, we learn that she and her mother have very different views on religion. Her mother is a strong Catholic. Simply put, Xiomara is not. Nevertheless, she has a lot of biblical thoughts/questions and appears to enjoy open discussion with her priest, Father Sean. Some of the section headings even reference biblical ideas, such as: In the Beginning Was the Word, Eve’s Apple, The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness, etc. As Xiomara is introduced to slam poetry, she learns a great deal about the power of her words.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be as religious as my mother, as devout as my brother and best friend. I only know that learning to believe in the power of my own words has been the most freeing experience of my life. It has brought me the most light. And isn’t that what a poem is? A lantern glowing in the dark.

The writing is beautiful with ALL the feels ranging from anger to passion. When you read this book, make sure to read the acknowledgements at the end. I always do. And this time, the final words said to her real-life family made my eyes sweat — especially the tribute to her mother, Rosa Acevedo. So very touching!!


Wolf-in-the-SnowWolf in the Snow
Matthew Cordell
January 3, 2017

This picture book is an almost wordless story of a young girl who rescues a wolf cub and is, therefore, rescued by the wolf pack in the end. It’s a story of empathy told in the same vein as the age old tale of The Lion and the Mouse with the basic moral of mercy brings its reward. In the beginning, we see pictures of the young girl with her family and later, pictures of the wolf cub with his pack, making a comparison of the attachments all living beings have to the ones they love. Wolf in the Snow is the winner of the 2018 Caldecott Medal and it was a 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award nominee for picture book. The illustrations were created with pen and ink with watercolor:

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LoveLove
Matt de la Peña
Loren Long
January 9, 2018

On January 9, 2018, Matt de la Peña published an article in Time magazine with the title Why We Shouldn’t Shield Children From Darkness. Whether you read his article before or after you read the picture book Love, I really hope you will read it ASAP. There are so many good tidbits in it, including an explanation of how/why he and Loren Long fought to keep a “dark” illustration in this book. He also shares the following note on why this book was written and why it was revised before publication:

Finding myself overwhelmed by the current divisiveness in our country, I set out to write a comforting poem about love. It was going to be something I could share with my own young daughter as well as every kid I met in every state I visited, red or blue. But when I read over one of the early drafts, something didn’t ring true. It was reassuring, uplifting even, but I had failed to acknowledge any notion of adversity.

So I started over.

And that, right there, is probably the most important introduction to this picture book. The book includes diverse families and both the light-hearted and difficult sides to love. Each illustration highlights something in our lives that we experience as part of our growth, bonding, and love. The art was created with collaged monotype prints, acrylic paint, and pencil. While this book would make a great gift for a child, it would also make a beautiful gift for an adult. I’m showcasing three page-spreads below, including the “dark” piano one mentioned in the above referenced article:

Love-aLove-bLove-c.jpeg

“…an uncomfortable number of children out there right now are crouched beneath a metaphorical piano.” ~Matt de la Peña.


To Be Read:

I have a large reading pile I would love to get to, but I’m not going to commit to much this week since I have a number of important family obligations that I need to tend to. However, I would at least love to finish reading and reviewing these two books:

Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!

24 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 04/16/2018 #imwayr

    1. Oh, completely agree on Love. So very beautiful. I really felt the article added even more depth to it — knowing what was behind its creation. Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!

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  1. I have Good Dog and Poet X on my long, long list, hoping someday soon! I loved the picture books you shared, just wonderful stories and beautiful to see. Thanks and have a great week reading those next ones!

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    1. I really enjoyed this week’s books. It usually takes us a looooong time to get new books in our area, so for novels I’ve resorted to checking out e-books through Overdrive. It’s not my preference, but it works. And YES on the picture books! I find such meaning and joy in a simple well-crafted child’s book — they also make the best Christmas/birthday gifts if I can find the perfect one for the occasion. Thanks for stopping by, Linda!

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  2. Argh, I just can’t do sad dog books! Especially right now. My beloved pittie is 14 and failing, so every day I wonder if today is the day, but so far, she just keeps chugging along, poor thing. She fancies herself an emotional support dog, and we like to joke that she looks around at us and knows that we won’t make it without the comfort only a pit bull can give! I hadn’t realized Erin Entrada Kelly had a new book out–just requested from my public library. I loved A Different Pond–one of those quiet, resonant PBs. The Poet X is one of the many, many books I started over the past month and need to finish. “Fierce” is a great word for it.

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    1. Considering the circumstances, I completely understand why you’d stay away from sad dog books right now. I also want to assure you that there was so much happiness and joy in it, too. But the sadness caught me by surprise and stayed with me even as I cried through writing my review. On Erin Entrada Kelly, how in the WORLD do these authors publish books back-to-back like this? I’m stunned.

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    1. YES, YES, YES!! It was so heart-healing. I cannot share the moment where I lost it, for fear of spoiling things. But it all made me think of my beloved “Lady” and how she struggled to stay with us for so long, even as her body was slowly deteriorating. My circumstances weren’t the same as the one in this book, but I still felt all the feels and know the pain of letting go and moving on. ❤

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  3. How in the world do you get all this done while keeping our five kids alive, and all that, each week?! Good grief! Thank goodness our kids have someone reading and thinking about literature that targets them. 🙂

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    1. It’s probably because of the lack of “and all that” lately. 😉 In recent months, our 14 year old and 12 year old have been taking my books. BJ took Emergency Contact out of my TBR stack, so now I have to wait around for her to be finished. Nevertheless, I love that we get to suggest new books to one another all the time. It’s such fun watching our little readers grow up loving books!

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  4. LOVE is one of my favorite books ever. I’m so glad you had a great experience!
    Poet X is one that I want to read more and more every time I read about it.
    Good Dog will be what I pick up next since my club is reading Gemeinhart books right now.

    Happy reading this week! 🙂

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    1. Love really was beautiful! And I hope you enjoy Poet X and Good Dog. How fun for a book club to focus on an author, in general (instead of just a book)!

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    1. Oh wonderful! You’re in for a treat. But I do understand the “too many books” issue. I’m trying to put all mine in order so that I know when I’ll squeeze everything in before they’re all due back. That means the ones I’ve purchased sometimes go on the back burner. lol

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  5. I have enjoyed all these picture books except You Go First, which I have not read. A Different Pond is a book that has stuck with me. Have you read Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers? I purchased it at the same time as I got Love. I think I like it even more, and that is saying a lot!
    I really want to read The Poet X, but am not sure about The Good Dog. I read A Dog’s Purpose and cried my heart out and I am not really even a dog kind of person!

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    1. I haven’t yet read Here We Are, so I’ll look into that one day to see if it’s available in my area. Thanks for the suggestion! Good Dog was sad at some points, but also filled with sweetness and joy — so very good for my heart. Who knew all those attachment feelings could be dug back up from YEARS ago?! Thanks for stopping in, Cheriee!

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  6. I avoid sad dog books, but it sounds like a good one for some of my readers. I just got You Go First and am eager to read it. I adored Poet X.

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    1. I really don’t think any middle grade collection would be complete without Good Dog. It’s sad, but also full of hope and joy. I’m so glad you enjoyed Poet X! You Go First is my main read for this week, so hoping that goes great. I’ve been on such a great reading trip, lately. Thanks for dropping in, Crystal!

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    1. It’s hard to believe Erin Entrada Kelly already has a new book out! That front cover is really cute with the Scrabble letters and all! I hope you enjoy reading it once you get to it. Have a wonderful reading week, Katie!

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  7. I hope that you love A Different Pond as much as I had. Love is such a special book – I’ve been booktalking it a fair bit over a few of the professional development workshops I have been conducting. And will do so again next week! 🙂 I have to find Poet X soonest!

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    1. Oh yes — Love really is very special! I really appreciated all that he said in that article, too. It made it even more special. And I hope you get your hands on Poet X soon. Fierce really is the best word I have to describe it. Have a lovely week, Myra!

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