It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 05/07/2018 #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!


RefugeeRefugee
Alan Gratz
July 25, 2017

Refugee is the powerful story of three different children and their experiences fleeing their countries of origin. Josef is a 12 year old Jewish boy in the 1930s and his family is attempting to flee Nazi Germany to start over in Cuba. Isabel’s family is attempting to flee Cuba headed for Miami in 1994. And Mahmoud is a Syrian boy whose home has been bombed and they are attempting to flee Syria, headed to Germany in 2015. The stories continually rotate and each chapter is only a few pages long, making this an excellent book for a classroom read aloud. There’s also a neat twist near the end that brings this book to a beautiful conclusion, even in the midst of deep sadness. While I cried at the end, my heart was also so full. We humans are such a mixed bundle of beauty and ugly, but Gratz leaves us with hope. My only regret is that I didn’t read this one sooner. My 14 year old is now about 3 chapters in and I cannot wait to hear her thoughts at the end.


Ash-PrincessAsh Princess
Laura Sebastian
April 24, 2018

Ash Princess is the story of princess Theodosia, now called Thora since her capture. Thora is kept alive in the palace she grew up in after her people are defeated and enslaved. They call her Ash Princess to mock her since her mother was the Fire Queen. She’s repeatedly whipped in public when her people make mistakes and she’s also forced to attend all big events while wearing a crown made of ash (which drips ash all over her face and clothing). This is a story of a people preparing to rise up and take back their land. My longer Ash Princess review is available if you’re interested in reading more details without big spoilers.

I’ve heard other reviewers complain because it’s a story built on a common romantic trope about a magical people who’ve been conquered (like Children of Blood and Bone and many others). Nevertheless, the whole story is not focused solely on this trope and there are several major points where Thora doesn’t fall into the same “magical princess” stereotype. I felt the writing was quite beautiful at several crucial points and I will definitely look forward to reading book #2 (Lady Smoke) when it is released next year.


WarcrossWarcross
Marie Lu
September 12, 2017

Warcross is a young adult science fiction novel set in a virtual reality gaming world. It’s very fast-paced with many twists and turns.

“Everything’s science fiction until someone makes it science fact”

Emika Chen is a bounty hunter, just trying to make ends meet since her apartment is past due three months and she’s being evicted. Her job mostly entails logging into a dark virtual world and hunting down people who make illegal bets over the popular Warcross games. One day she and her roommate are sitting in the virtual reality audience, watching the games, when she tries to play with a glitch (even though these games have the highest level of security and protections possible). Surprisingly, her glitch DOES work, throwing her avatar right into the middle of the game with half the world watching. Now Emika is facing phone calls and news reporters trying to find out what she did and who she really is. She also faces the possibility of being flown around the world to meet Mr. Hideo Tanaka, the creator of Warcross, for a high-security inside job.

“What’s the point of freedom if you’re just living in a miserable reality?”

Toward the end, there’s an unexpected twist that edges on dystopian. This could go in so many directions, so I’ll be especially interested in seeing what Lu does in book #2 (Wildcard).


Out-of-WonderOut of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
by Kwame Alexander, Ekua Holmes (Illustrations),
Chris Colderley (poet), and Marjory Wentworth (poet)
March 14, 2017

Out of Wonder is the highlight of my picture book reads for this week. Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth wrote original poems in honor of past poets who have inspired each of them. There are six long pages in the back that provide biographical information on each of the poets they pay homage to in this book. I enjoyed reading these poems, letting the words roll over my tongue as my eyes explored the creative and bold artwork on each page. In fact, just last evening my youngest was struggling to settle down for bed. It was getting late, so I pulled out this book and began reading aloud. She looked at the pages and quieted while my voice fell into a soothing rhythm. I only made it to the seventh poem in the book before she slipped into dream land. Perhaps I should add this one to our regular bedtime reads. 🙂

Out-of-Wonder-BREE
Breena falls asleep reading Out of Wonder

Out of Wonder won the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrator (2018). The beautiful artwork is done in collage on paper. I’ll post a couple examples, below:

Out-of-Wonder-spread1Out-of-Wonder-spread2


To Be Read:

This week my husband and children are all home with me. I imagine we’ll be very busy spending quality time together out in this beautiful sunshine, running errands around town, and doing some much-needed prep/packing for our vacation next week. So I cannot be sure what reading time I’ll have for myself. Of course I have a large stack, just in case.

Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!

26 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 05/07/2018 #imwayr

    1. I know exactly what you mean on sometimes being surprised. I’m really trying to stretch my boundaries to make more room for books I wouldn’t normally select. This week was one of those “wide range” weeks where each book was so different from the others. And YES!! Refugee is SO important! I’m debating on whether to do a read aloud with my children, but there are parts that I think my 7 year old couldn’t handle. He’s so tender-hearted and I’m sure he’d be terrified, knowing these stories are based on real life happenings. Thanks for coming by, Lisa!

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  1. I still need to read Refugee. Hopefully this summer sometime…. I loved Out of Wonder–the art is incredible and the poetry is really good too! Definitely a new favorite poetry collection. Most of my Children’s Lit students read it this semester as well. I also have Burma Chronicles and Pyongyang in my office if you want to borrow at some point. Just let me know!

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    1. Completely agree on Out of Wonder! And I would very much like to borrow one of your Guy Delisle books after the 20th (or even later in the summer if you won’t be around). It appears none of my local libraries have a one (but WSC and PSC do).

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  2. I loved Refugee and Out of Wonder as well, think they’ll be around for a while and loved by many. Thanks for sharing the new Marie Lu book. There are so many I know I would enjoy. I have liked her books in the past. Have a wonderful vacation!

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    1. This was my first Marie Lu book, but now that I’m hearing about her others I’m very intrigued — especially since she ties in some elements from other books into Warcross. It’s so fun when authors do that! Thanks for stopping by, Linda!

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  3. I enjoyed Legend and have Warcross on my list, so hopefully I pick it up this summer.
    I echo your comments on Refugee. We did Global Read Aloud as a class this year and the book was Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. Once we read that, my students were up for any similar stories that I could find. When we got Refugee from our book fair it was by far the most popular and purchased book. Many students have been loaning their copies, and I have been sending mine around the room too. Such an important title. Thanks for the great post!

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    1. I just love it when one book leads to another great title. I completely agree on Refugee! I read A Land of Permanent Goodbyes two weeks ago and felt like there was such a smooth transition from that to Refugee (although Permanent Goodbyes is more for older readers, IMO). I’m looking forward to my oldest two reading Refugee. I would read it aloud with the whole family, but our youngest two just aren’t emotionally ready for stories of losing family members. Thanks for stopping by, Aaron!

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  4. I wept buckets while reading Refugee also. Warcross looks interesting. I read the entire Legend series which says a lot since it is not my favourite genre. I tried The Young Elites but it just didn’t work for me. I think I am one of the last human beings on the planet who has not read Out of Wonder. Hopefully soon.

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    1. I think I need to look into Lu’s other books after reading Warcross. This was my first, so I feel like I’m missing out on all the connections she made between her stories. And I really hope you can get your hands on Out of Wonder soon. We’ve enjoyed it!

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    1. I agree — Refugee was so very powerful! We’re excited to reserve our favorite cabin, this summer. We haven’t been there for almost 2 years, so everyone is ready to plan and pack. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Sue!

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  5. I thought Out of Wonder was just an awesome book of poetry. Definitely one that I would like to have my own copy of! Refugee is a novel that has been on my To Read list for some time. I really need to get to it, as I’ve heard lots of great things about it. Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Oh yes, it really was awesome — both the art and poetry. I thoroughly enjoyed Refugee and hope you can get to it soon. Those “to read” lists seems to grow at least ten times as fast as I can read. LOL Thanks for stopping in, Jana!

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  6. The sun has been glorious as well here in Singapore over the past two days. A warm welcome over the past rainy days. Refugee was one of my favourite reads last year. The photo of your beautiful daughter sleeping after being read a book is absolutely precious.

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    1. It has been absolutely lovely! Our family is heading to a camping trip on Monday, so I’m looking forward to some hiking, fishing, swimming, and cooking out — all out in this gorgeous weather! And thank you so much for the comment on the photo. I love documenting these sweet moments. Thanks for stopping by, Myra, and have a wonderful reading week!

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  7. Looking forward to hearing what you bring with you on your vacation to read!
    Thank you for posting about Ash Princess. I’m on hold for it at the library but haven’t really heard anything!

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    1. Oh I hope you enjoy Ash Princess! I actually read that one as an audio book. Sometimes I’m turned off by audio books because of the narrator, but that one was really good. I’m excited to see what direction they take things in the next book. I’ve gathered up some library e-books to take with me to camping. That may be my best bet so that no real books get too much moisture out there. Ya just never know what will happen in those rustic cabins. lol Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend, Michele — thank you for stopping by!

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    1. I was really drawn in to the three stories in Refugee. I knew it was going to be good, but each story was SO very real to me. I keep thinking about it and hope I can get all my older kids to read it (14, 12, and possibly my 10 year old). Thanks for stopping by, Laura!

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