It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/30/2018 #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! With five children, my family reads a lot of books. So it’s nice to have a space to showcase some of what we’ve read, each week.

Dear-Rachel-MaddowDear Rachel Maddow
Adrienne Kisner
June 5, 2018
Feiwel & Friends
Young Adult

Dear Rachel Maddow is the story of Brynn Haper during one year of high school. At 17 she has a rough home life (with a father who took off long ago and a step father who hates her), she’s mourning the loss of her older brother, she’s doing poorly in school, and she has to face her ex-girlfriend every day in the halls of school. Brynn sends an e-mail to Rachel Maddow as part of a school assignment. But after she gets a response, she starts using Rachel Maddow’s name as the person to write her private journal entries to — so she begins by drafting email after email in a saved “draft” file to document this year. This story line moved quickly and explored a wide variety of themes, including: loss, abuse, romance, politics, and there was even a mystery to be solved. I did a bit of reading around about Kisner’s inspiration and thoughts behind this book (because, even though this book is NOT about Rachel Maddow, I’m certain I’m not the only one who would love to know if Rachel Maddow has read this book) and I discovered that Kisner used to be up all hours of the day/night with her first baby. Rachel Maddow’s show always seemed to be on when she needed something to watch. And it sounds like Maddow, unknowingly, provided great comfort through those early years. Dear Mr. Henshaw was mentioned in one inspiration article, as well. So I added that to my week’s list of reading. I never discovered any articles about Rachel Maddow reading this book. I’d still love to know what she thought about a book that mentions her name (repeatedly…).

Dear-Mr-HenshawDear Mr. Henshaw
Beverly Cleary
Middle Grade

I hadn’t planned on reading two “Dear…” books in one week, but as I mentioned above, this one came up in one of the article about Dear Rachel Maddow. So I decided to read it on a whim. Leigh Botts is not happy about his parents’ divorce. To make matter worse, he is moved to a new town where he has no friends in 6th grade (and someone keeps stealing parts of his lunch!). Leigh is given an assignment to contact a favorite author. He picked Mr. Henshaw and is happy when he eventually hears back from him. Once Mr. Henshaw learns that Leigh wants to become an author, he convinces Leigh to work on his writing by keeping a journal. So Leigh decides to start his new journal by writing entries addressed to Mr. Henshaw. Through his many journal entries, plus a few real letters written to Mr. Henshaw, we discover the depths of Leigh’s loneliness, his hopes and dreams, and his love and heartbreak for his dad. I can’t remember if I read Dear Mr. Henshaw back when it first came out. I would have been 11 years when it was published, so it was likely very popular for my age group at the time. In any case, I’m glad I read it this week. It was the 1984 Newbery Medal winner and really hit a soft spot in my heart.

Fox-and-Chick-the-PartyFox & Chick: The Party: and Other Stories
Sergio Ruzzier
April 17, 2018
Chronicle Books
Children’s Picture Book

My kids fell in love with Elephant and Piggie this last year, So after hearing this book was written in the same style, I knew I had to check it out. This 46-paged book has three separate stories: The Party, Good Soup, and Sit Still. In the first story, Fox learns that “May I use your bathroom?” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone! In the second story, Chick learns that Fox must really like him if he’s chosen not eat him. And in the third story, Fox and Chick discover that paintings of landscapes are easier to complete than portraits of little chicks. 😉 This book is perfect for young readers who are excited to try out their first early chapter book. The soft illustrations are rendered in pen, ink, and watercolor. Here’s one spread:

Blacker-the-BerryThe Blacker the Berry
Joyce Carol Thomas
Floyd Cooper, Illustrator
July 1, 2008
Joanna Cotler Books
An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Children’s Picture Book

This is a picture book of poems and artwork celebrating the many shades of black skin. Each spread showcases a different child with a poem about their specific coloring. The young children often share wisdom or sayings passed down by their mother, father, or other ancestors. Most of these poems include berries, including raspberry, huckleberry, coffee berries, cranberry, mulberry, blackberry, boysenberry, etc. These pages are so heartwarming to read and beautiful to look at — a must for any children’s library!


To Be Read:

I started A Reaper at the Gates (book #3 of An Ember in the Ashes) last week and am still working on it. My friend (and fellow #imwayr participant — Elisabeth of The Dirigible Plum) loaned me her copy of Sunny, so I’m ready to start that this week, too! Also, I’m trying to get through the textbook for a brand new course I’m teaching this fall semester (though this may take until school begins, at the rate I’m going).

What are YOU reading?


38 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/30/2018 #imwayr

  1. Although I was obsessed with Beverly Cleary as a child, I think I had stopped reading her books by the time Dear Mr Henshaw was published, so I don’t think I read it as a child. I did catch up with it as an adult and loved it. Reading about it here makes me want to reread it, in fact. (Also there’s as sequel: Strider. Which I think I also enjoyed but can’t remember at all!). Dear Rachel Maddow is one I really want to read. I remember that I liked the Fox and Chick book–but I remember nothing about it! And it wasn’t even very long ago that I read it. SIGH. I’m going to get it from the library again for a quick reread/refresher.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine Dear Mr. Henshaw was surprising for its time since it really explored the experience of coming from a family of divorce (including where one spouse wanted to reunite while the other didn’t). I’m betting a number of religious organizations would have encouraged parents to not let their children read it, back in the day. Also, I hope you like Dear Rachel Maddow! That was another Overdrive book, for me!


  2. I need to read Dear Rachel Maddow, and hope someone has told her about this book! Dear Mr. Henshaw is a favorite. I know teachers have used it as a read aloud and for writing letters as one’s story. And I loved Fox & Chick & The Blacker The Berry, sweet all the way through. Sunny is on my list, maybe someday? Thanks, Shaye!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As I was into the book, I kept thinking about Rachel Maddow and wondering what she thought of it. It’s not about her at all, but still… I think she’d like the reason behind why her name was included!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved Dear Mr. Henshaw! It’s been a while since I read it, but now I think I’ll go find a copy of it and enjoy it again. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The entire time I was reading Dear Rachel Maddow, I also kept wondering and googling to see if she had read or mentioned the book. I’m desperate to know! Also, Dear Mr. Henshaw makes me so nostalgic. I love your list this week!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So glad you enjoyed Fox and Chick! I love Dear Mr Henshaw. I remember reading it to my grade 3/4 class early in my teaching career. It’s up there with Socks as my favourite Beverly Cleary titles. Dear Rachel Maddow is new to me. My library has a copy, but I already have so many many books to read!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love Dear Mr. Henshaw, and I love the sequel, Strider, even more.I think it’s Cleary’s most underappreciated book. My 4 year old is also really into Beverly Cleary right now. She’s been listening to the audiobook of Mitch and Amy over and over and over!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would like to read Strider now! It’s so fun sharing beloved books from our childhood with our children. I just love getting to see their responses! Thank you for visiting, Katie!


  7. Wow, I haven’t thought about Dear Mr. Henshaw in years, I’m sure I read it as a child, since I was obsessed with everything Beverly Cleary, but I don’t remember it very well – I think I might just look for a copy at the library and refresh my memory!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I still can’t be sure that I didn’t read it as a child, but I did enjoy it as an adult. I’m surprised at the open discussion of divorce for that time period. Divorce was kinda the “big D” of my community — one of those topics rarely discussed because everyone was supposed to get married and always stay together. I’m sure glad to know this book was out there and available for children who needed a mirror to peer into!


  8. I have also been seriously dying to know if Rachel Maddow knows about/has read the book!! I started it but wasn’t in the right mood for it at the time, but I’m hoping to revisit it soon. The Ember in the Ashes series & Jason Reynolds’s Track series have all been on my TBR for a while. Looks like you’ll have some wonderful reading this week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Dear Mr. Henshaw was quite important for its time. I had a number of friends from divorced homes, but there were so few books that explored that experience for young children. And I agree on Sunny — very different! But I think it’s my favorite, so far. Thank you so much for visiting!


    1. Both the Track series and Ember in the Ashes series are exciting — for different reasons, obviously. I’m taking my time with book #3 of Ember. Just savoring it over the last two weeks… 🙂 Thanks for visiting, Stacy!


  9. Sounds like a good reading week for you! Funny that you read two books that start with Dear in the title.

    Beverly Cleary is wonderful! My sons LOVED The Mouse and the Motorcycle and Runaway Ralph (two of MY favorites when I was a kid!) when they were little – we read them aloud – I miss those days!

    Enjoy your books this week –


    2018 Big Book Summer Challenge


    1. Oh wow, I remember doing a book project for Mouse and the Motorcycle in 3rd grade. It involved carefully drawing a large motorcycle on poster board and cutting it out. I loved that book so much!! Thanks for visiting, Sue!


  10. This is the first time I’ve seen The Blacker the Berry. I would love to add that to my poetry collection! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and also for the interior shot!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s