It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/27/2018 #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!

Yesterday was a bittersweet day for my family. My grandfather passed away (Sunday) — he had been slowly diminishing over the last several years (dementia), so we are happy that he has been released from his pain and suffering. However, this world has already been missing him as he loved his family dearly and he touched so many other lives around the world and across the country. The “sweet” part of yesterday is the fact that it was also my older daughter’s 15th birthday. So we enjoyed the celebration of her life with cake, ice cream, and special gifts. She informed me she had been calculating conception dates and realized that Christmas of 2002 must have been a “cozy time” for me and her daddy. LOL Ahhhh, the joys of raising teenagers. On to share a selection of my reading for the week…


A Reaper at the Gates
(Ember in the Ashes #3)
Sabaa Tahir
June 12th 2018
Young Adult

I finally finished book #3. Woohoo!! And it was, in my humble opinion, the best of the series so far. I wish I could give a thorough synopsis without any spoilers, but it’s likely that I’ll reveal something if I say much. So quickly… This book follows the paths of Laia of Serra, Elias, and The Blood Shrike — rotating narration between the three (until the very end where two new characters take over the last chapters). We finally discover a few important pieces to the puzzle, like how Cook is connected to someone imporant, why the ghosts that won’t pass on are so dangerous, and what the Nightbringer has promised Keris Veturia. And Laia eventually discovers where the last piece of the Jinn star is hiding. But will it be too late to save the Scholars by the time all is revealed?

“Curse this world for what it does to mothers, for what it does to daughters. Curse it for making us strong through loss and pain, our hearts torn from our chests again and again. Curse it for forcing us to endure.”

The painful prophecy seems to play out seamlessly, despite all counter efforts. And if the rest of the foretelling comes to fruition, then we’re in for a horrible book #4. But I have every confidence that Tahir will pull off a winning conclusion to this series. Can’t wait!

Truth-as-told-by-Mason-ButtleThe Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
Leslie Connor
January 23, 2018
Katherine Tegen Books
Middle Grade Literature

This is my new middle grade book crush (I am a bit flighty when it comes to firm one-book-commitment, so other middle grade books mustn’t get jealous). I started it on a whim a few days ago and quickly fell in love with this kid. Mason is dyslexic and regularly experiences synesthesia (with his form, he sees colors based on his emotions). He is also terribly sad because his very best friend, Benny, died last year by stepping on a bad ladder board and falling from Mason’s treehouse — or at least they think that’s what happened. No one is sure and Mason feels like maybe he’s to blame. Mason meets a new kid at his school named Calvin and they develop a truly beautiful, trusting, and adventurous friendship (which Mason really needs because he’s accustomed to being picked on by some bullies). But one terrible day, another shocking incident happens and everyone is wondering, yet again, if Mason is to blame. Throughout the story, the school librarian is allowing Mason to “write” his story by using a talk-to-text software. He has such a sweet, optimistic, and innocent view of the world. And it’s eventually this writing that helps everyone understand a part of his story that no one even thought to ask about. There’s also an unexpected darkness to this book that caught me off-guard, but one of the most important lessons comes through when one of his bullies takes a stand against the others. And suddenly there’s a gut-wrenching realization for everyone involved.

One reason why this book touched me so deeply is because one of my brothers is dyslexic and dysgraphic. He has had multiple experiences, similar to Mason’s, and I couldn’t help but see my sweet little brother through this narration. I remember other children calling him an idiot from a very early age — kids who didn’t understand that we all think and process things differently. One time a substitute even slapped him across the face in front of his 3rd or 4th grade class, thinking he was playing stupid (thankfully the principal marched down to the classroom and fired the substitute on the spot). Needless to say, exposure to these characters is crucial for developing empathy in children. Thank you, Leslie Connor!

Snail-and-Worm-AgainSnail & Worm Again
Tina Kugler
March 28, 2017
HMH Books for Young Readers
Picture Book

This was laugh-out-loud funny! This 30-paged book is divided into three stories: Snails Wings, The Mirror, and Snail is Sad. I hate to merely describe it as being like Elephant & Piggie, but that’s become my go-to for the type of picture book humor that’s both funny, but also a little sobering (because it’s often about real-life problems). I like that these different scenarios can open the door to discussing childhood problems because young readers will laugh, but also understand the issues. Laughter is good medicine! And snail and worm will truly be relatable to adults and children, alike. I just checked this one out from my library and now I can’t wait to share it with my children and hubby. The illustrations are rendered with acrylic on pastel paper, collage, and digital media. And in case anyone was worried, there’s a notation that “no snails or worms were harmed in the making of this book.” What relief! I must own ALL the Snail & Worm books, now.

Temple-CatTemple Cat
Andrew Clements
Kate Kiesler, illustrator
Clarion Books
HMH Books for Young Readers
Picture Book

I guess this is an older title from the 90s, but the book appeared to be brand new to our library and the artwork quickly caught my attention. Poor spoiled little temple cat is spoon-fed everything in life, but all he really wants is to be free and loved. So he escapes his temple and explores the world on his own. The beautiful illustrations were rendered in oil paint. I’ll provide two spreads as examples, below:


To Be Read:

I am LOVING The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden. I’m not quite finished, but I’ll be posting a review for the grand release very soon. I also just barely got started on Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin. But I’m hooked and hoping to finish that this week, too. Also, I’m listening to and watching Peter & the Wolf with my music students, this week. Oh how well I remember that story and the music from my childhood. Do you?

Have a wonderful reading week, everyone!


36 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 08/27/2018 #imwayr

  1. You have a couple that I have been hoping to read with The Truth as told by Mason Buttle and The Benefits of Being an Octopus. Your praise moves them up my list (although I have to purchase them first). Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Snail and Wom are a hit with my transitional readers! I love this series and hope for more. You are in the midst of reading two of my favorite novels. Look forward to hearing your thoughts about The Benefits of Beung an Octopus and Where the Watermelon Grows. Both books beautifully and honestly tackle difficult issues in a way accessible for middle grade students. Have a great week Shaye!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not surprised at all to her about the popularity of Snail and Worm among transitional readers. I hope for more, too! I’m having an excellent reading week between Octopus and Watermelon!! ❤ Thanks for dropping by, Laura!


  3. I’m sorry about the loss of your grandfather.

    If anyone hasn’t heard, the call has gone out for Cybils judges. I hope some of the wonderful children’s/ya bloggers will head over there and apply! There is more information on my blog post, if you need it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather. It’s always sad to say goodbye. And I smiled over your daughter’s “figuring out”. Happy Birthday to her! Yes, I grew up with Peter & the Wolf, loved the recording & listened to it often. I have Mason Butte on my list, will try to get to it because of your wonderful review. I had a student with synesthesia, and he love Wendy Mass’ book, A Mango-Shaped Space, also about synesthesia. It’s good. Have a lovely week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for mentioning A Mango-Shaped Space — I’ve not read that one yet, but will put it on my list. I really enjoyed re-visiting Peter & the Wolf this week. I guess my mom had it on record because I would have been so young when we first started listening. Sure wish there were more pieces with narration, like that. Thank you for dropping by, Linda!


  5. Sending love across the airways Shaye in hopes of bringing comfort in your time of loss.
    Leslie Connor is just bloody amazing. I loved Mason Buttle and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook. I agree with Augusta.
    After reading your comments, I think I must find and read at least one Snail & Worm book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m going to have to finish All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, now. I started it a few months ago and I think I just had to return it before I was finished with it. But after Mason, I want more… Thank you for the condolences. Have a wonderful week, Cheriee!


    1. Yes, so many bittersweet moments. For me, it’s probably due to my age. I’m beginning to lose so many special family members — matriarchs and patriarchs who have been such a foundation to our family. Thanks for swinging by, Earl! I was happy to see you blogging, again.


  6. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandfather. I just lost my grandmother a few months ago and my partner’s grandfather just passed away last month–it still doesn’t feel real. Reading has been a great comfort for me, and I hope it will be for you too.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the Benefits of Being an Octopus. I’ve heard so many good things about that one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your sweet words, Ari. And I’m sorry to hear of your losses, too. It’s painful saying goodbye. But I’m so glad my grandfather is no longer so lost and confused. I’m excited to review Octopus next week — a really wonderful book!


  7. I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandfather. I’m definitely praying for you and your family during this painful time. Thanks for sharing your book suggestions. The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle looks like an awesome middle grade novel. I’ll have to check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers. That means so much to me! And I was pleasantly surprised by Mason. I was attracted to the cover, but I had also heard good things. But I really fell hard for this kid. I hope others love Mason as much as I did. Thanks for visiting, Jana!


  8. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandfather. I hope you’ll find some comfort in reading and escaping for a bit.

    I am eagerly awaiting my hold on Where the Watermelons Grow. I’m from NC and I’m so excited to see a book about a NC girl on such an important topic

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my. Watermelons is so beautifully written. I’m still just over half way through, but there’s such a beauty to the language. I hope you enjoy it, too! And thank you for your kind words. Reading really is a comfort. Thank you for swinging by, Hallie!


  9. ha ha – had to laugh about your daughter’s comment! lol And I am so sorry to hear about your grandfather – though I certainly understand the relief at the end of his suffering. I hope that memories of happy times spent together as a family will comfort you and your family now.

    And thanks for the kind words about the Big Book Summer Challenge – I really enjoy it, too! Note that it isn’t required, but if you want to link up your reviews of Big Books (like this post), there is a spot on the Challenge page (2nd links list) for them. Glad you enjoyed it – hope you’ll join the fun again next summer!


    2018 Big Book Summer Challenge

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raising teenagers isn’t a job for the weary, is it?! LOL I really do have some wonderful memories with my grandfather. He lived a full life, touched so many people, and had many years to watch his family grow. And I’m happy his suffering has ended. Thank you for your sweet comments, Sue! I cannot tell you how happy I am that I joined the challenge. I’m already looking forward to next summer! 🙂


    1. Thank you for your sweet words, Jane. And I agree — it’s wonderful to find great older titles. The artwork in this one is beautiful! Thank you for visiting and have a great week of reading!


  10. I’m sorry to hear about the passing of your grandfather. I just went through a similar situation with my dad, with that bittersweet mix of sadness over the loss and relief that the suffering is over.

    Every time I see the cover of Where the Watermelons Grow, I’m drawn to it. I need to look up what it’s actually about! Have a good reading week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Katie! I’m sorry to see friends going through these times, as well. I know it’s part of life, but it’s not always so easy (even when it’s “best”). Isn’t that cover attractive? I think I remember someone sharing the hardcover after the cover was removed, too, and in my memory it was so cute. But now I cannot find the photo I’m thinking of. In any case, it’s about growing up with a mom who has schizophrenia. I’m just over halfway finished and it’s heartbreaking to this point. Yet I have this feeling that there’s a silver lining on the way. I hope, I hope, I hope… Thanks for swinging by, Katie!


    1. It’s adorable!! I really did laugh — hubby and I might have to battle my kids over who gets to read it. I just love that kind of universal humor. 🙂 Thanks for dropping in, Ricki!


  11. Shaye – sending you and your family peace and prayers. It’s never easy.
    Mason Buttle is absolutely a character that nestles right into your heart!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Michele! And I couldn’t agree more about Mason. I’ll be thinking about that kid for quite a long time. ❤ Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful reading week!


  12. I am so sorry about your grandfather. Glad there was a birthday to celebrate! I love love love Snail & Worm. Sooooo funny! I have no idea if children will be as amused by these stories as I was, but they had me cackling out loud. I just started listening to Ember in the Ashes on audio, and it’s really good! I need to get my hands on Mason Buttle. And the Temple Cat book! Love those illustrations and CATS!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s no way I’ve read a cat picture book before you. No way. NO WAY!!! 😉 I’m glad you’re enjoying Ember. Also, I bought All Systems Red and I’m SOOOO excited to get started on it in September. It looks good and I think you mentioned liking it as well. So yay! And thank you for your kind words on my grandfather. He lived a full life and was close to his family — I’m glad he’s at peace. OH!!! I dropped by your office earlier this week and saw your book-a-day thingy. If you have those on-hand, I need to make a couple reservations from your personal library. 🙂 Have a great week, friend!


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