It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/08/2018 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from

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!

I’ve been keeping up with the “musts” in my life with my home and coursework, but I haven’t had much time at all to read this week. Nevertheless, I’ve been slowly gathering up picture books that relate to music for my students to use in their future “music for classroom teachers” course projects. I had to ask permission from two other colleges to Interlibrary Loan a large number of these music books at the same time and, thankfully, they are happy to help. I was thrilled to come across at least two more at a local library that I won’t have to ILL. YAY! Hope you find something you might enjoy…

Blue-Grass-BoyBlue Grass Boy
The Story of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music
Barb Rosenstock
Edwin Fotheringham, illustrator
March 6, 2018
Calkins Creek/Highlights/Boyds Mills Press

This is a picture book biography of Bill Monroe. Bill grew up the youngest of eight children in the bluegrass state of Kentucky. His eyes were crossed which is why people believe that his ears worked so well with music. His mother died when he was just 10 years old and he found comfort in music after he found an old mandolin lying around. When he was 16, his father died too — that’s when he moved in with his Uncle Pen and began playing in regular performance gigs. Bill also met Arnold Shultz, said to be the most famous traveling picker in the area — gifted with the blues. This is when Bill learned to slide notes and enjoy unique rhythms. Eventually, Bill starts The Blue Grass Boys with a guitarist, a fiddler, an upright bassist, a mandolin, and at last, a banjo. Aaaand the rest is history!

In the back, there’s a longer biography over Monroe’s life, along with a very detailed bibliography for further reading (including several black and white photos of Bill, his family, and even Arnold Shultz). The brightly-colored illustrations are digitally rendered. You’ll find one example, below:


You can add it to your Goodread list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.

Leos-GiftLeo’s Gift
Susan Blackaby
Joellyn Cicciarelli
Carrie Schüler, illustrator
October 11, 2017
Loyola Press

Another great children’s picture book focused on musical aspirations, Leo’s Gift is the story of a young boy who has the talent of playing the piano by ear. Leo’s big sister, Meredith, is forced to practice piano for 30 minutes every night when one day she discover’s Leo’s talent. She would prefer to play basketball, but clearly Leo would love to learn all about music. Leo happens to meet Mr. Alonzo, the music teacher, while he’s waiting for Meredith to get out of basketball practice. And over the course of the entire basketball season, he continues to meet with him to learn and practice. By the end of the story it is Christmas time and Leo gets an opportunity to share a special song for everyone to sing. It’s a very sweet story and will probably be meaningful for those still seeking their special talent (or those needing a little nudge in the direction of practicing on their skills).

I have to say that the artwork by Carrie Schuler is so creative and FUN to look at. There’s so much going on here with patterns and textures, that I could spend all day examining every element of all 15 spreads in detail. Schuler’s bio says that she’s known for layered, textural illustrations composed of ephemera she collects. I’ll share just one spread to showcase her work, below:


You can add it to your Goodread list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


Stolen Words
Melanie Florence
Gabrielle Grimard, illustrator
September 5, 2017
Second Story Press

This is a VERY short picture book at only 24 pages. Yet with hauntingly beautiful illustrations, it is an incredibly POWERFUL telling of how First Nations’ Peoples were treated as they were removed from their parents’ homes and their Cree words were stolen:

Where did they take you, Grandpa? she asked. Away to a school that was cold and lonely, where angry white faces raised their voices and their hands when we used our words, he answered. They took our words and locked them away, punished us until we forgot them, until we sounded like them. Harsh sharp words. So different from the sound of our beautiful ones.

This story gave me chills at one point and brought tears to my eyes. I’m confident this one will stick with me. NOTE: Melanie Florence is of Cree heritage and in her dedication she ends it with “And for my grandfather.” So depending on her personal upbringing and experiences, this may be an #ownvoices story.

I wish I could share more than one spread, but there are only 11 spreads TOTAL in the entire book — meaning I would definitely break copyright (even for “fair use” claiming educational reasons). So if you haven’t yet read this one, I hope you can grab a copy and enjoy the gorgeous artwork and heartfelt words:


You can add it to your Goodread list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.

Tetonic-Plates-Are-On-The-MoveTectonic Plates Are on the Move
Nadia Higgins
Jia Liu, illustrator
January 1, 2018
Cantata Learning

We’ve been experiencing some mild earthquakes in our area the last few years, so I was happy to see a children’s picture book on the topic. This nonfiction book very simply walks the child through an explanation of tectonic plates with bright childlike illustrations demonstrating concepts like the earth’s crust, the continents, and where the tectonic plates meet. Very large font will make this book easier for young children who are still identifying individual letters. A brief glossary is available in the back as well as a brief bibliography and guided reading activities. Tectonic Plates Are on the Move is a picture book set to music, so there’s sheet music and a CD available in the back cover. I’ll provide one spread, below:


You can add it to your Goodread list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.

To Be Read:

I’m still working on these two books — Every Shiny Thing is a middle grade novel and Dream Country is a young adult novel. Both are quite engaging, I just haven’t had long stretches of reading time this week. I can’t wait to share them with my readers, next week! 🙂

16 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/08/2018 #imwayr

  1. Glad to see a new-to-me Barb Rosenstock biography! I have really liked her other PB biographies. T. has a music appreciation class this semester, which unfortunately is already a lot of work so we haven’t been able to explore as much as I would like, but I’m squeezing in music PB titles where I can. He’s getting a little skeptical that his high school classes keep calling for so many PBs, but what can I say? It’s MY preferred way of learning new stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I found Stolen Words at my library, and will look for the others, too, Shaye. Those you are reading also look very good! Have fun with your music sessions!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It was great to read about a picture book biography, I had a teacher recommend a couple for me to purchase for the library this week, and I thought of maybe adding to a list I kept for another teacher.

    Stolen Words does have beautiful pictures and a very happy message. I remember reading something on the American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) blog that questioned how connected the author was to her Cree heritage (stating that the author never got to ask her grandfather about his knowledge of Cree, but that this book was how she imagined it could have been- the point being that since it was imagined, was it ownvoices?). It made for an interesting read. I left feeling that Stolen Words did bring about an important conversation about the loss of language experienced by Indigenous peoples, but that the ending was idyllic (maybe that is okay). Although, I did feel that some of the criticisms of the author’s heritage on the AICL blog were based on assumptions that may or may not be true. I couldn’t really find out much more online.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aaron, thanks so much for sharing what you read about Stolen Words. I had a chance to hunt down the AICL post/article and read that explanation and perspective. I can definitely see how this one might not meet #ownvoices requirements, despite biological heritage. It doesn’t destroy my enjoyment of the story, of course, but I do think these conversations are important for clarification. Thanks, again!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I put all but one of the picture books on my TBR list. I’ve read Blue Grass Boy but haven’t heard of the other books. Leo’s Gift looks like it will especially speak to me since I was the kid who BEGGED my parents to put me in piano lessons. I have a feeling that one will be a heartprint book for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved Blue Grass Boy, but I don’t know the others! Stolen Words sounds amazing and I am so interested in geology so tectonic plates is right up my alley, too!

    Happy reading this week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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