It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/29/2018 #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!

When-Elephants-FlyWhen Elephants Fly
Nancy Richardson Fischer
September 4, 2018
Harlequin Teen

This will be one of my very top YA reads of 2018 — I’m sure of it. I seriously didn’t know how to even start reading another book in the aftermath of this one. Just had to get that off my chest before I say anything else about this book. 🙂

The story is told from the perspective of T. Lily Decker, a high school senior who is facing more than her fair share of questions about the future. When she was a child, her schizophrenic mother attempted to kill her. And since schizophrenia can be hereditary, T. Lilly has developed a 12-year plan she believes might decrease her risks of developing schizophrenia. If she plays her cards right, she’ll hopefully have a shot at a fairly normal life after the age of 40.

In the meantime, T. Lily finds herself in the middle of a major news story about a baby elephant being rejected by her mother. The experience brings up painful memories of her mother and T. Lily feels compelled to see this news story to the end. And I mean the very end.

This beautiful book is sprinkled with quotes from Peter Pan and The Little Prince weaved between memories of things T. Lily’s mother once said. There are moments where the reader might be unsure of what is real and what is imagined, but it all comes together and makes perfect sense in the end. As I neared the final pages of the book, the full impact of the title hit me. *SOB* I cried harder than I’ve cried in a very, very long time. It’s was quite the reading experience. And one I didn’t want to end.

This book has heartache, devoted friendship, a wee bit of romance, and addresses a wide range of topics including mental illness, homosexuality, child/parent relationships, animal abuse, and even a bit of journalism. I just love books that drag you through the wringer, teach you about things you knew practically nothing about, and THEN make you feel all the feels. For a NUMBER of reasons, I highly recommend When Elephants Fly for any Teen or Young Adult collection.

NOTE: There’s an important Author’s Note about real life inspiration, about schizophrenia, and about elephants, zoos, and the circus. Additionally, there’s a long list of helpful resources for further reading.

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

Alan Gratz
October 9, 2018
Scholastic Press

Grenade is a heart-racing historical fiction novel centered on the island of Okinawa during World War II. It is written from alternating perspectives: (1) Fourteen year old Hideki is  from the island of Okinawa. He is part of the Blood and Iron Student Corps that is fighting with Japan. He was handed two grenades as he heads off across the island in hopes of stopping the Americans. (2) Ray is a fairly young (we know he’s at least 18) American Marine who just landed at Okinawa. He’s heading across the island in hopes of conquering Japan. In one stunning moment, both stories collide and Hideki’s and Ray’s worlds are forever changed.

There were some horrors you couldn’t fight and couldn’t change. The real courage was just in enduring them.

Yet another excellent historical fiction book by Alan Gratz that examines World War II and provides much-needed empathy on all sides. Get this one in ANY middle grade or young adult collection. I don’t think it will stay on the shelves very long!

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

38256485Good Rosie!
Kate DiCamillo
Harry Bliss, Illustrator
September 4, 2018
Candlewick Press

Told in graphic novel style, Rosie is a “good dog” who lives with George. One day they go to the dog park and she is overwhelmed by so many other dogs, so she keeps her distance until she realizes one of the dogs needs her help. In the end, we discover how three very different dogs become friends. Definitely clever and humorous — this one will be a great one for first day of school or any time a child is heading into a large group of other children. The illustrations are very done in watercolor and are soft, sweet, and appear very realistic in some places. I’ll provide just one spread as an example, below:


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

Wall-in-the-MiddleThe Wall in the Middle of the Book
Jon Agee
October 2, 2018
Dial Books for Young Readers
Penguin Young Readers Group

Super cute book showcasing two stories going on at once — one on each side of the book. At first, the narrator (who looks to be a young boy in armor), is so happy to be protected on the left side of the book. On the right side are scary wild animals and a dangerous ogre. But before too long, the narrator is trapped on the left side of the book and he needs rescuing. How oh how will he survive?! I love this one — it’s always fun for young readers to discover a big secret even before the narrator does. I’ll provide one example of the artwork, below:

Collage created using TurboCollage software from

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

How-to-Code-a-SandcastleHow to Code a Sandcastle
Josh Funk
Sara Palacios, illustrator
May 15, 2018

Pearl is on her last day of summer vacation and she’s yet to actually build a sand castle. So she brought along her robot, Pascal, in hopes of getting help. She starts by telling Pascal to build a sandcastle, but he just sits there — it’s a no-go! Why? Because her directions are too broad.

“…a coder takes one big problem and breaks it into several smaller ones. If I give Pascal enough instructions that he does know, we’ll build this castle in no time!”

Pearl begins breaking down each step, adding in a loop, and in the end she faces… DISASTER! Her castle is in shambles and she will have to start all over. However, she learns from her mistakes and figures out a much better way to build her castle. It takes patience and diligence, but she finally succeeds.

I’m very pleased to find a new book on coding AND with a female main character. This would be a great way to introduce coding to a young group of children (or a way to reinforce a coding lesson to students who are already learning to code). The illustrations were rendered digitally in combination with gouache and acrylic paintings. I’ll provide one spread, below:

Collage created using TurboCollage software from

This book is the first of a new sequel, so I’ll be interested in seeing what they decide to code in book #2.

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

To Be Read:

These books will be published next week, so I’ll look forward to sharing them next Monday!


24 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/29/2018 #imwayr

  1. Thanks for the great post! I handed my copy of Grenade straight to my Alan Gratz readers about a month ago, and I look forward to reading it eventually when it comes back to shelf. As you would have predicted, it is not hitting my shelf, but being passed hand to hand.

    I really enjoyed reading what you wrote about When Elephants Fly, my wife had a similar experience going through the ringer with a YA book and I will have to catch up with both these books soon. I just marked this one in Goodreads and saw that a former student also has it marked to-read so I will get to connect with her about it too.

    I have added the other books here too over the last few months but the only one I have read is How to Code a Sandcastle, which I might not have laughed at as much as Josh Funk’s other books, but I really enjoyed the information and it was a fun read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good luck on getting Grenade back on your shelf! LOL And I just love that feeling when you are so deeply impacted by a book. As readers, those are the moments we always hope for. I have a lot of books I liked or even really liked. But it’s so exciting to occasionally come upon a book we LOVE and look forward to reading again. Thanks for visiting, Aaron!


    1. Well, yes — there is definitely a depressing element to When Elephants Fly, but underneath that is a very engaging story. I don’t want to give away more to the schizophrenia part of the story, but it brought up a lot of questions about treatment and such. Overall, this is one of my favorites and I imagine I will re-read it at some point (which is almost unheard of in my life since I’m surrounded by so many “new” books I want to get to). 🙂


  2. I haven’t even heard of When Elephants Fly! Adding it to the ever-growing list…. I know that book hangover feeling so well–how to even start another book when you just finished one that gave you all the feels and then some. I really enjoyed How to Code a Sandcastle. I have been eager to read Good Rosie but my libraries don’t have it. Is that a town library title? Might have to arrange a trip to that library too, though I had to stop checking out books there after I forgot to bring a big stack back and ended up with a huge fine that I never paid…. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe I checked out Good Rosie from the public library (I’ve already returned it). And I know all too well about fines at that particular library. One of my little guys apparently had a stack of 6 books that got mixed in with my college library books (which, as you know, we have for a semester at a time) and by the time we discovered them, they were all out for like 2 or 3 months passed the due date. The late fee was astronomical. I asked the library if they still made calls after a book was a week overdue and they said they do. They don’t know how in the world we were missed, but they also weren’t budging on that fine. lol So aaaanyway, HUGE fine we’re slowly paying down there. Ugh. Hope to see you later this week!!


  3. I will always find the books by Alan Gratz, know that grenade will be good. Thanks for the new title, When Elephants Fly. It sounds both wonderful and hard to read, Shaye. I’ve read the picture books you shared, all lovely reads! Thanks & have a terrific week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love how Gratz gives a look inside the lives of different people — suddenly everything doesn’t seem so black and white. That’s so important for the youth of today. Thanks for visiting, Linda!


  4. Wow, thanks for the powerful review of When Elephants Fly – that sounds amazing! I am behind on my audio requests, so I will ask for it from the September list. I might have overlooked it otherwise, so thanks!

    I love all of Alan Gratz’s novels, though I haven’t read this one yet. They are all so powerful and so very important in teaching empathy to our kids.

    Enjoy your books this week!


    Book By Book

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really hope you love When Elephants Fly. Schizophrenia is a tough topic, for sure. But the storyline underneath was very, very enjoyable for me. And I totally agree on Gratz’s novels. It’s great to see all sides to the story and understand others’ perspective. He does that so well! Have a great weekend, Sue!


  5. You have so many fabulous books on your list today. I am adding When Elephants Fly to my list! Like you I love books “that drag you through the wringer, teach you about things you knew practically nothing about, and THEN make you feel all the feels.” The Wall in the Middle of the Book Is on my list already but after reading your remarks, I really want a copy to read now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My youngest two especially enjoyed The Wall in the Middle of the Book. There are things happening there that can easily be missed the first time through. But those illustrations are so comical!! Hope you enjoy BOTH books! Thanks for swinging by, Cheriee!


    1. I just finished Mammoth this week and am trying to gather all my thoughts before writing a review. But I really liked this one and hope we get more than one copy in my neck of the woods — especially considering we live just an hour from a world famous Mammoth Site. Have a great rest of your weekend, Hallie!


    1. Oh I totally agree on young readers. Kids really tend to enjoy those scene-by-scene graphic novels — waiting expectedly to see what the next picture will reveal. This one was very sweet! Thanks for dropping in, Laura!


  6. I need to read more Gratz books. I really love the two I’ve read, so I need to read more!
    I loved hearing that there is going to be another Coding book from Josh Funk–I really liked the applicability of this one!

    Happy reading this week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate the variety in perspectives in Gratz’s books. This is so important for the youth of today. It’s too easy to get comfy with a single perspective, so he really shakes that up! Thanks for visiting, Kellee!


    1. It’s super cute — and the artwork from page to page is truly funny (there were things I discovered my 2nd and 3rd time through, so it’s easy to miss little things). Hope you enjoy it, Katie!


    1. Riveting is an excellent word, Lisa! And I agree on the portrayal of war — I love how he can show both sides and make you love each character so much. Thanks for dropping by, today, and have a great rest of your weekend!


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