It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/31/2018 #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!

It’s been a great year of blogging with #IMWAYR and I’m eagerly looking forward to more excellent reading in 2019! I had only one blog visitor last week (Christmas Eve), so I don’t really expect many guests this week either (New Year’s Eve). I’m not even sure if we’ll have the link-up available again until next week. In any case, here’s what I’ve been up to…

Snow-in-LoveSnow in Love
Melissa de la Cruz, Nic Stone,
Aimee Friedman, & Kasie West
October 30, 2018

Snow in Love is a book of four Young Adult short-stories that all take place in December. I especially enjoyed the first (Kasie West) and the last (Nic Stone) stories, but all four really helped put me in the festive holiday spirit. I felt the most creative was Stone’s contribution as she spun an imaginative story about a cat and mouse (AKA scavenger) hunt via texting while being trapped in a large airport with an old friend she hadn’t seen in years. All but one story was about the beginning of a romance and they were all pretty mild on the physical intimacy front. It was either non-existent or simply sweet.

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

The Season of Styx MaloneSeason-of-Styx-Malone
Kekla Magoon
October 16, 2018
Wendy Lamb Books

Ten-year-old Caleb Franklin is worried that his father sees him as extra ordinary, but he wants to be extraordinary. He and his big brother Bobby Gene live in Sutton, Indiana, and their parents initially appear to be overprotective — not allowing them to go anywhere alone and definitely not into the city. One day a silly trade with their friend Cory (Caleb’s and Bobby Gene’s baby sister for Cory’s bag of illegal fireworks) lands them in trouble with not one, but two sets of parents. To make lemonade out of lemons, they agree to use Styx Malone’s services as mediator with their friend, Cory. Styx is older (16) and more experienced in life than they are. And Caleb is completely mesmerized by his coolness. Styx’s plan is The Great Escalator Trade which involves trading one item for something better until they eventually get up to the big item they really want. There are legends told of past successes which inspire the Franklin boys to stick with the program, but must their plan involve lying and theft? At first, Styx seems to be real trouble — he doesn’t care for adults and he even encourages Caleb and Bobby Gene to outright disobey their parents. However, when the whole truth is revealed, it will be difficult for any reader to not empathize with Styx as they better understand the depth of his hidden heartache. And Caleb can find a new level of appreciation for his parents as they all come to terms with the need for some freedom, some adventure, AND definitely some boundaries.

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

Buried-Beneath-the Baobab-TreeBuried Beneath the Baobab Tree
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
September 4, 2018
Katherine Tegen Books

The main character in the story is a young girl who talks about her family life in the small Nigerian village — for example, most girls aren’t given an education (but thankfully, her father champions her education), she must skip school when she’s on her period, she speaks of how her mother travels to/from the market and she anxiously awaits her return, she shares her deep feelings for another well-educated boy from her community, she loves her church family, and she is currently waiting on news about a scholarship program she hopes to win so she can attend college and better support her family. But all her hopes and dreams come crashing down when Boko Haram enters her village on that fateful night. Now her father and older brothers are all dead and she and her little brother have been taken deep into the woods (to different camps). It soon becomes apparent there will be no happy marriage to the boy she loves, no college education, and her friends will slowly convert to this violent religion to avoid death. The story was very informative and downright horrific, but it was also followed by a very lengthy and important Afterword that described the research process along with details about the real-life experiences of these victims — ones who escaped and whose families were willing to be interviewed.

I was stunned by the juxtaposition of American pop-culture right alongside the horrific events in Nigeria — both playing on the radio station with barely a breath taken between the two news stories. It made me painfully aware of how easily we sweep aside these events in favor of knowing which movie is making the most at our box office or who is wearing what brand to an awards ceremony. If hundreds of young American girls were stolen from one of our schools, the entire country would go MAD and demand action. Or would we? In any case, it makes me sick to know this is happening to any human being, particularly in such great numbers. WARNING: This book contains non-graphic murder, beatings, and rape. It’s also on a kindle sale today, so if you’re interested then check out the link below.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.
THE E-BOOK is on sale for $1.99 today, so check it out HERE.

Eleanor & ParkEleanor-and-Park
Rainbow Rowell
October 4, 2016
St. Martin’s Griffin

I asked my daughter to name any book she wanted me to read and without hesitation she said Eleanor & Park. Incidentally, I encountered Rainbow Rowell’s writing before she became a big time author. She was a journalist for the Omaha World Herald (here in Nebraska) and I remember her announcement about her first published book and later reading about her decision to retire from the OWH to be an author. And BOOM, here she is. I always meant to pick up her books after reading her newspaper articles. It seems the majority of preteens and teens adore and relate to her work (even if many parents object), so I’m just a little late to the party.

Red-haired Eleanor comes from a big, messy family and has almost nothing to her name. Park is half-Korean, comes from a close-knit family, and he lives a few doors down from Eleanor. They ride the same bus and cannot stand each other. But since Park had a sudden spark of sympathy and allows Eleanor to sit next to him on the bus, they eventually get to know one another over shared comics and listening to cassette tapes (while barely speaking a word). This is not a happy-happy story. At times it’s downright depressing and so hard to digest. The characters are flawed and often unlikeable, but they’re real. And sometimes the writing absolutely shines and gives you all the feels and appreciation of imperfection. I can definitely see why it’s such a hot title among teens, today.

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

Tuck-EverlastingTuck Everlasting
Natalie Babbitt

Aaaand speaking of older titles. 🙂 I don’t think I ever read this book when I was younger. I’ve had it on my bookshelf for the last few years and finally decided to pick it up over the holiday break. YAY! In the 1700s, the Tuck family (comprised of Tuck, Mae, Miles, and Jesse) drink from a magic spring — everyone but the family cat. Flash forward 87 years later, the family is passing back through Treegap. Winnie discovers the magic spring and so they basically kidnap her for a couple days while they explain the situation. Winnie is struck by their lack of housekeeping skills, the way they eat, and the way they each view eternal life differently. She loves them and they love her. Meanwhile a man in a yellow suit overhears everything and devises a plan to rescue Winnie and purchase the land with the magic spring. In the end, Mae is arrested and is scheduled to be hung. To keep the Tuck’s secret safe, Winnie hides in Mae’s cell while the family escapes. But before they leave, Jesse had given Winnie a bottle of the magic water and told her to drink it after she turns 17 so that they can live together forever — get married, even. What will Winnie decide?

NOTE: I was honestly surprised to find Winnie was only supposed to be 10 years old. Since I saw the 2002 movie adaptation with Alexis Bledel playing Winnie Foster, I guess I assumed Winnie was just a couple years younger than Jessie. So yeah, that was an awkward twist for me. In any case, it’s a classic and I’m glad to finally have read it.

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

Thank You, Omu!Thank-You-Omu
Oge Mora
October 2, 2018
Little Brown & Co.

Omu is making a delicious homemade stew. As the aroma fills the air, people from the street and neighborhood knock on her door in search of a taste. Eventually, Omu is left with no stew for herself. But Omu will not starve. Everyone she fed returns to say “Thank You, Omu!” with their own food to share with her. This is a precious story of having a generous spirit and how it comes back to us in unexpected ways. The back of the book tells us that the collages in this book were created “with acrylic paint, china markers, pastels, patterned paper, and old-book clippings.” I’ll provide one page-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.

How-to-be-a-T-RexHow to Be a T. Rex
Ryan North
Mike Lowery, illustrator
August 21, 2018
Dial Books

Young Sal has decided she’s not going to be a doctor or lawyer or teacher. She’s going to become a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Her big brother said it’s impossible to become a T. Rex, so she sets out to prove him wrong. All along the way she’s sharing the wonderful things about become a T. Rex: No door can hold you, you can eat whatever you want, you’re not afraid of anything, etc. She eventually invites all her friends to be T. Rexes, too (because it can be lonely as an only dinosaur). This one wasn’t my favorite, but one positive is that at the very end, she and her brother are friends, again. I’ll provide one page-spread, below, as an example of the artwork:


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

A Place for PlutoPlace-for-Pluto
Stef Wade
Melanie Demmer, illustrator
July 1, 2018

I grew up in a time when Pluto was definitely considered a planet (we were served nine pizzas, for those who remember!). In August of 2006 the news came down that Pluto was no longer a planet because International Astronomical Union (IAU) re-evaluated the requirements of a planet. Pluto failed the test on one point. So in childlike pictures and witty text, this adorable new picture book explores exactly where we should put Pluto after he was knocked off the list of official planets. Using emotion (and need to belong), Stef Wade explores a number of objects in the solar system to see who Pluto identifies with, most. It really is super cute and I highly recommend for all the little science learners in the community!

After reading this book, I couldn’t help but to do a little research of my own. It appears there’s still a great deal of dissension in the scientific community over requirements. It will be interesting to see what is redefined in our universe over the next 50 years!


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

Id-Know-You-Anywhere-My-LoveI’d Know You Anywhere, My Love
Nancy Tillman
August 27, 2013
Feiwel & Friends

Children may dream of becoming any number of animals, but the point of this heart-felt picture book is that no matter what animal you may change into, your parents will recognize your personal traits. It goes through the traits of a rhinoceros, a red fox, a camel, pig, owl, wild spotted pony, bear, ringtail raccoon, blue-footed booby, lion, giraffe, and a koala. At the very end is a picture of a small child asleep in bed, surrounded by several beloved stuffed animals. And yes, that final page brought tears to my eyes. So sweet! The back tells us that the illustrations were created digitally using painting programs. “Layers of illustrative elements are first individually created, then merged to form a composite. At this point, texture and mixed media (primarily chalk, watercolor, and pencil) are applied to complete each illustration.” Each illustration is truly beautiful. I’ll provide one page-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.

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young WomenShaking-things-up-2
Who Changed the World
Susan Hood
Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall,
Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper,
Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora,
and Julie Morstad (illustrators)
January 23, 2018

I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get my hands on this wonderful nonfiction picture book focusing on Mary Anning, Nellie Bly, Annette Kellerman, Molly Williams, Pura Belpre, Frida Kahlo, Jacqueline and Eileen Nearne, Mae Jemison, Maya Lin, Frances Moore Lappe, Angela Zhang, Ruby Bridges, and Malala Yousafzai! It is written by Susan Hood with illustrations by Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin K. Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland and Melissa Sweet. At the very beginning we are provided a timeline (starting in the 1780s) where we can easily see the contributions of each of these 14 amazing women. The combination of poetic text and variety of artwork is a beautiful way to honor each woman. At the very end we find an extensive list of sources, books, websites, and more. It’s an excellent book for any children’s library (or home!).

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

Owl Moon
Jane Yolen
John Schoenherr, illustrator
October 23, 1987
Philomel Books

Winning the Caldecott in 1988, this book probably needs no introduction. But it seemed like an appropriate time of year to read it. A young girl and her father go owling after her bedtime.

There was no wind.
The trees stood still
as giant statues.
And the moon was so bright
the sky seemed to shine.

It’s a long walk into the wood before her father stops and calls:

But sometimes you do not get an owl’s response. Other times it takes patience and several tries to get your answer.

The illustrations are stunning — definitely not a book to rush through as there’s so much to see on each page. The snowy artwork was a treat for me this season as we had practically no snow this holiday. I think this is the first Christmas since we moved here in 2005 where we didn’t have a white Christmas, so it was comforting to see and read about the crunch of snow underfoot. 🙂


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

11 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/31/2018 #imwayr

  1. Wow! Some wonderful older ones, Shaye. I do love Owl Moon and Tuck Everlasting and enjoyed Eleanor and Park but a few years ago. I will look for ‘Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree’, and yes, I can’t imagine what people would do if girls were taken as you described here in the U.S., though we seem to pass by the mass shootings quickly! I liked Shaking Things Up, too, a wonderful celebration of those women. The illustrations are terrific, too! Happy New Year to you and wishes for great reads!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true about mass shootings (except when it’s your own child, of course). Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree just made me wonder how we would respond if that many girls were taken overnight from one of our school dormitories. Would we just send out our “thoughts and prayers” and that be the end of it? Oh my, I sure hope not. So sickening to imagine being those parents and to feel so hopeless. Thank you so much for the well wishes — I’m so happy to have connected with this group this year!


    1. I’m a little surprised I don’t remember reading it as it’s been a big school novel for so many years. But I really didn’t remember it (other than having watched the movie). Thank you for the reading wishes, Lisa! This community has been such an encouragement during my first year of participation! ❤


  2. I loved the illustrations in Shaking Things Up but I didn’t attend to the text carefully enough to remember it very well when it came time to write about it for my Monday post. Has your daughter read the other Rainbow Rowell books? Eleanor & Park doesn’t work for me in a big way, but I did enjoy Fangirl. I spent a TON of time on my Monday blog post last week and then had only two visitors, so today’s post was FAST, LOL. I really love Owl Moon–now I might need a reread! Happy reading this week! Now that I’ve finished up the books I was trying to finish for 2018, my reading queue is wide open!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She said she read Fangirl and liked it alright, but that Eleanor and Park was still her favorite Rainbow Rowell book. I’m amazed at the number of preteens/teens who seem to have really connected with the characters. Aaaand you finally twisted my arm enough to participate in the #MustReadin2019 community. I agonized over that list, so I hope you’re happy with yourself. 😉


  3. There are so many gorgeous books on your list today Shaye! As I added many of them to my want to read lists I realized that I forgot to add links to the books I shared this week!
    I’m glad you read Owl Moon! I reread it after reading Counting Birds by Heidi E.Y. Stemple, Jane Yolen’s daughter. It really is a gorgeous book.
    I read and even enjoyed Eleanor and Park, but liked Fangirl most of her books. Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree sounds like an important read, but dark too. I think I will leave it for later on in the year when the light returns.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree is really, really rough. I think it’s a fabulous idea to wait for when the light returns. It sickened me. Even if the “bad” scenes weren’t very descriptive, I have a vivid enough imagination to fill in the missing pieces. I struggle to understand how anyone can do these things to one another. Why can’t we learn from our past and have more empathy and kindness? I guess that’s why these books are so important. Thanks for visiting, Cheriee!


  4. I read Snow in Love recently as well and liked it. I was disappointed that one story was just an O. Henry retelling. I guess there’s a place for that, but it seems like not the greatest use of space to have a not really original story in an anthology that only has four stories.

    I am very interested in reading this Pluto book now, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sad that Snow in Love is the only holiday-ish book I read this season. I enjoyed the first and last stories the best (both starting in an airport) and thought Stone’s was incredibly creative. Wow! Have a wonderful new year, Briana, and thank you for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I know Tuck Everlasting is a classic – but I have yet to read it. 😦
    Shaking Things Up seems ABSOLUTELY perfect given our #WomenReadWomen2019 reading theme – but sadly, the book is not even available in our libraries yet! What a shame!

    Liked by 1 person

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