It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/20/2019 #imwayr

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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 to share what you’ve been reading!

40046075Caterpillar Summer
Gillian McDunn
April 2, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

The most important thing I can say about this book is GO GRAB A COPY NOW!! I read a lot of middle grade literature each year, and I think this is one of the BEST I’ve ever read.

Twelve-year-old Cat is Chicken’s older sister. She understands her little brother better than most and she is willing to constantly sacrifice her needs for his. This particular summer, they have plans to travel and stay with her best friend while her mom takes on a special class. But an emergency comes up, leaving Cat and Chicken living with family they’ve never met before. Many questions begin to surface during their stay, but most importantly: WHY have we never met this part of the family before?

The story takes place primarily on Gingerbread Island, which is brought to life with colorful houses, the smells and sounds of the ocean, an active community full of close knit neighbors, and an exciting fishing contest. The relationship building is so carefully crafted, showcasing an obviously deep, lingering hurt from the past.

“Being a parent is a kind of promise. A promise to stand by someone even if you think they’re making a mistake. To love who you get, not who you think you’re going to get.”

It’s hard to believe this was Gillian McDunn’s debut. I see she is under contract to publish The Queen Bee and Me with Bloomsbury in April of 2020. I have no idea what this new book will be about, but I can’t wait to read it after this heart-warming experience. I highly recommend Caterpillar Summer!

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

35068533The Sky at Our Feet
Nadia Hashimi
March 6, 2018

The Sky at Our Feet was my audiobook read for the week and I only wish I’d listened to it sooner. With witty riddles woven throughout, this story is focused on the impact of deportation on children. Jason’s Afghan father was a translator for the US military while his mother came to the US on a visa, for safety reasons. We learn that things went badly in the past, leaving Jason’s father dead and his mother stranded with an expired visa. Now that his mother is an illegal immigrant (and witnessing the treatment of illegal immigrants on the news) she’s understandably fearful of filing the proper paperwork and being rejected, then separated from her son, and sent back to Afghanistan. As this story begins, she shares this fear with Jason.

One day, Jason witnesses his mother being taken away by men with badges and he realizes what has happened. He immediately begins his trek to safety in hopes that he’ll be reunited with his mother (rather than be placed in foster care, since he is American). Along his brave, adventurous journey, Jason builds an unlikely friendship with another youngster named Max. Together they work out a plan to get Jason to safety while simultaneously meeting Max’s needs for living boldly and making important memories. I loved that the end was fulfilling while also very open-ended. What’s the status of Max? I heartily recommend this one for any children’s or middle grade library — it’s an important #ownvoices book that will be a window and mirror for those who need it.

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

40697591Ruby, Head High: Ruby
Bridges’s First Day of School
Irène Cohen-Janca
Marc Daniau, illustrator
January 8, 2019
Creative Editions

Ruby, Head High is the story of Ruby Bridges as told by a fictional character named Nadia who had a dream after being shown the famous Norman Rockwell painting. In her dream, Ruby shares her full story, including a test she had to take before going to the school, the experience of being escorted to school by police officers, having her very own teacher in her own private classroom, and scarier things like a reference to being shown a black baby doll in a coffin and being called another word for ‘black.’

Each page showcases the text on the left with an expressive illustration on the right. The story is told from the voice of a child and is lengthy on some pages. Nevertheless, it  showcases Ruby’s fear and courage, along with the growth of the community as a whole. Can we ever hear these painful stories too many times?

In the back, there’s a little more information about Ruby Bridges Hall, today, as well as a longer section about the famous Norman Rockwell painting. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of the artwork, below:


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

40641149When Sadness is at Your Door
Eva Eland
January 29, 2019
Random House Books for Young Readers

This is a gentle story that introduces sadness in a unique way. Children are encouraged to see sadness as a normal part of their lives. The story shows ways to include sadness in their daily activities, rather than trying to shut it out or hide it. Calming activities such as sitting quietly, drawing, listening to music, and going for a walk are mentioned as something they might do with sadness. And sometimes sadness will drift in and out of their lives, and that’s completely okay. This one could be helpful for a whole-class discussion on feelings and emotions or for use with a specific child experiencing depression, anxiety, or grief.

The illustrations are drawn in simple brown lines with only soothing mint green and peach for coloring. Enjoy one example, below:


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

Diane Alber
September 10, 2018
Diane Alber Art LLC

In rhyming text, this little book is the story of three “splatters” named red, yellow, and blue (as seen on the book cover). Each splatter works on their own until one day, after a little encouragement and experimenting, they try something new. TEAMWORK! In the end, they’re proud of their beautiful artwork as well as a variety of new colors they created together (orange, green, violet, indigo, navy, etc.).

In the back there’s a “Next Steps” section to guide adults and teachers in how to use the book, including what types of questions they might ask. While I didn’t find an explanation on how the artwork was created, it appears to be paint splatters that are rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page 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.

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Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 133/200
#MustReadin2019 – 15/42

24 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/20/2019 #imwayr

  1. I know about Caterpillar Summer, on my list! And so are the others, like The Sky at Our Feet. I feel such sympathy for those immigrants who are “caught” by new circumstances, and the children are lost as Americans, needing family, but. . . What a mess. The new Ruby book looks good, but sad, too. Splatter reminds me of Saltzberg’s Beautiful Oops, will look for it, too. Thanks, Shaye. Have a wonderful week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I adored Caterpillar Summer, if you couldn’t tell. 🙂 There aren’t many middle grade novels that explore the complexities of painful “adult” family history, and this one was just so well written. Splatter is a bit more rudimentary than Beautiful Oops, but yes — similar message and would pair well. Thanks for visiting, Linda, and I hope you have a wonderful week with your grandson!


    1. I’m careful not to push books at you, Elisabeth, as I remember your past comments on psychological aversions to books recommended by personal friends. LOL But I’m guessing you wouldn’t be too unhappy if you were to just so happen to pick up Caterpillar Summer over the next few months. 😉


  2. I enjoyed Caterpillar Summer, too! It really poked at my desire to find a place to live near the ocean. The grandparents’ house sounds like my dream house, for sure! I’ll definitely have to check out the other books on your list. Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it really does! These characters were so relatable as they walked right out of “current events” issues. I hope it serves to plant seeds in reader’s minds and initiate some important discussion about the complexities of illegal aliens. Nothing is black and white unless we completely lack empathy and fail to listen. Thank you for swinging by, Karen!


  3. I recently put Sadness on hold at the library. Seems to be mentioned a lot lately. Loved Caterpillar Summer, a favorite of the year so far. Haven’t read Sky at My Feet yet, but it’s one I’ve been meaning to get to at some point!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We don’t see many children’s books that give us permission to embrace sadness. So the unique perspective of When Sadness is at Your Door may catch some readers off guard. And I’m very happy to hear of your love of Caterpillar Summer. I found it so moving and those characters will be with me a long time. I do hope you’re able to get to The Sky at My Feet — a grand adventure and important conversation about current political issues. Thanks for visiting, Michele!


    1. Summer is the perfect time to read Caterpillar Summer! There’s bike rides, beach trips, and fishing — so totally fitting! And I’m so happy you’re adding The Sky at Our Feet. It’s an important topic for children of today (who will be making the political decisions of tomorrow). Thank you for swinging by, Laura!


    1. I really can’t say enough about it. I was mesmerized by the different relationships, the setting, and the heavy topic of mending past hurts. So glad books like this are in the world. Thanks for visiting, Earl!


    1. Yes, a really cool way to introduce sadness — don’t run from it, acknowledge its existence, do peaceful activities together, and one day you may notice it’s gone. As an adult, I know it’s much more complex than that. But for children it’s a pretty realistic representation of how to react and what to expect. And I’m so so soooo pleased with Caterpillar Summer. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


    1. I started tracking my challenges weekly (which I didn’t do last year) and it’s a constant reminder. Some of the books on my #MustReadin2019 list are long, so I’m going to have to really work them in if I plan to finish by December. But I’m very hopeful. Thank you for dropping by!


  4. Oh man, I just ordered Caterpillar Summer as a summer gift book for a few students…guess I should have ordered one for myself!! I will certainly get one after reading your rave review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Nicole! I sincerely adored Caterpillar Summer and look forward to hearing your thoughts. I love that you purchased it for some of your students, too! I think it’s a difficult task to address poor family relationships (particularly between grandparents and parents) in a middle grade novel. But McDunn and her editors pulled it off beautifully. I really liked her writing and am looking forward to her future books. Thanks for swinging by this week!


  5. Oh, wow, The Sky At Our Feet and Caterpillar Summer both sound SO good! Hoping I can get them on audio for review – I am behind (as usual) in requesting review books.

    And, clearly, I am WAY behind on visiting blogs! Just another one of those weeks.

    Also, I know you have been looking forward to Big Book Summer, and I just posted the sign-up! Can’t wait to see what Big Books your summer has in store for you this year 🙂


    2019 Big Book Summer Challenge


  6. I immediately put Ruby Head High in my Goodreads to-find stack. It looks like a powerful read. I also just read When Sadness is at your door – just now, actually! Picked it up from our library in time for a talk that I will be giving in an hour and a half’s time with teachers here in Singapore. It’s a lovely title!


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