It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/10/2019 #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!

Summer is still crazy, but I am very happy to have finished my first #BigBookSummerChallenge book: Monday’s Not Coming. YAY! Don’t forget, if you’d like to join the challenge group, link up at Sue’s 2019 Big Book Summer post.

36039602Monday’s Not Coming
Tiffany D. Jackson
May 22, 2018
Katherine Tegen Books

One of my former education majors turned me on to this Young Adult novel, so I was very happy when it became available on my Overdrive library. This story is told in three timelines (with uniquely named chapters, like “before,” “1 Year Before the Before,” “After,” and “2 Weeks After the After”), and it helps to pay attention to understand what’s happening. Claudia and Monday are best friends and they’re starting their 8th grade school year, together. However, Claudia has been away all summer and Monday doesn’t show up to school on the first day of classes. In fact, she hasn’t shown up even a few weeks into the school year. Even if Monday is where her mother and sister say she is, Claudia is certain she would have called or written to let her best friend know where she was. Besides, Monday knows Claudia is dyslexic and depends on her help for all her academic work (so they can get into the same high school, together). Claudia just hopes she can find out the truth in time.

This one had me on the edge of my seat and I wasn’t sure what happened until it was revealed in the final chapters. Throughout this story I was appalled at the fact that no one seemed all that worried about a young teen girl who hasn’t contacted her best friend all summer: law enforcement, the neighbors, the school system, and even child protective services dropped the ball. But one point that was driven home — ALWAYS leave breadcrumbs so that friends and loved ones can find you.

“Breadcrumbs, Claudia!”

AWARDS: Lincoln Award Nominee (2020)

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

34495944Betty Before X
Ilyasah Shabazz
Renée Watson
January 2, 2018
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

We know that Betty Shabazz one day becomes the wife of Malcolm X, but this book is a fictionalized story of her childhood. Renee Watson worked with Betty’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, using many real-life historical details from four years of Betty’s life so that this was as close to true history as possible. It was a very enjoyable storyline sprinkled with both joy and sadness, and I learned a lot about the culture of black communities in Detroit during the 1940s. While Betty experienced great pain during those critical coming-of-age years, the theme of counting your blessings and planting seeds (to reap later) was greatly reinforced. This book has received multiple starred reviews and I am happy to recommend it!

AWARDS: New York Public Library Best Children’s Book (2018), Washington Post Best Children’s Book (2018), Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018, A CSMCL Best Book of 2018,  2019 NCSS Notable Social Studies Book for Young People, an Amelia Bloomer List Feminist Literature Selection

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

29102841Forget Me Not
Ellie Terry
Heather Costa, Narrator
Matt Godfrey, Narrator
March 14, 2017
Feiwel & Friends

This beautiful novel is told from two perspectives: Calliope (Calli) June, who is new to town, and Jinsong, who is the class president at her new school (Calli’s chapters are written in verse and Jinsong’s are written in prose). Calli has Tourette syndrome and works unsuccessfully to hide her embarrassing tics. She faces cruel bullies who seek to tear her down at every corner as she struggles to fit in. Jinsong is different from the other kids at school, he sees beyond her syndrome and wants to be a true friend.  But will Jinsong be courageous enough to defend Calli publicly, even if it might damage his reputation? NOTE: This is another very important #ownvoices book as Ellie Terry has Tourette’s and understands the difficulties and raw emotions that Calli expresses. We need more books like this in our school libraries and public libraries!

AWARDS: AML Award Nominee for Middle Grade Novel (2017)

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

34791187The Remember Balloons
Jessie Oliveros
Dana Wulfekotte, illustrator
August 28, 2018
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

This beautiful picture book addresses the very difficult topic of dementia in a way that children can understand. In this story, memories are represented by colorful balloons. Grandpa has the most balloons of everyone and his stories are “better than ponies and chocolate frosting.”  One day, the young child in the story begins to see Grandpa losing his balloons as he gets stuck telling the same story, repeatedly. This is utterly heartbreaking until the child realizes that he now has many of his grandfather’s balloons and he can re-share the stories that Grandpa cannot remember.

My great grandfather and my grandfather both suffered greatly from dementia. My grandfather passed away just this past year and he was our family storyteller, so this book really hit home for me. The artwork was rendered in pencil, colored pencil, ink, gouache, and Photoshop featuring people drawn in black and white with colorful balloons throughout. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below.

AWARDS: Schneider Family Book Award Nominee for Young Children (2019)


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

686105William’s Doll
Charlotte Zolotow
William Pene Du Bois, illustrator
May 10, 1972

Someone in our #imwayr blogging community recently mentioned this book (I cannot remember who), so I immediately requested it be shipped in from another library. William’s Doll was published the year I was born (1972)!  It begins with:

William wanted a doll.
He wanted to hug it
and cradle it in his arms…

And somehow this is a problem for William’s brother and a neighborhood boy who call him creep and sissy. And it seems to be a problem for his father because he immediately purchases him a basketball and hoop and a train set with a cool track. William enjoyed his father’s gifts, but he still wanted a doll. Thankfully, William’s grandmother knows better — she says William is simply preparing for fatherhood.

I’m certain that little boys are still made fun of when they play with dolls, dress up in dresses, or put on make-up today, but I’m glad to see we at least have more children’s literature and conversations about gender stereotyping. The artwork is pretty basic by modern picture book standards (one example, below), but overall this was definitely a bold children’s book for the time period in which it was published!


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

Next Up:

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Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 150/200
#MustReadin2019 – 16/42


28 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/10/2019 #imwayr

  1. I enjoyed Forget Me Not. I agree about it being in school libraries because it’s the type of book that can help to build students’ empathy and understanding of others. I haven’t read Watership Down since I was in middle school, I think. I love the Charlie and Mouse series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Forget Me Not is such an important window. One of my daughter’s very best friends has Tourette syndrome and I’m glad she also has this as a window. I just finished Watership Down and now I get to watch the rest of the Netflix series with my 11 year old. We’ve watched the first two episodes and they were fantastic! Thanks for dropping by, Lisa!


  2. A new Charlie & Mouse is cause for celebration! I am loving that series. And Watership Down! My son just asked about that book, and of course I am dying to read it to him but also cautious. Sometimes I don’t share my very, very favorites because it’s too disappointing if he doesn’t like them. We might try it on audio on an upcoming road trip. Our current read-aloud is Tiffany Jackson’s new novel, Let Me Hear a Rhyme, which we’re both really liking. I definitely want to read Monday’s Not Coming now, though it might be too intense for him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The language in Watership Down was a bit too advanced for Brighton, so he and I are going to enjoy the Netflix series together (and maybe try reading it again when he’s older). Monday’s Not Coming is very intense at times, so if he’s sensitive I would proceed with caution. Let Me Hear a Rhyme sounds kinda freaky! I’ve had it on my list, but we’ll see if I can squeeze it in — will have to hear what you think at the end. 😉


  3. Monday’s Not Coming certainly makes me want to read it now, Shaye! I’ve noted Betty Before X, too, somehow have missed it. I loved The Remember Balloons, felt like it was perfect for considering the sadness of dementia. Thanks for each one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I had read The Remember Balloons earlier so that I could have shared it with my mom before my grandfather passed away this past year. But I’m sure she’ll still appreciate it, today. Betty Before X was really sweet, but also motivating. I’m so glad her daughter was included in the authorship and I was excited when it became available here. The way my student raved over Monday’s Not Coming really made me want to read it. There are some very rough scenes/abusive scenes and a plot twist, too, but it was very entertaining! Thanks for visiting, Linda!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. William’s Doll is one of my favourite. My sons had dolls when they were young. It’s sad that boys clothes are so socially restrictive. I think it says more about how we value girls that boys are not allowed to wear the kinds of clothes that are traditionally for girls. I wanted to make my grandson a canvas kilt to wear in the summer, buy my son would have none of that. Sigh.
    I loved Betty Before X.
    As soon as I saw this new Charlie and Mouse book I went to see if my library had it. It’s on order!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t believe I’ve never come across William’s Doll before (and I agree with what you’ve shared). A canvas kilt would be so cool! We have a great deal of Scottish Heritage in my family, so both my brothers have kilts and have gone to the Scottish marches. So glad to hear your library has the latest Charlie and Mouse book on order. It’s always exciting when my local library has something new because it’s such a small building with a small budget. Thanks for dropping by, Cheriee!


  5. Oh, The Remember Balloons. I think it is a very very important book to have.
    I’ve owned Betty Before X since it was published. I need to get to that one soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you love Betty Before X — hard to squeeze them all in, though. I listened on audiobook last week and it was really cute with threads of deep sadness. Thanks for swinging by, Michele!


  6. I thought that The Remember Balloons was a creative and lovely way to explain memory loss and dementia to younger readers. It’s a tough topic, but this book deals with it wonderfully. There are lots of books on your list that I haven’t read yet, so I better get busy! Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely agree on The Remember Balloons — such a beautiful way to see it. I’m certainly glad that my grandfather shared so many stories and memories before he lost them. My family will probably re-tell those the rest of our lives. Thanks for visiting, Jana!


    1. I have a very good feeling you’ll love The Remember Balloons. Having experienced generations of dementia in our family, it’s a sweet comfort to read it. And I recently finished Watership Down and really enjoyed it. Now my 11 year old is ready for me to finish the Netflix series with him. YAY!


    1. It certainly was. I think it also encourages us to share our memories/stories with one another — knowing they’ll live on after we’re gone (or after we no longer remember). Such comfort! Thanks for dropping by, Rebecca!


    1. I was kinda late to the party on Forget Me Not, but I’ve been trying to slip some titles I missed in years past into my current reading schedule. I’m so glad I didn’t overlook this one! I hope you get to Betty Before X. I’m glad we’re seeing more fictionalized novels on the childhoods of important figures like Betty Shabazz and Zora Neale Hurston (from the Zora and Me series). It’s so important for children to consider how their lives were impacted during their younger years. Thanks for dropping by, Kellee!


    1. I’m so glad you have access to The Remember Balloons. It’s harder for my institution to get newer titles, but I’m grateful for ILL and our inter-college loan options. Thanks for visiting, Myra!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely agree on Remember Balloons. And it was a relief to finally squeeze in Forget Me Not — Tourette syndrome is slowly making it’s way into children’s and young adult literature and every time I confront it I learn something new. I especially liked the dual perspectives in this one. Thanks for coming by, Laura!

      Liked by 1 person

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