It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/20/2020 #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 to share what you’ve been reading!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! This is the first year that we have officially cancelled all classes and planned some bigger-than-usual events for students to attend. For example, in addition to our regular march up Main Street and open mic opportunities,  hip-hop artist Ali Tomineek will perform on campus this afternoon and then will give a keynote speech later in the evening. And we’ll also have a screening of the movie Southside With You which tells the story of the first date of Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson (Obama) and is “set against the back drop of community organizing and civil rights activities in Chicago.” Hopefully these and other events will inspire greater awareness and discussion about the Civil Rights Movement, modern racial discrimination, and ongoing nonviolent activism.

This week I’m sharing only one novel and a few picture books, including a review of an ARC I received of Cats vs. AI Pets by Lian Sommer. Whether it’s a new book or an older one, I hope you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading lists.


Cats vs AI Pets
Lian Sommer
December 2019
Salinya Uhde

My thanks to Lian Sommer for providing a digital copy of this picture book. This is the story of a little girl named Anna. She lives in the year 2087 and relies heavily on her robot. The story shares how her body works differently from her robot’s body (he uses cameras to “see” and he is powered by battery, etc.), but she’s heavily invested in spending time on her robot rather than living in the moment with others. Eventually, Anna’s parents give Anna a cat. At first she doesn’t know what’s so special about a cat, it simply exists! However, over time she finds a warmth and connection with her cat that she couldn’t find in her robot. After spending a bit of time unplugged, Anna knows there’s a time and place for the use of her robot. But she also learns the importance of avoiding distractions and enjoying simple pleasures. Books like these are a great way to open the floor for family discussions about the ways we use technology and the types of real life interactions we might miss out on if we exclusively communicate online.

NOTE: Lian Sommer was working a stressful desk job, spending most of his days with only online interaction. He became compelled to quit his job and write books for children to help them learn to use technology in a responsible way. To find out more about his work or to join his mailing list, please check out his website at

The artwork was created using a Wacom tablet, Corel Painter and Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Collage created using TurboCollage software from

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


I Can Make This Promise
Christine Day
October 1, 2019

This debut middle grade novel is about a young girl named Edie who is desperate to learn more about her Native American heritage. She knows her mother was adopted when she was a baby, but her mom will not share anything about her family of origin. One day, Edie and two friends are rummaging around in her attic when they find a box of letters with a photo of a woman who looks nearly identical to Edie. Furthermore, they discover the woman’s name is Edith! Prepare yourself for a beautiful journey of self-discovery combined with the very sad history that ignited The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.

NOTE: In October of 2018, I reviewed an ARC of Beyond the Green by Sharlee Mullins Glenn. But after receiving feedback from reviewers, this title was pulled from printing by Charlesbridge. In a nutshell, the story was heavily based on Glenn’s real-life experience since her family adopted a 5 month old Native American child back in the 70s. Therefore, her book was written more from the perspective of a white family who was mourning their adopted child being “taken” from them, years later, and given back to a family she didn’t know. It was easy to see some similarities between these two stories, but the experiences were from complete opposite sides of the adoption experience. (And, scarily, the cover art to both books is actually kinda similar.) In any case, if you’re interested in reading Glenn’s unpublished book to learn about her experience and perspective, I’m told that Circle Dance, published in 1998, is an earlier version (20 years earlier!) of Beyond the Green.

You can add I Can Make This Promise to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


The Little Green Girl
Lisa Anchin
April 2, 2019
Dial Books

I need more picture books like this in my life!! In this imaginative story, “one bright morning” a seed blew into Mr. Aster’s garden. And while Mr. Aster didn’t appreciate unexpected things, but he decided to take on the new seed and nurture it. While he carefully tends to her needs, he talks to her, welcoming her to his home and garden, teaching her about the world around her. When he discovers that the garden is too small for the little green girls’ needs, he makes yet another change in his routine so that she can travel the world and find the satisfaction she so deeply desires. I would have never imagined this is Lisa Anchin’s very first book — it’s so wonderful! I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on her work!

The lush illustrations in this book were created with acryla gouache and pencil. 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 through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


Hey, Water!
Antoinette Portis
March 26, 2019
Neal Porter Books

This nonfiction book is an excellent resource for children learning all about water in its many forms, including the water cycle. Additionally, it’s written in a way that both established readers AND emergent readers can enjoy. Amidst the prose of each page, a new word is shared to go with each illustration. Younger children can use context clues to decode the word while older children can read the details. The artwork is exactly what I love to see in a children’s nonfiction book — just enough details to thoroughly intrigue a young reader, but not overly complicated. Be sure to examine the back matter for more information on water forms, the water cycle, how to conserve water, and where to go for more reading.

The artwork for this book was made with brush and sumi ink. Color was added digitally. 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 through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


Harold Snipperpot’s Best
Disaster Ever
Beatrice Alemagna
Edward Gauvin, illustrator
February 5, 2019

Harold is turning seven years old, but his grumpy, emotionally distant parents do not like birthday parties. In fact, Harold has never had one before. This year turns out much different than normal, however, because his parents decide to hire Mr. Ponzio to arrange a party that will make their son happy. Mr. Ponzio is the person everyone goes to with their problems, so whatever he does should work out fine. Things quickly get wild and crazy!! However unexpectedly, the insanity that transpires solves more than just getting a birthday party. The story is completely unrealistic, but highly imaginative.

The artwork was created using gouache, oil, collage, and wax pencils. 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 through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.

To Be Read:

Ever since reading Torpedoed, last week, I’ve been wanting to dive into Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood. I also just got a copy of Just Like My Brother by Gianna Marino, so I’m looking forward to reading it this week.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from

Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 19/200


18 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/20/2020 #imwayr

    1. I was pleasantly surprised by Hey, Water! I still remember the classroom activities we would do with our kindergarteners while studying the water cycle, and this book would work beautifully! Thanks for visiting, Earl!


  1. Your celebration of Dr. King sounds wonderful, Shaye. I will look for Cats vs AI Pets. What an interesting concept for a book. Looks nice for a beginning foray into sci-fi. Fun to read about that ‘disaster’ book! Thanks for all you shared!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I read these disaster books, it’s hard not to realize how good we have it, today. But I feel so terrible for so many parents who’ve had to say goodbye to their children. Sadly, these experiences are still happening today. 😦 Thanks for swinging by, Linda!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I swear, the illustrations in picture books just keep getting more and more gorgeous! I worry a lot about how much screen time my granddaughter gets. I might get Cats vs AI Pets for my son! I appreciated your remarks about I Can Make This Promise and Beyond the Green. I’m sure those parents were devastated, but odds are that the child’s birth parents had that child just taken from them. I wish we could say that those days are behind us, but here in Canada, the numbers of children in foster care is reminiscent of residential schools.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, I completely agree on the birth parents likely having had their child just taken from them. It creates a terrible experience all around. And I’m so very saddened to learn it’s still happening today. 😦


  3. I agree with what Cheriee said about kids in foster care. I have been meaning to read I Can Make This Promise for a couple of weeks and this might be the one. I also hope to get to several of your picture books such as Hey, Water if I can get them at my local library. I hope you enjoy Lifeboat 12! Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is terrifying to think of the tiny offenses that have led to loosing your child — and how obvious it is that these children should have remained with their families. Just awful! I hope you’re able to get to I Can Make This Promise as I’d love to hear your thoughts, Aaron!


  4. Cats vs AI Pets sounds like a great book for my preschooler, who once told her pediatrician that we have two cats and one dog (the dog is a robot dog toy). I Can Make This Promise sounds like the kind of hard-hitting middle grade novels that I love. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s wonderful that Lian Sommer had such a passion in sharing this message that he quit his job to write children’s books. I mean, how often does that happen before you have sufficient funding?! Thanks so much for visiting, Jana!


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