It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/23/2020 #imwayr

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!

This week we celebrated my youngest’s 6th birthday! ❤ I must say I was so relieved that I had been slowly picking up special gifts for her since Christmas because there wasn’t much time to think about presents and cake or even wrapping paper with the city practically shutting down everything except the essentials. We already do a huge once-per-month shopping trip for our staples, but we double-checked everything and made sure our pantry was stocked enough to not have to go shopping for a while. Living in a very secluded, small college town means everyone from far and wide visits our two grocery stores: Walmart and Safeway. So the aisles held mostly barren shelves almost immediately while townspeople were simultaneously preparing for a blizzard on Thursday and Friday. Nevertheless, we all made it through and I was even able to read my latest stack of picture books and squeeze in just one survival novel before the weekend came to an abrupt halt. Whew!

Thank you for visiting, today! Along with our regular weekly reading, I’m excited to be sharing a soon-to-be published picture book called Lali’s Feather by Farhana Zia. Whether it’s a brand new book or an older title, I hope you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading list.


Lali’s Feather
Farhana Zia
Stephanie Fizer Coleman, illustrator
April 1, 2020
Peachtree Publishing

Young Lali appears to be a creative, free-range spirit who loves nature and talking with the birds. One day she finds a loose feather in a field and attempts to discover the owner. But it’s not rooster’s or crow’s or peacock’s or hen’s or duck’s or blue jay’s feather. All their feathers serve very unique purposes just for them. Still, Lali finds incredible value in her feather. For example, it can write in the sand. It can sweep a deck. It can fan a fire. Or it can tickle unsuspecting family members. After a day of experimental play, a gust of wind sadly carries Lali’s feather away and her bird friends must help her find it. However, just wait until you see what she finds next.

The ending showcases the fact that we can find value in just about anything if we are open-minded and look more closely at our seemingly worthless possessions. Lalai’s Feather is an excellent, light-hearted picture book that can be employed to open a deeper discussion about first impressions and even gratitude. My thanks to Netgalley and Peachtree Publishing Company for providing me with an e-ARC so that I could give my honest review. This title will be published on April 1st!

The colorful artwork in this book was rendered digitally. 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.
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.


96 Miles
J. L. Esplin
February 11, 2020

First, I have to say that this was an especially interesting read to take on during the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing. The Lockwood brothers, John and Stew, have been trained by their father to survive just about anything. They’ve stockpiled everything from generators to food to large tanks of water on their isolated Nevada ranch in the event of a long lasting emergency. And wouldn’t you know, the electricity goes out when they least expect it — right after their father heads out of town, leaving his two sons to look after their home. Thank goodness they have nothing to worry about since their father was the only “crazy” who made sure they’d be good and ready for losing all power and connection to the outside world. But what happens when a group of rowdy men break into their home in the middle of the night, holding the boys at gunpoint while they take everything of value, including the very medicine needed to keep the younger Lockwood brother alive? Oooh, this one kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end.

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.


Pokko and the Drum
Matthew Forsythe
October 1, 2019
Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

Any parent who has raised a beginning band student will understand the frustrations of those early off-pitch, out-of-beat home practice sessions that are tolerated until their children become accomplished musicians. Well, Pokko’s tale is exactly that scenario. The noise from her drumming is so unbearable that her father sends her outside to play her drum. But as they say, practice makes perfect. The watercolors in this book are so lovely. And with the oranges, greens, browns, and yellow watercolors, this book sometimes had the feel of retro picture books that I grew up reading. This story will be especially helpful for any younger siblings of middle school or high school band students. 🙂

The illustrations for the book were rendered in watercolor, gouache, and colored 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.


A Quieter Story
Liza Woodruff
July 9, 2019
Margaret Ferguson Books

This cute little picture book is of a young girl who is writing a story about a kitten. No, scratch that — a tiger! At every turn of her story, her cat must interject and make the story more adventurous. But when her story gets a little too frightening for her sweet kitty, she decides it’s time to tone it down a bit. Hence, “a quieter story.” This one will certainly make young readers laugh!

The artwork was created with mixed media: watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, block print, and Photoshop. 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.


So Big!
Mike Wohnoutka
July 2, 2019

In only a few words, readers will feel the highs and lows of their very first day of school. Sometimes we feel soooo big when we’re old enough to start something brand new. Other times, we feel NOT so big when overwhelm kicks in. This book could be great for the beginning kindergartener in your life or the soon-to-be college student. All the feels, right here!

The artwork was created with Holbein Acryla gouache paint on hot press watercolor paper. 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.


Bear Came Along
Richard T. Morris
LeUyen Pham, illustrator
June 4, 2019
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

This gem of a book is so adorable! Sometimes we have no idea what can happen until we just jump in and try something. With hilarious artwork, we see how Bear, Froggy, Turtles, Beaver, Racoons, and Duck will weather the unexpected storm together. Be sure to check out the lovely Author’s Note in the back about diverse personalities bringing balance in unexpected situations. I would say this book is particularly perfect for what we’re currently experiencing with COVID-19, but just without the social distancing. LOL

AWARDS: Caldecott Medal Nominee (2020)

The illustrations in this book were created in watercolor, ink, and gouache on hot-press illustration board. I’ll provide one page spread to serve 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.


You Are Home: An Ode
to the National Parks
Evan Turk
June 4, 2019
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Be ready for an adventure across the United States in this poetic book about all the different homes we find for plants, animals, and people. The artwork is so pretty and colorful as the words are a celebration of our National Parks. In the Author’s Note, Evan Turk shares that his  father worked for as a Park Service employee for more than forty years!

The illustrations for this book were rendered in pastel on black paper. I’ll provide on page spread to serve 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.


Welcome to Morningtown
Blake Liliane Hellman
Steven Henry, illustrator
June 4, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

What a sweet, simple book all about the joys of a young bear and his mother waking up and getting started in a new day. The pictures remind me of books I read when I was a child — so innocent and comforting. In the end, everyone is up… except for one. Can you guess who?

The artwork for this book was created with pencil, watercolor, and gouache. 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.


You Are A Gift To The World
Laura Duksta
Dona Turner, illustrator
April 12, 2011
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

This picture book has two different titles, depending on which end you start from. If you start from one side, it’s The World is a Gift to You, which celebrates the beautiful gifts of the world, ranging from plants to animals to mountains. From the other side it’s You Are a Gift to the World, which celebrates the beauty of the young child. It’s called a flip-sided book that never ends. One side appears to be a daughter and her mother and the other side a different young girl and her father.

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:

I’m currently re-reading The Giver as a read aloud to the kiddos and I’m reading an ARC of Micah McKinney and the Boys of Summer by Nina Chapman. And I’m still working on Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein and Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.

Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 89/200

24 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/23/2020 #imwayr

  1. I really enjoyed A Bear Comes Along and love its quiet message of collaboration. I am fortunate to have received a copy of Lali’s Feather from Peachtree for my #bookexcursion group. Looking forward to reading after your review. Wishing you and your family well Shaye! Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura, thank you for the well wishes. We’re trying to not let fear cripple us, right now. So many are out of work and scared. Hoping that our collective efforts are flattening the curve so that our hospitals can handle the influx and keep the death toll as low as possible. Enjoy Lali’s Feather! I sure wish I had it in print — I think picture books are so much better in print! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember loving The Giver the first time I read it. And my 16 year old enjoyed it when she read it (probably back when she was 13). But it’s proving a difficult read aloud for my 6, 9, and 11 year olds. The vocabulary is sometimes more suited for teenagers and then want the story to move along more quickly. But I think once we get past the first 8 to 10 chapters, it’ll really pick up. Thanks for visiting, Lisa!


  2. Shaye, I love your blog! I posted my first #imwayr today too. I’m new at this but am excited to share with the blogging world. I’m eager to hear your review of Micah McKinney and the Boys of Summer. I was debating on requesting it on NetGalley!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to the #imwayr community, Sierra! This is such a supportive group of readers, reviewers, teachers, librarians, parents, and grandparents! Thank you for your kind words — I look forward to getting to getting to know you and following your blog. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my goodness, Shaye, what a PILE of wonderful books you shared. I loved Bear Came Along, but the others are all new to me. I have lots to read already, but may have to find 96 Miles for sure. Since you liked it, you may also like Dry by Shusterman. I love the picture books, like Welcome to Morningtown looks so cute. Happy Birthday to your daughter. Six is such a sweet time. I assume you know “When I Am Six” by AA Milne? Best wishes to you & the family during this tough time. And thanks for a super post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Shusterman’s Dry was a VERY sobering read, too! While reading both books I wanted to drink lots of water since they were going without. My grandfather spent a lot of time overseas during WWII and sent many treasures home. Somehow I ended up with some of his books from England — I believe I have both When We Were Young and Now We Are Six carefully packed away (gifts he passed down to me and my children). They’re both so old and I’m actually nervous about handling the pages too much. But you’re right! I definitely need to read When I Am Six to my newly six-year-old! I’ll have to borrow a library copy (once our public library reopens). Thank you for visiting, Linda, and for the well wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad that your family was able to celebrate your daughter’s birthday. It’s tough to think of things to do without going out of the house. My husband’s birthday is in a few days. I’ve managed to order a gift on Amazon, which has arrived. I’ve also ordered a sausage/cheese gift basket, which is supposed to be delivered by FedEx (hope it comes!). I’m just grateful each day we stay healthy! Hope your family is healthy and safe, too. I’ve read Bear Came Along, but I’ll definitely need to check out your other books once the library opens again! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, now a sausage/cheese basket sounds delicious! My husband did some shopping the day before our daughter’s birthday, but he came home with the wrong flavor cake mix. HAHA! So off I went to brave the storm of shoppers in search of chocolate cake mix. After arriving home, we realized we were out of birthday wrapping paper, so we just used up our remaining Christmas paper. LOL I like to purchase sale items and hide them in my husband’s office on campus for future birthdays. But I’d forgotten how much I had accumulated for her over the last three months. She was very pleased (and so were we!). Now I’m running low on new picture books and the public library is closed. I ordered some ILL books through the college library (which is still open), but they’re holding books in quarantine for a couple weeks if they come from our of our area. So I guess it’s a good time for me to enjoy older titles, my Netgalley picture books, and Overdrive/Libby has some good picture books available, too. YAY! Thanks for dropping by, Jana.


    1. I completely agree, Wendi. However, I first tried to read it on Kindle and it was a mess with pictures sliced in half and spread across two pages. Thank goodness I was able to get my Bluefire Reader to work. LOL Thank you for the birthday well wishes! ❤


    1. I’m wondering if those two week stay-at-home orders will be extended everywhere. They started us with only two weeks and now they’ve extended it to “at least May 1st.” One of the hard parts of this experience is the lack of access to books. Luckily my husband let me in to the college library last Saturday when no one was there and we grabbed a huge pile of books for the kids. Hope that will keep everyone busy for a couple weeks. Thanks for swinging by, Karen!


  5. What a great pile of books. I agree with your comment on Bear Come Along, I share that with library groups quite a bit, and read it to one group the week before our break started. 96 Miles is a book my twelve year old and I are interested in picking up. I have several picture books to check out from reading this blog. Thanks for all the shares.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much like Dry by Neal Shusterman, 96 Miles made me quite thirsty. It’s difficult to read in a time of great uncertainty. I’m glad we don’t have to go without food, water, gas, and electricity during this COVID-19 outbreak. YIKES! Thanks for visiting, Aaron!


    1. Thank you so much, Kellee. I have a very high book stack, but am having trouble finding time to slip away and read. If I’m not reading with my children or listening to an audiobook while working around the house, very little personal reading is happening. Thanks for swinging by!


  6. A great pile of picture books — I’m glad you are still reading them even with your “baby” a six year old!

    We are in stay home mode as well. I’m hoping everyone does it well enough that we choke off this virus, although we may need to do a double fortnight before things calm down enough. Hope we manage it — I’m praying for boredom to be the worst of our problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, please let boredom be our worst problem!! It’s been hard this week as I’m beginning to see death and severe illness touch the lives of people I know. 😦 I’ve been reading with the kids, teaching my youngest to crochet, planning birthday parties (TWO in 8 days), and my oldest just bought my youngest a ukelele, so it’s been fun to watch her listen and learn. I sure hope things are settling down a bit up there in Seattle! ❤


  7. I don’t know, Shaye – is this the time to be reading survival novels?? Then again, maybe it’s the perfect time! 96 Miles does sound riveting, and that is good right now when we have so many distractions.

    Glad you were able to celebrate your 6-yo’s birthday!!

    Hope you are enjoying your books and settling into your life of seclusion 🙂


    Book By Book

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? As I began reading it, I was thinking perhaps I picked the wrong book. As if there weren’t already enough concerns about food and water (and toilet paper! LOL). But somehow it worked nicely. I’m just having a difficult time squeezing in novels right now unless I read them aloud to the kids. I’m incredibly distracted! Anyway, thank you so much for visiting, Sue.


      1. I picked up The Parable of the Sower and it’s also a survival type and in a dystopian world. It was interesting reading it during this time.


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