It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/25/2020 #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!

STRING-AROUND-FINGER-9x10Sue of Book by Book is kickstarting her annual Big Book Summer Challenge RIGHT NOW (but you can join in any time, this summer)! Any book with 400 pages or more qualifies as a “big book” for this challenge and it always begins Memorial Day weekend and runs through Labor Day weekend (September 7, this year). Challenge participants link up with Sue and share our experiences in a Goodreads group that she creates just for us. NOTE: This is not a competition, it’s just a chance to squeeze in any big books you’ve been meaning to get to. And you get a supportive group to cheer you along. I believe this is my third year to participate and it is always an encouragement to be a part of the community. I’ll write up a blog post later this week to share any titles I hope to squeeze in between now and September.

Thank you for visiting, today! I’m moving quickly this morning, but I wanted to note that in this post I am sharing two new picture books being published this month: Ray by Marianna Coppo and The Story of Alexander Hamilton by Christine Platt and illustrated by Raquel Martín. So if these sound new to you, be sure to check them out.


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Turtle Boy
M. Evan Wolkenstein
May 5, 2020
Delacorte Press

Oh my. I didn’t know what I was stepping into when I started this book. It’s another one of those “the cover isn’t nearly as serious as the book” scenarios that caught me 100% off guard. So just a fair warning that this one is heavy and meaningful and will definitely require some Kleenex. Will Levine loves turtles. He collects them from the pond behind his school and takes care of them at home. The kids at school call him Turtle Boy, but it’s not because he likes turtles. Nope, that would have been fine. He is bullied relentlessly at school and called Turtle Boy because of his odd-looking chin. But hold on to your hats, folks, because Will’s life is about to change in a way he never imagined. His bar mitzvah community service project lands him in a hospital, helping a patient who doesn’t even seem to like him. While there were plenty of somber moments that brought tears to my eyes, I seriously laughed out loud SO hard on several occasions. Such beautiful, meaningful writing. Be sure to pick up a copy and see why this story landed a starred review from Booklist.

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.


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Ways to Make Sunshine
Renée Watson
April 28, 2020
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

This sweet little early chapter book was such a fun addition to my reading week. Ryan Hart is the youngest in her family. That’s right, HER family. She was named Ryan because she is to become a great leader. And her parents don’t shy away from reminding her of her name meaning, whenever appropriate. At the opening of this story, Ryan’s family is facing some major life changes after her father lost his job with the USPS (how appropriate, considering our current situation), so they will be moving to a new (old) house across town. I wouldn’t say there was a major plot line with a big rise and fall, but the charming smaller plots were enough for a young child to easily follow and enjoy. There’s a teeny bit of mystery mixed into this story along with Ryan’s repeated attempts to overcome stage fright. And Ryan loves trying new recipes, so there’s a lot of trial and error baking in her household. (I may never forgive you, Renée Watson, for introducing me to Tillamook Marionberry Pie ice cream in this story. YUMMO!) I was practically giddy over the little illustrations scattered throughout the chapters. Soooo precious… and worth stopping to appreciate all the lovely little details. Make sure this title makes it into your children’s libraries!

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.


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Red, White & Royal Blue
Casey McQuiston
May 14, 2019
St. Martin’s Griffin

I’ve had this one on my list since it was released last spring. There are a few books that seem especially important reads if I plan to keep my finger on the pulse of YA and New Adult literature, and this one definitely qualifies with its insane popularity (wow @ 112,854 ratings already on Goodreads)! Known especially for having both Latinx and LGBTQ+ representation, this is the story of a relationship between the only son of the American president (Alex Claremont) and a Welsh Prince (Henry, Prince of Whales). Alex is a politician at heart, but there are just some people in the political scene he cannot stand. That includes Prince Henry. The guy is so snooty that he cannot even handle being in the same room with him. After a surprising altercation with the prince, including photos that were released to the tabloids, the American presidential team plans a damage control scheme to make Alex and Henry appear to be the best of friends. It’s an extremely fast-paced story that was hard to put down until the very end.

I found it very interesting how historical facts and details were woven into the storyline — including a number of quotes from past letters and books, particularly romantic notes or poems passed between political leaders and their loved ones. I couldn’t help but marvel at the intimate letters and poetry, realizing this book must have involved some serious research (which I’d love to chat with McQuiston about some time!).

AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award for Romance and for Debut Novel (2019), Alex Award (2020)

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.


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Ray
Marianna Coppo
May 26, 2020
Penguin Random House Canada
Tundra Books

Ray is an average closet lightbulb. Turn him on and he sees everything his family stores in the closet. But it’s the same old 41 items, every time. When the light is turned off, he becomes bored and drifts off to sleep — a sleep without dreams. However, today is Ray’s lucky day! He feels spinning as his family removes him from the closet fixture and places him in a lantern that they take on a camping trip. He encounters a number of new things on this journey, including the biggest lightbulb in the world (sun). After all these grand new experiences, he now knows that even after returning to his closet, his life will never ever be the same again. I think the point to this sweet book came through easily and youngsters will relate to the way a change in scenery can impact our thoughts and dreams. What a great story to use with children when discussing all the new things they learned and discovered on a recent trip or while having a new experience. The simple artwork is really sweet natured with soft colors. Thank you to Netgalley and to Tundra Books for approving an advance reader’s copy so that I would provide my honest review. This book will be published tomorrow, May 26th.

The artwork in this book was rendered in tempera, pastels and digital collage. I’ll provide one page spread from the Advance Reader’s Copy to serve as an example, below:

Ray-lightbulb-SPREAD

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.


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The Story of Alexander Hamilton
A Biography Book for New Readers
Christine Platt
Raquel Martín, illustrator
May 19, 2020
Callisto Media/Rockridge Press

Thanks to Callisto Media and to Netgalley for providing an Advance Reading Copy so that I could share my honest review. The Story of Alexander Hamilton is a children’s biography chapter book with scattered illustrations and charts. It begins with a Table of Contents outlining chapters 1 through 8. I must admit, I learned quite a bit about Hamilton from this little 43-paged book. It was especially helpful to have thought-providing questions posed throughout the chapters — thinking questions that will help children stop and ponder things like: what must life have been like when… ? There are also things like “Myth & Fact,” a family tree, famous quotes, and maps to remind the reader where things took place throughout Alexander Hamilton’s life. Comprehension questions are also posed as a quiz at the very end with an answer key provided. The book concludes with a glossary and bibliography of books, government websites, and historical sites that can be visited. One thing I noted during my examination of this book was that the ARC has a family tree where it indicates Alexander’s birth as 1775, so hopefully that will be corrected in the final print copy.

I contacted the illustrator (Raquel Martín) and she shared that her artwork was created with gouache and finished digitally. I’ll provide one page spread from the ARC (subject to change) to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

The-Story-of-Alexander-Hamilton-SPREAD

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.


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My Brother the Duck
Pat Zietlow Miller
April 21, 2020
Chronicle Books

Stella has a new baby brother, but she’s pretty sure he’s not your normal baby brother. Could he, by chance, be a baby duck? Stella immediately gets busy testing her hypothesis by asking questions and gathering data. The twist ending to this book will bring on a few giggles, for sure. By the way, if you’re short on print picture books at the moment, Amazon Prime members can access this title for free right now through the Prime Reading Library.

The illustrations in this book were rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

My-Brother-the-Duck-SPREAD

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.


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The Nest That Wren Built
Randi Sonenshine
Anne Hunter, Illustrator
March 10, 2020
Candlewick Press

In this gorgeous poetic nonfiction picture book we confront the familiar rhyming text (in the manner of The House That Jack Built) which concludes each page with “…the nest that Wren built.” This book is an outstanding addition to either the study of birds/Wrens or of life cycles, and will be especially perfect for spring time. The back matter finishes the book with an illustrated glossary followed by a page full of Wren Facts. The soft, detailed illustrations in this book were done in ink and colored pencil on tinted paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

The-Nest-that-Wren-Built-SPREAD

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.


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Love from the Crayons
(Crayons)
Drew Daywalt
Oliver Jeffers, Illustrator
December 24, 2019
Penguin Workshop

 In this very short book, each page shares both positive and negative actions, feelings, or metaphors that are associated with a specific color of love. It’s a tiny package, but could be nicely used as a mentor text. The book doesn’t share specifically how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Love-from-the-Crayons-SPREAD

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.


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A Tiger Like Me
Michael Engler
Joëlle Tourlonias, illustrator
September 1, 2019
Amazon Crossing Kids

With absolutely enchanting illustrations, a young boy proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that he’s really a tiger. The text reads like poetry and each page ends with a similar phrase of, “Because I am a tiger…” Oh SO cute! And such a wonderful bedtime story for youngsters. This is another title that can be accessed for free right now if you’re an Amazon Prime Member. Just check out their Prime Reading Library through your online account.

AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2019)

The adorable artwork was rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

A-Tiger-Like-Me-SPREAD

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.


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Nobody Hugs a Cactus
Carter Goodrich
April 16, 2019
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Hank is a very little potted cactus, but he packs a very hot head. He wants people to stay quiet and off his grass. As characters continue to pass by, his frustrations grows on every page until he’s suddenly aware of how lonely he is. Awww. What will Hank do to make up for his past behavior? The expressions on this little cactus are utterly adorable! I’m getting some teen Groot vibes, here. I’m certain they would be good friends! As this obviously takes place in the southwest, the artwork is mostly in dusty browns and reds. The illustrations in this book were rendered in watercolor. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Nobody-Hugs-a-Cactus-SPREAD

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 just a little way into We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez and I hope to start Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick before the end of this week. Then I’d like to spend a bit of my reading time this week looking over my TBR list to decide what to tackle for the Big Book Summer Challenge.

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Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 171/200


What are YOU reading?

27 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/25/2020 #imwayr

  1. Wow! I love how you included artwork from the interior of the featured books in your post. I also appreciate the breadth of the genres included in this post. I’m looking forward to reading the bio of Alexander Hamilton and ‘The Nest That Wren Built’, as I love to read children’s non-fiction. Thanks for sharing this great post for #IMWAYR!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I first re-started blogging (switched to WordPress) and seeing all the beautiful children’s books shared on #imwayr, I just remember wishing I could take a peek inside each book. Sometimes Amazon lets you see a few pages, but that’s pretty rare. So I was glad to learn that, as long as I don’t share more than 10% of a book for education reviewing purposes, I’m falling within the legal limits. The hard part is to choose just one page spread on each book. LOL Thanks for visiting today, June!

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  2. Lots of lovely books shared, Shaye! I loved The Nest That Wren Built & have Ways to Make Sunshine, need to read it! I like your review of Turtle Boy, am sure I would like it, too, & Ray sounds very cute. Have a good day today and the rest of the week! Thanks for all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, The Nest That Wren Built was so beautiful. I need a book like that for pigeons. There’s a pair who make a nest in our carport every single year. We hear the babies chirping after a while and then they’re suddenly all gone — both parents and babies. It’s such a neat real-life science experience. 🙂 Thanks for swinging by, Linda!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve seen Red, White, and Royal Blue on Amazon, but I never looked at it, so thanks for talking about it today! Ray sounds like a really cute story, as does My Brother the Duck! I’ve also seen a lot of praise for Ways to Make Sunshine. Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s one of my favorite parts of this community — getting to learn more about books from people I’ve grown to know. I see these titles all the time, but it’s somehow different when I hear from someone I correspond with regularly. 🙂 Thanks for visiting, today!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a copy of Ways to Make Sunshine, so I definitely need to get it off the shelf and read it this week. I was also able to request an e-copy of Love From the Crayons from my library. Drew Daywalt’s books have always been so popular in all the classrooms I’ve used them in. Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I look forward to hearing your reaction to Ways to Make Sunshine. And I think our local libraries have been using a whole lot of e-books, lately. I’ve been very pleased to have that option when print books are difficult to get. Thanks for dropping by, Jana!

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    1. Yes, it’s definitely been difficult to concentrate — particularly with all the uncertainty and five cabin-fevered kiddos. LOL But with summer inching closer, we’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors and I’ve been making good use of audiobooks when I need to work around the house or in the yard. Thank you for visiting, Karen!

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  5. Turtle Boy sounds like an important book so I’ve added it to my list. I’ve also added Ways to Make Sunshine because I will read anything by Renée Watson! Your picture books all look wonderful. I am sad because I have one picture book to read and then I am out of hardcopy titles.
    I joined the Summer Big Book group again this summer too – I’ve even finished my first book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree on Renée Watson books!! And I feel incredibly lucky that one of my local libraries has been ILLing tons of books for me during this social distancing time. I just got another batch of 30+ books in, yesterday. There’s just something about getting to hold the book in my hands. And my six year old was giddy when she saw the pile while I was wiping them down with disinfectant. She couldn’t wait to grab them. LOL I still need to get my Summer Big Book post up. I’m just so blah lately — definitely procrastinating everything from house work to writing. Why can’t we just sit and read all day long?! 🙂 Thanks for visiting, Cheriee!

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  6. My Brother the Duck has been on my list to find, may have to wander over to Amazon Prime!
    Looks like you and Kellee have had some similar books. I had not heard much about Turtle Boy but it’s one I’ll have to find.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, yes, yes on Turtle Boy — it really surprised me how deep it was for a middle grade novel. It was totally a 5-star read for me, so I hope everyone else loves it. Thank you for dropping by, Michele!

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  7. Some nice picture books and MG that I have on my radar but haven’t got copies of yet. My Brother the Duck, A Tiger Like Me and Ray all look really good for me. I think more than a few of us tired of seeing the same 41 things and would love to head out somewhere. I hope I get to see Turtle Boy and Ways to Make Sunshine too. Enjoy Tornado Brain and We are Not From Here. Have a great week, thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a good laugh on your comment about “seeing the same 41 things” — I hadn’t made that connection, but what a perfect connection to this book. LOL I just finished We Are Not From Here. WOW! Hoping to start Tornado Boy by this evening. Thanks for stopping by, Aaron!

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    1. Yes, it’s such a cute one! And if you didn’t catch it, if you happen to have an Amazon Prime account, this title is currently available for free through the Prime Reading Library. I know it’s not the same as holding a print book, but I was glad to be able to access a few e-titles when my stack suddenly shrunk. Thanks for visiting, Beth!

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  8. The art in the Wren book looks so beautiful! I am also obsessed with a couple of Carter Goodrich’s earlier picture books (Zorro books), so I definitely need that one! AND I just HAD to order the Renee Watson because I was putting together an order anyway and what’s one more?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, you’ll have to grab Nobody Hugs a Cactus — if you’re in town, they have it at the public library. I just turned it in last week when I grabbed my next THREE books for the week (three… why just three books per family? ugh). I have that problem, too — tacking on just one more book to order. And then just one more. And then… LOL Thank you for visiting, Elisabeth!

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