It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/16/2020 #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!

I completely missed last week’s post, which is highly unusual for me. I’m normally a little obsessive about not only posting every week, but also about making sure to visit and comment on all KidLit #imwayr community link-ups. But my mind was most definitely preoccupied with the U.S. election (as well as the fierce division between many friends, family, and acquaintances). Additionally, we’re coming to the end of the college semester and so my Children’s Literature students are submitting their final work while I prepare to post final grades. I feel like I’m walking through molasses just trying to get everything done.

One FUN thing I failed to share previously was what our family did for Halloween. Every year we try to make that evening meal into some fun spooky snack-fest. So this year we had cheese dip and vomiting guacamole pumpkin head, bandaid graham crackers, spider Oreo cookies, mummy hotdogs, rice crispy treat pumpkins, fruit kabobs, clementine pumpkins, spider peanut butter crackers, roasted pumpkin seeds, and hummus with pita crackers. The kids didn’t dress up or go trick-or-treating, but we had a family game of Catan followed by watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown before the older kids watched Harry Potter (where we laughed and laughed because it seemed like the troll in the girls’ bathroom was getting a Covid-19 test!!).


What a fun Halloween night with a beautiful full “blue” moon followed by a time change (I can’t believe it was also the end of daylight savings!). Here’s a photo of the fun snacks we made for supper, that evening:


Regardless of my preoccupation with the election over a week ago, I did get just a little bit of reading done. I enjoyed a couple great middle grade novels as well as a few new picture books ILL’ed from across the state. So maybe you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading list.


War Stories
Gordon Korman
July 21, 2020
Scholastic, Inc.

With Veteran’s Day day this past week in the U.S., this middle grade historical fiction novel seemed a fitting read. Young Trevor is on a trip across Europe with his 93-year-old great grandfather, Jacob. Jacob is a WWII vet who Trevor has always idolized for his heroic efforts to defeat Hitler. While they visiting a variety of locations and his great grandfather stops to share stories of what happened where and when, some chapters flash back to Jake’s past where he’s a young 17 year old, fighting for his country while also fighting for his life. We know pretty early on that there’s something terrible that happened, but we don’t know what. So when the gut-wrenching truth comes out, there’s a difficult lesson to learn.

Wars may have winning sides, but everybody loses.”

This book is definitely written for an audience of children, but it doesn’t shy away from some of the more difficult aspects of war. They were cold, hungry, injured, watching one another die, and sometimes wondering if death would be easier than survival (because at least they wouldn’t be living the nightmare). The people represented on both sides are shown to be human. Questions constantly come up, encouraging the reader to consider whether war is worth it, but those are asked alongside, “Well, aren’t we glad Hitler is no longer in charge of Germany?”

In an Author’s Note, Korman lists other important books to read followed by: “I encourage all readers to dive into the stories of WWII and to keep in mind that the story of any war needs many voices from many sides to be fully told.”

“…in a conflict as massive and chaotic as a world war, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between heroics and villainy.”

I highly recommend this one!

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 Game of Fox & Squirrels
Jenn Reese
April 14, 2020
Henry Holt & Company

I’m really glad I picked out this magical realism book to counter the historical fiction novel I read — I think the combination helped keep me balanced through an already difficult week. 🙂 Yet I should warn that this book definitely had a serving of painful truth to it. Our main character, Sam, is coming out of a home with abuse. She and her sister, Caitlin, were taken from their parents and placed with their Aunt Vicky and her wife in Oregon. Sam is definitely not happy about this change and she just wants to go back home where they belong. When they first arrive, Sam is gifted a curious game called “A Game of Fox & Squirrels.” And when Sam first sees the flash of red out of the corner of her eye, she’s quickly lured into a mysterious world and given a challenge that will change her life in extraordinary ways. This one will be an especially great read during the long winter months. While there’s a lot of cold weather, the story will definitely warm the heart! ❤

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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It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood
Josh Funk
Edwardian Taylor
October 27, 2020
Two Lions

Well, Josh Funk is at it again with another fantastic fractured fairy tale. I think this is my favorite one, so far. The Big Bad Wolf calls in sick and Captain Hook steps up to the plate. We still have the bossy narrator who gets quite frustrated with everyone. And this is the first time I recall seeing Little Red played by a non-white character, which is just wonderful! In the end, we get a big hint as to what Funk’s next book might be (but I’m certainly not telling!). This was simply delightful!


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.


Jan Brett
October 20, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Cozy is the name of a large musk ox in Alaska. As the harsh cold sets in, his soft fur provides shelter for many wild animals he considers to be friends. His rules provide safety for creatures who otherwise might be enemies. But guess what happens when the snows melt and the sun warms the lands? Awww. TOO CUTE! I checked this book out through Overdrive, but the artwork looks so lovely that I’ll need to hold a print copy in my hands! In Jan Brett style, each page provides a glimpse into what will happen next. Such a treat! The artwork for this book was done in watercolor and gouache with airbrushed backgrounds.


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.


Misty Copeland
Setor Fiadzigbey
September 29, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

This sweet story is of a group of young dance girls who are told that they will be performing this ballet, Coppélia. This story is two-fold in that we first hear the telling of the story of Coppélia followed by witnessing the dance students prepare to audition for the parts they each want. They all work very hard (and it’s always a treat to see non-white ballerinas depicted). In the end, there’s a sense of pride for the effort they each made for a successful production. Wow, this is such a lovely book — the soft sepia-looking artwork is truly stunning. The illustrations for this book were sketched and painted digitally. I’ll provide one 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.


Ame Dyckman
Charles Santoso, illustrator
April 2, 2019
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

With expressive, humorous artwork, we witness a poor Daddy having to choose between his need for a perfect lawn and his love for his daughter. Oh my goodness, this is soooo funny! I can’t wait to share this one with my mom (who has photos of me, as a toddler, blowing dandelion seeds everywhere). The illustrations for this book were done digitally with handmade pencil textures on top.


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.


The Proudest Blue
Ibtihaj Muhammad
S.K. Ali
Hatem Aly
September 10, 2019
Little Brown Book

Faizah and Asiya are sisters, looking forward to their first day of school. However, more importantly, it’s also the first day of hijab for the older sister, Asiya. She faces stares and outright bullying, but her faith and strength carry her through. All the while, Faizah looks on admiringly. ❤ Such a sweet, simply, and important story. Don’t miss the author’s note at the end regarding how the hijab can impact how other’s see you — how easy it is to be “othered” by classmates. The illustrations for this book were rendered digitally. The textures were done with ink washes and pencil on watercolor paper.


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 am so excited to have received a fresh stack of picture books through our tri-college ILL program, so I’ll be starting those this week. YAY! I’m also hoping to finish up Hollowpox (which means I did a quick re-read of Wundersmith), Girls & Sex, and Boys & Sex. All three are really, really good, so far!


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge:  308/350

What are YOU reading?

18 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/16/2020 #imwayr

  1. I have enjoyed some of the picture books you shared, Shaye, like Josh Funk’s new Little Red (shared today) & The Proudest Blue. And I’ll look for A Game of Fox & Squirrels, a new title to me. Your Halloween night sounds, & looks, wonderful! Best wishes for your ending semester, too, & have a good week, hopefully not so nerve-wracking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m hoping that, considering how I’ve planned out these last two weeks of class, it’ll be a smooth finals week for my students (with plenty of time to complete their exams). I think this has been the most organized semester of my entire teaching career, but with Covid-19 there have been a number of unexpected road blocks. Just hoping there are no surprises over the next 10 days! LOL Thanks for swinging by, Linda!


    1. Oh my goodness, Ben! We seriously laughed so hard over that troll. My 9 year old had a pretty bad experience with his Covid-19 test, so it was nice to find a little humor when it happened to the troll. LOL Wingardium leviosa! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked War Stories, but don’t have as many readers for magical realism. Looks like you had a decent reading week, even with the election uncertainty. I’m old enough to know that even if the worst happens, the sun will still rise tomorrow. I read the paper, listen to NPR on my walk in, and they put it all out of my mind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely — the sun will still rise! I’m more concerned about the discord among friends and neighbors. It’s gotten so ugly that I’m actually relieved over the continued pandemic social distancing protocol. Not sure I’d want some of my neighbors in close proximity, right now. LOL Thank you for dropping by, Karen!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So many good books, Shaye! And I was happy to see that my library carries nearly all of them. I will have to check out A Game of Fox and Squirrels as my daughter’s name is Samantha and her favorite animal is the squirrel! I hope you have a fantastic week!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I get so excited when my library has copies of print books!! I’ve been depending heavily on e-books during the pandemic. So getting to actually hold them in my hands is a real treat. Hope you enjoy A Game of Fox and Squirrels, Becky!


  4. I have A Game of Fox and Squirrels in my pile next!
    Election week was so hard! I didn’t post that week because I knew I was going to be on nerves and would have trouble getting around to all the posts. Such an interesting time…
    Your Halloween spread is AMAZING!! I used to be so crafty but those genes seem to have left me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Election week was incredibly difficult. It’s one of those times where I need to pull myself away from the news stations and from social media, but it is so difficult when you’re waiting on the edge of your seat! Thanks for your sweet comments on the Halloween spread. Most days I don’t feel like I have the craft genes like I used to. But when it’s become a yearly tradition, I can’t let them down. LOL Thanks for dropping by, Michele!


  5. That sounds like one fabulous Halloween party! Wish I could have joined you. I remember making witches fingers with my students back in the day.
    I finished up War Stories around Remembrance Day as well. Your review reminded me of Pax by Sara Pennypacker. There are so many memorable lines, but these stuck with me,
    Peter remembered Vola asking him which side his father was fighting on. Peter had answered her, stunned that she would even have to ask. “The right side,” he’d added indignantly.
    “Boy,” Vola had said, and then “Boy!” again to make sure she had his attention. “Do you think anyone in the history of this world ever set out to fight for the wrong side?”

    I wait anxiously for Hollowpox……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had Pax on my TBR list for a while, but I haven’t yet read it. I’m thrilled to see books addressing this issue of war and the right/wrong sides of it. It’s far more complicated than we thing, so thank goodness for middle grade authors diving into the discussion like this! ❤


  6. How did you make such an utterly adorable Halloween feast? (And delicious-looking, for that matter.) Good luck with the end of the semester! Bunheads and It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood look great, as does War Stories! The Proudest Blue looks beautiful as well! Thanks for the wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We usually only eat what’s on our Halloween snack table for dinner. So it’s fun trying to make sure there’s something actually edible (mixed in with the sweet treats). This year’s spread was probably the biggest I’ve made before. Not sure how I’ll top that next year. But with five children, plus any friends they have over, the challenge is ON! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Late again 🙂

    Wow, I want to come to YOUR house next Halloween!! How fun – absolutely love all your creative spooky foods! And the troll getting a COVID test – lol!!!

    I always like Gordon Kormon’s books, and this one sounds very powerful.

    Hope you enjoyed your books this week, too – tomorrow’s Monday again!


    Book By Book

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We had such a great laugh over the troll COVID-19 test!! My son’s testing experience was NOT good, so it was nice to see him giggling so hard during the movie. LOL I think I expected War Stories to be more playful with those little toy soldiers lined up of the cover. But nope. WAY more thought provoking. I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised considering Kormon’s experience of writing for this age group. Thanks for visiting — early or late, it doesn’t really matter to me. ❤


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