It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/30/2020 #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!

REMINDER: If you haven’t yet voted on Goodreads Choice Awards, go do that right now. Today is the LAST DAY! 📚 ❤️

With that out of the way, I sure hope everyone had a great weekend. If you celebrated Thanksgiving last week, I hope you were able to spend it with those you love. We had all the regular traditional foods, family games, some movies, we took a quick family photo in our living room with our tree trimmed, and we finally ordered our Christmas cards (which will also double as our “new address” cards, this year). Still, I squeezed in a little bit of reading, so hopefully you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading list.


Closer to Nowhere
Ellen Hopkins
October 6, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Wow, this one really hit me in the gut. It was the perfect time to read it, too, since they were preparing for Thanksgiving dinner near the end. The story focuses on Hannah and her cousin, Cal. These two couldn’t be more different from one another, even though they look very much alike. Hannah lives in a home with a loving mother and father, she’s an accomplished gymnast, and she’s very popular at her school. Cal’s father is in prison and his mother (who was twins with Hannah’s mother) recently died. While Cal seems quite intelligent and clever, he doesn’t appear to be accomplished at anything except for making jokes and pulling constant pranks. So when he must move in with Hannah’s family, it shakes everyone’s routine up.

The relationships here are so intricate and we witness mistakes, growth, and reconciliation. There’s also very real fear of the unknown and everyone must come to terms with their need for one another. This story beautifully addresses numerous topics, such as death, abuse, incarceration, blended families, homelessness, marital problems, multigenerational conflicts, and alcoholism, and drug addiction. I can’t say enough good about Closer to Nowhere. Even that cover is gorgeous!! I rated it 5-stars and would gladly put it on my re-read list!

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.


Becoming Muhammad Ali
James Patterson
Kwame Alexander
Dawud Anyabwile, illustrator
October 5, 2020
Jimmy Patterson &
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Books for Young Readers

I was excited to get to listen to this biographical book, written in both verse and prose, as an audiobook. Cassius Clay knew he was destined for greatness from a very young age. He was motivated, disciplined, and even arrogant at times. However, he was also charming and showed true leadership skills, even in his younger years. While he faced racism and difficulties in school, he remained focused on the development of his skills in the fighting ring. Furthermore, he had the undying support of his friends and family who always knew he would one day be known all over the world. This was a fun read, giving everyone an entertaining look into Cassius Clay (AKA Muhammed Ali) up into his teen years.

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 Pig, a Fox, and a Fox
(Pig & Fox #3)
Jonathan Fenske
September 29, 2020
Penguin Workshop

Pig and Fox clearly like one another in these super easy, rhyming stories, written in three parts. Fox has a fox doll and he likes to play tricks on Pig. But somehow, Fox always ends up getting injured. The stories were definitely reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner (except that there’s no death wish).


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.


Are You Eating Candy Without Me?
Draga Jenny Malesevic
Charlotte Bruijn, illustrator
August 11, 2020
Penguin Workshop

Oh my, this one will be a huge hit with kids! Okay, but let’s be serious here. We really can’t be certain of what our parents did while we were gone. Were they breaking rules? Did they boss people around? Or were they, perhaps, throwing parties? In this adorable picture book, four young children imagine the many activities their parents or grandparents are doing without them. This one would be a great discussion starter on character (what we do when no one is watching). The book doesn’t share details on how the artwork was created, but it appears to be digitally rendered in some fashion.


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.


Shirley Chisholm is a Verb!
Veronica Chambers
Rachelle Baker, illustrator
July 28, 2020
Dial Books for Young Readers

Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman in Congress and she also sought the Democratic nomination for president. She had conviction and spoke with bold determination. Young readers will learn about her role in programs like Head Start (which helps 3 and 4 year olds get ready for Kindergarten), WIC (which assists Women, Infants, and Children in need of food), and the national school lunch program. There are soooo many great and empowering quotes from Chisholm, like:

If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.

However, this book isn’t just about Chisholm. It’s a call to figure out what your verb is — what will you speak boldly about? What road will you pave for others to travel on? The artwork in this book was created digitally with Procreate on an iPad Pro, and with the help of countless cups of Earl Grey tea and biscoff cookies.


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.


Honeybee: The Busy
Life of Apis Mellifera
Candace Fleming
Eric Rohmann, illustrator
February 4, 2020
Neal Porter Books

Beginning with the initial “birth” of a honeybee, this gorgeous book takes the reader on a detailed tour of their entire lifecycle, with special focus on the worker bee. I was fascinated from start to finish, learning about how many days each job endures, the importance of each part of the bees body, how they communicate, and how long they live. The book uses a sweet bit of humor, anticipating the reader’s eagerness for the bee to fly. 🙂 The back matter shares even more detailed information, including a section of links to videos for kids to watch like stages of life HERE and an inside look at the hive’s queen, drones, and workers, including the Apis bees waggle dance HERE. The lovely artwork for this book was made using oil paint on 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.


We Are America:
A Tribute from the Heart

Walter Dean Myers
Christopher Myers, illustrator
May 3, 2011

One of my continual prayers during this entire election season is for healing of my nation. The division seems worse than ever and I am concerned about what happens next as I hear discussion of truck driver’s strikes, or worse, people advocating civil war. So there was something rather soothing in this book of poems, focused on America’s struggles through the ages to live up to our ideals. Written in lyrical free verse, and with interesting use of white space, many famous quotes are interspersed with illustrations of historical people and events. The back matter was quite helpful by expounding on each showcased quote and sharing its historical significance. Additionally, there’s an entire page of art notes sharing the details of each painting and individual. The Author’s Note and Artist’s Note appear just after the title page and set the tone for the entire book, explaining personal experiences and examination of history, which eventually led to the birth of this book. With those words in mind, it can be a rather powerful and comforting read.


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 really hope to finish both Vanderbeekers #4 and Hollowpox before the end of the week. Then I would like to start Sol Invictus by Ben Gartnerdue for publication in February. It should be an excellent reading week!


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge:  325/350

What are YOU reading?

19 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/30/2020 #imwayr

    1. It’s a wonderful feeling going into a week knowing you get to dive into so many wonderful book worlds, Ben. I seriously can’t wait to start Sol Invictus, this weekend! I’ll also share a funny. I had a moment of panic last evening when I couldn’t find my iPad charging cord. My husband and I frantically searched the house and finally found it in the craziest place (the measuring cup drawer in our kitchen, go figure). This is one of the first iPad models from about a decade ago and so its oddly-shaped charging cord doesn’t fix any other Apple device in the house. Therefore, I’m always worried it’s going to be tossed or misplaced when some unsuspecting child thinks it’s trash. LOL Aaaanyway, I’m quite relieved to get it charged up and ready to roll. YAY! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is hilarious. For two reasons:
        1. It was in the measuring drawer? I mean, really? We’ve all almost put the milk away in the cupboard before, but the iPad charging cord in the measuring cup drawer?
        2. You have a whole drawer dedicated to measuring cups? 🙂 🙂 hehehe

        Glad you’re so excited about SOL INVICTUS!! 🙂 I hope it lives up to the hype! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. HAHAHAHAHAHA! I know, it’s ridiculous — both the fact that I found it in that drawer AND that we have a drawer primarily devoted to measuring cups. To be fair, though, it’s a very small drawer. Like maybe 8″ wide. Also, I’ve become a collector of measuring cups and measuring spoons as they seem to disappear. I also admit to sticking them in boxes of cereal so that my kiddos will put only a single serving size of cereal into their bowl, instead of 3-4 servings. I mean, 2 cups of Grape Nuts is WAY more food than any of them realize. LOL


  1. Hi, Shaye! I’m here on Monday – it’s a Christmas miracle! ha ha

    Glad you family enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving – we were so lucky to have both sons home, though we missed our usual trip to see extended family.

    Closer to Nowhere looks really great – thanks for sharing all your books!

    Hope you enjoy your books this week, too –


    Book By Book

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have Shirley Chisholm is a Verb on my list & you know I liked Becoming Muhammed Ali! I put Closer to Nowhere and We Are America on my list – both sound lovely. And I loved Honey Bee very much. Happy to hear you had a nice Thanksgiving, Shaye! Have a great week ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was so pleased with Closer to Nowhere, Linda. I always appreciate complex, realistic characters and so that one really fit my reading needs last week. My daughter was giving me grief over reading Honeybee. She just saw the front cover and commented about not liking bugs or stinging bugs or something like that. I told her she would be surprised by all she would learn about honeybees — and just how important they were for humans. Once we started reading, she didn’t want to stop. She kept giggling at the “Is it time to fly?” lines on each page. Such a great little hook for young children!! Then we watched the videos from the back matter. That waggle dance is fascinating! Thank you for dropping by!


  3. I’m glad you had a nice Thanksgiving! You mentioning the Goodreads Choice Awards made me realize how weird it is that I have had a book blog for over 4 years and never made a Goodreads account! Closer to Nowhere sounds like a beautiful story, and Becoming Muhammad Ali looks great as well! Are You Eating Candy Without Me? sounds really fun—I imagine kids will enjoy that one! Shirley Chisholm is a Verb sounds great as well—I really don’t know enough about Shirley Chisholm! Honeybee also sounds like a fascinating read—everything about honeybees is so interesting! Thanks for the wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my. We MUST get you on Goodreads! I was a little hesitant to adding yet another social media account to my table, but it’s actually a wonderful tool for readers!I love connecting with everyone over there, including favorite authors who share their personal reading. I enjoy reading discussions and seeing the new books added to my friends’ “want to read” lists, as well as their star ratings. But for practical reasons, it’s also a great way for me to keep track of my personal books. I’m still working on tagging each of my reads and I’ve just learned how to leave private notes for myself (so that I can remember who recommended books or why I want to read them). And if I ever read a kindle book, it will save all my highlights and give me the option to share any of them with my readers. Lemme know if you sign up so we can connect. Thanks for swinging by, today!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Right?! I have been so excited about book #3, but then feeling slightly depressed because I know how hard it will be to wait for book #4. I adore the writing — the personalities and wit!! I wonder when the next book is slated for publication. *sigh* Thanks for visiting, Earl!


    1. They sure are! I was just replying to Linda and sharing my daughter’s reaction to honeybee. We watched two of the videos listed at the end, too. Then she asked me if we could a honeybee and keep it for a pet. LOL But that was a great reminder of the importance of being part of a hive and depending on one another to get their jobs done. I would love to have this book in my home library. Thank you for dropping by, Kellee!


  4. I’ve enjoyed watching your progress on both Hollowpox and the Vanderbeeks on goodreads. Lots of good reading — I also loved the artwork on Honeybee, and like your daughter I was leery of reading it because I’m scared of bees — would the giant pictures lurk in my dreams? But it was inspirational rather than nighmarish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really was inspirational, Beth. And for her to go from being scared of the cover of the book to wanting one as a household pet — I had to gently tell her that was a no-go. LOL


  5. Oooh, lots of wonderful books mentioned here! I love Honeybee and it’s been fun to see it get so many accolades already.
    I have Closer to Nowhere and Muhammad Ali in my pile.
    I always here so many great things about the Morrigan Crow books but I haven’t started them yet. The density of them have held me off since my readers (we go up to 4th grade), typically don’t stay with books that are that long. But I keep hearing good things so we’ll see!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally hear you on the density, Michele. I normally shy away from books longer than 400 pages because, frankly, I get frustrated when I cannot finish a book pretty quickly. And with teaching and mothering and the normal busyness of life, I rarely have more than an hour at a time to devote to reading. But this series is well worth it! I REALLY hope you’ll read book #1 — I feel rather confident you’ll be reaching for book #2 the second you finish the last page. The writing and world building are truly phenomenal.


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