It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/7/2020 #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!

It has been a very strange December, so far, with warm daytime temps in the 60s. The weather service isn’t even predicting a white Christmas for us, which is crummy news for this former Texan who has loved the white Nebraska winters these past 15 years. Furthermore, lately I feel like I’m running errands all day long, but making little progress. I wake up, grab a cup of coffee, start on my to-do list, and suddenly it’s time to start preparing supper. Days are running together and my reading time is now primarily after I climb into bed late at night (unless I find an audiobook I can listen to while I do errands). In any case, I truly loved the few books I got to this week and I hope you’ll find something to add to your reading or holiday gift list.


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Hollowpox:
The Hunt for Morrigan Crow
(Nevermoor #3)
Jessica Townsend
October 27, 2020
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

It’s no secret that I’m very attached to the Nevermoor series. One of my favorite childhood movie scene memories is from The Neverending Story. Near the beginning, there’s a bookstore owner talking about a very special book to a young boy who has just escaped some bullies. Once the bookstore owner turns his back to answer a phone call, the boy grabs the sacred book and runs for the door. Shortly thereafter, he climbs a ladder to the dark, chilly, and spooky attic of his school and settles in for an adventure of a lifetime — reading all. day. long. I turned 12 the year the movie was released and, even then, it was easy to see the power of suggestion — the power we wield as librarians, teachers, and bookshop owners every time we talk with reverence about a book that was meaningful to us. I read so many wonderful books every year and rarely feel comfortable comparing favorites. However, if I were that bookshop owner in December 2020, the book I would have spoken about in hallowed, hushed tones would be the first book of the Nevermoor series. For me, this series holds all the adventure, shock, comedic episodes, and even sorrow that I could ever hope for in an upper middle grade series. The writing is just so clever with imaginative world building, complex relationships, witty AND sincere dialogue, advanced vocabulary (great bridge between MGlit and YAlit), and charm to boot!

Some have pointed out a couple similar story components to other books or series, yet there’s plenty of originality in this storyline with perfectly imperfect characters who mature, over time. And while it may not actually be “neverending,” with 9 books planned for the series, it will provide many, many hours of pleasure reading. I normally shy away from MG books of this length, but the thought-provoking twists and turns keep me well invested until the very end. In fact, in book #3 I was so into the story that as I reached the final few pages, I felt a strong sense of depression settling in. Because it was over AND WE DON’T EVEN HAVE AN ESTIMATED RELEASE DATE FOR BOOK #4. 😭

While I waited on my pre-ordered book to arrive (a full day late, tyvm!!), I couldn’t help but to re-read book #2 (Wundersmith). This time I read it with my ears and the audiobook was fantastic — great music and narration, throughout. No spoilers, but Morrigan has definitely grown on me over these first three books. I adore her quirky patron, Jupiter, and can’t get enough of the family at Hotel Deucalion, including Morrigan’s moody bedroom. Yes, rooms can have their own personalities. Also… pretty sure I will need to adopt a huge gray cat (and name her Fenestra). I sure wish we at least had a title for book #4, but I’m relieved to know that Hachette Children’s Group has signed a deal for books 4, 5, and 6 in this series. It was also announced that the film rights were sold to Fox and Drew Goddard will be writing the screen adaptation. However, this whole deal was sealed before Covid-19 began circling the planet and so I’m hoping that nothing has changed on that front!

5+ ⭐s – GREAT series to read over a long holiday! I dare you to go see what awards Nevermoor has won and how many “best” lists it’s made. I’m just sayin’… 😉

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 Vanderbeekers Lost and Found
(The Vanderbeekers #4)
Karina Yan Glaser
September 15, 2020
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

How wonderful to be reunited with not one, but two of my favorite series this week. Reading The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found was like pulling on a warm snuggly sweater and cuddling up by the fire during a snowstorm. I feel safe and comforted in every book of this series, even when the story ventures into scary territory. And these five siblings, their parents, and the quaint community they live within continue to grow into our hearts as we discover more about each character throughout the series. I won’t provide any spoilers for readers who have yet to read books #1 to #3, but just know that book #4 had me in heart-wrenching tears before the end. Be sure to have a box of Kleenex on hand!

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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Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie
Johnson’s Journey to the Stars
Gary Golio
E B Lewis, illustrator
August 25, 2020
Nancy Paulsen Books

In this gorgeous picture book biography, we learn about Willie Johnson and his gift of music. While he went blind at a young age, he was loved and encouraged to enjoy his gift where he invented unique techniques, like running his pocket knife along the strings to make a screaming sound. His music was considered so important for humanity that his song, Dark Was the Night, was included on the Voyager I space probe’s Golden Record in 1977. NOTE: I don’t know how you could read this book without listening to Johnson’s short, wordless song, Dark Was the  Night. I highly recommend taking a quick listen HERE. The beautiful artwork was done in watercolor.

Dark-Was-the-Night-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 am super excited to finally be starting Sol Invictus (The Eye of Ra #2) by Ben Gartner. I’ve had this one on my list since finishing book #1 in the series. If you haven’t yet read book #1, what are you waiting for? Have you SEEN the list of awards it has won, so far? I also have a beautiful stack of 30+ new picture books to work on over the holidays, so I’ll be starting with the nearly wordless picture book, Hike by Pete Oswald. YAY!

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Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge:  329/350


What are YOU reading?

14 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/7/2020 #imwayr

    1. The Vanderbeekers series is so great for those early middle grade years. I love the complexity of the characters and relationships. There’s been such growth over these books! I really hope you’ve enjoyed Dark Was the Night by now (I’m super late in commenting for December). Thank you for visiting, Clare!

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  1. Wow, great post! I must admit I have not yet read the Nevermoor series, but I keep, keep, keep hearing about it and now you bring it up in relation to one of my all-time favorites?! (The Neverending Story). I gotta get to this book! That HIKE book sounds right up my alley too. My kids are too old for PB’s now, but I’ll keep it in mind as a gift for nieces and nephews. Pending your review, of course!

    And in regards to the days fading by, I know exactly how you feel. I have my todo list and I check through things all day long and at the end of the day I’m exhausted and yet often have that feeling, “What did I DO all day?” hehe In times like that, it is helpful for me to look back a month ago, or some broader time frame, and think about how much I’ve accomplished or has happened since then… Sometimes. 😉

    And thank you again for the bump on The Eye of Ra series. Speaking of awards, Sol Invictus just received the Gold Award from the Mom’s Choice Awards (just like his older brother). Celebrate the wins when you can, right?!

    And speaking of wins, have you finished your holiday shopping and wrapping? ha!

    Thanks for the great blog, Shaye!

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    1. Those awards just keep piling up, Ben! I couldn’t be happier for you (and for US since we get to enjoy your world building)! On Nevermoor, I just keep waiting to hear an announcement about book #4. I’d even be happy with a title. I’m hoping that “What did I DO all day?” will lessen as we fall into a routine this spring. I love teaching children’s literature, but with the craziness of the pandemic it took more of my time than I was anticipating. And I fear my family suffered because of it. So I’m looking forward to getting things back in order — blogging on time, commenting on time, getting back into the hang of social media… As always, thank you for dropping by!

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  2. I know about Nevermoor, but your wonderful review certainly has convinced me to read no. 1 at least. There are so many. . . Vanderbeekers is another series I haven’t continued and I enjoyed the first one. Thanks also for Dark Was the Night, Shaye, a new one to me. Hope your week becomes a little better. I don’t have children as you do & still feel as if I’m never catching up! Thanks for all!

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    1. I am completely addicted to Nevermoor. There have been days over the winter holiday where I’ve just wanted to start the series all over again. It’s so clever and witty and I simply want to fall into that world. It’s won so many awards, but has had a slower start in the U.S. I’m guessing that when we hit book #5, suddenly American children will be like, “Where did this series come from?” HAHAHA! Thanks for visiting, Linda, and my apologies for such a late response.

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  3. You are totally selling me on the Nevermoor series! I just sent the series as a recommendation to my sister who loves MG. I’ll look into it soon 🙂

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    1. I adore Nevermoor!! I’ll admit I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy book #3 as much as I did book #2, but I had nothing to fear. I think Townsend is a fantastic writer — especially for the upper middle school crowd (and even high schoolers — heck, even adults!). I hope we get the full 9 books originally dreamed up for this series!!

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  4. No snow and an endless slog of chores—2020 definitely remains in character. I’m reading Hollowpox right now, and you did a wonderful job of capturing what makes this series so awesome!!! I’m reading it as I read other books, so it will be a while before I’m done, but that’s good—I need to stretch it out! (And Fenestra is definitely amazing.) I haven’t tried the Vanderbeekers series, but it sounds excellent, and I’m happy for everyone who loves it that this book was a great addition to the series! Dark Was the Night sounds excellent as well. Thanks for the wonderful post!

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  5. I might have to go and read the whole Nevermoor series over again. I adore Townsend’s world building and characters. I still need to get to the last Vanderbeekers novel and here you are reading #4! Happy reading this week Shaye!

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    1. Over the winter holidays that’s what I kept wanting to do — just start the Nevermoor series over again. I want to experience it all over again!! Thanks for visiting, Cheriee, and my apologies for responding soooo late!

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