Last week was a highly unusual one for our family, so I missed checking in with the #imwayr community. As the semester came to an end, I posted my students’ grades on 12/9 and we quickly addressed and mailed out all our long-distance cards on the same day. Then over the weekend of the 12th, we finished all our holiday grocery shopping (except for produce items) and even wrapped all the kids’ presents and put them under the tree. We’re never this far ahead of the game, so it was a surreal moment. I think I even jokingly said, “What are we going to do these next two weeks since we’d normally be scrambling?” Then we received unexpected word that my father-in-law had been taken to the hospital by ambulance, struggling to breathe. There was an immediate scramble to plan a drive (between my hubby and his brothers) from Seattle to Nebraska to Texas while the kids and I stayed home, anxiously awaiting updates. Thankfully, he was released from the hospital a couple days ago, but he has a long fight ahead of him and he’ll be watched closely. We’re so relieved!
With a house full of Littles, things naturally feel a little hectic this time of year. Yet I am looking forward to more baking and games and movies these next couple weeks. I’m sure the holidays will fly by in a blur and we’ll fall back into a normal rhythm very soon, so I always try to enjoy the irregularly and change of pace for a couple weeks. I hope you all enjoy a peaceful season of family and friendship. (The following photo is what we had on the front of our “Change of Address PLUS Happy Holidays” cards.)
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!
Despite the unusual nature of this past week, I had some great books to keep me company! Hopefully you’ll find something of interest, below, to add to your reading list or your gift list.
(The Eye of Ra #2)
February 2, 2021
Crescent Vista Press
I’ve been eagerly anticipating book #2 of this series and I’m happy to say it was absolutely wonderful! If you’ll recall in book #1, siblings John and Sarah discover a symbol that transports them back to ancient Egypt. Well, in book #2, the siblings are transported to ancient Rome where they must accomplish tasks that initially seem impossible. Both books in this series contained a great deal of mystery and suspense. However, during Sol Invictus, I was even more drawn in and ultra aware of the dangers that every day people experienced in this time period. While many compare this series to The Magic Treehouse, I enjoy the greater level of maturity in The Eye of Ra series with more developed characters, more complex relationships, higher level vocabulary, and heart-pounding content that leaves the reader on edge, wondering how John and Sarah will avoid injury… or death! I’m so grateful we have this new series to bring history to life in ways young readers haven’t yet experienced. And I can’t wait to see what comes next!
Ben Gartner is currently working on a teacher’s guide for The Eye of Ra, so keep your eyes peeled for more information on that front either on his Twitter account or his website. You might also be interested in reading Ben’s blog post on MG Book Village HERE. (And as soon as I can find out who did the cover art, I’ll update this post because WOW aren’t both covers in this series beautiful!!) I would like to offer my thanks to Ben, Netgalley, and Crescent Vista Press for providing me with an e-ARC so that I could give my honest opinion of this book.
NOTE: We purchased a print copy of The Eye of Ra for the kids this Christmas, and I should remind everyone that it’s not too early to pre-order Sol Invictus since it will be released in ONLY SIX WEEKS! If you celebrate Christmas, just do what we often do and print a picture of the book cover, roll it up like a scroll, tie some neat ribbon around it, and hide it in your tree. VOILA! 🙂
The Smartest Kid in the Universe
Kirby Heyborne, narrator
November 3, 2020
Random House Books for Young Readers
I have a number of Chris Grabenstein books on my TBR list and I recently enjoyed Shine! which was co-written by Chris and J.J. So I was happy to find the audiobook format of this book available on Overdrive and narrated by Kirby Heyborne.
12-year-old Jake attends Riverview Middle School where he’s sporting a C average. But as luck would happen, he happens upon a jar of jelly beans that turn out to be a scientific brain booster, allowing the user to tap into extensive knowledge on a large variety of topics (depending on which bean you eat). It was a highly entertaining read and I found Jake to be quite relatable to the middle grade crowd. For example, while he seems to suddenly have so many things figured out, there’s still social awkwardness and constant struggles to be honest with others. At one point he even says that he wished there was a jelly bean for talking to girls. Some things just cannot be downloaded into the human brain. 🙂 Super cute storyline and it was very well narrated!
Kitties on Dinosaurs
September 22, 2020
Mayday, Mayday — kitten climbers on the loose. They’ve climbed their cat tree, a real tree, and an ancient litter box in the trees, but are they equipped to climb real-life DINOSAURS? The narrator does NOT agree with their life choices and argues with them the whole way. But they are confident they’ll be successful since they have several back-up plans. You’ll have to read on to see the nail-biting conclusion… 🙂 The artwork for this book is digitally painted in photoshop.
The tiny chef is, unfortunately, missing his recipe book. He’s looked high and low, with no luck. But the show must go on. And in the end, tiny chef is reminded that the best recipes come from the heart. The recipe to Blegaful Shew can be found in the back of the book and I must say it sounds DELISH! I’ll provide on page spread to serve as an example of the artwork, below:
Kevin the Unicorn is the very best at making friends. He’s learned that a new unicorn his age is moving right next door and so he’s ready to make him his new bestie-corn. However, as Kevin and his new neighbor, Eric, begin spending time together, they realize they have very different tastes in almost everything from food to art to music to sports to movies, etc. While the story is written with some adorable humor, this is truly the story of many young children who struggle to be friends with someone with whom they have very little in common. Nevertheless, Kevin and Eric prove that you can still be friends even if you aren’t cut out to be besties.
September 8, 2020
Written in both English and Spanish, this board book showcases the many shapes found specifically in the Bronx. From flags to wheels to umbrellas to parks, there are shapes everywhere!
March 17, 2020
This nearly wordless picture book is just adorable! It’s the story of a father and child who wake up at their home and head out to nature for a hike in the woods. Along the way they climb, have a snowball fight, plant a tree, and take many photographs. They eventually return home for milk and cookies. The very back page shows the photo album has photos from four different generations going on a similar hike. Absolutely LOVELY book to share with young readers! The illustrations were created digitally.
The Worst Best Man
February 4, 2020
Crystal of Reading Through Life shared her enjoyment of this novel a few weeks ago, so when I saw it was available through one of my libraries, I grabbed it. I don’t read a lot of romance, so this was a nice change-up in my reading routine. In short, strong female wedding planner (who knows what she wants) is basically left at the alter on her wedding day. Then years later, a major business deal reunites her with the ex-fiancé and his brother (who just so happened to be the Best Man at the non-wedding). It’s definitely not a #kidlit book, but enjoyable nonetheless.
To Be Read:
It will be a very busy week with everyone home together to celebrate, so I don’t expect to get much reading done. Nevertheless, the following books are next on my list of reviews: The Boy, the Wolf, and the Stars by Shivaun Plozza, When Life Gives You Mangos by Kereen Getten, and Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy by Melissa de la Cruz.
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge: 337/350