It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/21/2020 #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!

Upcoming Releases: There are always books I’m looking forward to being released, but two very big series have releases in October and I’ve been anticipating both for a looooong time: (1) Return of the Thief (The Queen’s Thief #6) by Megan Whalen Turner, which is due for publication October 6th, and (2) Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #6) by Jessica Townsend, which is due for publication in the U.S. on October 27th. So if you are looking for an excellent series to jump into before the next book is released, these are both very engaging series with excellent world building, memorable characters, and complex relationships.

Thank you for visiting, today! This week I’ll be sharing one YA book, two middle grade novels, and six picture books. I hope you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading wish list!


51457347Millionaires for the Month
Stacy McAnulty
September 1, 2020
Random House Books for Young Readers

My thanks to Netgalley and Random House for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is the story of an unlikely friendship forged by a twenty-dollar bill. Benji is fairly wealthy, he’s the tallest kid in his class, and quite outspoke. Felix, on the other hand, is small, quiet, and his single-mom obviously struggles, financially. Happenstance places both boys in the right place at the right time to be thrown into a game of spending millions in free cash. The catch is, they have to spend over $5,000,000.00 in 30 days or they lose it all. Oh, and did I mention there are a number of rules they must follow. For example, no real estate, no jewelry, no art, and whatever they buy must be used by the boys (so no gifts for others). Easy peasy, right? WRONG! Because they cannot tell a soul about the challenge. Just imagine being the parents of THESE boys as they burn through millions in mere WEEKS!

While I admit I wasn’t enamored by the cover art, the story was captivating right up to the end. I believe the book will make an excellent middle grade read aloud – kids will be talking in class, in hallways, at lunch, and after school as they come up with ways THEY would have made the challenge work, despite the strict rules. But there’s more to this story than money and math. The family relationships and management of an unusual friendship are both insightful and touching. McAnulty writes so well for this audience! And be sure to check out the math information and charts available in the back matter.

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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Something to Say
Lisa Moore Ramée
Bre Indigo, illustrator
Sisi A. Johnson, Narrator
July 14, 2020
Balzer + Bray

For such a short middle grade novel, this one addressed several deep topics. Eleven-year-old Jenae thinks she possesses the power to do things to others without even touching them. She is certain she’s the reason her brother is injured, the reason her grandfather is ill, and she’s even sure her powers will allow her to manipulate her teacher into not giving an assignment she hates. But ultimately, the story isn’t really about a magical gift at all. It’s a story of family love and devotion, a story of fear and vulnerability, and a story that encourages the reader to look at all sides of an issue before holding so tightly to only one opinion. I adore Jenae’s friend, Aubrey. He’s this sweet, devoted, and yet awkward new kid who has latched onto Jenae. He is doing everything in his power to be kind, supportive, and inclusive. But Jenae won’t have it. Many young readers will identify with her fear of being truly seen — and the fear of rejection. And personally, as a performer who has suffered from stage fright more times than I care to admit, Lisa Moore Ramée nailed the emotional and physical exhaustion of confronting those horrific situations. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing me this audiobook so that I could review it on my blog.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through Book Links HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Toll
(Arc of a Scythe #3)
Neal Shusterman
November 5, 2019
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

People are vessels. They hold whatever is poured into them.”

Indeed they do. Oh my goodness, how can this series already be OVER?! At 625 pages, I feared this final book would feel like climbing a mountain. Simultaneously, I hoped it would be a momentous climax because the series was outstanding. Of course, I cannot share any of the details without spoiling books #1 and #2, but there were so many twists and turns. I was really invested in some of these characters (and happy to say goodbye to others). Also, I am completely jealous of IMWAYR host Kellee getting to meet Neal Shusterman this year. I may or may not have had tears in my eyes when I read about that author visit last March. Over the last year I’ve enjoyed Dry and the whole Scythe series. What Shusterman deliciousness shall I begin, next? I’m considering his Unwind series, so if you have any experience with it, please sound off in the comments.

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 Very Last Leaf
Stef Wade
Jennifer Davison, illustrator
August 1, 2020
Capstone Editions

Fall is my favorite season of the year. As the weather begins to cool down and the colors change, I look forward to so many yearly traditions. So The Very Last Leaf was a welcomed book to my monthly stack. Lance Cottonwood is a leaf, standing proud and determined while all the other leaves let go and fall to the ground. This one brave act is the final thing he must be graded on in leaf school. Everyone does it, it’s totally natural, but he’s not having it. There’s an internal emotional struggle before he finally gives in. And, of course, the bigger discussion here is the fear of death. Whether children will make that connection without discussion, I’m not sure. But there was a scattering of scientific vocabulary (photosynthesis, deciduous, etc.) in the story that would also lend this text as a good companion for the study of life cycles. My thanks to Netgalley and Capstone Editions for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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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I Am Brown
Ashok K. Bankerax
Sandhya Prabhat, illustrator
March 3, 2020
Lantana Publishing

This cute picture features Black children of various sizes, cultures, families in each page spread — celebrating their accomplishments, foods, homes, clothing, etc.  No two “brown” children are exactly alike in each page spread. The point being that each child is unique and amazing, just as they are. I’ll share one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

I-Am-Brown-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 Shark Report
(Benny McGee and the Shark #1)
Derek Anderson
February 4th 2020
Penguin Workshop

Benny’s class is studying sharks and it has made him very fearful of swimming in the ocean. His assignment is to write about sharks, but he’s in for a surprise because a shark follows him home from his trip to the beach. It doesn’t take long before Benny realizes that sharks are pretty friendly and that he has nothing to fear, after all. He spends the day playing with the shark, which he names Mr. Chompers. However, he’s having so much fun that he forgets to write his shark report. Oops! I won’t spoil the ending, but at on the final page it says “coming soon…” so I’ll be looking for book #2 before too long.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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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Lizzie Demands a Seat!:
Elizabeth Jennings Fights
for Streetcar Rights
Beth Anderson
E.B. Lewis, illustrator
January 7, 2020
Calkins Creek

In 1854, twenty-four year old Lizzie Jennings was kicked off a streetcar, illegally. The rules were that Black people could ride the regular streetcars as long as no Whites objected. She’d been born free and was a respectable school teacher. And no one objected to her riding. After her dismissal, a white man ran up to her and gave her his contact information in case she wanted him to testify on her behalf. And on February 22, 1855, her court case, Jennings v. Third Avenue Railroad Company, was heard and won. It was the first recorded court case won in the fight for equal rights on public transportation — 100 years before the well-known Rosa Parks encounter.  The back matter provides far more details, including the fact that her attorney, Chester A. Arthur, went on to become the 21st President of the United States. In addition to the Author’s Note, there’s also a Bibliography, and an Artist’s Note. The soft illustrations for this book were done in watercolor on hot-press paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Lizzie-Demands-a-Seat-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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Max the Brave
Max Series, Book 1
Ed Vere
E.B. Lewis, illustrator
June 5, 2014
Calkins Creek

I’ve not had the pleasure of reading any of the Max books until this week. This is such a great series for allowing the reader to know and understand something that the main character does not. It will get children giggling since they know exactly who Mouse is, even when Max overlooks Mouse. The artwork is very simplistic, but quite expressive and funny. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

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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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Max at Night
Max Series, Book 2
Ed Vere
E.B. Lewis, illustrator
January 7, 2020
Calkins Creek

I bet children everywhere are loving this one before bedtime! Max has done everything he’s supposed to do before bedtime and now he just needs to say goodnight to everyone. But where is Moon? So simple, but so effective. I’ll share one page spread as an example, below:

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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:

This week I would like to start Hatch by Kenneth Oppel, which is book #2 of the Overthrower series. And with the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to honor her memory this week I’m reading Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality and I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark. I also have No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on ILL order, so hopefully that will come in before the weekend.


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 248/250


What are YOU reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/14/2020 #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!

This week has been better on the unpacking front. We made it through many more boxes, moved more items to the correct place in the house, and even took several trash bags full of clothing and odds/ends to a local rummage room over the weekend. We ordered our new washer/dryer (which won’t be delivered for a few weeks) and are arranging for our piano to be moved in very soon. It’s exhausting and tedious work, but I do believe there IS light at the end of the tunnel.

After taking a month off blogging this summer, I’m not pleased with the recent changes to WordPress. My posts are taking longer to publish because I’m having to go into the HTML coding and alter things that are not converting correctly. What a MESS! Anyone else in the same boat? Maybe I just need to block out more time to play around with it. Grrrrr!

On with the show…

Thank you for visiting, today! This week I finished one young adult novel, three middle grade novels, and a small stack of picture books — I’ll share seven of them. Hopefully you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading wish list!


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The Land of the Cranes
Aida Salazar
Narrated by Dani Gonzalezx
September 15th 2020
Scholastic Pressx

My thanks to Libro.fm for providing this Audiobook ARC. The story is a beautiful intermixing of English and Spanish. Lyrical and poetic, the words invite us to experience the world of 9-year-old Betita while she and her mother are captured by ICE and sent to live in extremely cold conditions, on hard cement floors, with only a metallic “cape.” Disease and lice ravage the refugees as they eat nasty mush and are called horrible names. The title, “Land of the Cranes” alludes to Aztec legends Betita’s father shares about cranes. It’s a metaphor for her family who have come home to America and who can now fly in safety and freedom. However, their experience with ICE clips their wings as they’ve been seeking political asylum.

I would call this book an #ownvoices book because, while Aida Salazar wasn’t detained by ICE, she was brought to the states as an undocumented child. Over time, her family got their green cards. But her family understands the fear and treatment of those coming in from Mexico in search of safety. She based this historical fiction story on the real life stories of many migrant children whose families were seeking asylum before they began living the nightmare in ICE detention centers. In many ways, this story reminded me of Santiago’s Road Home, released just last May. The story is painful, but moving. This title will release tomorrow, September 15th.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through the print book or audiobook through Bookstore Link HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Before the Ever After
Jacqueline Woodson
Guy Lockard, narrator

September 1, 2020
Nancy Paulsen Books
Listening Library (Audible)

This new middle grade contemporary realistic fiction novel in verse took my breath away. I had to stop a few times to talk about it with my husband. Wow. It’s about the devastating fallout a family experiences due to a brain disease known as CTE. ZJ’s father is a pro football player. He plays tight end and is a hero to all ZJ’s friends. Their house is the place to be as his father treats everyone like they belong. However, there’s a painful shift that takes place over many months/years as his father begins experiencing headaches, mood swings, confusion, depression, aggression, and terribly memory loss (even to the point of not knowing his own son). At the end, the Author’s Note shares about the discovery of CTE and thanks Dr. Omalu for his research that allowed us to better understand the condition. I’m so glad for a middle grade book that examines football injuries and these resulting experiences — from a time when someone is completely healthy, all the way through the devastating effects on an entire family, neighborhood, and country. Woodson’s carefully crafted words bring home the pain experienced by a child who loses his father, even though he’s still right there in the room with him. It definitely made me want to watch the movie Concussion, again. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing this Audiobook. This title was just released this month and is currently available in bookstores.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
You may purchase the print book or audiobook through Bookstore Link HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Anger is a Gift
Mark Oshiro
May 22, 2018
Tor Teen

My goodness, there’s a lot to unpack in this book. Moss (Morris) Jefferies is now in his sophomore year of high school. But back when Moss was a child, his father was murdered by law enforcement even though he wasn’t doing anything wrong. So today, Moss suffers from panic attacks that can be triggered from time to time when he encounters police officers. He experiences one of these panic attacks when he and his friends happen across a protest. And this experience also happens right as Moss meets Javier, who he is immediately attracted to. At the same time, Moss’s school has begun treating students like criminals — searching their lockers, installing metal detectors, having all-day patrol officers with guns, etc. Eventually, these high schoolers come together, with the support of their community, in an effort to stop the unfair treatment and provide a safer learning environment. Change is necessary. And anger is a gift.

I am worried about saying too much to spoil the story, but I just love the relationship between Moss and his mother. So often YA literature doesn’t allow for this level of closeness and mutual respect, so it was a welcomed aspect. There are important messages in this book that need to be shared with the world. And there was so much representation for a variety of communities like Black, Latinx, and LGBTQIAP+, so a number of readers will be able to relate to this cast of characters in ways they normally cannot relate to in YA literature. However, with a HUGE cast of secondary characters, it requires a lot of focus. I’ve witnessed other readers refer to the story as “police and white people bad, everyone else good” — and I suppose I can see this perspective, as well. Unfortunately, it may mean the crowd who really needs to read this story will be turned off when they are unable to relate to any of the characters. But maybe not. The story is a bit on the long side and these teens are having incredibly polished discussions about political activism, which occasionally comes across as preachy (as opposed to teens simply trying to figure some of this stuff out, together, and arriving at some meaningful conclusions). But one very important message that I hope everyone walks away with is that activism may be brutal, but it can also create much-needed change.

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 One and Only Ivan
(The One and Only Ivan #1)
Katherine Applegate
Patricia Castelao, illustrator
January 17, 2012
HarperCollins

My Children’s Literature students have been studying award winners this month, and we started off this last week with our first Newbery winner: The One and Only Ivan. Of course, this isn’t my first time to read the book, but I wanted to review it so that I could be reminded of elements and be prepared to listen to what the class thought as they are to discussing the Newbery Award criteria. I’ll leave the detailed examination to them, but the story examines the humans, first and foremost. Also explored is the treatment of animals through both humor and pain. Ivan is just so lovable and relatable! In the Author’s Note, Applegate shares more about the real Ivan and which parts of this story were fact and which were fiction. If you liked the One and Only Ivan, be sure to read book #2: The One and Only Bob, which I reviewed last May. Also, my family really enjoyed the new movie on Disney+. Check out the trailer:

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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Wild Baby
Cori Doerrfeld
March 5, 2019
HarperCollins

This one is such a great book for parents of toddlers. This wild mama is chasing her wild baby all over the place, starting from their very first “wild stretch.” The book shares that the author wrote this book as a homage to her daughter who was “a fearless, impulsive, wild baby.” Very cute! Reminds me of this video I remember seeing a couple years ago:

The artist used digital ink to create the illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Wild-Baby-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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Lost and Found Ducklings
Valeri Gorbachev
February 12, 2019
Holiday House

Brother and sister duckings venture off to explore the woods with their new nets. But before too long they’re lost and cannot find their way back home. The forest full of animals come together and begin calling for Mama and Papa Duck, but ultimately it’s the “Peep! Peep! Peep!” of the ducklings that bring the parents to them. This one is about community, but also about the bonding of children and parents. The artwork was created with watercolors, gouache, and ink. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Lost-and-Found-Ducklings-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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Good Night, Wind
Linda Elovitz Marshall
Maëlle Doliveux, illustrator
February 26, 2019
Holiday House

Based on a Yiddish folktale, this story follows the wind through its many adventures throughout the year. The Author’s Note is located at the very beginning of the book and explains all about the original “Der Vint, Vos Iz Geven In Kas” tale this story is based on. I really wish the book shared how the artwork was created.  It looks like digitally manipulated collage, but I don’t know for certain. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

Good-Night-Wind-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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Olive & Pekoe: in Four Short Walks
Jackie Davis

Giselle Potter, illustrator
March 5, 2019
Greenwillow Books

This is an ADORABLE early chapter book that follows Olive and Pekoe as they face four different experiences. One dog is boisterous, playful, and impatient. The other dog is older, calm, and reassuring. Oh my, I want this book in my home collection! Watercolor, ink, and color pencils were used to prepare the full-color artwork in this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Olive-and-Pekoe-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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Frederick Douglass:
The Lion Who Wrote History
Walter Dean Myers
Floyd Cooper, illustrator
January 24, 2017

HarperCollins

I missed this picture book biography by Walter Dean Myers back when it was published, so I was thrilled when one of our tri-college libraries ordered a copy. The artwork is detailed and inviting, following Douglass from his birth as a slave until he served the United States government in Washington and as consul-general in Haiti. Children and adults will appreciate the storyline and the beauty of the illustrations.

“Frederick listened carefully to the Auld children. They spoke clearly and directly, and he knew that it was because they had also read the words they used. He felt that reading could make a difference in how a person lived.”

The back matter includes a timeline of Frederick Douglass’s Life, a Bibliography, and a copy of the document signed by Auld officially freeing Frederick Douglass. The artist used erasers & oils on board to create the illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Frederick-Douglass-Lion-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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Chicken in Charge
(Zoey the Chicken)
Adam Lehrhaupt
Shahar Kober, illustrator
March 5, 2019

HarperCollins

This is an I Can Read book about a farmer leaving the farm with the chicken in charge. Chicken has a perfect plan on what to do for the lambs — feed them, bathe them, and put them to bed. Sounds simple, right? HA! Not exactly! It’s a humorous little story that will appeal to beginner readers. There’s no mention of how the artwork was completed for this book, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Chicken-in-Charge-2-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 Farmer
Ximo Abadía
Grace Maccarone, Translator
Kelly Loughman, Translator
March 19, 2019

Holiday House

Paul is the farmer in this unique little picture book. What readers learn, most of all, is that Paul works hard on his farm while everyone else rests. However, in the very end, when Paul begins to despair, friends appear when he needs them most. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect from the artwork, below:

Farmer-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 loving Millionaires for the Month and I hope to be ready to review The Toll by next week, as well. I’ll also share The Shark Report (Benny McGee and the Shark), which I checked out mid-summer and lost during our move. I’m so happy it turned back up just yesterday. YAY!


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 239/250


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/7/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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!

Thank you for visiting, today! I’ll be sharing three novels I recently enjoyed and a small pile of picture books. Hopefully you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading wish list!


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Black Brother, Black Brother
Jewell Parker Rhodes
March 3, 2020
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

So glad to see this new middle grade novel about two brothers named Donte and Trey. Donte is black and Trey is much lighter-skinned. It’s not long before we witness Donte facing obvious racism due to his darker colored skin, which leads Trey to realize he is experiencing privilege due to his lighter coloring. When Donte is surprisingly arrested and suspended at school, he finds a way to showcase his determination through fencing as he gets even with the school bully. The determination, personal growth, and bonding makes this an especially good read for this age group! The only other Jewell Parker Rhodes book I’ve read is Ghost Boys. I’m interested in adding another of her previous books to my reading list for 2021, so if you have a favorite you would like to recommend let me know!

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 Nickel Boys
Colson Whitehead
July 16, 2019
Doubleday Books

The Nickel Boys was the winner of the 2020 Pulizer Prize for Fiction. It’s absolutely horrifying and infuriating because, guess what! It’s based on a real-life reform school in Florida that operated for over 100 years! And that little tidbit just makes the story even more sickening than it already was. There’s really no way for me to prepare anyone for this book, but I think it’s quite worthwhile and great material for an adult discussion group. It’s only 213 pages long, so something that could be easily read in an afternoon. However, the neglect and abuse made me take much longer to finish it — it’s so hard to know this dehumanizing stuff actually happened!

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 Middler
Kirsty Applebaum
April 4, 2019
Nosy Crow/Henry Holt & Co.

This is a middle grade dystopian novel that will keep you guessing as to what is actually taking place. The main character is 11 year old Maggie. She’s what they call a middler — the middle child in her family. She lives in the town of Fennis Wick, which is surrounded by a boundary no one is permitted to cross. The Eldest of each family are treated like royalty and sent off to camp when they come of age. However, then they are usually never seen again. As the secret comes to light, Maggie will discover who she really is and her loyalty will be thoroughly tested. The story reminded me of a Midnight Shyamalan movie where deep secrets are kept from villagers, but everyone religiously follows the rules. It’s also been compared to The Giver by Lois Lowry, and I can definitely see why.

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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High Five
Adam Rubin
Daniel Salmieri, illustrator
April 16, 2019
Dial Books

What a peculiar book to be reading during the Covid-19 pandemic. In rhyming text, this picture book is all about how to give the best high fives to win a high fiving competition. While it’s a really cute idea under normal circumstances, maybe it’s just not the best time to use with a classroom full of kids high fiving. Here’s the lines from one page:

Let’s make sure you understand
how to position your hand:
Palm out
Fingers spread
Wrist straight
Elbow bent.
Next, we need to find a friend,
someone to high five against.
You cannot high five yourself–
that’s called clapping, that won’t help.

Even if a child is reading the book alone, the story also encourages the reader to high five with the characters from the book. So when a hand appears in the illustrations, the reading will slap the illustrated hand. Unfortunately, this book didn’t share how the illustrations were created, but they look like they were colored with actual crayons. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

High-Five-RUBIN

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.


40819218._SX318_The Panda Problem
Deborah Underwood
Hannah Marks, illustrator
April 2, 2019
Dial Books

When I brought a pile of picture books into my six-year-old’s room, last night, she said she hoped there was a book about a dragon or dinosaur. When she discovered there was not, she looked at the covers and picked this one to read. And we both had some pretty big giggles over a panda that simply won’t cooperate with the narrator. You’ll encounter a friendly spider and even an alien in this one, which is surprisingly very funny. There’s a cute twist ending where the panda turns the tables on the narrator. Just wait for the very last page – HA! HA! I could see this one being used as a funny introduction to the typical elements of a narrative story.

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

Panda-Problem-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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Lizzy McTizzy and the Busy Dizzy Day
Sarah Weeks
Lee Wildish, illustrator
April 2, 2019
HarperCollins

This book was another reading option for my youngest last night, but she refused to read it because she thought the cover was freaky. And that’s really too bad because once I read the book to myself, I instantly knew she’d love it — so we’ll probably try again tonight. Lizzy McTizzy is heading out to a party, but she cannot find her shoe. In rhyming text, she looks in every possibly space throughout her entire house. She doesn’t actually find the shoe, but she finds something else that will work for her. Despite the cover looking a little “freaky” in my daughter’s words, the illustrations inside are actually quite adorable. The artist used Corel Painter to create the illustrations for this book. I’ll share one page spread as an example, below:

Lizzy-McTizzy-Busy-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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Music for Mister Moon
Philip C. Stead
Erin E. Stead, illustrator
March 26, 2019
Neal Porter Books

This story is full of imagination and feels as though the main character (Harriet) is perhaps having a dream. She clearly has stage fright, so when her parents mention her playing her cello in a big orchestra one day, she retreats to her room — which becomes a small house. She begins creating everything from her imagination at that point, including  a short trip around town with Mister Moon to help him fulfill his deepest wishes. The illustrations are all very soft with mostly blues, greens, and a splash of yellow. The artwork was made with mono printed oil inks, colored pencils, and graphite. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Music-Mister-Moon-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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Dear Ballerina
Monica Wellington
March 19, 2019
Holiday House

My youngest has suddenly become enamored with dance and she cannot WAIT for the pandemic to subside so we can see what classes are available. So over the weekend, we watched Feel the Beat on Netflix for our family movie night (which they all loved). After the movie, I knew this book would also strike a chord. And it DID! The book is a letter from a young, beginner dancer, writing to a professional ballerina. The young girl discusses stretching, rehearsals, costumes, etc. And in the end, she shares that the ballerina is her inspiration for all her hard work. The back matter includes information on pointe shoes and tutus, for children who would like to learn more about them. The somewhat simplistic pastel-colored artwork was created with gouache paints and colored pencils. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Dear-Ballerina-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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Tomorrow is Waiting
Kiley Frank
Aaron Meshon, illustrator
January 8, 2019
Dial Books

This picture book is an inspirational encouragement for the reader to get out in the world and do amazing things. In very bold colors, beautiful thoughts are shared alongside multi-colored scenery of mountains, rivers, forests, oceans, etc. It’s the kind of book that could be read at any time, including bedtime. And it might even make a great graduation gift for a young adult heading off into the world.  The artwork in this book was painted with acrylic and gouache paints. The back page shares that “Aaron Meshon was inspired to paint from his memories of favorite places, such as Japan, Iceland, New Zealand, Hawaii, and anywhere else where the Earth’s crust is thin and it’s nice to take a long warm nap.” I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Tomorrow-is-Waiting-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 was able to get much further into Anger is a Gift, but I still have a long way to go on Millionaires for the Month. So these two will remain my biggest focus for the coming week.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 228/250
Big Book Summer Reading Challenge: Today is the last day of this challenge. So if I counted correctly, I completed 5 “big” books, this summer. My thanks to Sue of Book by Book for hosting this community, every summer.


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/31/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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’m having a hard time believing I’ve skipped over a month of blogging while moving our family of seven into a new home and starting back to teaching at the college. It’s all been too much for me. …too much overwhelm to simply sit down at my laptop and start organizing what I read and what comes next on my list. In fact, there are books that I finished reading this last month that I’ve had to question whether I actually finished (initially, I couldn’t remember some of the plot lines without notes!! 😮 EEEK). Yet here I am, on the last Monday of August, downing the java and making myself take the first crucial steps back to my beloved IMWAYR community. I’ll be posting late today, but I really hope to get better settled into the weekly reading/blogging grove during the month of September.

On the home front, we may have gained over twice the amount of living space we had before, but you’d never know it because our formal living room and several other spaces are still piled with boxes. About two weeks into unpacking, I decided I was done. Like, that’s it. Time’s up. Now I’m half considering just moving the remaining boxes all into the garage and seeing if we miss anything before Christmas. I’m pretty sure that’s a valid decluttering strategy, right?

On a more serious note, August 31st is always a tough day for me, so I need a moment. It’s the day my dad very unexpectedly passed away. Eight years may seem like a long time. Nevertheless, I still remember the details of that morning as if it all happened yesterday. Chadron was battling three forest fires and one was creeping closer to our city limits, threatening to evacuate our whole town. Early that morning, my dad called me to check in, again, to see if we were okay. I was the last one he called before he was found unconscious at the middle school, having presumably suffered a heart attack or pulmonary embolism. We’ll never know. Grief is hard work, this I know. I grieved for years, read all about how to heal from loss, went through grief therapy, as well as GriefShare sessions with my mom, and still my heart breaks today when I remember the utter feeling of helplessness and despair felt when we discovered he was gone. He was a great husband to my mom, a loving and invested father to me (and my brothers), and an all-round fantastic human being. Thank you for giving me a moment to honor his memory, this morning.

I’m glad you’ve visited, today! I read some good novels this last month while packing and unpacking, ranging from middle grade to young adult to adult literature. And I picked up a good stack of children’s books from 2019. I’ll share a few this week and hopefully one of them will catch your attention and make it onto your reading wish list.

☕ This post is powered by coffee. ☕


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Six Angry Girls
Adrienne Kisner
August 18, 2020
Feiwel & Friends

The title to this book may turn some readers off. Our society gets uncomfortable at the idea of a girl being “angry.” But sometimes anger is a crucial emotion for causing change. The novel is written from two perspectives. First, we have Raina Petree, who is madly in love with her boyfriend of 5 years. And just a week after she agrees to sleep with him, she finds out he’s been cheating on her. This is not how she expected senior year to go. Then there’s Millie Goodwin, who goes to the same school as Raina, but they’ve never really talked before. However, one day Raina overhears Millie crying in a locked bathroom stall. She cautiously decides to check on the crier and make sure she’s okay before leaving. And as luck would have it, this tiny act of courage kickstarts the entire rest of the book, luring in six different girls from the same school who really, really need one another. There’s fun with feminism knitting (“anatomical yarning”), mock trial competitions, moving theatre performances, LGBTQIAP+ representation, a librarian who knows how to make something out of nothing (fundraising), and everyone’s story is important in the end. I wasn’t sure if I would get into this story, but it’s fun being pleasantly surprised by a book!

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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What You Wish For
Katherine Center
July 14, 2020
St. Martin’s Press 

I’ve definitely been on a Katherine Center kick this past year with Things You Save in a Fire and How to Walk Away. I like that her contemporary romance stories are funny and lighthearted, while the characters still have emotional depth and realistic flaws. So I was pleasantly surprised when Netgalley approved an audiobook ARC of What You Wish For. Samantha (Sam) Casey moved to Galveston from California recover from her unrequited crush. Life in Galveston is pretty quaint, working as a librarian and living with a sweet widow who treats her like family. Until one day when her old crush makes an unexpected appearance in her new school district and she is beyond shocked. However, crush guy is not the same person she adored in California. Not even a little bit. Does he even remember Sam?

You’ll have to read the book to catch all the surprises in this one, but Thérèse Plummer’s narration was stellar as usual. Her voice and interpreted inflection add such volume to the story. I will forever hear Plummer’s voice if I read a print copy of one of Center’s books. At the very end, I was delighted to hear Center’s inspiring author’s note (narrated in her own voice), so don’t forget to listen to the very end if you listen to this audiobook: “It’s work, but it feels like play. It’s true for writing and it’s true for reading. The only compass you can follow is your own.” My thanks to Netgalley for providing me an audio-ARC of this book.

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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Starting From Seneca Falls
Karen Schwabach
June 23, 2020
Random House Books for Young Readers

Both Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglas are brought to life in this fast-paced historical fiction story about two unlikely friends during the 1800s who participate in the women’s suffrage movement. Readers will hear more about the Irish Potato Famine, realities of the Poor Houses, the plight of orphans, and even the Erie canal. It was suspenseful and quite informative, so don’t be deceived by the cover and length, which might indicate it’s solely intended for young children. No, this book will be very enjoyable for older readers, as well. Don’t miss the historical note at the end!

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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Parachutes
Kelly Yang
May 26, 2020
Katherine Tegen Books

Whoa. This was so much heavier than I anticipated. I mean, I thought Front Desk had some heavy moments as a middle grade novel, but Parachutes is definitely a full on young adult or new adult novel with much more depth. It is so beautifully and painfully written. I just wish every young adult would read it. It covers a number of topics in the span of about 500 pages: privilege, cultural expectations, sexuality, racism, sexual assault, poverty, rape culture, classism, and there’s LGBTQIAP+ rep. This one will need to simmer a while and it would be fantastic for group discussion. And you cannot read this book without reading the Author’s Note at the very end as the story is deeply personal for Yang. I’ve so much respect for her ability to share the pain of her personal experiences within this fictional story!

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 Secret of White Stone Gate
(Black Hollow Lane #2)
Julia Nobel
March 3, 2020
Sourcebooks Young Readers

Last year I picked up book #1 in this series, The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane, and I was lured into the story very quickly. Since it’s a second book in a series, I cannot share much about the plot without spoiling book #1. However, for those who know nothing about this series, I’ll share a clip of my review last year:

Emmy lost her father on her third birthday and her “parenting expert” mother has shipped her off to Wellsworth boarding school when her work (in the US) gets incredibly busy. Emmy struggles to blend in and eventually stumbles upon a secret society and ancient artifacts that seem related to her personal family history… I’ve heard some think this is a Harry Potter rip-off, but I wouldn’t go that far. There are definitely similar elements, especially considering the main character is attending a boarding school in England where there are mysteries and secrets. But there’s no magic (at least so far) and the story offers enough unique components to make it its own story. I believe Harry Potter fans will dive into the charming Wellsworth world and I’m excited to continue with the series when book #2 is released!

Julia Nobel has my attention. I’ll look forward to what she writes, next!

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 Father’s Love
Hannah Holt
Yee Von Chan, illustrator
April 9, 2019
Philomel Books

When I was younger, most books showcasing a parent and a child focused on the mother figure. So I’m always pleased when I find modern picture books breaking the mold and emphasizing the importance of the relationship a child has with their father. The main theme of this book is that a father’s love is always there in many forms. Using rhyming poetry and metaphors, each page shares a different color and animal focusing on the father caring for their young. The back matter provides more information on each of the animals highlighted in the book, providing more details on how the father takes care of the young. Awww! There are so many amazing fathers I know, today, including single fathers who will deeply appreciate this book. I love you, daddy!

The artwork for this book was done in hand-drawn outlines with pencil and pen, then colored digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

A-Fathers-Love

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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Raise Your Hand
Alice Paul Tapper
Marta Kissi, illustrator
March 26, 2019
Penguin Workshop

This cute picture book is written by a sixth grader in Washington D. C. The story documents her experience of coming up with the “raise your hand” initiative in her Girl Scout troop. Her idea ended up becoming a national patch which landed her even on the news station. I appreciate that she documents both the good and the bad to implementing this idea – such a great book to discus in a classroom of both girls and boys as we all consider how our gender plays into the school classroom experience.

The book doesn’t share how the illustrations were created, but I’ll provide a page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Raise-Your-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.


To Be Read:

I just got a pile of new picture books through ILL, so I’m looking forward to diving into some new titles I’ve been waiting to read. I’m also right in the middle of listening to Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro as an audiobook. Then I hope to start reading an e-ARC of Millionaires for the Month by Stacy McAnulty!

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 217/250


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/13/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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!

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It’s finally happening, y’all. WE ARE MOVING!! We have a firm closing date set for this Friday, July 17th. I’m a mixed jumble of emotions, right now. As I’ve mentioned before, this is the only home all five of my children have ever known. In fact, our youngest two children were actually born IN THIS HOUSE — one downstairs and one upstairs in our bedroom. ❤ We have loved our home and have done so much to it over the last 14+ years. However, five kids means needing more space if they want to invite lots of teen and tween friends over for dinner, games, or movie nights. We feel quite lucky that this new home became available when it did. Even better, it’s only a block up the road from our current house. So we won’t really be forfeiting our amazing, longterm neighbors. Woohoo!! Be thinking of us this week as we face grueling heat while we pack and move. And send us all your positive thoughts and prayers that our old home will sell sooner rather than later!

Thank you for visiting, today. Clearly, I’m not getting as much reading done this month, so I’m going to make this post super short. So look up into the first image in this post. Everything in that book pile I either finished reading this week or I’m currently still reading. LOL I’ll just have to finish writing my reviews once we’re on the other side of this move. However, I’ll plan to make it around to everyone’s posts throughout the week.


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/6/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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!

Thank you for visiting, today! We have two more weeks until closing on our new home (unless we get lucky enough for them to move up the date), but I did squeeze in a little reading. Maybe you’ll find something here to add to your wish list.


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Thunderhead
(Arc of a Scythe #2)
Neal Shusterman
January 9, 2018
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

With all the packing, cleaning, and landscaping going on in our current home, I’ve had little time to read with my eyes. I initially checked book #2 of this series out over two months ago. I even asked the library to extend my check out when it was due (which they did by a few days). So when I still hadn’t finished it at the end of my extended checkout period, I bought the kindle book so that I wouldn’t have to wait for a new copy. And when I made my purchase, Amazon offered the Audible book as a second copy for just an additional $7.49 over the e-book price. I like that the two reading options sync so that the reader can go back and forth between reading with their eyes and reading with their ears. And that’s exactly what I did — read a few chapters with my eyes, then slip to audiobook while I worked outside in the yard.! Anyway, this book left us on a crazy cliffhanger. Now I have to decide if I’m willing to wait for the 3rd book from the library or if I’m going to just purchase the e-book, again. This is my 3rd book for the Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge, hosted by Sue Jackson. I really like this series and especially enjoy the fact that it raises a lot of thoughts and questions about life and death.

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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Just Mercy: A Story
of Justice and Redemption
Bryan Stevenson
October 21, 2014
Spiegel & Grau

I can’t gather my thoughts and words well enough to say what should be said about this book. What Bryan Stevenson does, day in and day out, is very important work. He’s an attorney who runs a nonprofit company to represent inmates who cannot afford their own attorneys. He focuses primarily on death row inmates and those have been sentences to life in prison. But it’s far more than that. I was stunned by the various experiences he shared and cried on numerous occasions. The abuses of the system cannot be denied — particularly when it comes to Black suspects who are incarcerated without fair trials and who are, then, abused after being jailed. I was appalled and just wanted to send all my money to Stevenson. But even with the finances, he must be so emotionally depleted at times. This is grueling work to not only to witness his clients being abused on a regular basis, but to additionally face racism as a Black attorney. I plan to watch the movie just as soon as we can purchase a copy (I think it was available for free for June, but I missed it). I cannot recommend this one enough!!

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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Look! I Wrote a Book!
(and You Can Too!)
Sally Lloyd-Jones
Neal Layton, illustrator
July 23, 2019
Schwartz & Wade Books

I came across this picture book on Overdrive and thought it was pretty cute. A young girl explains everything she knows about writing a book, from where to get your ideas, to types of stories, to knowing your audience, and all the way to selling your book. As we work hard to teach children that they are writers and authors, add this book to the discussion — did she leave anything important out of the process? Great discussion material. The illustrations were rendered in mixed media. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Look-I-Wrote-a-Book-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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Harold & Hog Pretend For Real!
(Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! #6)
Dan Santat
Mo Willems
May 7, 2019
Hyperion Books for Children

Need I say anything about this book? Our family was HUGE fans of everything related to Elephant & Piggie. So witnessing Harold and  Hog as they pretend to be Elephant and Piggie was hiLARious! LOL I wish we owned the entire series!! I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Harold-and-Hog-PRETEND

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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How to Catch a Unicorn
Adam Wallace
Andy Elkerton, illustrator
March 5, 2019
Sourcebooks Wonderland

A few weeks ago I shared “How to Catch a Dragon,” also by Adam Wallace. So while this isn’t an official series, there are definitely similarities. In this story, the unicorn has magical properties, like the ability to ride a rainbow, they can shrink, shoot (fart??) glitter, have a shiny horn, and they are super fast! The children chase one sneaky unicorn through the zoo all day long, but eventually they’re outwitted. 🙂 This book doesn’t show how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide a page spread as an example:

Catch-a-Unicorn-SPREAD5

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 barely started on Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes and am hoping to finish it before next Monday. Sadly, I’m out of newer picture books and don’t intend to be getting a new batch until after this move. So I guess we’ll just see how the month pans out.

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Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 223/250
Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge — 3


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/29/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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!

Quick Update: We got our home appraisal back and it was high enough to give us the immediate equity to do everything we need to do on our new home. Furthermore, the seller’s agreed to replace the roof before closing. Whew! For now we pretty much just sit tight and wait for the new roof and all the paperwork to be completed. We should close on or before July 20th, so we’re down to the last three weeks. While we are all very excited, there’s also been some sadness about leaving this house. Even the kids have started mentioning how they’ll miss this place. It is the only home any of our children have ever known (our oldest was 2 when we moved in and she’ll turn 17 later this summer). In fact, some were even BORN in this home. So yeah, totally mixed emotions. Still, we look forward to finally being settled and having the space we’ve needed for a very long time.

Thank you for visiting, today! With all the house prep we’re still doing, I was only able to actually finish my picture books. Hopefully you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading wish list.


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Kat & Juju
Kataneh Vahdani
July 1, 2020
Two Lions

As part of the Amazon First Reads program, I picked up this little book last week. Kat is shy. She doesn’t know how to have a friend or how to be a friend. On her birthday, she inherits a new best friend who is very different from her. Over the course of their time together, she learns all about helping others until, at last, she finds her bravery. The illustrations are simply adorable. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Kat-and-Juju-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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Cezanne’s Parrot
Amy Guglielmo
Brett Helquist, illustrator
February 11, 2020
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

This picture book biography shares the difficult experiences of Paul Cezanne, a French painter who wasn’t truly appreciated for a very long time. I pretty much knew nothing about Cezanne, so this was very educational for me. As is so often the experience of artists, Cezanne wasn’t sincerely appreciated until he learned to not worry about what others thought about his work. The humor in this story is found in Cezanne’s pet parrot, Bisou, who refuses to say ‘Cezanne is a great painter!’ Heehee! The back matter includes an Author’s Note, a bibliography, source notes, and a list of the paintings that were depicted in the story. The artwork for this book was done in oil on paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Cezannes-Parrot-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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Cyclops of Central Park
Madelyn Rosenberg
Victoria Tentler-Krylov, illustrator
February 11, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

At first glance, the artwork in this book appeared far too busy for my tastes. But there’s a deep and important lesson in this story that made me better appreciate each crazy illustration. Cyclops lives in the Central Park cave with his flock of sheep. One sheep named Eugene has always been enamored by the world. And, sure enough, he goes missing. In the wild hunt to find his lost sheep, Cyclops finds a deeper appreciation for the world. It’s quite meaningful and there’s a sweetness that’s not to be missed! The artwork for this book was painted in watercolor and gouache, and completed with Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Cyclops-of-Central-Park-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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Fry Bread:
A Native American Family Story
Kevin Noble Maillard
Juana Martinez-Neal, illustrator
October 22, 2019
Roaring Brook Press

I’ve been waiting for this one for a loooong while after seeing so many in my reading community talk about it. Fry Bread, a beloved Native American food, can be everything from something to detect with our senses (flavor, sound, color) to location (state, nation). It encompasses so much meaning, depending on who you ask. By the end, it makes the reader want to eat fry bread. So it’s a good thing that the author provides his own recipe with detailed directions. The artwork in this book is something to behold — plan to spend loads of time exploring the entire page as the details and facial expressions are extraordinary! Be sure to examine the back matter, which includes nine pages of detailed information, including an Author’s Note and references. The illustrations for this book were done in acrylics, colored pencils, and graphite on hand-textured paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Fry-Bread-SPREAD5

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.


42873951._SX318_The Upper Case:
Trouble in Capital City
(Private I #2)
Tara Lazar
Ross Macdonald, illustrator
October 15, 2019
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

What a clever little book! The story is written with a play on words. While younger emerging readers will enjoy hearing about upper/lower case letters they’re still learning about, older children will more easily appreciate all the little jokes along the way. This book is part of a series, but I was able to know what was going on even without having read book #1. The publisher doesn’t share how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:Upper-Case-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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Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival
Lindsay Moore
January 22, 2019
Greenwillow Books

Written in poetic text matched by gorgeous artwork on every page, this lovely picture book ends the same way it begins — with a polar bear that has learned how to hope and wait from its polar bear mother. The back matter includes a great deal more information about polar bears, the ringed seal, the walrus, the Greenland shark, the narwhal, and the bowhead whale. The full-colored art was rendered in graphite, watercolor, drawing inks, conte crayon, and color pencil. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Sea-Bear-SPREAD3

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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How Do You Do?
Larissa Theule
Gianna Marino, illustrator
January 15, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books 

What a perfect picture book for middle-of-summer reading:

The day was hot.
The day before had also been hot.
And the day before that.
And the day before that.

Yep. Pretty much what we’ve been experiencing, lately. But this book has a lovely message about how meeting someone new makes all the difference in the world. GREAT book for discussion! The illustrations for this book were created with gouache on watercolor paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

How-do-you-do-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.


25634503The Bureau of Misplaced Dads
Éric Veillé
Pauline Martin, illustrator
August 1, 2015
Kids Can Press

Awwww. This picture book about a child who misplaces his dad is super cute. Who knew there were so many dads who have been misplaced. Thankfully, this youngster finds his dad right where he left him. ❤ The illustrations remind me so much of books I read during my childhood. The artwork was rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Bureau-misplaced-dads-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:

It’s been a slow reading week, but I’m still working on Thunderhead and Just Mercy. Both are fantastic! I just wish I could drum up more reading time with all this cleaning and packing. 🙂

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 218/200
Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge — 2


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/22/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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’m posting pretty late this week. So for anyone who happens to read this week: I’m beyond exhausted. And I’m so sorry that I haven’t made it around to everyone’s posts from last week. I’m usually committed to checking in with everyone who links up, so this has been a very odd week. Preparing a home that’s been lived in for over 14 years by two adults and five children is NO laughing matter. I spent weeks, plus the last two nights in a row pulling almost all-nighters cleaning, painting, and packing while my children slept. I even piled up every book I have checked out and returned them to the local libraries, except for one — because I was so worried that I might pack a library book. Eeeek! So, aside from the fact that we’re still cleaning and painting and preparing for a (hopeful) big move this summer, I have far fewer books on hand than normal. We’re not out of the woods on our home purchase. Things have become rather complicated on the financial end and we’re still waiting on the appraisal on our home, so we could still be in for a huge disappointment by this week’s end. But I just wanted to thank everyone for your support and optimism on behalf of our family.

If you dropped by this week, thank you for visiting! I hope you find something to add to your ‘to be read’ list. And, as always, please feel free to share what you’ve been reading, in the comments.


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How to Be an Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi
August 13, 2019
One World

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while, now. So I finally used an Audible credit and listened to Ibram X. Kendi’s narration while I cleaned and packed last week. Anything I say cannot truly do this book justice, so I thought I’d just share a couple quotes:

What’s the problem with being ‘not racist?’ It is a claim that signifies neutrality. ‘I am not a racist. But neither am I aggressively against racism.’ But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist,’ it is antiracist… The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.

The construct of ‘race neutrality’ actually feeds white nationalists’ victimhood by positing the notion that any policy protecting or advancing non-white Americans toward equity is reverse discrimination.

This book was fascination, painful, and hopeful. I enjoyed how Kendi went back and forth between his personal history/experiences and major historical information full of facts and shocking statistics that I fear too many are not familiar with. I cannot recommend it enough!

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.


34565022._SY475_Braving the Wilderness:
The Quest for True Belonging and
the Courage to Stand Alone
Brené Brown
September 12, 2017
Random House

This was yet another book I’ve been wanting to read. And without much time to read with my eyes, I was excited when it became available as an audiobook on Overdrive. I especially enjoy it when an author narrates their own work — the vocal inflection is meaning, all on its own. So, I’ll share yet another quote to help frame the types of truth shared in this book:

The foundation of courage is vulnerability. The ability to navigate uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. It takes courage to open ourselves up to joy. In fact, as I’ve written in other books, I believe joy is probably the most vulnerable emotion we experience. We’re afraid that if we allow ourselves to feel it, we’ll get blind sighted by disaster or disappointment. That’s why in moments of real joy, many of us dress rehearsal tragedy. We see our child leave for prom and all we can think is car crash. We get excited about an upcoming vacation and we start thinking hurricane. We try to beat our vulnerability to the punch by imagining the worst or by feeling nothing in hopes that the other shoe won’t drop. I call it foreboding joy. The only way to combat foreboding joy is gratitude. Across the years, the men and women who could most fully lean into joy were those who practiced gratitude. In those vulnerable moments of individual or collective joy, we need to practice gratitude. 

Whoa. Right? I still need to read Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly (which I own), but this one was fantastic and I heartily recommend!

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 World Needs More Purple People
Kristen Bell
Benjamin Hart
Daniel Wiseman, illustrator
June 2, 2020
Random House Books for Young Readers

I’m so grateful to my friend, Lauren, for making sure I get my hands on some books that aren’t available at our local libraries. She dropped this one off last week and it’s super cute. I loved the message of what it means to be purple. And trust me, you WANT to be a purple person if you aren’t already! I couldn’t find a note on how Wiseman created the art, but I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Purple-People-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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Be You!
Peter H. Reynolds
March 3, 2020
Orchard Book

Another find by Lauren, who shares my love of Peter H. Reynolds! Be You! is an encouraging picture book that dares every one of us to be ourselves — to concentrate on learning and growing, being adventurous, kind, persistent, brave, and patient. The message is timeless and Reynolds artwork is simply lovely, as always. While the book doesn’t share how the illustrations were created, I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Be-You-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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Hard Work, but It’s Worth It:
The Life of Jimmy Carter
Bethany Hegedus
Kyung Eun Han, illustrator
January 28, 2020
Balzer + Bray

I was four years old when Jimmy Carter became president, so I don’t remember much from his presidency. But this little picture book was very helpful in describing his childhood, his move into politics, his humanitarian efforts, and his eventual award of the Nobel Peace Prize. The back matter includes a detailed Author’s Note followed by an extensive three-paged timeline, bibliography, and online resources. The artist used Corel Painter to create the digital illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Hard-Work-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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How to Catch a Dragon
Adam Wallace
Andy Elkerton, illustrator
November 5, 2019
Sourcebooks Wonderland

Written in rhyming text with adorable digitally painted artwork, a group of young children are chasing down a dragon. The story is set in China during the Chinese New Year and would make a fun fictional read while studying the holiday. The back matter includes a two paged spread of the poetic text written in three languages. The art was first sketched , then painted digitally with brushes designed by the artist. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Catch-a-Dragon-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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Spend It!
(A Moneybunny Book)
Cinders McLeod
March 5, 2019
Nancy Paulsen Books

Making spending choices is hard! Sonny is looking through his allowance jar and comparing it to all that he wants to buy. Should he continue to save his three carrots until he has 100 carrots to buy the big item he wants? Or should he buy something smaller with his three carrots? In the end, he makes a choice that was just right for him. What a great way for children to think about their own financial decisions! The illustrations were drawn with HB pencil on Mylar film and then digitally colored.

Spend-It-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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Not Your Nest!
Gideon Sterer
Andrea Tsurumi, illustrator
March 5, 2019
Dial Books

Poor little yellow bird. He keeps taking his time to design a nest, collect the sticks, and build it just the way he likes it. But then an animal takes it over when he’s ready to make himself at home. Apparently, the wild can be an unsettling place to home build, because this happens to him again and again. Fear not, in the end everyone has a better understanding of what they need when little yellow bird is finally at home! The artwork for this book was inked with pencil and colored digitally.

Not-Your-Nest-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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Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish
Beth Ferry
Tom Lichtenheld, illustrator
February 12, 2019
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

As the title suggests, these are the ten rules of making a birthday wish. Most rules have exceptions, though. For example, you should have balloons, unless you are a rhinoceros or swordfish. And most people celebrate every year. …unless their life cycle is only a week or one day long. Then they should celebrate immediately. HAHA! The illustrations were done in pencil, watercolor, colored pencil, and pastel.

Ten-Rules-of-Birthday-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 Babysitter from Another Planet
Stephen Savage
February 12, 2019
Neal Porter Books

With only a few words per page, this picture book shares the story of a brother and sister who encountered a babysitter from another planet when their mom and dad went out to the movies. This babysitter can do everything a human babysitter can do and MORE, including making the children float through the house. The artwork was created using digital techniques.

Babysitter-Planet-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 still working on Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman and I just started listening to Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 210/200
Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge — 2


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/15/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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’s been a week of sweaty and dirty work at the Miller home. We’ve been moving things from our garage to storage and we’re doing as much decluttering as we can in the process. We’re replacing broken/ugly items around the house, touch-up painting where necessary, and cleaning, cleaning, CLEANING. And yet there’s still so much more work to be done. I’m exhausted as I type this post and I seriously lack time to say much about my reading. But I’m here. Oh, and I hope everyone has a Happy Father’s Day this coming weekend! Whew.

bigbooksummerI’m going to take Sue’s advice and just share that I am participating in the 2020 Big Book Summer Challenge within my weekly #imwayr post. I believe this is my third summer to do this and I hope to wipe a few “big books” off my list. If you have several bigger books you’ve been meaning to get to, feel free to join us HERE. This week I finished my first two “big books”: A Place to Belong and Black Enough. And I started Thunderhead. YAY!

Thank you for visiting! I don’t have much time to blog, so these book shares will be very short and sweet, today.


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A Place to Belong
Cynthia Kadohata
Julia Kuo, illustrator
May 14, 2019
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

This story follows 12-year-old Hanako and her Japanese-American family as they are freed from Japanese internment camps and decide to return to Hiroshima after the United States dropped the atomic bomb. When they return, they have basically nothing, the children struggle with their Japanese, and they’re so very hungry. At least when they were in the internment camps, they were given food! It’s a thoughtful look at America as they attempt to weigh the positive and negative sides to our country’s role in WWII and their treatment of Japanese-Americans. I learned a great deal and hope this one will make it into many middle grade libraries in 2020. My only criticism might be that it’s a bit long for middle grade.

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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Black Enough: Stories of Being
Young & Black in America
Ibi Zoboi, Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth,
Dhonielle Clayton,Brandy Colbert, Jay Coles,
Lamar Giles, Leah Henderson, Justina Ireland,
Varian Johnson, Kekla Magoon, Tochi Onyebuchi,
Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani,
Renée Watson, Rita Williams-Garcia
January 8, 2019
Balzer + Bray

I thought this anthology was fantastic! Each story was unique and each shared a glimpse into the life of a black teen in America. There was very little to these stories that were stereotypical teen lives — there were details that drew me in and left me appreciating the character, but kinda feeling sad that each story wasn’t a full book all of its own so that I could see how the rest of their lives played out. That’s when I know an anthology is really good!

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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Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots
Michael Rex
February 11, 2020
Nancy Paulsen Books

This is a really cute picture book that provides guidelines for children learning how to distinguish between fact and opinion. I liked that they even had a scenario where you have to “wait until we have more information” before being able to stay if a statement is a fact or opinion. Very cute illustrations and kids will be laughing through several scenes. The artwork was 100% created digitally using Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Fact-vs-Opinion-vs-Robot-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 Tooth Fairy vs. the Easter Bunny
Jamie L.B. Deenihan
Erin Hunting, illustrator
February 11, 2020
Penguin Workshop

Perhaps you’re already familiar with The Tooth Fairy vs. Santa (published last October)? Well, this is a continuation of the turf war between The Tooth Fairy and another magical being who serves children, each year. Young Veda loses her tooth the night before Easter and she writes a letter with a special request that will require the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny working together. But are they even capable of such a thing? The cute ending leaves the reader feeling there will be a sequel with yet another magical character. This book does not share how the artwork was created, but it appears to be digitally rendered. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Tooth-Fairy-vs-Easter-Bunny-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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Three Ways to Trap a Leprechaun
Tara Lazar
Vivienne To, illustrator
January 7, 2020
HarperCollins

And while we’re on the topic of the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, might as well throw Leprechauns in the mix. LOL When I taught Kindergarten, I remember painting little green foot prints all around our room and leaving signs that Leprechauns had visited our classroom the night before St. Patrick’s Day. This would have been the perfect book to read the day before! Claire and her little brother Sam attempt to catch a Leprechaun multiple times in the same night. Will they finally be successful? The back matter has a two page spread all about how to catch a Leprechaun through research, design, having the right supplies, building, and patiently waiting. The book doesn’t share how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Three-Ways-Leprechaun-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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I Am Just Right
David McPhail
March 19, 2019
Holiday House

An adorable little bunny shares the frustrations of getting bigger. He’s too big for his crib, his shirt, his shoes, etc. However, growing is nothing to fear because he’s just right in so many other ways. The artwork in this book was created with watercolor over pen and ink. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

I-Am-Just-Right-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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What About Harry?
Derek Anderson
February 19, 2019
HarperCollins

Sam and Harry are best friends, but when they begin to compare themselves to one another, Sam’s work is always better. Feeling deflated, Harry leaves in a huff. But over time, the two friends realize they are happier together. It’s a little busy, but I really loved this picture book and know it will speak to the hearts of young children caught in comparison mode. The artwork in this book was created with ink and Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

What-About-Harry-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 Home Builders
Varsha Bajaj
Simona Mulazzani, illustrator
February 12, 2019
Nancy Paulsen Books

What a beautiful picture book, showcasing the various types of habitats built by different forest creatures. In poetic text, we learn about the various types of homes that are built and when watch as each animal waits for the arrival of their babies. The illustrations allow the reader to see underground, into a bee’s hive, into nests, etc. as each home withstands a variety of weather/seasons. The artwork in this book was done in mixed media, including acrylic, colored pencil, and collage on paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Home-Builders-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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Out of This World:
The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington
Michelle Markel
Amanda Hall, illustrator
January 22, 2019
Balzer + Bray

This was a fascinating picture book biography of Leonora Carrington. I’m not sure why I didn’t know anything about Carrington’s life before now, because she rubbed shoulders with many artists I do know of, including Pablo Picasso and Frida Kahlo. During her childhood she struggled to pay attaching in school and was even expelled from multiple schools. She also refused to choose a husband, despite her parent’s urging, but later married her greatest art teacher, Max Ernst. And when she dove into art, she enjoyed fantastical elements (influenced by surrealism). So very interesting! The back matter includes an Author’s Note, and Illustrator’s Note, and a Selected Bibliography. The artist used watercolor inks and gouache, layered with hard and soft pencil crayons. I’ll provide one past spread to serve as an example, below:

Out-of-this-World-Carrington-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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First Laugh–Welcome, Baby!
Rose Ann Tahe
Nancy Bo Flood
Jonathan Nelson, illustrator
August 4, 2018
Charlesbridge Publishing

Others in our #imwayr community have shared this book and so I was thrilled when it became available through my public library. The First Laugh Celebration is a Navajo tradition that welcomes a baby into the family and clan. This book shows a Navajo family watching and waiting through all the yawns, smiles, and scowls until a young baby finally laughs. Sooo precious! ❤ I was sad to read that author Rose Ann Tahe became suddenly ill and passed away in the final weeks before the printing of this book. But I’m grateful that the family pushed to fulfill Tahe’s wishes and share this story with the world. The back matter includes Author’s Notes, an Illustrator’s Note, and a great deal of information about the Navajo First Laugh celebration, as well as infant celebrations from other cultures. The illustrations are drawn with pencils and finished with ballpoint pen and Photoshop. I’ll provide one past spread, below:

First-Laugh-Baby-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 didn’t have a ton of reading-with-my-eyes time this week, so I’m still working on Thunderhead. I also started listening to Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness. And so far it’s AMAZING!

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 200/200 — time to increase my goal…
Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge — 2


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/8/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

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!

were-movingBIG NEWS: It looks like we really are moving! After looking at homes over the last two years, and having two options fall through, we began to wonder if this would ever happen. There aren’t many affordable larger homes that come up for sale in our town, to begin with. But about two weeks ago a home that was previous well out of our price range had a hefty price drop. So we finally asked our realtor for a viewing and VOILA! It had the perfect room arrangement and location for our needs. We made an offer, they countered, we countered back, and we eventually came to a verbal agreement just last Friday. So we’re now in a slight state of shock as we begin packing up 14+ years worth of stuff for a family of seven while finishing prepping our current home for sale. Interestingly enough, our move-in date might very well coincide with our 25th anniversary. How crazy is THAT?! Needless to say, I will be forfeiting much of my summer reading time and my blog may lack coherence and depth over the next two months. We’d love your positive thoughts, moving advice, and prayers as we navigate these murky home selling/buying waters!

Thank you for visiting today! Whether it’s a new release or an older title, I always hope readers will find something of interest to add to their wish list.


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Tornado Brain
Cat Patrick
May 5, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Don’t let that cutesy cover fool you, there’s more than meets the eye in this hard-hitting story. Tess and Frankie are fraternal twins, but Frankie will openly share that she has certain needs that Tess does not. For example, Frankie doesn’t ever like to be touched, loud noises bother her, and she needs a very reliable routine. Frankie is also well aware of the fact that she has trouble making friends. That’s why she’s so bothered by the fact that Colette is no longer her friend. And why is that? Ooof. This story has a slowly unfolding mystery that kept me glued to the narration! With such young characters, this story was far deeper than I anticipated. I especially liked that it is told from a neurodiverse character’s perspective. It’s so important to have books like this in the world to serve as both a mirror and window for readers. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing me the audiobook of Tornado Brain!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
Support local bookstores through Bookstore link HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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We Dream of Space
Erin Entrada Kelly
May 5, 2020
Greenwillow Books

I was looking forward to reading this book, especially considering the fact that the three Nelson-Thomas siblings were around the age I was during the historic launch of the Challenger. Cash, Fitch, and Bird are all very different children, growing up together in a rather unhappy home. Cash keeps failing 7th grade and if he keeps this up, he’s going to fall into a grade level below his younger siblings. Fitch is a crazy ball of anger — he struggles to keep himself calm when the littlest things attempt to set him off. And Bird is a thoughtful science geek, constantly dreaming of space. Her goal is to become NASA’s first female shuttle commander, some day. We all know what happened to the Spaceshuttle Challenger, but as the story led up to that fateful day, there was so much hope in what that launch would accomplish. It was incredibly sad to witness Bird’s stunned response to the incident as she began to spiral away from her deepest dreams. But it’s in those shocking moments that family so often jumps in to help us hold it together. Does the Nelson-Thomas family have what it takes to recognize what she needs? There’s so much to discuss in this story. I can’t wait to see what other readers think — particularly those who were in middle school and high school during that historic moment. There were so many pop culture things mentioned in this story that took me right back to that time period. For example: Slimfast, Diet Tab, trading stickers (huge hobby!), hacky sack, ThunderCats TV show, and Miss Pac-Man. This was definitely a walk down memory lane while getting an intimate glimpse into the lives of the Nelson-Thomas family.

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 Bear Must Go On
Dev Petty
Brandon Todd, illustrator
March 17, 2020
Philomel Books

The Bear Must Go On is a cute picture book about four forest animal friends who “leap before they look.” While meticulously planning out every detail of putting on a show from the curtain to the tickets to what food will be served, they invited everyone in the forest to attend and forgot one very important detail: TO PLAN A SHOW!! But don’t worry, together these furry friends were able to discover the things that truly matter when performing on stage. The artwork in this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Bear-Must-Go-On-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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Old Rock (Is Not Boring)
Deb Pilutti
February 4, 2020
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers 

Old Rock can teach younger listeners a thing or two about perspective. Hummingbird, Spotted Beetle, and Tall Pine hound Old Rock over how boring his life must be since he doesn’t fly, or see much, or dance. But his long years have shown him so many wonderful things, which he shares with his friends. Most of all, he is not even a little bit bored sitting in such a nice spot at the edge of a clearing in the middle of a forest. The back matter provides a “historical fiction” timeline of Old Rock’s life, beginning 1.8 billion years ago when old rock was formed under the earth’s crust and ending with present day Old Rock, sitting in the forest. The illustrations in this book were done with casein on watercolor paper and a bit of digital painting. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Old-Rock-Is-Not-Boring-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 Word Pirates
Susan Cooper
Steven Kellogg, illustrator
September 24, 2019
Neal Porter Books 

These creepy-looking pirates may scare us with their need to steal words and eat them. But once they are forced into a duel with a word wizard (author), they learn they simply cannot match the power of words. She throws lines at them from books like Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs, and Where the Wild Things Are. When they head off to their own little island, they discover that even ruffians can learn to read and WRITE! 🙂 The artwork in this book was created with a variety of materials including colored inks, watercolors, colored pencils, and acrylic paints. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

Word-Pirates-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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Big and Little:
A Story of Opposites
Cheryl Pilgrim
April 23, 2019
Holiday House 

With the help of fantastic artwork, an entire story is told in opposites, like big/little, near/far, and over/under. I loved the way this was created because parents or teachers can simply remove the words and have children figure out what the set of opposites is supposed to be on each page. Such a fun story! We don’t learn how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

Big-and-Little-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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Home Is a Window
Stephanie Ledyard
Chris Sasaki, illustrator
April 23, 2019
Neal Porter Books 

What an appropriate read for our family’s current situation. Moving away from the only home my children have ever known won’t be as easy as it sounds. Sooo many memories are made in a house. But in this book, a young girl celebrates all of the lovely things that make up a home that are NOT dependent on a single location. For example, “Home is a table with something good and the people gathered there. Home is washing, rinsing, and drying, and whenever a dish gets broken, someone to help you sweep.” I love it! The artwork for this book was created using digital tools. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Home-is-a-Window-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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Baby Dragon, Baby Dragon!
Melissa Marr
Lena Podesta, illustrator
March 26, 2019
Nancy Paulsen Books

In this picture book, a young dragon swoops through the castle, upsetting everyone. So a young girl leaves her chores and spends the day going on an adventure with the dragon. Toward the end, she shows the dragon how to stay calm so they can eat dinner in the castle. Nothing really spectacular happens other than keeping the dragon safe and busy, so I got the feeling the dragon was maybe a metaphor for a younger sibling that needed taming? Also, with the way this is written with short phrases on each page, it really felt like it was supposed to rhyme (but it doesn’t). I thought it was just me, but found it funny that other reviewers were commenting on the same odd feeling. In any case, my young dragon lover will definitely enjoy this book — particularly since it’s a GIRL spending the day with the dragon. The illustrations for this book were made using pencil, ink, and gouache, and with the help of a computer. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Baby-Dragon-Baby-Dragon-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 Happy Year by E. Bluebird
Paul Meisel
March 12, 2019
Holiday House 

What a lovely nonfiction book documenting a year in the life of a Bluebird. Written from the perspective of a baby Bluebird, each page documents the date, starting June 1st (“Today is my birthday!”) and going through June 4th of the following year. We learn about what baby Bluebirds eat, when their eyes open, when they get feathers, how they learn to fly, when they fly south, and so much more! Front matter includes a migration map and more details about the Bluebird, while the back matter includes a glossary of terms and plans for building your own Bluebird house. The artwork is gorgeous with some close up illustrations mixed with large landscaped scenes. It was created with acrylic ink on Strathmore paper, digitally enhanced. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

My-Happy-Year-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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Monkey Time
Michael Hall
February 26, 2019
Greenwillow Books 

The is one of the more unusual books I’ve read. Monkey appears to be sitting in circular tree where little orange balls keep popping out at the top. Each orange ball equals a minute. And every time his arms circle around the tree, another one pops out. The entire time, the orange minute balls are teasing the Monkey:

Ha-ha. You missed me
…you are a slowpoke
we are running circles around you, Monkey!”

When Monkey finally catches an orange minute, he starts to eat it. But then all the minutes sport wings and happily fly away. Not even joking. LOL But alas, we need books of all types and this one could be a fun addition to math lessons on telling time. In the back matter, there’s a section on Monkey’s Rainforest Friends, sharing more details about other animals that can be found in a tropical rainforest. And truthfully, it wasn’t until I read that page that I went back through the book and noticed there are other animals hiding on the pages. So there’s some environmental science cross-over that can be used in here. The last page talks more specifically about calculating time with seconds, minutes, hours and days. The artwork in this book consists of digitally combined collages of painted and cut paper. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Monkey-Time-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 finally started Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman and I am thoroughly enjoying it, so far! This week I plan to finish listening to A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata. And I have a magnificent pile of picture books from my college library, so I will be reading several of those, including Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex and I Am Just Right by David McPhail.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 190/200
Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge — Ugh, I still need to write this post!! Go check out Sue’s Big Book Summer Challenge if you’d like to join the challenge.


What are YOU reading?