01.06.14 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Head to the It’s Monday post here to link up or see a list of the all the other readers participating in this great meme. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #IMWAYR!


Happy New Year! This is my first post in ages, so I will spare you the voluminous reading details and just concentrate on the last week or so! 

Other recent posts:

My 2013 Favorites

My reading goals for 2014

Click the book covers to go to Goodreads for the full summaries . . .

Non-fiction picture books

Non-fiction about the research done to learn about this unique South American frog species as well as current efforts underway to protect this endangered species. I love the mix of illustrations and photographs, but at times the text bounced around in an awkward way. Why suddenly was it talking about conservation of a completely different species? Great idea, but editing and book organization left me wanting more. Recommend for grades 3-5. (2013/Boyds Mills Press)


Terrific photos balanced with accessible facts on ocean animals, topography, and ocean health. Recommend for grades 3-6. (2013/Chronicle Books)


Graphic Novel

A stark feeling graphic novel, with both the brooding dust and dark palate Phelan uses to share about the 1930s Dust Bowl era. The stress and weariness of the farmers and residents is very evident. Jack goes on a magic-laced quest to bring rain to the plains. Phelan tends to zoom in and out for perspective, which is great, but sometimes I have a hard time with his very loose, sketchy images at their closest, and I can’t make out anything. Recommend for those with some background on the time, in grades 4-6. (2009/Candlewick Press)


An interesting and entertaining account of the Donner Dinner party told in a graphic novel format. I look forward to reading the other Nathan Hale books. With its rather grim details (to which readers are heavily warned “are coming up”) this is not for the sensitive readers in the bunch. I can’t help but think how much kids would have loved this when I taught California history to fourth graders. For readers with some background on Western Migration in grades 4-8. (2013/Amulet)


Middle Grade Book

I liked this one more than I thought I might. As it opened, I couldn’t help but think, “Oh, no, not another group of neglected kids trying to function on their own” book. I feel the situation the kids find themselves in requires readers to suspend a great deal of disbelief, much like seen in Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sarah Pennypacker. All in all, though I found the characters were well-developed, even if not necessarily likable and the situation one that would prompt some good discussion with readers or listeners if done as a read aloud. Recommend for grades 4-6. (2013/Candlewick Press)


An amazingly poignant memoir of a young Polish boy who was on Oskar Schindler’s “list”. A stunning testament to the horrors of war, but also to those who survived it’s very darkest elements. So powerful. I highly recommend it. With the obvious dire situation and sometimes graphic details, I’d recommend this for kids with plenty of background knowledge in grades six and up. (2013/Atheneum Books)


Currently reading . . . 


Do share what you are reading! Have a great week!


10 comments on “01.06.14 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

  1. Crystal says:

    I also loved The Boy on the Box. I had a similar reaction to Darwin’s Frog. I have read the rest, but haven’t gotten to Zebra Forest yet. I thought The Living was excellent. Enjoy!

  2. I just saw The Boy on the Wooden Box at the library this week–but neglected to check it out! Will remedy that next time I’m there. I live in a tiny town with a tiny library, so I’m always REALLY excited when books I want to read show up on the New Books shelves! I loved The Storm in the Barn–but I know what you mean about the challenges of “reading” Phelan’s style. Not my recommendation for someone’s first exposure to graphic novels, for sure. But I find his art very suggestive and beautiful. I have read other good reviews of Donner Dinner Party–this sounds like one that would horrify and fascinate my older son. Will definitely be looking for it at the library. I would like to read more nonfiction with my kids this year, and Extreme Oceans sounds like a good one. Thanks!

  3. Forgot to add: missed reading your blog in December; glad you’re back!

  4. Hi Lorna, I really want to read Zebra Forest. Donner Dinner Party and Extreme Oceans. Love Seymour Simon!

  5. bluestockingthinking says:

    I feel exactly the same about Darwin’s Frogs. It’s been getting some stellar reviews, and I just don’t seem to understand why exactly. Nathan Hale’s historical fiction graphic novels are some of my favorites. I think kids can learn some great background knowledge on American history in a format that will stick with them.

  6. What a variety of titles here this week. I have Storm in the Barn and haven’t read it. But I really need to – love Phelan. I also have raved about The Boy on the Wooden Box – it is a title I think younger students (I agree with Gr 6 and up) could manage with some background knowledge. What an incredible account. I have lent my copy to numerous people. Just a must read. Happy Reading this week!

  7. Lorna says:

    Thanks, Elisabeth. Sorta getting my sea legs, though the sick kid is sick again. 😦 Thinking of all you souls with this weather–stay warm and safe!

  8. I haven’t seen Storm in the Barn… the cover is very appealing. I loved Donner Dinner Party. It is a topic that could easily have gone SO wrong in a graphic novel, but I think it was all handled very well.

  9. Myra GB says:

    There was a time when my daughter and I read quite a number of Holocaust-themed novels. We read Maus I and II a few years back. Will try to find The Boy on the Wooden Box, kind of reminded me a little bit as well of Kadir Nelson’s Henry’s Box. The Storm in the Barn also caught my eye. Reminds me that I should familiarize myself with Matt Phelan’s artwork more. Have a great reading week, dear Lorna! 🙂

  10. Betsy says:

    Nathan Hale books are awesome. My kids tore through them. We are limited right now to what is available via Kindle from our library. Limits us down a bit…

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