It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Hosted by Jen & Kelle at Teach Mentor Texts

A month since the last post...eeeehh, how did that happen?

Oh yeah, I've been incredibly busy reading!  Like, too many books to even write about!

But this week I finished up:

How to Be a Math Genius:  Your Brilliant Brain and How to Train It by Dr. Mike Goldsmith
Dorling Kindersley, 2012
Nonfiction: General Information
128 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

This book has an appealing layout, with bright cartoon style graphics on double page layouts on various math topics.  Between different sections there are short mathematician biography pages with a more business look to them (the cartoon feel drops from these pages).  I enjoyed the bios the most perhaps, but I fear those are the pages students will skip!  The pages are busy, something to consider when recommending it to younger readers.  The puzzles and brain teasers throughout the book are fun, and let's just say...not all super easy.  At least I hope they are not supposed to be super easy....or...well, anyway, a fun book!

Son by Lois Lowry
Houghton Mifflin, 2012
400 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

Remember that book, The Giver?  Of course you do!  And if you don't quite recall it, go read it again before you pick up Son.  Sure, the book can stand alone, but should it?  I have never read the middle two books of this series, so that may be swaying my opinions here on the final installment.

If you loved spending time with the characters living in The Community in The Giver, you will love how Son takes you right back to the time when Jonas is being selected as Receiver.  But this time we follow Claire, a young girl chosen to be a Birth Mother.  Whose mother does she turn out to be?  Gabe's of course!  I was hooked as I read through Claire's story...and then Book 1 ended and abruptly Claire and I were tossed out of The Community into another village.  Book 2 takes us on a thoroughly different and (in my opinion) less interesting course.  And then we really take a dive when we enter Book 3.  Let me just say that the ending and the fantasy elements lost me as a fan.  I love The Giver and I love Book 1 of Son.  I just finished it about a half hour ago, so I guess I'm still working my lasting impressions out.

Plunked by Michael Northop
Scholastic, 2012
Realistic Fiction: Sports
247 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

Who loves sports books??  Not me!  But I read them from time to time.  Just because I don't dig a play-by-play of really any sport, doesn't mean my students feel the same way.  

But here's the thing:  I loved this book!  Northrop is well versed in the game of baseball, there is no question there.  But writing a middle grade novel about baseball isn't just about writing good sports plays, you've got to create likable and genuine characters.  I've just about gagged on the phony dialogue of some other popular sports book authors, so it was thrilling to find myself liking main character Jack!

The play-by-play:  Jack is a 6th grader and passionate about his Little League team.  Things are going great for him until he is hit in the head with a fast pitch.  After the minor injury Jack is more shaken inside than out, and begins to silently battle the option of giving in to his fear of returning to the game over the extreme love he has for his sport.  

One Dead Spy by Nathan Hale
Amulet Books, 2012
Graphic Novel: Historical Fiction
128 pages
Recommended for grades 4-8

WOW!  Go, buy it now.  Especially go buy it now if you teach history.  Let's start adding engaging books like this to our classroom libraries so that American history isn't so blah, and heavy on names and dates but laking those faces and people to really attach meaning and understanding to.  I don't care if that sentence was a mess, I'm pretty passionate about this book/series!

Nathan Hale tells the tale of how American spy Nathan Hale meets an untimely end.  As Hale (spy, not author) is standing under the tree in which he will be hanged, the hangman and a British officer begin reminiscing/arguing/discussing/questioning the events that lead up to that moment.  The rest is a flashback that takes readers to the beginnings of Hale's involvement in the Revolutionary War.  

I have to say I thought this one was more engaging that Sophia's War, and not just because it is a technicolor graphic novel.  The humor and facts behind the writing brought many more historical figures to life for me than Avi's latest did.  Plus, it doesn't look incredibly GIRLY.

In the earlier weeks of February I fell in absolute love with:
Simply hilarious and strangely endearing.  5 stars to this Dark Lord that finds himself trapped on our plane in the body of a puny human boy~Oh the Horror!

What I'm enjoying now & what I plan to read later this week:
This isn't a Newbery Honor book by accident!  And while we're on the subject, I'm very, very impressed with the selections of this year's Newbery Committee, way to make this award about the kids again!

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts & know what you've got on deck!



  1. I've been hearing such great things about One Dead Spy! I really must check it out this week.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I think the Hale books are going to be a great series! I can't wait for the next ones to come out!

  2. I'm reading Bomb right now too. I agree with you about this year's Newbery committee. Awesome selections this year.

    1. I keep telling EVERYONE I see that Bomb is an amazing book! I can't remember the last nonfiction book I was as riveted by as I am with this book.

  3. Bomb is indeed a great read. I'm intrigued by the Nathan Hale book and Plunked. I agree that many sports books are complete snoozers and I love sports.

    1. Hi Jeff! I think the Hale books should be making their way into many, many classrooms for grades 4-8. There are still skeptics out there on how awesome graphic novels can be, and this is a great opportunity to give GN readers the format they love while teaching them nonstop American history in a way they might actually retain.

  4. My daughter and I both really want to read Son! Last Spring we read the other two titles in the Giver trilogy while away on a trip. I think I should reread The Giver before reading it though. Do you think?

    1. Hi there Carrie :) I would say reread Giver. I had reread it this past summer, and I'm so glad I had read it so recently when I began Son, because it takes place where The Giver began. We hear about Jonas and his special assignment from a character that doesn't know him, so it is a totally new perspective on community living. I have never read the middle books in the series though, so I'm wondering how it connects with those books. Whatever you do, I can't wait to hear what you think!!

  5. Hi there Nicole, I'm a huge fan of The Giver series - our blog name is actually culled from Gathering Blue - but I have heard a lot of mixed reviews about Son - I'm glad to read your thoughts about it. I hope I get a chance to read it soon so I can form my own opinion about it. Have a great reading week ahead of you!

  6. I'm so glad you stopped by and lef this comment. Do you know how hard and down-right wrong it feels to say anything negative about Lowry's work?! Believe me, when I was a third through the book I never would have guessed my feelings would plummet about the storyline. I am very anxious to hear your opinion, since you are a diehard fan of the series! Please let me know when you post your review so I can check it out!


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