It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6-10-13

Visit Teach Mentor Texts to see what Jen & Kelle have been reading, and to find a list of other participating bloggers sharing book love this Monday!

I have four, count 'em, four(!!) days until summer vacation.  And while I have yet to enjoy the type of summer vacation most people imagine teachers taking, it is, nonetheless, a break from the rather hectic pace known as: the school year.

I'm hoping to maintain my reading stamina throughout the summer.  I will be continuing to work double jobs while also pulling together my end of summer wedding!   I'm confident that I won't lose the desire to carve out some reading time no matter how busy (or lazy) my summer days might be.

What about you, do you amp up your reading time, or do you find yourself reading less once summer is upon you?

Books I Read this Week:

A Girl Called Problem: a novel by Katie Quirk
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2013
243 pages
Multicultural/Realistic Fiction
Recommended for grades 5-8

Shida is a thirteen year old girl carrying around a family curse and a name that does little to let anyone forget it: Problem.  When the members of Shida's African village, Litongo, decide to move to Tanzania for greater opportunities, Shida is thrilled.  In Tanzania Shida will be able to go to school as well as have the chance to learn more about medicine and healing from the nurse.  
But once Shida's friends and family have settled in Tanzania they find that the welcome they had hoped for is not reality.  The young girls face strong opposition to their schooling, even by one of the two school teachers.  As Shida tries to find a way in her new home she must also carry with her the hardships from her former life in Litongo, including a mother that shows little interest in much of anything lately.
With each chapter opening with an African proverb, young readers will be exposed to a vastly different lifestyle than the one they live here in America.  Wisdom, kindness, deep love and utter betrayal pack themselves well into this 240 page story.
The glossary in the back of the book illuminates some of the language used in the novel and also includes photographs and author insights.
I enjoyed accompanying Shida throughout this story and hope many other girls, young and old, will enjoy it just as much!

Bad Girls, by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Stemple, illustrated by Rebecca Guay
Charlesbridge, 2013
164 pages
Recommended for grades 6+

I was reading this the other day when my friend poked the cover and said: "Jane Yolen, as in Owl Moon?"  It goes without saying (though I'm saying it anyway), Jane Yolen can't be pigeonholed.   In this interesting creation Yolen and her daughter team up to explore some 26 Bad Girls from around the world.  2011's How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg and Kevin O'Malley shares a similar format with Bad Girls.  Both books have short nonfiction (with pizazz) chapters on particular historical figures.  Both books share the not so glamorous sides of those public figures, and both books are incredibly fun to read!
Each chapter is dedicated to one or two bad girls, and what follows is a short comic depicting mother Yolen and daughter Yolen debating the accused bad girl of her guilt or innocence, though it's never as clear as one or the other.  
My only qualm about rating this book so highly is that I don't think it truly delves deeply into any one of the bad girls' lives.  I knew a lot more about some of these women than others, and because of that some chapters interested and informed me, while others made me want to say, wait a minute, there's more to this story!

Pug and Other Poems by Valerie Worth, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Margaret Ferguson Books, 2013
40 pages
Recommended for all ages!

Valerie Worth is a master or words.  We know her for taking the simple and putting the most perfect words with it.  Be it a chair or a cow, Valerie can help us see it and appreciate it in an entirely new way.  So of course, we expect nothing less of her here!  Each short animal poem in this little collection is as darling and as true as we could ever hope to find.  And the illustrations, the illustrations bring this to a new level.  Steve Jenkins' beautiful collage work will have you appreciating the time and attention to detail of each animal image.  This is needed in all of our poetry collections!
(Published posthumously)

I'm Currently Reading:

I'm Currently Listening to:

On Deck:

Thanks for stopping by, as always, I love to hear your thoughts! 


  1. Hi there Nicole. Pug looks really cute. Brave Girl also reminded me of another picture book of the same theme: Imogene's Last Stand - she's also a flag-bearing, placard-carrying kind of girl. :)

    1. Haven't read Imogene's Last Stand yet, just looked it up. I love Candace Fleming! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Quite a week for such a busy life! I'm not done with the school year, either.

    I loved Bad Girls - but I agree with you on the length of each chapter. I'm hoping it will inspire kids to THINK about what they hear about historical figures and perhaps to go deeper into the lives of one of these women they find intriguing.

    1. Absolutely, I think the comic sections of the book are good conversation starters for kids that might be reading this with others, or kids that simply want to begin the conversation with others that know of the women in question. As much as I sometimes found those sections unauthentic, they do serve a purpose to the flow of the book.
      The histories were fun to read, I could have read on and on and on!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Bad Girls looks like enormous fun! I'm pretty sure I recall a book called "A Girl Named Disaster." Any connection?

    1. I've never heard of that one, not sure if there is a connection there...might have to investigate! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. A Girl Called Problem looks fantastic. It is on my TBR list. It is a goal of mine to read more books set in different countries and Africa is always so wonderfully intense as a setting. Our book club recently read Listening for Lions set in 1919 - the novel starts and ends in Africa. A wonderful read.

    1. Hi Carrie! I have Listening for Lions, but haven't read it yet. Knowing you enjoyed it, and used it for a book club, assures me that it must be good! Have you read A Long Walk to Water? Amazingly powerful story. Other multicultural books I've enjoyed in the past few years include: Bamboo People, Trash (although not based in one actual location), Between Shades of Gray, No Ordinary Day, A Game for Swallows, and Endangered. Just had fun flipping through one of my notebooks with book notes :)


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