It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6-3-13

Thanks to Jen & Kelle for hosting!  Check out what they've been reading at Teach Mentor Texts.
Well, you can't love them all, and this week I'm sharing some candid opinions with you.  Don't agree with me, tell me!  I love to hear others' thoughts on the books I've read.  After all, the reason we write blogs and visit blogs is to share our thoughts and opinions.

Books I Read this Week:

Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup
Candlewick, 2013
272 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

A wonderful book for those girls that are starting to look at that boy in math class with new interest.  That is, this is a good fit for those boy crazy girls, as protagonist Adela becomes rather obsessed with a love interest in the second half of the story. 
Overall the book did not wow me.  It was immediately evident what the mystery of Lady Hortensia's garden was, and since the magic garden was the most intriguing part of the book, it quickly became tiresome.  At about the midpoint of the book I felt that the story was over, and what followed felt like a poorly done sequel smushed in with the original book.

Doll Bones by Holly Black, illustrations by Eliza Wheeler
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013
244 pages
Recommended for grades 4-8

For starters, best cover I've seen in a long time.  Secondly, Holly Black is a genius, and if her name is on the cover I want to read the book.  
What I loved:  
Three kids on the verge of middle school (Poppy, Alice and Zach) play an in-depth imaginary game, each playing their own characters.  The characters and the plot of the game is written by the children as they think it up.  The game holds them together and perhaps stalls growing up. 
The Queen, an antique doll sitting in a shelf behind glass doors, rules over all the game's characters from her glass tower.  She is scary because...well, have you seen the cover...  What more perfect object of creepiness is there than a china doll?  Many of us have had to sleep in a room when away from home that had a china doll sitting somewhere nearby.  Good luck falling asleep with that thing waiting to come to life as soon as you shut your eyes!
Anyway, when The Queen turns out to be more than just a doll, but instead the earthly remains of a ghost child, the three friends decide to help her rest in peace by undertaking a quest that most certainly can't be a good idea.

What bothered me was that I truly was lead on to believe that the ghost girl was an evil little thing.  Maybe that is in part because I was anticipating it so much, but it was also in part due to some clues in the story.  So, when she wasn't living up to my evil expectations I was a little bummed out.

But no matter how you go into this story, looking for evil or not, you will come out of it having enjoyed one wildly creative middle grade tale of friendship and growing up, disguised as one spooky ride.  

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco
Knopf, 2013
Historical Fiction/Fantasy
336 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

Just go get your hands on this one.  I loved every bit of this book, and will not even attempt to tell you why, because I can't.  There is something in this book that gently takes your hand and pulls you along on Bee's journey.  If you loved Wonder, and I know you all did, then perhaps you will come to this story with a deep understanding of how hard it is to wear your differences on the outside, and how cruelly you can be treated because of it.  How one reacts and finds their way in spite of that hardship is what makes Bee such an interesting character.

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas written by Jim Ottaviani, illustrated by Maris Wicks
First Second, 2013
Graphic Novel
144 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

Whoa was I excited for this one!  After loving Ivan my third graders researched animal relationships (between humans and/or other animals).  The topics vary widely, but I knew this book, that takes them back to the root of primate and human relationships, would pique their interests.

However, the story feels too jumbled to me.  We meet Jane Goodall, then Louis Leakey, then Dian Fossey, then Biruté Galdikas, and each time we meet a new character we must flashback to how they became players in the primate research game.  Some of the details shared were odd to put it mildly.  I don't think young readers need to know that Leakey was cheating on his wife with his secretary.
I do give credit to how the author pulled together all the points in these scientists' lives where they intersect, that must have taken a lot of careful research.  And yes, I certainly learned new information about all of the scientists, but I think they either could have had their own books, or this could have been longer and not so compacted.  The illustrations are wonderful!  

Though this book will appeal to younger grades, I would suggest it for 5th and up due to text and story complexities.

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

What are you enjoying this week?! 
You know I love to hear your thoughts!


  1. I cannot wait for my library to get Doll Bones and Beholding Bee. I've heard such amazing things about them both! I may have to break down and buy them, haha!

    1. I might just have to agree with you on needing to buy them both. After reading them I know I need to own them!! :)

  2. I have Doll Bones at home! I should start that one this week. This will be my first middle grade Holly Black book. I LOVE her Curse Workers series. Have a great reading week! Here is what I am working on

    1. I haven't read Holly Black's older works, so maybe I should just do that one of these days!

  3. SO JEALOUS ABOUT THE PRIMATE GN!!! I want to read it so bad!!!
    Also, Doll Bones is haunting me-- it is next to me right now and it is on every blog I read!

    Happy reading this week! :)

    1. The Queen will haunt you-until you do what she wants, so read her book! I look forward to your review of Primates, since you are so strongly anticipating it. Happy reading week to you too, and here's to hoping we all enjoy a little sunshine!

  4. The Mock Newbery group is now reading Doll Bones-must be somewhat interesting. You've certainly made me want to read Beholding Bee-sounds very good. And I really want to read Pug, the poetry book. It looks very sweet. Thanks for the good reviews!

    1. Hi Linda, thanks for stoping by and sharing your thoughts. I didn't know the Mock Newbery group was reading Doll Bones, I'd love to hear people discuss this book. It's great writing reviews and reading reviews, but I really want to hash some parts of that book out! The book is very cleverly written, a lot packed into that story. Bee is cool, you get quite a twist in the second part of the story.

  5. I am so pleased you loved Beholding Bee! I adored it and think it has so much to make it a must read title. Don't you love those aunts? And wow, is the character of Bee so special and strong. I just loved this novel!

    1. I know, Bee is amazing. And those aunts are something pretty special themselves! This is a book that is meant to be read, shared and discussed. It's not a sit down, enjoy and move on kind of book. There are so many great books I would use in my classroom if I taught 5th or 6th grade...I might need to move up in grades one of these days.

  6. Beholding Bee is on the TBR and it sounds like I need to move it on up in the pile! I hear you on Doll Bones being misleading . . . that cover just looks so creepy. I almost anticipated needing to sleep with the lights on before I started, but after getting into it, while it has it's creepy moments it is the adventure and friendships that dominate. I keep telling everyone I've talked to about it that you need to go beyond the cover!


    1. Bee is one that you've got to get to :) It has been one of the stronger titles I've read of 2013s, and even though I was a bit disappointed by lack of scariness from Doll Bones, I'd say it is one of 2013s best so far too! I think I really expected an evil ghost when the crazy guy on the bus says "the blonde one will hurt you and like it," or something along those lines. And then the camp...well, I was expecting things to play out differently. BUT, I still love it.


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