It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 11-4-13

Visit our hosts Jen & Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their reviews as well as links to all the other blogs participating in the book sharing fun!

Books I Read this Week:

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff
Delacorte, 2013
464 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

I found myself longing for this story to reach a conclusion so that I could be done with it.  The majority of the characters annoyed me, especially heroine Jemma's parents and siblings.  Conflicts were resolved in the most eye rolling way possible, with Jemma so easily tricking and manipulating her way out of situations.  I listened to the audio and had to repeatedly turn the volume down since there was so much screeching and was painful at times.  Though the book isn't one of my favorites, young readers that enjoy epic fantasies might find this appealing. 

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes
Wordsong, 2013
Poetic Narrative
84 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

A simply told story of a young daydreamer struggling with her parents' separation and her enrollment in a new school.  Students that treasure words and the art of daydreaming will relate to the main character.  I would happily add this to my classroom library.

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson with Marilyn J. Harran & Elisabeth B. Leyson
Atheneum, 2013
232 pages
Recommended for grades 5+

Leon Leyson recounts the six year period in which he and his family struggled to survive each and every day under Nazi oppression.  Leyson pays tribute to the risks taken by Oskar Schindler, knowing that without his name on the infamous Schindler's list, Leyson and his family would not have survived.
Unlike many Holocaust stories written for children/adolescents, this one is directly from the mouth of a survivor who was only a boy himself during the nightmare.  Leyson's boyhood youth resonates through his voice on each page, and it is this style of writing that will help to keep the story accessible to young readers.  Though there were multitudes of horrors endured during the Holocaust, nothing here is explicit or too raw for young readers.  I would feel safe letting this be an early introduction to the Holocaust to students as young as 5th grade, and it could serve as a wonderful new perspective for readers with more background on the Holocaust.
I love this book.

Scary Tales: Home Sweet Horror by James Preller
Feiwel & Friends, 2013
87 pages
Recommended for grades 3-4

I love scary tales, I never tire of the horror genre!  This short novel is perfect for grades 3-4, where some readers are wanting some of the edgier tales that are just out of their grasp skills wise.  In this scary tale the Finn family moves into a new house only to find that they are not the only inhabitants.  Liam and his sister invite the spirit of Bloody Mary into the home, and they live to regret it!

As a classroom teacher and literature lover, I have a hard time including titles in my classroom library simply because they are easier reads.  Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, Bailey School Kids, etc. might be the reading level many students that pass through my door need, but my goal is to find better options to replace those tired series with.  We don't need to insult our developing readers, we need to always be on the look-out for titles titles our students can access and enjoy!

Currently Reading:

Currently Listening to:

On Deck:

Have a fun reading week!
Thanks for stopping by.


  1. Nicole - I so agree with you about The Boy on the Wooden Box. While I have already lent it to three adults - my Mom, Dad and building engineer - all who loved it and got teary, I also think that this is a title my children might be able to handle - although I might do it with them as a read aloud so that we can talk as we go. An important story for sure.

    1. I love that you pass books around like that! We need more book passers in the world :) I think it is a good idea to read this one with your kids, there is so much power in the sharing of a reading experience. This book will certainly prompt much discussion and new understandings. I remember when I was in school reading Number the Stars, thinking the Holocaust was so long ago. It wasn't until years later that I realized that it WASN'T that long ago, and that realization was heartbreaking and astounding to me.

  2. As the parent of two developing readers, I certainly appreciate high-quality children's books! Some books just don't make for good read-alouds--the quality of the writing simply isn't strong enough. Thanks for sharing these titles! I'll definitely be looking for Scary Tales and Words with Wings!

  3. I have heard The Screaming Staircase is great! I am kind of struggling to finish his Bartimaeus Trilogy, but I am going to give this new series a whirl. Have a great week!

    1. This is a new author to me-I think, the book is at home right now-but it was recommended by two women on my book committee and one former student!

  4. Hello there Nicole. Thanks for sharing your candid thoughts about the books you're sharing here - so refreshing. The Boy on the Wooden Box sounds like a novel that would resonate with me - I shall have to find that one soonest. My eleven year old is a Goosebumps fanatic, so I have a feeling she'd enjoy "Scary Tales: Home Sweet Horror by James Preller" - will look for that one too. Have a great reading week!

    1. Thanks for your comment Myra-it's tough sometimes to be honest online, since there is potential for upsetting people. I just finished sharing a review for Boy on the Wooden Box with my book committee, and find that my fondness for this book grows long after finishing it. I hope your 11 year old likes Scary Tales, it is much shorter than Goosebumps, but might be a fun change in writing style. :)


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