It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12-30-13

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!  There are so many new books to discover, and so many great conversations to be a part of!

Books I Read this Week:

The Ability by M.M. Vaughan
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013
330 pages
Recommended for grades 5-7

Set in London, readers follow 12-year-old Chirs Lane-from expulsion from school to acceptance into the mysterious Myers Holt School.  Not sure if he should leave his depressed mother alone, Chris goes back and forth on deciding whether to head off to boarding school, or stay at home.  His decision is made easier when Myers Holt steps in to assure Chris that his mother's needs will be taken care of while he is away. Free to enroll, Chris discovers that Myers Holt is a school where he and 7 other 12-year-olds will learn how to control their amazing abilities.
But school isn't only about training, it becomes life and death when former Myers Holt students, now powerful and respected adults, turn up murdered.
Chris finds himself part of an amazing adventure that I had a great time tagging along on!
The ending leaves you longing to open unwritten book 2!

The Animal Book by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin, 2013
Nonfiction Informational
207 pages
Recommended for...Everyone!

Last year I fell in love with The Beetle Book, but this year I was blow away with where Jenkins took us next!  Each page in this 200 plus page book contains information on countless animals, information that I bet will surprise you!

Do you know how many eggs a termite queen lays per hour, around the clock, for 30 years or more?  page 36-37 might shock you!

Do you know which ant will self-destruct in order to save its colony?  pg. 100-101

Animal sizes and shapes, defenses and extremes, hunting and surviving, from thriving to endangered to extinct, this book is full of information that keeps surprising. 

If readers are too young to truly read the text, there is so much visual beauty to be celebrated here, making it a book for all ages!

What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Houghton Mifflin, 2013
65 pages
Recommended for grades 7+

An interesting text filled with poems on love, loss, bravery and more.  I initially thought this to be a poetry book I could use in my 4th grade classroom, but upon reading it was proved wrong!  These poems seem best suited for adults with the life experience to understand their meanings deeply.  
The whimsical illustrations are captivating!

My favorite:
Time Spells (pg. 20)

Part II.

O sweet Time:
stretch like a sleepy dog,
slow and languid and warm
with flickering light.

Let the fire of this moment-
with my friends beside me-
                      and burn
                                                   and burn.

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

I'm excited about this new I got for Christmas!  I will be reading it slowly, savoring all the advice I can get :)

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful reading week...even if it means school is starting and your reading time is going to be majorly encroached upon! 


  1. I just finished The Menagerie and thought it was a fun book. The Ability looks really good, I may have to check it out. I just picked up American Dust Bowl from the library, hoping to crack it open this week. Enjoy!

    What we are reading

    1. I can see kids enjoying the idea of a menagerie filled with those types of animals! I have to say that I enjoyed The Ability much more though!

  2. I loved THE NAZI HUNTERS! Reading that book was like watching the plot of a spy movie unfold. So good!

  3. I also am a huge fan of anything Steve Jenkins! I bought this book but haven't read it yet. Excited to share it with both my children and my class! I love just being able to share a page or two at a time of all of his books! Have you read How to Clean a Hippopotamus? One of my favourites!

    1. I have not read Hippopotamus-I will have to look for it! I had an informational animal book when I was growing up and I just remember reading bits of it over and over, and learning to draw by looking closely at the illustrations. I now have my childhood copy in my classroom library :) Animal Book will be one of those books for lots of kids.

  4. Hello there Nicole, I've been wishing to get my hands on What the Heart Knows for the longest time, I have a feeling it would resonate deeply with me. I love books such as these. The Great American Dust Bowl looks like a book that my daughter would also love. Your review of "The Animal Book" also convinced me to find it in our libraries next. Thanks for sharing all this. Have a wonderful New Year filled with books and reading!

    1. Hi Myra-
      What the Heart Knows really caught me off guard! I was expecting a very different book, however I was not at all disappointed. I'm reviewing Dust Bowl next week, but I will say that I'm glad graphic novels are moving into the nonfiction realm, there are lots of kids that feel more confident reading that format. Have a great week!


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