It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1-13-14

Visit our hosts Jen & Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their reviews as well as links to all the other bloggers 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 Key & the Flame by Claire M. Caterer
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013
469 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

As I was moving through this story I had just the right student in mind to give it to next.  Because this book is certainly not for the average reader, this book is one for our readers that love getting lost in a book, the longer-the better.   And my little Harry Potter loving reader will have fun with this hefty fantasy.

I loved the beginning of this book.  A family moves to the English countryside for a summer, a key is bestowed on a young girl, and time/dimension travel commences.  Things then became almost tiresome for me as I read hundreds of pages about three children trying to find their way back home.  But even though I found myself bogged down, I think the story will still be plenty fun for kids.

Battling Boy by Paul Pope
First Second, 2013
Graphic Novel-Fantasy
202 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8

Cool cover, right?  Actually, I think the covers of all my reads this week are pretty excellent.
I can't say I enjoyed this book, but that's simply because I am not a 5th or 6th grade boy, not because the book isn't awesome...because I'm pretty sure it is...

Battling Boy is sent away from his home planet for his coming of age testing at age 13.  And his task, to get rid of some baddies.  Good thing the planet he lands on is riddled with them.  
The pace of the action and the style of the drawings makes this book zoom by at a breakneck pace.  My favorite characters in this book are the creepy, covered in mummy-like wrappings, creatures that are praying on kids in the opening scene.  They are topnotch as far as thingsyoudon'twantcatchingyou goes.

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K. G. Campbell
Candlewick Press, 2013
233 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

Awe, all of my favorite children's literature two of her characters have melted my heart like no other: a mouse named Despereaux and a china rabbit named Edward.   But now I've met Flora the cynic and Ulysses the squirrel poet, and the heart melts again.

If there are two things I can say I know about Kate DiCamillo they would be that she loves the art of crafting words and can do so in ways to help us open our hearts to the beings and places around us, and that she truly believes in the power of light and illumination.

I was scared to read this book.  I won't lie about it...I've had it on my shelf for months now.  I needn't have been frightened of being let down, for I love Flora and Ulysses.  Not like I love the mouse and the rabbit, but in a different and much their own kind of way.

This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J. Cavanaugh
Sourcebooks, 2013
Realistic Fiction
307 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

Rachel/Ratchet is a young girl that wants to know more about her mother and wants to make a friend.  Being home-schooled, Ratchet spends all of her time with her mechanic father, learning more about how to put an engine back together than she learns about long-division.  The journal Ratchet keeps is one of her homeschool assignments, filled with a wide variety of writing forms.  It is through these poems and essays and fables and narratives that we learn of Ratchet's inner workings.

All her life Ratchet has missed her deceased mother.  With only one of her mother's possessions, Ratchet feels like she doesn't really know much of anything about her mother.  In working to uncover details about her mother, Ratchet discovers more than she anticipated.  
My heart broke and soared for Ratchet through the ups and downs of her quest to learn more about her mother, and through her first encounter with real friendship.

I am quite sure that if Ratchet's dad met me in real life he wouldn't like me though.  I'm not sure if he could like anyone except someone exactly like himself.  His preachy and insulting ways completely turn me off from him as a character, and I'm not sure if I ever warmed up to him.  If I did, it was fleeting. 

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you are staying warm and enjoying some good books :)


  1. I have both Flora & Ulysses and This Journal Belongs to Ratchet on my shelf. Both are titles I want to get to soon. Thanks for these great reviews! Looks like you got some fantastic reading done this week!

    1. I happened to have the opportunity to hole myself up for most of Sunday, and was able to read, and read, and read! I book talked Ratchet today and both guys and girls were begging to be the first reader, which I was pleased with since the cover is supremely girly. Have a great week Carrie!

  2. I enjoyed Far, Far Away. I was strange and different and captivating. Definitely not for every reader. I love the cover of VIII and every time I see it on my shelf I think I should grab it. Have a great week! ~Megan

    1. I am listening to Far, Far Away, and it is so amazing so far! I love the reader's voice and it's safe to say I am very intrigued with where this story is headed. :)

  3. I loved Flora & Ulysses so much!! I am saying this in small font, but I don't actually like Edward Tulane or Despereaux AT ALL. I know, I know! I don't know what's wrong with me! At some point, I am going to read both of those titles aloud to my kids and I am hoping that I will have a better appreciation of them when I read them aloud to actual children! (Funny how sharing with kids can change one's perception of a story!) So I was worried that I wouldn't like Flora & Ulysses, but I adored it. (And read it aloud to my 11 yo son, who also liked it very much.) I really want to read Far, Far Away before ALA prizes are announced at the end of the month, but doubt I get to it. Thanks for sharing Battling Boy--looks like one my 5th grader would like, so I'll be on the lookout for it.

    1. Haha, it's a good thing you typed that confession in imaginary small font! I am crossing my fingers that you will find a way to love those stories after sharing them with actual kids ;) It can totally happen though-I truly disliked Joey Pigza but decided to read it aloud years ago to a particularly rowdy class. They loved the story and I found I was able to see it through new eyes with them. I'm about an hour into the audio of Far Far Away, and it is awesome thus far! If you can squeeze it in you might be glad you did!

  4. I've heard great things about Far, Far, Away. That is definitely in my pile to read at some point!

    1. I went right into this title blindly, not knowing an ounce about what the story was about, and I'm having a great time as it unfolds!

  5. I gave my daughter a copy of Flora & Ulysses this Christmas, but she hasn't gotten around to reading it yet, as she is still deeply into Harry Potter's first book. I would be recommending this though to my book club of young readers in two weeks' time. Hopefully, my booktalk works so I'd finally be given a reason to read a Kate DiCamilo novel (haven't read Desperaux or Tulane yet). Thank you for sharing all this Nicole.

    1. If you have time I would recommend Despereaux with all my heart! It is one of my absolute favorites-ever! :)

  6. So glad that you enjoyed Flora and Ulysses - it's a quirky read, but I loved it.

    1. Yes, good fun, smart fun too! And I loved the illustrations!

  7. So glad you enjoyed Flora and Ulysses. I completely understand your trepidation about approaching a new book by a beloved author. I thought F&U was very quirky, but in a delightful way. It made for a great read aloud with my youngest. Have a great week!


    1. I should have known though...I mean as far as writing goes, she's certainly got a way with it :)


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