It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1-27-14

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!
Get your library cards out!

Books I Read this Week:

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal
Knopf, 2013
Fantasy (reads like realistic fiction)
384 pages
Recommended for grades 6+

Oh no...I'm finished this audio book.  I could have been a part of this story for many more weeks than I was.  I'm not sure how the book reads, but I can say that this is a masterfully done audio book.  I'm guessing the book does just fine on its own, based on the immediate way I was drawn into this world.
This book will work for readers that love stories.  Like really love the art, simplicity and depth that all are a part of a good story.
In this unique tale readers follow Jeremy Johnson Johnson and his companion, the ghost of Jacob Grimm.  Yes, you read that correctly.  And if you're not already a wild fan of the Grimm brother's, you might just find the room in your heart after reading Jacob's narration of this story.
To give an overview of the plot of this story I would have to be extremely vague, or go on and on and on, neither or which would do the book any favors.  So, I will just say that this is an unexpected, captivating. and beautiful story of relationships and motives.  And of course, it's also about the power of stories.

VIII by H. M. Castor
Simon & Schuster, 2013
Historical Fiction
432 pages
Recommended for grades 8+

If you're like me, and many students we have might be, the only thing that comes to mind when I think of Henry the 8th is: the famous portrait of a portly man with a plumed hat of some kind, a number of wives, and a number of them dead.  Pathetic, I knew nothing of this legendary king.
VIII opens when Henry, Hal, is only a young boy.  Readers spend the majority of this lengthy novel getting to know Henry as a youth and then as a young man.  And guess what, he was loving and athletic and motivated.  But as we know, Henry the 8th did have his flaws.  Plagued by a vision for most of his life, Henry made some decisions based on a reality he was the only one a part of.
History comes to life when we read novels like this.  In the conclusion of the novel the author explains of the in-depth research that began long, long ago, and resulted in a masterfully created window into the life of Henry the 8th.  I was fascinated by what I read, and have quite a better understanding of how this man's life played out.
And this is why I say to the American education system: Goodbye text books, hello historical fiction.  

Explore! The Most Dangerous Journeys of All Time by Deborah Kespert
Thames & Hudson, 2013
96 pages
Recommended for grades 4-8

Divided into six sections: Polar, Ocean, Land, Desert, Sky and New Frontiers, each filled with information about the world's bravest and cutting edge explorers.  From the 1400s to the late 1900s, readers can travel the world with record breaking and record setting explorers. 
The format is easy to read and visually appealing.

Explorer: The Lost Islands edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Amulet, 2013
126 pages
Recommended for grades 3+

Just as he did with The Mystery Boxes, Kibuishi brings us another visually stunning collection of themed short stories.  This time the theme weaving these drastically different stories is that of being on or near an island.
With so many different styles of writing and artwork, there is surely something for all readers to enjoy.  I will certainly be adding this to my classroom library!  And I have to admit, Kibuishi steals the show again (at least for me), with his stunning artwork.

Two stand out picture books I read this week:

My students loved the artwork in this book.  At one point I had to laugh and remind them that they were 10 year olds and had to let me read the words before they went wild trying to find the baby bear in each picture. 

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

Thanks for stopping by!  I enjoy hearing your thoughts!
Have a great reading week :)


  1. I love the cover of Explore! Another non-fiction title to add to my list! One Came Home looks like an interesting read! Thanks for sharing these. Happy reading this week, Nicole! =)

    1. Yes, a very cool cover for Explorer! One Came Home has been great so far! Thanks for stopping by, and a great week to you too!

  2. Wow! So many fabulous books here! I had heard of Far, Far, Away but had not read a summary yet. I am absolutely more interested after reading your summary! I also think the book about Henry VIII sounds really interesting and I will have to look for Explorer as well. Have a great reading week!

    1. Oh, your comment makes me so happy! These books were so amazing, so I am stoked to help in getting anyone interested in reading them! Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!! A great week to you too!

  3. Explore sounds so interesting! I've got to get that one. I'm reading Far Far Away right now and finding it quite absorbing. I just checked One Came Home out from the library--I love it when I have the new award winners that I haven't read yet already sitting on my shelf! Will probably read that next.

    1. Absorbing is such the right word for describing Far Far Away! I was excited when they announce One Came Home today too :)

  4. I bet Far, Far Away was amazing on audio! I read a digital ARC and found it so compelling. I need to get on that Henry VIII book. Have a great week! ~Megan

    1. You should probably go back and listen to it ;) I kind of want to start it all over again myself. VIII is awesome, I can wholeheartedly say it kept my attention, entertained me, and educated me. Have a great week!

  5. BELOW has such a compelling cover. Definitely one that makes me want to read it!

    1. Yeah, the premise of the book sounds very unique too. Looking forward to that one. :) Have a great week!

  6. One Came Home was a favourite title that I read in the Spring and it has stuck with me. I found the whole premise so unique and loved the main character. I can see The Bear's Song having that effect in the classroom!


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