It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4-14-14

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers.
Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews!

Books I Read this Week:

Sorry You’re Lost by Matt Blackstone
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014
Realistic Fiction
320 pages (ARC details)
Recommended for grades 7-9

Well, this was a tough one.  This story opens with 7th grade Denny riding home from his mother’s funeral.  Next chapter: fast forward three and a half months to Denny in school.  

Within a month prior to me starting this story, one of my own students lost his mother.  The parallels between what I was seeing in my own student, and the stream of consciousness running through Denny’s mind, certainly got me thinking.  It was definitely hard for me to read this book right now, but it was also healing in a way.

Denny shows us that we can be totally lost, in every sense, but can eventually be found again, by ourselves and by others.  

I’d keep it geared to 7th graders and up due to some of the language in the book.

Sparky by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Chris Appelhans
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2014
Recommended for all!

After seeing this book shared on Carrie’s blog I just had to read it for myself!  Immediately after reading through it I knew something else, my 4th graders were going to love this story!  Just look at that little sloth on the cover...and his name: Sparky!  How can anyone resist?

I love the quick thinking, feisty little girl that gets around her mother’s stipulations on which pet she can have- “ long as it doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed” -by hitting up the local librarian for her smarts.  Once deciding on the perfect candidate it arrives by airmail, perhaps my favorite page:

The art reminds me of another of my favorites: Jon Klassen, and the kids pointed this out as well :)

Hi, Koo! by Jon J. Muth
Scholastic Press, 2014
32 pages
Recommended for grades 1-4

If Jon J. Muth paints it, I will buy it.  There is something so perfectly real and also perfectly magical about all of his work.  

The author’s note at the start of this collection of poems informs readers of how Haiku originated in Japan and was made up of 17 sound parts called on, divided into 3 lines of 5, 7, 5 on.  These Japanese sound parts do not translate into English syllables and Muth points out that, our rule of 5, 7, 5 syllables is not in fact not something we should feel bound to when writing Haiku.  I love that.  Haiku is a bit more free for me now, not having to adhere to a rigid structure, but instead, writing an “instant captured in words.”

The poems are divided into seasons, and as Haikus go, are simple and short.  My favorite image in the book comes in a spring time poem when our beloved panda has accidentally stepped on a bug, killing it:

Oh, what emotion is a single image!  My other favorite image-yes, I can have more than one!-is the final image in the book.  It’s so sweet you’ve just got to see it for yourself...

I'm Currently Reading:

On Deck:

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a fabulous week!


  1. Yep. Totally agree the art in Sparky has a Jon Klassen feel to it. The picture of Sparky in the box is too funny. :)

    1. Haha, I just can't help but laugh at that image! Of course a sloth would arrive via airmail just like that!

  2. I want Sparky! Or maybe I actually want a sloth...Have a great week! ~Megan

    1. Yes, we all need a little time with Sparky! ;)

  3. Sparky is adorable! And being featured on many blog posts this week! I also featured Hi, Koo last week on my post - I love Jon Muth's illustrations and this book is a wonderful mentor text for teaching haiku to my students. I read Zombie Baseball Meltdown earlier this year with my son who is in 8th grade and who loves zombies! I really enjoyed the writing - great voice and great characters. I'm not a zombie fan but thought the book had a lot of themes that could be used for great discussions. Thanks for sharing your titles!

    1. Zombie is one of the titles on our state reading list, and I have to admit that I was a little surprised. Of course, that was before I had read is so much more than a zombie story. I am really enjoying the depth the author has taken in exploring racial issues in our country, in a way that leaves plenty of room for kids to explore their own thinking. Thanks for letting me know your 8th grade son loved it! Helpful info.

  4. Sorry You're Lost sounds like a powerful read. Thanks for sharing. I will also have to look for Sparky! Have a great reading week!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Andrea. Sorry You're Lost does have some power behind it. It might be especially powerful in giving kids perspective into the ways people cope with loss (as well as many other issues that bring out various sides of oneself).

  5. Love Sparky! So many fun images and lines. I really love the moment when they're playing and it turns out that Sparky is very good at playing statue. Too funny.

    1. I laughed at the part where the girl gives Sparky the cookie and then takes it back because he takes too long to eat it. Ha, does that make me rather evil?!

  6. That page in Sparky! is also one of my favourites. I shared this with adults friends who came for dinner and one of them must have read the book 3 times - loving it! I am so glad that you adored it as well - it might be my favourite PB so far this year. Hope you are well - feeling good?

    1. You know a PB is awesome when you want to share it with adults just as much as with kids! We read another of your recommendations aloud yesterday morning: The Invisible Boy. At least, I'm assuming I got that one from you! I am feeling very good, sleeping is officially tough at this point, but otherwise it's all good. I am feeling bummed that I haven't gotten any wild cravings. No moments where I turn to Ted and crazily tell him I MUST have _______. ;)

  7. That Zombie Baseball Beatdown looks absolutely fascinating - and from Paolo Bacigalupi too! :) I think I am horribly late now to the Sparky and Hi Koo! Party - looking forward to finding both books in the public library soon. :)


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