Sunday, June 14, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 6-15-15

It's summer time, and the reading is great!
It's been a few weeks since I've last shared my reading week. A lot has happened in that time. I wrapped up my short lived career as a private school teacher and happily accepted a new position as a fourth grade teacher in a public school. I am looking forward to the next school year already! (This might be because I've already have a couple of weeks of summer vacation by now and have taken my big "Ahhhh, it's summer time" sigh of relief!) If you're not on vacation yet, hang in there, it's coming!!
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've Recently Read:

The Chronicles of the Black Tulip: The Vanishing Island, Book One by Barry Wolverton
Walden Pond Press, 2015
352 pages
Recommended for grades 5-8 (publisher recommends 3-7)

Follow this link to visit my second post of the day, the first stop on The Vanishing Island Blog Tour! Read the publisher's summary, meet author Barry Wolverton, get to know main character Bren Owen, and enter to win a signed ARC of the book before it comes out this September!

When I was asked to participate in the blog tour for The Vanishing Island I was thrilled! I brought the ARC to school and handed it off to one of my most voracious readers, knowing she would devour it and give me some great student feedback. Well, I handed the book off to a third grader before having read it myself. Forehead slap. Her initial comment as she handed it back: "It was more gory than I thought it would be. I mean, I expect that from A Tale Dark and Grimm, but this one just caught me off guard! It was so gross in the vomitorium!".... I was intrigued. And luckily, she was not truly bothered by the story, but after reading it myself I would hesitate adding it to a third grade classroom library.

Is the story gross and gory, yeah it is. But it also has rich layers of loss and longing. Of being the one that feels isolated and put down. Of having the need to leave behind a former self and set out to find who you are meant to be. Lots of action, mystery, murder, and of course, a wide open door at the end for book two!

Hypnotize a Tiger: Poems about just about everything by Calef Brown
Christy Ottaviano Books, 2015
138 pages
Recommended for grades 2+

I am so thankful for this blogging community, as it was on Carrie's blog There's a Book for That that I came across this title! I love the whimsical illustrations, and got a kick out of the poetry. Younger readers will enjoy the artwork and the way the poems bounce around in their mouths. Older readers will enjoy the artwork (of course!) and will pick up on all the word play throughout! I especially enjoyed: Bubble Crumbs :)

"P.S. And remember: words are like friends. It helps to know lots- for sentences, paragraphs, stories and thoughts. (Not to mention sonnets, speeches, and choruses.) Hooray for dictionaries and thesauruses!" pg. 138

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder
Illustrated by Mary GrandPre
Crown Books, 2015
152 pages
Recommended for grades 2-5

Hmmm. I'm at a loss of how to begin. To keep it simple, this one wasn't for me. I couldn't buy into this story at all, it just never came to life for me. There are some heavy issues in this little story, but they weren't given the attention I felt they deserved. Perhaps this was on purpose, or perhaps the authors didn't want to take their young readership there. I don't know.

The Maine Coon's Haiku: and other poems for cat lovers by Michael J. Rosen
Illustrated by Lee White
Candlewick Press, 2015
56 pages
Recommended for grades 2+

I love this book! Each poem is about a different breed of cat, with a gorgeous illustration to treat our eyes. I want this book in my classroom! This collection feels so different from Rosen's The Cuckoo's Haiku: and Other Birding Poems. I love little things like: mud daises (muddy paw prints on cars). I brought a copy into school, and a student came up to me with book and hand and said: "I just want to curl up and read this in a quiet and dark room! The setting sun is such a good ending for the book." She then proceeded to tell me about her favorite poem, turned the page and told me that was another favorite, and the one on the next page was a favorite...etc, all while reading aloud favorite lines. That's solid feedback!

enormous Smallness: A story of E. E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess
Illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
Enchanted Lion Books, 2015
Picture Book Biography
64 pages
Recommended for grades 2+

Perfect in the simplistic, yet well fleshed out, telling of poet e.e. cummings. I have a new found fondness for the beloved American poet, and will certianly be sharing not only this book with future students, but more of his poems as well. I also adore the artwork in this book.

Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose
G. P. Putnam Sons., 2015
Historical Fiction/Novel in Verse
393 pages
Recommended for grades 4-8

Oh how I loved this book. I couldn't get enough of it! I have always had a fascination with Roanoke, and love a good historical novel. Written in verse readers are whisked alongside Alis, and English girl, and Kimi, a Roanoke native. The relationship the girls form is a deep and powerful one, though they don't speak the same language or understand each other's customs. When the girls' bond is put to the test readers will be desperate to know the outcome. This being said, I was pretty upset with the book's ending. I can't get into why as it would absolutely ruin it for others, but I'm waiting for friends to read it so I can hear their thoughts and share mine! Each time I think of the ending I fume a little bit... ;)

I'm Currently Reading:

Thanks for stopping by!

The Vanishing Island Blog Tour: Day One!

Welcome to the first stop on The Vanishing Island blog tour! Read on to enjoy the story's summary, meet main character Bren Owen, learn a bit about author Barry Wolverton, and enter to win a signed ARC! 

(Publishing September 1, 2015):
Does  the Vanishing Island really exist? And if so, what treasure—or terrible secret—was hidden by its disappearance?

It’s 1599, the Age of Discovery in Europe. But for Bren Owen, growing up in the small town of Map on the coast of Britannia has meant anything but adventure. Enticed by the tales sailors have brought through Map’s port, and inspired by the arcane maps his father creates as a cartographer for the cruel and charismatic map mogul named Rand McNally, Bren is convinced that fame and fortune await him elsewhere. That is, until his repeated attempts to run away land him a punishment worse than death—cleaning up the town vomitorium.

It is there that Bren meets a dying sailor, who gives him a strange gift that hides a hidden message. Cracking the code could lead Bren to a fabled lost treasure that could change his life forever, and that of his widowed father. But to get there he will have to tie his fate to a mysterious Dutch admiral obsessed with a Chinese legend about an island that long ago disappeared from any map.

Before long, Bren is in greater danger than he ever imagined, and will need the help of an unusual friend named Mouse to survive. Barry Wolverton’s thrilling adventure spans oceans and cultures, brings together the folklore of East and West, and proves that fortune is always a double-edged sword.
-Summary provided by Walden Pond Press

Introducing the hero of THE VANISHING ISLAND, Bren Owen. 

By Barry Wolverton

Several years ago I read a story about Jules Verne, the great French adventure novelist. Legend has it that at age 11, young Jules tried to stow away on a ship bound for the Indies, only to be  caught by his father and punished so severely that he vowed to travel “only in his imagination” from that point forward. 

I have no idea whether that story is true or not, but I liked the idea of childhood misbehavior leading to something so profitable as the collected works of Jules Verne. (On an unrelated note, I was a terrible child.) 

My hero, Bren Owen, is a headstrong 12-year-old boy growing up in the town of Map, on the coast of Britannia during my slightly skewed Age of Discovery. Bren's father is a mapmaker who wants Bren to follow in his footsteps. But Bren wants to chart his own course, and overhearing the tales of adventure by sailors passing through the port town of Map only stokes his adventurous spirit.

Aside from that, living in Map stinks — literally. Aside from the smell of fish, Bren and his father live in the town’s margins, where people dump their waste into the unpaved streets, and so do the horses. Bren has a nemesis in the form of Duke Swyers, a town bully who gets away with it because his father is Cloudesley Swyers, a wealthy purveyor of fine wigs and pomades. And finally, Bren’s mother died two year ago during an outbreak of plague, leaving him alone with a father he has little in common with. 

So what does Bren do? What any emotionally lost preteen in the 16th century did - tries to stow away. His first two attempts were dismal failures, but Bren is convinced the third time will be the charm. It's not, and this time he lands in real trouble - a medieval version of Juvenile Court, which results in a medieval version of community service - spending the summer cleaning up the town Vomitorium, the concrete, windowless building where sailrs and gentlemen go after a night of overindulging. 

How bad is it? “Map was a coastal town, and so clams, mussels and oysters were among the most common foods. Raw or barely cooked, these muscular, rubbery mollusks were natural drain-chokers — especially when clotted together in a thick chowder of puke. More than once Bren had to unclog the drain with his bare hands, lying on the floor and sticking his long, thin arms as far down as possible, which felt like reaching inside the guts of a dead animal.” 

But, like young Jules Verne, Bren's punishment is life-changing. One day he meets a sick and dying sailor, using the Vomitorium for cover, who bestows upon Bren-in the most disgusting way possible-a strange gift that gives Bren the leverage he needs to finally escape Map and seek the adventure he desires.

Barry Wolverton is the author of Neversink. He has more than fifteen years’ experience creating books, documentary television scripts, and website content for international networks and publishers, including National Geographic,, the Library of Congress, and the Discovery Networks. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee. You can visit him online at

Links for Barry Wolverton: 

Links for Walden Pond Press:

Blog Tour Schedule: 

6/15/2015 Blue Stocking Thinking        

6/16/2015 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

6/17/2015 Small Review                                      
6/18/2015 Maria's Melange               
6/19/2015 Unleashing Readers           
6/19/2015 The Hiding Spot                             ​ 
6/22/2015 This Kid Reviews Books     
6/23/2015 Mundie Kids                      
6/24/2015 Paige in Training               
6/25/2015 Novel Novice                    

     For a chance to win a signed ARC of The Vanishing Island, simply leave a comment below telling why YOU want a copy of the book! Will it be a gift, will you read and review it, add it to a classroom library, hug it before bed each night, etc. A winner will be chosen on June 25th at 5:00pm eastern time. Check back no later than June 26th to see if you are the winner! A winner will be chosen at random and the book will be mailed directly from the publisher. If the winner is not able to be contacted by June 26th a new winner will be chosen. Thank you for stopping by!