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!


  1. I enjoyed reading the honesty in your reviews. I was enchanted by enormous Smallness.

  2. I really want to read Blue Birds - even more so now after reading this review. I loved May B by this author and Blue Birds is on my #MustReadin2015 list. I am so pleased you enjoyed the Calef Brown collection! We love his quirky poems and wonderful illustrations in my class. I am very curious about your switch back to public school. I am happy you are happy!

  3. I'm waiting for the e. e. cumings book from our public library. I read about Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose on Debbie Reese's blog. Have you read her take on it?

  4. I enjoyed reading your reviews. I added Hypnotize a Tiger to my "To Read" list-- I love new poetry collections to share with my kids. I've had Enormous Smallness on my list for awhile; I think it's time to get that one!

  5. I loved Enormous Smallness. Definitely a book I would like to have in my classroom library.

  6. I really must get Enormous Smallness and the Tiger poetry book. And the Maine Coon haiku book! We've got a six cat household (that's probably 4 too many, honestly), and we're pretty cat obsessed around here!

  7. I adored the Maine Coon's Haiku. So very clever. Very interesting reading your take on the Dragon book. I've been debating whether or not I want to pick it up. Doesn't seem to be the type of book for me either, honestly, but I think it received a star review from one of the journals and I've yet to read any of Yep's work.

  8. Hi there Nicole! Lots of book love here that I am unfamiliar with. I am excited to share that we now have enormous smallness in our public library here in Singapore - looking forward to finding it this weekend. Love the blend of fantasy and poetry here. :) Will definitely check out the Calef Brown picturebook.


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