It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4-30-18

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 and recommendations!

Books I've Recently Read:

Drawn from Nature by Helen Ahpornsiri
Big Picture Press, 2018
60 pages
Recommended for all to view,  readability 3rd grade and up

On the most basic level, this is a book with information about plants, animals, and insects and how they grow, change, and behave throughout the 4 seasons. Like I said, that's the most basic (and really, unfair) description of this book. What it really is is a visual masterpiece woven through with information of the natural world. The illustrations are made using pressed plants and flowers, and you almost can't believe it's true. I've stared so hard, put my face so close to the pages, in absolute awe of this talent, and the time consuming work necessary to create these images.

The book is divided into the seasons, with sections within, like:
The Trees Awake
Buds and Bees
Deer Rutting
Red Fox at Night

The text has an easy flow to it, and the pages are eye catching and engaging.
You're going to love this one!

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Candlewick Press, 2018
Realistic Fiction
36 pages
Recommended for Everyone!

This book is gorgeous! I instantly was drawn to the illustrations, and couldn't wait to dive in. See what I did there? I know. Not my best work.
Anyway, the story is sweet and simple, but also not. Not simple at all, really.
Check out this picture I captured of my easel after reading it aloud to my third graders. The writing is sloppy and the image is blurry, but that's not what I want you to focus on. Instead, check out the top two words used to describe the book. Those words were said out loud while I was reading.
Hmm. There's a lot to take in there. I hadn't planned to write down any words when I decided to read this story aloud. But as we neared the end of the book I heard the words "awkward" and "scary" said quietly from different sides of the rug. I knew that we needed to process this story.
So, after reading I closed the book and said I'd love to hear their thoughts on the book since it was sent to me for review, and who better to review it than a group of kids?
I wrote the two words first and then just looked at them. Many students scoffed at the two words, or denied that they were accurate. Immediately the boys that said the words looked uncomfortable, like they shouldn't have said them. But they did say them, and it was true to their initial reactions, so they needed to be held gently, not guffawed at.
The conversation we had, spur of the moment, was one of the most significant of our year, to date. 
I won't even try to capture the entire conversation here, because I couldn't do it justice, but I will say that I am hopeful that one point sank in. That we don't need to say words like: 'awkward', 'scary', or 'weird' when confronted with something unfamiliar to our experience. Instead, if we need to vocalize it, we can simply say, 'That's different from me, what I'm used to, or what I've seen." Different isn't negative. 
This short and unassuming story opened a door to such an important conversation in my classroom.
I urge you to share it with your people.

Granted by John David Anderson
Walden Pond Press, 2018
Recommended for grades 4-7

Well, I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into when I began this novel. After all, Anderson is spot on with his male middle school characters, how would he transform into a small female fairy?
Luckily Anderson is as much middle school boy as he is strong-willed lady fairy. Wait, that came out all wrong. But you know what I mean. *major wink*
Ophelia is tough stuff, she's the fairy you would want in charge of granting your wish, because she won't. ever. give. up.
She is a perfectionist.
She is smart.
She is sure and ready for this first mission.
But when things become too much for even one as gritty as Ophelia to overcome, she must come to rely on the help of others. Even if it is smelly and slobbery.

The opening lays a lot of background for the fairy world and their roles, which might bog some readers down. I am still waiting to hear back from some kid readers on how it goes for them.
Because while I carried this book to and from school with me (I read for 10 minutes with the kids before we begin Morning Meeting so they often know what I'm reading.) it gained more and more interest with the kids. One boy brought a copy in after going to the bookstore with his mother, and then a group of my book club students asked for it as their next title!

The final parts of the book left room for lots of wonder and speculation and a tiny bit of dread. I enjoyed how it was stretched out just so.

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I'm Currently Reading:

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Have a great reading week!
Thanks for stopping by,


  1. Drawn from Nature looks incredible--and this is not one I've heard of yet. I am eager to read Julian Is a Mermaid and share it with my students.

  2. I agree with what you shared about Granted. Some readers may get bogged down with the initial details, but hopefully they'll enjoy the story. And that cover is GLORIOUS. This is one of the few books I've purchased this year that I bought before every reading it (I rely on the library and ILL a lot). I just read Last Day on Mars a few weeks ago and really got into the story. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in that series in a couple weeks now that it's available at my library! Also, I'm adding Julian Is a Mermaid to my TBR list after your review. I especially appreciate hearing about student reactions!! Thanks so much for sharing and have a wonderful reading week, Nicole!

  3. Drawn from Nature is on my list. I sure wish my library would hurry up and order it! Julian is a Mermaid sounds just like the kind of book I like to read with students as part of my critical literacy workshops. I will have to get a copy soon.
    Granted is on my shelf and I hope to get to it soon.

  4. Julian is a Mermaid is stunning. My bold prediction is that it is the 2019 Caldecott winner.


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