It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/4/13


Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to see what everybody else is reading this week.

In case you missed any of my blog posts this week, I shared what I’ve been reading online, wrote about how to plan an author visit to your classroom, argued that teachers need to be hopeful, and shared some tips for being a positive teacher.

We only read a few picture books this week, because I’ve been reading Kate DiCamillo’s wonderful Flora & Ulysses aloud. I am loving this story–and so are my kids. 

We reread a few favorite Mo Willems’s books:

big guy  duckling elephants

We finished Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca:


The art was spectacular in this book, but the writing was challenging for my son to comprehend and difficult for me to connect to. It seemed like the writing didn’t quite know what it wanted to be–a poem about a train journey, a narrative about a train journey, informational writing about a train journey. I didn’t feel like any one of those elements–poetry, narrative, informational writing–was quite strong enough, so it didn’t entirely work for me. But the pictures are gorgeous.

Then we read Tom’s Tweet, written by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Dan Santat:

tom's tweet

Santat’s art is incredibly expressive and funny, and Esbaum’s poetic lines are creative, surprising, and also very funny.

And I found another Rachel Isadora book at the library, Willaby:


A charming story about a girl named Willaby who loves to draw so much that she often forgets what else she should be doing. I think I’ve now exhausted my library’s collection of Isadora’s older books, so it’s time to start using interlibrary loan.

I finished listening to my audiobook, White Cat by Holly Black.

white cat

I’ve decided, first of all, that every book should be narrated by Jesse Eisenberg. And now I want to read the rest of the series. Also, searching on Google for this book cover is one of my favorite searches ever–hundreds of beautiful white cats! (Unlike searching for the picture book bio of Booker T. Washington last week, when hundreds of photos of 50 Cent turned up. You never know what might happen!)

A couple of weeks ago after I read Waiting for the Magic, I got the bright idea to read the sequels to Sarah Plain and Tall. I started with Skylark:


And I will be ending with Skylark. Because this book just isn’t very good. First of all, the extreme overuse of the word “softly” drove me crazy. Someone speaks “softly” on nearly every page, and when they aren’t speaking to each other softly, they’re looking at each other softly! If I did a word cloud for this book, “softly” would be in giant letters right in the middle. How does an editor not catch that? And the story really didn’t work for me either. There is the thinnest sliver of a plot and even less character development. I can’t imagine what a reader would make of this book if they hadn’t read Sarah Plain and Tall first.

I’m traveling for a conference this week and have no idea what I’ll be reading–whatever’s on my Kindle! What about you?


15 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/4/13

  1. It’s sad about Skylark – the first book was such a winner, too, and one hates to return to loved characters only to be disappointed.

  2. I know! I usually try to post only about books I like on Mondays–there’s enough negativity in the world without my contributing more. But I was so disappointed with Skylark and the whole experience made me cranky!

  3. I LOVE The Curse Workers series and wish that there were more. There have been rumors of a fourth book, but I fear that they are truly just rumors. I have heard that Jesse Eisenberg is a fantastic reader. Also, I am so bitter about the cover change. I really liked the original covers and thought they were much more guy friendly. The updated covers are so girly now. End rant. Have a great week!

  4. I think I tried and failed at Skylark, too. I loved Sarah, Plain and Tall, though. I hear you on Locomotive. It’s not a book I can see many kids being drawn too, especially for repeated readings. And interesting observations about the shifting styles of the text. I almost want to go read it again to see it again for myself. Love, love the Elephant and Piggie books. Giggles galore. So glad your kids are enjoying Flora and Ulysses. I was charmed by its quirkiness as was my 4th grader.

    • Glad I’m not the only one with Skylark. At first I thought I was just being a cranky reader, but then I started counting the word softly and realized I wasn’t being cranky at all! I hated having to leave to travel this week because we had to set Flora & Ulysses aside. I strictly forbade anyone else to read it, so my poor kids are having to wait to see what happens.

  5. I just came across Tom’s Tweet today in my school library-Santat’s artwork always catches my eye! Glad the story is good, I will have to check it out as a read aloud 🙂
    I don’t think you should worry about including negative reviews for books, discussions aren’t always rosy when talking about books, and that’s ok in my mind. Thanks for sharing your reading!

    • Thanks for your thoughts. I do write negative reviews about other books sometimes, so I’m not quite sure why I think it’s better to only highlight the positive with the picture books and children’s books I read. Sharing a negative response can lead to productive discussion when other readers can share a different viewpoint.

  6. I’ll look for Tom’s Tweet & Willaby, both are interesting & I don’t know them. Flora & Ulysses is on the stack, will get to it sometime. Very fun to see all your reviews! Have fun at the conference!

  7. Willaby looks adorable. I will look for it. We had Tom’s Tweet as a book shared by a guest reader last year and the kids enjoyed it. Santat’s illustrations are always so engrossing. Elephant and Piggie books are read basically nonstop in my classroom. When I brought in the newest title I honestly felt like I was revealing an Olympic Gold medal. All of them stopped breathing for a moment, then the cheering and then the “Can I have it first?” began!

  8. Good to hear about your thoughts on Skylark – I laughed aloud when I envisioned SOFTLY as a word cloud in gigantic letters – quite ironic, really. 🙂 I just love the Elephant & Piggie collection, I really hope to own all of them someday. So beautifully written. Haven’t read Locomotive yet, but great to read your thoughts about it – quite a fine balance one needs to have when writing about non-fiction themes. 🙂

    • I’ve been slowly building our Elephant & Piggie collection too. My children don’t reread books as often as I do, so I’m probably mostly buying them for myself, but that’s ok too! Locomotive is definitely worth a look–the illustrations are incredibly powerful and overall, the book is quite informative about early cross-country train travel. But just didn’t quite work for me. Turning up in a lot of people’s favorites of the year lists, however.

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