It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/16/13

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/16/13


Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for hosting the kidlit version of this weekly meme.

This week on my blog, I wrote about the last class of the semester in my Methods course, gave my Methods students some advice for continuing their professional development, and used the Internet for what it’s really made for: posting cat photos. I also shared my favorite online articles of the week in Sunday Salon.

place my words

Paul Janeczko collects some great poems in The Place My Words Are Looking For. Some poems are accompanied by a photo of the poet and a brief piece of autobiographical or reflective writing. There are a few silly-rhymey poems that are more appropriate for little kids (or for readers who like silly-rhymey poems, which I don’t), but for the most part, this is a collection that’s perfect for all readers, though perhaps especially well-suited for middle or high school.  I discovered a couple of new poets whose work I really like (Jim Daniels and Siv Cedering) and was inspired to purchase a collection of Paul Zimmer’s poetry (which I’m reading right now).

number the stars

I decided to reread Number the Stars since I put it on the syllabus for my Children’s Literature course next semester. It’s a bit of an odd Newbery, I think. I understand why it won and why it continues to be popular, but I don’t think it’s as rich, complex, and nuanced as many other Newberys I’ve read. There is something a bit thin to me about the story, but it’s hard for me to put my finger on what it is. The setting and characters never quite feel true to me. But I still think it’s a good book for this particular course.

alvin ho


Lenore Look’s Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things is also back on the syllabus for Children’s Lit. I read it aloud to my older son this week, and we really enjoyed it. I love Look’s writing and I really love LeUyen Pham’s illustrations.

little red writing


Little Red Writing, written by Joan Holub and illustrated by the incomparable Melissa Sweet, is quite clever. I previewed it and decided it was going to be too difficult for my older son to follow (so much vocabulary he doesn’t know), so I read it by myself, and I did have a hard time imagining any but the most precocious children enjoying it. I think I will have to try it out on him after all, just to see.

hank finds an egg


I simply loved Rebecca Dudley’s wordless picture book, Hank Finds an Egg. A sweet story with some mesmerizing pictures.

five little monkeysfive little monkeys2


We continued working our way through the Caldecotts with Juliet Kepes’s 1953 Honor Book, Five Little Monkeys. Yeah. I don’t know what to say about this one except we read it. The monkeys are super weird looking. The story is super anti-climactic and also weird. The fact that it has a quagga in it did redeem it somewhat.



We also read Salt, written by Harve Zemach and illustrated by Margot Zemach. That was another well, we read it book. I did like the illustrations, but the story, an adaptation of a Russian tale, leaves something to be desired.


Daredevil by Meghan McCarthy tells the true story of Betty Skelton, who led an absolutely fascinating life: learning how to fly an airplane and becoming a stunt pilot, then racing cars, then training to become an astronaut. The boys were riveted by the end notes as well–and especially by the description of Betty’s sparkly gold Corvette with solid gold buckles.

papa's mechanical fish


What a wonderful book! Papa’s Mechanical Fish, written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, tells the almost true story of Lodner Phillips, an inventor whose inventions never quite work. Phillips becomes obsessed with building the first submarine, but his first few tries are spectacular failures. Told from the point of view of his daughter, whose questions also provide the inspiration for his inventions, this lively story captured the imaginations of both my boys and provided a wonderful example of FAIL as first attempt in learning.


4 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/16/13”

  1. I also loved Papa’s Mechanical Fish – another title I must admit that had me at the cover. But wow, what a book! Hank Finds an Egg was adored when I shared it with my students. I am with you re Little Red – interesting for sure but I just don’t think it has kid appeal. Maybe I am wrong. I haven’t read Alvin Ho and realize that’s kind of crazy – need to remedy that and soon. Loved Pham’s illustrations in The Boy who Loved Math.

  2. I think you will love Alvin Ho.It makes a very fine read-aloud too. I have not liked the sequels as well; they seem a bit belabored, but I think that’s only because the first book is really lovely. But my son seems to be enjoying Book 3. I still haven’t gotten my hands on The Boy Who Loved Math. I may just break down and purchase this week as it’s a title I’ve been wanting to read for ages!

  3. Hi there Elisabeth. I do think I have to read Alvin Ho soonest. We are always constantly on the lookout for authors to invite for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (which happens annually here in Singapore), and we’ve been actively discussing Lenore Look. I should do my homework soonest and get into her books. I do hope you’d blog about your course too, and your text-set. I would probably do the same as soon as I get confirmation that my own course is a go. I have to have at least 15 students indicate an interest to enrol in the course before it can be officially opened. It would be great to exchange book recommendations. 🙂

    • Lenore Look is one of my favorite authors. Alvin Ho is funny and sweet and thoughtful and kind of perfect, I think. How exciting if you could bring Look to Singapore for the festival. I’ll try to get a post done on the Children’s Lit course this week, as I’m currently working on revising it for next semester. I would love to know more about your course as well. We have to have at least 12 before our courses are a go, too, but the Children’s Lit course is required of all Elementary Ed majors, so I have about 60 students per year in 2 sections (one online, one face to face). Not nearly as many in my Adolescent Lit course–with that one, it’s always a bit of a question whether it’s a go.

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