It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/30/13


I’m grateful to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting the weekly kidlit check-in.

Last week, I joined the Slice of Life group and wrote about Fantasy Football Mojo and I also managed to get my weekly Celebrate post up. If you missed the Sunday Salon of weekly links, it’s actually kind of short this week!

I’m grateful for PICTURE BOOKS this week, because reading them is helping me keep to my holiday #bookaday goal. And we read some good ones this week!


I adored the art in Nasreddine, a Middle Eastern folktale written by Odile Weulersse and illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer. There is a nice moral at the end of the story, too, about ignoring people who laugh at you and using your own judgment to make decisions.

millions billions

My nerdy PLN was absolutely right about Millions, Billions, & Trillions: Understanding Big Numbers. My older son has been struggling with what these big numbers mean, and this book uses some clever and creative analogies to explain. I especially loved learning how long it would take a person to count to one million or one billion (32 years–so don’t try!). The writing by David Adler is lively and interesting, and Edward Miller’s illustrations are fun. Will definitely be looking for more titles by this team.

she loved baseball

I really liked Audrey Vernick’s presentation at NCTE about how she researches and writes her nonfiction picture books. I was especially intrigued by the story of an African-American woman in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and thought my older son would be too (he loves baseball and black history!) I bought She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story for him for Christmas. There’s wonderful art by Don Tate, and we enjoyed the story. This one makes a nice pairing with Kadir Nelson’s We Are the Ship, which I’m hoping my son is just about ready to hear.

boy who loved math

There have been some superb picture book biographies this year, and I think Deborah Heiligman’s The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos is one of the best. LeUyen Pham, one of my favorite illustrators, does excellent work here as well.

who says women cant be doctors

Tanya Lee Stone’s Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? tells the amazing story of America’s first female doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell. Marjorie Priceman’s illustrations are lively and really elevate the story.

no fits

No Fits, Nilson! features some incredibly appealing art by author and illustrator Zachariah OHora. Now I want to get my hands on every book he’s written and/or illustrated. The story–about a stuffed gorilla who throws temper tantrums whenever he doesn’t get his way–is very clever as well.


We needed some Mo Willems this week and reread The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! Always good stuff.

snail and whale

I am not much for a rhyming story, but I have to say that Julia Donaldson does rhyme pretty well. The art in The Snail and the Whale (illustrated by Axel Scheffler) is also lovely.

please louise

I was thrilled to discover a picture book illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay that we hadn’t seen before, Please, Louise! written by Frieda Wishinsky. Gay’s pictures are perfect for this story about a little sister who cannot leave her older brother alone.


We read two Meghan McCarthy nonfiction titles this week and learned about the invention of bubble gum and the awesomeness of Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse. Love her illustrations!


year of billy miller

I tried to read The Year of Billy Miller aloud to my older son, but he was bored–and frankly, so was I. But I did want to make it through the book, so I tried it with my younger son, and he enjoyed it. I liked it better reading it to a more appreciative audience, but I have to say, I am still struggling to understand the love this one is getting. I like a quiet story, but I need for the writing to be superb, and I didn’t feel that the writing in this book was quite strong enough to carry such a quiet story. I felt that the book needed editing, because there was far too much daily detail given–and not in a way that moved the story forward, illuminated the characters, or advanced the themes. There were many paragraphs that I felt could be deleted–long paragraphs about getting ready for school, for example, or eating meals. Some of that kind of writing in the beginning of the book helped establish tone and character, but once that was established, following Billy step by step through wiping his mouth at breakfast and brushing his teeth and putting on a hat and packing his back pack and saying goodbye to his dad and walking to school simply wasn’t necessary. 

hard luck



We finished the first of the Christmas book read-alouds last night, the new Wimpy Kid book. I liked it more than I expected to. There have been some weaker entries in the Wimpy Kid series, but I thought this was one of the better ones. And my son is so excited to take it to school now and loan to his friends. He’s catching onto what it means to be part of a reading community. And I call that a major #readingwin!


8 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/30/13

  1. Wow! Some great picture books! Love to see The Boy who Loved Math getting lots of love. That title meant so much in my classroom. No other book has had kids talking as much this year. I also adore No Fits Nilson Another title I would give to all new parents. Oh, the tantrums, you can’t avoid them in some way shape or form! I just saw Nasreddine on another best list and want to find it! Happy Reading in 2014!

  2. I am so glad to see that there is someone besides me who did not love Billy Miller. I just don’t get why this book has received so much praise. Great picture books. Picture book biographies are the best! Happy New Year!

  3. Great books this week! And I had a moment of “OMG! She’s talking about my presentation!” when you were talking about hearing Audrey speak at NCTE. Audrey was awesome, wasn’t she? Did you and I meet that day? I met so many people who came up to me afterwards that I can’t remember. If we didn’t, we need to remedy that. If we did, my apologies for not remembering!

    • Still reading titles recommended in your packed session at NCTE! We didn’t meet–but there’s always next year at NCTE! I loved Audrey’s talk–really inspiring. Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten is also one of my all-time fave PBs. Hysterically funny!

  4. Hi there Elisabeth, my 12 year old is still crazy over the wimpy kid series. I also got her this latest book for Christmas and she finished reading it within a day. She enjoyed this one more compared to Cabin Fever, I think. I personally have not read this series yet, perhaps in 2014. Haven’t read any of Kevin Henkes’ novels as yet, thanks for sharing your thoughts about Billy Miller. So many beautiful picture books here! Lovely! I wish you a beautiful New Year, Elisabeth with your family, and many more book adventures for 2014.

    • I really love Kevin Henkes’s Newbery Honor book, Olive’s Ocean–also a quiet book, but beautifully written and distinguished in character, setting, and theme. The Wimpy Kid books are perfect for binge reading. I’m glad your daughter enjoyed the new one. Have a happy New Year, Myra! So glad we’ve connected through books this year.

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