It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/3/14 #imwayr


Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to participate in the kidlit version of this weekly meme.

This week on my blog, I

doll bones

My son and I finished our read-aloud of Doll Bones. I loved this book. I thought it was so rich thematically and had something profound to say about the transition from childhood to young adulthood. I was so glad to see it honored with a Newbery. It was a tougher listen for my son, as there are very few pictures, and he is still very dependent on visuals while he’s listening to a story. But he stuck with it and got something out of listening, though not the full experience. But then, this may be one of those books that’s actually better for adults or older readers.

this is how you lose her

I reread This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz for my #contemplitclass. So very good. This is the book that made me want to focus #contemplitclass on the short story. It teaches incredibly well–so much to talk and think about–plus it’s a delight, for the most part, to read. So many laugh-out-loud lines and so much innovative language play.


I also read Jacqueline Woodson’s verse novel, Locomotion. It reminded me a bit of Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog, since Lonnie, the main character, is writing poetry for a school assignment and also using his poetry to reflect on a tragedy in his life. I appreciated what Woodson was doing here, but it didn’t quite come together for me into a coherent, focused whole, and I was confused by the religious parts towards the end.

millions of cats

This is a book I read plenty of times as a child, but I think I blocked it, because I absolutely did not remember that all the millions and billions and trilions of cats EAT EACH OTHER. That came as quite a surprise when I was reading this book aloud to my son last night. He was APPALLED. “Why did you read me this book, Mom?” Well…. Um…. But I was delighted and amused by the very old man who keeps collecting cats because each one is too pretty to leave behind. That’s exactly how we ended up with six of them! (Basically all a stray has to do is show up in our yard and purr and we’re ready to open the doors and take them in.) Despite the trauma of all the cats eating each other, Millions of Cats reads aloud beautifully.

once upon a saturday

Once Upon a Saturday, written and illustrated by Leslie Lammle, is a lovely story about the adventures we can go on through our imaginations.

50 below 0

The repetitive sentences in 50 Below Zero nearly made me crazy. Repetition works so beautifully and poetically in Millions of Cats, but here it seemed pointless and tedious.

my abuelita

I loved My Abuelita, written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, but my son was seriously creeped out by the illustrations. We read this as part of the Latin@s in Kidlit Challenge.

dear primo

We read another book for the same challenge, Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. I liked how Tonatiuh incorporated Spanish words throughout the text. My son enjoyed seeing the words and figuring out their meanings. Tonatiuh’s style is incredibly distinct and interesting as well.

A few other picture books we read this week:

most obedient dogseven chinese sistersleap back home to meflabby tabbymonstergarten harris finds his feet witch hazel migrant



Reading Goals Update:

Nerdbery Challenge: 0/12 books

#MustReadin2014: 3/15 books

YA Shelf of Shame Challenge: 0/12 books

Professional Development Reading Goal: 1/12 books

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 10/100 books

Picture Book Reading Goal: 39/350 books

Chapter Book & Middle-Grade Reading Goal: 5/100 books

YA Lit Reading Goal: 6/60 books

Latin@s in Kidlit Challenge: 2/12 books

Number of Books Total (not counting picture books): 18/200

16 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/3/14 #imwayr”

  1. Thanks for stopping by! I loved Doll Bones too. It was not what I was expecting at all, but what I discovered was more wonderful (and less creepy) than I anticipated. I can’t help but wonder how readers in the target audience feel about it. As an adult reader I feel so sentimental and nostalgic, but how do the 9-12 years feel? Have a great week! ~Megan

    • I wonder about readers in the target audience too! I don’t see how the 9-12 year old set could possibly appreciate the poignancy of the particular themes Black is working with. My hope is that the book can work on different levels for that audience, that there are other things they will appreciate and love about the book.

  2. I adore Jacqueline Woodson. She has slowly become one of my go-to authors. If she publishes something, no matter what it is, I read it. I love that she writes of the modern African American experience for kids, not just the historical. It’s refreshing to see stories like Locomotion and After Tupac and D Foster (one of my favorite Newbery honors) that’s about contemporary African American kids. And as you mentioned in a recent post, we need to see more books like those winning “the most distinguished” awards, not just the Coretta Scott King or Belpre awards.

    • I love Jacqueline Woodson too. Her work is rich and thought-provoking. I pretty much always include something by her on the syllabi for Children’s Lit and Adolescent Lit. I’m still thinking about the diversity problem in the most distinguished awards! Might have to put together another post about that at some point…. I’m going to try to read more of the Pura Belpre picture books this year. Loved the ones I read this week!

  3. I loved Doll Bones for just the reason you mention. My boys loved Millions of Cats when they were little, and I don’t remember them batting an eyelash at the fact that they all eat each other! Most of the other books you’ve included are new to me, but are on the list for my next trip to the library. Thanks for sharing!

    • Isn’t that so funny? I know I read Millions of Cats many times as a child, and I clearly didn’t bat an eye either at the fact that the cats all eat each other because I didn’t even remember that little plot twist! (Unless I was actually deeply traumatized by it and had blocked it from my memory!).

  4. I am reading Doll Bones to my 4th graders right now. i loved it, but they don’t seem that crazy about it. We are getting to some really good parts so I hope they warm up to it soon. Enjoy your week.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience reading the book to your 4th graders. I’ll be very curious to know how they end up responding. It’s always so interesting to me to test out books on real live children, LOL. I’ve loaned Doll Bones to a student in my Adolescent Lit class, and I have a feeling it’s going to make the rounds in that class.

  5. I really think Migrant is just so gorgeous. Haven’t read it to a class yet. Doll Bones is such an interesting title. But I haven’t tried it yet on kids so . . . Theme here seems to be – what exactly do kids think about books adults love . . . Hmm. Because I have kids in my class that love to read 50 Below over and over and over. 🙂

    • Migrant is incredibly beautiful! I love Isabelle Arsenault’s work–she’s one of my favorite illustrators. Lovely writing in that one as well. My son definitely struggled with Migrant, but then he’s very literal and doesn’t really have a context or foundation for understanding what the book is about. It’s one that needs the support of conversation, but he also gets frustrated if I try to talk too much during reading time. 🙂 Doll Bones…. I’m wondering if there are any children who can really appreciate the theme that I think adults respond to. Don’t you need to be on the other side of childhood to feel the power of what Black is trying to suggest? I also wonder if there is enough action otherwise in the story to keep the interest of children listeners. I’ll be interested to see what Gigi’s students think by the end! And I think I’m still having flashbacks to having to repeat “What’s that? What’s that? What’s that!” every single page in 50 Below. Would ONE “what’s that?” really not have sufficed?!

  6. You have SO many reading goals! Bravo for your work chipping away at them 🙂

    I really would love to see how Doll Bones hits kids. I know *I* loved it – but I agree that many of the themes I loved about it were my adult self. I could see those kids who are on the “cusp” of leaving childhood behind resonating with it, though. I still remember how I felt when Susan and Peter were told they couldn’t come back to Narnia…. this is a similar feel.

    • Hadn’t made the connection with Narnia! That’s really interesting. And I totally blame all my nerdy Twitter and blogging friends for all my reading goals! I wasn’t even going to MAKE reading goals this year, but then got caught up in the excitement!

  7. I reviewed Doll Bones this summer, and I picked it as a Newbery contender. Here’s an excerpt which echoes what people are saying about it being a book that can be enjoyed by older children and adults. And why I thought “Newbery” when I read it.

    “Doll Bones is a creepy story, an adventure story, and a friendship story. But most of all it, is a story about imagination and play and how vital they are in children’s lives. Adults who serve on the Newbery Committee must be members of the Association of Library Service to Children. They are the exact kind of adults who strongly and whole-heartedly believe in the power of imagination and play –the kind of adults who have dedicated their lives to encouraging this in children whenever and wherever they are able.”

    That doesn’t mean some children can’t enjoy it on another level, rather that there are many ways for many people to enjoy the book.

    Here’s the link to the review in case you are interested:

    • Doll Bones was one of my top Newbery contenders this year as well, for all the reasons you mention. I am usually pretty off in my Newbery predictions, so I was very excited when it was named an Honor. I felt like I somehow “got it right,” LOL.

  8. Love all the picture books you shared here, would probably try to find a few of them and see which ones would fit as part of a text-set for my class. Migrant, Witch Hazel, and the Yuyi Morales books caught my eye. I love reading about your son’s reactions to the books that you read together. I’ve seen Millions of Cats in one of the professional development books I’ve read this week and I made a mental note to find that one in our library. I have to read Junot Diaz, I know. I think I borrowed the Brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao two years back but abandoned it. I might have to get back to it again. 🙂 While I did enjoy Doll Bones and thought of it as engaging, it seemed tamer perhaps in comparison to my other dark(er) novels, it’s a good prelude though to this kind of theme. Plus I loved the fact that there was a Filipino-American protagonist. 🙂

  9. I started Brief Wondrous Life a couple of years ago and ended up abandoning it, but I definitely plan to try again now that I have read and loved This Is How You Lose Her so much. I am hoping to find it on audio and hoping even more that Diaz reads it himself. He narrates This Is How You Lose Her, and I know the excellent quality of his narration added to my enjoyment. My son was disappointed that Doll Bones wasn’t a lot scarier! Which makes me think he’s ready for some darker reading–or at least he thinks he’s ready. Maybe we’ll try Graveyard Book when we finish our current read-aloud. Do you have any suggestions? Millions of Cats holds up extremely well, though I know part of my pleasure in reading it was remembering having it read to me as a child and imagining what it would be like to have those millions of cats. (I was a wannabe cat collector then!)

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