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


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

On my blog this week, I shared:

This week, I finished:


Gene Luen Yang’s Saints is the second volume in his two-volume graphic history of the Boxer Rebellion. It focuses on Vibiana, a Chinese girl who converts to Christianity and has visions of Joan of Arc. Boxers is one of my favorite books published in 2013, but Saints didn’t entirely work for me. As a stand-alone, I don’t think I would have found the story interesting, compelling, or perhaps even comprehensible if I hadn’t read Boxers first. And Vibiana is a difficult character to spend so many pages with. Bao, from Boxers, is a complex, mixed, but ultimately sympathetic character. Vibiana, by contrast, seems more one-dimensional and I found her very unsympathetic and annoying. I did like the way Yang brought the two stories together at the end.

the mad potter

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award is one of my favorite Youth Media Awards because the winners and honor books are always so interesting, and the 2014 Honor book, The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, was no exception. This book, heavily illustrated with photos of Ohr, his family, and his pottery, provides just the right balance of biographical information, art history, and art analysis. It’s a quick and compelling read. I poured over photos of Ohr’s pottery. I loved some of his whimsical shapes and I especially loved the bisque look he experimented with.

march book oneNate Powell is one of my favorite graphic novel illustrators, and his work in March: Book One, the story of Civil Rights activist and leader John Lewis, is really fine. The book’s structure depends perhaps a little too heavily on the device of having two children visit Lewis in the present day at his Congressional office and ask him questions about his past. His answers and his memories form the heart of the book. Book One focuses on his childhood on a sharecropping farm in Alabama, his dedication to church, his struggle to get an education, his meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., and his non-violent desegregation work in Nashville. I thought this book captured better than perhaps any book I’ve ever read the challenge of non-violent protest. This is an excellent graphic novel that brings an important period in American history to life.

day glo brothersI liked Chris Barton’s nonfiction picture book, The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors, illustrated by Tony Persiani, but I didn’t love it. I had trouble understanding the science behind what the brothers were doing! I still don’t know how they created those colors.

My older son and I continued our Caldecott Challenge with four Caldecott Honor books.

mice twice ape in a cape bartholomew and the oobleck mcelligots pool

I found a new-to-me Emily Gravett for us to read (yay! I love Emily Gravett!), but discovered that we’re well past the window for this kind of book at my house:

orange pear apple bear

My son’s disgusted comment when I finished reading the book: “An adult wrote that?”

open this little book open little book

He didn’t find Jesse Klausmeier and Suzy Lee’s charming Open This Little Book very interesting either. I thought that the element of visual design might intrigue him, even if the story didn’t. But I was wrong! So I think I’m now on my own with books for very young readers.

old granny and the bean thief

He did like Cynthia DeFelice’s Old Granny and the Bean Thief, illustrated by Cat Bowman Smith, mostly, I think, because there is a talking cow patty. He still hasn’t outgrown his interest in all things poop, butt, and toiled-related.

tito puente

For the Latin@s in Kidlit Challenge, we read Tito Puente, Mambo King, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by Rafael Lopez. This is an excellent picture book biography for young readers, and we loved Lopez’s vibrant art.


My kids don’t get much device time at home, so they found the story line in Dot, written by Randi Zuckerberg and illustrated by Joe Berger, a bit perplexing. But I think it would be a good story for some kids (and their parents!). I really liked the way the meaning of words like tag and tweet changes as Dot puts away her devices and goes outside to play. The clunkiness of the final lines (“This is Dot. She learned a lot.”) nearly ruined the book for me, however.

mixed up chameleonI loved the story and the crazy illustrations in The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle. I am still working on getting through all of Carle’s books.

Reading Goals Update:

Nerdbery Challenge: 0/12 books

#MustReadin2014: 4/15 books

YA Shelf of Shame Challenge: 0/12 books

Professional Development Reading Goal: 2/12 books

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 21/100 books

Picture Book Reading Goal: 89/350 books

Chapter Book & Middle-Grade Reading Goal: 7/100 books

YA Lit Reading Goal: 12/60 books

Latin@s in Kidlit Challenge: 5/12 books

Number of Books Total (not counting picture books): 37/200

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

  1. Even though I didn’t entirely understand the science behind Day-Glo, I really enjoyed THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS. I think because, like Audrey Vernick says about nonfiction, “Find the story.” As an English teacher, I confess I’m more interested in the story than anything else and I found theirs to be fascinating. I’ve never been a fan of science to begin with. 😉

  2. Lots of great nonfiction! Your son’s reactions are making me laugh. One day he will be reading books like this to a little one who will think they are absolutely delightful but without that context, I can understand his disdain! Although I love this book. Silly appeals!

  3. Aww, it’s too bad your son didn’t enjoy the Emily Gravett and Suzy Lee titles. 😦 My 12 year old girl did enjoy Open this Little Book and found it cool but promptly forgot all about it. Love the graphic novels you shared here. We do have a copy of Boxers and Saints at home – my daughter has finished reading it. Also gave it as a Christmas present to one of my daughter’s closest girlfriends and she finished it in one evening and loved it. I don’t think they perceive them as two separate books, they’ve always assumed that the two are somewhat inextricably connected and might not work best as a stand alone. Tito Puente also caught my eye, will have to look for that one.

    • I was interested to see Open This Little Book on Katherine Sokolowski’s Nerdy Book Club post of her students’ (5th-grade, I think) favorite picture books so far this year. I have also kind of forgotten about it, but I think I will share it in Children’s Lit next week. I am so glad I’m participating in the Latinas in Kidlit challenge this year–we’re reading a lot of great books for it!

  4. I love the “Orange Pear Apple Bear” book, but Owen will have nothing to do with it! He tries to close it whenever I pick it up and start reading it to him. But it is so wonderful! So I usually pick it up and continue reading it as he wanders off, my voice getting louder and louder. Sigh.

      • I haven’t seen Emily Gravett’s other books, but I will make a note to do so. I’m frustrated right now with Owen and reading because he won’t let me read any but the twelve or so books that we’ve been reading to him since this time last year. Anytime I open something new he’ll either not look at it at all or will look at one page before trying to force the book shut. How can he not like a book?! Or not like a new-to-him book?! Changeling!!

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