It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/17/14 #imwayr


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

On my blog this week, there was not much happening since I was on vacation in Mexico, but I did post a Top Ten list for Tuesday: my Top Ten favorite graphic novels.

My week was spent mostly sitting and staring at this amazing view–sometimes from the balcony, but usually from the beach:


Grandma–sainted Grandma–stayed with my kids so that my husband and I could vacation ALONE, so I didn’t do any reading with my kids this week, though I think they both read about 50 books each with Grandma.

When I wasn’t sitting and staring at the view or bobbing in the ocean, I read quite a bit. Of course it was all very dramatic figuring out what books to take with me, and there was much swapping of books in and out of suitcases and adding titles to my Kindle before we left. In the end, I finished four books and am halfway through four more. The four I finished:

rose under fire

Elizabeth Wein’s Rose Under Fire is most definitely my most-anticipated read of 2014, despite the fact that it’s been sitting on my shelf unread since publication day. I was saving it! Code Name Verity was my favorite book last year, and I had very high expectations for Rose Under Fire. Perhaps too high, but thankfully, it did more or less measure up. Like CNV, RUF took a bit to get going for me. I wasn’t really engaged until fifty pages in or so, though if you’ve read and loved CNV, the world Wein creates (female pilots in England in World War II) feels like home. In RUF, the main character is Rose Justice, an American pilot whose British uncle pulls some strings to get her a job working for the auxiliary transport ferrying planes. Although her capture by the Germans doesn’t happen right away, it’s not really a spoiler to say that’s what’s going to happen to Rose: she is sent to Ravensbruck as a political prisoner and must survive the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. Wein creates a unique voice in Holocaust historical fiction through Rose’s perspective as a female American pilot in a concentration camp. For me, the books I love best often send me directly to more books, and in this case, as soon as I finished RUF, I wanted to read more about the Rabbits, a group of women who were the victims of Nazi medical experimentation. Can’t wait to get to the library this week! Rose Under Fire is also on my #MustReadin2014 list.


Meg Medina’s Pura Belpre-winner, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, is also on my #MustReadin2014 list and on the syllabus for my Adolescent Lit course. I thought this book was only going to be about Piddy’s experiences being bullied by Yaqui Delgado, which is a big subject in itself, but Medina has a lot more going on in this book: there is the heartfelt and complicated relationship between Piddy and her mom; the growing pains of adolescent friendships between Piddy and her best friend, Mitzi, now that both girls are at different schools and Mitzi seems to be becoming a different person; Piddy’s first sexual experience; a disturbing and realistic look at domestic violence; Piddy’s identity as a Latina; Piddy’s identity as a smart kid at school and struggle with schoolwork once she is bullied by Yaqui and terrified to be at school–and probably something else that I’m forgetting. The adults in this book are especially finely drawn, and there are many important adult characters who interact with Piddy in ways that feel realistic. Medina juggles a lot of different plots and themes, but it all works together beautifully. This is a masterful novel, I think, as well as an important one–plus it’s super readable and engaging.

blue is the warmest

I can’t remember why I bought Julie Maroh’s graphic novel, Blue Is the Warmest Color, but I’m glad I did. I really liked the look of the art, especially Maroh’s muted palette and use of color. The story is about a French teen who is discovering and exploring her lesbian identity, told retrospectively as her girlfriend reads her diary (at her request–not in a sneaky way!). There is also a tearjerker quality to the story that I think will really appeal to several of my readers. It’s a great story for teens to read, but do note there is some explicit sexual content. I do love finishing a book and knowing exactly whose hands I’m placing it in next, and I have a particular reader in mind for this book.

at large and at small

A Twitter conversation with Carrie Gelson a couple of weeks ago reminded me how much I love Anne Fadiman’s essays. At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays was a last-minute add to the suitcase of books. I very much enjoyed reading about Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson while lounging on a chaise on a sunny beach in Mexico. My favorite essays were about Charles Lamb and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, but I also enjoyed the pieces on coffee and ice cream and moving. Rereading books I love is a great pleasure, but one that I rarely indulge because I have so many books I want to read for the first time. But maybe I need to slow down sometimes and reread. I also love the familiar essay but again, I focus so much of my reading energy on work-related reading (which I also love) that I often neglect reading that is “merely” personally enriching. Perhaps this summer I will take some time to reread and also to focus on reading that doesn’t benefit my teaching life in any particular way.



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15 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/17/14 #imwayr”

  1. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    Strangely, I couldn’t connect with CODE NAME VERITY at all, but I loved ROSE UNDER FIRE. I think Rose’s poetry is what helped me connect with this book more than CNV. I love that it won a Schneider award.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I also love that Rose won a Schneider. That was a pleasant surprise and well-deserved, I think. I’d like to reread Code at some point–maybe on audio? I’ve read that the audio production is excellent, though I can’t for the life of me figure out how the narrator signals the underlined passages.

      1. angietemple Avatar

        Rose under fire sounds like my next book more than Hattie Big Sky. I have to finish Wonder… But after reading about Rose it will be hard to wait.

  2. carriegelson Avatar

    Hello! I have missed you in the blogging world but see that you have a gorgeous view and have been busy reading and relaxing! I have Rose Under Fire as a title I want to finish this break. I am busy gardening and reading this Spring Break – looking at the mud under my nails as I type. Yikes. I just picked up Ex Libris from the library just so that I could read the chapter My Odd Shelf 🙂 My husband is currently reading Code Name Verity so I am hoping he will read Rose Under Fire after me.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Gardening! That won’t start for another 6 weeks here probably. Spring is late and short in South Dakota! It will be 25 and snowing one day and 95 degrees the next. If we get two weeks of springlike weather, I’m happy! I planted 400 daffodils in my garden in the fall and can’t wait to see them this spring! Even if they only last a few days…. Enjoy your break! It’s so nice to have a few days off. I’ve been trying to get my husband to read Code Name Verity for awhile. At the same time, I love it so much I almost don’t like to recommend it to people because I’m crushed when they don’t like it, LOL. Wonder if you’ll find yourself reading other essays in Ex-Libris? So many charming ones. Looking forward to your views on Rose Under Fire!

  3. Crystal Avatar

    I also enjoyed Rose Under Fire and Yaqui Delgado was one of my favorites of 2013. That graphic novel looks intriguing and I have read some of Anne Fadiman’s work, but haven’t read that book. You have officially added to my TBR pile. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think Yaqui will be on my list of favorites for 2014. I think it’s going to linger with me for awhile. Need to check out Meg Medina’s other YA novel now. Have you read it? Blanking on title…. I like her PB Tia Isa Wants a Car (title?) quite well. Glad I can spread the TBR love!!

      1. angietemple Avatar

        Yaqui is a favorite of mine as well. The characters were so real. I also liked how the problem just ballooned out of nothing and became a vendetta status. A very real scenario for so many teenagers. However besides that I felt the characters were easy to relate too. What makes it a favorite for you?

      2. angietemple Avatar

        Professor how do I get a picture to show up when I reply to posts, like your picture beside your name? THank you

  4. Linda Baie Avatar

    What a wonderful trip, love the picture-ah-h! I loved Rose Under Fire in a different way, & wonder if we had read it first, then CNV, how we would have felt? I have Yaqui Delgado & need to get to it, too. It does sound very good. And thanks for sharing about the Fadiman book. I love Ex Libris, have gifted it to a number of readers. Thanks Elisabeth, for the rest too. Glad you had a lovely vacation!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I wondered the same thing about Rose Under Fire. I know that my experience was colored by my love for CNV, which is almost unreasonable! When I first started Yaqui, I thought oh, nice book for teens, quick read, but I found it to be much more than that. Really love how Medina covers so much ground but weaves all the plots and themes together. Isn’t Ex-Libris wonderful? I’m rereading that right now but only had 2 essays left so didn’t want to bring on vacation. Looking forward to finishing it up this week. At Large & At Small is equally wonderful, I think. And such beautiful books–love the design, quality, heft, size.

  5. ejmam Avatar

    My dream vacations now involve beautiful scenery, a suitcase full of books, and a suitcase full of games. Ideally there is spotty internet, just enough that I can load new stuff onto my NOOK if my reading takes an unexpected turn.

    I also like to reread Fadiman — it’s a reminder to slow down and enjoy the world.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha! I knew I was going to have a decent Internet connection in Mexico but decided not to take my computer. I checked email once a day on the hotel computer and other unplugged for the week. I think that’s actually necessary if I’m going to have a real vacation. Much as I love my social media, it really is more long-term enriching to read a book than to read Twitter!

  6. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

    Angie, I totally can’t remember how I got my photo to appear–but I know someone in class will be able to tell us. I’ll ask someone to tweet it out during class today.

  7. Myra GB Avatar

    Hi Elisabeth, I am loving that view. What could be nicer than being by the beach with lots of books to keep you company? Can’t think of any right now. Glad to see that you’ve had such a restful week and managed to sneak in quite a bit of reading too! Yaqui Delgado sounds like a novel I should read soon. I’m saving Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire quite possibly for our War and Poetry reading theme. I haven’t read any of Anne Fadiman’s essays yet, looks like this is another title I should look for – I just checked – we have a few of her Ex-Libris titles in our library – and I just put it on reserve. Looking forward to knowing her writing!

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