It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/21/14 #imwayr



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

On my blog:

In reading, it was one of those weeks where I nearly finished a bunch of books but then didn’t. I only managed to finish one this week:

boy on porch

Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch is the kind of book you read in one sitting. The first chapter contains quite a hook: a couple named John and Marta find a young boy asleep on their porch one morning. They don’t know who he is or where he came from, and he doesn’t speak, so he can’t tell them. I had to keep reading. I enjoyed this book, but at the end, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d read or what I thought about it. The book has a strong theme about finding family, but certain other elements were underwhelming to me, especially setting and characterization. The book has a fable-like quality to it, which could explain the lack of development or specification with time period and setting. That could also explain the underdevelopment of the main characters. But I wasn’t ultimately sure what Creech was getting at. The whole book felt a bit underwritten to me.

Otherwise, it was all picture books all the time around here. Some highlights:

I made a big dent in Lois Ehlert’s works this week. I read 12 books by her. My favorites were:

rralph mice color zoo planting a rainbowscraps book

There were definitely a couple I didn’t care for in a big way, but I have so much more appreciation for her books after my reading this week.

I read two books recommended by my students in Children’s Literature:

goodbye cancer garden

The Goodbye Cancer Garden is about a family who decides to plant a vegetable garden to help them cope with the mother’s diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. This book is very upbeat and positive, though it still freaked my son out to think of a mother ever getting sick. (Though this mother mostly smiles and looks beatific throughout her cancer treatment.)

pig kahuna

We enjoyed Pig Kahuna, especially the illustrations and the fact that one of the pigs is named Fergus (as is our fattest, fluffiest, most peace-loving cat).

Three new picture books arrived in the mail for me this week:

peanut butter and jellyfish

I shared Jarrett Krosoczka’s wonderful TED talk with my Children’s Lit class this week and got Peanut Butter and Jellyfish for our classroom library. It’s a sweet story and it’s impossible not to like a seahorse and jellyfish named Peanut Butter and Jellyfish, but I felt this was a bit on the slight side with a plot and theme treated more effectively in other books.

adventures of beekle

Dan Santat can do no wrong, and The Adventures of Beekle may be his best book yet. It’s a heartfelt and clever story of what happens when an imaginary friend gets tired of waiting for his unimaginary friend to claim him and decides to take matters into his own hands. Loved this one so much!

pigeon needs a bathI had been a bit disappointed in the last couple of Pigeon books, but I think that Mo Willems is back in top form with The Pigeon Needs a Bath! It still amazes me how much emotion Willems is able to convey through his simple drawings.

In addition to Ehlert’s Color Zoo, I read one more book for the Caldecott Challenge:

arrow to the su'

Gerald McDermott’s illustrations for Arrow to the Sun are brilliant. My husband surprised me by saying they were maybe his favorite picture book illustrations of all time. I didn’t care for the writing, though.

I made the tiniest progress on the Geisel Challenge:

move over rover

Another rhyming book I loved! I may have to reconsider my longstanding dislike of rhyme and repetition. (Not that I’m questioning its importance in children’s literature–only that I don’t care for rhyming or repetitive stories myself.)

pip's trip

I’m a big fan of Janet Morgan Stoeke’s Minerva Louise series, so I was pleased to find Pip’s Trip at the library this week. The Loopy Coop hens are about as bright as Minerva Louise, so Pip’s trip isn’t quite the journey you might imagine.

take me out to the yakyu

Aaron Meshon’s Take Me Out to the Yakyu features a biracial boy who loves baseball when he’s with his family in America–and when he’s with his family in Japan. Facing illustrations compare the experience of attending games in both countries, and there’s a Japanese-English glossary at the back along with author’s notes on the history of baseball and cultural differences between the sport.

I am really hoping to finish Grasshopper Jungle, Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake, What I Saw and How I Lied, and Openly Straight this week–as well as my current professional development book, Thrive. Here’s hoping for lots of reading time!

18 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/21/14 #imwayr

  1. I agree with you about The Boy on the Porch. While I loved it, I also felt it was underwritten. I totally agree that it felt like a fable — or maybe an allegory. I, too, wanted to know more about the setting and character development. But I also thought the story in general just felt special despite some of what it was lacking.

    I am very impatiently waiting for my library to get The Adventures of Beekle.

    • Beekle is such a winner! Just loved it–one I know I will enjoy sharing repeatedly. I think one reason I’m struggling with my response to Boy on the Porch is that I also felt it was somehow special despite lacking something. Not sure how to reconcile those two things in my brain!

  2. I cannot remember the name, but isn’t there a mythical story about a couple without children who find a girl and take her in. Although they ‘really’ know she isn’t real, they love her like their own. And she eventually disappears. I wonder if the Creech book is based from that. Like others, I’d like to read Beekle, and more of the Ehlert books. I have Scraps, still haven’t read it. Thanks for your opinion on some of these! I appreciate it!

    • I think you’ll like Scraps! I’ve shared it several times over the past week and enjoyed it each time. Plus, it gave me a much better appreciation of Ehlert’s other books. I am going to have to look into a potential myth source for Boy on the Porch. Thanks for that suggestion!

  3. Thanks for your recommendations! The Boy on the Porch looks like a great read and I’ve seen a lot of talk about The Adventures of Beekle. I will have to look it up!

  4. Great books on this list!
    I a m looking forward to reading Beekle, and I loved Willems’s new one.
    I need to read more of Sharon Creech’s books. I want to read all of hers as everything I’ve read by her is brilliant.

    Happy reading this week!!! 🙂

    • I have quite a few Creech titles left to read for the first time too, Kellee. Looking forward to summer reading! I think I’m going to create a middle-grade reading challenge for myself! Glad you also loved the new Mo Willems. I took it directly from the Amazon box to my classroom, so I still get to share with my kids.

  5. Your review of The Boy on the Porch gave me shivers. I need to get it. Those one-sitting books are the best. They are the reason I live for reading. Thank you for sharing all of these titles with us! 🙂

  6. Hi there Elisabeth, I’m glad to hear that you’ve read more of Lois Ehlert’s picturebooks and enjoyed a few of them! 🙂 I am very excited to find Beekle in our library soonest – I feel the same way about Dan Santat – so brilliant. I have several of Sharon Creech’s novels in my personal library – but haven’t gotten around to reading them yet – I’ve read a few reviews about this new one of hers which echo what you say about it being ‘underwritten.’ Hope you have a wonderful reading week!

    • Have you seen Santat’s book trailer for Carnivores? I love it so, so much! I am hoping to read Ruby Holler this summer and maybe a couple more Creech novels. Walk Two Moons is very impressive, and I often include Love That Dog on the syllabus for children’s lit–good intro to poetry for my students, plus good conversation to be had about the teacher in the story and how she convinces Jack to write poetry. I feel so virtuous now that I can cross Ehlert off my Children’s Lit Shelf of Shame. The only author left on that shelf, I think, is Roald Dahl. I have a serious Roald Dahl block!

  7. The Boy on the Porch was certainly sparse. I felt it was intentional and actually enjoyed the power in the parts of the story not told. Beekle is a special title – I hope we can get it for our school library and I can’t wait to add this new Pigeon title to our classroom library! My students are huge fans!

    • My Children’s Lit students were happy to see a new Mo Willems too, though it’s clear that Elephant & Piggie, even more than Pigeon, have won their hearts. I agree that the underwritten quality of Boy was intentional. I’m just not quite sure what the intention was! It’s definitely had me thinking this week.

  8. I found your thoughts on Boy on the Porch quite interesting. There is certainly a lot not said in this story. I will say that sometimes Creech writes over her readers. I had no success in getting kids into The Great Unexpected. I am a fan of Boy on the Porch though, and have had several young readers enjoy it. And I cannot wait to read Beekle and the new Pigeon book!

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