It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 3/9/15


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

On the blog:

In reading:

the red pencil

How I loved Andrea Davis Pinkney’s The Red Pencil, a verse novel about Amira, a young girl in Sudan who becomes a victim of the Sudanese Civil War. Amira, her family, her home, her beloved sheep, came to life for me through Pinkney’s powerful and affecting verse. Amira’s mother plans for her daughter to grow up to be a good wife, mother, and housekeeper, but Amira has larger ambitions. She sees the world as an artist. She longs to get an education, to follow her best friend to school to learn to read and write. Her father and Old Anwar, a family friend, support her dreams, but her mother cannot be convinced. Amira’s possibilities in life are already narrow, but then war comes to her village, and her family is displaced to a refugee camp, where the possibilities narrow even further for Amira. But then hope comes in the form of a relief worker who dispenses pencils and paper tablets and in the form of Old Anwar, who secretly begins teaching Amira to read and write.

p zonka lays an egg

Julie Paschkis’s P. Zonka Lays an Egg was my favorite picture book of the week. I have a fondness for chickens, and it’s clear that Paschkis knows a flock up close and personally. The flock dynamics in this story are quite hilarious. The story is simple: P. Zonka is too busy counting the petals on daisies and admiring the blades of grass to bother about laying eggs. The other hens peer pressure her to get busy laying those eggs, and when she finally does, it contains all the beauty and wonder she sees in the world around her.

the river

I am still trying to decide what to think of Alessandro Sanna’s The River, a wordless illustrated book about four seasons on the Po River in Italy. The book is divided into sections by season, and each section has something of a narrative arc to it, but the stories were very difficult for me to follow or understand. The real draw here is Sanna’s paintings, which are incredible. I first learned of this book at Brain Pickings, which has a thoughtful post featuring many images.

america is under attack

Don Brown’s America Is Under Attack is a longer picture book (more like a chapter book) telling the story of 9/11. Although Brown’s focus is on a chronological narration of events, he humanizes the story by following the events through the eyes and experiences of a few individuals, including rescue workers and people who worked in the Towers. Both prose and illustrations are thoughtful and clear. This is a very complex story made comprehensible for upper elementary readers.

wolfie the bunnyClever and sweet new title from Ame Dyckman about a bunny family that adopts a wolf baby and the sibling rivalry that ensues. Big Sister is convinced the wolf baby is going to eat them all up, but in the end, it’s the Wolf who needs to be rescued. 
before after


Before After is very long for a picture book (176 pages!) and while it’s appropriate for the age range listed on Amazon (4-8 years), that’s probably not the right audience for these lovely wordless before and after images. Many are tongue-in-cheek: one of my favorites, for instance, shows a sheep grazing in a lovely mountain landscape on one page and a ball of yarn on the other. Many are poignant and sweet. The book’s compact size is appealing but also makes it difficult to open the pages wide enough at the center of the book to appreciate the full images.

home carson ellis


I couldn’t find a good book cover image online for Carson Ellis’s Home, and I didn’t snap my own photo in the bookstore, so this image will have to do. It’s really the images that are everything in this picture book exploration of what home looks like and what home means. Some of the homes Ellis paints are real and some are wonderfully whimsical, like my favorite, the Norse god’s house (an image I snagged online and am using in total disregard of copyright):

norse godIsn’t that tremendous?
incredible book eating boy

Oliver Jeffers’s The Incredible Book Eating Boy has just the right balance of quirk and heart. The main character loves to eat books and eats them indiscriminately until he develops some digestive issues. A doctor suggests he might try reading the books instead of eating them, which turns out to be a much better choice.

if you plant a seed

If You Plant a Seed is Kadir Nelson’s new book, and though I’m a huge Kadir Nelson fan, I did struggle a bit with this one. The rabbit has the same creepy glassy eyes as Baby Bear, for one. And the message is really heavy-handed: plant seeds of selfishness and bad stuff happens; plant seeds of kindness and good stuff happens. albies first wordI loved Albie’s First Word, which tells a story inspired by Albert Einstein’s childhood. Einstein was a late talker, and Tourville imagines the lengths his parents might have gone to in their quest to understand the delay and hurry things along. His parents shower Albie with amazing experiences, which clearly engage him fully, but he still says nothing. At the very end of the story, the reader is treated to his first word, and it’s certainly worth waiting for. A lovely story about imagination, wonder, curiosity, and discovery. 






16 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 3/9/15”

  1. carriegelson Avatar

    The Incredible Book Eating Boy is SO popular in my room. Just delightful. I loved Wolfie and Home is on my wish list. Looks stunning!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I loved the cut-out at the back of Book Eating Boy. I was surprised by it too–so glad I hadn’t looked at the back of the book before reading. Home really is stunning! It’s one I’m going to have to buy (along with Wolfie the Bunny and P. Zonka Lays an Egg.)

  2. babyfoote Avatar

    Oliver Jeffers books are usually fabulous, and the book eating boy sounds like another hit. #imwayr

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I still have several Jeffers books to read for the first time too. I love knowing that I haven’t exhausted the complete works of a favorite author!

  3. The Logonauts (@thelogonauts) Avatar

    Wow, busy reading week! I really need to get P. Zonka and some others … thanks!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      P. Zonka was such a delight, but then, I’m a sucker for chicken books, especially when they get chicken personalities right. (I used to keep a backyard flock and hope to again someday. I miss my ladies!)

  4. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I have Home on hold at the library but it hasn’t come in yet. I’m really looking forward to reading that one!

    The more I think about Wolfie the Bunny, the more I love it. It’s one of those books that slowly creeps up on you rather than falling head over heels in love with it from page 1.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I agree, Beth. At first I thought it was just your typical sibling rivalry story, but there’s something else there that makes it even more special. Looking forward to rereading it once I purchase my own copy! And I need to read Home again too–I’d like to have more time to pour over the illustrations!

  5. Kendra Limback Avatar

    I keep looking at The Red Pencil in our school library, but I know a lot of kids are reading it too, so I’m trying to give them a turn. 😉 I also need Wolfie, but have dedicated that purchase to a local book store–which is way outside of my driving radius, so that will be an adventure.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m so glad a lot of kids are reading The Red Pencil! I was wondering about that. I plan to booktalk it next week in Children’s Lit class and anticipate several students will want to check it out. Any drive to a local bookstore sounds like a good excuse to get in the car to me!!

  6. Michele Avatar

    I quickly read If You Give a Seed at the bookstore and liked the message… but now I’m not so sure! I ordered it, so I’ll have to give it another read!
    I did love Wolfie! That one took me by surprise, I didn’t think I would like it as much as I did, but I ADORED Dot!
    I picked up Home from the library. Hoping to get to it this weekend!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think If You Plant a Seed reveals some of my book prejudices to me. I don’t mind a messagey picture book, but I far prefer it when I have to work a little bit to get the message! I keep laughing every time I think about the wolf in the bunny outfit–especially when he gets so big. Such a good book!

  7. Andrea Payan (@payanar) Avatar

    The Red Pencil sounds like an amazing book. I am also going to look for America is Under Attack and Albie’s First Word. Thanks for sharing about these books. Have a good reading week!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      These are all winners, Andrea! So glad I get such great recommendations from the Monday crowd.

  8. Linda Baie Avatar

    I have The Red Pencil, time to read it! The 9-11 book sounds like the right approach, Elisabeth. I’m glad that someone has told the story. Thanks for the reviews of the others, some new to me like the Jeffers’ book.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      You’ll like The Red Pencil, Linda. A powerful story–and beautifully crafted poetry! I was very impressed by Pinkney’s writing in this one.

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