It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 5/3/15


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

On the blog:

  • A curation of favorite online reading
  • A review of a nonfiction picture book written and illustrated by Susan Roth
  • A slice of scenes from the past week parenting my son

In reading:

better than befpre

In Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, Gretchen Rubin (of The Happiness Project) tackles habit formation. She identifies four different tendencies in forming habits (I’m a questioner crossed with a rebel) and suggests that the key to forming habits rests in identifying our tendency and working within rather than against it. This insight helps explain why some habits are easier to form than others and why some people find forming habits in general easier than other people find it. Knowing that I’m a questioner (and a rebel) helps me know that if I want to form a new habit, I need to have a good reason for forming it: I probably need to do research and be able to answer questions about why this particular habit is actually important and how it benefits me. This isn’t a book about which habits are the best ones to have or, really, about how exactly to form habits, since the approach that works will vary from person to person–though Rubin does provide plenty of insights and guidance depending on your tendency. Overall, the book is more a personal inquiry into habits and an exploration of what we might learn about habits from examining ourselves and others, our tendencies and challenges.

good luck cat

Joy Harjo’s The Good Luck Cat is a must-read for cat lovers. Woogie has blown through eight of her nine lives, and her young owner fears she’s used up the ninth when Woogie goes missing. As befits a lucky cat, though, everything turns out all right in the end. I also loved that this is a picture book featuring contemporary Native Americans! Why aren’t there more of those?

my grandfather's coat

Jim Aylesworth’s My Grandfather’s Coat got some Caldecott buzz last year for Barbara McClintock’s artwork. The story is fine–a retelling of a folksong that has been dramatized in other picture books–but it’s McClintock’s art that makes this book special.

marilyn's monster

One of my favorite reads of the week was Marilyn’s Monster, written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by the incomparable Matt Phelan. The story reminded me a bit of Beekle–just substitute monsters for imaginary friends. All of Marilyn’s friends have gotten their monsters, and she’s tired of waiting patiently for hers to show up. She wants to go looking for her monster, but she’s repeatedly informed that’s not the way it works: your monster must find you. In the end, she breaks with tradition and sets out to find her monster, only to discover that her monster needs rescuing. Phelan’s art is wonderful in this one, and it’s a clever and charming story.

nora's ark

Nora’s Ark is a wonderful story of what happens to one family in a small Vermont town when the river floods. It’s 1927, and Grandpa has been building a new house on a hill for Grandma. She doesn’t really want to move in, but when the waters rise, she and many of her neighbors–including the animals–take refuge in the kitchen. Emily Arnold McCully’s illustrations are gorgeous as well as comical, and Natalie Kinsey-Warnock’s writing is strong.

guess how much i love you

I made the bold move of checking Guess How Much I Love You out from the library and the even bolder move of reading it out loud to my son. Most nights, he wouldn’t have been able to take it (it was a week full of “you’re not my mom and it doesn’t matter how much you love me, you never will be”), but he had a connected day yesterday so I took a chance. He groaned when I read the title out loud and said, “You picked that on purpose, didn’t you? You’re a terrible mom.” But he said it with humor and affection in his voice and then snuggled in close, so I read it. Some of these classic parent-child I love you stories have really creeped us out (Love You Forever, I am totally thinking about you) or felt overrated and cliched, but I do think Guess How Much I Love You works. It’s heartfelt and touching without being treacly. It wouldn’t make most parents crazy to read it out loud several hundred times, though I will say that “Big Nutbrown Hare” and “Little Nutbrown Hare” don’t exactly trip lightly off the tongue.





20 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 5/3/15”

  1. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I’m glad you and your son had such a great experience reading Guess How Much I Love You. I love reading your stories about navigating your way through parenthood.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Beth! He gives me a lot to think and write about!

  2. Melanie Meehan (@MelanieMeehan1) Avatar

    Love your books this week, Elisabeth! Marilyn’s Monster sounds like one not too miss. Thanks for sharing. Hope all is going well.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Marilyn’s Monster is terrific! I hope you can find it because I think you’ll like it.

  3. Kellee Moye (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    I don’t know any of these picture books this week! Thank you for sharing them 🙂

    Happy reading this week!

    1. Kellee Moye (@kelleemoye) Avatar

      P.S. Your candid stories about you and your son are the best.
      P.P.S. I had heard of Guess How Much I Love You. I unintentionally fibbed.

      1. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar

        Liar! Ha, kidding. I love this book, too. It is one of the books in the (small) number that Henry lets me read to him.

      2. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

        Thanks, Kellee! I love the serendipity of these random library piles! I gave myself the treat of getting a library card at a different town’s public library last month and we’ve been going wild with reading ever since!

  4. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar

    Your heartfelt story about you and your son made me feel a bit teary. The warmth that you hold for your son emanates from the page. Years from now, he will thank you for your perseverance. I respect you so much, Elisabeth.

    1. Kellee Moye (@kelleemoye) Avatar

      Beautifully said Ricki!

    2. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That’s so sweet, Ricki. Thank you! I do wonder what he’s going to think of the pieces I write about him. It would be just fine with me if he never reads them, LOL.

  5. The Logonauts (@thelogonauts) Avatar

    I would definitely love to take you up on your offer of getting together for coffee at NCTE! It would be great to connect in person.

    I am waiting patiently in line for “Better than Before,” since I already own Gretchen Rubin’s two previous self-betterment books and like her insights. The Good Luck Cat sounds precious, and you are so right about modern NA books. Will definitely check it out!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I definitely enjoyed Better Than Before, and I’d like to institute a few more of her practices and ideas. Do you listen to her podcast, Happier? It’s one of my must-listen podcasts right now. We’ll definitely get together at NCTE!

  6. Cheriee Weichel Avatar

    Thug took my breath away and made me cry a bit. I love Davison’s reflections. I’ve bookmarked Donalyn’s list and plan to read the twitter list later. Thank you for all of these links. The Good Luck Cat is now on my to read list. I love cats, but after childbirth acquired an allergy to all things furry. And Marilyn’s Monster sounds just like the kind of book I love to read! Thanks so much for blogging.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Isn’t Thug amazing? I LOVE Jason Reynolds. I’ve got to go back to Donalyn’s list too. Not that I really need more books to add to the TBR list, but you know how it is. Book lists are very hard to resist. When my husband and I adopted, we were so worried our kids would be allergic to cats–and we have six! (Cats, not kids.) Which I will freely admit is too many. But since cat #6 is my favorite, I couldn’t very well do without any of them.

  7. crbrunelle Avatar

    Some great books here. I too enjoy Good Luck Cat and its representation of modern Native Americans. Guess How Much I Love you is a good one. The title reminds me of another good one, How Far Do You Love Me by Delacre.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I haven’t seen or heard of How Far Do You Love Me–will look for it.

  8. carriegelson Avatar

    I also adored Marilyn’s Monster What a sweet little title. Brave reading –> Guess How Much I love you.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I felt brave–and a little foolhardy! How I loved Marilyn’s Monster–checked out another couple of books by Knudsen today.

  9. Myra GB Avatar

    Marilyn’s Monster sounds beautiful. I would have to find that one! I love your stories about your reading time with your son. My daughter and I are reading The Grisha Trilogy and we are fangirling over some of the characters – it has inhabited most of our ongoing conversations now, and our allusions also revolve around a few of the characters and the many things around us that remind us of the stories. We are nearly done with Siege and Storm and we are looking forward to reading the final book in the series. 🙂

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