It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 5/18/15


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

On the blog:

  • Links to my favorite online reading from last week
  • A review of Stand There! She Shouted, an illustrated biography of photographer Julia Margaret Cameron
  • A slice of life about good days–and why I rarely write about good days

In reading:

So many good picture books this week! Here are a few of my favorites.

coming home

Coming Home is a wonderful nearly wordless picture book about a boy anxiously awaiting the return of his soldier parent from deployment. As he waits for his parent to appear, he observes many other tender homecomings. There is much to look at and think about in this book. I especially loved Ruth’s choice to make the returning parent a mom rather than a dad.

tell me what to dream about

Tell Me What To Dream About is a quirky and clever title written and illustrated by Giselle Potter. A little sister asks her big sister what she ought to dream about, and the big sister is full of interesting ideas–all of which turn anxiety-producing in the imagination of the little sister, who keeps requesting a different dream. Potter’s style is a perfect match for this story: she has full rein to create some weird images as the little sister can’t help turning each perfectly nice dream idea into something just a little bit twisted.

nighttime ninja

Barbara DeCosta’s Nighttime Ninja is the clever story of a ninja who turns out to be a little boy out of bed without permission to sneak a snack. Minimal text with much of the tension, pacing, and comedy dependent upon Ed Young’s brilliant illustrations.


I’m a sucker for a chicken story, and Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure is a good one. Peggy is a hen who loves a predictable routine–until a windstorm sweeps her up and deposits her in the city, where she develops a taste for adventure. The cover conveys much of the appeal of the illustrations: plump Peggy so out of place in an urban environment. Anna Walker’s art is lovely and evocative.

ballet cat totally secret secret

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret is my new obsession. I read it three times this week. This is a wonderful early reader for fans of Elephant & Piggie. There’s a lovely lesson in friendship and compromise at its core, but the real appeal for me is the characters and their dynamic. Shea manages to convey so much emotion and personality through the simplest of illustrations and the sparest of language.

have you seen my monster

Steve Light’s Have You Seen My Dragon? was a recent favorite at my house. Have You Seen My Monster? is the follow-up, only this time a little girl has lost her monster at the county fair, and Light is teaching about shapes rather than numbers. There is so much to look at in Light’s pen-and-ink drawings.

17 things i'm not allowed to do anymore

The undaunted and unrepentent heroine in Jenny Offill’s 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore has many ideas for mischief–all of which turn into things she’s not allowed to do anymore. Offill’s concrete language and repetitive structure would make a fine mentor text. Nancy Carpenter’s illustrations are very amusing.






17 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 5/18/15”

  1. Tara Smith Avatar

    I want to read all of these! So looking forward to the summer, when I can.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      How I love summer reading and #bookaday! And how I love picture books, for making it possible for me to always reach my #bookaday goal!

  2. Linda Baie Avatar

    I really enjoyed Coming Home & Nighttime Ninja, and will find the “17 Things” book, Elisabeth. It looks like a lovely growing up book.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      There’s an edge and a bite to 17 Things, Linda. I so appreciate a picture book that shows a character NOT learning a lesson at the end! There are lessons to be learned here, for sure, but our heroine has no intention of being sorry!

  3. The Logonauts (@thelogonauts) Avatar

    Thanks for these. I’m especially interested in 17 things I’m not allowed to do anymore … Jenny Offil’s Sparky was a contentious book in my room this year after the Zolotow. (Not my choice, but many kids liked it,)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m a huge fan of Sparky. In my children’s lit class, I think we had the opposite dynamic from your room: I adored it, but most of my students felt meh. 17 Things surprised me–it has more of an edge than most of the PBs I read have. I have Offil’s recent novel for grown-ups checked out from the library right now–really need to get to it.

  4. Michele Avatar

    I’m so glad you liked Ballet Cat too! I’ve read it to all my groups except for 4th grade. And they are on the list 😉 I love when Pony says, “I’m not a pony. I’m a phony.” Makes me laugh out loud every time! And I love when he asks Ballet Cat if her favorite thing is when a magician calls on her. Ha ha!!!!
    I put 17 Things on hold at the library, sounds good!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I laughed out loud several times in Ballet Cat. The magician moment is hilarious! My son didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did, but my husband also laughed out loud. Bob Shea is a genius. I broke down and ordered Offil’s other PB, 11 Experiments That Failed. Pretty sure I’ll be able to use it in several of my courses.

  5. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I’m looking forward to reading Have You Seen My Monster because I really loved Have You Seen My Dragon. It looks like the second one is a win too.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The use of shapes and color is clever and I learned some new vocabulary words! (I had no idea what a quatrefoil was!)

  6. carriegelson Avatar

    Lots of great picture books! I really want to find Peggy – I just love the cover. Coming Home really interests me too. Thanks for sharing details of all of these here.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The cover made me pick up Peggy in the bookstore, and the images inside are just as lovely. Coming Home is one you will like, I think.

  7. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar
    Ricki Ginsberg

    Hey! Sorry I missed you yesterday. I had an awful migraine. But I am back in action now! PhD stuff stresses me out. Your posts on my blog are always so helpful. Thank you for sharing Coming Home. I am going to buy it for two friends who have children and spouses in the military. This will make a good Xmas gift. Also, 17 Things seems like a good one for my son. He is a mischief-maker recently!

    I hope you have a wonderful week, my friend! 😀

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Your son might get ideas you don’t want him to have from 17 Things! Glad your headache is better. I know what you mean about PhD stuff! I’d love to hear more about the books you’re thinking of using in the Methods course.

  8. cheriee weichel Avatar

    I read and appreciated the link to How to Make Your Library a Safe Place. One of the things I do is book talk these kinds of books at our whole school assembly every Monday morning. I like his idea of adding if you liked this then you might like this, but I’m thinking of making book marks during the summer that would include these as well as lists for other kinds of books. You’ve got an interesting list of books here. I’ve read and loved 17 Things and Nighttime Ninja. The rest are new to me. Happy reading this week.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I try to booktalk a lot of diverse titles as well, Cheriee. I was really happy when one student in my Adolescent Lit course listed Beyond Magenta as her favorite book she read this semester. I like the idea of the bookmarks–I should make those for my Adolescent Lit and Children’s Lit classes. Thanks for the idea!

  9. Myra GB Avatar

    Oh my goodness Tell Me What to Dream about sounds exactly like a book that I would fall in love with. I love the collaboration between Offill and Carpenter – but this title I haven’t come across – will definitely have to find it.

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