It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 6/1/15


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

On the blog:

In reading:

calling dr laura

Calling Dr. Laura is a graphic novel memoir in the vein of Fun Home or Stitches—an adult artist looks back at a dysfunctional childhood and explores issues of abuse, family, identity. I was really impressed by Georges’s art, but I found the story underdeveloped. Georges often seems unaware of just how disturbing some of her revelations about her childhood are, and she never adequately connects her adulthood choices and struggles to her childhood, family history, and experiences of abuse and dysfunction. I felt like there was much more processing and reflection that needed to happen before this story was ready to be told. But then again, maybe that’s the point: so much of our baggage is ultimately unresolved.

dept of speculation

Jenny Offill’s novel about motherhood, marriage, and art is going on my list of favorites of 2015. I’m not sure how to describe this book, as it’s quite different from most contemporary literary fiction I’ve read. It’s told in fragments and it’s almost collage-like, as Offill incorporates quotations, snippets of conversations, and philosophical musings into the narrative about a wife, mother, and writer struggling to balance her roles. It reminded me a bit of a commonplace book. The main character, never named, is a novelist whose second novel is much delayed after she has a baby and finds herself overwhelmed by caring for her colicky daughter. It’s a short book that packs a big punch.

keeper of soles

Keeper of Soles by Teresa Bateman is the quirky story of a shoemaker who outwits Death. Keeper of soles is pitted against keeper of souls, and the shoemaker reigns supreme through his superb shoemaking skills and artful persuasion. He manages to entirely confuse Death, who keeps visiting him to glean his soul but keeps leaving with a purchase order for a new pair of shoes.


How did I miss Lori Nichols’s Maple last year? A perfect picture book about family, love, and companionship.


The most boy-pleasing book we read this week was Fartiste, a nonfiction (believe it or not!) story of a 19th-century French performer whose great talent was farting. Joseph Pujol was one of the most popular acts at the famous Moulin Rouge. He could fart snippets of classical music and animal sounds. He could blow out candles with his farts. And he was so popular that he got paid 20,000 francs a night to perform (by contrast, actress Sarah Bernhardt earned 8,000 francs a night for her performances.) I’m not generally a fan of rhyming text, especially in a nonfiction story, but Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewster’s elegant verse is a comic foil for the subject matter.

charlie the ranch dog

I was admit that I picked up Charlie the Ranch Dog with very low expectations. I enjoy Ree Drummond’s food writing, but writing well about food doesn’t necessarily translate into an ability to write picture books. But Charlie the Ranch Dog is a clever and pleasing story. Charlie, the lazy basset hound, narrates the story, and his words–extolling his own alertness and work ethic—are thoroughly contradicted by the illustrations, which show the other ranch dog, Suzie, doing all the work. Charlie is clearly deluded, but everyone loves him anyway. I was glad to see that there are several sequels, and I’m hopeful that at least a couple of them will be just as good.

i don't like koala

Loved the way the inside front and back flaps are part of I Don’t Like Koala. Loved Koala’s creepy wandering eye. Loved the use of white space and minimal text. Didn’t love the turn at the end where the boy very suddenly decides he loves Koala.

wolfie the bunny

I’d already read and fallen in love with Wolfie the Bunny, but this was the first time I read it aloud, and wow, is it a great read-aloud. Such economy of language, such clever use of repetition. And Zachariah OHora’s illustrations are simply brilliant—incredible use of color and perspective.





14 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 6/1/15”

  1. Kellee Moye (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    Only know (and love) Wolfie on this list!
    I think Fartiste will probably be a must read in my distant (adolescent son) years 🙂
    Thank you for sharing about the others. Dept. of Speculations specifically sounds like a must read.

    Happy reading this week! 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Fartiste is definitely for the older crowd–much of the language is elevated, lots of big vocab words. Though the illustrations do convey much of what is going on. I’m sure my son missed much of the content of the language, but he definitely got the gist!

  2. carriegelson Avatar

    I am a big Wolfie the Bunnie fan too! Haven’t read it aloud so look forward to getting the chance to do that. I also found Maple utterly charming. Oh the picture books we have access to! So many fantastic ones.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      We are very lucky to have access to all these wonderful PBs! I think your students will love Wolfie the Bunny as a read-aloud.

  3. Michele Avatar

    Oh my gosh, what did you son have to say to “Fartiste”????
    I love love love Wolfie. When Dot says, “He’s going to – oh, skip it.” Love that line.
    I read Koala at ALAMW and preordered it but haven’t gone back to reread it. Need to do that. I have to say, that Koala really was a bit on the creepy side!!
    Glad to hear you’re enjoying Saint Anywhere too. Dessen has a great YA voice.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      There was quite a bit of hysterical giggling with Fartiste, and it’s definitely the book he has talked most about this week. He insisted that my husband read it too so we’d all be on the same page. Wolfie is one of those sneaky PBs for me–the ones where I read it thinking it’s really adorable and sweet but don’t realize just how artfully crafted and brilliant it is until I read it a few more times.

  4. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    So many great books this week. I am intrigued by Calling Dr. Laura and the Jenny Offill novel.

    I loved Charlie the Ranch Dog, but I haven’t been a huge fan of the subsequent books in the series so I’ll be interested to see what you think about them.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That’s my worry too with the Charlie the Ranch Dog books–seems like quite a few have been published in a short period of time, which doesn’t always lead to sustained quality. I am just a little bit obsessed with Jenny Offill right now. I should have added in my post that she also wrote Sparky! because I know that’s a great favorite with many. Cool grown-up books AND brilliant PBs from the same author!

  5. Linda Baie Avatar

    Okay, I definitely will find Wolfie the Bunny. You & many others have convinced me that it’s a must, although the cover still doesn’t do much for me. I looked up the Offill book. Did you know there are 2 others in the series? They do look so interesting. Thanks, Elisabeth!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s such a good sibling story, Linda. Much humor and warmth.

  6. Cheriee Weichel Avatar

    Well, I have not read any of these titles. I’ve heard of Wolfie and I don’t Like Koala though. Fartiste actually sounds like the kind of thing I would check out on Snopes if it were not a book. (I’m still not sure if I believe this) No Matter what, I’m still getting it for our library if I can find a copy in print. And by the way, I’m honored that you included my post on student starred books on your Links I Loved Last Week page.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      In the back matter, Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer note that Thomas Edison actually filmed a bit of Pujol’s act. I’ve got to remember to search and see if there’s a clip online. I have a feeling that would be a popular video in my house! There’s quite a bit of back matter giving more details about Pujol’s life and career and explaining how he was able physically to do his incredible farting feats. LOL.

  7. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar
    Ricki Ginsberg

    Calling Dr. Laura seems interesting to me. I am always inspired to read graphic novel memoirs. Even with the unresolved baggage, it sounds compelling. I wonder if the unresolved nature was intentional or not. It sounds like it would be an excellent text for a psychology class. I am going to try to find it! Thank you for sharing.

  8. vgpratt Avatar

    Okay, Keeper of Soles really has me curious. It seems like that great “play on words” type of book that my gifted kids would love; I just can’t tell if it’s appropriate for the age group. I definitely want to check out Maple and Wolfie based on your and others comments. I have to admit that I’m a bit of a prude (I guess); my mother was such a stickler about NOT using “bathroom language” that I still can’t read the word “fart” aloud (heck- I can barely type it!) without being VERY uncomfortable. I think I’m just going to leave that Fartiste book alone…!

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