It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 8/24/15


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

On the blog:

In reading:


Jack is Liesl Shurtliff’s second fractured fairy tale middle-grade novel, a follow-up to the enormously popular Rump. My son loved Rump. I wasn’t as much of a fan. It’s based on what is probably my least favorite fairy tale, for one, and Shurtliff’s short, choppy sentences didn’t make for the best read-aloud in my view. But I enjoyed Jack. The character development and plotting were at least as strong as in Rump, and the sentence-level writing was much stronger.

half a world away ivy loves to give

I was inspired by Carrie Gelson’s recent post about her Auto-Buy Illustrators to check out some books illustrated by Freya Blackwood, and both the books I read this week were excellent. Libby Gleeson’s Half a World Away was probably my favorite, both for the story and for the illustrations. Two best friends feel lost when one moves half a world away, but they find a way to feel connected in the end. Ivy Loves to Give is a clever story about a little girl who sometimes gives gifts that don’t work out so well—but other times gives just the right gifts. The clever part is that the gifts that didn’t work out so well in the first half of the story are the just right gifts when given to the right person. The text is very simple and short, and quite a bit of entertaining inference needs to happen through reading the illustrations.

ice bear

Ice Bear is a strong nonfiction title about polar bears for very young readers. There isn’t a tremendous amount of text, but I still learned a great deal and appreciated Nicola Davies’s poetic language. Each spread includes two text fonts—the larger for the more poetically-written story and the smaller for additional factual information. Gary Blythe’s paintings are gorgeous and atmospheric. I wish Davies hadn’t included the unnamed Inuit narrator on the first and last pages. I found that device took me out of the text and raised questions for me about appropriation and essentializing.

something extraorindary

Something Extraordinary is a powerful story about imagination and the importance of noticing what’s around us. A little boy wishes for many things—a hundred unusual pets, flavored rain, a big bushy tail—but most of all, he wishes that something extraordinary would happen. When he finally starts paying attention to his surroundings, he sees that something extraordinary is happening. Excellent pacing and strong illustrations.

dory and real true friend

Dory and the Real True Friend is Abby Hanlon’s follow-up to one of my favorite books of 2014, Dory Fantasmagory. At first, I was afraid I wasn’t going to like the second book as much as the first. It took a little time to get to the fantasmagorical. But once you’re there, this book is every bit as much of a delight as the first book. If Book 1 is focused more on Dory’s role within her family, in Book 2 we get to see Dory navigating the world of school, which can be a challenging place for the truly imaginative and creative.

painter's progress

A Painter’s Progress ended up on my TBR list because it showed up on several Best of 2014 annual reading lists, and I like books about art and artists. I’m somewhat familiar with Freud’s nudes, which tend to make the viewer a bit uncomfortable, but I didn’t know much about his art. I’m not sure this book really expanded my knowledge. It’s a book of 241 full-color, mostly full-page photographs of Freud and his working space taken during the last years of his life. There’s very little text, but what there is is quite fascinating—a few quotes from Freud on his beliefs about art, creativity, and work. The photographs and few quotes combine to present a portrait of the working artist. It’s an odd book. I found it both interesting and uninteresting, probably best for fans of Freud’s work.






11 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 8/24/15”

  1. carriegelson Avatar

    I am so pleased that you liked the titles illustrated by Freya Blackwood. I love her work and many of the authors she works with have written amazing titles. I love, love, love Dory! I keep thinking about how much fun it would be to teach Dory! Ice Bear is a wonderful text for thinking and learning. We did some questioning activities with this book in my class a few years ago: I included the link here as it may be an interesting activity to share with your students with a book that you already know and like. Something Extraordinary is on my TBR list.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I do love discovering new illustrators who quickly become favorites, so I extra appreciated your post with new-to-me books! How I love Dory! Abby Hanlon’s art is just right for this series too. Can’t wait to read more! I have several of Nicola Davies’s NF PB’s for younger readers right now. I was very impressed by the writing in Ice Bear.

  2. Holly Mueller Avatar

    I’m reading Jack to my 6th graders now. I actually loved Rump as a read aloud – it’s actually one of my students’ favorites. It’s funny how some books just don’t connect with readers sometimes. Glad you enjoyed Jack, though! I included Something Extraordinary in my reviews today, too. Thought it was great for writer’s workshop!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It was one of my son’s favorites too! He was SO excited to see Jack! I’m not surprised your 6th-graders love it. You’re absolutely right–funny how some books just don’t connect as well with certain readers. Looking forward to seeing your thoughts on Something Extraordinary.

  3. Cheriee Weichel Avatar

    Hi Elizabeth, I enjoyed Rump, but it wasn’t one of those books that just wowed me, so I’ve relegated Jack to my, ‘If I ever find another couple of hours in the day’ pile. I’ve got this new Dory book on order and hope to read it sometime in September. Something Extraordinary has been added. I hope to get a chance to read Carrie Gelson’s lists when I can scrape out some time! She is my go to person for picture books!

  4. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I absolutely loved Something Extraordinary. Such a beautiful story.

  5. Linda Baie Avatar

    I loved that first Dory book, am trying to read a few early readers so I will have some to share with my granddaughters when they get to that point in reading. I did like Rump, and have Jack, will get to it sometime I know. Thanks for sharing the Freya Blackwood titles, both new to me & both sound nice.

  6. Michele Avatar

    I thought the character development in Jack was even stronger than Rump. I loved how Jack was so conflicted – it seemed so real as a kid.
    I liked the second Dory even better than the first. I liked, but did not love, the first one. I think the second one got the balance of real friendship and imaginary just right.

  7. Kellee @ Unleashing Readers Avatar

    Yay Jack! So wonderful that it is as good, if not better, than Rump because I loved how she crafted Rump.

    Happy reading this week! 🙂

  8. Myra GB Avatar

    When you mentioned Freud, I thought you were referring to Sigmund Freud – then I saw the book cover. Somehow, I heaved a huge sigh of relief – would be strange to have the father of psychoanalysis painting nudes – stranger than he already is. 🙂 Haven’t read any of the fractured fairy tales in middle grade format – haven’t really read much middle grade novels, truth be told. Hehe. 🙂 Love Freya Blackwood as well. 🙂

  9. Gigi McAllister Avatar

    I enjoyed Rump and would love to read Jack. I also like the Dory Fantasmagory books and have not seen the one you shared. Freya Blackwood is new to me. Thanks for sharing.

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