It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 9/14/15


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

On the blog:

In reading:

tricky vic

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower is a slightly-longer-than-average nonfiction picture book about con man Robert Miller, better known as Count Victor Lustig, one of forty-five different aliases Miller used as he conned people across Europe and America with various tricks and scams. Perhaps his most audacious scheme was to sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal to a scrap metal dealer who was apparently so humiliated by losing his life savings in this way that he never even reported Lustig to the police. The law did eventually catch up with Lustig. He was convicted of counterfeiting money and imprisoned—only to escape by posing as a window washer. He was eventually recaptured and sent to Alcatraz, from which he did not escape. Geisel winner Greg Pizzoli writes a book suited to older readers (there’s plenty of complex vocabulary here, and the sentences aren’t exactly simple either) that’s quite the page-turner as we wonder what scheme Lustig will cook up next. The art is also a star here.

piper green and the fairy tree

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree is the inaugural title in a terrific new chapter book series for younger readers. Written by Ellen Potter and charmingly illustrated by Qin Leng, this book has it all: engaging characters, a unique setting, just enough plot to keep the pages turning, quirk appeal (I especially love Piper’s little brother Leo, who is married to a Post-It note he’s named Michelle), and KITTENS. Perfect for readers who aren’t quite ready to read Clementine independently.

just ducks

Just Ducks blends a fictional story of a child observing ducks on her way to and from school with a nonfiction component that shares different facts about ducks in small print. Nicole Davies’s writing is strong and poetic, as always, and both story lines—the child’s observations and the narrator’s factual information—are compelling.

el deafo

My Graphic Novels class read El Deafo this week. It’s a reread for me, and while I was thrilled it received a Newbery Honor, I had also been thinking it was a slightly strange choice, given that the drawings are really important to the story and presumably not up for discussion by the Newbery committee. So for my reread, I tried to ignore the drawings as much as possible and concentrate on the prose alone to think through the question of whether the text is truly Newbery-worthy. And I have to say, it really is! Brilliantly written, brilliantly illustrated, this book led to a great discussion in my class. So glad I decided at the very last minute to include it on the syllabus for this course. It also inspired some great fan art drawn by one of my students:



half upon a time

I’m very meh about James Riley’s fractured fairy tale series, but my son did like the first book well enough to want to begin Book 2 immediately. The pages turn quickly, and Riley manages to end most chapters on a cliffhanger, but there’s a real lack of depth and complexity to the story, characters, and writing. It’s better than Chris Colfer’s The Land of Stories, but not nearly as good as Christopher Healy’s Hero’s Guide. 


I also shared these picture books with my college students for #classroombookaday, though Mr. Tiger Goes Wild was a last-minute substitution for This Is Sadie, which I decided to save for another week. I Yam a Donkey! is tremendously fun as a read-aloud. A goofy Donkey voice just came to me entirely unbidden.





27 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 9/14/15”

  1. msyingling Avatar

    Sometimes there are so many similar books that I can’t buy them all. I felt the same way about the Riley books, although one of my students liked them so well she got them from the public library.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I agree–so many different series right now that we could be investing classroom library & library dollars in. Can’t possibly buy them all!

  2. Michele Avatar

    You’re so early this week!
    The fan art is truly beautiful! Did you share it with Cece?
    I love the new Piper Green series. I haven’t gotten any readers for it yet, but I think I have some third graders that will be ready for it more towards the middle of the year. The second book is sweet too.
    Tricky Vic is in my pile. My daughter who hates nf (every so often I sneak a new book in her pile, I’m trying…) picked this one up on her own… b/c it was about Paris 🙂 But then ended up really enjoying it!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I had to order the second Piper Green book right after publishing this post. So glad your daughter enjoyed Tricky Vic. My son isn’t very interested in NF either, though I periodically force interesting titles on him. Well, interesting to me, LOL.

  3. Ellen Potter Avatar

    Thanks for including my series Piper Green & the Fairy Tree in this terrific list of books. Nice way to start the week!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks for commenting, Ellen! It was a nice start to MY week to find your comment on my blog!

  4. carriegelson Avatar

    So much that I love in this post! One, that you shared all of those books with your college students Two, that you did that thinking about El Deafo and came to that conclusion and Three, that you reminded me about Leo and the post-it note wife! Have a great reading week!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Leo and the post-it note family! Loved, loved, loved. Just hilarious. I am loving #classroombookaday in my college classes–none of which has anything to do with children’s lit this semester. I have a feeling this is going to be a new thing I do in all my classes forever and ever. So many good books to share–and very easy to make thematic connections between whatever we’re studying and a picture book!

  5. Cheriee Weichel Avatar

    I agree with you about Piper Green. I love her and her wacky family. I have not yet got to El Deafo, but will read it with a different perspective after reading your thoughts here. I ordered Just Ducks from the library to have a look at! Happy reading this week!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      El Deafo is wonderful–I think even better for me on the second read. Very well done. I’m reading another Nicola Davies titles now, and she’s so good at nonfiction for children. Glad Carrie is always sharing her books on her blog because I’m not sure Davies would be so on my radar otherwise.

  6. Hannahlily Angus (@DismalWhimsy) Avatar

    Eager to read Piper Green which I just haven’t been able to get my hands on yet. It sounds delightful. I have a hold on Tricky Vic and hope to get to it this week! Your student’s artwork is AMAZING. Definitely a very talented young person!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      After being in something of a reading slump, I was glad to read so many stellar books this week. I loved the student fan art too! She’s definitely talented.

  7. Tara Smith Avatar

    Tricky Vic is now on my must read list – what a character!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s such an unlikely story! And well told by Pizzoli.

  8. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    Oh I am so happy to hear that EL DEAFO stands on writing alone. And what an awesome example of fanart from one of your students.

    Tricky Vic is one of my all-time favorite nonfiction picture books. That’s a book that might be up for both a Newbery AND Caldecott this year.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I didn’t really write about the art in Tricky Vic, but I LOVED it. So clever, and I agree–definitely worthy of Caldecott consideration. I hope Caldecott continues to focus some attention on nonfiction, because I think there’s a lot of strong work being done there and I don’t feel that’s an area where Caldecott has honored as many books as it should.

  9. Kellee @ Unleashing Readers Avatar

    Piper Green looks like one to add to my early chapter book book gap must read list. There are so many good ones I haven’t read.
    How fascinating to read El Deafo without paying much attention to the pictures–I never thought to do that. That’d be an interesting activity to do with students.
    My students loved Half Upon as well–it was a big hit last year (it was on our state list).
    Love the PBs you shared with your students. Such wonderful choices!

    Happy reading this week! 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh yes, Piper Green fits that list perfectly. I have some gaps there as well and that’s one book gap challenge that’s fun to address. I just love how fast the books read–I LOVE finishing books! I’m not surprised your students loved Half Upon a Time. I wish the writing were a little stronger–the series needs editing. But it’s page-turny for sure.

  10. kelseyempfield Avatar

    Interesting perspective on your El Deafo reread. I typically dislike rereads but maybe it’s because I haven’t had the right focus going into it.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I don’t always love rereading either and have a bad habit of teaching books without rereading them. But the discussions are so much better if I do reread, so trying to make sure I do that this semester in graphic novels!

  11. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar

    I am thinking it would be very funny to have students read Just Ducks at the same time as Catcher in the Rye. I love how you considered solely the prose in your reread. You are such a thinker.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Had to laugh at the Catcher in the Rye and Just Ducks connection. Just Ducks is the much better book! (I hate Catcher in the Rye–though I will say I loved it the first time I read it at age 15 or so. Not a book that ages well, in my view.)

  12. Earl @ The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Avatar

    I’m to read more of those longer Middle Reader Nonfictions liker Trader Vic and A World Without Fish. I may try and save them for a reading challenge next year.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Great idea for a reading challenge! I tend to avoid the longer nonfiction titles too. Tricky Vic is actually much shorter than I thought it was going to be–it’s basically a picture book plus a couple of pages. World Without Fish isn’t familiar to me–off to research!

  13. Myra GB Avatar

    I have El Deafo waiting to be read and I loved seeing that fan art – it’s also perfect for our current comics reading theme. 🙂 Great to hear about Tricky Vic, I shall definitely pin it so that I can remember to hunt this title down.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      El Deafo is such a delight. I am so glad I reread it. I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts on it once you get to it. Tricky Vic is quite a story–definitely worth tracking down.

  14. crbrunelle Avatar

    I Yam a Donkey is one I will need to get for sure. Silly is awesome.

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