It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 12/28/15


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

On the blog:

In reading:


I’ve already posted my Top 10 Reads of the Year list, but I’m going to have to make room on it for one more book, because Naomi Novak’s Uprooted is definitely a Top 10 of the year for me. When I love a book this much, I don’t do well with articulation. I could easily slap some adjectives on it–rich, complex, wonderful–but really, you just need to read the book. I promise it will be one of the best you read this year.

great greene heist

Warning: Varian Johnson’s The Great Greene Heist is not good bedtime reading: it’s much too entertaining and exciting! Every time I got to the end of a chapter, my son begged for just one more because he had to know what was going to happen next. This is pretty much the perfect middle-grade novel: plenty of page-turning plot, a diverse and engaging cast of relatively complex characters, good writing, lots of humor, a smidge of romance. It’s a great read-aloud. And it has a solid hook: Ocean’s 11 for the middle-school set. How can you not want to read it? I especially admired the way Johnson handled the shifting viewpoints from chapter to chapter. We may have stayed up too late a couple of nights reading, but it was worth it. One of my favorites of the year, for sure, and definitely in my son’s Top 5.

uncommon core

I’ve been trying to cram in a few more professional development titles before the end of the year, but it’s been slow going. For some reason, it’s really hard to put down a novel like Uprooted and pick up Conferring with Readers. But I really liked Uncommon Core by Michael Smith, Deborah Appleman, and Jeffrey Wilhelm, and even found it a bit of a page-turner. I hope to post a full review later in the week.

boats for papa

Jessixa Bagley’s Boats for Papa is both beautiful and heartrending. It tackles a difficult subject–the loss of a parent–with great artistry and sensitivity.

a dog wearing shoes

Sangmi Ko’s A Dog Wearing Shoes was a surprise delight. Mini discovers a silly-looking dog wearing yellow boots and falls hard. Her mother tells her that the dog surely has an owner, but Mini doesn’t want to listen–until her little dog runs off and she realizes how it feels to lose a pet. There is a satisfying happy ending where the dog is restored to its owner and Mini finds a new pet of her very own. A strong message in support of animal shelters as well.
mummy cat

I loved Lisa Brown’s illustrations in Mummy Cat and I appreciate a picture book set in a fascinating world that I see surprisingly few children’s books set in: ancient Egypt. But Marcus Ewert’s rhyming text fell very flat for me. I stick to my rhyming picture book rule: if you’re Deborah Underwood or Julia Donaldson, rhyme away! Everyone else, rewrite that text in prose. There is some interesting back matter here explaining mummy rites and rituals as well as giving some history of Queen Hatsepshet, who inspired the young queen mummy in the story.

under a pig tree

Margie Palatini’s Under a Pig Tree: A History of the Noble Fruit is so weirdly wonderful and hilarious. The book purports to be a history of the fig tree unfortunately corrected by the publisher, who decides the author really means pig every time she writes fig. Many ridiculous statements about pigs ensue, and the author always jumps in, scrawling all over text in protest. I have a feeling this book probably appeals to adults more than children, but that’s okay. I loved it!

ask me

Suzy Lee’s eye-popping autumn palette and delicate drawings elevated this picture book for me. Bernard Weber’s text more than adequately conveys what it’s like to have a “conversation” with a child of a certain age. It’s a charming story, but I did feel a bit exhausted by the end. So many words! Still, I loved that the book shows a tender father-daughter relationship, and I also appreciate that very little happens in the story beyond this creation of a world and a relationship through words.






10 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 12/28/15”

  1. Linda Baie Avatar

    Someone else shouted for Uprooted, so guess it’ll be another for the upcoming list of must reads. I enjoyed The Great Greene Heist, too, glad to hear your son enjoyed it. I think there’s a new one either out or coming soon. I enjoyed Ask Me, too, a quiet book that echoed that kind of time with a child. A Dog Wearing Shoes sounds funny, & I watch for books like that for the young grand-girls. Thanks, Elisabeth, and Happy New Year!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think the granddaughters would love A Dog Wearing Shoes–lots of silly antics with the dog, cute illustrations, and a heartfelt message about pet love in the end. My son was over the moon when I discovered the sequel to Great Greene Heist comes out next month–I’ve pre-ordered. I’m sure you understand that I would do just about anything to encourage booklove for him! Uprooted is a wonderful novel to sink into. Funny to me that two of my favorite 10 books of the year have been about magic (Sorcerer to the Crown is the other one). I clearly need to read more fantasy novels!

  2. carriegelson Avatar

    I have just requested Uprooted from the library. Your words were convincing!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thank goodness! I valiantly tried to put my love for Uprooted into words and deleted worthless sentence after worthless sentence. It’s captivating.

  3. Michele Avatar

    I just got caught up with your top 10 lists. We share quite a few!
    I really enjoyed The Great Greene Heist! I can’t wait to read #2. I got it at NCTE, just need to get to it. A few other January releases are in front of it. My 10yo read it and loved it.
    I wasn’t a fan of Margie Palatini’s new one. I usually love her humor but that on didn’t do it for me.
    Happy reading this week!

  4. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I loved Boats for Papa. I’ve never heard of Under a Pig Tree but I’ll be seeking that one out now!

  5. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar

    Ask Me looks simply magnificent. Thanks for sharing this one. I wasn’t aware of it! I will go on a hunt for it. 🙂

  6. Myra GB Avatar

    I absolutely loved Ask Me – and glad to see another Suzy Lee picturebook. The Great Greene Heist did not work for me as well as I thought it would, sadly – I just keep thinking that it’s a group of privileged young people who could have done something more substantial with their time, but again, that’s just me, really – I do get what you mean about it being gripping though – just not very credible/believable I thought. A Dog Wearing Shoes looks great. Happy New Year, Elisabeth!

  7. Jane Whittingham Avatar

    I feel the same way – sometimes the more I love something, the hardest it is to put my feelings into words, because nothing I write seems to quite do it justice. I read Boats for Papa not that long ago too, and the ending just crumpled me – beautiful stuff.

  8. Kellee from Unleashing Readers (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    The author of Great Greene Heist is coming to Orlando, so I want to read the book before he gets here. So glad to hear that it is enjoyable 🙂

    Happy new year!

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