It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 1/25/16


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

On the blog:

In reading:

Well, not very much. Many books started, few books finished. Some weeks are like that.

terrible two get worse

My son and I just finished Mac Barnett and Jory John’s The Terrible Two Get Worse, the second book in their series about two pranksters. Maybe it was because I was reading it aloud to my son who was enjoying it so much, but I liked this second book a lot more than I liked the first book (which I thought was fine but not special). Miles and Niles are now fast friends and fully embarked on their pranking project, which gets unexpectedly thwarted by a new principal who has a decidedly frustrating pranking policy: if he doesn’t acknowledge the prank, it doesn’t exist. And soon enough, Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy is the kind of school that has no pranks at all. Miles and Niles enlist a most unusual ally to help with the ultimate prank. It’s a quick read with plenty of amusing moments.

drum dream girl

Drum Dream Girl is just as wonderful as everyone said it is. Rafael Lopez’s illustrations are eye-poppingly gorgeous, and Margarita Engle’s writing captures the longing of the Drum Dream Girl, who knows she’s got a drum beat in her blood but who can’t play the drums because in her culture, drums are for boys. Thankfully her father changes his mind and allows her to take lessons (the one moment in the text that felt a bit rushed and unbelievable to me, given his obstinate refusal up to that point).

mother bruce

Ryan Higgins’s Mother Bruce is such a delight–certainly one of the funniest picture books I’ve read in awhile. So much humor in those illustrations. I plucked this one from the Hold Shelf at the library (where it was on hold for someone else!) and read it surreptitiously. I am looking forward to a more leisurely read where I can examine those illustrations more closely!

lady pancake

I’m going to say something I almost never say on this blog: I liked the rhyme in Josh Funk’s Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. In fact, I think the rhyme fully worked and made the story better. And so I add Josh Funk to the (very!) short list of authors who should write rhyming picture book text (thus increasing the list to three whole authors! Everyone else, PLEASE STOP.) This is a clever story of a pancake and a piece of French toast who are determined to get that last drop of syrup. They have quite an obstacle course to overcome in what must be the most abundantly stocked fridge in the world. There is a wonderful surprise twist at the end.

madame eiffel

Madame Eiffel: The Love Story of the Eiffel Tower is also written in rhyming text, and it simply doesn’t work. The rhymes feel both forced and predictable (“Growing fonder and always going yonder”), the lines bang and clunk to a halt rather than lilt or zip as rhyming text should. Csil’s illustrations are charming and the book is beautifully designed, so it’s worth a look for that alone. It’s an oddball little story that I would have really liked had it been written differently.





28 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 1/25/16”

  1. Lisa Maucione (@DrLMaucione) Avatar

    I feel the same about rhyming picture books. I often would rather they didn’t rhyme. I also agree that Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast is a good one! I just loved Mother Bruce, too. I’ll have to put Drum Dream Girl on be TBR list.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      So often the rhyme really doesn’t work! Drum Dream Girl is a must-read, both for Engle’s text and Lopez’s illustrations.

  2. Karen Yingling Avatar

    I liked the first Terrible Two better. The second seemed a bit more mean spirited. Or maybe I just didn’t like the colors on the cover!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I was a bit bored by the first Terrible Two–maybe just too long of a set-up for me, given the kind of story it is? I have an ARC and would really like to see the finished illustrations in a published copy!

  3. Kay McGriff (@kaymcgriff) Avatar

    The picture books look fabulous! I have to agree that rhymng books where the rhyme doesn’t work is painful. I need to find Sir Pancake to read after all the good things I’m hearing about it. I haven’t read the Terrible Two, but they sound like fun!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Lots of kid appeal with The Terrible Two, I think!

  4. The Logonauts (@thelogonauts) Avatar

    With you, as always, on rhyming picture books. i spend most of my poetry unit (ongoing right now) convincing the kids they need to stop trying to write in rhyme, because third graders will sacrifice every bit of sense for a rhyme!

    Was Terrible Two an Arc or is the sequal out already?

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Sometimes I feel like picture book text does the same: rhyme takes precedence over sense! All too often it’s probably the rhythm that gets me more than anything else–the sing-song pattern takes the life out of nearly all writing! My copy of The Terrible Two is an ARC, but I think it was published in January, so it should be available.

  5. Michele Avatar

    I’m so glad you reviewed Madame Eiffel. I’ve been waiting for my library to get it in and it hasn’t. Glad I saw this before I purchased it!
    I thought Drum Dream Girl was beautiful too, but I’m not sure if it will have wide kid appeal?
    I enjoyed this Terrible Two way more than the first one. Better story, likable.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      For me, Madame Eiffel is a definite DON’T purchase! The story is really problematic in several ways too–Eiffel, who designed the tower, is one of the two main characters in the story, but nothing in it is actually true. His wife is the other main character, but apparently in real life, she didn’t even have the same name as the wife in the story. It’s all rather bizarre. I do think there is an audience for it, and Csil’s illustrations are well worth a look, but I think you’d be happier spending your book $ elsewhere.

  6. Josh Funk Avatar

    Thanks for your kind words… *blushes*

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      You’re welcome! I was really worried about reading your book. You’ve been so kind sharing my blog posts on Twitter, and I would have been mortified if I hadn’t liked your book. SUCH relief when I read it aloud to my son and we both liked it!

      1. Josh Funk Avatar

        Hey, you gotta stay objective. And not every book is for everyone. I’m totally ok with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Linda Baie Avatar

    I need to find Mother Bruce. I certainly does sound fun, & funny. Glad you enjoyed Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast. It was a great read for the grand-girls, clever but not too sophisticated for them. And Drum Dream Girl is a beauty, agreed.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      You will enjoy Mother Bruce–and the grandgirls might too! I’m not surprised they liked Lady Pancake. As I was reading it to my son (admittedly not the best audience for it), I was thinking what a kid-pleasing title it is.

  8. Melanie Meehan (@MelanieMeehan1) Avatar

    Drum Dream Girl just went into my cart. The Terrible Two has been on my radar. Maybe I’ll start with the second one as opposed to the first. Have a great week!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I had read the first Terrible Two myself but my son did start with the sequel. You miss out on some character and situation development if you start with Book 2, but I don’t think they’re necessary to read in order (though there are some spoilers in Book 2 for the story in Book 1).

  9. Kellee from Unleashing Readers (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    Gasp! You liked the rhyme?!?! That’s because Josh is hilarious ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have Terrible Two on my musreadin2016 list, so I’ll need to grab #2 when I finish it.
    I, too, need to read Mother Bruce. It sounds funny.
    Drum Dream Girl is a must read for me–I need to get it.

    Happy reading this week! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I know, can you believe there was a book where I liked the rhyme? I have such a mental block about that! If you really like Terrible Two, the sequel is fun, but if you feel you have enough with just one book, know that Book 2 is simply more of the same! Mother Bruce is such a delight! I hope you get to Drum Dream Girl–beautiful book!

  10. Cheriee Weichel Avatar

    I had Drum Dream Girl on my to read list from a bit ago. Between your review here and an earlier one I read today, I added it to my shopping cart. Besides, it’s by Margarita Engle and I adored Enchanted Air. I’m going to have to have another go at that pancake and french toast book. Maybe it didn’t work for me because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I still have to read Enchanted Air. I did not love the illustrations in Lady Pancake; they didn’t work nearly as well for me as the text. I also think it’s a book that would be transformed by the experience of sharing it with children.

  11. Jane Whittingham Avatar

    I’m also pretty picky when it comes to rhymes in picture books, a clunky, awkward rhyme can completely ruin an otherwise strong picture book!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Agreed! It’s much more difficult to get rhyme right.

  12. carriegelson Avatar

    Love your hold shelf borrowing techniques! I bought Mother Bruce because couldn’t stop laughing

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m going to have to buy it too. I was reluctant to put it back on the Hold Shelf for the poor person who managed to request it before I did!!

  13. crbrunelle Avatar

    I loved Drum Dream Girl for multiple reasons – the beauty of the illustrations, the theme, the music that I could hear in the words and more. Mother Bruce simply cracked me up.

  14. Myra GB Avatar

    Like you, I have a thing against rhyming text especially in picturebooks – too bad it didn’t work for Madame Eiffel – I was really looking forward to finding that one. Drum Dream Girl is indeed all kinds of special – I received an unbound ARC from Margarita before it was released and I thought it was gorgeous.

  15. vgpratt Avatar

    I can always count on you having something on your list that will be new or challenging or different for me! I’m anxious to buy The Terrible Two Get Worse– my kids liked the first book, and I have Drum Dream Girl sitting on my read-aloud table! I guess I need to read that one sooner than later! I’ve walked by Mother Bruce in several stores lately, and resisted it, but from everything I’ve read in the posts this week, I think I’m going to need it (I say–as if I would perish without it!). I definitely want to take a look at Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast now, too– it was on my radar before, but you have my curiosity piqued!

    Hoping all is well with you! Have a great week! ๐Ÿ™‚

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