It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 2/29/16


On the blog:

In reading:

yes chef

I listened to Marcus Samuelsson’s memoir, Yes Chef, on audio, read by the author himself, and it’s well worth the listen. Samuelsson has had an incredibly interesting life, and he narrates it beautifully. I loved the Ethiopia connection (like Samuelsson, my son was adopted from Ethiopia), and Samuelsson has really smart things to say about adoption, family, and the loss of culture. He also has really smart things to say about food. There is clearly a strong philosophy of food and cooking  behind everything he does, and I was fascinated by his thinking process as he “chases flavors” and builds businesses. The one part of this book where I really struggled was in his descriptions of Zoe, the daughter he didn’t have contact with for the first fourteen years of her life. Samuelsson seems so clear-sighted about himself in every other area, so balanced in his understanding of his strengths and flaws, but there are some definite blinders when it comes to Zoe and his absence from her life. The writing itself is wonderful (not every celebrity memoirist gets to work with a writer as talented as Veronica Chambers!). This book reminded me just how much I love reading about food and cooking.

the good life for less

The Good Life for Less is not the kind of book I usually read. I do read a lot of nonfiction, but not of the how-to variety, and this book is a how-to guide to frugal living. I felt like I got the most out of the first two chapters about budgeting and cutting food expenses (the budget item that busts the budget every single month for me!). In March, I’m planning to try paying for food with cash instead of credit to see if that helps me stick to a budget. There’s a chapter of recipes (most of which didn’t seem very appealing to me) as well as chapters on special occasions and holidays and keeping the house organized and clean.

billy twitters

I read aloud Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem to my Children’s Literature class before showing Mac Barnett’s wonderful TED Talk. I think I enjoy Billy Twitters a little more each time I read it aloud!

what this story needs is a pig in a wig

Emma Virjan’s What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig is a charming and goofy easy reader. It’s a cumulative story in rhyme–which, for me, means it’s not as engaging for adult readers as Elephant & Piggie or Ballet Cat. I won’t be rushing out to buy the rest of the series for myself. But I will be reading it aloud to my Children’s Lit students and recommending it to all teachers of developing readers.

growing up pedro

In Growing Up Pedro, Matt Tavares gives readers another solid picture book sports biography, competently researched, engagingly illustrated, and effectively written. Tavares is always able to find an angle that gives his sports biographies heart: in this case, it’s the relationship between Pedro and his older brother, Ramon.

how mirka caught a fish.jpeg

How Mirka Caught a Fish is the third graphic novel in Barry Deutsch’s Hereville series that blends magic with realistic stories about an Orthodox Jewish girl, Mirka, and her family. The cover caught my son’s eye, and he surprised me by asking me to read it aloud to him at breakfast. It’s the first graphic novel we’ve read aloud together! Of course it would have been much better to start with the first book in the series, but now we’ll just backtrack through Books 1 and 2. Reading the book aloud helped me appreciate just how strong Deutsch’s writing is.  We never got confused about the action or who was speaking. Visually very appealing too. I do think the series should be read in order, and the first two books are stronger, plotwise, than this one, but if you’ve read the rest of the series, you’ll also enjoy this one, I think.





19 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 2/29/16”

  1. pilch92 Avatar

    Those memoirs sound interesting.

  2. Cheriee Weichel Avatar

    I’ve read about Yes Chef before. I’m torn about whether or not to read it because sometimes it’s hard to appreciate people’s better qualities when they’ve got such a huge flaw. I will see if I can find a copy of The Good Life for less. I’ve got a copy of the life-changing magic of tidying up in my pile. They both seem perfect for me in preparation for retirement at the end of this school year.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think it’s well worth the read. It did help me as I was reading to know that I was going to be incensed about his daughter and find that part problematic. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is hilarious. There is some good advice in it and also some seriously kooky advice–though I have to admit, I do think about the book every time I fold socks. Once you read the sock folding part, you’ll know why!

  3. Kay McGriff (@kaymcgriff) Avatar

    The picture books and graphic novels look delightful! I’m a sucker for how-to books, but I’ve gotten tired of the frugal ones. It seems we already do most of the ideas suggested. I guess that comes from growing up with frugal parents!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I really need some major help with credit card debt and budgeting, so I do find the advice helpful. If I lived frugally already, I’m sure I wouldn’t find much useful in the book though.

  4. The Logonauts (@thelogonauts) Avatar

    I heard Matt Tavares speak at NCTE at a roundtable with his editor and it was all about finding the right angle in Finding Pedro and how significant the revisions were to bring it back to a story about the brothers.

    This might just be me, but that cover for “The Good Life for Less” just annoys me. Silly perfect, unrealistic families!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      So interesting about Tavares and his process in Growing Up Pedro! Glad I noticed that as I was reading! The cover for Good Life really does look dated!

  5. Linda Baie Avatar

    Will look for the Hereville series, Elisabeth. I’ve never heard of them. A Pig In A Wig is one of the grand-girls’ favorites, just as you said, emerging readers & E & P lovers! Billy Twitters looks fun, too. As for the budget, way back when, I did do the cash thing. Put so much into an envelope & that’s all we had for the week for food. It worked! It’s so easy to charge everything, isn’t it? Good luck with that.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I really liked the first book in the Hereville series especially, Linda. So glad to know the cash in envelopes thing works! I whip out the credit card without hesitation and can’t ever figure out how the bill gets so high every month! I’m hoping this will help me be much more intentional with my spending.

  6. Joanne Toft Avatar

    Billy Twitters looks great – I will have to see if I can find that. A Good Life for Less seems like it came from the past. I agree with The Logonauts – the cover makes me not want to pick it up. ( That said the living on a cash basis is what we suggest to our children who have struggle with credit cards and budgets. It works!)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Billy Twitters is lots of fun–I love all things Mac Barnett and the illustrations by Adam Rex are also terrific. Again, I love hearing support for the case in envelopes strategy–really hoping to have some success with that!

  7. Tara Smith Avatar

    Lets hear it for Pedro – one of my baseball heroes! Samuellson was interviewed on NPR not too long ago – what a life he has lived!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Pedro’s is such an inspiring story! And yes, Marcus Samuelsson’s life is fascinating!

  8. payanar100 Avatar

    I love that you wrote about the audio of Yes, Chef. It definitely sounds like it would be worth the listen. Thank you also for the information about The Good Life for Less. I have been reading more of this type of book lately and this one sounds like one I would like to at least skim. Have a great reading week!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s a terrific audio! I could listen to Marcus read all day. I came across The Good Life when I was looking at the library for one of the books you mentioned on your blog in fact! It’s definitely worth a skim.

  9. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I absolutely loved Yes, Chef, but agree with you about Samuelsson’s attitude toward his daughter. I found him to be admirable in every other aspect of his life except for his lack of fathering.

    Is there a better TED talk than Mac Barnett’s? I think not! 🙂

  10. Crystal Avatar

    I read and enjoyed the first Hereville book. Somehow I have the first and third, but not the second so I am stalled. You have me wanting to fix that.

  11. Kellee from Unleashing Readers (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    I need to read the newest Hereville–I really loved the first two. Mirka is so kick butt!
    I also love what Tavares does in his biographies. He makes sports so relateable.
    P.S. I haven’t seen Mac Barnett’s TED talk!!!

    Happy reading this week! 🙂

  12. Akilah Avatar

    there are some definite blinders when it comes to Zoe and his absence from her life. — Yes! I think this is the perfect way to describe it. His mom is the real MVP there. I feel pretty strongly that if it weren’t for her, he probably wouldn’t have reconnected with Zoe at all.

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