It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 5/1/16


It was a slow week on the blog, though I did manage to catch up on quite a bit of blog reading and shared the usual Sunday links post.

rucker park

Rucker Park Setup…. great book for the reluctant reader who’s a basketball fan. It’s fast-paced and action-packed. Two best friends have made it to the championship game at Rucker Park’s famous summer basketball tournament, but one of them is stabbed and killed right before the championship begins and the other one thinks it’s all his fault. The novel incorporates heavy flashback into the action of the championship game as readers discover the sequence of events that led up to the stabbing as well as the identity of the killer, who happens to be present at the game.

I read this one aloud to my son (he chose it based on the cover), and I was glad to get to the end. Character development is almost nonexistent, and while the ethical issues at the heart of the novel are interesting, it’s difficult to care very much about the characters’ choices since they are mostly cardboard cut-outs. The extensive use of flashback to multiple past time periods can be confusing. (I counted five flashbacks to three different time periods plus the current time frame of the championship game in just one and a half pages at one point.) But I do think this is a great choice for reluctant readers.

pale male citizen hawk

I’ve read several books about Pale Male, and I think Janet Schulman’s Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York, illustrated by Meilo So, may be my favorite. Pale Male’s story is here in thorough detail, including parts of the story I had forgotten (the removal of the nest after George W. Bush’s administration relaxed the Migratory Birds Treaty, for instance) and the subsequent loud protests outside Pale Male’s posh Fifth Avenue digs. Meilo So’s illustrations are lovely, and this is definitely a book that will send readers straight to the Internet for photos and videos about Pale Male. Do note that this is a very text-heavy picture book written at a level that will be challenging for its audience.

twenty yawns

I was so busy admiring Lauren Castillo’s illustrations in Twenty Yawns that the story barely registered–though I will admit I yawned quite a bit reading it. So now I’ll have to get it from the library to reread because I don’t remember the story at all. But those illustrations are so lovely!

i am jazz

I chose I Am Jazz as the last read-aloud in my Children’s Literature course this semester. I really like this picture book: it defines and explains transgender identity in a way that is accessible to a very young audience, and it promotes acceptance, understanding, and celebration of the ways that we are alike and the ways that we are different. I’m excited about Jazz’s book for teens that’s coming out next month. (And now I want to watch the reality TV show too.)

mustache baby

Mustache Baby is just as silly as you’d imagine. I wish I’d had a group of kids to share this one with. Loved the ending too.





20 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 5/1/16”

  1. Kay McGriff (@kaymcgriff) Avatar

    I had never heard of Pale Male. Now I have something new to learn! Thanks!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s a great story, Kay. Jeanette Winter and Meghan McCarthy both have picture books about him too–significantly shorter ones at that. But I think Schulman does best at capturing the full story.

  2. Michele Avatar

    The illustrations by Lauren Castillo are simply beautiful – that sunset illustration made me gasp!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes! When I saw that illustration, I thought wow, I have to purchase this book for my own collection.

  3. Linda Baie Avatar

    I see why the Rucker Park book would be appealing: mystery, blood & gore! I haven’t heard of Pale Male before either, will look for that one. Twenty Yawns has a very basic story, but good for the very young, and the illustrations, as you say, are marvelous.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Reading Rucker Park together did make me think my son would enjoy some basic mysteries that aren’t too hard to follow read aloud. I’m going to have to poke around and see what I can find. I do think you’d like the Pale Male book quite a lot, Linda.

  4. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I didn’t realize Jazz had a book for teens coming out. I will definitely have to check that out.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s out in early June, I believe. I’m definitely ordering for my collection. I always have several students in Adolescent Lit who read Beyond Magenta and then want to read more, so I’m thinking Jazz’s new book will be a great choice for them.

  5. Cheriee Weichel Avatar

    I went and had to check the internet to discover who/what Pale Male was. What a fascinating story! I’ve been reading so much good about Twenty Yawns, that I just added it to my book order without previewing it. Jazz didn’t really work for me, but I have a copy at school and you are right that it presents transgender at an accessible level for primary. I’ll have a read at the teen book when it comes out. Hope you find better books to read with your son this week.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes, isn’t it marvelous? My poor son has had to sit through every single picture book about Pale Male AND a bunch of videos! Sorry Jazz didn’t work for you. Funny how books are like that! My son and I are reading a dragon book this week, and I happen to LOVE dragon books, so it’s making me happy!

  6. Kellee from Unleashing Readers (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    Twenty Yawns makes me yawn every time!!
    I don’t know anything about Pale Male, so now I am intrigued.
    And thank you for sharing the basketball book. I have readers that loved Crossover but do not like any of the other basketball books I have–maybe they’ll like this one.

    Happy reading this week! 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I was reading Twenty Yawns silently to myself and still yawning! Definitely check out the Pale Male book–such a fascinating true story. So many of my commenters this week aren’t familiar with Pale Male, so I’m sensing a Nonfiction Wednesday Post complete with photos and videos! There’s also a great nonfiction book for grownups about Pale Male called Red Tails in Love. Rucker Park Setup is pretty intense. I’m wondering what your students who love The Crossover but don’t like your other basketball books were responding to in The Crossover. Maybe the lack of urban grit? I’m just thinking about most of my basketball books, and they’re pretty gritty. (As is Rucker Park!)

  7. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar

    I agree–the illustrations of Twenty Yawns stole my attention in my first reading, too! Now that I’ve read it a few thousand times with my son, I have the story down pat. 🙂 That book is a favorite in our house.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      LOL, Ricki. My son never went through a phase of wanting to read the same book a thousand times–which I’m both grateful for and kind of sad about. Much better for the daily read to be Twenty Yawns than many other books!

  8. Wyoming Jen Avatar
    Wyoming Jen

    Pale Male & Jazz’s books are on my TBR now. And maybe mustache baby because it sounds silly!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Mustache Baby is VERY silly. I think you’ll find Pale Male and Jazz quite interesting.

  9. carriegelson Avatar

    I can’t wait to read Twenty Yawns. I have seen lots of hype about it and always find Castillo’s illustrations so charming.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s a very charming book, Carrie. And Yolen is a strong writer, so it’s a good match between author and illustrator.

  10. Crystal Avatar

    I’m still waiting on Twenty Yawns. It definitely looks charming.

  11. Myra GB Avatar

    I own a copy of I am Jazz – I really should get to it soonest!

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