It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 12/5/16



As I was reading Pax by Sara Pennypacker, I was so worried that the fox was going to die. It just seemed like it was going to be that kind of story. And it didn’t help that one of the blurbs on the back calls the ending “heartwrenching.” What else can happen besides death? I put off reading the last few chapters for several days because I didn’t think I could take it. Is it fair to give happy spoilers for those who haven’t yet read Pax? I will simply say that if you’ve been avoiding it because you’re worried the fox will die, it’s ok. It is kind of a heartwrenching ending, yet I found it fully satisfying. I do think Pax is the strongest children’s fiction I’ve read this year. Pennypacker’s character work with the fox is especially strong. I am now completely in love with red foxes.


The Poet’s Dog was a bit of a struggle for me. I like the clarity, simplicity, and elegance of Patricia MacLachlan’s writing, but I couldn’t quite suspend my disbelief here. Dogs talk–but only to children and poets. It’s very short with not a word to spare and worth a read even if talking dogs aren’t quite your thing.


One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree is such a delight: hilarious and clever rhyme, brilliant illustrations by Brendan Wenzel (who has had quite a year), and a cumulative story that had me giggling in the bookstore.


An Artist’s Alphabet is an absolutely gorgeous rendering of the alphabet with some seriously creative takes on letters, as the cover C suggests. Messenger even uses negative space to form letters. I rarely buy alphabet books but I might have to make an exception for this one.


A sweet story about reality vs expectations and how we can learn to let go of our expectations and fall in love with reality. A little girl sends in a quarter to a magazine ad and gets her very own unicorn in return. She had the most marvelous visions of this creature, but then Sparkle arrives and he is far from the unicorn of her dreams. Still, she patiently learns to work with him and even grows to appreciate his unique way of being in the world. A great story for talking about what to do when things don’t go as planned.


There is such a need for some new titles focusing on adoption, and there is much to appreciate in Renata Galindo’s My New Mom & Me. I especially liked that she focused on the challenges of a new family from the perspective of the adopted child rather than the more typical adoptive parent-centric approach of “you needed a mom and I was meant to be your mom” I’ve seen in most picture books about adoption. There is a lovely line at the end: “Mom is learning how to be a Mom and I’m learning how to be Mom’s kid.”


I’m not sure there is anything new in the storyline of Hector and Hummingbird: Hector gets annoyed by the incessant chatter of Hummingbird and crankily sends him away only to discover that he really misses his best friend. But it’s sweetly told and the color palette is absolutely astonishing.








18 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 12/5/16”

  1. carriegelson Avatar

    I agree with you about PAx. Superb. Beautifully, beautifully superb.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Really such an impressive book.I adore the Clementine series but wasn’t fully prepared for the exquisite writing in Pax.

  2. Lisa Maucione (@DrLMaucione) Avatar

    I was disappointed when I read The Poet’s Dog. I thought I was going to like it so much more. Similar to you, I couldn’t quite get on board with the fantasy element. I just loved the beautiful colors of Hector and Hummingbird!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The colors of Hector and Hummingbird were such a surprise. It felt very 1950s Miami to me–not that I know anything at all about 1950s Miami, but apparently I believe I have a strong visual memory!

  3. Kellee from Unleashing Readers (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    I NEED to read Pax. It is on our Mock Newbery List, but I just haven’t read it yet–I’ll get to it eventually, but the more I read about it, the more I know I need to read it.

    Happy reading this week 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s hard for me to think of a stronger children’s or middle-grade title I’ve read this year in terms of character, theme, and sentence-level writing. It feels like a Newbery book. But Newbery has had so many surprises up its sleeve lately that I’m starting to feel like there is no such thing as an obvious Newbery book anymore! I have a lot of catch-up reading to do if I plan to be prepared when awards roll around! I’ve missed a lot of titles this year. I need to check out the Mock Newbery lists and make up my December reading list.

  4. The Logonauts (@thelogonauts) Avatar

    One Day in the Eucalyptus tree simply requires being a read aloud. So fun! I’m curious to see how Pax plays out with the awards this year … it feels ancient to me now since I got mine at last year’s NCTE.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes to Eucalyptus as a read-aloud! I was reading to myself in the bookstore and itching to try out some of those lines aloud! Pax does seem like it came out ages ago. March maybe? I’m very late to the party!

  5. readingtothecore Avatar

    Other than Pax, I haven’t read any of these. The Poet’s Dog is on my list, and An Artist’s Alphabet looks like a must-have. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think Artist’s Alphabet is a must-have. Just gorgeous. I think you would like The Poet’s Dog. Well worth a read.

  6. lindabaie Avatar

    Pax continues to be my favorite this year, but there have been quite a few others I’ve enjoyed. I really liked The Poet’s Dog, but yes, faith is involved, isn’t it? I have an Artist’s Alphabet, but still need to read it. I just have too much going on with reading poetry, but it does look gorgeous. I love the idea of My New Mom & Me, will share with some friends who have adopted. My children are adopted and I wish there had been picture books like that when they were young. Thanks much, Elisabeth!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I know it’s going to be in my Top 10 this year too, Linda. I hope you take a peek at Artist’s Alphabet soon–so beautiful. I have thought about it all week and know I need my very own copy. It’s one that I think older readers would really appreciate too so I imagine it would be a big hit with my college students. There was one spread in My New Mom & Me that I really didn’t like: the child breaks a glass and the mom gets mad and sends him to his room alone. I wanted to take that cat mom aside and give her a very long lecture about trauma! It may be realistic that a new mom would lose her temper (after all, she is still learning how to be a mom and none of us is perfect), but I was just like No! That’s hugely shaming! You’re damaging your child! He needs a hug right now! Still, my new favorite adoption title since it manages to be sweet and loving while still acknowledging struggles and changes in a realistic, grounded way (as opposed to the flights of fancy so many titles take: “I searched the globe and you were my one true child.” Parents may feel that way, but it’s such an invalidation of the child’s feelings! I have been wanting to start reading more poetry. I need to revisit some of your recent posts so I can come up with a wish list!

      1. lindabaie Avatar

        Thanks for sharing more about that book. I know what you mean about the sending to the room and agree. When kids grow older and stow away in their rooms, those parents might remember that it used to be a punishment! As for poetry, so much to love, and you should check the Cybil’s list. One I bet your son would love is Racza’s Wet Cement. Have a great week, and keep warm! The cold is here!

    2. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Linda, thanks for reminding me to look at the Cybils list! I always forget about that and what a wonderful resource that will be for poetry. 11 degrees this morning! And just last week, there were still flowers blooming on campus. Can’t remember a December when there were still flowers blooming!

      1. lindabaie Avatar

        I know, I shared a pic of some tiny purple blooms last week! Enjoy the list!

  7. Karen Yingling Avatar

    Pax confused me, since I couldn’t nail down a setting. I don’t know that it would go over well with MY students. The Poet’s Dog was a bit odd for me. I agree with you on the color palette for Hector and the Hummingbird– I sort of want to decorate a sun porch around it!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The nonspecified setting (and time period) were also confusing and irritating to me at first, but then I ended up thinking it was a smart choice because it opened up so many possibilities for the story. As I was reading, I was thinking of Pax as maybe one of those books that grown-ups are going to love and kids aren’t going to read, but then I saw a blog post from an elementary teacher noting how much his students adore Pax and how it’s being passed around the room, which I found very heartening.

  8. Myra GB Avatar

    As you know, I absolutely love Messenger’s art – I have just placed an order for this one, and looking forward to booktalking this with a group of parents in Shanghai! 🙂

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