It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr


On the blog:

  • I caved and made a #MustReadin2017 list after all–crowdsourced from everyone else’s list!
  • I shared a fun nonfiction picture book about African-American inventor Lonnie Johnson along with a few nonfiction picture book reading goals for 2017
  • Daily is my One Little Word for 2017
  • Learn more about establishing daily habits, surprising good things that happened in 2016, and why you should stop grading in my weekly Round-Up of Online Reading

In reading:


Nikki Grimes’s middle-grade verse novel follows Garvey, an overweight, shy middle-schooler who is frequently bullied by classmates and who struggles in his relationship with his father, who always seems to want Garvey to be someone he’s not. You can probably imagine what happens: Garvey finds his niche, makes some new friends, stands up to the bullies, and even finds some common ground with his dad. But it’s all well-done and worth reading. Most of the poems are written in the short tanka form (5 lines with specific syllable counts). Grimes is able to pack a lot into very small packages in these poems. I was surprised at how resonant just a few lines could be.


Juana & Lucas is the first in a new series for newly independent readers by Juana Medina. Engagingly written and illustrated, it introduces Juana and her dog Lucas, who live in Bogota and enjoy all the things you’d imagine a girl and her dog would enjoy, though there are some surprises. Her passion for Brussels sprouts, for instance. Once the introductions to Juana’s life, family, friends, are out of the way, the plot mostly focuses on Juana’s attempts to learn English. In the end, all of her work is worth it because her grandparents have an exciting trip planned for her.


Jabari Asim creates a rich portrait of Civil Rights leader John Lewis as a child in Preaching to the Chickens. The beautiful cover highlights one of my favorite scenes from Lewis’s memoirs. As a child, Lewis thought he would grow up to be a preacher. His siblings weren’t interested in listening to his sermons, but the family’s flock of chickens proved to be the perfect audience to practice his sermons, baptisms, and funerals on. Although the chickens provide the heart and humor of this picture book, Lewis’s commitments to family, work, and God also shine. E.B. Lewis’s illustrations are magnificent.


ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky makes brilliant use of aerial photographs to present the letters of the alphabet. Somewhere in each giant landscape, you will find a letter of the alphabet, usually created within some manmade object–the shape of a building, a road, even a parking lot. Sometimes the letters are surprisingly hard to spot in the busy suburban and urban landscapes, but there is a cheat sheet in the back to help you spot the ones you missed. A bonanza of bonus photography presents even more letters in the Back Matter. A fascinating and challenging alphabet book!


I sent my husband to the library to get some picture books for me, and this is one he brought home. The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts was mildly interesting to me and would probably be uproariously funny for the right audience. It’s an informative look at an embarrassing but perfectly natural and perfectly necessary digestive process. The illustrations are rather homely, as the cover suggests, but again, will probably amuse the right audience.


Paul and Antoinette is another story of an opposites attract relationship. I think I’ve read too many picture books on this topic lately because I had a hard time finding this one charming or special. One piggie is orderly, neat, maybe even a bit OCD. The other piggy is messy, creative, adventurous. I enjoyed the illustrations.


I must have read this as a child, and given how familiar some of the illustrations of the giant tiger ransacking the kitchen in search of extra tea goodies felt, I’m guessing I read it many times. But it’s an odd picture book. Something felt a bit off about the pacing. I reread it several times over the week hoping something would click for me (after all, three million copies sold is a much-beloved title) but it never quite did.


Maya is a gorgeously illustrated story of a little girl trying to work through grief over the loss of her father and dealing with her fears of the dark during a blackout. Her mother tries to soothe her with the legend of the banyan tree. At first, Maya can only see scary things in the dark, but as she ventures deeper into her imagination, she is able to transform scary scenes into beauty. There is much that is left unsaid in this hopeful title.


Teacup is another picture book that leaves quite a bit unsaid. Literal readers will need to think more metaphorically.I t’s the story of a boy who must leave his home for unspecified reasons. He takes a teacup full of earth from home, which later sprouts a seed that turns into a beautiful tree. The writing is lyrical and the illustrations stunning.


The Storyteller takes storytelling itself as its theme, and author-illustrator Evan Turk develops an intricate tale about the power of story to quite literally save lives. The art is simply incredible, and Turk’s writing is also very strong. A book that will reward multiple readings.






13 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr”

  1. lindabaie Avatar

    I still need to read Preaching To The Chickens and The Storyteller. Both have many holds at the library! Time for a session at the Tattered Cover! I liked Teacup a lot, will look for The Alphabet from The Sky-love the ABC books. I liked Garvey’s Choice a lot, wondered if it would make a good read aloud for a class, and talking about how to keep one’s goals in the face of teasing. Juana and Lucas makes a new story about kids from other places. I liked that there was so much Spanish included!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      A session at The Tattered Cover is always one of my favorite ways to spend time in Denver. I think you will appreciate both Preaching and Storyteller. They do require some time to digest, as the art needs much attention in both books–Lewis’s because it’s so gorgeous and Turk’s because it’s both gorgeous and complicated! I also loved all of the Spanish in Juana & Lucas. I hope Medina has many more books planned in the series because I think there is a real need for this series. I’ve never liked ABC books, but the two excellent ones I’ve looked at lately have me reconsidering (Norman Messenger’s gorgeous book and then this book of aerial photos). I actually have an ABC book to share on Wednesday too!

      1. lindabaie Avatar

        I have Messenger’s new ABC book, too, but the one I adore and that I gave my youngest granddaughter for Christmas is his Imagine. Your son would love it too if you don’t already know it. It is indeed for all ages! Yes, TC is the best place!

  2. Michele Avatar

    Haha, I saw your review of the “Gas” book on goodreads and I was wondering how you came across that book!!!
    You have a few books that I would really like to get to – Juana and Lucas I’ve had for a long time. I’ve had trouble finding Preaching to the Chickens.
    Garvey’s Choice was very well written. So much emotion in those lines.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      My husband was super pumped about his “discovery”! I do have a deep love for Nicola Davies’s informational book, Poop, and just about drove him nuts sharing interesting facts when I was reading that one, so I think he thought he was picking something along those same lines. I had to inform him that farts and poop just aren’t the same! Preaching to the Chickens is really marvelous. I read a negative review on GoodReads about how the religion aspect makes it unsuitable for school libraries, which made me wonder if school libraries are purchasing it.

  3. Tara Smith Avatar

    I loved Preaching to the Chickens,so much – John Lewis is a national treasure. I can’t wait to tread The Storyteller and Nikki Grimes’ book…they are on my TBR list.

  4. Bill @ Billbrarian Avatar

    Confession time for me. I’ve been a librarian quite a while and I have actually never read a novel in verse. I’m going to have to check your picks out and see about getting them for the library. Have a great week and happy reading!!

  5. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar

    Preaching to the Chickens looks so good! I haven’t read it yet, but I want to! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Lisa Maucione (@DrLMaucione) Avatar

    I just started hearing about Preaching to the Chickens. It sounds wonderful. The book your husband brought home would probably amuse a lot of students I know. It’s just the kind of thing to make them giggle!

  7. cweichel Avatar

    I need to focus on reading more picture books. The place to hang out here in Vancouver BC is kidsbooks. I’m just not sure how comfortable they will be with me just hanging out reading. I might have to chance it because so many of these PB I keep reading about are not available at my library. Ok, so really, about 10 pb are waiting for me to pick up from when I return home next week so perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration…

  8. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    *Sigh* I loved Preaching to the Chickens so very much. But I love anything that has John Lewis’s name on it because he is my hero.

  9. Myra GB Avatar

    I loved Teacup and The Storyteller – really great titles. I just bought Preaching to the Chickens – and truly looking forward to reading it soonest.

  10. crbrunelle Avatar

    I really enjoyed both Juana & Lucas and Preaching to the Chickens. I like the looks of the ABC book from the sky. It’s fun to see from a different perspective.

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