It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 2/13/17


Matt Phelan transports the Snow White fairy tale to 1920s New York with magical results. The fundamental elements of the tale are still there, but there are so many creative choices that will resonate for older readers: the seven dwarves have become seven street kids; the glass coffin has become a picture window at Macy’s; the vain stepmother has become a dancer from Ziegfield’s Follies. Phelan relies heavily on wordless sequences to tell the story, and while the art is absolutely gorgeous, I did find it challenging at times to follow the story and figure out who was who and exactly what was happening.

ballet cat totally secret secret

In an ideal world, I’d have an excuse to read a Ballet Cat book aloud at least once a week. I decided we needed something a little lighter for a read-aloud in Children’s Lit, and Ballet Cat always makes me happy. I was so disappointed that not a single student picked up the second book in the series during our reading time. I might just have to read it aloud to them!


The Maggie B. is an older picture book (1975) by Irene Haas and I know I would have loved it as a child (and maybe I read it and just don’t remember). It’s about a girl who sets off on an imaginary seafaring adventure with her little brother. Mostly they eat. There are long passages describing the sea stew she makes and the muffins and the peaches with cinnamon–and since I couldn’t get enough food writing as a child, this would have had deep appeal. The illustrations are the kind to get lost in and imagine you’re there on the ship too.


Four Feet, Two Sandals is another strong title to add to your collection of stories about refugees. This well-written book portrays two Afghan girls living in a refugee camp in Peshawar.  They bond over a shared pair of sandals. I did find the ending problematic, and I would have appreciated more back matter.


My Baby Crocodile is a quirky story of a near-sighted crocodile who finds what he thinks is an abandoned baby crocodile, but as the reader quickly realizes, the baby crocodile is actually a baby knight in armor. The two have a series of adventures and comical miscommunications. Even after the crocodile discovers that his baby isn’t a crocodile at all, he’s determined to stick with him. Unfortunately, interspecies trust only goes so far, and before too long the two are so deeply suspicious of each other that they decide to separate. If you enjoy picture books in translation, this one is definitely worth a look.


A funny picture book written as a school report. I’m sure this one won’t stick with me for very long, but I did enjoy Harry Bliss’s illustrations and the dry humor of Gus’s narrative voice.






15 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 2/13/17”

  1. Stacy @ It's All About the Journey Avatar

    My Favorite Pets looks like a fun book to add to my classroom library. I will definitely have to find Four Feet, Two Sandals as well. Thanks for all the recommendations!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Four Feet, Two Sandals worked very well as a read-aloud, which I appreciated. Students flocked to the other titles about refugees that I brought in that day, so I know the read-aloud really connected with them.

  2. carriegelson Avatar

    I love your devotion to Ballet Cat. I just saw that the third one has been released. Have you read it yet?

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I just saw that on Michele’s blog today–so of course I had to immediately order. I will be able to report on it by next Monday! I carried the Ballet Cat stuffed animal around with me for awhile at the bookstore this weekend. I can’t bring myself to part with $18 for a stuffed animal (I’d rather spend that money on books!), but I do covet it.

  3. aaroncleaveley Avatar

    This was my first Ballet Cat, and I enjoyed it too. I think I need to read it to a library group, we have one who read a lot of Elephant and Piggie with me and their classroom teacher when she did an author study. I was glad to read your review of Snow White. I was on page four when a reader that has trouble finding the right book for her saw me and asked, “What’s that? Looks cool.” I had to give it up, and I have yet to pick it up again, although I intend to. I struggle with wordless sometimes, but I am getting better. I have to slow down for this one, and your review will remind me to do so. Thanks for the post!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ballet Cat is a brilliant read-aloud. I am constantly making up excuses to read it to classes that have absolutely nothing to do with Children’s Lit. I’m introducing them to Elephant & Piggie next week and planning to get everyone practicing their read-aloud skills with those titles. I’ve gotten so that I really enjoy wordless, but I also know that I still read them much too quickly. I have a feeling that I wouldn’t have gotten confused several times in Snow White if I had just SLOWED DOWN.

  4. Michele Avatar

    I really need to get to Snow White. I didn’t know if it would be appropriate for 4th gr. so I kept pushing that one aside, but I’d like to get to it!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Might be challenging for most 4th graders, who would likely lack the background knowledge that would make sense of that 1920s NYC setting. But I can see mature readers enjoying it.

  5. The Logonauts (@thelogonauts) Avatar

    I love Four Feet, Two Sandals as a read aloud.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It worked really well! Several of the books I got from the library about refugees were SOOOO long–much too long to be a comfortable read aloud for me. So I was very pleased that Four Feet worked so well.

  6. lindabaie Avatar

    I put my “wish list” on Amazon to help me remember titles to find at the library or at the bookstore, and just noted Maggie B. Looks like Irene Haas has a few other books that look interesting. I liked Snow White as you know, love the re-tellings of fairy tales. And My Favorite Pets look quirky and fun.Thanks, Elisabeth!

  7. Jane the Raincity Librarian Avatar

    My Baby Crocodile looks so strange, in the best possible way! I do love picture books in translation – there are so many wonderful, surreal and delightful picture books coming out from every corner of the world, I’d hate to miss them all!

  8. Tara Smith Avatar

    I am going to look for Four Feet, Two Sandals – it sounds perfect for the discussions we’ve been having. Thank you!

  9. Kellee from Unleashing Readers (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    I love Phelan’s Snow White graphic novel! I had hoped that it was going to be honored at ALA.
    Ballet Cat is one of my favorites! Like Elephant & Piggie but definitely its own book.

    Happy reading this week 🙂

  10. cweichel Avatar

    This version of Snow White is on my list of books to read. Someday. My Baby Crocodile looks hilarious! I wasn’t as enamoured with the second ballet cat as I was with the first, but I still loved it. I really have to find and read Four Feet, Two Sandals.

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