It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 5/29/17


mission moon

Catstronauts: Mission Moon is the first in a promising new graphic novel series that will appeal to readers who love cats or space travel. It’s kind of sciencey but mostly just silly slapstick fun. The cats are adorable, especially Waffles, who is constantly sneaking snacks and worrying about his growling stomach. Meant for upper elementary readers, but I can see middle-grade readers enjoying this series too. (For that matter, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a big success with my college students!)

child soldier

Child Soldier is a nonfiction graphic novel that recounts the true story of Michel Chikwanine, who grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo and was kidnapped at the age of five and forced to become a child soldier. Humphreys writes about very difficult and complex issues in a way that is accessible to kids, and it’s a story that young readers need to know. But be prepared: parts of the story are extremely harrowing. There is extensive back matter to support further learning and understanding.

blackbird fly

Erin Entrada Kelly’s first novel, Blackbird Fly, is a thoughtful exploration of culture, family, belonging, friendship, bullying, and music. That’s a lot to tackle in a first novel, but believable characters and a tight plot give the themes a focus.

funny thing happened at museum

The text didn’t work quite as well for me in A Funny Thing Happened at the Museum as it has in other Cali-Chaud collaborations, but Benjamin Chaud’s illustrations continue to charm and delight.


The Book of Joy ended up being a skim read for me. It takes awhile to get going, but once Abrams is into the meat of the conversations between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the narrative does pick up. In the early chapters, I struggled with the amount of extraneous detail, down to the color of the blanket the Archbishop covers up with on the flight. (Beige, in case you’re curious. But you weren’t, right? Because the color of the blanket doesn’t matter, especially when that color is beige.) Every nap, every cup of tea, every breeze gets chronicled with just as much attention as the deepest philosophical idea. It makes for an unbalanced book that, in my view, would have been much stronger had it been shaped and focused a little more intentionally.






14 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 5/29/17”

  1. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I’ll definitely be getting Catstronauts for my school library. I can already picture which students will love it. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I felt that way as I was reading it too! I immediately thought of about 10 students I wanted to give it to immediately.

  2. Akilah Avatar

    Beige??? The most boring and nondescript of colors. Seriously?

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I know! Maybe if it was a rainbow unicorn sparkles blanket I could understand including it. But beige? Why bother?

  3. lindabaie Avatar

    I’m not surprised you love the Catstronauts book! And, Child Soldier sounds so poignant. There is a book about the youth in the Civil war that my students liked to read titled The Boys’ War (Jim Murphy). And, I know that the granddaughters will love the museum book since we go to our museum so often. Thanks for all, Elisabeth!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes, Catstronauts does seem to be tailor made just for me! I haven’t read much by Jim Murphy but always see him on lists of nonfiction recommendations, so I will look for The Boys’ War. I also have a number of students who like war lit and I usually struggle to find good recs, so this will be a helpful one to know. I miss being able to make frequent trips to the Denver museums (and the library of course!)

  4. Jane the Raincity Librarian Avatar

    Cats and space in a graphic novel! Yup, sounds like a winner to me! 🙂 And I’m always impressed by authors who can handle difficult, painful topics with such grace and sensitivity, making them accessible for young people with watering them down or shying away from the reality. It takes a skillful hand to be able to pull off such a feat.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I agree! I was very impressed with Child Soldier. It’s also very tricky to write about complex subjects in a clear simple way so that even young readers can understand.

  5. cweichel Avatar

    Child Soldier was one of our book club books a year or so ago. I agree with you that it is a profound and important story for kids to read, even if it is hard to take in. It certainly made an impression on the students who read it. I also loved Blackbird Fly, but was irritated by the teachers who don’t deal with bullying.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I could imagine that Child Soldier would be a powerful read for students. I didn’t really understand how the teachers could be so clueless about what was going on at school in Blackbird Fly!

  6. Michele Avatar

    I liked CATSTRONAUTS too. I know students will enjoy it even more 🙂 I had it in my library for about a month before the end of the school year and I never saw it after I put it out!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think it’s definitely one that younger readers will enjoy more. I didn’t think there were quite as many enticements for grown-up readers besides the very charming art and cat personalities.

  7. Crystal Avatar

    I enjoyed Blackbird Fly. I want to get Child Soldier. I can’t imagine that’s it’s an easy read, but sounds like an important one.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think you’ll find Child Soldier well worth the read.

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