It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/19/18 #imwayr


hello universe

Hello, Universe‘s shiny new gold sticker led me to request it from the library for the second time and this time I stuck with it. And loved it. I have no idea why it didn’t click with me a few months ago when I tried to read it, but I’m glad it didn’t because it was just the right book for me last week. I’d been in a bit of a reading slump but fell right into this story and read it in several great gulps. I loved the characters so much, it was thematically rich, and the sentence-level writing was strong. Many beautiful lines and unexpected images that led me to reread before moving on.

charlie and mouse and grumpy

The first book in the series won the Geisel, but I think the second, Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy, is even better. Charlie and Mouse’s parents head out for a date, and their grandpa, Grumpy, comes to babysit. They have amusing small adventures at home, but the real pleasure here is their quirky conversations with Grumpy.


#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women is a book I really, really wanted to love, and most readers clearly do. The reviews have been very positive. There are poems, interviews, essays, stories, quotations, photographs and art by Native American women. It’s a glossy book with strong visual appeal–lots of images, quotations and very short pieces of writing centered on a page with lots of white space, very short texts (none longer than two pages). Many of the pieces are thought-provoking. But here’s the problem for me as a reader: I wanted more. Most pieces of writing felt like snippets or excerpts, and as a reader who prefers depth to breadth, I had a hard time connecting with the writing. (The art was another story: luckily, each piece of art stands alone as a complete work, and the editors chose some really powerful and provocative pieces to include.) I think this book beautifully achieves its purpose (a “love letter to all Indigenous young women”), even though it wasn’t exactly the right fit for me as a reader.

out of wonder

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets features beautiful illustrations by Ekua Holmes and some delightful poetry written by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderly, and Marjorie Wentworth. I read this book quickly but can imagine taking a long time to savor each poem by returning to the works of the inspiration poets and reading around in their oeuvres to better appreciate these poems.

why iam i me

Paige Britt’s text is a bit philosophical for my tastes, but I loved Sean Qualls and Selina Alko’s illustrations and the way the two narratives (created entirely through the illustrations) converge in the end.

this truck has got to be special

This Truck Has Got to Be Special is an oddball little book that might be hard to get your hands on but is definitely worth a read. It was a labor of love for its author and illustrators, who spent countless hours interviewing and collaborating with truck drivers and truck artists in Pakistan to create this story. There is a thorough and fascinating “making of this book” end note that’s a must-read. I could hardly finish reading the book before I was opening my laptop to research Pakistani truck art (just Google “Pakistan truck art” and prepare to be dazzled by the images) and to learn more about the dangerous highway between Pakistan and China that these decorated transport trucks traverse.

pakistan truck art






8 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/19/18 #imwayr”

  1. lindabaie Avatar

    I have not read Hello Universe & now cannot get it. Even my Indie store is out of stock! Soon! I love reading about This Truck Has Got To Be Special, will certainly look for it! And I have Out of Wonder, a great book for classrooms, mentoring new poems, and simply enjoyable. Thanks, Elisabeth!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I requested it two seconds after the Newbery was announced so I was first in line! I think you’ll enjoy it, Linda. I book-talked This Truck Has Got to Be Special today and had several students look at it. Several of them already knew about truck art too!

  2. cweichel Avatar

    I loved Charlie and Mouse and am waiting for my library to bring in Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy.
    I thought of #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women as a kind of introduction to the different perspectives.
    Of course This Truck Has Got to Be Special isn’t in my library system. I did google ‘Pakistan truck art’ and was gobsmacked by the art!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think you’re absolutely right about #NotYourPrincess. I think it frustrated me largely because I wanted it to be a different book, and I’m probably not the right audience for it. It would be a perfect introduction to Indigenous women’s social justice issues and experiences for so many of my students. I just want MORE books like this and they aren’t out there yet!

  3. 2shaye Avatar

    It’s funny how sometimes we cannot fall into a book until the “right” time. I enjoyed Hello, Universe by the end, but I would like to read it again since my first time through was with audio book. There was one voice that just didn’t click for me (it was downright annoying). And that impacts a book, of course. I currently have Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets checked out. I’ll try to take your note (of savoring each poem) to heart. 🙂 And I dig oddball books. This Truck Has Got to Be Special sounds awesome. Googling “Pakistani truck art” stunned my eyes. These trucks could easily qualify for some of our bigger American parades! Also kinda reminds me of the yarn bombing tradition. So fun!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I am very picky about audiobooks–a voice that doesn’t work for me can ruin the whole reading experience! Of course a great voice makes it even better! Our campus library has This Truck Has Got to Be Special and I just returned it today, so feel free to request it!

  4. Catherine Flynn Avatar

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about these books, Elisabeth. I’ve only read Out of Wonder, which I loved. This Truck Has Got to Be Special looks so intriguing. Can’t wait to find a copy!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Out of Wonder is so good! I love picture book poetry collections like this.

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