It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 4/30/18


ruby on the outside

Ruby on the Outside is a middle-grade novel about Ruby, who struggles to make friends in part because she doesn’t want anyone to know about her mother, who’s been in prison since Ruby was five. The novel thoughtfully explores Ruby’s feelings about the separation from her mother and her confusion about who her mother is and who that makes her. Well-developed relationships with her aunt, who is raising her, and with a new friend, Margalit, add to the interest of the story. Having a parent in prison is a topic that isn’t written about enough in children’s literature, and Baskin honors the dignity of Ruby’s mother and other women in prison.

beatrice zinker

Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker reminded me of Clementine crossed with Dory Fantasmagory plus something special of its own, though I don’t think it’s quite so sure of itself yet as those series. Beatrice is the odd one out wherever she goes: she has her own unique way of looking at the world–literally. The plot covers familiar friendship territory: after summer vacation, Beatrice’s best friend, Lenny, shows up at school with a different look and a  different look, and the two girls begin to grow apart. But Beatrice’s solution–to befriend everyone–is pleasing, and there is a lot of charm in the writing and especially in the illustrations.

princess princess ever after

After falling in love with Katie O’Neill’s Tea Dragon Society, I had to read her Princess Princess Ever After, another children’s/middle-grade graphic novel, and it’s also wonderful. Princess Amira has no interest in being a princess and marrying a prince: she wants to be the hero, adventuring and rescuing those in distress. She starts with Sadie, who has been locked in a tower by an evil queen. Sadie isn’t so sure she wants to be rescued or have adventures, but she and Amira develop a close friendship that turns to love. It’s a quick read with many good messages about kindness and responsibility and figuring out who you really are.

a poetry handbook

Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook was a slow read over the month of April to support the April poetry writing challenge. It’s wonderful. I don’t know if it helped me write better poetry, but it certainly helped me become a better reader of poetry. I copied so many lines in my notebook that I sometimes felt like I was just copying the whole book. She is opinionated and bold and teaches with a clear, easy style. An excellent companion to understanding poetry.

chef roy choi

Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix is a quick nonfiction read about Chef Roy Choi and his taco truck, which reinvented street food in L.A. I liked Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s bigger theme here: food is deeply rooted in family, culture, and love. And I really liked the decision to have graffiti artist Man One illustrate the book.

miguels brave knight

Margartia Engle provides a fictionalized verse picture book biography of Cervantes as a youth in Miguel’s Brave Knight. Cervantes had a difficult childhood with a father who constantly gambled the family’s money away and spent significant time in debtor’s prison. The stories the boy told himself about a brave knight, who would later become Don Quixote, provided an escape. I have embraced the fact that most of the classics I have not yet read in my life will go unread, but I do still plan to get to Don Quixote someday, and this short biography made me consider trying it sooner rather than later.


Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word is really clever: a book of poetry where each poem is created from the letters of just one word and plays with images or actions associated with that word. The poems are pretty good given their extreme limitations, and they will definitely inspire young writers to write their own.

festival of colors

Festival of Colors is a vibrant picture book celebrating Holi, an Indian festival and holiday, written for the youngest readers to enjoy. A welcome addition to my diverse picture books shelf.

snail and worm again

Somehow I missed Snail & Worm, but I’ll be fixing that problem this week, because the sequel, Snail & Worm Again, is hilarious.  I snickered and snorted my way through this one and just might forego my usual end-of-the-semester inspirational read-aloud to share this one as the last book of my Children’s Literature course.



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14 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 4/30/18”

  1. 2shaye Avatar

    I guess I need to read Miguel’s Brave Knight to encourage me to finish Don Quixote. When I was in 9th grade, Don Quixote was in our list for required summer reading for Honors English. I started it and started it and started it, but I never got very far in. I didn’t even fully understand what was happening from the beginning and it was very intimidating. The whole experience really turned me off, so I never went back to it. From what I’ve gathered, it’s a book that should have some guided discussion for someone as young as 15. We had a long list of books we had to read that summer, actually. And because of those long “required” summer reading lists, 10th grade was the last year I chose to participate in Honors English. Ugh. Anyway, thanks for sharing. I’ll be looking for this one soon and maybe put Don Quixote back on my TBR list!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Miguel’s Brave Knight should be back in the campus library today! I have also started Don Quixote a few times but only read the first page or two. It doesn’t seem like a good choice for 15 yr olds! In fact, I’d call that readicide! I have truly given up on my plan to read most of the classics I didn’t get to in grad school, but Don Quixote is one I’d still like to read.

  2. Tammy and Clare Avatar

    What age group do you think will enjoy Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix? Looks like an interesting text. Is it appropriate for grades 3-6?

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think grades 3-6 are exactly the right age for this one. I didn’t realize that Briggs Martin has several books about chefs. I have actually read the one about Will Allen and need to get the one about Alice Waters.

  3. cheriee weichel Avatar

    Ruby on the Outside is on my to read list, but I just can’t find time for all of the books I want to read!
    After I read Miguel’s Brave Knight, I got all excited about reading Don Quixote. That is until I discovered it is 1023 pages!
    I haven’t even heard of Snail & Worm before!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s a good bookish problem to have–so many books, so little time! LOL, yes Don Quixote is a serious doorstopper. I do struggle to follow through on “eat your broccoli” reading challenges like completing classics I missed out on earlier in life, but maybe I’ll actually get to this one. See if your library has Snail & Worm–very much worth the read!

  4. Lisa Maucione (@DrLMaucione) Avatar

    I don’t think I’ve ever actual read Snail and Worm although it’s been on my radar. I’ll have to get my hands on both the first and second!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes, I am eager to find the first book because the second one is hilarious.

  5. lindabaie Avatar

    I enjoyed Miguel’s Brave Knight, enjoyed hearing his story. Wrapping oneself in imagination can help someone survive. I’d like to read Ruby on The Outside, and agree that books that show the true lives of kids are helpful, both for those who have lives mirroring the stories and for those who need to know about different challenges other kids face. Thanks, Elisabeth!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I ended up finding Ruby on the Outside a little too pat, a little too wrapped up with a bow. But I know it’s one that my Children’s Lit students will love so I need to purchase a copy for the lending library.

  6. Michele Avatar

    I enjoyed Chef Roy Choi way more than I thought I would!
    I’ve had Ruby On the Outside in my pile for so long, it’s embarrassing!
    And Beatrice… I just love her! I haven’t had a lot of readers for her this year. I’m thinking she may be a great read aloud!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I was also thinking Beatrice would make a good read aloud. I wasn’t sure about the audience–lots of advanced vocab actually given how short the text is and how full of illustrations. I really liked her character, though, and the way the story resolved.

  7. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I love Beatrice Zinker so much. And I love even more that Shelley lives not too far away from me. Hoping she’ll be able to visit my school next year.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That would be amazing! I am looking forward to reading the second book.

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