It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 5/14/18


Last week on the blog:

In reading:

be prepared

Vera Brosgol’s new graphic novel, Be Prepared, is the autobiographical story of ten-year-old Vera’s brilliant idea to fit in: attend Russian summer camp. Only she doesn’t really fit in there either. All of the summer camp tropes and storylines you might expect are here, but Brosgol makes it feel fresh and unique. Beautifully drawn and illustrated, of course, and also very well-written.

as the crow flies

I have no idea how I ended up reading two graphic novels about summer camp back to back, but there you go. As the Crow Flies was a Stonewall Honor Book this year, which is how my campus library happened to purchase it, and I’m so glad they did because I am not sure I would have heard about this book otherwise. The plot is quite simple: thirteen-year-old Charlie, identified on the back cover as black and queer, has signed up for a summer backpacking camp where a group of women and girls retrace the footsteps of a local nineteenth-century feminist named Beatrice who led the women of her community in an annual women’s only retreat. Charlie feels out of place among the all-white, Christian group, and there are plenty of microaggressions that deepen her discomfort. Charlie eventually strikes up a friendship with Sydney, who identifies as transgender, and that friendship provides connection and plenty of humor. What I really loved about this book is how much slowly emerges from context and from small asides and how much is still unexplained. There is a lot here about feminism, gender identity, spirituality, religion, and friendship, but much of it is just hinted at so there is a lot of room for a reader to enter the space of the story and interpret. The colored pencil art is quite good, especially the landscapes.

my heart fills with happiness

Sweet, tender board book listing different activities and objects that make a heart fill with happiness, featuring the art of Julie Flett. This book has been chosen as a Global Read-Aloud title for 2018.

the house baba built

Caldecott-winning artist, Ed Young, writes about his childhood home in China in The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China. The house was built by Young’s father to withstand bombs during World War II and to keep his large family together for twenty years, the period time he leased the home before he had to return it to the rich investors who bankrolled its construction. Young shares his memories of his family and his home, with many interesting details of life during wartime. The text is often very long and the collages very detailed. It took me several days to read this, even though it’s a picture book.

i am the boss of this chair

I Am the Boss of This Chair will appeal to anyone who has ever had a cat and probably to anyone who has ever had a new sibling as well. Oswald Minklehoff Honey Bunny III has never had to share before. He has always been the boss of everything–and not just the chair. When a new kitten arrives, he is suddenly not the boss of anything anymore. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if Oswald Minklehoff Honey Bunny III had also become the boss of the new kitten, but the author has a kinder, gentler, life lesson-y message about sharing and getting along to impart, which probably makes this book infinitely more appealing to most parents. I really enjoyed the illustrations.






25 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 5/14/18”

  1. carriegelson Avatar

    I knew when I read I am the Boss of this Chair that it would resonate with you in your house full of cats! Congratulations on month number two of daily writing!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      LOL, oh yes! Amazingly, all 8 of ours love to share. There’s very much a “what’s mine is yours” attitude around here, which is so nice. And thank you! I have never been so relieved to have a month end and be DONE with poetry!! I think of slice ideas every day–and haven’t thought of a poem idea since April 30!

  2. lindabaie Avatar

    I am interested in How The Crow Flies, like that more books are being written about the challenges in gender identity. I read The House That Baba Built a long time ago, perhaps it’s time to re-visit it. Thanks, Elisabeth!

    1. lindabaie Avatar

      Oops, I mean As The Crow Flies!

    2. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s a very quick read and quite beautiful. I found it engaging and thought-provoking–though very unresolved. I read online that there is a second volume in the works?

  3. Jana Eschner Avatar
    Jana Eschner

    I liked Vera Brosgol’s Leave Me Alone, so I’m really looking forward to checking Be Prepared. I Am The Boss Of This Chair is a cute picture book, too! Have a great week!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I loved Leave Me Alone and Anya’s Ghost (have you read that one? A big fave among my pre-service teachers.) I think Be Prepared is her best work yet.

  4. 2shaye Avatar

    These all sound like good reads, but I’m going to HAVE to find a copy of I Am the Boss of this Chair ASAP. I bet all of my kids will enjoy this one, seeing as how they’ve all learned the hard way that NONE of them are the boss of any chairs (or anything else) in this house. lol Just this morning one of my Littles was yelling about someone else using “his” iPod charger. Um, sorry kid. But there are 7 of us all using the same charging station. First come, first serve. Have a great week and I truly HOPE we get to see each other this summer, Elisabeth! Let’s make it happen. ❤

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Ha! And this is just the kind of lesson I think the author is trying to impart: sharing is so much nicer than being the boss! I hope we get to see each other this summer too!!

  5. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I’m really looking forward to reading Be Prepared. Looks like such a fun but poignant book.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think you will enjoy it. So good!

  6. Lisa Maucione (@DrLMaucione) Avatar

    Be Prepared sounds like one that students will enjoy. I Am the Boss of This Chair sounds fun!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’ll be glad to share Be Prepared with my students in the fall. Many of them have never read a graphic novel before their classes with me, and most of them fall for the format in a big way, of course.

  7. Tammy and Clare Avatar

    As the Crow Flies is going on our TBR list. What grade levels do you think will want to read it?

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That’s a good question. I saw another teacher online saying ages 10-14, but I think the text is too subtle and interested in different stuff than most 10-14 yr olds are interested in. At the same time, the main character is 13 so…. I’m torn. Solidly middle-grade, but I could see my high school students finding it more interesting than middle schoolers. I haven’t seen many reviews, so I don’t know where it’s been kid tested yet!

  8. Michele Avatar

    Yay, I have Be Prepared to read for this week! I am looking forward to reading all of the pictures books for GRA. I’ve been reading a lot more Native #ownvoices lately. Trying to grow my #ownvoices repertoire. I’ve gone through my library and I’m shocked at what little I have.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s difficult to build that library! I have found out about a lot of great books from Cheriee–I think maybe Canada is doing a better job of publishing indigenous voices? I haven’t decided yet which age group my reading class is going to participate in for Global Read Aloud–not sure we can budget enough time for reading one of the longer books, so it might just be the PBs, which would be fine.

  9. Amanda Potts Avatar

    Well, I want to say “I’ll read the graphic novels; they sound great” but the truth is I want to read I Am the Boss of This Chair – actually, I kind of want to read it to my cats. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I don’t know if your cats would appreciate it. They would probably like my version better–where one cat becomes boss of the other cat–and each would probably imagine that THEY were the boss.

      1. Amanda Potts Avatar

        Yup – that would suit my cats. Have you read Clever Cat by Peter Collington? That might be a better cat read aloud…

    2. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I don’t know Clever Cat–but will look for it!

  10. Myra GB Avatar

    My heart Fills with happiness is one book that I often booktalk for “identification of emotions” – I love how exuberant and positive it is.

  11. Akilah Avatar

    “I think I would have enjoyed the story more if Oswald Minklehoff Honey Bunny III had also become the boss of the new kitten, but the author has a kinder, gentler, life lesson-y message about sharing and getting along to impart, which probably makes this book infinitely more appealing to most parents.” — This made me laugh, so I thank you for that.

  12. cweichel Avatar

    Be prepared is on my list of books to read and now so is As the Crow Flies. All I have to do is find the books and then find time to read them.

  13. aaroncleaveley Avatar

    You have a great selection of books here. I think I might try the summer camp duo in the summer. I think my family will love I am the Boss of this Chair. Thanks for the post.

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