Sunday, February 23, 2014

It's Monday!

Monday Reading - Lots Going On

Happy Reading everyone!

 It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS, and shared with Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS.   
         And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS for more reviews.  Great books are being shared!
 Tweet! at #IMWAYR
Finished Rose Under Fire that met two challenges on the sidebar this week.  Week by week this year, I hope I can find time to read all that are on the list in a page posted above.  Go to Carrie Gelson's post here to discover what it's all about and who's participating (tweet at #MustReadin2014), or go to Gathering Books with Myra, Fats & Iphigene to see their challenge!    


Rose Under Fire – written by Elizabeth Wein
          I finished this and handed it to my daughter-in-law, to whom I had already given Code Name Verity. She was visiting and flying home, so I copied some pages I particularly loved and wanted to keep. If you’ve not read the book, these references won’t be meaningful, but they are important. Like Code Name Verity, I loved this book, too.  From the beginning, I thought the voice marvelous, the typical excitable American, and privileged, girl, maturing through experience like the usual adolescent.  Except this young woman is no ordinary adolescent, but an experienced pilot, and although female, very needed for airplane deliveries all over England. When this lovely Rose Justice, for that is her name, finally has a chance to get to France, it isn’t the good thing she had imagined, and that’s when she grows up. You’ll need to read the book to discover the beautiful remainder of this story. This young woman is also a poet: “Hope has no feathers”, the kite poem; and “The Subtle Briar”: When you cut down the hybrid rose,/its blackened stump below the graft/spreads furtive finger in the dirt…” show sensitivity both on the part of the author and the character, and the poetry is not over done, but is needed in the challenges that Rose faces, an integral part of the plot.  Remember, she’s Rose Justice, she’s a pilot!

Serf – written by Dan Hallagan, illustrated by Tom Walker
             This is a first book in a multiple book series titled Climber.  Dan Hallagan has created an intriguing world in which a creature is born immediately knowing everything about a world, but not about this particular world. It is filled with the lowest scum, the serfs, all the way up to the highest ranked of these strange creatures, the earls.  The creatures all generally look the same, but as they progress in rank, they grow physically, so when born, the main character Cornelius describes himself, and others like him, as a “walking cue ball”. 
           The overarching plot is that Cornelius has been called by a ‘higher power’, from hell it seems, because a teenager has wondered what hell is really like.  Thus, Cornelius has been brought by this power in order to tell his story. It’s confusing, but as I read, I began to understand this world, at least the part that Cornelius is understanding, for he is telling “his” story, and this is the beginning of his life on Wroth, this new world.  This is a book for an early teen, not necessarily my favorite kind of book. It has violence and some curse words, and is filled with hateful attitudes.  Yet as I got deeper into the plot, I began to like this Cornelius, and the way the author is characterizing him.  It would be interesting to read with a group of young teens. I wonder if they will see that this meanest character supposedly from hell really lives his life with admirable values, knows right from wrong and always sticks up for the downtrodden?  There are parts that I really want to know more about, and I imagine I’ll read the second book soon, to see if I discover more.  It’s very intriguing.
           The book was provided by the author.

Poems to Learn by Heart – collected by Caroline Kennedy and paintings by Jon J. Muth
          This collection is a fine one to choose for a school library with so many poems for everyone’s taste. A group of NYC students helped in the choosing, which is nice. There is a wide variety of poetry divided into ten sections like poems about the family, sports and games, nature and war. Caroline Kennedy writes a nice introduction to each section, emphasizing the importance and fun of memorizing poems, along with including tips to do so.  Jon Muth’s paintings serve as beautifully enhancements to the poems and do not overpower them. Eve Merriam’s poem, ‘Catch A Little Rhyme’ closes the book beautifully. With a limited budget, this anthology will help serve numerous ages and purposes.

The Pet Project, Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses – written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora
          A young girl sets off with her journal looking for the perfect pet, making field observations in verse all along the way.  Because her parents are scientists, they insist she do some research before she makes a decision. The journey is filled with her amusing experiences captured as she wanders to a farm, a zoo, and the woods behind her house. Readers will be surprised at her conclusion!  The book will be a fun read to introduce how to share one’s adventures by writing in rhyme.  One example: “Never take a tiger home,/no matter how he pleads with you,/’cause if you take a tiger home,/we’ll soon see how he feeds with you.”  Ohora illustrates the funny details in a graphic style.

Gone Fishing – verse novel, written by Tamera Will Wissinger and illustrated by Matthew Cordell
           Finally, I was able to read this book. What a joyful story-telling, in verse, with field-like sketches of what’s going on during the fishing time. The books tells about a young boy, Sam, who is so excited to be going fishing with his dad until his little sister, Lucy, talks Dad into coming, too. The jealousy of big brother to little sister keeps the tension going until at last Sam realizes that Lucy has done a nice thing for him, and he should be happy to have such a loving sister.  Clever is writer Tamera Wissinger, for each poem is labeled as to structure, and the back of the book explains about the structural terms used, plus more about how poetry works. It’s a perfect book for young students who loves to write and want to know more!

picture books
Lost Cat – written and illustrated by C. Roger Mader
               This is Roger Mader’s first story for children, and a beautiful one too. Full of drama because a cat becomes lost when its owner moves, the cat looks for a new home. From a cat’s POV, looking means looking at shoes, and this cat meets a few possible new owners, Ms. Muddy Boots, Mr. Cowboy Boots, and others. For one reason or another, no one really fits.  It has a good ending, but suspense until those final pages. The illustrations are realistic full color paintings, gorgeous. I especially loved the double-page of the cat, lost in the woods. It’s a great book for plot simplicity that young children will love.

Down, Down, Down, A Journey To The Bottom of The Sea – written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins
                  In pictures and words, Steve Jenkins’ books always teach and entertain, and this is another example of his beautiful books.  Although I think there might have been even more information shared, I enjoyed the book, and suspect it will be a great introduction to the mysteries of the bottom of the sea for young students.

Alpha’s Bet –written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Delphine Durand
            This is such a clever book, perfect for young readers to predict the “next” letter that Al Pha will choose in his creation of the alphabet’s order. I hope I am able to read the book aloud to a class soon. The illustrations are filled with details that not only does the story entertain, the pictures are ones to enjoy over and over.

Same, Same but Different - written and illustrated by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
              Elliott lives in America and Kailash lives in India.  They start a relationship by being pen pals, learn that they love to play outside and climb trees, have pets, and ride a bus to school. They learn that many things in their lives are the same, same but different. It’s a terrific book to begin conversations about differences being interesting and similar, just a little different.  The illustrations are happy pictures, showing fun in both places to live.

Special List
I’m prepping for an assignment for older students & wrote about it last Friday here, but also here are picture books we’ll be using too. I thought you all might enjoy the list. If you have more ideas, let me know in the comments. Many wrote me in the comments last week too-great to hear from everyone.

The Name Jar - written and illustrated by Yangsook Choi
       The first thing on the bus on the first day of school, Unhei is teased about her name, so in class she says she doesn’t have a name.  Those in her class are kind and begin a name jar to help her choose a name.  Through much thought, and some friendly gestures, Unhei (pronounced yoon – hye) decides her name, which means Grace, is a good one to keep.  There is a nice surprise at the end.

Chrysanthemum - written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
            I imagine most of know this book, but if not, you’re in for a lovely treat.  It’s the start of school, the first day for this darling little mouse. Unfortunately, although before this she has always adored her name, she finds herself being teased and teased about it.  It’s too long and barely fits on the name tag, the other students say. Mrs. Twinkle, the music teacher saves the day, but I won’t tell the surprise at the end. Henkes’ sweet drawings keep the reader looking and looking for all the details, including dear Chrysanthemum. 

My Name Is Yoon – written by Helen Recorvits and illustrated by Gabi Swiatwska
             A young Korean girl has immigrated to America with her family, and first doesn’t lik the straight lines and circles that make her name in English.  It’s not as pretty as the Korean characters.  Instead of practicing writing Yoon, she writes other words on the paper from her teacher, like cat and cupcake. The illustrations are beautifully and whimsically done, like on the ‘cat’ page, showing Yoon as herself, but half cat.  The cupcake becomes a way of friendship too in the story, and slowly Yoon knows that different is okay, and that Yoon is really a beautiful name.

My Name Is Sangoel - written by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed and illustrated by Catherine Stock
           These are the two authors who also wrote Four Feet, Two Sandals. Khadra is the director of the Pittsburg Refugee Center and Karen lives in Pittsburg. The illustartions are realistic, muted watercolors that follow the text.  Sangoel, his mother and sister immigrate to American from a camp in the Sudan, escaping war and poverty, helped by a group who also settles them into an apartment. Imagine learning about escalators, stoplights, and cooking on an electric range.  Also, it’s a challenge going to school where so much is different, including one’s name.  Sangoel endures some teasing, but finally creates an idea for telling everyone how to pronounce his name, the pronunciation that is “Sun-Goal”.  His idea motivates classmates to do the same thing, and all turns out well.  You’ll need to find and read in order to enjoy all the details of this wonderful story.

Next:  I'm reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell-so good!


  1. Even though I didn't love CODE NAME VERITY, I was over the moon about ROSE UNDER FIRE. I think it's because I related to the poetic side of Rose and I had nothing to relate to in CNV.

    THE PET PROJECT was such a fun book. A good book to pair it with would be PRUDENCE WANTS A PET.

    1. I think different people connect to one or the other of Wein's books-interesting. Thanks for the new title Prudence wants a pet-I'll look for it, Beth!

  2. So looking forward to Rose Under Fire! I'm been saving it for just the right time, though I am also now hoping to read it in time for School Library Journal's Battle of the Books. I'm a huge Code Name Verity fan and so glad there are still several more Wein books to read!

    1. I see mixed feelings about this book, Elisabeth. It'll be interesting to see what you think, too. I really liked it, & Code Name Verity, too. This Battle of The Books sounds interesting.

  3. I can't wait to read Rose Under Fire - saving it for my Spring Break pile (that is growing very large!) I love your assignment about names and these are such powerful picture books to share. The book I shared this week - My Name is Blessing would also be a title to consider. Not sure if you have read it. But the little boy has his name changed because of its meaning and what new life with a new name is imagined for him.

    1. We don't have Blessing at school, but will look for it at my library Carrie. They have a wide variety of books, so bet I'll find it. Thanks for reminding me about it. (Hope you enjoy Rose...)

  4. Linda - I am glad that you liked Rose Under Fire. It was different in ways from Code Name Verity, but still very well written. I need to get to Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell. It got lost in all of my other reading last year.

    1. Yes, they are very different, I agree. As for Fangirl-it's also really intriguing-have no idea where Rainbow Rowell is going with it, just a few hints. I know what you mean about losing a book. It's why we started the #MustReadin2014, to try to catch up!

  5. Thanks for sharing more titles for the name project, Linda - something I definitely want to try this year. I have both Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire in my selections for historical fiction book clubs - my kids seem very excited about diving into them. Sill on the fence about Fan Girl - but your nudge is just what I need! Have a wonderful week, Linda!

    1. I don't think Fan Girl is for your kids, & actually questions the other two a little-depends on the reader & how sophisticated they've been reading, Tara. Hope your week is good, too!

  6. Your project sounds really interesting. You have soooo many great tiles here. I would like to read Fangirl. Poems to Learn by Heart is just waiting for me to pick it up at the library.

    1. Nice about the Kennedy book-so filled with good poems, Gigi. Too many choices, right? I've been waiting for Rose Under Fire and Fangirl for a long time...

  7. Linda - A great list of books this week. Amy Krouse Rosenthal is one of my favorite authors so great to see this on your list! I love teaching poetry to my students and have Caroline Kennedy's first book in my collection but excited about this new one. I love the idea of focusing on books about names. Shi-shi-etko by Nicola Campbell is a powerful picture book about an aboriginal girl leaving her family to live in a residential school. Her name is important because at the school they give the children "western" names. This may be a good fit for your unit. Have a great week!

    1. I agree, Amy Krouse Rosenthal's books never fail to be my latest favorite, Adrienne. Hope you enjoy the new poetry from Kennedy and thank you very much for this name book new to me. I'll be sure to find it!

  8. Hi Linda, I also used a name-unit for my higher degree course as we discussed identity and self-awareness. So many great titles for this. One other title I used was Wabi Sabi and "I am Thomas" by Libby Gleeson and Armin Greder - this one though would be best for much older readers. I love the poetry books you shared here. I feel that I would need to breathe poetry again in the next few days for me to find my center, as things are very rushed where I am, all good though but it helps to quiet down with a poem or two. Rose Under Fire sounds like it has an interesting premise - very good for women's month! :) Have a great reading week, Linda!

    1. I'm so happy I posted about the name books because I'm gathering even more titles. Thank you for both of these, Myra. I have Wabi Sabi, and of course it fits! I will take it in today! Sorry you are in a swirl today, but settling in with a poem offers a peaceful moment. Enjoy!

  9. Your list of name books reminds me of another title which I enjoyed- Rosemary Wells' Yoko Writes Her Name. Her classmates make fun of her because her Japanese writing is different from their American way. I was also reminded of a Suze Orman (financial expert) special in which she talked about the power of our names.

    1. More to add to my list, Earl. Thank you for these. I've found more from the comments than I would have imagined!


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