It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/2/14

First let me say this, “IT’S THE LAST DAY OF THE SCHOOL YEAR! WOO-HOO!”

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Books:


At long last I read the most recent Newbery Award winner, Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. Maybe it was hyped up in my mind too much because while I enjoyed it, the book did not SHOUT Newbery at me. DiCamillo always provides us readers with amazing turns-of-phrase and beautiful descriptions, but this time I was missing that connection to her characters that I usually feel. I don’t feel I got to know Flora as intimately as I expected. Still, there is much to love here, particularly for those on the lower end of middle grade. And the wonderful and beautiful illustrations definitely complement the story well. I just want to pick up Ulysses and hug him :).

teslasatticNeal Shusterman is visiting all of the middle schools in our district in November, so I was pleased to find this new adventure for middle grade readers, Tesla’s Attic, which Shusterman co-wrote with Eric Elfman. Nick, his younger brother, and father move into an old family home after a tragic fire that kills Nick’s mother. Nick claims the attic for his bedroom, holding a giant garage sale to get rid of all the junk that was piled up in his way. The garage sale is a huge and strange success, as people seem weirdly drawn to objects and pay way too much money for them. It turns out that the items in the attic belonged to Nikola Tesla, and they all are much more than they seem; for example, there is a reel-to-reel tape recorder that plays back what people are thinking rather than what they said and a magic baseball glove that can catch ANYTHING. It reminds me a bit of the old(ish) TV show Friday the 13th or the just-ended series Warehouse 13. Anyway, Nick and his friends are confronted by the evil Accelerati, followers of Thomas Edison who want to use Tesla’s objects for their own schemes and plans. And at the end of the book, Nick figures out how to prevent the end of the world as we know it. But it’s not quite over just yet….

Although not as thought-provoking as some of Shusterman’s other books, this is still a solid middle grade science fiction book and a great start to a new series. My school will share this as a read-aloud book for 6th and 7th graders, and I can see lots of opportunities for curriculum connections so teachers in multiple disciplines can also get involved. Plus students will enjoy the humor in it.

Currently Reading: 


from Netgalley

On Deck: 



9 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/2/14

  1. Flora and Ulysses didn’t shout out to me either… I felt the same way – like maybe I was expecting more because of the buzz??? I too loved the illustrations and there were many lines that made me laugh or want to read them out loud. I’ve heard good things about The Familiars series. I want to get to it at some point!

    1. I am reading The Familiars in an effort to go back and catch books in my collection that I’ve missed. I love reading new books, but I am also very short on budget so it is difficult to read a book from NetGalley that I love and not be able to purchase it for my school. I have to reserve my money for the best of the best, and so unfortunately some good books get passed over.

  2. I felt very much the same about both of these. I think that DiCamillo is more successful with the younger crowd. When I described Flora to them, they thought I was joking!

  3. I’m one who loved Flora, but I am also certain that if I had read it by myself, I would not have loved it–would have found it too quirky and self-conscious. But I read it aloud to my son, and it reads so incredibly well aloud. I definitely understand the mixed reactions this book sometimes elicits. I was a bit surprised by the Newbery as well, especially in a year of very strong middle grade. Yay for the end of school! I bet you’re looking forward to all that wonderful summer reading!

    1. Quite interesting. Do I recall correctly that Despereaux and Edward Tulane were not favorites of yours? I love them, and I read both of them out loud to my children. Hmmmmm….

      1. You’re right! I really didn’t like either of those books, and both of them I read silently. I need to revisit at some point–may try reading aloud with my younger son this summer. I think he might like both stories.

  4. Very good to read your thoughts about Flora & Ulysses – hmm, this could probably be a read-aloud this summer with my 12 year old girl. 🙂

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