It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/12/15

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over atTeach 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: 

I finally read The Maze Runner by James Dashner. It’s not that I didn’t want to or that it’s not my type of book, it is just never on the shelf and it sells itself so I haven’t had to. Well, until now, when I was asked to booktalk books turned into movies for some 8th grade literature circle groups.

When I first started the book I found it a little bit aggravating that the narrator knew little more than Thomas about the world of the Glade that he enters with no memories of his past life. But then I got into it because I think it helped me empathize more with Thomas. I liked the uncertainty of this book, the mysterious maze and the search for a way out, and the very end, which was fabulous. Although in general I felt the story dragged a bit in the middle and the ending bits were a whirlwind. I can say I enjoyed it enough to want to read the sequels, and I can see why the books sell themselves.

Note: This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge (book by an author who does not share my gender)


Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan was a powerful realistic fiction novel about Habo, an albino boy living in Tanzania. I has absolutely no idea that not only are albinos feared in some areas but that they are also hunted and killed as their body parts are thought to bring good luck. And as much as this was a story about Habo leaving his family and fleeing to Dar Es Salaam where he might be safer, it is also a story about a boy who believes he is worth nothing finding his worth and his place in the world. It’s a beautiful book that I plan to recommend to young people and adults alike.


Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth is the first Sibert Medal winner about parrots that I read this week 😉 It recounts the story of not only the parrots’ history and how it has been affected by many different groups of humans and the animals they introduced into the habitat (whether accidentally or purposefully), but also of biologists’ efforts to help bring them back to their former glory. And the beautiful collages by Roth are truly breath-taking. What a wonderful book to share with students!

Note: This book counts for my Award-Winning Books Challenge!


I also read Kakpo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop, which won the Sibert Medal in 2011. I loved, loved, loved how Montgomery took readers every step of the way on the journey to study this rare bird and to see first-hand what great feats volunteers undertake on a daily basis to help bring them back from near-extinction. And what gorgeous and enlightening photos! I preferred this book to Parrots Over Puerto, most likely because it is more attuned to middle school and I ate up the level of detail. I felt so invested in the lives of these birds that I was heartbroken when the little chick died. As students are expected to read more informational texts lately, I am pleased to have such a high-quality piece of literature and example of what such a text should be. I can’t believe I am so late in coming to it. My new resolution is to follow the Sibert much more closely.

Note: This book counts for my Award-Winning Books Challenge!


Back in December I saw a Follett Facebook post to apply to get a free ARC from the Winter Book Break promotion. I answered pretty quickly and was one of 110 people who received a random book to review. This week I read A New Friend by Poppy Green, the first installment in a new series The Adventures of Sophie Mouse for grades K-3. Although this is a bit out of my wheelhouse, I submitted the following review to Follett.

When a new school year begins, Sophie Mouse and her other woodland friends are surprised to find that their new classmate is a snake! At recess, Sophie tries to gather up enough courage to ask Owen to play, but she just can’t do it. After a talk with her parents that evening about their childhood friend Olivia Snake, Sophie resolves to befriend Owen the next day, but, alas, he does not come to school on that day or for a few days after. Then, when Sophie and Hattie Frog are gathering buttercups, Sophie falls down a deep hole, and Owen comes along a saves her with his tail. The three discover that Owen’s mother is Olivia and surprise Sophie’s mother at her bakery. Owen returns to school, welcomed by Sophie, Hattie, and the rest of the class.  Green’s story emphasizes the importance of not judging people until we get to know them–without seeming too preachy. Sophie is the most-developed character, and readers will be eager to discover more of her adventures in future entries in the series. Bell’s black and white illustrations are endearing, and her characters show a wide range of emotions. A promising new series for emerging readers.


To round out my all-over-the-place reading for this week, I read a Stone Arch book in order to prepare for a mysteries booktalk for an instructional class. The Runaway Skeleton by Kathleen M. Muldoon is a text with a reading level of 2.7 and aimed at middle school readers. Topo and his younger brother Mono have just moved to a new foster home and discover a skeleton in a neighbor’s shed when trying to find shelter from a storm. They decide to delay telling an adult until they do some investigating on their own, and eventually Topo winds up in danger. I found this book to be sufficiently engaging and including the basic elements of a mystery so that students reading below grade level can still get the experience of that genre. It will be a great choice for one of my students this week.

Currently Reading:

On Deck: 

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6 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/12/15

  1. I just read Parrots Over Puerto Rico too, and will be sharing it soon for Nonfiction Wednesday! Yay! So many books for #AWBRead2015! 🙂 I’m glad to read your thoughts about The Maze Runner – I actually enjoyed the film – watched it on the plane on our way back home to Singapore.

    1. So glad you will feature Parrots Over Puerto Rico–such a beautiful book! Interesting that you enjoyed the Maze Runner movie–most people I’ve talked to were lukewarm at best about it. Guess I will have to see for myself!

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