Wishlist Wednesday #5

Wishlist Wednesday

Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Pen to Paper. This meme is where you showcase one book that is on your wishlist and that you can’t wait to get off your wishlist and into your hands.

Welcome to an awesome weekly meme:  Wishlist Wednesday!  This is a blog hop to share something that I am very excited to read…but haven’t read yet!

This week’s Wishlist is actually two books!  (I know I’m cheating, but hear me out.)  As I was surfing the Kidlitosphere this week, I came across this post on Nerdy Book Club.  Author Geoff Rodkey has a hilarious post about the illustrations, and hijinks that ensued, when creating his second Tapper Twins novel: Tapper Twins Tear Up New York.

I looked some more into his works and now have the first 2 Tapper Twins books on my Wishlist.  The first, Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other), introduces us to the world of these tweens and the trouble they get into with each other.  The second, Tapper Twins Tear up New York, follows the twins as they participate in a scavenger hunt.

I loved the author interview and I cannot wait to have these titles on my  shelves!


Follow the link and join the blog hop!




I will be spending much of the rest of the semester creating and completing my own reading challenge.  I do not enter into a challenge or a plan easily.

My Thinking

Why Challenge and Plan?

When we challenge ourselves, we stay committed to continue reading.  A challenge gives me, as a reader, a goal.  When I work through a challenge, I do not have to question what book to read next – the challenge provides that for me!

I am also a big planner!  I have been planning my life since I was a kid.  Creating a reading challenge and a plan just seems natural to me.  When I work through a reading plan, I have goals and direction in regards to how much I read.

My Criteria

This past week I have spent some time looking at various Children’s Literature challenges and lists.  I knew that I wanted to read as many books as possible.  I also knew that I wanted the books to span a number of continuums.

I wanted to read books that were published a long time ago and books that were published recently.

I wanted to read books that cover many genres and styles:  picture books, chapter books, happy books, sad books.

So, what did I choose….?

Setting the Stage


My Challenge

I have decided that I am going to begin working on Amazon’s 100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime.  This list, compiled by editors over at Amazon.com, contains picture books and chapter books.  Each of the books has a “tag line” to it.  They spread publication dates (from classics to recently released).  I think this is a good cross section of Children’s Lit and fits so many of my “criteria” for a challenge.

My Rules

I’ve also set myself a plan and rules about this challenge.  I know I will never read 100 books between now and December.  Instead I will be using this fall to take a big bite out of the list.  But, I need to set myself some rules.

  1. Anything I’ve read since August is considered done.
  2. Each week I will read 3 books.  1 will be a picture book.  1 will be a chapter book.  The other will be a choice book.
  3. I will read something new to me each week.  I can re-read some favorites, but each week I have to read something new to me.

How Can You Help?

Slide2My Current Thoughts on the Challenge

I am very excited to set out to read the 100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime.  I am looking forward to reading books that are popular among children’s literature readers.  I’m also really looking forward to reading some books I wouldn’t normally pick up!

There are a few thing that will be hard for me.  First, choosing which books from the list to read will be difficult.  100 books is a lot of books, and I do want to eventually read them all.  However, where do I start?  I need you, my readers, to help direct me to books on the list that match my tastes and reviews of recent reads.  Some of the best books are the ones that others recommend.

Secondly, I know that limiting myself will be challenging.  I love to read and would love nothing better than to sit and read Children’s Lit all week.  Alas, I have adult responsibilities (booooo) and cannot do that.  So, recognizing and accepting that fact that this challenge will take more than a few months to complete will be essential for me.

You can see what I have read each week by looking at the “It’s Monday” tagged posts.  You can also see my overall progress on the “Challenge” tab at the top of the page.  Stop by each week, see what I’ve read, and recommend, recommend, recommend!

Let’s get reading….

IMWAYR – More Newberys

ItsMondayGraphicThis week I have been reading more Newbery Winners and Honors.  I had two of these on my shelf, while the other jumped into my hands from a middle school Language Arts teacher.  Here are the books I read this week!

Nothing But the Truth, by Avi, was a Newbery Honor book in 1992.  This book, with the tag-line A documentary novel, was one that I had picked up at book fair, but had not yet read.

Phillip Malloy is a high school student who just does not seem to get along with his English teacher.  Spurred on by Ms. Narwin’s co-workers, and by Mr. and Mrs. Malloy, a small incident of classroom subordination becomes a huge issue.  The book is told through a series of letters, journal entries, memos, and conversations – something entirely novel to me.  (haha…novel!!  I love puns!)

When I read the “After Words”, by Avi and others, I learned that Avi has had people all over the country ask if he based this book on a situation that happened at their school.  In fact, I had a hard time remembering that it was fiction because the high school in the book (Harrison) has the same name as my high school!

The second book I read this week was Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.  The 2009 Newbery Winner is the one that was recommended by not one, but TWO, middle school Language Arts teachers! 

Nobody Owens is a baby who has escaped being murdered by the man named Jack.  The baby ends up wandering into a local graveyard.  Master and Misses Owens, along with the other spirits in the graveyard, decide to protect and raise this little baby.

Gaiman explores Nobody “Bod” Owens’ life and adolescence through a series of incidents.  Life growing up with the protection of the graveyard is fun and dangerous for young Bod.  Yet, he manages to have some interesting interactions with the people in the town.

I enjoyed this book.  I felt like the middle couple of chapters just dragged.  But, I couldn’t put it down in the last half of the book.  All in all, a very good read!

My final Newbery this week is Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary.  This is a book I know I read when I was younger, but I didn’t remember much about it.

This book is a series of letters, and journal entries, from Leigh Botts (a boy) to his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw.  Leigh uses his writing to explore the things that happen to him – his parents’ divorce, a broken TV, and the lunchbag thief!

Told through this young man’s eyes, we learn about Leigh, about his family, and about the things that are important to him.  It was a quick read, and I’m glad I had a chance to re-read it!

My mom told me recently that Beverly Cleary was her favorite author.  Apparently Ms. Cleary wrote my mom back after my mom sent her an “author letter”.  My mom still has the letter somewhere at her house too!

Well, that’s it for this week.  What did you read?  Did I miss an important or exciting Newbery winner?  Let’s talk below!

Harry Potter Thursday #4


Harry Potter Moment of the Week hosted by Uncorked Thoughts!  Check out the blog-hop and other cool stuff over there!

The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object, quote etc. from the books/ films/ J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related!

Today’s Potter Question:  What books would you recommend to Harry?

Poor Harry.  His life is horrid while he lives with the Dursleys.  Then he finds out he is a famous wizard, but the evil Voldemort keeps trying to kill him!

So what would I tell Harry he should read?  There are two categories that I would share.

 Orphan books:  Okay, I know that sounds horrible, but if Harry had read these books as a child, maybe he would not have gripped onto the wizarding world so much…and maAreYouMyMotherybe would have made his Hogwarts years easier.

In this category, I would have him read Are You My Mother? to show him that sometimes you just have to ask if someone else is your mother.


I would also have him read The Ugly Duckling so that he could discover what it is like to grow up to be a beautiful swan!  I’d tell Harry to ignore the nay-sayers, and stay true to himself.


Adventure books:  Once Harry has gotten his Hogwarts letter, and once Voldemort tried to kill him his first year at Hogwarts, I would help Harry find books that would prepare him for many adventures.

The choose-your-own-adventurefirst one would be the Choose Your Own Adventure series.  What better way to get ready to battle Voldemort to the death than sitting down and choosing his own adventure.  I’m sure Harry, like all of us, would go back in the book to make a different choice because the one he just made killed him!

Unfortunate Events

I’d also have Harry read The Series of Unfortunate Events.  I know it sounds cruel, but hear me out.  If Harry is aware that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and that sometimes some really unfortunate things happen, maybe he will look at his life with clearer eyes.  Who knows, he could get an ego boost when he realizes his life isn’t as bad as the kids in this book!

What would you have Harry read?  Let’s talk below!

Mirror, Mirror…

Courtesy a Creative Commons License

Mirror, Mirror on the wall…how has my reading gone this fall?

Today I am “reflecting” (haha…a pun!) on this question.  I started this blog for my Children’s Lit class, and I have read a LOT of books (over 50 in about a month)!  I’ve read some books that I have loved (The One and Only Ivan, I Lived on Butterfly Hill, Bad Kitty).  I have also read some books that I did not like at all (some of the Caldecott books).

What types of books do I like?  What about them makes them favorites?

I find that my favorite books have been mostly chapter books written for older elementary readers.  I make connections with books that have strong, well developed characters.  My favorite books this semester have all contained the worlds of my favorite characters.  Ivan, Celeste, Kitty, are all characters I found myself emotionally invested in.  Books without strong characters simply do not resonate with me.

What types of books do I dislike?  What about them doesn’t connect with me?

The books that I have disliked most have been the illustrated picture books with no words.  The illustrations are great, but it is hard for me to connect with the setting or characters through a picture book.  I want to know the characters’ background, their hopes, their struggles, and get a sense of who they are.  Some of these illustrated picture books just left me wanting a connection.

Which award winners have resonated most with me?

I have read books that have won several awards:  Caldecott, Newbery, Pura Belpre, Schneider Family Medal, Coretta Scott King,… The list goes on and on.

My favorites have been the award-winners that immerse me in another culture.  I Lived on Butterfly Hill immersed me in a culture that was a stretch for me, but ultimately was a wonderful experience.  I felt the same way when I read Dave the Potter.  This sense of belonging in the story is one of the things I love about these books.

What does this mean for me as a reader?
  1. I need a character (or two) that I truly connect with.  I want to be a part of the story.  I want to escape the boring “real world” and travel to another world with a friend from the story.
  2. I want a book that follows an “underdog”.  Someone who works hard, is kind, and somehow solves the major conflict with kindness and humor.  (And a happy ending doesn’t hurt either!)
What doesGreenEggs this mean for me as a reader of Children’s Lit?

I tend to gravitate towards Children’s books that fit the things I love about all books.  I think that in the future this will mean that I tend to choose books that I enjoy to teach and explore with my students.

How has your reading gone?  What things do you like?  What things do you not like?  Let’s talk below!

Wishlist Wednesday #4

Wishlist Wednesday

Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Pen to Paper. This meme is where you showcase one book that is on your wishlist and that you can’t wait to get off your wishlist and into your hands.

Welcome to an awesome weekly meme:  Wishlist Wednesday!  This is a blog hop to share something that I am very excited to read…but haven’t read yet!

I am so excited and looking forward to reading Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate!

In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.

I love, love, loved The One and Only Ivan.  I’ve started following Katherine Applegate on Twitter.  The buzz about this book, and the teaser about feeding homeless children, is so intriguing!

I’ll let you know my thoughts once I read it!

What is on your wishlist today?  Let’s talk below.

Follow the link and join the blog hop!


It’s Monday! What are you reading? – The One and Only Ivan

ItsMondayGraphicThis week I have been reading the 2013 Newbery Medal Winner The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate.  This week’s post will look at the novel through the lens of the Newbery criteria.

The One and Only Ivan was an amazing novel!  The story is based on the real-life Ivan:  a gorilla who was part of a mall “circus” for many years before being transferred to Zoo Atlanta.  Applegate creates an Ivan who is compassionate, intelligent, and the true hero of his story.  If you have not read this novel, I seriously suggest it go to the top of your To Be Read list!

The Newbery Medal is “awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published by an American publisher in the United States in English during the preceding year. There are no limitations as to the character of the book considered except that it be original work.” (ALA Newbery Criteria)

So, how does The One and Only Ivan meet these criteria?

Most Distinguished:  Applegate’s novel is “individually distinct” and is “marked by excellence in quality”.  The novel is one that is truly an original story that is written in a compelling manner.

Contribution to American Literature for Children:  The ALA defines American Literature as the text of a book.  The Newbery is specifically awarded to books that have been written for children up to age 14.  Ivan definitely meets this criteria by being a children’s novel.  While there are illustrations, the “meat” of Ivan is in the prose.

The One and Only Ivan is also distinguished in its plot, setting, and theme.

PlotIvan – When analyzing Ivan in terms of plot, a few things come to mind.  First, Applegate fully explores Ivan’s story.  The novel has a clear exposition, rising action, climax, and falling action.  We as readers get to travel along Ivan’s journey in a logical progression.  We discover, along with Ivan, the conflicts he must resolve, the choices he must make, and the course of action.

Setting – Applegate created a vivid setting for her novel.  We first encounter Ivan in his “domain”.  Throughout the course of the novel, we learn more about Ivan’s home, and the setting of the novel, as he himself begins to look at his world differently.  Applegate has led us through Ivan’s existence and home in a crafty manner.  The setting, and his awareness of it, help us to see why Ivan takes the course of action that he does.

Theme – What is the theme of The One and Only Ivan?  This novel explores the deeper issues of compassion and love that inspires us to change our world.  Ivan is a very kind-hearted soul.  He aches when his friend Stella (the elephant) is in pain from her wounds and injuries.  He takes the responsibility for getting Ruby to a new environment as his friend Stella dies.  Ivan is a truly loving and compassionate soul.  He will do anything to make his friends feel better and to not hurt.  We all can learn from Ivan.

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, is a truly magnificent work of literature.  I emotionally connected with the plight of Ivan and his mall family.  I ached when Stella hurt.  I cried when Ruby cried.  I got angry when Ivan was angry.  The characters that Katherine Applegate created for us have become my friends.  The emotional connection with the characters is what makes this story.

Ivan’s story, as told by Katherine Applegate, is one that teaches all of us to be a bit more kind, caring, and compassionate.  I am eternally  grateful that I have read this beautiful novel and look forward to many re-reads in the years to come.

What did you read this week?  Have you read The One and Only Ivan?  Let’s talk below!