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Book Pair + 3 More

Posted by in Book Review

I’m joining Teach Mentor Texts and  Unleashing Readers for It’s Monday! What are you reading?

some assembly required   20873172

First up, I stayed in bed all Sunday afternoon reading alongside my 19 year-old who is home from college for the holidays. Bliss! I devoured Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen, by Arin Andrews. This book is a well-written account of Arin’s journey as he comes to terms with the knowledge that he is a boy born into a girl’s body. Arin’s memoir would pair really well with Gracefully Grayson, by Ami Polonsky.

oliver and the seawigs

I don’t know how I missed Oliver and the Seawigs, written by Philip Reeve and illustrated Sarah McIntyre in 2013, but I’m sure grateful it found its way to me! This chapter book for upper elementary readers is just plain fun! Oliver’s parents are explorers, and he chases after them after they unwittingly explore a rambling island. These islands do just what their name implies; they ramble around the seas searching for decorations for their seawig heads. Oliver meets a mermaid with poor eyesight and a couple of dangerous villains. The illustrations add to the engaging fantasy adventure.


The Jacket, written by Kirsten Hall and illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova, is a clever picturebook about Book who longs for a child to discover him. Finally, a little girl does, but her dog brings nothing but grief to Book, the final one involving a great deal of mud. The little girl saves the day by making a jacket for Book. The jacket in the book matches the jacket in the reader’s hands. Peak under the jacket, and you will discover that you have been reading the actual Book, complete with his eyes!

little red

Little Red Riding Hood, told by the Brothers Grimm and translated by Anthea Bell, is exquisitely illustrated by German artist Sybille Schenker. Her laser die-cut paper artistry is breathtaking. Explore her work further here. She has also illustrated Hansel and Gretel.

Tagged in: Children's Novels Picturebooks

Mind-Blowing Books

Posted by in Book List

I’m joining A Month of Favorites today for my list of “Top 10 Books That Blew My Mind in 2014.” I’ve got lists for both chapter books and picturebooks because I can’t limit myself to just ten!



Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give you the Sun blew my mind because the characters, story, writing, and book magic broke my heart wide open. Read it. Really. Just trust me. And then read The Sky is Everywhere. Jandy is the best of YA literature.


Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles blew my mind because who comes up with the idea to have the main character’s mother killed by a falling horse? I got to meet the author at NCTE and tell him how much my daughter and I loved this book (I had to gush about Stick, too).


 Abby Hanlon’s Dory Fantasmagory blew my mind because I finally found the perfect third grade read of 2014. They’re really hard to find, and this one is perfection. Full of humor, quirky and lovable characters, fun illustrations, and spot on sibling relations, this was a stand-out for me.


Dana Alison Levy’s The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher blew my mind because reading about the crazy antics of a family that includes two dads and four adopted kids was a first for me. Family interactions were the focus, and they are fun, funny, frantic, and fearless.


Katherine Rundell’s Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms blew my mind because it’s like a lovely mix of A Little Princess and Rooftoppers (by the author).

girls like us

Gail Giles’s Girls Like Us blew my mind because the voices of the two girls who are placed together to live after graduating from their high school’s special education program are so clear and compelling.

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Megan Jean Sovern’s The Meaning of Maggie blew my mind because I want to vote for Maggie for president in the future. She’s whip smart and heart smart.


Lisa Graff’s Absolutely Almost blew my mind because she introduced me to an ordinary character. We  often read about extraordinary characters, so I was delighted to meet just a regular kid who never felt great at anything. I wish Calista had been my babysitter!


Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek blew my mind because the author is just 15 years old, and she’s an amazing writer! As the mother of two teenage daughters, I think about the social construct of popularity quite often, and Maya gave me some compelling things to think about. This writer is wise beyond her years.


Anthony Doerr’s All the Light we Cannot See is blowing my mind. Although I haven’t finished it yet, it’s the kind of read like The Book Thief that I want to savor because I know it’s going to break my heart and then live there forever.


The Promise

Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin’s The Promise blew my mind because it took me a year to find it! Even though it was published in 2013, it didn’t become available in my library, which is top in the nation, until 2014. This is a big departure for one of my favorite informational writers. If you want a picturebook that explores symbolism in a powerful and meaningful way, look this book up. If you need a read aloud for over burdened school teachers, this is a gem!


Richard Byrne’s This book just ate my dog! blew my mind because I got to witness first graders’ minds being blown by this very clever book!

pardon me f.image

Daniel Miyares’s Pardon Me! blew my mind because the ending is subversive and wholly unexpected.


 Princesse Camcam’s Fox’s Garden blew my mind because it is an exquisite wordless picturebook. 


 Elise Gravel’s The Slug and The Rat blew my mind because her Disgusting Critters informational series is weird and wacky and wildly appealing to readers.


Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet’s Roget and his Thesaurus blew my mind because Melissa Sweet’s collage art NEVER FAILS to blow my mind.


Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s Sam and Dave Dig a Hole blew my mind because I got to hear the illustrator talk about the book. He is a mind-blowing artist! 


Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton’s Tiny: The Invisible World of Microbes blew my mind because that’s what Nicola Davies does to mine. 


Lita Judge’s Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and their Parents blew my mind because of the unique organization based on what all baby mammals need to survive.


Marianne Dubuc’s The Lion and the Bird (translated by Claudia Z. Bedrick) blew my mind because of the beautiful story of friendship told within the covers of this lovely picturebook.

Tagged in: Children's Novels Picturebooks Young Adult