The Book-A-Day Challenge hosted by Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisper) has been one of my favorite challenges. Not only did it really help me focus on my reading goal for this summer, but using the #bookaday hashtag on twitter introduced me to some great teachers and school librarians and added a whole community feel to the challenge. I just want to give a shout out to some of my favorite Book-A-Day folks: Kathy (@thebrainlair), John (@mrschu81), Jamie (@fiteach), David (@tkslibrarian), Elisha (@elishakarr), Denise (@ddigiova), Paul (@paulwhankins), and Donalyn (@donalynbooks). If you are on twitter, go follow them.
Now onto my update, I will preface this and say it was a big picture book week. A bookseller friend of mine gave me free reign to go through her galleys for new releases coming out in late fall/early winter. The only thing that kept me from reading more is that I actually had to get to a meeting and ran out of time.
You will also notice a lot of books by Melanie Watt included below. When I had admitted that I hadn’t read her stuff before, my friend pulled everything off her shelves for me to read. Just for references purposes, I have indicated below the release dates for the ones not yet out.
The Monster Princess by D.J. MacHale, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger – This is a debut picture book by MacHale. Written in typical fairy tale style, MacHale tells the story of a little monster who really wants to be a beautiful princess.
Will It Be A Baby Brother? by Eve Bunting, Illustrated by Beth Spiegel – A mom and her preschooler discuss the pending birth of the new baby in the family. This big brother wants a “James” (brother). Mother assures him that whatever he gets will be just right.
Grandma’s Gloves by Cecil Castellucci, Illustrated by Julia Denos – A debut picture book by YA author Castellucci and a very wonderful one at that. Get out your box of tissues. There will be tears. Castellucci does a beautiful job with telling one child’s story of losing her grandmother and how she deals with her grief.
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt – Scaredy Squirrel is afraid of just about everything. One day things don’t go exactly as planned and Scaredy learns something new about himself and takes a risk. Funny and wonderful.
Scaredy Squirrel At Night by Melanie Watt – In a similar vein as the first book in this series, Scaredy is afraid of his dreams. What will happen to him if he falls asleep? As with the first one, Scaredy learns a lesson and conquers a fear.
Scaredy Squirrel At The Beach by Melanie Watt - This may have been my favorite out of the three. Scaredy tries creating the beach at home but he is missing something that he can only get by going to the actual beach. Once there, things don’t go as planned but then readers have learned that this is the best thing for Scaredy.
Chester by Melanie Watt – I love Scaredy Squirrel but I might even love Chester more. Chester is a very fat, orange tabby who is snarky and difficult and loves to challenge Watt. Chester, along with his red pen, is very funny but Watt usually has a surprise and Chester gets his comeuppance at the end.
Chester’s Masterpiece by Melanie Watt – As if Chester couldn’t get any funnier, this time he has hidden Watt’s writing and drawing materials and is writing his own story. But never fear, Watt has the last laugh or does she?
Have I Got A Book For You! by Melanie Watt – Though this book really is having a little fun with our “hard-sell” advertising world, I couldn’t help thinking about all the teachers and librarians out there who spend hours trying to find just the right book for the right kid.
You’re Finally Here! by Melanie Watt Release Date: March 1, 2011 – Bunny (a new character) is so excited that the person he has been waiting for is finally here. To make his point, he goes through all the agonizing moments leading up to the arrival. But there is a twist. Read it to find out. As with her other books, readers will delight in her humor.
Cuddle Up, Goodnight! by Katie Cleminson Release Date: February 1, 2011 – A toddler picture book for bedtime.
Pirate vs. Pirate by Mary Quattlebaum, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger Release Date: March 22, 2011 – This one I want. Two pirates compete to see who is better. A fun book, great illustrations, and a nice lesson about what really make someone better. Boiger also illustrated MacHale’s The Monster Princess – equally well done but also very different.
What’s Special About Me, Mama? by Kristina Evans, Illustrated by Javaka Steptoe Release Date: January 18, 2011 – Another one that I would like to have. A nice addition to the category of books for preschoolers about “what is special about me?”
Before You Came by Patricia MacLachlan, Illustrations by David Diaz Release Date: February 8, 2011 – Fans of David Diaz will recognize the artwork in this book. Unfortunately, there are many books for preschoolers that deal with the theme of waiting for a baby’s arrival and this one does not really add anything new.
Baby Says Moo! by Joann Early Macken, Illustrated by David Walker Release Date: March 1, 2011 – This one was a nice twist on the typical toddler/preschool animal sounds. A young toddler learning to talk refers to all animal sounds as “moo” much to the parent’s frustration.
Ten Little Puppies/Diez Perritos by Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy, Illustrated by Ulises Wensell Release Date: March 1, 2011 - On each two page spread is a poem first in Spanish and then in English. This is a nice twist on the traditional “Five little ducks” where each verse subtracts one. Illustrations are lovely. A nice addition to a bilingual Spanish classroom.
A Lot of Beans by Barry Varela, Illustrated by Sebastia Serra Release Date: March 1, 2011 - I really loved this one. Aside from the multi-cultural aspect of the story (representing the Latino culture), the theme is very well presented. The main character places a white bean in a jar if it is a good day, and a black bean if it is a bad day. After a series of really bad days, the boy decides to count all of the beans to see if his life is mostly good or bad. Don’t want to give away the ending. But wonderful resolution and ending.
Mama and Me by Arthur Dorros, Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez Release Date: March 1, 2011 – There was something about the illustrations in this book that made it stand out. The story about the little girl and her mother – though not especially unique – is well constructed and offers a twist on others in this category. One that I will definitely find once it is published to see if I still feel the same way.
Non-fiction Picture Books
Miss Dorothy’s Book Mobile by Gloria M. Houston, Illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb U.S. Release Date: January 25, 2011 – This is a biographical picture book about Dorothy Thomas who drove books to people all over the Appalachian during the 1940′s.
The Great Migration by Eloise Greenfield, Illustrated by Jan Gilchrist Release Date: December 21, 2010 – Some picture books do an amazing job of mixing text and illustrations to tell a story. I loved the combination in this book. The Great Migration tells of one African American family’s migration from the south to the north. One that I will definitely look for upon it’s release.
Early Chapter Books
Judy Moody by Megan McDonald, Illustrator Peter H. Reynolds – I’m not sure how I have avoided reading Judy Moody but I thought it was time to catch up. Judy is not in a good mood. It is the first day of school and things don’t look like they are going to get any better any time soon. Teachers will recognize the characters in the book. The Judy Moody series is a great one for 2nd and 3rd graders and for fans of Ramona.
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee – I am behind in my 2nd & 3rd grade chapter books. Probably because many of them annoy me. However, I loved Clementine. I think I might love Clementine as much as or maybe even more than Ramona.
Felix Takes the Stage (The Deadlies) by Kathryn Lasky – I think all I know about brown recluse spiders I learned from reading this book. A family of brown recluses live in a music hall. Felix wants to conduct an orchestra but gets a little too close to the conductor in an after hours practice and the conductor gets a surprise. What’s a spider family to do when they are forced out of their home by exterminators? A fun early chapter book which includes a reference about spiders at the end.
Two more Book-A-Day Postings for the summer and then I will be switching over to Book-A-Week during the school year. So how’s your summer reading going?