Monday, July 30, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/30/18


The weekly post where I recap some of the KidLit books I've been reading. Ocasionally, I'll also talk about some adult fiction books as well.

Be sure to check out Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to see what other Kidlit readers are reading. Because, you know, we can never have too many books in our TBR piles.


BookTube-A-Thon starts today and runs through August 5th! You can see my 7 book TBR here. 

Picture Books

written by Lisa Wheeler
illustrated by Mark Siegel
Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2008

I am always on the lookout for great spooky-funny books. This one had be belly laughing. I loved the illustrations and the rhyme was spot-on. Highly recommend. 

written by Jane Yolen
illustrated by Bob Marstall
Cornell Lab Publishing Group, 2017

I love it when Jane Yolen comes out with a bird picture book (and she's got a few) because I know that the writing will be top notch and there will be fantastic nonfiction back matter. On Duck Pond  does not disappoint. The illustrations are beautiful too. 

by Aura Parker
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018

Oh my goodness! What a cute book! I loved the illustrations. There is just so much to see and discover on each page. And the story--one of going unnoticed--is something that I think many kids can easily relate to. 


by JooHee Yoon
Enchanted Lion Books, 2015

JooHee Yoon has selected a fantastic set of animal poems for this book. Her wonderfully colorful artwork is just amazing. This would make an excellent addition to any poetry classroom. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

BookTube-A-Thon 2018 TBR

It's that time of year again! Booktube-A-Thon--the week-long read-a-thon! I stumbled across this last year and had a blast. I didn't even know what BookTube was (it's a whole slew of YouTubers that talk books on their channels, and it's marvelous.) 

There are daily video challenges that you can do (like spell out your current read using other books) as well as Instagram challenges. I am still debating on whether I am going to put in the time and energy to make any videos--I did last year, but it takes so much time to film and edit! 

My 8yo daughter and her friends really want me to make them because "they've never lived next to a YouTube star" before. Yes, one of them really said this to me. For the record, my top viewed video from last year has 24 views--I'm pretty sure 22 of those were my daughter and her friends sitting around and giggling at me.

So the read-a-thon goes from midnight on July 30th and goes through August 5th. There are seven reading challenges that are totally optional, but a lot of fun. my 7 books that I have chosen total up to just over 1700 words for the week! It's a tall order, but I can't wait to dive in. Just for fun, I have decided to have a horror theme for all my selections.

So, without further ado, here are my book choices.

Challenge 1: Let a coin toss determine your first read

written by Bonny Becker
illustrated by Mark Fearing
Candlewick, 2018

I am SO excited for this one. I will definitely be cracking it open at the stroke of midnight.

Challenge 2: Read a book about something you want to do

edited by David E. Cowen
Horror Writers Association, 2017

I really enjoy writing poetry, especially for kids. While this isn't a book of children's poetry, I am excited to see and learn how to incorporate more spookiness into my own work. 

Challenge 3: Read and watch a book to movie adaptation*

by Jonathan Rosen
Sky Pony Press, 2017

*I am interpreting this challenge a bit broadly, as there isn't a movie adaptation (yet!) BUT the title is FANTASTIC and I'll be going off of that for the challenge. I know the book nods to all sorts of excellent films, so I'll be picking one after I read it.

Challenge 4: Read a book with green on the cover

written by Marc Tyler Nobleman
illustrated by Ana Aranda
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2017

I am fascinated by horror in young children's literature. I think it is an art form to get just the right  spookiness to humor ratio for kids. This one looks way fun.

Challenge 5: Read a book while wearing the same hat the whole time

by Emil Ferris
Fantagraphics Books, 2017

This graphic novel was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award last year and I am so excited to read it (in my roller derby trucker hat).

Challenge 6: Read a book with a beautiful spine

by Alma Katsu
read by Kirsten Potter
Penguin Audio, 2018

So I don't have an image of the spine of this one because I am listening to the audiobook. But I did look it up and it really is a pretty spine.

Challenge 7: Read seven books

edited by Jonathan Maberry
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016

I have been on a short story kick lately and I have high expectations for this one.

So there you have it! I'm hoping to have a wrap up post when I come up for air after the read-a-thon. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Poetry Friday - Artichoke Poetry Swap

It’s Friday! And you know what that means: Poetry! Want to know more about Poetry Friday? Click this link right here. And be sure to check out Reading to the Core to see this week’s round up of wonderful poetry related posts, blogs and goodness. 

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday everyone! I hope that you have had a marvelous week. Mine has been filled with ups and downs, but mostly ups. 

One of the highlights of my week was the poetry swap package I received from Jone Rush MacCulloch. She wrote me a beautiful poem about artichokes. I had no idea that the artichoke was a species of thistle! And the thistle is my 2nd favorite flower (behind the dandelion). I just love how prickly they are, but how vibrant and beautiful the purples can be. 

Thank you, Jone for the poem! I am keeping it on my fridge so I can smile everyday. 

purple glory globe
hidden bee
seeks pollen
explorers on our journey
seeking life's nectar
--jone rush macculloch

Monday, July 23, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 7/20/18


The weekly post where I recap some of the KidLit books I've been reading. Ocasionally, I'll also talk about some adult fiction books as well.

Be sure to check out Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to see what other Kidlit readers are reading. Because, you know, we can never have too many books in our TBR piles.


Board Books

by Patty Rodriguez & Ariana Stein
Lil' Libros, 2017

We. loved. this. book. The illustrations are so bright and wonderful. Each page has an emotion in both Spanish and English. In the 3 weeks that I had it home from the library, I bet I read it at least 50 times (I'm not kidding). Now my 20 month old son toddles around the house making all the hand motions to accompany the emotion (hand to the cheek with a shocked expression for surprise/sporendido, scratching his head for confused/confundido). He even walks up and says "amada" while giving us hugs. We will be buying this one for our home.

by Christopher Silas Neal
little bee books, 2018

This was a fantastic read and a very creative color concept book. I love the mash up of both the colors and the wacky animals. What does a blue whale and a yellow lion make? A green whion of course!

Picture Books

by Damian Synadinos 
Proving Press, 2018

I haven't ever seen a book that introduces kids to improv before. It was a fun read that would make for a great rainy day book. I especially like the improv games included as back matter to get the creative juices going. You can read my full review here.


poems by Carol Murray
illustrations by Melissa Sweet
Henry Holt and Co., 2017

This was a wildly fun read. The poems were playful and informative. And the illustrations were fantastic too. My daughter and I both loved the nonfiction tidbits that accompanied each poem. 

Middle Grade

by Peter Brown
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016

I cannot heap enough praise on this book as a read-aloud. My daughter and I read this together and it is simply wonderful. The chapters are super short, which make bedtime (or classroom) reading perfect because there is always an easy stopping point. The characters are all so lovable. My daughter especially enjoyed Chit Chat, the squirrel, who talks exactly how you'd picture a squirrel to talk. We cannot wait to pick up the sequel.

by Cassie Beasley
Dial Books, 2015

Cassie Beasley is one of my new favorite authors. I read Tumble and Blue earlier in the year and thought it was wonderful. Circus Mirandus is just as good. I love a good circus story and Beasley does such a fantastic job of bringing the magic to life. She also does a magnificent job of taking serious, sorrowful topics (like the death of a loved one or a parent abandoning a child) and wrapping it in a story filled with magical realism and tangible characters so that the topics can be easily digested by a young reader. She doesn't pander, but delivers real emotions in a way that young readers can understand.

Young Adult

by Angie Thomas
Balzar + Bray, 2017
narrated by Bahni Turpin
HarperAudio 2017

I feel like I am late getting to this one, but I am so glad I finally read it. This book needs to be read and anyone and everyone. Sometimes I worry when tons of hype is put into something but the hype is absolutely well deserved. I listened to the audiobook and it was one of the best performed audiobooks that I have ever listened to. So so good and impactful. This book has the power to make change happen. I cannot wait to see the movie. 

Adult Fiction

by Edgar Cantero
Doubleday, 2014

I read Cantero's Meddling Kids last year and really enjoyed it--it's probably my favorite adult fiction book from the last few years. So I picked up this one and really liked it as well. It is basically a Victorian gothic horror story set in Virginia in the 1990s. Cantero walks the line of giving the reader just enough information to push the story forward while leaving a lot in the dark until the end. All around a fun read. His next book, This Body's Not Big Enough for the Both of Us--a hard boiled mystery where the protagonist detective is a set of twins stuck in one body--comes out in two weeks and I'm really excited to pick it up.

by Kristin Hannah
St. Martin's Press, 2018

Excellent, excellent book. A lot about this struck home for me, which made it quite personal. I could really relate to Leni's circumstance. The descriptions of the Alaskan frontier were beautiful and wild. I felt like I was right there with the Allbrights. I especially liked how it is a very satisfying ending , but it's not wrapped up in a pretty bow and perfect. It felt real. Highly recommend. 

Nonfiction - Craft

by Mary Kole 
Writer's Digest Books, 2012

One of my writing group members lent me this book and it is fantastic. Because I have such a small amount of time to write, I have been looking for a book that could help me outline my current work-in-progress. This book was helpful during the planning stages of my novel and I believe it will also be very helpful during the revision stages as well. I will be adding this to my bookshelf for future reference. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Poetry Friday - Lake Poetry Swap

It’s Friday! And you know what that means: Poetry! Want to know more about Poetry Friday? Click this link right here. And be sure to check out Heidi Mordhorst's blog, My Juicy Little Universe, to see this week’s round up of wonderful poetry related posts, blogs and goodness. 

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! I'm so glad that you stopped by. Things have been hectic with both the kiddos and my husband home for the summer. I love them all to death, but it feels like I am getting nothing done! I am still trying to savor it because I know school will start back up here in about a month. 

With all the craziness of summer, it was so nice to receive a summer poetry swap package from Irene Latham. Not only did she send a wonderful poem, but she also sent me this adorable turtle. He has found a comfy home with my other slow-moving stuffed animals. 

Knowing that I enjoy horror, Irene sent me a spooky poem about swimming in a lake. Little did she know that lakes really do give me the heebie jeebies! I live close to the ocean and don't think twice about all the sharks, jelly fish and rays when I go for a swim. But there is just something creepy about lakes. I just know that a monster tentacle is going to curl around my ankle one day and drag me down! Thanks, Irene for the fantastic poem.

Swimming in the Lake
by Irene Latham

It starts with a whisper
on my ankle,
a tickle on my thigh --

I kick and shiver:
are there alligators nearby?

Something bubbles,
something pops.
I see a head --
           my heart squeezes!

-- and a pair of eyes.
           my body freezes!

Get me out of here, quick!

What? It's just a stick?
Not a snaketurtlepirhanasharkALLIGATOR
hunting me now
for a feast later?

I wish I knew what to believe...

It ends with me
climbing the ladder,
crying, No more!

I think I like the lake better
from the shore.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

SOMETHING FROM NOTHING by Damian Synadinos - Informational PB Review

Hank and Stella in Something from Nothing

by Damian Synadinos

At a Glance


Informational picture book

Age Range: 

ages 5-10, but can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in improv


"Hank and Stella in Something from Nothing" is an engaging story with cute characters that introduces children to improv principles and skills that are as useful on stage as they are at play and in life" (source).

The story follows two stuffed animals as they make a boring rainy day more fun by learning about imrov.


  • makes improv easy to understand for young children
  • illustrations are bright and engaging
  • a great tool when children say "I'm bored"
  • a great tool to teach that it's okay to make mistakes

Would I recommend this title:

Yes, especially to those who are interested in improv

Full Review

I have seen various books on how to do improv, but they have always been geared towards adults or older teens. Enter Something from Nothing by Damian Synadinos, a picture book that teaches children the principles of improvisation in a fun and engaging way.

Hank and Stella show young readers how to play together, how to build their confidence and how to develop their imaginations. I especially like the fact that the book teaches children that it is okay to make mistakes and that we can grow and build on those small accidents.

One concept in the book is the "Yes, And" rule. It teaches a skill that I think is invaluable throughout life. Part of creativity and brainstorming in a team is building on what others say. Instead of shooting down and idea, you say "yes" and then continue to add your own input. This promotes innovation and collaboration.

I also love that the book comes with a list of improv games to get kids going. I can't wait to try them out with my own kids as I think that they will have a blast trying them out.

Overall, this is an excellent book for showing kids how much fun improv can be, and  that it doesn't have to be scary. The idea of standing up and performing on the spot kind of terrifies me. Maybe it wouldn't be so scary if I had something like this when I was a kid.