It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/7/15

As the year in reading winds down, I’m pushing to exceed my reading goal to read more books than I did last year. With so many great titles at my fingertips, why not?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly blog meme. The kidlit version is hosted by Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts. Here’s what I’ve recently finished reading:

Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs by Mike Lowery


2/5 stars

Similar to a choose-your-own adventure, this graphic novel gives readers permission to write in the book, unlike those mean parents and teachers who condemn the very action. Creativity ensues as readers are instructed to fill-in-the-blank with selected panels and become an active character in the book.

I enjoyed the idea of this book. How cool is it to be in a story and make authorial decisions! However, I thought some of the spaces for readers to draw was a bit cheesy and the plotline was rather weak.

Barefoot Gen, Volume One: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima by Keiji Nakazawa


5/5 stars

I don’t like the traditional Japanese Manga style of graphic novels, but this book is an exception. Gen’s Japanese family does not agree with the war, WWII. In fact, Gen’s father denounces Japan for fighting which causes the entire family to become ostracized. Because they are shunned from the community, Gen’s family endures humiliation at school and everywhere they go. Their small field is destroyed and the authorities constantly look for a way to degrade them. Starving and hated, the family tries to survive. Little do they know, soon their beloved city of Hiroshima will soon be ravaged by the atomic bomb.

With a wonderful introduction by Art Spiegelman and based on Nakazawa’s true life experience, this book was both heart wrenching and spectacular.

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff


3/5 stars

While Trent was playing hockey with his friends and neighbors, he accidentally hit the puck and it struck his classmate and killed him. Now Trent can’t seem to move beyond the suffocating guilt he feels for the death of his classmate. What’s more, Trent’s younger brother begins to hang out with his the sister of the kid he killed. To top it all off, Trent’s dad is having a baby with his new wife and his dad seems to be less and less interested in Trent’s life.

Consequently, Trent is not happy to start another year in school. He becomes “that” kid, the one who acts out both in and out of school. Clearly his past trauma has deeply affected him, which is obvious to everyone. Yet, there are a few people who give him a chance including his mom, gym teacher, and new friend.

Trent was not a likeable character, but that’s why I liked him. As I read this book, I found myself thinking about particular students I teach. Several of my students exhibit behaviors that Trent does. This made me more compassionate and understanding of my most difficult students. I loved getting inside the mind of a challenging student who doesn’t want to be helped.