Hello Monday! It's time to check in with Jen at Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers to find out what other readers are up to

What with guests all last weekend, dealing with my ill mother, and trying to get through the last week of school before the holidays, I didn't get a post in last Monday.  So this here is a recap of most of my reading for the previous two weeks.


The final school week of 2015 was all about reading seasonal picture books, handing out candy, and making sure students were loaded up with good books to last the winter break. I gave each group of children their choice of three books for me to read. Each one wanted When Santa was a Baby.

4 stars
When Santa was a Baby by Linda Bailey and Genevieve Godbout (Illustrator)

I had a lot of fun reading this. Have I mentioned that I am a Linda Bailey fan? The K/1/2 grouping laughed much heartier than the older students did, but we all appreciated the humour and enjoyed Godbout's retro looking illustrations. When there was enough time, I paired it up with Little Santa by Jon Agee and my listeners couldn't decide which they liked best. 

An Otis Christmas by Loren Long
3 stars

While I am an Otis fan, this book just didn't quite work for me. It might be that this book was a little too saccharine for my tastes, especially paired with the humour and fun of the other seasonal titles I've been reading recently.

4 stars
Merry Christmas Mr Crow by Kathi Appelt and Jon Goodell (Illustrator)

While this text by Kathi Applet is charming, it is Jon Goodell's beautiful illustrations make this book. A crow flies around at Christmas time collecting odd bits of this and that (in very crow fashion) to decorate a tree.

How to Read a Story by Kate Messner and Mark Siegel (Illustrator)

5+ stars
If only it was possible I would give this book many more than five stars. Mark Siegel's illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to Messner's brilliant text. I love that this is a story within a story. I can't wait to read it to our older students who read with little buddies. I can't wait to read it to the younger students because there is just so much here about making sense of text.
What a jewel of a book!


4 stars
Water Can Be...  by Laura Purdie Salas & Violeta Dabija (illustrator)

I've waffled back and forth between giving this book 4 or 5 stars. As a primary level picture book read aloud it is a solid five. The poetry of the text works well against the backdrop of these rich, almost illuminated illustrations. I appreciate the section at the back of the text that explains almost every line of the text in more detail. Unfortunately, as research tool for older readers, this section provides introductory information only.


3 stars
The Rule of Three by Eric Walters (book club book)

I'm pretty sure I'm not the target audience for this book, but that said, it is a pretty engrossing read. It is an end of the world scenario set in America as some kind of virus destroys computers and shuts down all power. It's a reminder that when disaster strikes in any form, we really must pull together as a community to survive. To be completely honest, this book was a bit too macho for my tastes. 

4.5 stars
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands narrated by Ray Panthaki 

This was a stunning book to listen to. It's got murder, mayhem, suspense and all kinds of plot twists and turns. 
In addition to all that, there is a sweetness to this book that underlies all the adventure. 

4 stars

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde narrated by Elizabeth Jasicki

If I wasn't already a fan of Fforde's work, this would have put me solidly in his camp. I'm in awe of how he is able to pull together a fabulous satire that melds our modern world with magic and dragons. 
Avid readers of Terry Pratchett's work will probably be appreciative of Jasper Fforde. 

4 stars
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan narrated by Ari Fliakos

This book has been keeping me company in my head for a while now as I travel back and forth to work, go Christmas shopping, and work on assorted projects. I was happily engrossed in this complicated story that begins in a book store.  I appreciated the combination of archaic mystery and the modern world of google. This was a very satisfying read. 

4 stars
George by Alex Gino narrated by Jamie Clayton

I enjoyed listening to this book. I liked that it is essentially a positive story about a transgendered child. It is important that George is referred to as she right from the beginning. While there are a few boys who are nasty, and one teacher who has to learn to be more accepting, this is a good book to introduce my elementary readers to a transgender character. 
My only quibble is that Girls are very multidimensional characters and as I finished the book I couldn't help but wonder if all transgender girls want to be girly girls in the same way that George and Grayson from Gracefully Grayson by Amy Polonsky want to.
Both of these books are circulating constantly in our library. I now want to go and talk to readers about them to see what they are thinking.


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, one of my #MustReadIn2015 titles, is the book I'm reading with my eyes. I'm listening to Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. I read the book last spring, but listened to all the previous books in the series and always planned to listen to this one too. Will Patten's narration sent me back into this world within the first few words. I hope this will tide me over until The Raven King is published this coming April. If I read one of my #MustReadIn2015 books twice do I get to count it as two books?


Cress will be my next audiobook, and then Jellicoe Road, another of my #MustReadIn2015 titles. 


  1. I thought When Santa Was a Baby was cute. I haven't read it to students yet, so it's good to know their response. I was thinking first graders would really enjoy it. How to Read a Story is wonderful!

    1. Even the grade 5/6/7's in our school enjoyed it! I know - I can't wait to actually do something with it!

  2. When Santa Was a Baby looks like a really cute read. I'll have to see if I can find a copy when I'm out shopping later today! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and books!

  3. Love the Christmas books. Merry Christmas Merry Crow is a favorite. And I agree about How To Read A Story, just awesome. I'll keep the Jasper Fforde book on my list. It sounds good. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Cheriee!

    1. Thanks Linda, Merry Christmas to you too. the Jasper Fforde title is great!

  4. Ah! I loved, loved listening to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. Isn't the narrator fantastic? I still have the beginning stuck in my head, "LEAN, boy! LEAN!" I am glad you also listened to it. I think that audio book could turn people into audio listeners. Enjoy the holidays, Cheriee!

  5. So cool to meet a fellow Fforde fan! His first four Thursday Next books were superb!

  6. How to Read a Story just made me smile so much. Love, love, loved it.

  7. I love the Christmas books! I've been rereading our old ones, but am eager to find some new ones, too. I am also a Jasper FForde fan and love the dragonslayer series. I'm hoping to find the third book in a present under the tree!

  8. Love the Christmas picture books!
    My students love Rule of Threes--I should read it.

    Happy reading and holidays!

  9. Water Can Be and How to Read a Story are two books that I really enjoyed this year. I also liked George. I loved the audio books for the Raven Cycle, but haven't listened to Blue Lily... yet. I may have to get that one. :)

  10. The Rule of 3 really drew me in, but the afforded did not. Do you have General Mills box tops in your area? I make more money collecting those than I did the book fair! Luckily, I am decently funded and get a lot of copies to review, so the fair was optional money-wise. One year we did Adopt-a-Book, which brought in a little money.