The Styling Librarian

In my opinion, books are the best accessory.

Styling Librarian #IMWAYR It’s Monday What Are You Reading?

Thanks to: TeachMentorTexts  and Unleashing Readers for the inspiration! Thanks to Jen and Kellee for the meme! Lovely week of reading… never tire of having downtime to read…

Novel Times:

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle – 5th grade and up, Realistic Fiction – I LOVED getting caught up in Nate Foster’s world, painful and inspiring as it was to experience. It addresses many issues that really NEEDED to be addressed within a children’s novel. It certainly contains beautiful, powerful messages. So, Nate is an irrepressable child who lives for singing, listening to musicals, has a family sending mixed messages about his passions and choices in life. He decides to go on a major escape one day and catch a bus to New York to audition for a part in a musical. His lack of knowledge about auditions was endearing and entertaining. I loved reading this book. I’m curious about how welcome this book is to a primary school library vs. a middle school. Honestly, I see there being a few issues. I would partner this beautiful novel with the powerful graphic novel Drama by Raina Telgemeier and see how the students embrace them together. (Perfect fit in my opinion.) I can’t WAIT to read the sequel! Goodreads Summary: “Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for *seeing* a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.”

International Picture Books:

Grandma and the Great Gourd retold by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters, A Bengali Folktale – loved how this story was told, great celebration of dogs, creative thinking and gardening, plus a good dash of trickery too! Goodreads Summary: “Once upon a time, in a little village in India, there lived an old woman. Everyone in the village called her Grandma. One day, Grandma received a letter from her daughter, who lived on the other side of the jungle. “Please come and visit me,” said the letter. “I haven’t seen you in so long. I miss you.” And so, Grandma begins a perilous journey to the far side of the jungle. Can she use her keen wit to escape the jungle animals and make it safely home?”

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, illustrated by Kristi Valiant – YUM, This book has some delicious treats throughout from a little younger sister of five finally getting the chance to cook for her family with her mom to reading about abdo chicken, lumpia (egg rolls) and tanghon, YUM. Great little story that I look forward to sharing in the library… Goodreads Summary: “Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon. One day, however, when her older sisters and brother head out, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama’s assistant chef. And of all the delicious Filipino dishes that dance through Cora’s head, she and Mama decide to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish. With Mama’s help, Cora does the grown-up jobs like shredding the chicken and soaking the noodles (perhaps Mama won’t notice if she takes a nibble of chicken or sloshes a little water on the floor). Cora even gets to stir the noodles in the pot carefully– while Mama supervises. When dinner is finally served, her siblings find out that Cora did all their grown-up tasks, and Cora waits anxiously to see what everyone thinks of her cooking. Dorina Lazo Gilmore’s text delightfully captures the warmth between mother and daughter as they share a piece of their Filipino heritage. With bright and charming illustrations by Kristi Valiant, Cora’s family comes alive as Cora herself becomes the family’s newest little chef.” – it is an eBook as well!:

Erika-San by Allen Say – This was a lovely read aloud to enjoy. Shows appreciation for world awareness, language learning, and additionally a subtle need for space, peace and small amounts of people. Touching book. Goodreads Summary: “Caldecott Medalist Allen Say creates a beautiful story about an American girl who seeks adventure in Japan and discovers more than she could have imagined. In her grandmother’s house there is one Japanese print of a small house with lighted windows. Even as a small girl, Erika loved that picture. It will pull her through childhood, across vast oceans and modern cities, then into towns—older, quieter places—she has only ever dreamed about. But Erika cannot truly know what she will find there, among the rocky seacoasts, the rice paddies, the circle of mountains, and the class of children. For Erika-san, can Japan be all that she has imagined?” **Thank you to my lovely sister who recommended this book to me!

Picture Book Heaven:

Mrs. Marlowe’s Mice by Frank Asch & Devin Asch – My good friend Tanja showed me this book when I visited her library. She mentioned how much she loved reading it aloud. I adored how creative and thoughtful this friendship book was… talk about caring- harboring mice in a home is a dangerous matter, especially since her neighbors could report her. This set up made me think about the Holocaust and how people were hidden in many risk-taker’s homes, love this connection. Goodreads Summary: “Meet Mrs. Eleanor Marlowe, a young widow who lives in an apartment by herself — not counting the extended family of mice who secretly live with her. Harboring mice is a very serious offense in Cat City. Why would a mild-mannered widow run such a risk? The neighbors wonder why Mrs. Marlowe never invites anyone over for catnip tea. Her secret little friends are beginning to wonder about their host, too. So fine is the cheese she serves that some of Mrs. Marlowe’s mice wonder if she’s fattening them up for the kill. One day, officers from the Department of Catland Security show up at Mrs. Marlowe’s door, demanding to search the premises. Can this crafty feline outwit the police and save her mice from certain doom? Is Mrs. Marlowe the mouse-sympathizer she appears to be? Or is she really a mouse-hungry monster stocking her larder with fresh mice?”

Dot. by Randi Zuckerbert, illustrated by Joe Berger – like so many books that remind children that there’s more to life away from the screen, Dot does have this message. I thought it was special in an additional way, use of text and repetition in a really cute way. I know my students will enjoy talking about context and interpretation of words and additionally will compare this with numerous other beautiful books! Goodreads Summary: “Meet Dot in this debut picture book by Randi Zuckerberg! Dot’s a spunky little girl well versed in electronic devices. Dot knows a lot. She knows how to tap . . . to swipe . . . to share . . . and she pays little attention to anything else, until one day Dot sets off on an interactive adventure with the world surrounding her. Dot’s tech-savvy expertise, mingled with her resourceful imagination, proves Dot really does know lots and lots.”

Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon – I loved the character development with this story, it came at that perfect moment for my son to hear it and “get” that you need to believe in yourself and reflect on what can “be” a story. I’ve frequently seen the attitude “nothing happens to me, I don’t know what to write about…” and just loved how Ralph’s friend showed him that she’s inspired by him enough to write numerous stories… eventually his story creation is quite special. I did take note that this is the first book I’ve purchased that was officially published by Not certain how I feel about this, to be honest. I am concerned that Ralph Tells a Story might not be sold in some bookstores because of competition restrictions…  Goodreads Summary: “Nothing ever happens to Ralph. So every day when it’s time to write stories, Ralph thinks really hard. He stares at his paper. He stares at the ceiling. But he has no stories! With the help of his classmates, Ralph realizes that a great story can be about something very little . . . and that maybe he really does have some stories to tell.”

krishnaAmma, Tell Me How Krishna Defeated Kansa! by Bhakti Mathur– Interesting to read the third book in this series. Respectful, creative interpretation of Krishna’s story. Interesting to read since I grew up knowing nothing about this. Grateful that my son is being exposed to various faiths and cultures through life and books!

Early Chapter Book Fun:

Bad Kitty Drawn to Trouble by Nick Bruel – I’ll feature this in a special post soon. LOVED it. So did my son.


Don’t Touch that Toad & Other Strange Things Adults Tell You by Catherine Rondina, illustrated by Kevin Sylvester – 3rd grade and up, 4th/5th will really love this too! Non-Fiction – featured this past week. Goodreads Summary: “Stop cracking your knuckles or you’ll get arthritis. Don’t cross your eyes or they’ll stay stuck like that. With entertaining, kid-friendly insights on every page accompanied by wacky illustrations, Don’t Touch That Toad and Other Strange Things Adults Tell You examines the truth and/or falsity behind parental do’s and don’ts. When explanations aren’t so cut-and-dried, kids are encouraged to decide for themselves. Here’s a chance to know once and for all if lightning can strike the same place twice, if eating fried foods can cause acne, if an elephant never forgets, plus many more.”

Want more book ideas and reviews? – Yes, I’m quite brief, but a prolific reader!  Please visit me at Goodreads: Also, please follow this blog through email updates – (do so to the right of this blog post), my Facebook page, comment, or meet up with me on Twitter. I appreciate all of the support, makes my day! Honored by all the wonderful followers.

FTC Required Disclosure: This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Additionally this site is a Powells Books affiliate, and purchases made through the linked book covers may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).
© 2013 by Debbie Alvarez of The Styling Librarian. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @stylinlibrarian or at my Styling Librarian Page on Facebook.

14 comments on “Styling Librarian #IMWAYR It’s Monday What Are You Reading?

  1. I should have used Cora Cooks Pancit when I tried to make that dish for my friends! I loved 5, 6, 7, Nate more than the original. I’ll have to check Drama- and Smile.

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 10, 2014

      🙂 The recipe looks quite appealing! I can’t wait to read 5, 6, 7, Nate, good to know it is even more appreciated. Yes, Drama and Smile are fantastic!

  2. Monica Babaian
    February 10, 2014

    After seeing you’ve already posted your IMWAYR, I was impressed that you’re ahead of the game. Then I saw your location. LOL

    I had the pleasure of meeting Chitra Divakaruni when she spoke at the Texas Library Association District 8 meeting last fall. She is such a warm, engaging author! I purchased a copy of Grandma and the Great Gourd to share with students during their library visits, and the book received a lot of praise from them. I’m hoping to get Divakaruni to visit my school and read the book to our kids herself!

    While I haven’t read all the other books you’ve listed here, I’m excited to get a copy of Better Nate Than Ever. I’ve heard so many good things about it – I’m sure my students will love it.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 10, 2014

      Thanks for visiting. I think meeting authors increases the value of the book ten-fold… How wonderful to have a possible author visit. Hope you have a wonderful reading week!

  3. Karen Yingling
    February 10, 2014

    I didn’t buy Better Nate Than Ever because it was so heavily about performing and Broadway, and there’s just NO interest in that in my school. I know it adresses other issues very well, but I don’t see my students picking it up. I will read the sequel, though.

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 10, 2014

      🙂 I’m curious to see how often Better Nate than Ever is picked up, partnered with Drama it should be sought after…

  4. linda Baie (@LBaie)
    February 10, 2014

    Want to read Better Nate…, and so many of your other books, Debbie. I love Ralph Tells A Story, really useful for the younger students! And Don’t Touch That Toad looks terrific! Thank you for all!

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 10, 2014

      🙂 Glad you visited… I can’t wait to show Ralph Tells a Story to my year 1 teachers, know they’ll be very excited about it. Yes, Don’t Touch That Toad was a fast favorite, looking forward to reading aloud a page or two to many students… 🙂 Happy reading to you!

  5. Tara Smith
    February 11, 2014

    Wonderful books, especially Erika-San by Allen Say – such an amazing artist and story teller.

  6. carriegelson
    February 11, 2014

    I love Ralph Tells a Story. Haven’t shared it with a class yet though. I haven’t read either of the Nate titles. Obviously that needs to change!

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 11, 2014

      🙂 Can’t wait to read the second Nate book! 🙂 I think you recommended Ralph Tells a Story, plus a friend had it on her shelf and reminded me… I love hearing about books from you and others! Thank you…

  7. Myra GB
    February 11, 2014

    My daughter book-talked Drama for our book club here in Singapore and I’m curious to know how others would react to the graphic novel. Better Nate than Ever sounds like a book that my daughter would absolutely love and enjoy. She’s deeply into theater. Would have to find this one and check whether I can give it to her for IBGD. 🙂

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 11, 2014

      Fantastic! There’s some lovely book selections out there for her. Hooray for IBGD! 🙂

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