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! Too many books. They arrived. Not in a small trickle but all at once. Additionally, the eBooks arrived. Not in a trickle but all at once. Now I have books… I’m trying, struggling to keep my chin above the surface, loving every minute, but I wish I could read them…. all at once.

Novel Times:

(I know, not the right cover…) Oh my godmother #2, The Magic Mistake by Barbara Brauner and James Iver Mattson, illustrated by Abigail Halpin – Fantasy – 3rd grade and up – This was an entertaining quick read to enjoy. Didn’t matter that this was book 2 in the series, it was just fine as an independent book to read and enjoy. The illustrations additionally helped keep the pacing smooth and original. Love the idea of a girl who has the obligation to be a fairy godmother in training and if she fails in bestowing her assigned person her wish, she will have dire consequences. Cute book packed with twists and turns. I just interviewed Abigail Halpin, the illustrator of this book here: Goodreads Summary: “After becoming the most awkward fairy godmother ever, twelve year old Lacey Unger-Ware thought that her magical duties were done for good. In fact, she’s just getting started. When Lacey is invited to attend the Godmother Academy it should be a dream come true. But to Lacey it means the total opposite: she’ll have to be separated from her friends and family for a hundred years. Um, no thank you! But this is an offer Lacey can’t refuse. The fairy godmother Katarina knows that Lacey will be cursed forever if she doesn’t complete the magical test. Now Lacey must find the true love for one special lady and arrange the perfect wedding before time runs out. With her best friends Sunny and Paige along to help, there’s a glimmer of hope. But where’s a fairy godmother to save the day when you need one? Oh, wait…”

A Biography of Michael Morpurgo -War child to war horse by Maggie Fergusson – Could be read and  appreciated by any people who enjoy books by Michael Morpurgo – 5th grade and up – Fascinating life story following Michael Morpurgo’s family, his childhood, and growth and development of his ideas and writing. Really enjoyed gaining insight and understandings that make me appreciate his ideas even more. Quote: “One of the first lessons I learned as a teacher,” Michael says, “is that children like to be talked to truthfully. And the truth is that we live in a slough of despond. You’d have to walk about with your eyes closed not to see all around you the effects of greed and selfishness on people’s lives. The trick is to see the joy as well. But to understand joy, you have first to acknowledge suffering. They can’t be separated.” Goodreads Summary: “Discover the true life story of favourite storyteller Michael Morpurgo – a biography specially edited for children, and featuring seven original Morpurgo stories. We are enchanted by Michael Morpurgo’s amazing stories like ‘Private Peaceful’, ‘Born to Run’ and ‘Kensuke’s Kingdom’. And with big screen adaptations of his novels such as ‘War Horse’ being made into film adaptations by Steven Spielberg, it’s no surprise that he’s our nation’s number one favourite storyteller. But what about the real life story of Michael Morpurgo…? How did a boy supremely uninterested in books, who dreamed of becoming an army officer, become a bestselling author and Children’s Laureate? What stories in Michael’s own life inspired him to write more than a hundred books for children? In a unique collaboration, Maggie Fergusson and Michael himself explore his life through biography and stories. This is a specially abridged edition of the critically acclaimed biography ‘War Child to War Horse’, for children. With additional photos not included in the hardback edition, and with a special activities section, this is the perfect gift for any child who has ever loved a Morpurgo story – and there are millions of them out there…”

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord – realistic fiction – 4th grade – I’ll share my thoughts on this beautiful book soon!

The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz – mature fifth grade and up, middle school – Fantasy – Hilarous as I expected, didn’t expect the writing style changes within the book, I sat with my eyebrow raised for around a chapter before I could accept and enjoy the changes… Don’t want to share more as it might ruin a surprise for other readers, fantastic conclusion to this trilogy. Curious to find out what my students think! Goodreads Summary: “Widely praised and beloved by children, adults, and critics alike, Adam Gidwitz delivers a third serving of eerie new landscapes and fear-inducing creatures in a story sure to delight and frighten fans old and new. In the final book in the series, Adam’s brilliantly irreverent narrator leads readers through a fresh world of Grimm-inspired fairy tales, based on such classics as The Juniper Tree, the real story of Cinderella, and Rumpelstiltskin.”

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer– High School and up – Realistic Fiction/Animal Fiction – Available on Feb. 25th, 2014 – Author of the brilliant book Endangered – I was so excited to get this book. I adored reading Endangered about bonobos and knew that if Eliot Schreffer was approaching chimpanzee life, it would be powerful. I wasn’t wrong. I loved reading about Luc a not-so-innocent child surviving in a terribly tough situation who has a ray of hope when he’s invited to go into the jungle to be an assistant to a professor. What happens next had such tough situations that I was devastated quite often while reading the book. So beautiful. I highly recommend this book, expecially for readers that love reading about interactions with animals and the devastating effects humans have on life in the wild.
Quotes I loved:
“Attack and forgive, attack and forgive, seemed to be the way of chimpanzee life.”
“The cure for cruelty is expanding the moral imagination.”
Author’s notes are always a special area to read, I really appreciated many points in there, especially:
‘Thank you for helping me see that animals don’t need to talk or sing or wear hats or secretly be people inside to be worthy of our compassion.”
About writers to librarians: “We are the blacksmiths and you are the knights.” – wow.
Goodreads Summary: “Into the jungle. Into the wild. Into harm’s way. When he was a boy, Luc’s mother would warn him about the “mock men” living in the trees by their home — chimpanzees whose cries would fill the night. Luc is older now, his mother gone. He lives in a house of mistreated orphans, barely getting by. Then a man calling himself Prof comes to town with a mysterious mission. When Luc tries to rob him, the man isn’t mad. Instead, he offers Luc a job.
Together, Luc and Prof head into the rough, dangerous jungle in order to study the elusive chimpanzees. There, Luc finally finds a new family — and must act when that family comes under attack. As he did in his acclaimed novel Endangered, a finalist for the National Book Award, Eliot Schrefer takes us somewhere fiction rarely goes, introducing us to characters we rarely get to meet. The unforgettable result is the story of a boy fleeing his present, a man fleeing his past, and a trio of chimpanzees who are struggling not to flee at all. “

Incredible Graphic Novel:

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon – Graphic Novel – 2nd grade and up – I couldn’t believe what a funny word “odd” is as I had a conversation with my son. He insisted that it should be called “old” duck not Odd Duck because it just didn’t make sense to him. Guess I haven’t used that adjective as much as I thought I did with him around.
I loved the friendship that developed in this book, another one of those “don’t judge until you know…” kind of books. Perfect conflict/resolution story. The different things that both ducks do to be special is quite interesting as well. I figure poise is a good thing to work on, swimming with a teacup on your head? Why not. I just love Sara Varon’s illustrations, made me reflect back on her Robot Dreams book too. Goodreads Summary: “Theodora is a perfectly normal duck. She may swim with a teacup balanced on her head and stay north when the rest of the ducks fly south for the winter, but there’s nothing so odd about that.  Chad, on the other hand, is one strange bird. Theodora quite likes him, but she can’t overlook his odd habits. It’s a good thing Chad has a normal friend like Theodora to set a good example for him.  But who exactly is the odd duck here?”

Gorgeous Picture Books:

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld – Such a beautiful picture book. Can you find your voice? Do you know where you fit in? What you can share with the world? I loved reading how the exclamation mark discovered his answers. Goodreads Summary: “He stood out here. He stood out there. He tried everything to be more like them. It’s not easy being seen. Especially when you’re NOT like everyone else. Especially when what sets you apart is YOU. Sometimes we squish ourselves to fit in. We shrink. Twist. Bend. Until — ! — a friend shows the way to endless possibilities.”

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts by Emily Gravett – I’ve decided that I must have an author study with Emily Gravett’s books. Her creativity always throws me for a loop and I actually have multiple copies of some of her books, enough for a class to inquire with, thrilled. Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts is quite a special little book, how you read it? Up to you. There’s the basic informational text accompanied by interesting interactive elements and Little Mouse’s comment about each beast. Pretty fantastic. Goodreads Summary: “Little Mouse has found a new book, and this time it’s full of scary creatures. Undaunted, he bravely sets about removing or altering all the scariest bits: cosy mittens to cover the lion’s claws, ruby lips to replace the shark’s teeth — and he even pole vaults out of the way of the bear!”

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb – Here’s another author I look forward to using for an author story, even have puppets to accompany her book inquiry! There are many lessons embedded in this book, it isn’t just a precious rhyming story! I love that there’s a character who acts terribly and doesn’t receive retribution, simply the attitude that his actions weren’t important in the long run. So often I’ve noticed students fixating on little problems and blowing them out of proportion so I appreciate a book that has a healthier attitude… Goodreads Summary: “The breathtakingly beautiful story of one little girl and her five paper dolls.”

Feathers and Fools by Mem Fox, illustrated by Nicholas Wilton – beautiful picture book that packs a powerful punch. Think I read this years ago but I really enjoyed reading this book with my son recently, had interesting discussions on violence, mistakes, and hope. Goodreads Summary: “Long ago and far away, in a rambling garden beside a clear blue lake, two flocks of birds began to fear each other because of their differences. The fear grew, and soon the birds became enemies, hoarding great quantities of weapons to protect themselves–until panic struck and the chance for peace seemed lost forever.”

Building our House by Jonathan Bean – Fascinating approach to house building, following a family through a year and a half of development. Beautiful family times and community effort for creation. Goodreads Summary: “In this unique construction book for kids who love tools and trucks, readers join a girl and her family as they pack up their old house in town and set out to build a new one in the country. Mom and Dad are going to make the new house themselves, from the ground up. From empty lot to finished home, every stage of their year-and-a-half-long building project is here. And at every step their lucky kids are watching and getting their hands dirty, in page after page brimming with machines, vehicles, and all kinds of house-making activities!
As he imagines it through the eyes of his older sister, this is Jonathan Bean’s retelling of his own family’s true experience, and includes an afterword with photographs from the author’s collection.”

Fly Guy and the Frankenfly by Tedd Arnold – Humorous Early Reader for K-2+ – I have so many Fly Guy readers that will eat this book up!! Can’t wait to show them this addition, hilarious. Goodreads Summary: “Buzz dreams about Frankenfly–but Fly Guy is a friend, not a monster! In the latest installment of the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling Fly Guy series, Buzz and Fly Guy spend a day together playing some spooky games and doing arts and crafts projects. When Buzz goes to bed, Fly Guy stays awake and is “bizzie”! Buzz has a nightmare that a gigantic Frankenfly monster is out to get him! But when he wakes up, all he sees is Fly Guy, who fell asleep making posters showing that he and Buzz are best friends.”

A Single Pebble – A Story of the Silk Road by Bonnie Christensen – beautiful story set in 9th century China with a story that had a little connection for me to Beauty and the Beast- connected to a little girl asking her father to bring something special home when he went on a trip. The something special was to bring a pebble with him along the silk road where he is a merchant. Lovely language rhythm, locations, and illustrations throughout the book. Appreciate having a picture book glimpse of life along the silk road. Excellent non-fiction information at the end of the book as well! Goodreads Summary: “In 9th century China, a little girl sends a small jade pebble to travel with her father along the Silk Road. The pebble passes from his hand all the way to the Republic of Venice, the end of the Silk Road, where a boy cherishes it and sees the value of this gift from a girl at the end of the road.”
Do you know about the history connected to The Silk Road? Perhaps you’d enjoy John Green’s Crash Course about it:

Baby Dragon by Amy Ehrlich, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand – I was clued in on this book when my lovely friend Tanja pulled it out and said “This is MY book I LOVE sharing when I talk about acting principled with children…” I thought, new book to buy, check!” This is a precious little story about a baby dragon who is left by his mom and told, wait here for me, I’ll be back in the morning. How many of you could stay in one place all night? This little dragon’s choices, actions, and adventures were quite the special treat. Looking forward to having conversations about this book with my teacher friends AND students. Goodreads Summary: “Baby Dragon knows he must wait for his mother by the red fern. He knows she’ll be back by morning. So he counts his claws, draws in the sand, takes a nap, and otherwise bides his time, never budging even when friends coax him to run off and play. But as night falls, Baby Dragon starts to worry. What if his mother doesn’t come back? Should he climb on sly Crocodile’s back and try to find her?”

The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson, illustrated by Eleanor Taylor – inspired by the original tales of Beatrix Potter – Wow, such a beautifully illustrated story! I love everything about this book, the classic touch, thick paper, illustrations, special story about a turkey, solution for saving a life and more, quite recommended. I was a little concerned about Emma Thompson creating a book but enjoyed hearing her voice in my head as I read this aloud to my son… Goodreads Summary: “Peter Rabbit and his cousin Benjamin Bunny have a new friend, William the Turkey. The trio is excited for Christmas–until they realize that William is meant to be Mr. McGregor’s Christmas supper! Just in time, Peter and Benjamin hide William, and the three enjoy a lovely Christmas dinner of pickled radishes and barley cake at the Rabbit family burrow. This story is inspired by a real turkey named William that Emma Thompson met on Beatrix Potter’s farm in the Lake District.”

Crayon by Simon Rickerty – Quite a cute funny book about two friends who have a justified arguement and find a solution. Sometimes a little distance is needed. Was quite annoyed to realize yet again I’ve met a picture book that has a companion that I don’t have… shall be waiting a while before I can order it. Patience. Goodreads Summary: “Colouring is fun! Colouring is great! As long as you keep your crayon on YOUR side of the paper…
A bit of red here. A bit of red there. A bit of red… HEY! You’re colouring on my side! This bit of the book is for BLUE.
So begins a colourful squabble that takes an unexpected turn – with a funny, feel-good ending! ”


The Drop in my Drink, The Story of water on our planet written by Meredith Hooper, illustrated by Chris Coady – Non-Fiction picture book – shared this past week.

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.

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

  1. I really want to read all the fairy tale adaptations out there. There seems to be so many good ones out there. Feathers and Fools seems interesting as well. I’m interested in what it covers and how. Have a great reading week!

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 17, 2014

      There are a ridiculous amount of fairy tale adaptations out there, I remember 15 years ago when I made it my mission to read all the adaptations in my school library, read ever so many and then called myself burned out after a few months. 🙂 Feathers and Fools is one of those classics, fascinating. I’d partner it with Eve Bunting’s Riding the Tiger…

  2. Tara Smith
    February 17, 2014

    You’ve read amazing collection of books! Gidwitz came to our school last year, and mesmerized ur kids. Such fun to listen to him explain the how and why of his books!

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 17, 2014

      How lucky for you and your students to meet Gidwitz, very cool. Bet his presentations are fantastic as he has that education background too!

  3. linda Baie (@LBaie)
    February 17, 2014

    Can’t wait to read Threatened, coming soon! You’ve read and shared so many good ones I’d love to read, Debbie. Thanks for My library hold list grows longer!

  4. Ricki Ginsberg
    February 18, 2014

    I just started reading Threatened, so I was excited to read your review! I get nervous reading the second book of a beloved author because I don’t want to tarnish my view of him/her, but it seems that this one is a good one! I hope you have a great reading week!

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 18, 2014

      🙂 It was a great one, different but still so touching. Really became invested in characters, setting, plot… I can’t wait til his next book…. although I know it will be a very long wait now!

  5. Maria Selke (@mselke01)
    February 18, 2014

    LOVED Odd Duck so much!! I also grabbed an ARC of Threatened at ALA, so I need to grab the first book as well. What a great readign week!

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 18, 2014

      Thanks… enjoy those weeks that I’m in the reading mode… learning to accept the off weeks as well. 🙂 Cannot wait to share Odd Duck with students!! Yes, both books are brilliant- Threatened and Endangered…

  6. carriegelson
    February 18, 2014

    A great list! Threatened is a title I really look forward to – I loved Endangered. I have a copy of Half a Chance but my daughter has made off with it. 🙂 Building our House is such a wonderful picture book. One of my favourites!

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 18, 2014

      Thanks! 🙂 Enjoy Threatened when you get to it… Hah to Half a Chance being grabbed, such a special book… I posted my review about it today…

  7. Myra GB
    February 18, 2014

    Oh wow, what a fabulous array of books you have here. I included Feathers and Fools by Mem Fox in my text-set on war and violence. I’m very happy to see that we have the title in my institution’s library. So great! I used Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears as we discussed picture books and self-management and dealing with fears – have you read that one yet? Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts I definitely have to find. You’re right about Emily Gravett – she is simply a marvel. I love her artwork, just fascinating. Thanks for sharing all these great titles. 🙂

    • The Styling Librarian
      February 18, 2014

      I did read your posts on picture books/dealing with fears and I LOVE Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears. Really enjoying the author study, students find that book the most fascinating to explore. So fun to have students asking questions, making connections…

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