It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? A sloth, a penguin, a fish and a few birds!


It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week.  Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

The first weekend of spring break had me pouring over several recently released picture books!   Here are a few of my favorites…


Sparky – Jenny Ofill

 I loved the humor in Jenny Ofill’s previous books (17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore and 13 Experiments That Failed) and this book did not disappoint.  A young girl begs her mother for a pet and her exasperated mother insists that the pet needs to be one that does not need to be walked, fed or cleaned.  The determined girl heads to the library (love this part!) and with the help of the librarian (loved this part too!) researched a pet to meet her mother’s criteria – a SLOTH!  But when the mail order pet arrives, it isn’t good at tricks or hide-and-seek . . . or much of anything.  But Sparky is irresistible and I found myself wanting to mail order a sloth for myself!  The illustrations by Chris Appelhans were a perfect fit to this touching story.

Flight School – Lita Judge

Well, I fell in love with Sparky the sloth in the last book – and now I’m in love with this penguin!  This penguin claims to have “the soul of an eagle” and wants desperately to be able to fly so he registers for Flight School.  After many failed attempts and plunges into the sea, his teacher (love this part!) helps him derive a plan to help him fly, if only for a few short seconds.  This is a book about determination and dreaming big, and those who help along the way.  I LOVED the illustrations in this book!  Lita Judge captured the characters of so many different land and seabirds with lively colors and exhaggerated features.  Soft blues, sea greens and sand browns – beautiful pictures and a beautiful story.  (T-T connection to Learning to Fly – by Sebastian Meschenmoser)


The Dandelion’s Tale – Kevin Sheehan

This is a poignant story about friendship and a powerful introduction to the cycle of life.  There is also a celebration of story woven into the story which I loved.  A sparrow and dandelion meet and become friends.  The dandelion explains that she used to be beautiful and bright and sunny yellow but now she has few pods left.  Her fear is that with one big wind, her pods will disappear.  Her new friend sparrow helps her write her story in the dirt and Dandelion tells Sparrow all the things she has seen and loved.  This is such a beautiful story (I got a bit teary when I read it)  and one I could see being used with both young and older children.  The illustrations are lovely.

Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale

Poor Doreen – A Fishy Tale – Sally Lloyd Jones

Doreen is a fish with a very optimistic disposition.  On the way to visit her cousin, who just gave birth to 159 babies, she nibbles on a dragonfly, which ends up being bait and catches a ride on a fishing pole.  In spite of her every optimistic outlook, Doreen is also a wee bit clueless – and so does not realize that she is in a dire situation.  There is humor as the reader is “in” on the situation that Doreen clearly does not seem to be aware.  Comical, fun and a character whom I admire because she sees the world with a “glass half full” approach.

Mama Built a Little Nest

Mama Built A Little Nest – Jennifer Ward

I can’t resist any book written or illustrated by Steve Jenkins.  This book is a delightful exploration of the diverse range of different nests that birds build for their babies.  Who knew there were so many different kinds of nests made from so many different things?  This book has playful, fun rhymes and of course, filled with Jenkins trademark paper collage illustrations.  A wonderful book for bird lovers (that’s you, Carrie!) and Jenkins lovers (that would be me!)

Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? – Rita Gray

Two children wander through the countryside listening to calls of common birds and wonder why the nesting robin does not make a sound.  The children carry on through the woods and begin to identify different calls from birds ranging from the chickadee to the blue jay.   While the previous book made us aware of the many different types of nests there are, this book introduces us to the wide variety of bird calls.  I found myself trying to replicate the calls myself!   The “Word with the Bird” Q-and-A at the back of the book explains in detail why the robin is silent while hatching her eggs and answers many other questions about the role of father bird and what happens to the babies when they leave the nest. 

Aviary Wonders, Inc – Kate Samworth

Wow – this book is gorgeous!  exquisite! remarkable!  It is an imaginary (sci-fi) mock catalogue of bird parts to choose from for the purpose of assembling your own bird.  The illustrations are stunning and some of the sidebar comments hilarious.  But the underlying tone of this book is rather somber – as it is meant to be a thought-provoking look at what happens birds become extinct.  My friend Carrie Gelson posted a detailed review of this book on her blog last week.  You can read it here:  There’s A Book For That.

Peggy – Anna Walker
Peggy gets an unexpected adventure in the city when a big gust of wind sweeps her up and drops here there.  She soon enjoys the sights and sounds of the unfamiliar place but begins to miss home.  She cleverly devises a plan to get home.  What I loved most about this book was the illustrations.  The text is very simple but the detailed illustrations tell the story beautifully.  They are soft, muted and pale but fit Peggy perfectly!
Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)
Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson
Oooooo…. this is a FANTASTIC book!  I am reading it with my 13 yr. old son and I am not sure who is enjoying it more.  It is a YA-Sci-fi-futuristic superhero-fast-paced-compelling-thrill-ride!  I’m embarrassed to say I had not heard of this writer before (sorry!) but I am most impressed by the writing so far.  I was hooked half-way through the prologue – and felt as if I were watching a movie!  Can’t wait to read more!
The Glassblower’s Children – Maria Gripe
I came across this book in the library and was drawn to the title and the etching illustration on the cover.  This fairy tale by Swedish writer Maria Gripe was published in 1973 was awarded the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award the following year.  This story has all the components you could ask for in a fairy tale – A hard working glassblower and his wife,  their two children, a fortune teller, an evil governess whose only wish is to have children.  But it is more than a fairy tale – it is thought provoking and poignant with incredibly exquisite writing.  A little gem that I’m so glad I discovered!  It would make a wonderful class read aloud or a quiet read by the fire.
What have you been reading this week?

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Stacey H. (@libraryjo92)

    Sparky looks very cute. I’ve added it to my to read list. I’m also a huge Steve Jenkins fan, but I had not heard about Mama Built a Little Nest. I’m going to have to check the public library. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Adrienne Gear

      Anything that Steve Jenkins is a part of is always great! I certainly learned a lot about the different kinds of nests that birds build. A great one to share with students! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. msyingling

    Steelheart was action packed, but I decided not to buy it for my library because of the human-on-human violence. My readers will have to stick with Alcatraz Vs. The Evil Librarians for now!

    1. Adrienne Gear

      I completely agree that Steelheart is violent and certainly not a book I would consider for our elementary school library. For older teens, however, it certainly appears to be very popular. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Michele Knott

    Wow, you added a lot of books to my pile! I have Sparky on hold at the library right now, sounds like a good one! I’m noticing a bird theme to many of your books this week! I just bought the “Aviary Wonders” book because of Carrie’s review too! Haven’t dived into it yet, but soon! Have a great reading week!

    1. Adrienne Gear

      Hi Michele – Sparky is adorable and I think you will love it! The bird theme was not intentional but there just happened to be several books I was sharing that were about birds! Aviary Wonders is remarkable – a little strange around the edges – but certainly a book worth exploring! Would love to know what you think about it!

  4. The Styling Librarian

    Happy you’ve met Brandon Sanderson Now! 🙂 LOVED Sparky! as well… So many spring/bird books, love learning about them- grateful… hope you have a wonderful reading week…

    1. Adrienne Gear

      Yes – I’m excited to have added Brandon Sanderson to my list of authors! Not sure about the book for elementary school – it is rather violent (but my son LOVES it!) Yes, there was a bit of a bird theme this week – with a few other cute animal stories. Sparky is so cute – love the contradiction of the name “sparky” for a sloth! It got me thinking about having my students chose names for animals – that don’t match! Could be fun! Have a great week!

      1. The Styling Librarian

        Oh no, Steelheart isn’t good for Elem, but the Alcatraz series is FANTASTIC… 🙂

  5. Megan

    I miss reading picture books! My nephews are too old for them these days. They have graduated to having Percy Jackson read to them. I still sneak a peak at few here at work. I have to find Sparky! I am so happy to hear you loved Steelheart. That was also my first experience with Sanderson and I am HOOKED! I have given it to everyone who will listen to me. Have a great week! ~Megan

    1. Adrienne Gear

      Yes, Steelheart is a page turner for sure – I see a movie in the near future! A bit too violent for the elementary library – but certainly a great choice for teens! Sparky is worth a visit – adorable!

  6. Linda Baie

    Wow, Adrienne, I know some of these, but you’ve added a lot to my list of books to find. Thanks for the sweet new bird books, and for the shout out for Steelheart-looks interesting!

    1. Adrienne Gear

      Steelheart is interesting – but certainly not meant for the younger crowd and due to the violence it would not be a book I would have in our elementary library. Yes, there have been a lot of new picture books of late that have a bird theme. Have you seen NEST yet? It’s another bird book that just came out that would fit with this theme. Have a great week!

  7. carriegelson

    I love the look of so many of these! I think my son would also be interested in Steelheart – I have heard big recommendations from Kidsbooks. Love all of the picture books. I would like to get this Lita Judge title and the book illustrated by Jenkins. Oh and if you send away for a sloth . . . my class would love one too! Thanks for the link to my blog. So love that title!

    1. Adrienne Gear

      I was definitely thinking of you when I posted this because there were so many books about birds – and I know you love bird books! (Books about seasons are my downfall!) You will LOVE the book about nests – and of course anything by Jenkins you know is going to be good! You have to get Sparky – adorable!

  8. Leigh Anne

    Your list today just has a springy feeling – or maybe I am just wishful thinking! Sounds like they all have very good lessons for my students. I searched our library and it has Steelheart. This will certainly be pushing me into an unfamiliar territory but it sounds very intriguing!

    1. Adrienne Gear

      Steelheart is not really meant for elementary students – more a YA book for sure. But reading it with my son is certainly an experience that is moving me from my comfort zone! There are a lot of new spring books coming out – I can’t wait to share them with my students. I’m thinking that we will read the book about nests and try to make our own! Have a wonderful week!

  9. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum)

    I just got Sparky from the library last week but haven’t read it yet. I’m really looking forward to that one. Poor Doreen looks like a book I need to read. 🙂

  10. Adrienne Gear

    Poor Doreen is adorable – love her optimistic and slightly naïve outlook on life! Sparky is sweet too – I think children will LOVE both of these books! Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Myra GB

    There was an NYRB Reading Challenge a few years back, which gave me the chance to read quite a number of titles from the New York Review Children’s Collection, and boy do I love practically all of the novels I’ve read. The Glassblower’s Children sounds like something I’d definitely enjoy and love. I have a special affinity for old stories/tales. Peggy and Aviary Wonders sound like titles that I should find in our library ASAP. The Dandelion’s Tale also made me nostalgic – first I’ve seen dandelions was when I was in Berlin and in Prague where it was just raining dandelions. So beautiful.

Comments are closed.


Hi, I’m Adrienne! Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer nec odio. Praesent libero.