It’s Monday and here’s what I’m reading…September 10th., 2012

Monday YA Round Up
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts
  Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2012  
 The Kid Lit Challenge is hosted by Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by  Books Together

The school year has finally begun…and here’s what I’ve managed to sneak into those free moments between getting to know my new sixth graders and preparing our room for them:
Jennifer Richard Jacobsen has written a beautifully crafted novel in Small As An Elephant.  Eleven year old Jack Martel wakes up one morning to find that his mother is gone and that the camping holiday that he had so looked forward to has turned into something completely unexpected, challenging and scary: the quest to discover where she is and how she could have done the unthinkable – abandon him.    Although I sometimes worry that we seem to have so many books about dysfunctional parents in our YA stacks these days, Small As An Elephant is written so well that I felt it would be a worthy addition to my class library.  Jack is a strong character, able to think for himself and still possessing a belief that the world around him is filled with good people who mean well…I think it’s important to let our kids know that this is true, or else the world becomes a very empty place for our kids, doesn’t it?   I loved the fact that though Jack’s mother was flawed, though she was sick, there were others who stepped in and reached out a helping hand.    
Here is a video to introduce the book to kids, which I will use along with a book talk:

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Although this is definitely an elementary school level book – I could see using it as a read aloud for my sixth graders to explore its essential question: how can we approach the barriers we find in our paths, and what can we discover about ourselves in our attempts to overcome them?  Here is one of the author talking about what inspired this book:

Finally, I found an unexpected pleasure in A Strange Place to Call Home by written by Marilyn Singer  and illustrated by Ed Young.

From the jacket copy:
“Of all nature’s miracles, it is life’s persistence that astounds the most….these fourteen animals defy the odds.  They make their homes under the weight of seas, on the slick skin of tar pits, in the sandstorm’s mouth.” Who are these creatures who call the strangest places home? Well, check out the Humboldt Penguin, the snow monkey, the tube worms, and (my favorite) the dippers ( the only songbird that can dive, swim and feed underwater!), to name a few.  
Marilyn Singer captures the essence of these creatures in a variety of poetry forms, and Ed Young gives them visual form as only he can – in intricate collages full of texture and movement.  This is a book I had first read about on Jama Rattigan’s fantastic blog Jama’s Alphabet Soup some Poetry Friday’s ago.  What fun to finally read it for myself!