It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? January 25, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at BookDate, and was adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. This weekly roundup is a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.


Title: Friendshape
Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal / Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 2015
Genre/Format: Picture book

My Two Cents: Celebrate the ups, the downs, and the enduring joys of friendship while  mastering basic shapes and colours in this sweet if not particularly substantial friendship story. Characters of different shapes and colours explain the meaning of friendship, positively reinforcing the message that differences in appearance need not get in the way of friendship. The bold, charming illustrations serve as a lighthearted and cheerful introduction to shapes and colours for young learners.


Title: Tickle Monster
Author/Illustrator: Edouard Manceau
Publisher: Flying Eye Books
Publication Date: 2015
Genre/Format: Picture book

At first glance this boldly-illustrated picture book seems like just another a retelling of Go Away Big Green Monster – the child reader interacts with the book by “tickling” the illustrations in different places, taking apart the tickle monster piece by piece. The sly cleverness of Manceau’s storytelling becomes apparent the further you move into the story – the discarded pieces of the tickle monster gradually reassemble to form a little diorama that echoes the confident declaration of the narration. It’s a very clever little piece of art manipulation that will delight young readers once the final diorama is revealed, and would make for a brilliant (if time and labour-intensive) felt story.


Title: The Little Gardner
Author/Illustrator: Emily Hughes
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date: 2015
Genre/Format: Picture book

My Two Cents:  From the creator of the wildly-successful Wild comes a stunning picture book that is almost guaranteed to give you all the feels. A diminutive gardener toils away in a lush and wild garden, dedicating his life to the care of the natural world around him. Despite his best efforts, though, the task proves to much for the little gardener, but as darkness encroaches and all hope seems lost, help comes from a most unusual and unexpected place. This beautiful, beautiful book is a celebration of hard work, dedication, big dreams, perseverance and most importantly team work. The little gardener gives his heart and soul to the preservation of his garden, but it is too much for one person to bear, and it is only by working with others that the vibrant flora can be protected and nourished. Unlike some other children’s materials, which can blandly and blithely suggest that size doesn’t matter and that anyone can accomplish anything if they only set their mind to it, The Little Gardener takes a more realistic, yet no less optimistic approach to life. There are some challenges that are just too much for one individual, or even one group or nation, to overcome on their own. Failure in this regard has nothing to do with character or work ethic, and isn’t a negative representation of the individual(s), it’s simply a reality of life. In what can be seen as an allegory for environmental protection, collaboration is celebrated as the most sustainable and successful solution for protecting the natural world and all who depend on it. Some challenges are simply too big for any one of us to conquer on our own, but by working together we can move mountains. This message can be applied more broadly, too, and embraced as an example of the power of unwavering dedication and persistence even in the face of unimaginable odds and the lasting power of teamwork, cooperation and collaboration. A simple story with a complex and powerful message, brought to life by incredibly detailed and wonderful illustrations that will linger with the reader long after the last word has been read.

king's curse

Title: The King’s Curse
Author: Philippa Gregory
Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (April 7, 2015)
Publication Date: 2015
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction / Novel

My Two Cents:  The prolific queen of European historical fiction is back in fine form with this engrossing novel of the early days of Henry VIII. Gregory focuses on a lesser-known figure in Tudor history, the King’s cousin Margaret Pole, and uses her unique perspective to tell a gripping story of the tumultuous reign of the second Tudor king. Though perhaps more fiction than history, The King’s Curse is nonetheless a highly enjoyable yarn through which Gregory weaves murder, love, treason, and madness. One of the challenges with historical fiction (assuming you are aiming for some level of accuracy) is building and maintaining suspense, when the fate of all your characters and the outcome of every event is already decided and often commonly known. It is a credit to Gregory that she is able to create a sense of tension throughout the pages of this large book despite recounting a popular and well-known  period in European history. Historically accurate? Perhaps. High-brow literature? Perhaps not. Entertaining and ideally suited for passing the time on a long commute? Absolutely.

So there you have it, a few titles I’ve been reading this week? What have you been reading?


12 thoughts on “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? January 25, 2016

  1. The Little Gardener was gorgeous! And yes, loved the message it told because it made sense to young readers.
    I laughed when I saw Friendshape was in the concept books section at my public library. Not sure it taught a shape concept…


  2. Tickle Monster sounds like a great read for my two little ones at home and The Little Gardener is definitely on my To Read list–sounds like a potential great read for teacher professional development about the power of collaboration. Thanks for sharing!


    • Thanks! I appreciated the realism, too. While it’s important to encourage children to dream big, it’s also important to prepare them to face challenges they can’t face alone, no matter how big they dream. There’s no shame in asking for help, and failure in a project doesn’t mean failure as an individual.


  3. The Little Gardener looks like a great picture book. When I was helping to prep new books for the school library, there were many, great picture books. They made me miss when my girls were that age. My tween wrote the Monday post and I just had to post that old, baby pic of her reading; she was probably not even six months. She’s 11 now and has such a tremendous appetite for books. Her dad and I love it. Thank you for stopping by.


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