Tuesday, January 7, 2020

A Girl, A Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon by Karen Romano Young, illustrated by Jessixa Bagley

Happy Book Birthday to A Girl, A Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon by Karen Romano Young, illustrated by Jessixa Bagley! Special thanks to Chronicle Kids Books for sending me a copy! Don't worry - you can get your magic little paws on a copy today.


Pearl was born in the library, and has grown up in the same branch. It's where she goes after school, where her mom works, and where all her (adult, librarian) friends are. When Pearl discovers the library's statue of Edna St. Vincent Millay has been beheaded, she lets out a scream that sets off a chain of events. Some are good, like a potential new friend who's actually Pearl's age. Some are bad (besides the beheading itself), like the library possibly being shut down due to budget restrictions.

Pearl knows the library is worth saving, even if the adults who work there don't think it's possible. She has passion for books and the building itself, and she if she gets a little help from some magical raccoons, Pearl thinks she can make a difference.

This is a great book for anyone (of any age!) who loves adventure and fighting for what they believe in. Especially if they believe in books and libraries!


The writing style is very innovative, and was fun to see in a middle grade book! Informative footnotes, interesting and funny sidebars, and gorgeous illustrations. The magical realism was so perfectly done, I'm pretty sure I believe that what was presented (no spoilers!) is real. Read it for yourself and let me know what you think about that hint of magic.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Reading Challenge

In 2019, I challenged myself to read 120 books, and I read 125. In 2018, I read 134 of 115; in 2017 I read 127 of 104; in 2016 I read 140 of 100; in 2015 I read 141 of 100; in 2014 I read 110 of 100; in 2012 I read 124 of 120. Apparently I skipped 2013, and didn't use Goodreads in 2011. I think I started keeping a Notepad doc of books read in 2006... I’ll have to find those and input my books!

For 2020, I challenge myself to read 125 - not a huge jump, but 120 seemed pretty daunting at times so I don't want to go too high over, but I do still want to push myself. This year I hope to keep monthly records on how many nonfiction, fiction, YA, and MG books I read. I'm a fan of bloggers and bookstagrammers who post stats with their reading wrap-ups, like subject matter, gender of author, pages read, etc. I'm not sure to what extent I'll track all of this, but I like the idea. Not enough to go back and do it for 2019 books, mind you.

I challenged my son to read 222 books, and together we read 227. In 2018, we read 214 of 200; in 2017 we read 250 of 250; in 2016 we read 272 of 200; in 2015 we read 174 of 100.
For 2020, I challenge him to read 225 books - not a huge jump, but enough to keep us accountable. There were many busy nights or late nights when we had to skip bedtime stories, but he's learning to read on his own so I hope to have many more Goodreads reviews that say he read the book to himself!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Best Picture Books Read in 2019

I always enjoy looking back over the books I read in a year and grouping them into genre categories, and then ranking them. I use the star ratings on Goodreads for each individual review, but when it comes to picking my favorites, I typically just go for the ones that stuck out in my mind. These books are especially memorable because I read them aloud to students during school library time. I love picking wonderful books to share with them, so I hope you'll consider sharing these with your kids and/or students. Or, honestly, just enjoy them yourself, because they are quality (and sometimes silly!) books.

There are so many amazing picture books being published that it seems hard to keep up with them all. I'm pretty proud that 3/5 of these books were published this year, and 2/5 are from 2018.


Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (2019). I cannot properly express my love for this trilogy. I'll admit, when Triangle first came out I read it and thought "Hm, ok..." It was funny and my kid and I really enjoyed it, but that's where it ended for me. Then came Square, and things started to fill out in my mind, to the extent that we were crazy excited for Circle and had to get it the day it was released! I can't count how many times we've read the whole trilogy... and I even have a tattoo in honor of it! Something about these books is just so fun to me, but the writing and illustrations are so sparse that I feel like it really allows your imagination to step in and round out these characters, and they're realistic and relatable in a way you don't think a shape could be!

Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party by Kimberly Dean and James Dean (2019). This one was a huge hit at home, so I knew I needed to take it to school to read aloud to the Early Childhood students. It's fun to read aloud because there is so much tone and inflection necessary to really pull the kids into the story. Add in the alliteration and it's just a blast to share with enthusiastic readers! I read it once, and the next class, after our planned reading was done, the children asked to hear it again! I can't count how many times I read this book in the span of a week.

We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins (2018). I found this book right before school started, so of course it's what I read aloud to every class once we started back! Everyone loved it because it's so silly and fun to read, but it also does remind students (especially the youngest) how they should act at school and with friends. It's not a "moral" exactly, but the lesson is there in a fun way, so it's relevant. I kept laughing at how many people sent this book to me - friends from the public library who knew I love picture books/am at a school now sent it to me on hold, parents recommended it to me, and my mom even tried to buy me a copy of it to read because she thought I'd love it! And none of them were wrong. Read this one if you haven't yet.

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora (2018). I got this from the library in May to read to my kid because he calls his grandmother "Oma" and we thought it was a funny coincidence. It's a very touching story, and I won't lie - I teared up at the end when reading it to him! Then it was chosen as this year's Read for the Record book, so on November 7th I had elementary students read it aloud to small groups of younger kids. Everyone really loved the book and the spirit of kindness and giving that it embodies.

Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman and Heather Fox (2019). This is another book my son and I found at the public library, read together, and then knew I had to read it at the school library. This book is so silly, with a gluttonous Llama stuffing himself silly with cake and eventually ripping a black hole in the universe. It's a great jumping off point for conversations about outer space and black holes, which the Early Childhood students were surprisingly knowledgeable about. Super fun to read aloud, so definitely check it out.