Monday, September 8, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/8/14

 Thank you to SheilaJen and Kellee for inspiring and hosting the #IMWAYR meme.

It was a week of nonfiction reading for me, which made me happy.  I guess I am just an information geek, because it's hard for me to think of a topic that I don't want to read a book about.

For grades 5-8
The White House is Burning: August 28, 1814 by Jane Sutcliffe takes a remarkable moment in history (which most of us know little about) and presents it from a variety of perspectives, including that of the first lady, a slave, and the commanders of both armies.  With great use of primary sources, an excellent source list and bibliography, this is narrative nonfiction at its finest.

For grades 5-9

Combining forensic science, archaeology and history, At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui (by first time author Christine Liu-Perkins) brings to light an extraordinary find that was buried deep in the earth in China.  Lady Dai lived in the Han Dynasty and her tomb was discovered in the 1970s.  When it was excavated, her body was found in remarkable shape, along with a variety of treasures that were buried with her.  I was astonished by how well preserved everything was, and by how much scientists and historians were able to discover as a result of the find.  Budding historians will be fascinated by Lady Dai and her tomb!

For grades 8+
Inspired by historical events, Lies in the Dust: A Tale of Remorse from the Salem Witch Trials is a graphic novel about Ann Putnam, one of the Salem witch accusers. Rendered in black and white, with sharp text boxes and almost emotion-less illustrations, I was initially put off by the design of this book.  As I stuck with it, though, I realized that Timothy Decker (the illustrator) was actually quite brilliant in capturing the nuances of this historical episode. For sophisticated middle grade readers, this would be perfect to read and discuss within the context of a broader unit on the witch trials.

For grades 5+

I had to have a little bit of fiction thrown into the week for good measure, so I read one fantasy and one YA(ish) novel.  The Fog of Forgetting by G.A Morgan is the start of a new trilogy that begins on the Maine coast and ends up in the fantastical land of Ayda. Three siblings and their two new friends of Haiti get lost in the fog when they are out boating; the island that they are washed up on is in another land, and a dangerous one. I loved the concept and the start of their adventure but my attention waned a bit in the middle before deepening again at the end. Strong middle grade fantasy readers will find much to appreciate about this one.

For grades 7+

Finally, I am mystified as to why Devin Rhodes is Dead received the Children's Book of the Year Award, given by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, as the subject matter is decidedly for readers older than elementary school. That said, I loved this book. Cass clearly feels guilty about her best friend’s death - more than guilty - and we slowly learn about what happened the night of the death through a series of flashbacks. Author Jennifer Wolf Kam captures early teen friendship so well, and the torment that Cass feels is palpable. This is a page turner and the ending, while not a complete shocker, will surprise many readers.


  1. I've only read At Home in her Tomb, but the other books you have here look good too, especially Lies in the Dust. I'm always up for a good Salem Witch Trial book. Thanks for sharing these and have a great week.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Alex! I hope you enjoy Lies in the Dust - it was really different and I especially appreciated the illustrator's approach. Happy reading!

  3. It is the first time I am hearing about Devin Rhodes is Dead - very interesting premise - will be on the lookout for that one. Lies in the Dust also looks like a riveting read. I just checked our online library database, we still don't have both books in our library here in Singapore. :( Hopefully before year ends.

  4. Myra, they are brand new books, so I too will hope that they make it to your side of the world soon! Thanks so much for stopping by.