A-Z Book Challenge Books Crazy about Cybils It's Monday What Are You Reading Picture Books Read-a-Latte Reading Themes

Monday Reading: Olivia, Neville, Goldilocks and four very red books – and January Winner of AWB Reading Challenge

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen and Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts (and brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Two of our blogging friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have inspired us to join this vibrant meme.

Last Week’s Review, Miscellany Posts, and January AWB Winner

Before I share our last week’s reviews and miscellany posts, let me take this opportunity to once again invite you lovely people to join our Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. Sign up here if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the images/titles below to be taken to our blog posts.

Congratulations to Alex from Randomly Reading for winning the January Book Prize for the AWB Reading Challenge. Check out her review of Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson which has been randomly selected as the winner this January. Thank you to Pansing Books for sponsoring the book prizes.IMG_4926




anything but typcial2

Mirror Mirror

Photo Journal/A-Z Photo Challenge: E is for Endings

BHE (38): Because We’re still Cybil-ized

Our current bimonthly theme in GatheringBooks is Crazy about Cybils where we give love to all the books that have been shortlisted and have won awards in the Cybils since 2006.




These titles have been nominated for the 2012 Cybils Fiction Picture Book category. red sled by Lita Judge is an almost-wordless picture book that celebrates the magic of winter and various forest creatures who came together because of a red sled. Charley’s First Night by Amy Hest and Helen Oxenbury is a charming story about a young pup named Charley and the little boy Henry who carried him home in his midnight blue baby blanket. There is tenderness here that would make any dog-lover’s eyes water as Henry is unable to resist Charley’s crying on his first night in his new home. With a lot of tummy-rubbing, endless carrying, and celebrating the way the moon makes its own light in the kitchen, this story shows the power of a new lifelong friendship being forged through sleepless nights.

From Charley's First Night by Amy Hest and Helen Oxenbury
From Charley’s First Night by Amy Hest and Helen Oxenbury

Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop is beautifully illustrated and shows how a young girl sought the help of animal friends (the Owl was most helpful, as is the wont of all-knowing Owls in most stories) so that she can get close enough to talk to the Moon.


Through the help of nimble squirrel, tall bear, and hedgehog who enjoyed doing decorations, and quite a lot of paper lanterns, the friends wait for the Moon to come out. Whether they managed to come close enough to whisper to the Moon’s ears, I shall leave for you to discover.

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs IMG_5139

As Retold By: Mo Willems
Publisher: Balzer + Bray: An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2012
Book borrowed from the public library. 

I am always amazed at how Mo Willems manages to make me smile and laugh out loud in so much glee. We have devoted an entire theme to fractured fairy tales sometime in 2011 because we never get tired of quirky twists to beloved classic tales. I must have read a few Goldilocks’ variations (see my review of Frank Muir’s version which is just downright hilarious, and Steven Guarnaccia’s for a more post-modern, hipster, avant-garde vibe).

Willems’ version is one that I am sure a lot of children (and adults) would enjoy as it shows three crafty dinosaurs who deliberately set up their home as a trap for an unsuspecting, unsupervised young girl to walk into. While Mama and Papa Dinosaur are rightfully married, the young pinkish-hued dinosaur in the middle is not even related to them, but is “some other Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway.” Young kids and well-meaning teachers and parents would also have loads of fun just sifting through elements from this story that differ from the original narrative: such as having a spread of chocolate pudding on the table rather than the original porridge, and a few other ingenious details that are bursting with witticism-Willems-style.

Neville IMG_4933

Story ByNorton Juster
Illustrations By: G. Brian Karas
PublisherSchwartz Wade Books, 2011
Book borrowed from the public library. 

A young boy is feeling out-of-sorts – his family just moved into a new home. While everyone else claims that he would love it (read: his parents), no one really bothered asking him about how he feels about this move. And so, he took a walk around the block and started yelling “Neville” until well-meaning children from the neighborhood came out to help him find “Neville.” Exactly who Neville is, I shall leave for you to discover.

Children who have just moved into a new place, a new school, a new home would find this picture book delightful and quite ingenious. I first knew about Norton Juster through his Phantom Tollbooth and I knew from a gut level that I would enjoy the wit and panache of this picture book, and I wasn’t disappointed. G. Brian Karas’ artwork is the right blend of quiet simplicity and muted colors – the square panels reminiscent of comic books also worked well in this narrative.

IMG_4915Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

Story and Illustrations By: Ian Falconer
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012
Book borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.

Ian Falconer has given birth to a character so unforgettable, so filled with verve, unapologetic theatrical skills, and youthful glee – it actually has a life of its own. Olivia is radiance personified. This latest installment is well-worth the wait and is a wondrous addition to the ever-growing list of Olivia-tales.

In this picture book, Olivia is suffering from ‘depression’ and she claims unreservedly that she is suffering from ‘an identity crisis.’ Her bright, expansive mind cannot comprehend why all the girls in her school prefer the uniform pink and do not seem to have any other far-reaching ambitions except to be a princess!

“Why is it always a pink princess? Why not an Indian princess or a princess from Thailand or an African princess or a princess from China? There are alternatives.”


While I have always enjoyed Olivia’s daring and panache, this is the first time that I truly enjoyed her to the fullest. This book is a lovely celebration of being true to one’s self, and having a solid sense of self that would allow one to become a warthog during Halloween, or even to dream of becoming a reporter who is intent on exposing corporate malfeasance in the face of so many pink princesses. What Olivia ultimately wanted to become in the end, I shall leave for you to discover.

and then it’s spring IMG_5209

Story ByJulie Fogliano
Illustrated by: Erin E. Stead
Publisher: A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, 2012.
Borrowed the book from the Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

A young boy is tired of seeing the browns around him – “all around you have brown.” And so he takes matters in his own hands, literally, and planted little seeds that bring along with it “a little green” here and there or “a hopeful, very possible sort of brown.”

This is a lovely book that spoke to me for a variety of reasons. It must be that ‘season’ in my life, the gorgeous illustrations, the gentle lyrical sparse text, the young boy’s patience, the dog’s faithful gaze, the birds and the bears, or the seeds waiting for spring, I could not really tell.

and the brown,
still brown,
has a greenish hum
that you can only hear
if you put your ear to the ground
and close your eyes


It is a beautiful tribute to people who hear that hum amidst the seemingly-interminable waiting and waiting. A very quiet breathing in the middle of all that silence and dreary browns. The promise of green.

Currently Reading…

the storyteller


Finally! I am done with Rumo by Walter Moers. I feel such a huge sense of accomplishment as this is a very very thick book. I wouldn’t have it any other way though as Moers is a fantasy genius. I am halfway done with Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I have started reading Antonia Michaelis’ The Storyteller. The fact that the narrative opened with a poem caught my interest right away. I have a feeling that despite the thick pages, I should finish reading it in no time (or so I think).

How about you, dear friends, what have you been reading this week?


G: Goldilocks and the three dinosaurs

C: Charley’s First Night

A-Z Book Challenge Update: 15-16 of 26 (G, C, M, Z, B, N, R, J, A, H, W, X, V, I, L, T)


24 of 150

25 comments on “Monday Reading: Olivia, Neville, Goldilocks and four very red books – and January Winner of AWB Reading Challenge

  1. Z is for Moose and Mirror Mirror are both wonderful – enchanting picture books that the kiddos love at my library. So glad you posted about them today! Gorgeous pictures and a super cute story for both.

    Happy reading this week 🙂 Whatcha readin’ this week @ the Brunette Librarian and Don’t forget to enter to win Philippa Gregory’s “Changeling”


  2. How exciting to have another Olivia! Anything But Typical is a wonderful read – like Kathryn Erskine’s “Mockingbird”, and just as beautiful. I love your picture book selection, Myra – gentle and lovely books for the young (and the young at heart!).


    • Hi Tara dearest, I have a feeling you’d enjoy this Olivia title immensely. One of my absolute favorites. Havent had a chance to read Mockingbird yet but Ive been seeing it around. Im glad you like the picture book selections. 🙂


  3. luving the book of spring! and def would luv seeing some of it sooooon =)


  4. Those kiddies books look so good! I had better keep my little one away from the computer or it could be an expensive monday! Hope you enjoy them 🙂


    • Haha. Im sure your little one has great taste when it comes to books. I got all of these books from the library, makes for a less expensive choice. 🙂


  5. Love your Crazy over Cybils tag! Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine is one I love– the section about the new tennis shoes is one I read to my students every year in April. Probably doesn’t mean as much if you don’t have the snow and boots like we do here in Ohio. My son is loving his year in the Philippines– except for the bugs!


    • Hi Ms Yingling, I love that scene too, but youre right, in a tropical country like Singapore and the Philippines, the allusion may not be as powerful. I love Douglas’ zest for life though and how he embraces each waking minute like a precious gift. A book filled with so much vitality. 🙂 Im glad your son is having fun. Bug spray is definitely the way to go.


  6. Thanks for the picture book recommendations. I’m trying to read a picture book every day and I haven’t read any of these. I look forward to your review of The Storyteller. What a beautiful cover!


  7. Lots of great books here and many are on my favorites shelf! Olivia and the Fairy Princess and Then It’s Spring were some of my highlights from 2012 books. I’m a sucker for anything Hest and/or Oxenbury create, so I’ll have to look for that title. Have a great time with your reading challenges!


  8. Sooo many good books! I think this latest Olivia is my favorite too! And Then It’s Spring and Bear has a Story to tell are two more picture books I adored. I will be interested to hear how you fare with The Storyteller. I’ve been hearing very different things about it!


  9. We read Nightsong this week too! The illustrations are stunning. I also read Neville a few weeks ago and loved it. Glad to see it on the shortlist, though my guess is it won’t be THE winner. Won’t stop me from sharing, though!


  10. Such fantastic picture books! Many of my favourites that I’ve read recently including Neville! Ahh do I love that book! Charley’s First Night is so sweet. I really want to read Red Knit Cap Girl and hope to find it soon. It just looks so lovely. Lovely post!


  11. Charley’s First Night looks so sweet, Myra, as do the other ‘red’ books. I just got the Goldilocks book, but still haven’t read it. Lots of good book you’ve featured here. Thanks.


  12. Ah, Neville has caught my attention. The good thing about reading #IMWAYR blogs today is I can just cross the street to go to a bookstore and find the books I read about!


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