MONDAY FUNDAY – June 19, 2017

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share some of the titles you’ve been enjoying, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.


Hello everyone!

Did you have a great week? I wrote a couple of posts this week that I’d love to share with you – I made a list of ten pictures books perfect for father’s day, reviewed the absolutely adorable Little Bot and Sparrow, rounded up five things that make me happy, and wrote about a beloved song that’s absolutely perfect for tough times.

I’m also adapting to life as a full-time employee again, after nearly a year of substitute work. It’s been a bit of a jolt, let me tell you! My hour-long commute isn’t the best, but at least I’m getting a lot of reading done. Speaking of which…

How to Survive a Plague

“The definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic from the creator of, and inspired by, the seminal documentary How to Survive a Plague.

A riveting, powerful telling of the story of the grassroots movement of activists, many of them in a life-or-death struggle, who seized upon scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease.”

How to Survive a Plague is a great title for readers who think they don’t like nonfiction. It’s absolutely gripping, and provides a perfect balance of information and story, educating like the best informational texts, and inspiring and entertaining like the finest fiction. Be warned, though – this is not a book for the faint of heart. The prejudice, injustice, hostility and cruelty that the LGBTQ community has been subjected to (and in some places is still subject to) is absolutely heartbreaking. The tales the book tells are harrowing – stories of terminally ill young men being turned away from hospitals or left to die on gurneys in hospital hallways, of families disowning their dying sons, of dedicated and loving partners being denied access to their loved ones in their last moments. Reading of such injustice, such heartlessness and cruelty, made my heart cry.

In the midst of all the sadness and desperation, however, there are moments of real hope and inspiration – doctors who dedicated themselves completely to the treatment of their patients and the search for a cure, and grassroots activists who refused to be silent in the face of a deadly epidemic. For all the injustice, there were still helpers to be found, within the queer community, the medical community, and just the larger community. No matter how dark things seem, it’s heartening to know that there are always good people trying to make a difference.

How to Survive a Plague is at times a painful read, but it is also a vitally important one, and absolutely worth reading.

The Linguist and the Emperor 

The deciphering of the Rosetta stone was one of the great intellectual triumphs of all time, unlocking the secrets of thousands of years of Egypt’s ancient civilization. Yet in the past two centuries, the circumstances surrounding this bravura feat of translation have become shrouded in myth and mystery. Now in his spellbinding new book, Daniel Meyerson recounts the extraordinary true story of how the lives of two geniuses converged in a breakthrough that revolutionized our understanding of the past.

To preface this, let me say that I’m still only half way through this slim nonfiction title, so I can’t give a final verdict on it. I’ve long been fascinated by the Rosetta stone (having my picture taken beside it was one of the highlights of my trip to London), and I was immediately drawn to this account of its deciphering. If you’re looking for a straightforward historical narrative, or in fact much detail about the Rosetta stone itself, you might be disappointed. The Linguist and the Emperor reads more like a character study of two intensely talented, intensely flawed individuals. Told in the present tense (which can at times be jarring), with flowery, poetic language and winding sentences, The Linguist and the Emperor is a strange little book, quite unlike my typical nonfiction reading. I’m not sure yet what to think of it, but I am enjoying it so far.

Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy

More Jan Thomas!! Yes indeedy, I do love me some Jan Thomas. And this one went down like a treat! The kids immediately recognised the cows from previous books, and were thrilled! This is such a sweet, silly sorry – the brave cowboy isn’t all that brave, spotting dangers behind every corner that aren’t really there. If you had a ukulele you could really get into this one by singing your own cow lullaby! The story led to a beautiful conversation about fears, and why it’s OK to be scared – even big, brave grownups like cowboys get scared sometimes! We shared some of the things that we’re scared off, then talked about ways that we could be supportive and caring when our friends get scared. Preschoolers have such wonderful hearts, so full of love and so ready to share and comfort. As educators, it’s all we can do to try and nurture and nourish these hearts, and not let the world grind them down.

And there you have it – a bit of a departure from my usual lists of picture books! Don’t worry, though – I’ve got a pile of fantastic picture books to share with you in the upcoming weeks, so be sure to subscribe so you never miss a post, and come back again soon!

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  • Reply Greg Hill

    Happy Monday! Your Happiness Tag post was a lot of fun, and I love the songs you picked. 🙂

    And yay for the job, even if the commute is kinda long…

    Hope you have a great week!

    June 19, 2017 at 4:38 am
  • Reply Pussreboots

    I’m adding The Linguist and the Emperor to my wishlist. Summer vacation has begun and so has the extreme heat. Come see what I’m reading.

    June 19, 2017 at 5:44 am
  • Reply Kathryn

    Some serious but important reading by the look of it. How to Survive a Plague sounds a really important read.

    June 19, 2017 at 7:26 am
  • Reply admin

    The last book looks adorable! I hope you enjoy your books this week.

    My It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? post.

    June 19, 2017 at 9:21 am
  • Reply Lisa Maucione (@DrLMaucione)

    I should add more nonfiction to my reading diet. I enjoy nonfiction when I read it, but tend to gravitate towards fiction. How to Survive a Plague sounds fascinating. I’ll have to add it to my summer reading list.

    June 19, 2017 at 9:58 am
  • Reply Jana Eschner (@JanaTheTeacher)

    I loved the last Jan Thomas book you mentioned (A Birthday for Cow!), so I’ll definitely look for this one. Glad it’s going well at your new job! Have a great week!

    June 19, 2017 at 1:26 pm
  • Reply lindabaie

    I’m glad to hear about “How To Survive A Plague”, Jane. It was a terrible time, and though far away, a cousin suffered from, then died of Aids, & the family was full of conflicts during that time. People didn’t want her to visit, etc. Fear was a big factor and it was very sad. Thanks also for the other two, both new to me.

    June 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm
  • Reply Kathy Martin

    How to Survive a Plague and The Linguist and the Emperor both sound amazing. I really should read more nonfiction. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

    June 19, 2017 at 3:19 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    Oh gosh, lots of audiobooks in your future??
    I enjoy Jan Thomas too, can’t wait to read her new ones!

    June 19, 2017 at 3:26 pm
  • Reply Crystal

    Jan Thomas is always bringing a smile to my face. 🙂 I will be looking for How to Survive a Plague. It sounds like an important story to know. Thanks for the links to your great posts.

    June 19, 2017 at 5:01 pm
  • Reply Beth Shaum (@BethShaum)

    How to Survive a Plague sounds fascinating. I’ll definitely add that one to my TBR pile.

    June 19, 2017 at 6:18 pm
  • Reply Lindsey Stefan

    That is a long commute, but I love the positive spin of so much reading time! Both of your books sound really interesting. I’m a sucker for anything about linguistics or words.

    June 19, 2017 at 6:24 pm
  • Reply Kellee from Unleashing Readers (@kelleemoye)

    I don’t know some Jan Thomas!!! Now I feel like I am missing something–I am requesting some from the library right now!

    June 20, 2017 at 1:10 am
  • Reply cweichel

    How to Survive a Plague Looks like such an important book. Hurrah for Jan Thomas. Your commute sounds brutal, but at least you know where to download good audiobooks for the ride!
    Thanks for posting the links to your posts this week. I enjoyed all of them.

    June 20, 2017 at 1:50 am
  • Reply Drangonfly

    wow! I would have cried reading How to Survive a Plague too! Sounds so emotional! [sniff!]

    June 20, 2017 at 3:47 pm
  • Reply Sherry Fundin

    How to Survive a Plague may come in handy.
    sherry @ fundinmental Sunday Memes

    June 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm
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