It’s Monday, what have you been reading? 7/15/19

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Today kind of marks the quarter pole of my summer break from school. A good time for me to look back at the reading that I have been doing. There have been quite a few excellent novels already this summer, and not as many picture books as I have intended. That will be reflected in my weekly reading review found here, and linked up with Jen V.’s site teachmentortexts.com and Kellee and Ricki at unleashingreaders.com. Thanks to all of these ladies for hosting and check out all the other blogs for more excellent summer reading options.

Read This Week

That's What Dinosaurs Do

I loved The Bad Seed and The Good Egg by this duo but this one just did not do it for me. I didn’t enjoy the actions of the dinosaur or the message. I didn’t find it funny or entertaining. Maybe I was expecting more as I really enjoyed the other two books.

The Sad Little Fact

This was reviewed by others last week and so when I saw it in a book store I had to check it out. It takes a difficult and timely topic and handles it fairly well. I think it would be a great starting point in talking about what is true and what is not in our world these days as media contradicts itself and clouds reality on a near daily basis.

Wumbers

This is an older book that I hadn’t really seen until recently in a bookstore. I have really loved their previous works so I bought this playful book that takes mixes numbers with words. No real story here, just isolated pages using numbers inside words. I think kids will enjoy it, my final thought: Gr8 2some writing this un4getable story.

A World Below

A class field trip goes awry when an earthquake traps the group exploring Carlsbad Caverns. This sets up as a survival story but there are other elements in play as well. I enjoyed the way two of the characters showed strength and growth as the novel progressed and that is something I think I am becoming used to seeing in Wesley King’s novels.

Hazel's Theory of Evolution

I had the opportunity to read an ARC of this book from my sharing group Book Portage. This book has the comparison on the cover of The Truth About Jellyfish meets Raymie Nightingale and I can see why. Jellyfish had a lot of stuff going on and some of it was fairly dark. That is the case here as Hazel is concerned that one of her Mom’s might not be able to handle being pregnant after having had two miscarriages. She is missing her one true friend after being forced to switch schools. There is a very diverse cast of characters in secondary roles in this book as well. The heart of the story seems to be how Hazel attempts to navigate the many changes in her life. Can she evolve enough to thrive? There were certainly enough engaging events in this story to keep me interested even if Hazel did not really capture me as a character. I think fans of the books mentioned above should give this story a try when it releases in October.

We All Fall Down (We All Fall Down #1)

This is a very quick read about a boy that goes to work with his father on September 11 and experiences the chaos and tragedy of being in the South Tower when the planes struck. Like many people, I remember exactly where I was when I watched this on TV, but I haven’t really picked up any of the MG books on this topic. I thought Eric Walters made great efforts to focus on the brave people that helped during that terrible day and to emphasize their humanity. I should mention that this is totally a work of fiction, really focusing on people as individuals in a terrible event, and less on the event itself.

Grenade

There is some similarity in how the topic of World War 2 was handled in Grenade and how Eric Walters handled writing about 9/11 in We All Fall Down. I found this story of the battle of Okinawa to be a great perspective on the people in the war and honoring who they were before the war, and not just the soldier or victim in the case of the residents of Okinawa. Like Refugee, this story starts out telling multiple story lines, and fans of Refugee will probably enjoy this as well. It sat on my TBR shelf too long.

The Miraculous

This is another book I was lucky to be able to read through my ARC sharing group. I wondered if I could take another book with grieving being an important part of it, but actually this is the book to read if you think you can’t read another book on this topic for MG readers. The people of the small town at the center of this book learn to believe in what they cannot see and find light in the darkest of places. This is no small challenge for an author to pull off, but I think Jess Redman has done it. This book is released on July 30.

Currently Reading

The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3)Mortal Engines (The Hungry City Chronicles, #1)

I am continuing with these two family read alouds, chosen by my nine year old. We share Mortal Engines, and The Mark of Athena we read with our whole family. I just finished The Miraculous, so I am kind of between books right now. I am hoping to read more great books by Canadians, by authors that are new to me and books recommended by family. Thanks for stopping by to read this, and I hope to check in on your week’s reading soon.

 

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It’s Monday and I Remembered I Used to Blog about Reading!

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It has been ages since I wrote anything really about what I have been reading, but I have missed reading other blog posts, so I felt it was important to write something. Also, I actually seem to have time. Sundays and Mondays have seemed just too busy over the last month or so. I am happy to link this post up with other posts using Kellee and Ricki’s unleashingreaders site. Head other there or to teachmentortexts.com, hsoted by Jen to see the other posts. Thanks to these three for hosting our posts.

Books I Recently Finished

Legends of the Lost Causes (Legends of the Lost Causes, #1)

This is a western with a healthy dose of the supernatural thrown in. It gets into the action immediately and like the western movies I watched when I was a kid, there are quite clearly good guys and bad guys here and a lot of chase and fight scenes. I think kids will quite drawn to the action here and I was initially but thought the road to the final conclusion was drawn out a bit long but overall it is a popcorn movie style action ride that is the first of four planned books.

Titans (Titans #1)

I chose this book because the cover looks excellent, and I recognized the name of the author from my daughter’s copies of Kate O’Hearn’s Valkyrie books. I enjoyed the book but wished I had known more about O’Hearn’s Pegasus series. I think this book is a spin-off of that series from what I found out later. Not having read any of the Pegasus books, I found this a little hard to follow with the high number of characters and species. A little backstory, like a prologue or a hint that this is a spin-off would have helped.

As for the book itself the plot is detailed and interesting but I really wanted more world building or backstory on this world to be more engaged. For fans of Kate O’Hearn’s previous works, I think this would be a really good book as they would have that backstory from past volumes. For me, it was kind of average. This is clearly the first of a series, and I expected a non-ending but this one did not really have the cliffhanger I would expect in the first of a series. This book is released this week.

Always With You

I had read several Eric Walters novels but until recently I didn’t really know him as a picture book writer. He is visiting my school next year so I have been checking some of them out and this is his newest. It’s the story of how a grandfather stays in touch with his granddaughter after his death through letters and gifts that come during milestone moments in her life. It’s very sweet story about grief and growing up.

No Fixed Address

This is a very real, YA book about an MG boy who is homeless. I actually flip-flop on whether this one is YA or MG. This is because I teach grade 6. Certainly, many of my students could read this, but if I nominated it for my district’s Battle of the Books, I know some would take feel parts of it are too mature. I really enjoyed this book and it’s main character Felix who struggles to deal with the his single mother’s inability to put a real roof over his head. I loved that it took place in Vancouver and had so many places that were familiar to me as a resident of BC. I really loved Susin Nielsen’s writing as well. This would go well with The Benefits of Being an Octopus.

Just Lucky

I just finished this ARC that I requested from my ARC sharing group, Book Portage. I have been reading a tonne of books that deal with poverty and foster families over the last few months, and this is another. The main character Lucky lives with her grandparents and has a happy home until things start to unravel in the worst of ways for her. She enters the system and has many ups and downs within the system. This is a YA read, although it is not too graphic. The chapters are very short and it is a book that reads very quickly. I think readers will feel for Lucky’s misfortune, and want to see if and how she will get the support she needs to make it through. This book comes out in September.

Currently Reading

The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3)Mortal Engines (The Hungry City Chronicles, #1)A World Below

The Mark of Athena is our current family read aloud. The third book of Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, it was picked by my 12 year old. We have both read it but my nine year old is eager to rip through the whole series, so we are re-reading. My nine year old selected Mortal Engines as her “daddy read aloud” but we have only just started. I also just started A World Below by Wesley King. I really enjoyed reading OCDaniel several times over the last year as I selected it for our Battle of the Books and Literature Circles and pledged to read more of his work when the school year ended.

On Deck

I have an ARC from Book Portage that needs to get moved to the next reader soon, so I am hoping to pick up Hazel’s Theory of Evolution later in the week, and also get to read more of the picture books I acquired for my library at the end of the school year. Happy Summer Reading to everyone!

Hazel's Theory of Evolution

It’s Easter Monday, what have you been reading?

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Hopefully, all of you are in the midst of a great holiday weekend. I am squeezing in a little time to read amongst some family time and am also happy to link up my reading post with other bloggers at teachmentortexts and unleashingreaders, great sites to get more titles for your to-read lists.

Books I Enjoyed This Week:

Hello, Universe

I re-read this in anticipation of my district’s Battle of the Books in June. To be honest, I am finding this quite, slower paced book a tough sell with the class I have this year. Once they get going with it, my students find there are wonderful characters to love and dislike here, and the satisfying conclusion with the way things come together in the last third was excellent. When I re-read it, I was even more taken by the way Erin Entrada Kelly wrote the bully, Chet Bullens.

Kat Greene Comes Clean

This story had very likable characters, including the title character, whose struggles dealing with anxiety and OCD in her family as well as friendship and relationship issues felt very real. I am glad I added this to my library this year and wish I had picked it up to read sooner. I read this shortly after re-reading OCDaniel, in which a child is dealing with OCD. Kat Greene Come Clean has more of the stereotypical OCD (with obsessions being mostly about cleaning), but in both cases there are title characters that learn about mental health, something all people should be learning more about.

Extraordinary Birds

December is a young girl who has spent much of her life in the foster care system, and feels like she will be abandoned and mistreated by whomever is charged with her care. She also believes that she will eventually spread wings and fly away from her situation, because she is really a bird.  What she really needs is trust and support, and when she is placed with Eleanor, who volunteers for an animal rescue group and works to help injured animals to the wild, December has a lot of decisions to make as she is treated differently than she ever has before. This is a very emotional story, and there is also a subplot in which December has to deal with bullies and make friends with a girl that has a past of her own. This is a quiet, introspective book that I think would find an audience in my classroom. This book is released next week.

The Stonekeeper (Amulet, #1)

I also re-read this one for our Battle of the Books. I write trivia style questions for all of the books for a school vs. school competition we have in teams (kind of like the competition in Out of My Mind). I have never done so for a graphic novel before. I found it more difficult, especially when I have read all eight books in this series and fond the questions I wanted to ask required information from books further along in the series. However, I am still glad we put a graphic novel in our event, as it has pulled in more readers, and also the hard core readers that love our event sometimes don’t recognize graphic novels as much as what they normally read but are discovering great plots and characters.

Currently Reading

The Rule of Three: Will to SurviveThis Place: 150 Years RetoldThe Last (Endling, #1)

I read the second of Eric Walters Rule of Three trilogy and let myself hang on the cliff of that ending for longer than I would have thought, but I am taking some time to see how this exciting plot plays out before passing it to a student who just started book two. I managed to get an ARC of This Place from the publisher, I am reading it slowly as it is on my computer. I can’t seem to get it transferred to my IPAD. It is a series of graphic novels covering history from much more of an Indigenous perspective than we have seen in print. My family continues to enjoy the first in the Endling series.

Thanks for reading my blog this week, I hope everyone has a great end to their holiday weekend and an excellent reading week!

The Middle of April! What are you reading?

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It is time for another Monday post. Hopefully, you have already been to see the other posts at teachmentortexts and unleashingreaders to see what other avid readers are enjoying lately. Thanks to Jen, Kellee and Ricki for continuing to host.

Spring is the most distracting of reading seasons for me. I continue to re-read a lot of my District Battle of the Books choices (there are nine) and it seems like I have overbooked in NetGalley and in my ARC sharing group Book Portage. There are far too many great things to pick up right now, and that was never more apparent than when I looked at the four books I wrote were “on deck” for this week in my most recent post and realized I had only really touched one of them. Well, here is what I did read this week.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

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This feels like a very Spring like book. I have several books in my library that feature plant life and the beginning of the growing season but I am happy to be seeing more and more own voices books featuring Indigenous peoples describing plant gathering using a narrative non-fiction approach. This title by Inhabit Media takes place near Clyde River, Nunavut and tells the story of an Inuktitut boy who lives with adoptive parents in Ottawa, but returns to Nunavut in the summer to spend time with his biological family. Like it’s companion book, A Walk on the Tundra, this story is a little heavy on words for a picture book, but it has a lot of information about life in the north that it wants to convey. The book is key for the information it passes on, not so much for the story. The end matter is also good.

The Bridge Home

Wow! Was this book ever a great read. And here come a few small spoilers, but less than Goodreads. An emotional story of a girl who sees the abuse her father gives to her mother and sister and decides that is enough is enough. She grabs her sister and heads for Chennai to start a new life. This new life is filled with challenges around poverty, the children being young, her sister being developmentally disabled and more. This is a Global Read Aloud pick for the fall of 2019 and it is nearly a perfect middle grade GRA choice as far as I am concerned. There is lots to discuss, it is not very long, and students will not want you to stop reading. I gave this to a colleague who thanked me for the Sunday morning cry after starting reading late Saturday night. It is that hard to put down.

Searching for Lottie

This book was passed to me by the publisher. It is another short and powerful read. Charlie (Charlotte) has a family history project and decides to research a relative that her family believes perished in the Holocaust. The more she begins to dig around, the more her love for her great aunt grows, as they have much in common. The mystery is at the heart of this tale, but also family, music, relationships and more and it is a light 170 page package. It is a thoroughly modern setting and yet readers will also learn about the history of Vienna and Budapest, so it also feels like a historical fiction in addition to a mystery. With likable characters, and a well rounded family/support group realistically involved, I could see a lot of my students enjoying this book.

A House That Once Was

This is a really interesting picture book about kids stumbling upon an abandoned house. It features some rhyming text by Julie Fogliano and great illustrations by one of my favourites, Lane Smith. This is a book I have to read more slowly because you really could stop on most of the pages and read the text, take in the pictures, and think about the many possibilities in front of you. Most of my library groups prefer a book with a faster pace, but I think as a teacher of younger students, I could use this lovely book.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons

Reading A House That Once Was, I remembered that I had recently purchased this book which is a great group of memory making poems from all four seasons starting with Spring and ending with Winter. This is a book of poems you could use all year. The imagery is wonderful and it would bring about lots of discussion with students. The art work is also really good.

Currently Reading

Hello, UniverseThe Last (Endling, #1)

I continue to re-read Hello Universe to prepare for my District Battle of the Books, part of our event is a team quiz competition using questions from our nine books. I am writing the questions for this book right now. It is a fun re-read. My family is getting more and more into Endling as it gets a little darker.

I am between books at the moment but have gone back to last week’s post to see that I was considering three books I never got close to reading and I also found one on my NetGalley account that I need to read before its release at the end of the month.

 

That pretty much sums up where I have been and where I am heading this week. I hope to check out what you have been reading recently as well. Have a great reading week!

It’s Monday, what are you reading? April 8, 2019

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It’s Monday again, and that last week felt like a long one to me. A colleague called it “the longest week ever,” (it was our first week back from Spring Break) and while I wouldn’t go that far, it was hectic and my reading was a little light. I did get three classes into their Literature Circles this week and did some great planning for our Battle of the Books. I am happy to link up my post with others at teachmentortexts.com and unleashingreaders.com (thanks to Jen, Kellee and Ricki for hosting) and hopefully I will make more time to read over the posts from this week and last as I only caught the first eight or so.

Books I Finished This Week

Pine & Boof: The Lucky Leaf

I found this title at my public library where I was waiting for my two children to finish up their book club. I have previously read and enjoyed Ross Burach’s I am Not a Chair and The Very Impatient Caterpillar so this one called to me from its front facing position. Great humour and appealing illustrations will make this book a well loved library title for me next year (I have pretty much blown the budget for this year). A bear and a porcupine become fast friends as they come together for a buddy quest to help bear find his lucky leaf.

The Wild Beast

This is an author that I know well for his MG books, and I discovered recently that he has a lot of picture books. I know that he spends time in Africa so I picked this one to read. It is based on West African creation stories told to Eric Walters (see author’s note) and has striking illustrations. It tells the story of many animal’s creation but in particular the wildebeest.

Fuzzy Mud

I re-read this to be more prepared for the Literature Circles in my class and for the district Battle of the Books that I am co-planning. I love this creepy, sci-fi tale. It has some stereotypical characters (a “goody-goody” and a bully) but most kids that I read this with really enjoy how we get to know these characters a little beyond their stereotypes. The real star though, is the Fuzzy Mud, which causes an epidemic that threatens to wipe out the whole town in which two elementary students start out facing trouble through the conflict with a bully and end up facing a trouble that no one saw coming. Some interesting science and politics in this book that packs a lot into less than 200 pages.

Far from Agrabah

There is a new Aladdin movie coming out, but this is not a novelization of that, but rather a story within that story. This is the story of the second wish, the magic carpet ride. It tells the story of what happens when Aladdin, posing as Prince Ali, takes Jasmine to on a ride, including a visit to his fictional kingdom. I requested this from NetGalley because we have so many young readers who wanted more of Aisha Saeed’s work after reading Amal Unbound for Global Read Aloud in the fall. Once again, Saeed has written a strong female character in making Jasmine a young lady who is determined to lead her people and is not impressed with male authority figures who would lessen her role. While I did not really get into some of the plot, the parts in which she asserts herself and where Prince Ali/Aladdin shows his true colours (in a good way) have lots of redeeming value and there are some great messages here.

Tek by Patrick McDonnell

This book had some neat humour and the message of getting outside more and dropping the technology is a good one, of course. It got some interest right away in my library because it looks like an IPAD. Kids want to pick it up right away. It feels a little heavy handed at times, but the humour won me over. A Dad who bemoans not being able to invent fire, and the razor when situations come up in the story and the fake names of dinosaurs were also cute.

Currently Reading

The Last (Endling, #1)Hello, Universe

Endling is our family read aloud and Hello Universe is also a part of our Battle of the Books so I am re-reading it. I just finished Far From Agrabah and haven’t had a chance to pick up a new books yet. I have a long TBR list and will likely choose from these books to start the week:

On deck books

The Bridge HomeKat Greene Comes CleanThe Basque Dragon (The Unicorn Rescue Society)Will to Survive

These are a couple of books I have had on my list for a while and a couple of series that I would like to get back to. I hope you had a great reading week, I intend to check on how other people have been doing with their reading, and thanks for reading about my week!

#Must Read in 2019- Update #1

Time for our first update! This is a good check-up for me to make sure that I am making some progress. I have 64 books on my list this year. Last year, I was pleased to make it 50 books and I am seeing this list in the same light. If I had a quarter of 50-64 at this point that would be a nice start (12-16). I am right in the middle of that range with 14 read at this point. Here are the fourteen I have read so far:

Lu A great addition to the Track series with an ending you shouldn’t miss.

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster This is another writer whose books are really unique and memorable.

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise I have an ongoing conversation with a student I have taught the last two years about which Dan Gemeinhart book we love the most and this one is in the mix. Great characters in an emotional adventure.

My Heart Another great writer from Washington State, this is a terrific picture book about living with kindness and taking care of yourself and others.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga A informative picture book that shows how one nation, the Cherokee show gratitude. Nice information at the back as well.

Hilo Book 5: Then Everything Went Wrong Still love this graphic novel series filled with humour, action and engaging visuals.

The Parker Inheritance This was a book I really felt I should have read in 2018 so I put it here to make sure I did not miss out. There is so much going on here including a great mystery.

Misunderstood Shark: Friends Don't Eat Friends I pretty much always need to read Ame Dyckman’s works to kids. It is so much fun to laugh in a big group. The illustrations by Scott Magoon are also excellent.

The Rule of Three: Fight for Power I sometimes don’t let myself read enough sequels as I try to get coverage of more authors and series that I have in my library, so I placed a few on this list to allow my self to indulge. I enjoyed the first Rule of Three book and I want to finish this series to see how it all plays out.

The Shores Beyond Time (Chronicle of the Dark Star, #3) The conclusion to an excellent science-fiction series is filled with the big ideas that make science fiction so engaging for me to read.

Big Foot and Little Foot (Book #1) This is the beginning of a cute chapter book in which two unlikely friends view each other’s worlds.

It's Not Hansel and Gretel Another picture book writer that makes my school community laugh together. These fractured fairy tales see the character’s voices shine. We can’t wait for the next one featuring Red Riding Hood. Josh Funk and Edwardian Taylor have something really great here.

Hey, Kiddo A super emotional, and frank memoir told in graphic novel format. A lot of high school students will see characters they recognize in this story and will be better for having read it.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #1) A fun series opening MG novel with memorable characters and world building.

 

That is the start of my Must Read in 2019 year. I am currently reading Endling: The Last, which would be the 15th on my list. Distractions are always a barrier in terms of other great books. Several of mine are still not published, and also I am re-reading a lot of books to write questions for our Battle of the Books but I am still confident in reaching at least 50 of the 64.

Thanks to Carrie Gelson for hosting this fun challenge and sending us update reminder. I look forward to seeing other people’s updates and thank-you all for stopping here and reading my update.

It’s April Fool’s Day, what are you reading?

It has been a few weeks since my last post, and some of that was due to our Spring Break plans. We had time with family and some travel time, but I did manage to read several really great books that I would like to share. Thanks to Jen V at teachmentortexts.com and Kellee and Ricki at unleashingreaders.com for providing a place for us to link up our posts.

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Some of the Books I Enjoyed Since My Last Post

 

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Mo Willems new book is unlike any of the other books I have read by him. This is a book about inspiration that is very inspiring in its own right. I gave it to a pre-service teacher at my school when she finished her practicum because she might inspire others to great things.

Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray (Elements of Genius #1)

I was grateful to get an ARC of this through my ARC sharing group Book Portage. This series opener looks to be the beginning of a fun ride following a group of child geniuses modeled after real historical thinkers like Tesla, Da Vinci and Mary Shelley. The kids are part of a school called Genius Academy, but they are more like a spy group not affiliated with any government. I liked this book and I think I might like future volumes even more now that some of the background is in place.

Hey, Kiddo

This is a powerfully, honest look at the author’s upbringing with particular focus on his family. The blunt depictions, particularly of his grandmother and mother, were tough to read at times, but there was a hope and inspiration as well.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #1)

I wasn’t always sure about this book as it starts with similarities to other MG fantasy, but it was a really enjoyable read. Some of the world building was great and the characters were memorable (the scene stealing cat on the cover, in particular but also dragon riding being a sport). It is a touch long, both in the chapters and overall, but that won’t dissuade fantasy readers who will get into the mystery, and humor.

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This is a book I just re-read for our upcoming Battle of the Books that I plan with the librarians in our district and also because my class is starting our Literature Circle/Book Club unit with it this week. It has a lot going on with its depictions of characters dealing with mental illness, a mystery, and underdog trying to do well in school plot as well. It won an Edgar award for the mystery but I think its strength is the character Daniel trying to deal with symptoms of OCD, having no idea what that is. The author’s note describes how the author based the title character on his own experiences making this an important story in the same way as Hey, Kiddo, but for more of an MG audience.

It Came in the Mail

I enjoyed this picture book that I bought a few months ago, and shelved but never got around to actually reading it. My own children would relate to waiting to get something in the mail, but the way the boy gets around it by having the mailbox send him a plethora of items was funny and made for some great illustrations. The boy eventually finds a different way to happiness that could be a good talking point.

The Deceiver's Heart (The Traitor's Game, #2)

The sequel to The Traitor’s Game is again told from the perspectives of the two main characters, Simon and Kestra. This has the political intrigue of Jennifer Nielsen’s Ascendance Trilogy and the magical elements of her Mark of the Thief series in a more upper MG/YA package. This series will be an easy sell to my students that have read out her earlier series and want more.

Currently Reading

Hello, UniverseThe Last (Endling, #1)Aladdin: Far From Agrabah

I am re-reading Hello Universe as it is part of our Battle of the Books. Endling: The Last is our new family read aloud. My wife had to brave to not choose a Rick Riordan book, but both of us had been wanting to read this, and it is fun to make our children wait between books 2 and 3 in a series (even if oldest has already read the entire Heroes of Olympus series). Finally, two classes in my school enjoyed Aisha Saeed’s Amal Unbound as part of Global Read Aloud (check out the 2019 books announced for next year) so I grabbed an ARC of an Aladdin inspired book that she wrote. It comes out on April 2, and I fully intended to read it before it came out, but now I think I will be close, but not quite.

Hope you had a great reading week! I am back at school after a two week Spring Break, the beginning of the home stretch of the school year with lots of big reading plans. I look forward to seeing some of your reading this week as well. Thanks for clicking your way to my blog.