It’s Monday, and Back to School Day 3/29/21

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A whole lot of mixed emotions today. I am happy to see students today, and start working with them in their book clubs that we are forming in grade 5/6 later this week. But, I am also sad to see the end of Spring Break. School is a lot tougher for everyone in my family this year and I think this is the only year that we would have voted for a longer break if possible. This is life for everyone right now though. If I wanted to really complain, I would mention that it snowed yesterday, but really it will be gone is a day or maybe less (I think).

Time to get to the reading I was able to finish in the past week! Thanks to everyone who posts at our linkup, I do enjoy reading about the titles that you enjoyed, and especially to our hosts at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts. Update: I started this Sunday night, got to this point, and then didn’t return to finish until my kids’ bedtime. I got totally Mondayed today, thought I would finish a few different times today.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

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I saw this book on Edelweiss Plus and my curiosity wouldn’t let me escape without requesting it. I am not really that familiar with this LyricPop series of books, which illustrate pop songs in picture book format. I know this song fairly well, and was sort of the intrigued with the idea, but it didn’t really work with me. The illustrations are fine, but I couldn’t help picturing images from the music video in my head. There is a sweet story to the picture book, but I couldn’t really get the rhythm of the book. It literally uses lyrics from the song. I think as I am not a singer and when I read a book that feels like it should be sung, my brain doesn’t feel quite right. I can see how this might appeal to some people, but it wasn’t really for me.

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This book I did really get into. I like to give a disclaimer when its an author I really love, because it means I am likely into the book before I start, and this is the case here. This isn’t a new book, but one I kept meaning to pick up but didn’t because it seems I am also chasing the newer books lately. I really loved Rundell’s The Explorer and get a real kick out of her use of language (“books crowbar open the world for you” was a favourite line). This book reminded me a little of The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke in its second half, but really pulled me in with the relationship between Charles and a girl whom he rescues as a baby from the English Channel near the beginning of the book. Rundell’s children are often free spirited, forces of nature and this child is no different and she finds an ally in Charles who supports her search for her biological mother. He tells her to “never ignore a possible,” and she embraces her strangeness in a way that makes her a very interesting character.

WinkThis is a re-read for me, I am using this as one of the Book Club/Lit Circle choices for my grade 5/6 class. They look at the cover and back of the book and see that 12 year old Ross is going through the diagnosis of a rare eye cancer and they worry that it is a super sad book. It is actually quite funny as well though, and the combination of the character’s social awkwardness, love of cartooning and burgeoning love as music (a major outlet for him as he deals with his health) works really well together.

Agent 9: Flood-A-Geddon!

This is a new graphic novel series from the creator of the Bird & Squirrel series. It is kind of a standard secret agent against a super villain trying to destroy the world type of book. It totally acknowledges this and pokes fun at itself for it. Agent 9 has always gotten the job done, but usually by causing a lot of damage too. I was thinking of Mel Gibson’s Lethal Weapon character. He kind of gets one more chance to complete his mission without damaging property and equipment, and along with his robotic partner Fin. They must foil the bumbling villain King Crab. It is silly, and fun.

Mirror's Edge (Impostors, #3)

This is the third in the series that spun off from Scott Westerfeld’s very popular MG/YA Uglies series. It is full of high technology rebellion and deception. Twin sisters Frey and Rafi continue to work with various rebel groups to wrest control from an old boy network that rules. To say much more to anyone thinking of starting this series wouldn’t really work out, but the ending will have big fans of this series talking for a while. It arrives a week from tomorrow.

Currently Reading

The Whisper: The Riverman Trilogy, Book IIThe Benefits of Being an OctopusThe Train of Lost Things

The Whisper is book two of the very odd, and creepy The Riverman Trilogy, our family read aloud. I am re-reading The Benefits of Being an Octopus for the same class project as Wink, I love this story a lot and the main character will be loved by all of the students who choose it. The Train of Lost Things is another book that I have been meaning to read for a while, but only just started when I went for a drive and didn’t want to pack a device that held the book I was reading (Mirror’s Edge). It has a very interesting premise, that there is a place where only the most loved and lost things end up. The main character is desperate to have an item back and needs to find it. I like the references to trains in books like The Polar Express and Harry Potter along with the acknowledgement that this is a very different train.

On Deck???

In the Wild Light

If I keep saying that I will read this, will it actually happen? I should know better than to request ARCs that don’t come out for several months (August). I finally went through the ones I had and realized that I needed to read Mirror’s Edge sooner, but this is the one that I really wanted to read. Maybe this is the week? I hope you get to read exactly what you want this week! Thanks for stopping here!

It’s Still Spring Break, what are you reading? 3/22/21

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I am continuing my 20-21 pattern of being very inconsistent with keeping a weekly reading blog. I was surely much better in 2017-19, but I feel fortunate that I have a second week of Spring Break in which to recharge for the last third of the school year and sneak this blog in. Covid is certainly a focus of everything these days and my work life has this as a background. In my province, we have been face to face all year with about 500 new cases of covid each day (with a population of around 5 million). It certainly impacts most of what we do. We have been on a bit of a vaccine rollercoaster with things looking good right now. At one point, we were hearing that we might be vaccinated in about the next month, then plans seemed to change and there would only be an age-based rollout. I was looking at perhaps August for vaccination. Now, there has been a change in supply and it looks like April for teachers once more. It has been a strange year again, so far, with lots impacting what I am allowed to do in my library (K-7) in terms of events (no gathering, not as many events that build community), and what we do at home to make life more fun for everyone (lots of games with the kids, not as much reading). Thanks to Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts for hosting the link-up for this group once again.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

30316180 I wanted to make sure that I covered some books in each section of my library over the Spring Break and while I don’t have a dedicated early chapter book series, I always have books that fit that criteria in a display for at least part of the week. Our school is organized into age cohorts, and there is only one cohort allowed in each day, so I don’t have these books out when the gr. 5-7 cohort is in. This book will be displayed when I have the grade 2-4 cohorts in. You can really see a lot of what it is about from the cover. There are magical creatures and a girl who is concerned about their health and very focussed on science. In this first book of the series, she learns that her mother has been able to see magical creatures for a while (she thought she was the only one). They come to her when they need help. When Mom is leaving for a work related trip, young Zoey asks if she can help any creatures who ring the hidden doorbell at their barn as a request for help. Naturally, the dragon on the cover does and Zoey goes through quite a process of hypothesizing what might be wrong and how to help, along with her cat Sassafras.

The story has a real science based focus. The Mom is a scientist, no detail on what she specifically does and Zoey has to go through several theories of what is wrong and test them out. I am hoping the magical creatures will pull a few readers into trying this series.

A Wish in the Dark

This was a family read aloud for me, my wife and my two kids. I had read an ARC of this one almost exactly a year ago from writing this today and I loved it. It is a recent Newbery Honor book. If you haven’t yet had the chance it is a really interesting story with some creative world building inspired by Thailand. I have read that it is inspired by Les Miserables as well, but I am not as familiar with that story and I read it without thinking about that part at all. Our main characters are Nok and Pong who grow up together in a prison, where they were born. Society is really controlled by one man, the Governor who is able to control light and energy. After a Great Fire, his power is really the only source of energy that is considered safe and this gives him great power. As Nok and Pong grow older, one of them escapes Prison and one is eventually released, they begin to see better ways for society to function without one person having so much power. It sounds like it could be a dark (mood) book but it isn’t really.

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The third book of the Mighty Muskrats series is another mystery set in fictional community of Windy Lake First Nation. Most readers, especially non-Indigenous, will learn a lot about the ways that many Indigenous peoples live, particularly in rural, reserve areas.
I would say that each book has one topic that is a theme in the plot and something that young (or old) readers likely know little about. The ’60’s scoop in the first book, land use in the second and in this one treaties are an important topic. The Burgled Bundle of the title is the missing Treaty Bundle. I didn’t have much knowledge of what a treaty bundle is, but throughout the story Hutchinson weaves in a lot of information about how treaty bundles tell a story of a people and I also learned more about the ways that Indigenous peoples use story, ceremony and information in this book. This could start a lot of conversations about the ways that Indigenous peoples in Canada hold and pass on their knowledge and stories that is quite different from how non-Indigenous people have do.
The four main characters, Sam, Chickadee, Otter and Atim, are cousins that all live on the reserve but have slightly different backgrounds and personalities that allow them to rely on each other’s strengths to solve these mysteries, and also to learn about their culture from their Elders as they grow. Readers, particularly those of non-Indigenous ancestry like myself, can learn with them about ideas like ceremonies, treaties, the unity of Cree people from different areas, the importance of the land, and many other smaller seeming parts of daily life.
I always enjoy a new Muskrat Mystery. Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this before its April release.

35519109. sy475 This is another series that I really enjoy, that I started reading because of a few of the people that I saw reading it in our Monday link-ups. If you have never tried one, they are really written for adults although my thirteen year old really enjoyed the first book of the series. They are really short novellas that take place in a corporate dominated space-faring world. The main character, The Murderbot of the series title, is a self-aware droid who develops a keen sense of justice, an addiction to watching its favourite serial media, and a heavy dose of snarkiness. The series is so much fun.

Positively Izzy This is actually the second of a series, and I don’t even have the first one in my library, which I need to rectify soon. It is more of a graphic novel, but it has some text sections. I know one librarian that shelves a copy in her fiction section, while mine is in my graphic novel section. It is for fans of Telgemeier and Jennifer Holm’s Sunny Side Up books. There are two different plot lines running through this book, one that involves a daydreamer named Izzy who lives with her single Mom and two sisters. She is a typical daydreamer in that she does not focus on schoolwork or her home life. She does really care about drama. The other character is Bri, who has the label at school of being a brain, but wishes people would see the other aspects of her personality. The two plots come together at the end but seem unrelated for much of the book. The ending was enjoyable, I will get the rest of these for my graphic novel readers.

43319583. sx318 I typically find the Branches early chapter books from Scholastic to be fairly reliable short books I can get to emerging readers. I am kind of struggling to find readers for fairy tale type books lately. One of the teachers I talked to about this feels that readers in my school don’t really know the fairy tales until they have been in a school for a few years and by then not many are reading early chapter books. This book doesn’t have a particular fairy tale that it follows but is in a fairy tale world in which summer is not leaving to make way for winter. Kara and Zed find a message from the Ice Princess asking for help with her Magic Mirror in order to bring winter back. As no one appears willing to help the not well liked Ice Princess, these two head to the Ice Princess’s castle to save the day. The plot seemed a little like Frozen, with some twists and I liked the resolution. I didn’t love the whole story but if you from a character perspective (Kara does something in the beginning I did not like) but I think this could be a good one for young readers who need a short chapter book.

53077036. sx318 sy475 I had a student who really loves wolves, but also loses a lot of books, so after searching for new wolf books I stumbled across this one. It is a non-fiction story that is probably familiar to many adults, the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park. The focus here is on how bringing back the wolves made so many changes to the food web and indirectly to the land itself. It’s well illustrated and has a number of text features. I think it will be a good choice for teaching intermediate aged students how to use non-fiction books in addition to helping kids learn about the connectivity of living things in an ecosystem.

Currently Reading

WinkThe Whisper: The Riverman Trilogy, Book IIRooftoppers

I am re-reading Wink, a story of a middle school kid who just wants to blend in and be normal but has a rare cancer near his eye that makes that impossible. Believe it or not, it is actually a very funny read. The character finds a lot of strength from a new found love of rock music. I am using this for a Literature Circles/Book Club unit and my District’s Battle of the Books. I am re-reading The Whisper, book two of The Riverman trilogy, with my family. We typically start a lot of series and don’t continue with them lately so my oldest and I decided we would use our consecutive turns choosing to finish a trilogy we started about a year ago. Rooftoppers is a book that was recommended to me by a grade 5 student who I had recommended Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer and The Good Thieves to. She said it is her favourite 2021 read so far and I just noticed that it is this author’s most popular book on Goodreads. I have only read a couple of chapters

On Deck Reads

In the Wild Light

I have put this book here twice already. Sometimes I don’t get to the books that are on my devices, out of sight, out of mind I guess. I do better with the books that are on my physical shelves. Also, this ARC is not actually released until August, so there is no urgency on my part. However, I do feel like I haven’t read any YA this month/Spring Break so my next book will be YA for sure and I have loved Zentner’s The Serpent King and Goodbye Days.

Thanks for stopping by here to see what I have been read. I need to get off the computer for a while, but hope to check out what others have been reading over the next few days.

 

It’s Monday March 1, what are you reading?

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I missed out on posting last week as I was writing report cards and that really got the best of me last week. Now that I am done, I am grateful to be able to post on some of the books I have read the last two weeks. Two weeks of school left before Spring Break, and we are back to our weekly recorded message about a covid alert in one of the four schools my family attends. We were getting them once a week, always on a Sunday night for some reason. I think we had three weeks in a row, but then finally a bit of a reprieve. Until tonight, when my oldest daughter’s school got one. We have been really fortunate that none of us have had covid-19 yet, and I certainly feel for all of those that have lost loved ones or been sick themselves. We have had some heightened anxiety over hearing that there was someone in the school who soon after tested positive, but these are the times we are in and that is just the way it will be for a while longer.

Books I Enjoyed Since My Last Post

Click (Click, #1)

I missed this graphic novel that seems a good choice for fans of Telgemeier and Hale when it first came out. It is another good story about managing the changing relationships in the middle years of school. It takes being left out of the groups performing at a talent show for Olive to realize that even though she feels like she kind of clicks with all the kids at her school, she doesn’t have any really close friends. She is lucky to have an aunt to help her figure out how to deal with this problem. I have this in the library now, and of course it got signed out right away. I should get the feedback to buy the rest of the series soon.

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess

 

I have a group of readers within my grade 5/6 class this year that have really been loving novels-in-verse. Its not only the format, but the ones that I have had them read feature really well written characters. This one is by a BC author, whose Missing Mike I really enjoyed, and decided to include in my school district’s Battle of the Books this year. My class starts this in early April, when we are back from Spring Break. In anticipation of Missing Mike being a hit with my novel-in-verse fans, I bought this one. It has been out for a while and I quite liked it. Macy is dealing with her Mom’s upcoming marriage, which she is not a big supporter of, partially because she will be moving out of her home and into her Mom’s new husband’s house. Just before that happens, she is also struggling with a dispute with her best friend at school. As she is preparing to move, her Mom has her help the lady next door (the other title character) who is also preparing to move. Macy hadn’t really gotten to know her to well, and going through the neighbour’s old stuff sparks a lot of neat conversations about life that drive the rest of the plot. Macy’s deafness makes it more challenging to communicate but Macy’s hearing is not really the main part of the plot.

Fox & Chick: The Party: and Other StoriesFox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories

To be honest, I don’t always have a lot of luck finding readers for Early Reader books such as this. Elephant and Piggie is one exception. I have some other really good series, but readers that I think would love this type of book seem to either stick with picture books, or Elephant and Piggie. I did enjoy these first two Fox + Chick books that have three stories in each of them and have some of the buddy humour that is essential to this type of book. I know these books have a lot of fans in this group, if you haven’t checked them out, and you have young readers in your life, I encourage you to do so. They are very cute and funny.

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A little book about a big power hungry grasshopper who likes to boss the other insects around. Of course he needs to get what is coming to him and have a smaller creature prove that being big and loud is not everything. It is a classic underdog story and shows that all different types of creatures can make an impact.

Currently Reading

Where We Used to RoamOne More Thing: Stories and Other StoriesAirborn (Matt Cruse, #1)A Wish in the Dark

It has been a little slow in terms of my reading lately. But this week should be much better. I should finish Where We Used to Roam tomorrow. I am really enjoying it, it releases on Tuesday. The plot reminds me a tiny bit of Kate Messner’s The Seventh Wish, a book I liked. I was up late reading this book last night. Once in a while I read a short story or two from B.J. Novak’s short story collection. The author of The Book With No Pictures, and a writer/actor from the office, Novak has some funny moments in this collection but it is not really forcing me to read it exclusively. My class is really enjoying Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn, we are a little over half done. I hope we can finish before Spring Break starts in two weeks. My family read aloud is A Wish in the Dark. It is a re-read for the adults. We really loved this book and wanted to share it with our 13 and 10 year old daughters.

On Deck Reading

Game ChangerIn the Wild Light

I still want to get to these two ARCs that I have, but I think I said that in my last post. I will read one of them this week. I have a few picture books to get to as well. 

Thanks for reading my post, and I hope to get to read what everyone else has been enjoying. Have a great week!

It’s Monday, February 15 (Family Day in BC!), here is what I have been reading.

I used to post here quite often about my reading week, but in the last year or so I have found it increasingly difficult to find the time to do so. As many of you know, lots of things are just a lot more difficult as we learn to live with this pandemic. I am still teaching grade 5/6 in a face-to-face school and taking all the extra precautions to try and make that safer. BC does not have a mask mandate for students at my grade level, but there are many other safety measures in place. We have been fortunate as a school to have only one covid exposure (a member of the school community tested positive causing that class to self-isolate for two weeks from the date of the person being in the school). There are also a lot of changes in the library but I am still open (this is about 35% of my teaching assignment, and another great teacher covers my class). I guess all of the extra work led to me not doing this very much, but also really missing it. I read some of the great posts and today I decided to try again as I have a holiday day off. The other important factor is that I just learned how to turn off the WordPress block editor (it was not intuitive for me and was doubling my writing time for these posts).

Books I Enjoyed This Week

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I didn’t actually read the first collaboration between these two creative people, Ida Always, although I know I saw it on someone’s blog. My wife purchased this book for her library and I have often really loved Charles Santoso’s illustrations in The Snurtch, Dandy and other books. As the cover reveals, this is a really great animal friendship story that will appeal to any of the animal lovers in your life. Its based on a friendship between two animals at a rehabilitation ranch in Oklahoma. A horse losing its vision comes slowly befriends a prickly goat who, in time, becomes a great support.

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This is another book that my wife bought for her library (we both have time in different elementary school libraries) and while she had it at home to process, I was able to borrow it. The setting is the Okanagan area in BC, about 150 km southeast of where I live (I hope at least one person who lives even closer than I do reads this). The setting is kind of the star of this book. It works as a sort of timeline for the changes that happen in the area, especially the contact between white people and the Indigenous Peoples that are near the area. These are tricky books to write and as a librarian, I always want to buy them if they are historically accurate and sensitive to how contact negatively impacted Indigenous peoples. What I can say about this book is that Indigenous people were consulted with in the writing of the book (I think the author is from a different part of Canada, so that for me was something that could be an issue). This doesn’t give it some more authenticity as a cultural administrator for the Westbank First Nation states that the book’s story reminds us of the need to take responsibility and care for the land. The focus here is really on the land, and if you are using this book (which is a little too long for simple read alouds with primary aged groups in the library) to help study first contacts between Indigenous and Europeans, it is really a jumping off point, and you will need other resources to advance a more thorough discussion of contact. It does have great illustrations and covers a lot of points of history in the area and how they impacted the land such as railway building, the use of the land as a training area for soldiers and more recently, a wildfire. There was some of the Indigenous content I was looking for, and even though I wanted a little more, I will add this to my library.

Spring Stinks: A Little Bruce Book

I typically add Ryan Higgins’s books to my library right away, and if they are Bruce books, so much the better. My students love this grumpy bear. I don’t think this one will disappoint them and it is more accessible than the full-sized Bruce books that seem to work best as read alouds.

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This is a book I remember seeing lots of buzz for in the summer, and I really wanted to read it. I was getting a Rain Reign, OCDaniel vibe off of it. Those two novels, by Ann Martin and Wesley King respectively, are quite popular in my school. I sold them to kids through book talks and their inclusion in our yearly Battle of the Books. I have been surprised by how much students seem to enjoy books that portray characters dealing with mental health issues. In reading this one, I was hoping the portrayal was accurate, and also that the inclusion of a character that is of Ojibwe heritage would also be authentic.

I enjoyed most of the story but I was aware of the main character, Collin’s statements that he know little of his heritage (having grown up in California) and that some of what he thought to be true were really false stereotypical views from media. At one point, I wondered if there were too many stereotypes of Indigenous Peoples in the book itself. It seems the author’s background is similar to the character’s, and I was able to find this blog post at American Indian’s in Children’s Literature that does a much better job of explaining some of the depictions of life on the reserve in the story https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2021/02/an-ojibwe-educators-review-of-brave-by.html . The blog post is written by Dr. Janis A. Fairbanks who writes that “my community is… the setting of the book.” The issues she brings up with the depiction of the reserve in Minnesota are important.

Another major plot point in this book is that Collin displays OCD behaviours such as counting the letters in speech that is directed at him and answering any such speech with the total number of letters. This condition seems to be related to social anxiety. A large part of the book is how poorly treated Collin is as a result of this, particularly at school, and how he comes to deal with it. I think my readers of OCDaniel would need more details about this condition, maybe in the story or maybe in the afterword. I am not really an expert on these types of anxiety driven conditions, but as I did with the handling of culture in this story, I am going to try to find out more for my readers before recommending this book to them. I really loved a lot of the secondary characters, but am worried that the main character’s heritage and medical condition may detract from the plot’s magical realism, which I think might appeal to some readers.

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This is a series that is always must-purchase for me. I had to wait longer than I wanted to for this one, but it was worth the wait. While this is the seventh HiLO book, it feels like the first book in a new series too. This is because Gina is emerging as the main character with her thoughts, emotions and actions at the core. HiLo is still there and provides much of the comic relief with I always love in this series, but Gina dealing with the changes in her life was also really well done.

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I always find it a little confusing about when books arrive. I had a hard time getting HiLo, but I have this book even though the publishing date is actually a week from tomorrow (Feb. 23). This is a local Indigenous author who actually attended the school that I teach at. So, this was a must have book as well. It includes some words in a few Indigenous languages in this part of my province and a glossary at the back that guides readers who do not speak those languages. The book is not so much a narrative (for me, at least) but more an examination of what we see and hear when out in nature and a call to celebrate and sustain our connection to the land.

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I am not the biggest Anne of Green Gables fan, but my friend that teaches next door to me would be in the conversation if that title was ever awarded. This made me seek out this early chapter series after seeing it in Cheriee Weichel’s blog post some time ago. I feel like the first two books (this is #2) hit all the right notes: highlighting the most important parts of the story (as I know it) and using some of the really interestingly descriptive language while still keeping the books short and accessible for young readers in a way that reminded my friend right away of Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson books. I am glad I got this one in time for our school’s celebration of Canadian written stories this week. I Read Canadian Day is Wednesday, February 17th.

Currently Reading

Click (A Click Graphic Novel)A Wish in the DarkAirborn (Matt Cruse, #1) 

I somehow missed reading the Click series of graphic novels when they came out. They seem geared to fans of Raina Telgemeier and Shannon Hale’s graphic novels and in the early going that seems to be the case. The main character is not being asked to join some of the social groups forming around a talent show but does not want to approach anyone either. I know of a few kids who could learn how to handle this type of social situation and I want to see where the rest of this book goes. I am re-reading recent Newbery Honor book, A Wish in the Dark as our family read aloud. I really enjoyed my first reading of this book. I am also re-reading Airborn with my grade 5/6 class. We are really enjoying this steampunkish adventure.

On Deck Reading

 

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow GoddessGame ChangerIn the Wild Light

I have a couple of Shari Green’s novels-in-verse that I am going to read as Missing Mike has been very popular in my library right now, and novels-in-verse in general have been more popular this year than the last couple years. I might try this one, or Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles. I am probably going to choose one of these ARCs later in the week, probably Game Changer since it is already out and I meant to read it much sooner.

Thanks for reading my post, it is a little late on Monday, but it was also kind of an impulsive decision to write it. I hope to read more of the other Monday posts this evening and as the week progresses. Have an excellent reading week!

It’s Monday, September 28, What Are You Reading?

Tomorrow is the beginning of the third full week of in-class instruction at my school. The results are really mixed, I would say. Our community is small, but we did have a positive test in the last week and some people are choosing to self-isolate out of caution. In looking at my classroom and my library, you might not be able to tell that we are going through a pandemic. They look, pretty much the same at times, unless an adult is wearing a mask. Three months ago, that would have been shocking for me, but things seem to change quickly and there seems to be some acceptance that this is the way things are for now.

With things being the way they are, a good escapist read is much appreciated and I have had a few of those lately. I am happy to be able to share them with other bloggers that link-up at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Thanks to Kellee and Ricki, as well as Jen V. for continuing to host us.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

Chicken Little: The Real and Totally True Tale

I borrowed this picture book from my wife’s school library. We found it through one of the bloggers in our link-up, I think it was Michelle Knott’s but there were probably multiple readers of this book. It seems very relevant these days to twist this classic story and focus on what is a fact, and how to tell what it not a fact. That is kind of what this story does. Very cute.

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Ryan Higgins sets the bar so high. His books are really well loved in my school. First, we fell in love with Bruce, and now Penelope (and his early chapter What About Worms? is cute too). I didn’t quite love this one as much as the first Penelope books, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, but that might not be fair to this book, because as I said the bar is high. In this book, Penelope struggles with whether or not to play in a talent show for her classmates. Stories about courage are pretty needed right now for all of us, so I will find a place for this story.

The Princess in Black and the Giant Problem (Princess in Black #8)

The next installment of The Princess in Black early chapter series comes out on October 6. In this, the eighth tale (or 9th counting the really short covid-19 related one that came out last school year), the Princess in Black, accompanied by The Goat Avenger and The Princess in Blankets have particular trouble with a nasty giant that is just too big to stop and doesn’t seem to listen to reason. They need to enlist the help of many new and old heroes to stop this foe from destroying everything in sight. And this giant is not what he seems. Cute and funny as usual, and I love the illustrations by LeUyen Pham. I think these illustrations are my favourite in this series. Thanks to NetGalley for the early copy.

First Light

The debut of Rebecca Stead was a re-read for me as our family’s read aloud. My oldest was scared it would be “another survival book” but it is a lot more than that (don’t mind her, but she did have a few years of mostly survival themed novel studies and now she is tired of the genre). I think Rebecca Stead is best known for one of my favourite books, When You Reach Me, and although the setting is quite different here, there is still a bit of mystery and somethings you will need to find out along with the main characters, Peter, a boy from New York on an scientific expedition with his parents, and Thea, a girl who is frustrated with her local government who have never allowed her to explore and see the wider world around her.

Hatch (The Overthrow, #2)

This was my escapist read of the week in many ways, but also a bit of a tough read during a pandemic. A pandemic does not happen in this series, but a VERY serious threat to humanity does happen, and there are many parallels between what occurs and what we are living through. This is book two though, so you really need to read Bloom first. If you are the type of person that might find it odd and a little funny that characters are dealing with a toilet paper shortage, this might be the series for you. If you are the type of person who liked Day of the Triffids as well, then this is certainly for you.

Kenneth Oppel started this trilogy with Bloom, a story about plants that just seem to be everywhere. They can’t be killed, and start to feed off of humans. But, three Salt Spring Island teens seem to be immune and are the key to survival and winning what seems to be the beginning of a war.

Hatch picks up where Bloom left off and if anything, ups the ante considerably. This is still terrific science fiction with a touch of horror, and you will want to keep reading, but it will be over. For now. The third book is scheduled to arrive in May.

Currently Reading

Above All Else

I was reading this book earlier last week, but I had to switch to Hatch. This is nothing against this book, but I needed to get Hatch to a student this week. I am going back to this story of two young people heading out to try to climb Everest. They are very experienced mountain climbers. The book comes out on October 13, and I have an early copy from NetGalley.

On Deck Reading

I have an ARC of Bye-Bye Blue Creek, the second Sam Abernathy book by Andrew Smith. Sam is a character from Smith’s YA series Winger. I really loved that book, and the follow-up/sequels have been good, but not as great as the original, for me. I still want to read the next one though. It comes out on Oct. 13. I also have my oldest encouraging me to read the fourth Trials of Apollo book by Rick Riordan before the fifth one arrives in early October as well. Lastly, it is my choice for family read aloud and I think we are going to read the fifth Dory Fantasmagory, because they are just hilarious.

Thanks for stopping here to hear what I have been reading, hope to see what you have been reading soon.

It’s the last day of Summer, what have you been reading?

Today is, I believe, the last official day of summer. I missed writing last week about my reading and last night (when I would normally have queued up this post) but wanted to note my last few books of the summer here. Summer reading kind of ends when school begins, which for me was right after Labour Day and that kind of explains why I did not post last week and nearly missed this week, but I have read a few books that I would love to share with others. Thanks, as usual, to the Kellee, and Ricki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts for providing a link-up for It’s Monday posts.

Books I Enjoyed Over the Last Two Weeks

Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger #1)

This one is for more developed early chapter readers. It is the kind of book that sometimes gets missed in my library. I have students that are not up for reading slightly longer early chapter books when they are the right age from an interest perspective. When their reading skills are sufficient, they sometimes don’t have the interest in reading “animal stories.” But for those that do, I think they will enjoy this story, which I have seen compared to things like Winnie the Pooh. For me, it made me think of Kate DiCamillo’s Deckawoo Drive series. It wasn’t as humorous to me, but the interplay between Skunk and Badger reminded me a little of Eugenia and Baby Lincoln in that they have very different world views. There is a similar sense of whimsy as well. I am a big fan of Deckawoo Drive, and I am not saying I enjoyed this as much, but young readers that are fans of DiCamillo, might also enjoy this book.

The Red Fox Clan (Ranger's Apprentice: The Royal Ranger, #2)

This is the second book in a spin-off of John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice (RA) series. I have loved sharing that series with a few books and also with my own kids. It takes place in an author created world that resembles our own during medieval times. Rangers are kind of like a combination of the FBI and the CIA. This series takes place about 20 years after the original RA series and features a female main character, Maddie, who is the daughter of two characters from RA. Maddie gets pulled into a situation that someone of her age and experience shouldn’t really be getting into. A political group called The Red Fox Clan opposes females having the right to succession to the throne. When The Red Fox Clan gets more aggressive about creating change in Araluen they become a threat to the monarchy, and Rangers need to get involved.

You Don't Want a Dragon!

Another really funny picture book from a team that I hope continues to collaborate. This book, along with You Don’t Want a Unicorn, pulls kids in quickly and forces out lots of giggles and belly laughs in my library. With the destruction of a pet unicorn still evident, our little friend decides he really needs to switch things up and get a pet dragon. This is, of course, a very bad and dangerous idea.

First Day Critter Jitters

One of the best first week of school books I have ever read. Lots to unpack for groups of students trying to build community, be brave, try new things, and work together. Great humour in the words and illustrations.

The Captive Kingdom (The Ascendance Series, #4)

A great addition to the series, I think fans will love being back in the mind of Jaron (I did). His defiant sense of humour shines again as he begins a battle with new enemies and some old friends. This is a fast paced thrill ride. This is exactly the escapist read I needed right now.

Bobby Orr and the Hand-Me-Down Skates

I think a lot of hockey fans, like me, will relate to this story of a boy who is initially disappointed with his “new” hand me down skates. Eventually, little Bobby (widely regarded as one of the all-time greatest hockey players) learns to love his skates and there is a great moment when he passes them on to someone else. The illustrations makes the book feel older, which kind of fits the subject matter with kids skating on frozen ponds. I enjoyed this, not sure people who are not hockey fans would though.

Currently Reading

Above All Else
First Light
The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1)

I just started an ARC of Above All Else and I honestly haven’t gotten very far to describe it other than to say it is about mountain climbing which is clear from the title. My family and I are wrapping up our read of First Light this week. I started The False Prince with my grade 5/6 class today.

On Deck Reading

Hatch: A Novel (The Bloom Trilogy)
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The Princess in Black and the Giant Problem (Princess in Black, #8)

I would likely be reading Hatch but I lent it to someone (given how badly I want to read that book, you know it must be someone special- yes it is my wife). Hopefully, I get to start and read it this week and I have several new picture books to read while I (im)patiently wait. Thanks for reading my very late post for the week, and I hope to see what many others have been reading this week.

It’s already, September!?! What have you been reading?

It’s another Monday, this one is a holiday, and the day before the first day of school here in BC. But, because this is 2020, and she likes to do things in ways that are different from ever before. No students tomorrow. Our return to work plan needs more work, so educators will go it alone for two days here in BC, and try to work out all the details in order to give the plan the best chance of success when we welcome kids back into our buildings on Thursday.

A little less pressure not having students tomorrow (but I still feel the pressure of not being sure how to make this work properly later in the week) is probably a factor in me finding the time to write this post. I am linking up with our great hosts at Teach Mentor Texts (thanks Jen) and Unleashing Readers (thanks Kellee and Ricki). I managed to finish a couple of books late in the week, although I did find it hard to concentrate on reading with my focus on news being a little too high, and my other release from that (aside from reading) taking lots of time (watching playoff hockey and basketball- which I miss playing).

Books I Enjoyed This Week

Kevin the Unicorn: Why Can't We Be Bestie-Corns?

I really enjoyed reading an e-ARC through Edelweiss+ of this second book featuring Kevin the Unicorn. The art is really bright and eye catching, but there are also many little details that relate to the story hiding in plain sight. In the story, Kevin really wants to be besties with the new unicorn moving in, but it just doesn’t work. They don’t like the same things, and that is okay. Once they are honest with one another, they figure out they can be friendly, if not besties.
Great story, full of some fun word play. We should start seeing this in stores on Tuesday.

Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries, #2)

Not really kidlit, I know, but a few of you got me on to this series. When I rated on Goodreads, I saw Cherie’s review and it was nearly exactly what I was feeling. I did not love this second book as much as the first, but I am kind of hooked, in my case, I would say I am hooked on this character. I would read what it thought about grocery shopping.

The Canyon's Edge

This has been one of the most difficult books for me to read. I heard about it a long time ago. My school Skyped with Dusti Bowling and chatted about it. I was ready to grab it as soon as I could. I asked on NetGalley and got no reply for months. I switched to Edelweiss + (so much easier for me to get books on so far) and got accepted right away. But, the download to Kindle did not work. So, I tried Adobe Digital Editions and it did not work (first time for me). Customer service tried, but to no avail. Finally, a couple of weeks later, and after I had given up, a different book loaded to something called Bluefire Reader, and I thought, well why not try The Canyon’s Edge again. Good idea, for once.

It is a powerful story about a girl, Nora, living after trauma but not really living. When she and her father are caught in a flash flood while hiking in a slot canyon, she has to fight to live. She battles against nearly everything the desert could throw at her (and if you know Dusti Bowling books, you know few, if any, writers can tell a story in a desert so well. She battles the dark thoughts in her head as only a survivor of earlier trauma would have to. In doing so, she discovers that she truly wants to live and that she has much left to do with her life.
The story is mostly told in-verse and is beautifully written as we slowly begin to know much of what Nora has been through and how she can begin to grow again. And, thanks to Edelweiss + for allowing me the chance to read this book, which comes out on Tuesday.

Max Explains Everything: Puppy Expert

I probably should have already read one of the Max books, in which Max explains something that he has become an expert at to the reader, in this case, owning a puppy. But, I haven’t. This was a cute and fun way to learn alongside a boy about what it really takes to be a puppy owner. We see the good and the bad. Kids should be able to relate to this if they have ever been through pet ownership and will learn something if they haven’t. I need to seek out the others in this series.

Currently Reading and On Deck Reads

The second in the series of books that spun off of John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series. These books take place a generation after the first series, and are called The Royal Ranger books. The best part is that there is a female main character. There were a few secondary characters in his first series, but well away from most of the action. I read the first quite a while ago, but my youngest is getting me back into them. She really enjoys these and it has been a while but I did too.

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This is our latest family read aloud. It is a re-read for me, the debut of one of my favourite authors, Rebecca Stead.
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I was supposed to start this one last week, but I am a little distracted by getting e-ARCs. Maybe this week? It feels like it is going to be busy though.

Thanks for stopping here to see what I have been reading, I hope to be better about reading other blogs this week. I just moved through a lot of them today. Hopefully, many of you had a great relaxing long weekend, and are starting a fabulous reading week.

It’s the last Monday of the Summer!!! Here is what I was reading…

Well, it was kind of cold today, and I go back to work tomorrow (just professional development, no students for another week and a half), so it feels like summer is kind of over. That is pretty depressing way to begin a piece of writing, but the end of summer to me means that I have to cram in the last few books before work cuts into reading time.

I am pleased to be able to post about a few great books this week and link up this post with those of many other reader/bloggers at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts sites. Thanks to the hosts of those sites, Kellee and Ricki and Jen respectively for continuing to support our linkup this week.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

Elatsoe

I really enjoyed this ownvoices, speculative fiction novel. I have read that this is considered a YA book, but as an elementary teacher, I am thinking about considering it upper MG and adding it to my classroom/school library. I was able to read an e-ARC through NetGalley. This book was just released at the beginning of the week.
The setting and the character’s approach to the supernatural is what first made me think of this as speculative fiction, rather than fantasy. Our main character, Ellie, is a Lipan Apache teen who has the ability to raise the dead. Her best friend is a dog that has been dead for years. The way this was so casually mentioned made me think this America (Texas, actually) is slightly different than the one we know.
These types of powers are passed down in a family and seem to be accepted as part of normal life. This America is impacted by monsters, ghosts, magic, and it seems more impacted by stories, including the stories of Ellie’s people.
Being Lipan Apache is different in Darcy Little Badger’s America, but there were some scenes that show that racism was still very much a force in this America, present and past. One scene in particular when Ellie is in a store is great for white people to read about how Indigenous peoples are often treated.
When Ellie’s cousin is murdered, her instincts tell her that she needs to investigate. She travels to a small town in Texas to help her Mom look after the grieving family and begins to find out that something is very wrong.
Ellie uses her powers, and knowledge passed on through her ancestors as well as the support of an elder, her friends and family to learn more about her cousin’s death.
What is going on turns out to be even bigger than a murder investigation, and I am hoping this turns out to be more than one standalone book. I would read more books set in this world, with Ellie as the MC, or not, although the way that Lipan Apache traditions and ways of knowing are interspersed is also something I would read more of.

Lupe Wong Won't Dance

Lupe Wong is a cute and funny story about a middle school student who has many of the awkward issues around growing up. Then, she has to deal with the horrors of a new PE unit on square dancing, hence the title. Lupe does NOT want to dance and does everything she can to avoid it. Her efforts largely blow up in her face and contribute to some of the friendship troubles that she faces. She is an interesting character, and it is easy to root for her as she figures out how to do right by her friends and herself. The book also contains a diverse cast of characters. Lupe has mixed heritage with one side of her family identifying as Chinese and the other half as Mexican. In a scene featuring a culture event at school several other characters demonstrate aspects of their family’s heritage. Most of the kids belong to cliques centered around their sports teams, those character tend to be stereotypically mean. Lupe plays baseball but is kind of the exception to this. She has other friends and learns in this book how to be a better friend to them. Her friends, are well developed characters and alongside the humour of Donna Barba Higuera, their discovery that all kids are worthy and none better than the other is the strength of this book. Early middle school readers should enjoy this story. This was another book published by Levine Querido, as is Elatsoe, a new name in publishing that is really focussed on Ownvoices works such as this one. I also enjoyed picking this one up from Edelweiss +.

The Eye of Ra (The Eye of Ra, #1)

The Eye of Ra was a fast paced adventure story perfect for kids that have graduated from books like Magic Tree House, and are on the way to reading books like Percy Jackson. The time travel element makes it easy to compare this story to Magic Tree House, but this is clearly for an older reader. Sarah and her younger brother John accidentally discover a way to travel back in time to Ancient Egypt. Relating to the power of the god Ra, they also are surprised to discover that they are able to communicate with the people that they meet. This leads to them making some friends and immersing themselves in Egyptian culture.
This allows for a richer experience for the reader as they can learn about some of the work done to build pyramids, about Egyptian food, daily life, mythology and more. In addition to the great information provided, there is a lot of action as John and Sarah try to help solve a mystery that jeopardizes the building of the pyramid and also are confronted by scorpions, sandstorms, snakes and (my least favourite for some reason- nothing to do with this book) crocodiles.
I enjoyed the relationship between brother and sister in this book. It continued to change and evolve during the course of the events.
A couple of key events late in the book show the potential for what might come next in this series, and many readers will enjoy anticipating the action of upcoming books from Ben Gartner. I was fortunate to get an e-ARC version of this book, and will enjoy turning readers onto this series.

Jabari Tries (Jabari, #2)

I was a huge fan of Jabari Jumps, and it is a read aloud favourite at my school, so when I saw that there was a new Jabari book on Edelweiss ‘s list, I requested it immediately and felt lucky to get to review this one.
Once again, Jabari is a young boy trying to stretch himself and complete a tough task. He is challenged by the task and needs to take a moment to collect himself, listen to the advice of his father and accept help in order to complete this STEM tasks.
While I did not get as much out of the art in this book (there are some changes in vantage point as was the case in Gaia Cornwall’s last Jabari book that are good but they do not work as well as in the first one) compared to Jabari Jumps, I loved the message for kids who have to persevere through tough tasks. I think kids are going to love this one just as much as the earlier Jabari book. For some of the older (kids or adults) readers of this one, there are some names of inventors in the background of one of the pages and instead of using some of the white centered inventors that typically come up in STEM titles, I thought it was great that Gaia Cornwall chose to highlight BIPOC inventors and scientists that are far less famous for their amazing achievements (Lewis Howard Latimer, Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal, Roy Allela and Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson). I am not super knowledge when it comes to inventors and I had to google a few of these names. Their work could make a great jumping off point for discussions.

Currently Reading

The second in the series of Murderbot novellas that so many other bloggers have written about and inspired me to read. My wife is also hooked on this now. We don’t make time for too many adult books, but I just got this one on hold as e-book from my public library.

This is our latest family read aloud. It is a re-read for me, the debut of one of my favourite authors, Rebecca Stead.
This is a writer whose books are consistently entertaining, and probably the most popular with my two daughters. I would already enjoy these books, but being able to chat with my girls about them pushes me to read them. This is the fourth of the Trials of Apollo series, which takes place in the Percy Jackson universe. The final book comes out in October (book 5) so it feels like the right time to be starting this one.

Thanks for reading this post, I hope to check in with other posts this week at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts (much more than I did last week). Have a great reading week!

It’s Monday, August 24th, What Are You Reading!

The last full week of my summer vacation. Next Monday, I will be back at school completing some professional development with the other teachers at my school for two days. Generally, that is the week many of us are getting classrooms ready. Here in BC, we have all of our students scheduled to return to full face to face learning, so there will be much to do in order to make the return safe and welcoming.

This week, I plan to finish a lot of books. I started to use Edelweiss+ for the first time several days ago, and I wasn’t expecting to get so many acceptances to read books so quickly. I ended up getting nine in just a couple of days. I have had issues downloading one of them, but other than that it has been great. I did fail to notice that one of them expires on Tuesday though, so I had to switch the novel I was reading yesterday, and start reading a different one. I should finish both of them in the next couple of days and will write more about them next week. Here are the books I finished this week.

Books I Recently Enjoyed

Letters from Cuba

I was sent this book by Penguin after attending a virtual conference. It is a really uplifting story of a girl named Esther, a young Jewish girl who lives with most of her family in Poland. Her father has moved to Cuba and is trying to make enough money to bring the rest of the family to Cuba. He makes enough to bring one of them over, and Esther fights to be the one. I loved that she convinces her parents that sending the oldest boy is not the best plan (she is the oldest child). Once she arrives her positivity and spirit change everything for her family. I loved how she saw the beauty and the good in her new life in Cuba. The book does show that there were certainly some challenges for people in her situation but the rich setting, and support Esther and her family find in Cuba really overpower the racism they experience.

7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga (7 Generations #1-4)

Last week, I reviewed David A. Robertson’s upcoming MG novel The Barren Grounds, which I really enjoyed but I think he has even more graphic novels than MG and YA books out. This graphic novel came out in 2012 and it was originally four short graphic stories. In them, Edwin, an Indigenous teen struggles with feelings that his hopes will never be realized. After a suicide attempt, his mother feels he needs to find out more about where he comes from in order to help address the past of his people and embrace the future. We get different pieces of his family’s history, from war, to smallpox infection, residential school, and his father’s belief that he was not capable of being the parent his son needed. There are a lot of necessary and uncomfortable scenes for the reader to learn about the history of an Indigenous family. Edwin has to learn about finding his own way forward, acknowledging the past without being defined by it and offering some forgiveness where warranted. A very powerful book.

The Blackthorn Key (The Blackthorn Key, #1)

This was a re-read for me. Our family read aloud. I have read all four books of this series, and look forward to a fifth coming in 2021. It’s a mystery that is set in 17th century England. Christopher Rowe is an orphan who has the fortune to land an apprenticeship as an apothecary under Benjamin Blackthorn. However, their world is rocked by the murder of several in their guild throughout London. Christopher and his loyal friend Tom have to solve codes, and puzzles to learn the secrets behind these deaths. A smart, thrilling beginning to the series featuring one of my favourite friendships.

Your Place in the Universe

I first heard about this book at the Western Washington University Children’s Lit Conference I attended just before the pandemic began to really limit people’s ability to travel. Jason Chin was one of the four featured speakers, and sold his audience on his upcoming book, even reading a few pages. I was fortunate to get an e-ARC from Edelweiss+ this week. Jason Chin tackles a pretty challenging topic here. Trying to show children their size relative to something as massive as the universe or even a galaxy. The pictures do a great job of accomplishing this task. Kids that enjoy learning about space will also have a lot of facts to digest in the main story and also in the back pages. Those that enjoy numbers will like learning about their own size relative to massive things on earth and then the sizes of those large things like Mt. Everest, compared to distances in space. For fans of Jason Chin, this one has a little less of the narrative aspect than his books such as Grand Canyon and Redwoods, but I really enjoyed the facts and perspective. Thanks to Edelweiss+ and Holiday House for allowing me to read and review this title that comes out on September 1.

Currently Reading

Elatsoe
This was the ninth book that I got from Edelweiss+ this week, but it wasn’t until after I downloaded it that I noticed it had a deadline of Tuesday, it’s release date, so I need to read it quickly! It is a very interesting with elements of supernatural, and speculative fiction.
Lupe Wong Won't Dance
I was reading this book until I realized that Elatsoe has a deadline. I was really enjoying the humor and will be happy to go back and finish it soon.
First Light
I am pretty sure this is the first book Rebecca Stead published. I really enjoyed reading it several years ago. My wife has selected it for our next family read aloud that we start today.

On Deck Reading

I think I will finish both of the books I am reading on my own fairly soon, and then go back to last week’s plan to read The Eye of Ra. I was approved for an e-ARC of Dusti Bowling’s The Canyon’s Edge, but I can’t seem to get the document to work on my IPAD, so I hope that my frustration finds a happy ending and I get that one to work, and finally read it. Thanks for stopping by here to see what I have been reading. Check out other Monday bloggers at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Thanks to Jen, Kellee and Ricki for hosting. Have a great week!

It’s Monday, what are you reading? 08/17/20

Another Monday is here, and as a teacher and part-time librarian it is hard not to start thinking about the start of the new school year once you get into mid-August. Of course, this is particular year will not start like any other and it is also hard to think about the new school year.

I am two weeks away from our annual professional development conference. Usually, our whole district meets together on the first day. That was cancelled back in May. We are doing more remote, self-directed professional development than in the past in place of some of the face-to-face stuff we have done as a group in the past. We have two days planned in our schools to work in small groups.

The week after that, we start teaching. My province’s full back to school plan is a work in progress, but so far it has been a bit of a surprise. I did not think we would be welcoming back students for full-time, face-to-face learning, but that is the case. Since the announcement, parents, teachers and administrators all called on the government to push back the starting day to allow educators to work together on how to best implement the plan in their space, and it sounds like the first two days will be for that purpose.

So, I really only have two weeks of summer reading left, best to make the most of it. The weather was extremely hot this week which usually has me staying inside a bit more, but I am a hockey fan, so the playoffs have me distracted as well. I did manage to get several books read this week and I am eager to share some upcoming releases.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

Ikenga

This is a book that comes out tomorrow, I managed to get an ARC by entering a draw at an virtual conference several months ago. As a big kidlit reader, I sometimes miss out on authors that write for older audiences. The cover let me know that this was by an author that has won many awards for books intended for audiences older than this book, her first MG title. I really enjoyed it. It follows a boy, Nnamdi, who is grieving the loss of his father, the chief of police, when he discovers that he has some superpowers that may help him continue his father’s work of eliminating crime. Nnamdi is a big fan of comic book superheroes and now he has become similar to one. However, how will he learn to control these powers? He is a regular kid, who makes a lot of mistakes in judgement. I liked how having superpowers, did not make things great right away. He needs the help of a good friend, and the ability to reflect, make changes and grow as a person in order to have the best chance at defeating the cast of criminals that inhabited his Nigerian town. Some of the villains had names and personalities that reminded me of very old Batman TV shows and I wonder how kids will take to it, but I did enjoy that the book was set in contemporary Nigeria.

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I really enjoyed the first Julia book, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, and so I asked for an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley. I think it makes more sense if you have read the earlier but not completely necessary. Here, the cast of strange creatures from the first book is still living with Julia. The art will look very familiar to fans of Ben Hatke’s graphic novels (Zita and the Spacegirl trilogy, and Mighty Jack) and I love the way motion is depicted in many of the pictures. The creatures are getting restless, hence some of the movement, and the house is as well. Julia makes a plan to move on. But, like a lot of things in 2020, Julia’s plans do not work out, and she and the creatures have to show high levels of adaptability. However, will they thrive when things get really rough. This one will be easy to make connections to after it comes out at the end of September. There are two lines at the very end that struck me. The second to last is true of me on a bad day, and the the very last one is true on a good day. I feel like 2020 has provided a lot of both so far.

Nico Bravo and the Cellar Dwellers

This is another sequel that I picked up from NetGalley. I enjoyed sharing the first one with my kids, who as you might know are huge fans of mythology in novels. This series has many characters that are part of the mythology of different civilizations (West African, Norse and Persian to name a few). There is a big cast of characters here as Nico works at a shop that provides supplies to adventurers, Gods, Goddesses and creatures from all corners of the world. Some show up with bad intentions and the fate of the shop, and maybe the world are at stake. Plenty of magic, and action ensue along with some comic relief from a sword who lacks subtlety and the unicorns. Other than my children, I don’t always have luck passing graphic novels with this much mythology to kids, but the first book in this series was funny enough for some readers to enjoy it and I think this one will be too. It is out a week from tomorrow.

The Barren Grounds (The Misewa Saga, #1)

This one is usually sold as an Indigenous Narnia, and is written by Canadian David A. Robertson, whose YA series Strangers I loved. I have been waiting for this MG series to come out for about a year, so I requested an ARC of this first book from NetGalley. It comes out on September 8.

Middle schoolers Morgan and Eli are newly arrived in the same foster home in Winnipeg, they are not related but begin to feel a bond over the fact that they feel disconnected from their culture in spite of their kind foster parents (the story does deal with the fact that not all foster parents for Morgan have been great). Both kids are big fans of fantasy through either their reading, writing or art. When they discover a portal to a fantasy world they are eager to explore.

They find a world, Aski, that is on the edge of survival, as the traditional ways of getting food and living off the land are not working any longer. The kids get involved with “two legged animals” Ochek and Arik to try to recover the traditional ways. In doing so, they are able to connect with their Cree heritage. There is lots to discuss regarding colonialism through the fantasy plot in the alternate world of Aski. Unlike some fantasy books that are similar, this is surprisingly short at about 250 pages. I look forward to seeing where this series goes next and I will add it to my library.

Two Tough Trucks Get Lost!

Mack and Rig are two young trucks that became “fast friends”, on the first day of school in Two Tough Trucks. In this sequel, the two trucks are on a playdate when they get separated while cruising a beautifully illustrated desert landscape. As in the first book, the bouncy, rhyming text sees two friends working together to overcome a problem, this time trying to find each other and get back to their parents.
Truck books are often really popular with young readers in my library and books with great rhythm are always welcome. This series is fun to read and I can’t wait to show it to young listeners in the fall of 2020. Thanks to Scholastic for the copy to read and review.

Currently Reading

I am only reading The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands with my family. We should finish it this week. I loved this whole series, and think my ten year old (it was her choice) is liking hearing it for the first time.

On Deck Reading

Letters from CubaThe Eye of Ra (The Eye of Ra, #1)

I have a couple books that I have ARCs of, one that is out soon, and one that has been out for a while that I am hoping to read. After that, I have piles all over my house. Some of those piles will need to be moved back to school soon, so I better get reading some of them. Thanks for stopping to see what I have been reading this week, I hope to view many other great titles by viewing the blogs that are linked up at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Thanks again to our hosts for providing the link-up. Have a great reading week!