August is already here. Hard to believe, but it did bring a little rain to much of my province and that was a much needed thing. We have had wildfire smoke over a at least half of our province for the better part of a month, but it got really thick in my hometown for the first time. We had been fortunate that it had been moving in and out but not in the last couple of days. The rain helped a tiny bit on the smoke front, it now smells like an extinguished campfire outside, but I hope it really helps the fire crews do their important jobs.
I certainly spent less time outside with the situation being how it is, and I am trying to start a slow ramp up to my school year, which starts in less than a month for our professional development days and just over a month for our days with students. I am going to start some professional development reading with a focus on mathematics, but while this was on mind last week too, it did not happen. Here is what I was able to read this week.
Books I Finished
I finished my little run of Gareth Hinds graphic novels that cover some works of classic literature. My oldest got me into his work and I found a couple at a used book store a couple of weeks ago. Last week, I touched on Beowulf. Neither of these are new, this one was published in 2013 but they certainly make the work more accessible. This title features some great research on what Verona would have looked like at the time, a multi-racial cast and a while the text is necessarily shorter, it remains faithful to the original in most ways.
This book arrived in June, and I got an e-ARC at a virtual event right around the time that it was published. I don’t usually seek out a book that has a dog on the cover for some reason so that might be why I did not read it right away, or it was the end of the school year and I had a huge stack of these books to read. I have only read the author’s first in the Mr. Terupt series, which I should really go back to. I liked parts of this one, but not as much. Thea is a girl grieving after a traumatic event that she witnesses. This causes her to withdraw and even to stop speaking for a while. She remains a reluctant speaker for a while.
To me, this book read as being for kids a little younger than the 12 year old character and I don’t think it would click with many of my students that age. Two characters dealing with tough times or behaviour issues have their problems solved quite easily. A change in scenery and a new arrival helps Thea find joy and become more open to sharing her feelings with others. The hint of magical realism and coincidences would also play better with my younger intermediate aged students, grades three, four and some fives, I think. The story check in at under 200 pages so the length will work as well. It’s a book that will pull on their heartstrings.
This is the sequel to the Newbery winning The Crossover, and is also a tale of characters dealing with grief, in this case a boy looking to bounce back, or rebound from the death of his father. The boy is Charlie Bell, who is the father of the twins Josh and Jordan from The Crossover. Rebound has the same rhythmic verse that this author is known for and is a great window to how the character Chuck Bell evolved into the man that he became in The Crossover. Here, young Charlie is really struggling in the months after the death of his father. Living with his grandparents for a while in the summer, and interacting with a cousin at the Boys and Girls Club are some of the things that help him find joy in the world again. The story has lots of humour, and I enjoyed how the reader gets to see that there are several key moments in his life that dramatically impact the path Charlie/Chuck takes in his life. The ending is great, and although I think you should read The Crossover before picking up Rebound, I think I liked this one even more than the first. It took me a long time to get to this one, I think my library had almost no budget when it came out and the other local libraries did not pick it up either, but it was worth it.
This is the fast paced third installment of the Small Spaces series. I enjoyed the action and the return of a secondary character from the first book. For me the ending was a little abrupt, which is hard to talk about in a review, but I almost wondered if my e-ARC copy glitched a little and I missed a few chapters at the end. It had a preview of the first book that appeared twice and showed fifty pages left at the end, so who knows.
The ending that I had was a bit of a cliffhanger that could have been the end of a chapter in the lead up to a climatic confrontation with a villain that I expected to see more of in book three, or it could have been the build up to book four. I will have to check with the published version that arrives August 10, but I have also seen other reviewers say that the ending was abrupt. Overall the series is a very good creepy, middle grade addition to my library as I always have readers looking for this type of book.
The Bug Club is a non-fiction graphic novel full of the author’s observations and interests regarding bugs in Elise Gravel’s unique style. It comes out August 10th as well. It reads almost like chatting with someone really interested in bugs. Some might think the illustrations target younger readers, but the facts are more for in about grades four or five. The text features a mix of common and lesser known bugs. The author does mention that she just prefers to not draw overly realistic insects, and that it is just a style choice.
This picture book came out a couple of years ago, and I think several regular bloggers in this link-up have read and reviewed it, but if you missed it, as I did it is worth a look. It’s about how changes and transitions in life can be really hard, but this story is a really positive look at them. My wife does a lot of photography and posts it in many locations online. One of the things that she does that I really enjoy is she uses song lyrics to caption her photos. This book reminds me of a song lyric too, from the 1998 song Closing Time by the band Semisonic, the line is “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” That is what young readers will see in this book. As one door in life seems to close, another one might open that can also be wonderful. The illustrations are great as well.
My last book for the week is another one that has illustrations that pulled me in. I am most familiar with the work of John Rocco through his illustrated versions of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, but his picture books are also striking. Here, the illustrations work very well with the story that is a subtle metaphor for growing up and being given more responsibilities. The boy in the story is moving from Kindergarten to grade one and is a little sad about it. He also has his mother adding responsibilities on him at home as he gets older. The story here centers around a camping trip. I think older picture book readers will appreciate the metaphor more, and make good connections as far as the camping goes. I could see using this with grade 5/6 class.
I am making what for me is a rare foray into what some would call an adult book. Ancillary Justice is a book I have had on my shelf for a while and I am happy to finally be starting a new science fiction series. Nightbooks is our family read aloud and we have enjoyed the first third of it.
Thanks for coming here to read about my last week. I am hoping to read more of the reading weeks of other bloggers at the link-up hosted at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Thanks to the ladies that host us at their sites and have a great reading week.