After another busy weekend, not sure where they are all going lately, I am happy to find the time to write this post detailing the books I finished this week. Usually, I finish a book on Sunday but normally it is really late at night and then I go to sleep, get Mondayed, and fail to make the time to write in this space. I do miss the interactions with other (much more consistent(ly awesome) book bloggers at teachmentortexts.com (thanks to Jen V for hosting) and unleashingreaders.com (thanks to Kellee and Ricki for hosting). So, I am hoping to go on a streak of completing some posts, at least until report cards, and here is one-in-a-row that I will link up.
Books I finished this week:
This is the latest from the author of The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, and one of the characters from that series is in this book which plays on stereotypes of students at Shipton Middle School. It Wasn’t Me is being billed as a nod to The Breakfast Club (a work that the author cites as an inspiration for this book) and certainly the premise is similar as a group of students find themselves in a detention that turns into a Justice Circle (modeled after Restorative Justice). Just as in the classic 1985 film the students are easy to stereotype at first but there is more to each of them than it seems. This story is about some of the “unseen battles” each character faces and is told with wit and heart. I enjoyed reading a copy provided to my ARC sharing group Book Portage. I wish I had it to quote another passage but I had to pass it on. This one comes out on November 13.
This was an ambitious book that I am a little late too. I had been meaning to read it for a while. It is a novel told in the form of many poems by each of the students of the last class to graduate from a closing elementary school. I loved the use of so many different forms of poetry and there is a lot of extra information about the different forms that were used (this makes a great reference for a teacher, in addition to a very good novel). It examines a lot of the difficulties the students had dealing with the change of the school closure but also many changes that are part of a kids’ life. It may be hard for many readers to read a book with so many characters, and they all have important things happening in their lives but I think the shorter, style of a verse novel, in which great writers seem to be able to pack more emotional punch in a smaller space, helps it work.
I don’t read lots of YA, as I teach and work in the library with students that are really too young for the YA books that I appreciate, but I try to read at least one by A.S. King each year. I had a few choices when I found the urge to read one, and when I picked this one up I really could not remember what it was about. The main character, Astrid Jones, is a teen learning how to love in a world that is has more than its share of hate, and discrimination. Astrid’s navigation of this, in a sexual sense (yes, it is YA) and in her relationships with family and friends is told in this author’s unique style. It is seldom an easy read, but always an enlightening one.
The Epic Adventures of Huggie & Stick is a hilarious romp around the world told from two very different perspectives of a stick and a stuffie that fall out of a backpack and struggle to get back. While one thinks everything is going great and that the two friends are having the adventure of a lifetime, the other sees things about as differently as you can and the story is told in dueling diary entries. This one is laugh out loud funny and pulled my whole family in. The illustrations are terrific as well.
This one might be a little heavy handed, but it also a fun turn-around of the familiar battles that parents have with their fussy eating children. In this case, the parents are the picky ones and the child tries to encourage them to try new things. I wish it were as easy as it is in this story to change those habits but it was fun to read the parent’s initial reactions to new food. I enjoyed the illustrations too, and it was one of two books I read that were illustrated by Hatem Aly.
Here is that second book illustrated by Hatem Aly. It is the first in the Unicorn Rescue Society series by Adam Gidwitz. I would say this is for a younger audience than the other Adam Gidwitz books I have read (Two in the A Tale, Dark and Grimm series and The Inquisitor’s Tale) although it is a little bit more complex and longer than an early chapter book. I feel like it might fit a gap I have in finding books for certain grades 3-5 readers. The Creature of the Pines is the story of two students on a field trip who stumble upon a mythical creature from the forests of New Jersey. Minor spoiler here, you probably would guess right away that one of the teachers is not what he seems. There is a secret society trying to find creatures of this ilk and this is the set-up for more adventures with the same three main characters and different creatures whose myths are based on long existing lore that could take this series to many different parts of the world.
This is really a beginning reader series, kind of the next step-up for Elephant and Piggie readers, by, of course, the author of Elephant and Piggie. It is a super cute story with a whole bunch of squirrels and other characters. It is very much a Willems book with misunderstandings that turn situations upside down and full of giggles. It is a long one though (for this audience) with a table of contents to show where the main story ends and where non-fiction notes, and corny jokes continue based on the subject, teeth. Some young readers might be put off by the length but I know my youngest would have loved to spend her time flipping through the jokes and facts after the story just as she enjoys doing so with her Chirp and Chickadee magazines. The biggest issue my readers will have here is this is not an Elephant and Piggie book, but you can still hunt for the Pigeon at the end.
I am reading Amal Unbound for a second time with my class as part of the Global Read Aloud, and we have been able to connect with other readers near Chicago, in Texas and in Massachusetts so far. My class is enjoying this book set in a fictional rural town in Pakistan that explores relationships of power and gender. There has been lots of great discussion. My family and I are reading The Thief Lord, this is another re-read for me and I feel our kids are just getting into the mystery of this story which has such a fantastic setting for all of us.
I need to pick something to read as soon as I finish this post. Here are some contenders:
The former two are books I bought for my school library on the weekend and the latter two are ARCs that I have access to in my house. I hope to get to see what all of you are reading as well and that you have a great reading week. Thanks for stopping here, and if you have strong feelings, let me know which book I should read next.