For one of the last times this year, I am looking back at the reading that I did over the past week, and linking my post up with others at teachmentortexts.com (thanks to Jen for hosting) and unleashingreaders.com (thanks to Kellee and Ricki). These other posts are great places to find some of the first books you should read in 2019 (assuming you are all set for 2018 already).
Books I Finished This Week:
I read this because I really loved the MG series Aaron Starmer wrote called The Riverman. It was confusing and unpredictable and at times infuriating. I told kids, honestly, how it made me feel, and many of them said, “Sign me up for that.” Yes, it tended to be the somewhat quirky kids. Then, I saw this YA book by Aaron Starmer who I had since found to have a dark sense of humour on Twitter. Guess what? It has a dark sense of humour, to put it mildly. It is about a senior class that begins to lose some of its members at random due to spontaneous combustion. Much of the book is about how the town and the kids handle it, and it is darkly comic, not dark and foreboding. It was working for me, strangely enough (this would truly be the worst book talk ever, right?) for the first third of the book. But, then it just had too many things that made it difficult. I was okay with the main character not being the most likable, nor heroic, nor kind. I was kind of okay with her relationships with others changing significantly in off the page ways (isn’t that a consistent theme in middle grade? changing friendships due to different interests as people get older). I guess, for me, the mystery at the core of the book, what is behind the spontaneous combustion?, just did not seem to go anywhere. It was like an unsatisfying episode of The X-Files, and I guess I like that more than a regular episode of Friends, so if that is your thing… this one might be more for you.
Two interesting trickster tales in this short (56 page) volume. The first is focused on Coyote and the moon. It sort of explains why he howls at the moon. The second really stars, Raven, who fools Coyote and other characters. Thomas King’s writing is something I have always enjoyed, and he writes longer novels geared more to adults but these tales (and others involving Coyote) have a different style that are great to share with younger readers.
Great pictures that will be highly motivating for very young readers. The book also delivered it’s message of working together very well. The rhyming text is appealing to read. I wondered if it is a bit long for the readers I have for this book (typically K or younger), but once I read it out to a group, I will know.
I recently started the second in the Monster Blood Tattoo series. It is over 700 pages, but about 100 are end notes and definitions to support the truly massive amount of world building that takes place in this fantasy series. The main character, Rossamund, is an orphan trying to make his way in a world that is incredibly unsafe due to ever present monsters that inhabit all but the most lit areas at night. These predators are sometimes fought off by surgically enhanced characters, or masters of chemical potion that seem to be like apothecaries. It is a steampunk series that kind of straddles MG and YA for me so far. I am also stuck between figuring out the world building through context and keeping the flow of the story or reading the end notes as I go. The art and the world building are incredibly detailed and first rate. I continue to enjoy Grump with my family. The best parts are when the characters (Snow White and the dwarves) are out of their element. My class has been getting lots of Two Truths and a Lie, but this time of year there are so many demands on time that it is hard to read each day. This is why I chose this book in which one chapter is not necessarily too connected to another.
On deck books
Honestly, I am not sure I will make it through this 700 page book this week. I have some picture books from my book fair I will also be reading over the course of this, the last week of school. Next week, with the holidays here, I may be able to finish more novels on my Must-Read-in-2018 list. Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading this week!