Today, I am two weeks away from my school district’s Summer Institute Professional Development week. That kind of marks the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. As such, I am taking stock of what has been a pretty good summer reading season trying to see what I really wanted to read that I haven’t yet. This caused me to change the plans a little and add some shorter books for younger readers. I am pleased to link up this list of books I enjoyed this week with other bloggers at teachmentortexts.com and unleashingreaders.com. These are great sites to go to and add to your to-read lists and big thanks to Kellee, Ricki and Jen for hosting this link up.
Books I Enjoyed This Week
Things You Can’t Say is a great story about things you must say, even when they are challenging. Great message for young people, especially boys (and I say this because the character is a boy, and boys are often taught to toughen up and not talk about feelings).
Drew is a thoughtful guy, trying to take on a lot since the death of his father. At an age when several relationships are getting confusing, Drew has more feelings to figure out than most kids. How can a 12 year old figure out the world when so few things are going the way they are supposed to? Drew discovers he can’t do it alone.
Thanks to author Jenn Bishop for sending a copy to my ARC sharing group, Book Portage, so I could learn about this book which releases in March. This will be a book I want to share with other teachers and students.
I came across this one at my public library. It is a simple celebration of the fact that Australians come from many different countries. Each page features immigrants from different countries with rhyming text describing them as being Australian now.
Ruta Sepetys is a writer I have been meaning to read for a while, but I don’t get to as much YA as I would like as work keeps me focused more on MG. She is speaking at a conference I hope to attend in 2020, so I felt this summer I better make the time, and I wasn’t disappointed (except that it did not happen earlier). Salt to the Sea is a really great historical fiction of a dark and little known part of WWII history. It’s infused with characters that you root for and some that will make you scream in anger, but are memorable in their own ways. The story is told in very brief chapters from the perspectives of four characters trying to survive the end of the war in their own unique ways, and with their own unique secrets. There are some notes on the history and the research at the end, and I also gathered that at least one character in this book comes up in an earlier book of her’s, although you could be like me and not know that until after finishing this exceptional book.
This book was one that I bought for my classroom library hoping that some of the kids in my class that enjoyed OCDaniel by Wesley King or Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (big books last year for us) would enjoy a book with a main character that has Tourette’s Syndrome (TS). I hadn’t read it when I placed it in my class, but a student scooped it off my desk before I had the chance when she found out the plot and that it was a novel in verse. That student recommended it to me and I placed it in my summer reading pile. It is partially told in verse with the section from the second main character’s perspective, not in verse. An interesting story about a girl with TS who also has to navigate constantly moving each time her mother changes boyfriends (she is on school #10). She has to manage a dilemma of how much to share about her TS when her Mom tells her not to tell anyone. Meanwhile, one of the first people she meets seems to like her, but isn’t sure how to react when her tics make her unpopular with the supposedly cool kids. Ellie Terry draws on some of her own experiences living with TS and as such this book could spark some good conversations about TS and other conditions.
Many elementary school librarians are constantly on the lookout for a book to hand kids that love Diary of a Wimpy Kid and struggle to find something else to read. This has a similar picture to text ratio as the Jeff Kinney series and it was blurbed by the author of Big Nate, another popular series at my school. Again, I bought this and it was taken up very quickly. My kids (12 and 9) both reported it to be very funny and several students did too. Marty Pants is not a very smart boy, and his foolish mistakes or misunderstandings are the main source of the humour (which is smarter than the character). This is the first of the three books that are currently out with Marty Pants. Once I saw the reaction to the first own, I bought the rest and they were popular too. When I started reading this one, my kids were completely distracted, checking in on what part I was on and re-reading parts they thought were funny over my shoulder. When I was finished, my youngest started re-reading the whole book. I laughed enough to probably flip through the rest of this series.
This is an early chapter series with more than 10 titles that a student requested near the end of last year after having read through some of Scholastic’s other Branches titles. It also features a main character who is the new kid at school, and early on Alexander realizes that something is very wrong with this town and it has to with the gyrating balloon creatures that businesses often have outside to lure customers. These ones are creepy and through some coincidences Alexander, and some unlikely conspirators will have to figure out how to battle these creepy customers. I wasn’t super riveted but I could see why a couple kids at my school were drawn to the humour in this first book. The series is called The Notebook of Doom and it alludes to a notebook that Alexander finds that seems to chronicle creatures that are a mix of a different animals. I assume he will encounter some of these, or creatures like them, in future books, something that would appeal to many young readers.
I am just about to start an e-ARC of Naked Mole Rat Saves the World that I obtained from NetGalley. I often find Karen Rivers’s books to be quirky and fun so this title does not put me off at all. My family is still reading The Mark of Athena, which is a re-read for me. It’s exciting and funny, like many Rick Riordan books, the third in the Heroes of Olympus series.
On Deck Books
I was going to pick up The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl tonight but realized I was behind on NetGalley books, so it will wait until I am finished one. Also, I realized I wanted to read more Canadian authors this summer than I had so I pulled three more books for my “read soon shelf” (which I sometimes ignore). United We Stand follows We All Fall Down, which I wrote about a few weeks back, taking place the day after the September 11 tragedy. Making Bombs for Hitler is from an author I have been meaning to try for a while. This could end up being the first summer in a while that I haven’t read a Kenneth Oppel book so I grabbed The Live-Forever Machine, which is quite old but I haven’t read it, yet. Thanks for stopping to see what I have read this week, I hope you have a great reading week!