I hesitated to even write this post as I was at work today (Professional Development in my school district features three or four days in August depending on each staff’s choices), but I skipped last week too while camping and once I miss a couple of these posts it gets easier to miss a while bunch. Eventually, I realize how much I miss reading other posts and taking part in this community of readers. Thanks again to Jen V, Kellee, and Ricki for hosting.
So, here is my post, late as it is, with highlights of the last two weeks of reading for me. I did a lot of driving during our trip from the interior of BC to Revelstoke, and then through the Albertan towns of Drumheller, Banff, Canmore and Jasper. The Rockies were great, but the driving really cut into my reading time.
Books I Enjoyed Over the Last Two Weeks
Karen Rivers has her own style and she writes what many of my students call “weird” books. Some of them use this as a term of endearment, and for others they are sharing that it is not their thing. I find her work entertaining. This book tackles a lot of tough issues around coming-of-age, family and mental health. The characters learn to be honest with themselves and to pull people you care about closer to you in times of conflict. But, there are some odd things happening too, like a character who changes to a naked mole rat when feeling anxiety. A little like the Snickers commercials? You are not yourself when you’re anxious? I feel like some teens I know are not themselves when going through big changes either. I enjoyed the ride here.
I tried to read some beginning chapter books (although these would be at the upper end of that type of book in terms of reading level). These two were both humorous in their own ways. Rosie Revere featured a fun cast of women (The Raucous Riveters) who designed and built things during the war (which war? I don’t think that was named). There was some good info on the contribution of women in the war at the end of the book. As is the case with the picture books from Andrea Beaty, characters also show good perseverance and there are plenty of STEAM connections. Mac B. is a different kind of book. This is the second installment, and the premise of a kid spy consistently called upon by the Queen of England is fun, if not ridiculous. Mac brings pretty much no skill to his spy work, but things seem to get done nonetheless. These are easy to read, and funny.
This is a much more serious book that is also the second in a series. In We All Fall Down, we follow the terror of 9/11 through the eyes of a teen who went to work with his Dad in the South Tower. In this second book, we see how Will handles the day after. He thinks his Mom is going too far in trying to help him through the stages of trauma and grief and he has to help his best friend, who may have lost his father in the tragedy. An emotional story about how people need to come together for healing to begin.
This is an older novel (published in 1990), Kenneth Oppel’s first for young adults, although it could be read by MG students as well. A young boy, Eric, has a fairly lonely life as his mother has passed and his father struggles to connect with Eric as he deals with his own grief. Eric stumbles on a conflict between two strange men, and gets himself involved as these two men battle over a power that allows them to have immortality. The subterranean setting is creepy. It’s not my favourite Kenneth Oppel novel, but I still enjoyed it.
Two picture books featuring bears, and one that was wordless. Bear Came Along is literally a ride through the forest in which all the animals see how much they can help each other, and how much more complete an adventure can be with friends. It is a book I think early readers will enjoy hearing during library sessions this year. Similar to Explorers of the Wild, and it also has great illustrations. There Are No Bears in This Bakery really stars the cat, who is “looking after” the bakery. When the bear pops by, the cat handles things, and keeps himself and the bear well fed and happy. I thought this was very funny and I know my library patrons will agree. I missed out on Julia Sarcone-Roach’s The Bear Ate Your Sandwich and I think I have to go back and find that book as well. The Brain Storm is a fairly high concept wordless picture book that deals with mental health issues. The boy in the book wakes up angry and stays that way for most of the day. Ideally, this would bring about some discussion about different ways to handle anger. Discussion is needed with young readers to make these points clear.
Another book that looks at mental health, as the main character, an MG aged girl named Lucy deals with attending middle school after a long time being home schooled while also trying to avoid standing out due to her high abilities in math. Her OCD is the real thing that makes her stand out and as would be expected, kids do tease her. This is a really great book with one secondary character that really stood out for me.
This book also has a 12 year old named Lucy, in one of two novellas. Both of these stories are contained in the same flip book. Each are about 70 pages and feature Indigenous characters thinking about Residential schools and Reconciliation. In Lucy and Lola, two girls (12 year olds who sometimes seem much younger) spend their summer with their Grandmother while their Mom studies for the bar exam. They get to know their Kookum better and learn some of her story, as a Residential School survivor and eventually their Mom’s story too. In When We Play Our Drums, They Sing! a boy (12 but he seems much older) who feels angry at a world that asks him to learn things that he feels are unimportant. He knows that he should be learning about living off the land, about his culture and from his people. One day his principal challenges him to help make that happen, and he builds the courage to ask the one man that he feels can make this a reality. Both stories offer additions after the main text that add to the background of discussing residential schools and the possibilities for hope.
This is the week we finish our family read aloud of The Mark of Athena, as we did not read it much while camping. I just started Walking Home, a book that reminds me a little of A Long Walk to Water (which I loved).
If you managed to find this post, even though it is late for a Monday reading post, thanks for stopping to read it. I look forward to visiting unleashingreaders.com and teachmentortexts.com to see what other people have been reading.