I get pretty excited about any day where books are celebrated, so today’s American Library Association Youth Media Awards are pretty cool. I wish there was a global equivalent, as these books are pretty much all American (if there is and I am missing out, please let me know, and tell me how we can give those awards a higher profile) but its still exciting to see a big ceremony celebrating some of the great titles that come out each year. I am glad there are a lot of categories now and more books are being recognized.
I managed to read a few books this week, but looking back at last week’s post they were not necessarily the books I planned to read. I am happy to link up my post with many others at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts. Please head to those sites to see many excellent posts that will fill your to-read lists.
Books I Enjoyed This Week
Thanks to NetGalley and Portage and Main Press for allowing me to read an ARC of this book. I was attracted to it as a short, chapter book written by an Indigenous writer from Canada. I don’t find many books that fit that description for my library.
Siha Toosklin (also known as Paul in this story) seems to be the main character of this series (which looks like it will have 8 books in it) which looks like an early chapter series. But this book, to me, reads more like narrative non-fiction in which Paul brings a friend to a Powwow and teaches him about different types of dancing, and about various other elements of the Powwow. Paul’s friend Jeff is very eager to learn, and Paul’s Uncle Leonard is able to explain much as both a participant in the event and a caregiver.
Running at about 45 pages, with some pages containing half or a whole page of illustrations, this would be a fairly easy read for late primary and early intermediate students. Indigenous students at my school are mostly familiar with powwows and might enjoy seeing their culture reflected in a book. Schools in my district attend at least one powwow a year, and this book would help some to learn more about what is happening as we don’t have an Uncle Leonard figure to be there with us.
I was fortunate to also get an e-ARC from NetGalley of this book. This is the second Siha Tooskin book that I have read and it follows Siha (Paul) as spends time with his extended family near “the woods.” There isn’t much set-up of the setting or the names of the people in Paul’s family but the main point of the story is the lessons that Paul soaks up from his mother as they take a walk through the woods. The strength of the story is the teachings Paul’s family get from the land, including the water (river), the trees, the grass and the rocks and how these teachings make them a stronger, wiser, more resilient people.
This is a really heartbreaking novel about two boys growing up in rural Ontario. Their relationship reminds me of how my father talks about growing up with his brothers, the oldest kind of calls the shots. Cal is the older brother, and when he finally meets another kid his age that lives close by, he starts spending all of his time with her, and very little with his brother. When his brother gets very sick, Cal feels guilty and wants to repair his relationship with his brother and not see his parents’ relationship deteriorating as they try to deal with their feelings while younger brother, Sammy continues to be ill. A couple of secondary characters really stand out as they help Cal navigate these tough times.
As shown in some of her earlier books such as The Seventh Wish, Kate Messner knows how to take complicated topics that are important to discuss with teens and write it in a way that teens and even tweens can easily access. In the case of both Chirp and The Seventh Wish, readers might see a cover that does not look to serious (in the latter case, I have to really sell that book to older elementary readers) but inside they will find a plot that has a lot going on. Chirp follows Mia as she moves back to a town in Vermont feeling like less than herself as she is still recovering, emotionally, from a gymnastics accident. She is also dealing with some family strife as her parents don’t agree with how to handle her grandmother’s failing business venture. Mia for her part, really wants to help her grandmother and does so in a practical sense and also gets involved in trying to solve a mystery behind the businesses struggles. For me though, all of these things are secondary to the way Messner handles the way several of her characters deal with some form of sexual harassment. The quiet (at times) courage and bravery that several women show in persevering and making sure their voice is heard make this a book that has mystery, a fun MG friendship plot and also a book that uses the best lessons from the #metoo movement.
I am re-reading Legends of the Lost Causes as a group at our school is currently reading it for their book club. Students enjoy the action and the uncommon western setting. My family and I are reading The House of Hades and enjoying the action and humour, its another re-read for me. I am finishing Best Friends tonight, which is the third of the four books that I planned to read last week that I did manage to start.
On deck reading
The only book that I did not manage to get a start on last week was I Can Make This Promise, and I plan to start on it tonight. I also have an ARC of Stamped that I need to share with others in my ARC sharing group, Book Portage, so I need to get to that title soon.
Thanks for coming to see what I read last week. I am late to post, but still hoping to catch up with what others have been reading by Monday night, or Tuesday.