It’s June 1 (Hard to believe)

Welcome to the first Monday of June. This week marks the first week of my province’s return to in-class instruction. We have had about 10 children of Essential Service Workers in our school but Tuesday we will have about 45 in our small school (8 classes). I have less than 10 students returning for one day of instruction per week, and in keeping with our government’s policies they are split over two different days to allow for distancing. Monday is scheduled as a day to focus on those sticking with the online learning that has been provided, so I have students coming Tuesday and then another group on Thursday. I am turning Wednesday and Friday into my more library focussed day, and I will catch up with some that are at home doing online learning (honestly, not that many are doing a lot of work at this point). It will be the strangest last month of the school year in my career.

I am hoping to get more literary activities going over the next month. Normally, my school Battle of the Books would have happened and then some teams would have advanced to our District event, and while neither will happen as usual, we have a smaller celebration of our year of reading planning for late in the month. I am still re-reading several of the books involved in that event, and I managed to squeeze in three new or soon to be published books that I will share this week. Thanks to Kellee, Ricki and Jen for hosting our link-up at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

When Stars Are Scattered

I had read so much about this book before starting it, and had it listed on my Must Read in 2020 list, so it had a lot to live up. It was what I had been waiting for and more. One phrase that kept repeating in my reading was that life is not fair. Omar thinks this many times and who could blame him. His father is gone, and his mother lost, he spends more than a decade in a refugee camp trying not only to survive himself but also look after the medical needs of his non-verbal brother. Like the characters in the YA book with similar themes that I read last week We Are Not From Here, Omar and his brother have their moments when they feel lost, hopeless and with no future, but they work through them and somehow manage to persevere. It’s an inspiring story, but one of the things I loved about this one is that there are the stories of many other refugees weaved in here and they are all so different and varied that students will see that it is so not just a case of persevere and all will be well. We could have discussions about the fate of many of the characters in this novel.

The King of Jam Sandwiches

I managed to get this book from my friends in Book Portage, and thank them and the publisher for letting our ARC sharing group have this copy, which had another request, so I had to gulp it down fairly quickly and move it to the next reader. I would have liked to take my time a little bit more. This book also has characters dealing with tough times. I have to admit that I am not in love with the title of this book, but I did fall for the characters. This is a great story of hope, of how some people are able to make it even though life, for them, just isn’t fair, and they are dealt a hand that is tougher than that of many others. I have a feeling this is one of Eric Walters’ more personal books, I wonder if he has a lot in common with Robbie, a goal driven, hard working young man who deals very well with the fact that he doesn’t have an adult in his life that takes care of him. Robbie finds another person in Harmony that really gets him, and they help each other through some rough times. I look forward to buying this when it comes out in September.

The Ship We Built

This was a deeply impactful, ownvoices story of a trans boy growing up in a world searching for someone to see them and let them belong while suffering all types of abuse. I am not sure the pacing and the 90’s cultural references will work for students, and was a little surprised by so many in an MG book. Rowan’s journey is told through letters that he writes to whomever might read them. He puts them in balloons and sends the balloons off into the sky. He has no one that he really feels like he can talk to about the issues in his life, and the transformations he wants to make from being known as Ellie to Rowan. The book is really about his struggle to not have to feel like he is sorry for being who he is. It’s a story of the importance of having one person who believes in you and accepting yourself. The ending, the afterword, and author’s note were particularly excellent.

Currently Reading

After ZeroSweep: The Story of a Girl and Her MonsterLegends of the Lost Causes

I am continuing to re-read these three and share them with students. Not quite at the pace that I would hope based on student involvement, but I really enjoy all three of them.

My family continues to read The Alchemyst by Michael Scott in the evenings. I am enjoying re-reading this one. I read most of the series several years ago.

On Deck Reading

If I can, I will try to read one from each of these pairs of books.

Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volume FiveThe Weirn Books, Vol. 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods I am sucker for the Mercy Watson books and the spin-off Deckawoo Drive series and my NetGalley account finally came through on this one the other day. I am also curious about the new graphic novel series from the author of the Awkward trilogy, always popular at my school.

Prairie LotusIndian No More These are two selections for next year’s Global Read Aloud. I plan to be involved for a fifth year, and want to read both of these in order to decide which to read to my class next fall. I plan to read at least one soon.

The Next Great JaneThe Madre de Aguas of Cuba (The Unicorn Rescue Society Book 5) These are two May releases that I got ARCs of at Nerdcamp Bellingham (I still have a hard time believing that I left the country for a conference about ten weeks ago- the world seems so changed) and I want to read one of them this week.

Closer to NowhereFighting Words These are two ARCs that I got from Penguin and I am seeing people start to read them and their reviews have really got my interest up. I might try one of these in the next week or so. Normally, I read closer to the release date but these two have been calling me. I feel like I need something a little lighter to try first though.

Thanks for stopping here to see what I have been reading, I hope to read about your recent reading week soon!


8 thoughts on “It’s June 1 (Hard to believe)

  1. I always enjoyed the Unicorn Rescue Society. I didn’t know they were coming out with a new one. Closer to Nowhere looks great. Love that art. Thanks for sharing!


  2. You’ve shared so many good books, Aaron, some I noted like the new Eric Walters’ The King of Jam Sandwiches. We just don’t know the lives of children that are kept secret, do we? I’m glad to see authors tell their stories. Wishing you a good week back with students and thanks for all the titles!


  3. These books all sound great! I’m really looking forward to reading When Stars Are Scattered, since I bought a copy a few weeks ago. The Ship We Built sounds like an important and compelling story, and I love the cover! Thanks for the great post, and good luck with your last month of school!


  4. I’m excited that my local library here in Oliver BC is doing pick up! I’ve just put a hold on a hardcopy of When Stars Are Scattered. It’s still only on order, but at least I know I will eventually get to read it. I nearly swooned when I saw this new Kate Dicamillo title from Deckawoo Drive. I adore this series. I’ve asked for it from Netgalley and can only hope my wish will come true.
    I hope your first day back at school with students went smoothly today.


    1. I requested the Stella’s Deckawoo Drive book a while ago, and just got it the other day. I finished it today, and it is another solid addition to that series. Lots of fun to read. My district does online schooling Mondays, except for essential service worker’s children. So, tomorrow is the day our school enrollment jumps from 11 to about 40. I have 5 grade 6/7 students returning. It is great that you have a good public library in Oliver. Enjoy the book, eventually!


  5. I just requested an e-edition of When Stars Are Scattered from my library. There are several holds on it, so I’m sure it’s fantastic. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing. Hope things are going well at school! Stay safe and healthy.


  6. Thank you for continuing to share what life is like returning to school in this strange new normal.
    I think there is so much to unpack in When Stars Are Scattered. I’m interested in seeing what students come up with!
    Looks like you have a lot to read! I do too, but I can’t think about it without getting completely overwhelmed 🙂


  7. I really hope your school’s re-opening goes well. Having different groups on Tuesday and Thursday will be interesting, but might also be nice and provide even more attentive/personal instruction. I must echo everything you’ve shared about When Stars Are Scattered. I listed to that one as an audiobook and it was outstanding — the narration and sound effects were among the very best of what I’ve ever listened to. The Ship We Built is a new-to-me title, so I’ll have to be on the lookout for this one. Thanks for the shares, Aaron!


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