It’s June 8, What Are You Reading?

Another Monday is already here. This year is full of things are completely new, and things that seem to repeat themselves. I am repeating the completely new sensation of teaching after my province is cautiously optimistic about the flattening of the curve. I welcomed two groups of five students, one Tuesday and one Thursday, and I hope they all return this week. It is impossible to tell though, how students and their families will react and deal with our new reality. My principal joked that I might have students in week one of our re-opening, but I would likely be close to alone by the end of the month. I saw his point, but oddly one of my students asked if they could come both days instead of just the one that the government had suggested. That made me pretty happy.

We are also celebrating a birthday in the house for the second time in three weeks as my youngest turns 10. She decided she did not really want to return to school just yet, and I think part of the reason is that it would cut into her reading time, as she flew through John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series, and is now trying to get her hands on all the spin-off series. This is an Australian written series set in a made up medieval world where a group of law enforcement/espionage agents called Rangers keep the peace by serving the people and the royalty. They are written with lots of dry humor and action.

Like my daughter, I don’t really like things cutting into my reading time, but it is kind of nice to see students at school. We have a lot of new routines to put in place, and at times it feels a little odd, but the work is more purposeful than waiting for students to come online to us. Our numbers in that department have fallen each week. Here are the books I was able to finish this week between face to face and online learning sessions.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this cute chapter book, the latest in the Deckawoo Drive series that is like a spin off of Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson. As is the case with all of the books in this series, it is rich in language and big ideas with a character or two undergoing a significant change in thinking. Stella learns what it means to live with curiosity and courage. Her classmate Horace learns that anything is possible. Another great addition to this series.

The Next Great Jane

This May release is a mix of a homage to Jane Austen, and a modern STEM novel for MG kids. The Next Great Jane is a well paced novel with likable characters. Jane, a bibliophile, lives with her scientist father in a sleepy Maine town. When one of the world’s great writers is speaking at the local library for reasons she cannot fathom, she knows she has to be there. However, she has to sneak in because the talk is adult only. In doing so, she meets a rude boy who appears to be related in some way to the author. From there on, their fates become entwined and Jane has to deal with him slagging the town she loves and their casual lifestyle. She also has to deal with her estranged mother coming back and trying to be part of her life. There are a lot of moving parts in the relationships but it is a fun, light read.

Catching a Storyfish

I read two novels in verse this week and here is the first one. This one has been out for a few years and is the story of a girl who moves from Alabama to the Chicago area and has trouble fitting in. Her new school mates think she talks funny and something that used to give her pleasure, and confidence, telling stories, becomes something that makes her sad. With the help of a new friend and her grandfather, she tries to regain her moxie. The writer uses a number of different poetic styles and includes some notes on them in the back of the book.

Indian No More

I didn’t quite catch up with this book when it first came out, but then when it was picked for Global Read Aloud I knew I had to read it. It will likely be tough for me to choose between reading this book, and Linda Sue Park’s Prairie Lotus, which I still need to read. This one was very, very good. It tells the story of a family of Umpqua people who live on a reserve in Oregon until they are displaced through the US government’s policy of termination. This is part of history I am vaguely familiar with, but I believe it is an attempt to take away these people’s self-government and force assimilation. This family is moved to Los Angeles, and while they are set up with a place to live and some essentials, they young girl and other members of the family feel out of place. The story is based loosely on Charlene WIlling McManis’s family experiences, although she was much younger than the protagonist in the story. Sadly, she passed before finishing the book due to cancer but asked Traci Sorell to help finish the edits and final version. There is a lot of information about how Traci Sorell and editors finished the book and did everything they could to make it authentic. It is a compelling story about the efforts to strip away the identity of Indigenous people with lots of back matter for students.

Closer to Nowhere

This was my second novel in verse of the week, and is an emotional story about a struggling boy named Cal, whose family life is in disarray. He has seen and experienced far too much. He lives with his aunt, his Mom’s twin and her family, although he doesn’t always feel particularly welcome. This is partly due to his behaviour, as he pranks his cousin and is prone to outbursts when he feels pressure. His cousin, her schoolmates, and his Uncle have trouble finding empathy and providing him with what he needs. It is a powerful story.

Currently Reading

Legends of the Lost CausesSweep: The Story of a Girl and Her MonsterAfter Zero

I continue to read these with my small groups of students. We are making slow progress, but that just seems to be the way of it. That is hard for me, because I loved reading all of these last summer. In hindsight, as much as I enjoy sharing these books, I might have pared my four groups to one that was going to move through their work at closer to the regular pace, and maybe tried something different with those that were less committed. I am also reading The Alchemyst by Michael Scott with my family, another re-read for me but the beginning of a great series that I am hoping someone in my family continues on with, as I have. I am still trying to choose what else to read next, and I have a lot to choose from, here are some titles:

The Weirn Books, Vol. 1: Be Wary of the Silent WoodsPrairie LotusThe Madre de Aguas of Cuba (The Unicorn Rescue Society Book 5)Fighting WordsRise of the Jumbies

I am hoping to find the time to read three or four of these, and also to check out what you have been reading if you are part of the link-up at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Thanks to Jen, Kellee and Ricki for hosting, and thanks to you for stopping here to see what I have been reading. Have a great reading week!

 

10 thoughts on “It’s June 8, What Are You Reading?

  1. I’m really enjoying reading your reflections about the return to school. Thank you for sharing! Oh, I can’t wait to get my hands on that Kate Dicamillo. My son is almost 17 but told me that I HAVE to read the new one out loud to him because we’ve read all everything about Deckawoo Drive out loud, LOL. Gotta love that! I laughed at your daughter’s response to school being back in session. I would have been just like that as a child too. Probably reading books as fast as she can is the absolute best thing for her anyway! I should get back to the Ranger’s Apprentice series. I listened to the first half of the first book on audio, really liked it, but then it was due back at library and I forgot to get the paper copy off my shelf and keep going.

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  2. You’ve made me wonder if you will continue school for a while, Aaron? All schools here in Denver have closed. I vaguely remember the book, Catching A Story Fish, probably skipped right over it. There are many I’d love to read but not enough time. I have Indian No More & will put Closer to Nowhere on my list. I also have Prairie Lotus & need to read it, too! Thanks for sharing so many titles that sound great!

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  3. Happy Birthday to your youngest!! I sure wish my community was “cautiously optimistic” about the flattening of the curve. Nope. They’re pretty certain we’ll never have a curve. We had one person test positive a few weeks ago (and they immediately quarantined after traveling), so it’s pretty much business back to normal for much of our town with maybe 20% still masking up in public or honoring any type of social distancing protocol. We are pretty secluded, so we’re all going to be holding our breath once any travelers and out-of-town college students return to our area and school starts back up in full force. Aaaanyway, I just checked out The Next Great Jane as an e-book through Overdrive and I have been wanting to read Indian No More for a while, now. I see we have a copy at a local library, so that’s a very good thing. Closer to Nowhere is new to me and now I guess I’ll have to wait until October to read it. *sigh* It sounds wonderful and that cover is gorgeous! Thanks for all these shares, Aaron! Hope you have a wonderful reading week.

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  4. These books all sound great! I’ve heard a lot of praise for The Next Great Jane, and Closer to Nowhere sounds excellent as well! Thanks for the great post, and good luck with the return to school!

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  5. It looks like you have had a fabulous reading week Aaron. There are so many books on your list today I want to get to. I thought I would have more time for catching up on all the titles I want to read now that I am not working. It’s amazing how we can fill up our lives.
    I have Indian No More on my list and am determined to get to it. The stripping away of title and land was an all too common practice. My grandmother’s people, the Menomonie, were ‘terminated’ in 1960, but didn’t get it back until the 1970’s.

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  6. I am really looking forward to reading Ellen Hopkins MG debut. Her YA novels are so compelling, and I’ve heard so many great things about the MG book already!
    Looking forward to also catching up the the Deckawoo Drive family! Stella is coming up in my pile.
    Indian No More is such a powerful story! I’m glad it was chosen as a Global Read Aloud. Prairie Lotus is still in my pile to read. I’ve heard good things but I know Debbie Reese has said some things (negative) about it too. I will get around to it this summer!

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  7. I read a bound manuscript of Closer to Nowhere, and this is the first time I’ve seen the cover! It is such an emotional book but I love that Ellen Hopkins is bringing the tough conversations to MG.
    I have Stella and need to read it! Trent and I love Mercy Watson, but we haven’t delved into the Deckawoo series yet.

    Happy reading this week 🙂

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  8. We’re just wrapping up school here and distance learning was really hard for a lot of kids. I know my nephew struggled to keep himself on a steady routine — he’d do well for a week or so, but then something would throw off his schedule and he’d take a few days or more to get himself back on track.

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