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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!