Another Monday is here, and as a teacher and part-time librarian it is hard not to start thinking about the start of the new school year once you get into mid-August. Of course, this is particular year will not start like any other and it is also hard to think about the new school year.
I am two weeks away from our annual professional development conference. Usually, our whole district meets together on the first day. That was cancelled back in May. We are doing more remote, self-directed professional development than in the past in place of some of the face-to-face stuff we have done as a group in the past. We have two days planned in our schools to work in small groups.
The week after that, we start teaching. My province’s full back to school plan is a work in progress, but so far it has been a bit of a surprise. I did not think we would be welcoming back students for full-time, face-to-face learning, but that is the case. Since the announcement, parents, teachers and administrators all called on the government to push back the starting day to allow educators to work together on how to best implement the plan in their space, and it sounds like the first two days will be for that purpose.
So, I really only have two weeks of summer reading left, best to make the most of it. The weather was extremely hot this week which usually has me staying inside a bit more, but I am a hockey fan, so the playoffs have me distracted as well. I did manage to get several books read this week and I am eager to share some upcoming releases.
Books I Enjoyed This Week
This is a book that comes out tomorrow, I managed to get an ARC by entering a draw at an virtual conference several months ago. As a big kidlit reader, I sometimes miss out on authors that write for older audiences. The cover let me know that this was by an author that has won many awards for books intended for audiences older than this book, her first MG title. I really enjoyed it. It follows a boy, Nnamdi, who is grieving the loss of his father, the chief of police, when he discovers that he has some superpowers that may help him continue his father’s work of eliminating crime. Nnamdi is a big fan of comic book superheroes and now he has become similar to one. However, how will he learn to control these powers? He is a regular kid, who makes a lot of mistakes in judgement. I liked how having superpowers, did not make things great right away. He needs the help of a good friend, and the ability to reflect, make changes and grow as a person in order to have the best chance at defeating the cast of criminals that inhabited his Nigerian town. Some of the villains had names and personalities that reminded me of very old Batman TV shows and I wonder how kids will take to it, but I did enjoy that the book was set in contemporary Nigeria.
I really enjoyed the first Julia book, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, and so I asked for an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley. I think it makes more sense if you have read the earlier but not completely necessary. Here, the cast of strange creatures from the first book is still living with Julia. The art will look very familiar to fans of Ben Hatke’s graphic novels (Zita and the Spacegirl trilogy, and Mighty Jack) and I love the way motion is depicted in many of the pictures. The creatures are getting restless, hence some of the movement, and the house is as well. Julia makes a plan to move on. But, like a lot of things in 2020, Julia’s plans do not work out, and she and the creatures have to show high levels of adaptability. However, will they thrive when things get really rough. This one will be easy to make connections to after it comes out at the end of September. There are two lines at the very end that struck me. The second to last is true of me on a bad day, and the the very last one is true on a good day. I feel like 2020 has provided a lot of both so far.
This is another sequel that I picked up from NetGalley. I enjoyed sharing the first one with my kids, who as you might know are huge fans of mythology in novels. This series has many characters that are part of the mythology of different civilizations (West African, Norse and Persian to name a few). There is a big cast of characters here as Nico works at a shop that provides supplies to adventurers, Gods, Goddesses and creatures from all corners of the world. Some show up with bad intentions and the fate of the shop, and maybe the world are at stake. Plenty of magic, and action ensue along with some comic relief from a sword who lacks subtlety and the unicorns. Other than my children, I don’t always have luck passing graphic novels with this much mythology to kids, but the first book in this series was funny enough for some readers to enjoy it and I think this one will be too. It is out a week from tomorrow.
This one is usually sold as an Indigenous Narnia, and is written by Canadian David A. Robertson, whose YA series Strangers I loved. I have been waiting for this MG series to come out for about a year, so I requested an ARC of this first book from NetGalley. It comes out on September 8.
Middle schoolers Morgan and Eli are newly arrived in the same foster home in Winnipeg, they are not related but begin to feel a bond over the fact that they feel disconnected from their culture in spite of their kind foster parents (the story does deal with the fact that not all foster parents for Morgan have been great). Both kids are big fans of fantasy through either their reading, writing or art. When they discover a portal to a fantasy world they are eager to explore.
They find a world, Aski, that is on the edge of survival, as the traditional ways of getting food and living off the land are not working any longer. The kids get involved with “two legged animals” Ochek and Arik to try to recover the traditional ways. In doing so, they are able to connect with their Cree heritage. There is lots to discuss regarding colonialism through the fantasy plot in the alternate world of Aski. Unlike some fantasy books that are similar, this is surprisingly short at about 250 pages. I look forward to seeing where this series goes next and I will add it to my library.
Mack and Rig are two young trucks that became “fast friends”, on the first day of school in Two Tough Trucks. In this sequel, the two trucks are on a playdate when they get separated while cruising a beautifully illustrated desert landscape. As in the first book, the bouncy, rhyming text sees two friends working together to overcome a problem, this time trying to find each other and get back to their parents.
Truck books are often really popular with young readers in my library and books with great rhythm are always welcome. This series is fun to read and I can’t wait to show it to young listeners in the fall of 2020. Thanks to Scholastic for the copy to read and review.
I am only reading The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands with my family. We should finish it this week. I loved this whole series, and think my ten year old (it was her choice) is liking hearing it for the first time.
On Deck Reading
I have a couple books that I have ARCs of, one that is out soon, and one that has been out for a while that I am hoping to read. After that, I have piles all over my house. Some of those piles will need to be moved back to school soon, so I better get reading some of them. Thanks for stopping to see what I have been reading this week, I hope to view many other great titles by viewing the blogs that are linked up at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Thanks again to our hosts for providing the link-up. Have a great reading week!