My first full week off of school, and I decided to celebrate by writing a blog post, something I did not make time for during the 2020-2021 school year. A lot of this summer will hopefully be making time for things that I wanted to do but couldn’t during the school year, but… we have an early start to the forest fire season here in British Columbia, and that will likely play a role in what I am able to do this summer. Thankfully, we got some relief from the mid 40 degree temperatures (over 110 in Fahrenheit, if you would rather). As tough as that was, we do feel fortunate as a town about an hour and a half from where I live, Lytton B.C., was pretty much completely destroyed in a fire. There are fires throughout the southern half of our province and smoke is present where I live but there is just enough wind that it isn’t too bad.
I feel fortunate to not be directly impacted by a wildfire, and also because later today I get my second vaccination. My wife and I have been pretty patient and are ready to head in this morning. That means we will have to sit and wait at the clinic and afterwards for the fifteen minutes. I don’t have to tell people that read Monday Reading Update blogs what the main benefit of that waiting time is… reading, of course. With that, I will share the four books I was able to finish last week in between cleaning up my classroom and the school library for the summer.
Books I Finished
Originally called The Girl Savage, this was a book that was a recommendation from a student. I introduced her Katherine Rundell early in her grade 5 year. I have really enjoyed a few of her books including The Wolf Wilder and The Explorer. I had this student read The Explorer and The Good Thieves and she wanted more by this author so she read Rooftoppers, which I had in the library and this book which I had yet to read but had purchased for our classroom. It is not my favourite of Katherine Rundell’s, who I really love for some of the unique phrases she has that stick with me. The bar is high for me, so I can say it is not my favourite but still like it. It is an interesting story of a untamed girl living in Africa, who lives on a farm (but she does not have a farm in Africa). Through some tragic circumstances, she ends up being sent against her will to a boarding school in London. It starts about as badly as possible, as the girl, Will, has never really had to follow rules, and she becomes an immediate target of mean girls. She handles things in her usual unique way.
I enjoyed the first Cardboard Kingdom book and this pulled me through the second. I am not sure this one had quite the same magic as the first one. I wanted some of the characters to be a little more developed as I read this one, but that had me wondering if that wasn’t also true of the first book. However, I was pulled in by the novelty and creativity that I remembered from the first book. The kids in this book, and there are a lot of characters have super imaginations and create costumes and whole words really, out of cardboard and other objects. I really recommend the first one, if you haven’t enjoyed it yet.
My first time reading a Grumpy Monkey book. It was an entertaining, easy to read GN with themes of belonging, and being kind and helpful mixed with humour. I will likely read more of these.
Jim (the grumpy monkey) has some strategies for managing his stress including a stress ball and a walk. When other animals join him on his walk, the strategy does not work as well, his stress ball gets ruined and the walk changes. Jim handles the changes by thinking of others and being kind. In some ways, this becomes a different stress management strategy, but also provides comic relief for the reader.
I really enjoyed this author’s The Bridge Home during Global Read Aloud and was eager to read this new novel that comes out in September. I was given an e-ARC at an online conference by the publisher. This is the story of a young boy born to a mother who was imprisoned just before he was born. Set in Channai, as The Bridge Home was, it gently pulls you along through Kabir’s tale. His life is sad but he is with his mother, who he cherishes and there are a few other nice women in their part of the prison as well. One day, Kabir is shocked to find that he has aged out, and will be sent out, alone. He has never been without his mother and never lived outside of the jail. There are great scenes of Kabir seeing many things for the first time, and he also has to deal with the world that he knew was cruel enough to throw his Mom in jail without any read evidence. This was perfect for fans of The Bridge Home (a character makes an appearance here), A Wish in the Dark (the premise is kind of similar) and Amal Unbound. I am really hoping to pick this one up on its release date of September 7.
One of the things I hope I get to do in the next two months is read a lot of sequels that I did not make time for while re-reading my Book Club picks for my students and trying to read widely for the library. The first of these sequels was Dead Voices, which takes place a few months after the events in Small Spaces, that short creepy book your grade four and five students are always asking about (if they are anything like my students). In the first book, Ollie, Coco, and Brian had to work together to face the scarecrows and the Smiling Man. This time, they hope to have a nice relaxing ski weekend in Vermont. They hope to be just like the normal kids they’ve tried to be all fall in school. But, there are things in store for them. This was a very satisfying sequel for me, and I have the third book lined up through NetGalley.
Children of the Fox is my current family read aloud. My 11 year old daughter was looking for a book to choose, and I let her scan the e-ARCs I had. I know she loves Kevin Sands from his Blackthorn Key mysteries and would be curious about his new series that comes in the fall. We are a little over half done and quite enjoying it. It is a fantasy, heist book, kind of like Oceans 11 with kids as theives and a whole lot more world building and magic. I just started Arrow this morning. It is recently released but I am reading an e-ARC through Edelweiss.
That’s my update, thanks for stopping here and I hope to read more from others about what they have been up to.