This post is my kind of late submission to the link-up hosted at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts, thanks to the ladies that host. I haven’t had the most prolific reading week and doom scrolling for wildfire news is pretty much the number one reason. Not the best way to maintain some semblance of mental health and I thought writing this post would get me off the social media and government information websites and also push me to read a lot more in the next week. My region of the province of BC has been fairly hard hit with a number of large fires. I am not on notice to evacuate (Here you get an Evacuation Alert- be ready to go within an hour of the Evacuation Order, which could come at any time and means leave promptly) but a couple of my co-workers are and some of my students. We are fortunate to be sure, but still concerned for others and watching the skies and the Internet far too much. Here are the books I was able to finish this week:
I was able to obtain an e-ARC of this book from the publisher at a School Library Journal conference, I think it was Day of Dialog. I am a huge fan Kevin Sands’ The Blackthorn Key Adventures and had been anticipating the start of this new series for about a year. When my youngest child (11) saw it on my device she asked if she could choose it for our Family Read Aloud, and that is the only reason I have not read and reviewed it sooner.
Whereas The Blackthorn Key Adventures are historical fiction with some mystery thrown in, this is a new genre for Sands-fantasy. The setting feels Victorian influenced to me, with a hint of steampunk but there is a moderate amount of world building, creating an original setting for this cast of characters.
The characters include several youth are brought together to pull off a heist by the mysterious Mr. Solomon. The incredibly challenging job they are meant to pull off will require the divergent talents that each individual possess, them to work as a team, and to go against a powerful group of magic users that should not be crossed. To me, it ended up feeling like Oceans 11 meets Peter Nimble.
The story is told through Callan, who has been warned to stay away from magic but needs to pull off this biggest con of his life in order to have the life he never dreamed he could have. He becomes the boy with the plan and feels a lot like Kevin Sands earlier protagonist, Christopher Rowe in that he has had an apprentice in the past that he draws wisdom from but is really on his own now. I mean that a positive because I really enjoyed that character as well.
This is clearly the first in a promising new fantasy series for middle grade readers, complete with its own mythology, magic and world building. It’s current publication date is September 28.
I am not as familiar with the text versions of this story as I probably should be, but I enjoyed this graphic version. The author, Gareth Hinds, chooses to work with a lot of classic material. My daughters have enjoyed his versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey so when I saw this one, I decided to give it a try. Hinds chooses to write it a little like a superhero comic book, choreographing some action scenes to tell the major points from the original story (as best as I can tell). In this chapters of his life, the values and spirit of the title character emerge in his actions, and this might be a good entry point for younger readers. The notes in the front and back of the text shed more light on the process and some of the historical background. I didn’t love the colour palette, as I found it a little dark, but overall the book worked really well for someone like me that hasn’t read the source material in its entirety.
This is the third of an early chapter book homage to the original Anne of Green Gables. I have a few superfans of the novels at my school and I buy this series because they sell it to early readers. I think the team adapting the original novels do a great job of highlighting a few of the major events that help shape the character Anne Shirley, including some of the rich and varied language of the original that give it a bit of the same feel as reading the Mercy Watson series.
This is a spin off of the original Ranger’s Apprentice series that I started reading about 10 years ago. It has become one of the favourite middle grade adventure series in my household. These are set in an alternate medieval world in which Rangers function as kind of a spy service for the king in a sense. There are few Rangers, they are an elite group, but they would handle problems that armies or knights are not discrete or covert enough to handle. This is one of the two prequels, and really are only for fans of the original series. I think the three that take place after slightly better in that it has more female characters in lead roles. I still enjoyed this book, which continues to tell the background story of The Ruins of Gorlan, the first book in the main series.
Not much, really. I started the Gareth Hinds adaptation of Romeo & Juliet that I bought at the same used bookstore as Beowulf. I had trouble getting into it, but I am finally starting to. Later today, or tomorrow I am likely to start the third Small Spaces book, Dark Waters, which comes out next week. Tonight we will start our next Family Read Aloud and I think my wife is choosing Nightbooks by J.A. White, a book that none of us have read.
Thanks for taking the time to read through what I have been up to, looking forward to reading about the week that other bloggers have had. Have a great week!