The First Monday of Summer #IMWAYR post

I wasn’t sure how to spend the first few days of my summer break. It wasn’t the greatest school year. If I am being honest, it’s probably in the bottom 3 (out of 20+) years. The way things went, my reading time, and consequently my time writing about reading really took a hit, so about ten minutes ago I decided that writing this post, and reading what others write is the best way to spend my Monday (which just started). I just started vacation and am reacquainting myself with the device I use to read e-ARCs. All of these came from Edelweiss at some point.

I am happy to link up this post with others at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts. Thanks to Jen V., Kellee and Ricki for hosting this link-up.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

Gaia: Goddess of Earth

I wasn’t really sure what to think of this one. It tells a story that is based on Greek mythology but there is a fair bit of artistic license, more than I am used to on this topic. Part of me wanted to be critical of that (it does change some of the message, but maybe its a positive one?), and part of me wants to recognize that some of it will make this more accessible. It’s an interesting story that tells the role of Gaia in many different events such as the Trojan War. This book is scheduled for release on August 9.

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As a librarian, I usually have more trouble selling early chapter books than any other type of book. Maybe it is that I don’t love too many of them. I tend to find the period of time in which readers are able to read these books, but not wanting more satisfying plots to be very small indeed. I wanted to love this book because it is by the author of a series of Anne of Green Gables early chapter book, and I really love those. This one wasn’t quite as good for me though. Some things I liked was that it put a witch that lived in the country into a city, specifically, an old fashioned department store. I liked how the book examined some of the differences in the way Crimson sees the world compared to the others in the department store. I just thought that the way problems were solved were a little simple. Maybe some young readers will appreciate this book which has a little bit of magic and some nice sketched illustrations. It comes out on July 12.

Butt Sandwich & Tree

There is a lot to like here from Wesley King, in a novel that in many ways resembles his excellent OCDaniel. As was the case in his Edgar Winning MG novel, he draws from his own (family) history, this time to show us the story of a neurodivergent boy named Green. Another similarity is that there is a mystery in the background along with some really great character development. Here, Green and his brother Cedar need to find out who has committed a crime that Green is suspected of. The portrait of Green, who is on the ASD spectrum is well written, including the explanation and use of the term Aspberger’s, which is where the novel gets its bizarre name (not going to lie, I am curious how that name helps/hurts the book with kids). There are a number of other characterizations I really enjoyed. Green’s older brother having to learn that Green is different but okay, while also managing his overuse of social media as a wannabe TikTok star. Their basketball coach learning to deal with mistakes he makes and his temper. A great add to any MG library and if you were a fan of OCDaniel this will certainly be a must read. It was great Canada Day read for me. It is scheduled to come out on August 23.

Batpig: Too Pig to Fail

Another two pack of funny tales featuring Batpig, a character I have a soft spot for since his first appearance as a cartoon character drawn by the protagonist of Rob Harrell’s novel Wink. The first of the two stories here had lots students can relate to, having a class that feels like it could last forever. Only Batpig can figure out how to get time going again to stop a never-ending fractions lesson. In the second, our hero meets his hero and needs his help thwarting an alien attack from a taco restaurant. Zany actions abound to stop the super villains. This second Batpig graphic novel came out on June 28.

Flipping Forward Twisting Backward

This was a novel in verse that seemed partly autobiographical. Claire is a smart fifth grade girl that dreams of attending the state championships in gymnastics and she has never been afraid of working hard to nail a skill. But one obstacle to making state championships is how much trouble she gets in at school. She arrives at the principal’s office so often that she knows exactly what food he has there each day for hungry children. It is slowly revealed that one of the reasons she refers herself or gets sent there is that she is unable to read. She is smart enough that she has been able to develop strategies to get by in school without the ability to read.
The book reveals a large network of people that are willing to support her and get her the help that she needs. There is a bully that never helps her (I wish he were dealt with) but the very last person that come on board to support her is a little bit of a twist, and I wonder if this part was autobiographical. A story that seeks to inspire kids to overcome obstacles and use the people around them as support. This book arrives on July 12 and will be great for fans of books like Starfish and BenBee and the Teacher Griefer.

Cheating, I Didn’t Enjoy These This Week But in an Overworked-Non-bloggable Week Earlier This Year

Gabe in the After

 

Anne of Green Gables meets Terminator? What??? Well, actually it’s just two old friends that you used to know going through something a fair bit worse than Covid 19. If you loved Anne of Green Gables, well, you will be in from the dedication. The strength of this book if you didn’t love the original two characters that the main characters here seem to be based on (Anne and Gilbert)? Well it has Gabe and Renne’s search for hope and something to look forward to during a period of time they refer to as the After (as in after the end of the world, as they knew it). Two things that are familiar, but not together, will it work? I think it does. Sweet with some nice messages for kids that are navigating a different kind of After, but one that is also very impactful. This book was published on June 28.

Attack of the Black Rectangles

I am a sucker for A.S. King novels. I make that known whenever I talk about them because I find hers not to be for everyone. They are sometimes just not someone’s cup of tea. But I find something to love in all of them, including this MG book (she uses the name Amy Sarig King for her MG). This is a book that lives in the grey areas of life where there is uncertainty, where things might be a little less comfortable to talk about. It stands there, waving its arms in the air so you see it and hang out with it for a bit. There might be, well let’s be honest, there is, uncertainty in life, but more importantly, there is still truth and we need to find it and display it for all to see.

Sixth grader Mac, and his friends Denis and Marci have to fight their teacher, their principal and even their school board after a Lit Circle novel is censored because someone does not feel that kids their age can handle certain truths. Mac’s family (a mother, father and grandad) also teach him, in very different ways, about the importance of truth.

This feels like a really important message in our times, and could have ended up a little preachy, but Amy Sarig King handles it with her typical wisdom exposing some truth and letting you, as Mac puts it “make your own mind up.” Her twelve year olds are searching for truth and knowledge to learn everything about their world so they can keep being themselves while making the world a better place, and you’ve got to love showing that to young people.

Currently Reading/Next Up for me

The Fellowship for Alien DetectionSpider-Man's Social DilemmaThe Tower of Nero (The Trials of Apollo, #5)

My family and I are reading The Fellowship for Alien Detection because my wife and I have recently enjoyed Kevin Emerson’s Drifters and we wanted to read up on any connections that might exist between his other time travel books. I am about to start another e-ARC, this one about Spiderman. Honestly, I had so many requests for Spiderman books this year that I needed to check this one out for a possible purchase before next school year. Lastly, I need a book that is not on my e-ARC device and I realized the other day that I had never finished the fifth Trials of Apollo (or 15th Percy Jackson- if you would rather) book. It seemed wrong to read so much of a series and not finish it. Even if it has been two years since I read the preceding one. It feels like about that long since I finished writing a blog post, but that school year… Thanks for checking this out, and have a great week of reading. Happy Belated Canada Day to my Canadian friends (did you notice several of these were written by Canadians?-probably you did), and Happy Fourth of July to everyone south of the border.

8 thoughts on “The First Monday of Summer #IMWAYR post

  1. Each one is new to me, Aaron, except for Crimson Twill which I have but it’s still unread. I enjoy your response to each, and will especially look for Gabe in the After & Attack of the Black Rectangles. Here’s to a lovely summer break & a better year next time!

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    1. Gabe in the After was an ARC I requested a long time ago, and I almost forgot to read it as it’s release date was close to the end of the school year, when things got crazy. Usually, I prefer to read them close to release date, but I should have read that one earlier. It was good. I enjoyed her previous book Mary Underwater. Upper MG for sure.

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  2. Welcome back to #IMWAYR, Aaron! I’m so sorry you had a difficult school year, and I hope the break is restful and precedes a better year to come. I made note of Attack of the Black Rectangles, since I haven’t read a book by A. S. King under either of her names (although I did once own her MG book Me and Marvin Gardens). I’m also intrigued by Butt Sandwich & Tree, although I agree, the title is kind of a lot (it did finally click what the first part means, at least). Flipping Forward Twisting Backward looks great as well, and it was interesting to see your thoughts on Gaia: Goddess of Earth. Thank you so much for the wonderful post!

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    1. I was happy to see you found Cedar and Tree’s story as well this week. The end of the Batpig book indicated that a third was coming too, which is nice. My HiLO readers seem to have taken to it. Hope you are enjoying your holiday.

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  3. I’m so happy to see you here Aaron, and sorry your year was so hard. I’m not surprised though, your community has been to hell and from what I have heard from friends, hasn’t returned yet. I cant begin to tell you how excited I was to see the Goddess book. I am a huge fan of Isabel Greenberg and am looking forward to seeing what she and her sister get up to. I’m a fan of A.S. King so this one is added to my list. I read about this Wesley King book in another post today. I have you to thank for introducing him to me in the first place.

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    1. You have nailed it about Merritt. Most of town is back to living normally in terms of being in their homes, but there are a surprising number that are still not back in their homes, or their home is not back to the way it was. There are certainly a lot more people (especially kids) struggling with mental health issues (is that Covid related? Fires? Floods? All three?). I am thrilled that we continue to find a lot of books to share and talk about even though I have been largely absent from this forum in 2022. I also noticed that you read Zero Repeat Forever which is one that I have had for a while, and actually lent to my daughter a year ago, she has read both. I am going to get it back. I thought it was interesting how you read the sequel first, but I think I will do it in order. Off to read your blog after dinner tonight. Hope you are well.

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  4. Ricki and I just talked about how much blogging and reading makes us happy but our brains, when depressed or anxious, trick us into not wanting to do it. It is a vicious cycle, and I’m happy to see you back!

    I need to get Bat Pig 1&2 for my son and I—it is right up our alley! And I just got King’s Rectangles at ALA, and I look forward to reading it.

    Happy reading this week and happy summer!

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