The day before school starts, and as a result I fear this post will be a little late. We have been wrestling with the “gotta do this before summer is over,” activities and getting ready for the start of the school year. I meant to write this last night after doing a fair bit of the summer-to-school activities, but then I went to sleep instead.
Tomorrow is the start of my 24th year of teaching. I have a grade 5/6 class, as I have for most of the last decade, which I teach about 70% of the time. This is about my 11th year doing library, not consecutively though, and it accounts for about 30% of my time. I feel fortunate that I get to do classroom teaching and library. Nearly, all of the other elementary school librarians in my school teach prep, and that is a skill set (it’s usually art/drama/music to multiple grades) I don’t really have yet.
I spent the last few weeks reading books to recommend to the students in my class, but I have started ordering library books and now that they have been arriving I have more picture books this week. I am pleased to link-up this post with others at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts, where you can find lots of great blogs to help you add to your To-Be-Read Towers.
Books I Enjoyed This Week
Last week I mentioned that I was reading this book, and I believe that I said it was a novel-in-verse, but its not. Like, Greenwald’s earlier book Game Changer, it is told in a mix of news reports, text messages, but mostly in prose. This book takes place in the same small town, football crazed world as Game Changer. Both are also about the culture of the sport of football, and not complimentary, but this one zeroes in a little bit more on the issues around concussions and the long-term impacts on brain health. Both books live in the gray area between loving these games, and seeing that they can be unsafe. They could be conversation starters for older kids who play contact sports.
Okay, honestly, this one really is a novel-in-verse. It is semi-autobiographical and has a lot going on. One thing that I am not sure will play to well with some students is that it is set in the 1980s. There are a lot of musical references and discussion about how to make mix tapes. Super fun for someone my age, but I am not sure how it will play with kids. I mentioned it to one of my children (12 and 15) and they said something to the effect of, so it’s like things you did, but in a historical fiction novel. Ouch! The Southern California setting is great though, and 13 year old Ava loves the chill surf and enjoy music with her friends lifestyle. Even though she seems to fit in really well here, she feels like she doesn’t because there is the pull of her Persian heritage. Her Mom wants her to be a doctor like her, and at family events she is supposed to hand out tea and appear to other Persian ladies as a potential wife. Sometimes, Ava doesn’t seem to fit in either world, and the absence of her father for most of her life plays a role too. Not to spoil things, but in the midst of this, there are also some health concerns for Ava (not really that developed though) and for one person in Ava’s life. Kids will relate to some of her experiences and enjoy others. I have lots of 12 and 13 year olds that love graphic novels and are likely to try this one.
Another novel-in-verse (I maybe should have saved these shorter books for while I was working), this one was an e-ARC from Edelweiss that is published on September 20. This cute little guy will be an easy sell to young readers thanks in part to the art from Charles Santoso, but also the story from Katherine Applegate. This book takes you through several parts of the life of Odder, a sea otter who is often very curious about things, and his lack of caution makes things tough for him. His life is not told in chronological order though, the book starts with Odder’s focus on play getting him into some trouble. He needs to be rescued by humans and readers learn not only a lot about sea otters and the creatures around them but about how groups like the Monterey Bay Aquarium rescues animals such as these. The book itself is based on their work. After Odder is rescued the rest of the book looks at his early years and about what he does post-recovery with the Monterey Bay Aquarium staff. I think kids will find it entertaining and educational similar to A Wolf Called Wander.
A great addition to this series, which I suppose does not have to be read in order, but I think is better if you have, this fifth Lady Pancake book is an homage to heist films like Oceans 11. When the light in the fridge is stolen, the friends find a way to get it back. With trademark wordplay, and fantastic worlds in the detailed illustrations, this won’t disappoint fans. I viewed this as an e-ARC and it’s scheduled to be published October 18.
Grumpy Monkey is a book I started reading with kids last year. They really enjoy it. It has humour and some lessons about social emotional learning (how to handle being grumpy, for one). Party Time is a picture book in which Jim Panzee, our title character, struggles accepting an invite to a party because dancing is not really his thing. He gives it a try though, and it works for a while. Eventually, Jim is ready to lose it, but when he finally shares his frustrations he sees that lots of other animals feel the same way and there are a lot of other things to do at this party. There is dancing scene with a baboon shaking “it” on the dance floor that will have kids laughing. The other two books here are early readers. I enjoyed Ready, Set, Bananas which had a hint of The Tortoise and the Hare in it. Get Your Grumps Out sees Jim think that he can get all his grumpiness out and then become a new person for the new year. His friend Norman reminds him to be himself after it just doesn’t work. I am sure there might have been a happy medium there, somewhere.
Lastly, a book that I first saw on Cheriee’s Library Matters blog. If you are Canadian, you know who Terry Fox is, if not you might need a crash course. He was a young man who lost a leg to cancer in the late 1970’s and then decided to run across Canada to raise money for Cancer research. His Marathon of Hope saw him run a marathon each day. Sadly, after about 140 days he had to stop because cancer had returned to his body. He passed before being able to finish his goal but schools and communities all over Canada run to raise money for Cancer research. This book is from the perspective of his best friend Doug, who supported him in the training for and during the Marathon of Hope. My library has a lot of Terry Fox books but this was still a necessary addition.
Thanks for stopping by to check out the books that I have read, have a great week, and if you have posted I look forward to stopping by your site as well.