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.

It’s Monday, May 2 #IMWAYR

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Today’s post will feature a few of the books that I read this week, and a few that I did not read this week that come out in the month of May that I am really looking forward to sharing with students. I am once again linking up to the posts at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts. I was really slow to visit other sites this week but finished on Sunday. Thanks so much to the hosts and other bloggers that post here for the continuing community that they provide.

This week was pretty busy. I took one of my first days (if not my very first) off since before the pandemic. I have been aware of how short we are of on-call teachers, and I haven’t been sick (very lucky, and high mask use). In my District, veteran teachers of more than 10 years get one discretionary day. Earlier in the year, we were told not to ask for them, but things are a little better from a covid perspective, so I just decided to submit for one, and got it. My wife already has one day off each week as a part-time teacher, so we drove to a neighbouring District, where they had collected about 70 boxes of books for my wife’s library, which flooded in November. Not exactly a day off, but after we loaded as many as could fit in our vehicle, we drove to a few places we enjoy in BC’s Okanagan region to enjoy lunch and local delectables (read: wine). For those of you that live close to me, I should recognize with a shout out the great people in Summerland and Penticton that asked to help my wife rebuild her library and donate books to local families. That trip, and my oldest daughter’s first ever track meet cut into my reading this weekend, but were both great for my soul nonetheless.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

Sir Ladybug (Sir Ladybug, #1)

Sir Ladybug, his herald, and their friend Sterling, the snail from Tabor’s earlier book Snail Crossing team up in this early graphic novel that is cute and witty. Sir Ladybug has to figure out how to appease a chickadee who is not a monster, but only wants to eat something and save a caterpillar from being that something. I appreciated the knock knock jokes (really, I wouldn’t have thought I would) herald whose bravery and “loud, fancy words,” help to save the day, and most of all the what the team creates to save the day. I have already seen a cover of the second in this series and think it shows great promise for young readers.

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I think this one has been reviewed by more than one posters in this group, but it certainly deserves the attention it has received. I thought it was an outstanding addition to any list of books for the first week of school. It provides a welcome and then shares how schools can be a vital piece to the community.

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A funny, silly story about the only doughnut that doesn’t seem to understand the purpose of his existence. Spoiler alert, but I thought it was very funny how he calls the bakery to warn the baker that the customers are trying to eat his creations. The illustrations make the pages very busy, but there are lots of laughs to be found.

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I work in a pretty rural area that has a school garden, but I still think my students will relate to this tale of a child who had a garden in her last apartment building and seeks to bring that aspect of home to her new school. Millie’s new building does not have the right kind of roof for a garden but she misses the taste of a real carrot, and speaks up until her new school community agrees that a garden will bring them together and be worth the work.

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I mentioned this one a while ago, I couldn’t really read my e-ARC properly, but the author offered to help me with it and I had a great experience reading it. This ambitiously intellectual MG graphic novel is full of information about the impact of climate change. Examples include the Siberian Unicorn, yedoma, and the Batagaika Crater in Eastern Siberia. I had to look a few of these up, but there is information in the story and the backmatter to help readers out. They will learn lots about climate change.
The Extincts are a team of extinct animals on missions to help save the world. In this first installment though, they need to find out who to trust and the meaning of family, in addition to fighting off creatures to help save the planet. The first in a promising new series.

Books I Hope Kids Check Out This Month

DriftersLines of Courage

I read both of these books early as I am a pretty big fan of both. Drifters (release date May 10) is a sci-fi adventure in the spirit of The X-Files and Stranger Things, while Lines of Courage (May 17) is my new favourite historical fiction by Jennifer Nielsen, and there have been a few I really loved.

Currently Reading and On Deck Reads

My Own LightningYonderAloneLifeboat 12

The first two on the above list are e-ARCs that I have to read soon as they come out soon and I have had a few e-ARCs expire lately while I was reading them. Very frustrating. I started My Own Lightning, the sequel to Wolf Hollow, a Newbery Honor book, and I am really enjoying it. I loved Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk and am curious if I can enjoy this one as much. Yonder will be the next e-ARC I read that comes out on May 10. I am re-reading two verse novels, Alone and Lifeboat 12 because they are part of a Literature Circle unit my class is doing and the Battle of the Books that my District is running in June.

Thanks so much for viewing my post this week, I hope to see what other readers have been up to. Enjoy the rest of your week!

It’s Monday, What Have You Been Reading, April 25, 2022

My post is a little late and not too full of books this week. I have a longer book that I have been reading that hasn’t yanked me along. Also, it was a really busy week at work and we spent a lot of time at my oldest daughter’s soccer tournament. However, I want to be back in the habit of posting, so I will write a short update.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

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I really did enjoy reading this graphic novel that comes out on May 10. It was witty and clever in the way many would expect a Mac Barnett collaboration to be. The title explains an event that happens after the cat is selected as the only creature that can stop the moon from being eaten by some evil rats. Cat will need help though, and the secondary characters provide lots of humor.

Books I Am Still Enjoying

Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny WoodsDaughter of the DeepAloneBorn Behind Bars

Osmo Unknown is the novel that I was reading last week. I didn’t finish it yet. I started by writing that it did not really grab me the way I was hoping. I am about half done. Since writing that sentence at the start of the post, a character arrived. A “ferryman” who judges the lives of creatures in the underworld. It goes by the names The Last Bird and Mustamakkara that I really love. I am going to keep reading and this might be the beginning of me loving the last half of the book. Daughter of the Deep is our family read aloud which is often read slowly due to interruptions in our schedule (movie nights, weekend guests). Alone and Born Behind Bars are re-reads for my grade 5/6 class’s Lit Circles. I try to read some of the books while they are reading them as well (even though I read them before they were selected). I am enjoying both the former, a novel-in-verse about a girl who is left behind when her town is evacuated due to an “imminent threat,” as well as the later in which Kabir is forced to leave his mother behind when he is cast out of the prison that is the only home he has known.

Upcoming Reading

I hope to finish two of the novels I am currently reading, maybe even three and start my e-ARC of Lauren Wolk’s My Own Lightning, which is out May 3. Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods, a fantasy in which the title character doesn’t fit with the “normal world,” and is seeing adventure, comes out on April 26. Thanks for reading my post this week. I got in just before Monday came to an end. I am looking forward to checking out the other posts that are linked up at Teach Mentor Texts on Tuesday. Have a great reading week!

It’s Monday, what have you been reading? 4/18/22

It’s been a very long time since I have made the time to participate in this weekly post on reading, but the holiday weekend, slightly more normal work routine since Spring Break, and reading more ARCs (why does that matter?) convinced me to give this a go and hopefully keep this up for a while.

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I will be linking up to the posts at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts. Thanks to people that are far more reliable at blogging and hosting than I am (Kellee, Ricki and Jen V., I bow before all of you). When my reading has its ups and downs in terms of frequency, it was easier to bow out of this, but wow to the people that can keep it going! I had big plans to read other people’s blogs last week and then write my own this week but that did not really happen. Once I start writing them, it commits me to reading others and I really enjoy that part.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

Drifters

I received this ARC from a Twitter giveaway that the author ran. I was really excited to have a physical ARC for the first time since the pandemic, and also because I really enjoyed Kevin Emerson’s Chronicle of the Dark Star series. It was a massively epic middle grade sci-fi (by today’s standards in that MG is trending towards the 200 page book now) pondering bigger questions about humanity and belonging within a plot centers around the strange and potentially deadly mystery that has people forgetting loved ones that have gone missing.
Jovie feels very alone as she seems to be the only one that remembers, Micah. Getting to the bottom of the mystery that has taken her best friend, and seems to be sucking the life out of her small town, becomes the most important thing in her life. Who is responsible for the disappearance of Micah? Is she alive? Who can she trust? These all become important questions that she needs to figure out.
This is a long book at over 500 pages, but that is kind of nice once in a while as the overall trend in publishing is to go shorter. I love the ambitious nature of Emerson’s writing including the links to some of his earlier books and references to X-Files. The publisher makes the comparison to Stranger Things and I think the kids from that universe would have fit in with Emerson’s characters as well. The length might make this a tough sell in the library, but I really enjoyed this and think I can find some kids who will as well.

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This book might be seen as kind of a cruel joke to the people in Central Canada and parts of the US who had to deal with a lot of snow lately but I had been reading a fair number of books that focussed on the senses in the library and had recently got this one to add to my collection. Lina wakes up to a morning made silent due to the snowfall. She pays attention to all the little sounds on her walk to her Grandma’s house. Her Grandma doesn’t see as well as she used to but is also able to talk about all the different sounds that she can hear due to the snow. My library patrons loved it, but are also eager to blame me if I jinxed us and brought snow to their Easter long weekend.

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I didn’t pick this up for the longest time. I would have taken it out from the library but none of the libraries near me had it. Finally, I just bought it. I enjoyed the art in this graphic version but I found the language less impactful than reading the original. I think there wasn’t the same flow as reading it in verse. I am very interested to hear if other people found this. It might be the first verse novel to graphic novel adaptation that I have read.

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I had an e-ARC of this title but the formatting (empty speech bubbles with the dialogue on the next page, sometimes out of order) made it really hard to read, so I am not rating it. A group of extinct animals form a team that is exploring Siberia in search of the Unicorn Horn. They had adversaries that they are unaware of however, and will need to work together and figure out who to trust. There is a lot of environmental science in this one, both in the main part of the book and in the back matter (which was formatted just fine, and took up 25% of the book- this seemed different for a graphic novel to have this much material at the end- good stuff though). This could be the start of a good series. I will need to see a finished copy. I may have a line on one now, and if I read it again, I will post a little more.

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This is the second graphic novel featuring Scaredy Squirrel. I don’t find there to be a huge difference between the picture books and graphic novels in this series. This one was a solid addition and will cause some belly laughs from young patrons in the library in need of an early graphic novel fix.

I Survived the Attack of the Grizzlies, 1967: A Graphic Novel (I Survived Graphic Novel #5)

The fifth I Survived Graphic novel was also an e-ARC for me, but this one is currently available. Its based on the events that happened in 1967 when two Grizzly bears attacked visitors in Glacier National Park. I had heard of this but really did not know the details. The story is told through a young girl who has two close encounters with bears in the park, and along with her aunt and a scientist, she learns the reasons behind the increase in aggression from Grizzly bears. Their efforts to create change are too late though and they read of the tragedy that would change the way parks are run in the US.

Currently Reading

Daughter of the DeepOsmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods

My family is reading Daughter of the Deep, inspired by the work of Jules Verne. I just started Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods yesterday. I haven’t read anything by Catherynne Valente in a while but I really enjoyed her writing style in books such as The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. There are some writers who are just different enough in how they describe things that it feels like a totally different reading experience.

Books I Enjoyed While I Wasn’t Blogging (Some of them, anyways)

The Hundred Choices Department StoreLines of CourageMap of Flames (The Forgotten Five, Book 1)The Last CuentistaFirefly

Lines of Courage is out next month and might be my favourite Jennifer Nielsen historical. Map of Flames is a promising new series. The Last Cuentista did not disappoint as a Newbery Winner.

Thanks for checking out what I was reading last week. I hope to visit some blogs later today and into the rest of the week to see what others have been reading. Have a great reading week!

It’s Monday, January 10, 2022, What are you Reading?

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Today, marks my first day back at school with students. I worked last week on a lot of library stuff, some preparation for the possibilities of sudden, short-term closures and also some time helping schools that are also coming back from the flooding our District experienced on November 15. These schools are returning to in-person learning for the first time since November 12. My wife’s library is all over the place. She has a small room in the church that is housing about half of her students, we also have books in an office in our house, in our garage, and in a bunch of bins we just loaded in our car. My oldest daughter returns to high school classes that will take place in two different buildings. She switches everyday at lunch from one to the other. My youngest is in a class that is being housed in a different elementary school from where she typically goes. It’s been a little chaotic getting everyone ready for all the changes, and there will be a lot of kinks to work out on the fly, but it will be nice to see some students and get many of them back reading.

As for myself, I think my reading year is off to a good start. I ended up requesting what might have been too many ARC MG novels that release on the same day. I was concerned I might not get them all read so I needed to start right away. You will see several of them in this post, as it turns out that February 1 is a pretty big release day. I am happy to link up this post with others at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts. Thanks to the publishers of those sites for hosting this link-up.

Books I Enjoyed This Week

Forbidden City (City Spies, #3)

This is the third City Spies book and I read the e-ARC through Edelweiss. These have been consistently good, but I think this might have been my favourite one. The action took place in Scotland, Moscow and Beijing. There were a lot of great place details, and the character development is increasing as well (not that it wasn’t already pretty good).

Alone

First of all, what a great cover this is. Maddie is a girl that gets left behind in kind of an odd situation in which she somehow ends up alone, all alone. I didn’t find this part very plausible and I wanted more explanation, but what happened afterwards was interesting and exciting. Maddie collects her neighbour’s dog and learns how to survive alone, overcoming natural and man-caused disasters.

Omar Rising

This is one of the February 1 ARCs that I mentioned and the companion novel to Amal Unbound. A very good story about featuring Omar, a multi-talented boy who gets a scholarship to an exclusive private school in Pakistan. He knows it is the ticket to improving life for him and his mother. When he gets there he struggles with some of the extra burden placed on him as a scholarship student. How will Omar ever rise to this challenge and lift his family?

Be Strong

Similar to their collaboration in Be Kind, this has a great message. However, I loved how this one starts out with a focus on physical strength and then shows lots of different ways people can show strength.

The Suitcase

The creature with the suitcase on the cover is different. When he moves in, the other animals do not handle this very well. They mistrust it. They trample on it’s rights. They even break open the suitcase. Then, they learn how wrong they were and the animals come together to make it right. This is a pretty neat story that can be used to discuss how to treat new people, or with older kids we can talk about how immigrants have sometimes been treated, or even the way Indigenous peoples were treated here in Canada. However, we should talk about how to make things right too, its an important part of the book.

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The title characters here only look at their differences and are big rivals. Finally, after some shared experiences, they see what they have in common and how that could contribute to a friendship. The pictures of London are fun.

Currently Reading

People of the SunThe Golem's Eye (Bartimaeus, #2)The NestWhen Winter Robeson Came 

I started People of the Sun, as an e-ARC that comes out on Feb. 1, but it isn’t really working on my favourite device, so I reading it on my laptop. I am always slower when that happens, but I am enjoying this third book of Ben Gartner’s time travelling series. My family is reading the second in The Bartimaeus Trilogy and that is fun. My class and I are reading The Nest, we just started today. Lastly, when I can’t read on my laptop, I am reading When Winter Robeson Came, but I just started last night. I enjoyed reading about this on Michelle Knott’s blog and decided to try it.

Thanks for checking out what I have been reading over the past week. If you have a post out there, I hope to read about what you have been reading too.

It’s the First Monday of 2022, What are you Reading?

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Many are saying good riddance to 2021 but to me if it proved anything its that turning the page on the calendar does not mean that we get a fresh start, or a better, pandemic free year. 2021 had it’s ups and downs, and this year will as well. Our third pandemic focussed year will hopefully be better than the last, but it will also be what we make it.

I ended 2021 by finishing 32 books. I met the reading goal I set for myself. The goal itself isn’t too important, but I set it a little too high to force me to read more picture books, early chapter books and sometimes graphic novels. If I don’t, I will not make my goal of 240 books. Last week, I read lots of the aforementioned types that I had in the library and was really feeling like I should read anyways. This goal gave me the kick in the pants I needed and I also get it done before school starts up again this week.

We have Monday off, and then start-up on Tuesday, but last week the government announced that they would not be bringing students back for the first week here in the province of British Columbia. In my town, there were some schools that were still arranging spaces for their students following the massive flooding we had in November, so it isn’t such a big change for my wife’s school, nor my oldest daughter’s, but my youngest and I were scheduled to go back on the 4th. This has been pushed back to the 10th so that schools can prepare to make the return for school safer in light of the rise of cases relating to our new variant.

Tomorrow we will make some final preparations for the return to work of the adults in our family. Part of that will be continuing the job of making bins for all of the classrooms in my wife’s school, the hardest hit due to flooding. A restoration company boxed up all of the stuff that was not wrecked from her K-7 library, and we were given half an hour to grab what we wanted. The boxes were not really labelled in ways that told you what was inside so we grabbed whatever we had space/time for and have been opening boxes (there are probably about 65 here and more we can pick up if we make an appointment with the restoration company) periodically. It is a little like Let’s Make a Deal, what will be in the box?… Amulet graphic novels… books that have been weeded but not withdrawn… a box of staplers and scissors. We are slowly moving the boxes out of our garage, and into our house before placing the books in bins that are appropriate for each classroom. They are moving the school to a church and there is no space for a library, or shelf space in the classrooms.

Binge reading some of my picture books that I have recently processed as well as graphic novels and early chapter books that I had not made time for was a nice distraction (I think Shaye @ Miller Memo did something similar). So was playing lots of games like Scattegories, Catan, and Dungeons & Dragons. I would not want to write about all 32 of the books that I read last week but some were outstanding so I will focus on those and maybe include a picture with the rest. Once I cleared out some books that I had been meaning to read, I picked some ARCs that I had been looking forward to as well.

Books I Enjoyed Last Week

A New Green Day

Short poetic riddles featuring sensory/imagery clues that will have readers guessing the subject that appears on the next page. I read a couple of other poetry books but I did not enjoy them as much as this one.

Our Table

I am honestly not as much a fan of Peter H. Reynolds books as some at my school, but I really love this one, and the timing of it is perfect. It has a strong message about what families need to do to stay connected that feels more relevant than ever. I think kids will really get this in my school with all that we have been through with flooding and fires in the last year.

Just Harriet

This would make a great class read aloud for grade 2/3/4 for teachers who love reading their classes books in which children mature, learn to make mistakes and how to make up for them.
Harriet has to stay on an island with her grandmother because her mother is on bedrest with her soon to be baby brother. It is a really great life, but Harriet is mad that her plans for summer have changed and things that her parents said would be true, ended up not being true (has that happened to anyone other than me during the pandemic?).
Through her experiences, Harriet learns how to better handle changes, being sad, or angry, and how to have hard conversations with people. There are also some very good secondary questions and a mystery for Harriet to solve. I read this as an e-ARC from Edelweiss but look forward to purchasing my own copy in February 1, 2022.

Anne's Tragical Tea Party: Inspired by Anne of Green Gables (An Anne Chapter Book Book 4)

I really enjoy these well made short chapter books depicting the highlights of the Anne of Green Gables series. If you know the story at all, the title is enough for you to remember what this one is about. Troublemaker Anne makes a mistake and is judged quite harshly, but is responsible and helpful when needed most. I enjoyed this e-ARC from NetGalley, the full version of this fourth book in the series comes out on February 15.

Big Truck, Little Island

My students that love all books with big trucks or heavy machinery will be invested in this right away, but the story itself is very interesting. At the end, the author states that the story of a huge truck on a very small island is based on a true story. The disruption to traffic is handled very well by the residents, and that is the best part of the story. I enjoyed this e-ARC that I read through Edelweiss, the final version is available May 3, 2022

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The title really is a promise. I think young listeners in the library will have opinions and predictions to share.

The Rabbit Listened

Lots of the books I read last week were ones that I had been meaning to read for a long time and there was none that I shook my head at more for not reading sooner than this one. It is amazing! It speaks to how people need to handle situations in their own way and their own time in a way that young readers will be able to understand.

These were good too…

The Smart Cookie (The Bad Seed Book 5)Not as good as the others, but… still fun. Knot Cannot Silly puns made for a fair bit of fun as knot compares itself with a snake.

58837206. sx318 I enjoyed this e-ARC on Edelweiss. If you are familiar with the Stella books by this author, this new offering will not disappoint. It features a groups of kids playing together imaginatively as different animals. Later, it follows up with them having some similar characteristics in their homes.

Lunch Lady 2: Lunch Lady and the League of LibrariansLunch Lady 3: Lunch Lady and the Author Visit VendettaLunch Lady and the Summer Camp ShakedownLunch Lady 5: Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit

I read the second through fifth of this series that is very old, but were not in any of the libraries in my town. I find them very funny and full of book related and lunch room word play.

Friends ForeverSunny Makes a Splash: A Graphic Novel (Sunny #4)

I caught up with these two graphic novel series that are about growing up, and have characters that have really grown up for their readers, in the best way. You can tell that the writers use a lot of details from their lives or the lives of people they knew growing up. This makes it seem like the setting is better for people my age to read, but kids do seem to get a lot out of reading about the experiences of the tweens and teens in these series.

Henry Heckelbeck Gets a DragonHenry Heckelbeck Never Cheats

This is an early chapter book series that is a spin off from one titled for this character’s sister, Heidi. I hadn’t read it or even known of it when I picked this one up. I liked these ones, but the second was better than the first. The boy had to deal with the new girl at school playing the same position in soccer and being better than he was. In his family, the girls are magical and the boys are not, but he managed to sabotage the new girl in his class with magic anyways. He made a big mistake. When he realized it, he handled it well, and it seems that happens a lot in this series. It reminded me of Katherine Applegate’s Roscoe Riley Rules.

Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue

A girl with cat-like superpowers that she seems to inherit genetically from her Mom? How many girls are going to clamour for this? It seemed to be for 6-8 year olds in some ways but the chapters are quite long compared to most early chapter books I read and it is really for more advanced readers that age. I am going to be interested to see if older kids that read at that level will be interested in the plot which features a girl named Kitty testing her bravery and powers to help animals with problems at night (just like her Mom does).

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This one will likely be another pretty easy sell to some library patrons. I have lots of young readers that will appreciate the details of a night’s work for a snowplow depicted with rhyming text.

Thanks for making it to the end of this post. I hope you had an excellent end to the year, and have positive thoughts for 2022. I look forward to linking up this post with the other excellent bloggers that post at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. I am ever thankful to the hosts of those sites, Jen, Kellee, and Rikki for hosting. Enjoy your reading week!

It’s Monday, what are you reading 12/27.

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Our last Monday post of 2021. I can’t remember the last time I went through a year and did not feel like it went fast, but this year has some other sentiments that are rather unique. I am not sure there has been a year that started with hope for so many and ended not living up to those expectations. Strictly looking at a reading perspective, I read a little less this year, but I identified the reason last year. I think I spent more time in family activities, because so many of my kids’ regular activities were cancelled. My part in that decision is something I can live with.

This week though, there was lots of reading. Another weather event in BC. Weather was a close second (or maybe even first here in Merritt, a bigger story but not as consistent) compared to Covid as the story of the year here. We had fires, floods, and this week, extreme cold. It is about – 30 C as I write this. So, inside activities rule, and reading ranks high among those in our house (although D&D moved way up the list in 2021). Here are the books I enjoyed this week. I kind of write these up in the order I read them, but in this case I think it ended up being best for last (I loved the last two).

The One Thing You'd Save

I wasn’t sure I really wanted to read this after having so many students evacuate in the summer, and then evacuating our town last month. It seemed a little too real, but it is a really well written book. Linda Sue Park is such a good writer, and I know several people that blog here have already written about this one, which is a series of poems that read to me like a class conversation about what is important enough to be the one thing you would save if you had to leave everything else behind. It really does defy explanation as it is not really a chapter book, not a picture book (although maybe it is closest to this) and not a graphic novel. In a few years, I can see using this as a writing activity if my students haven’t been through something like the year my current students have just gone through.

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus, #1)

This was our latest family read aloud, a book published in 2003 that only my oldest daughter (a huge Jonathan Stroud fan) had read, it was her choice. It is not the fastest moving plot, but the absolute star for me is Bartimaeus, whose wit and sarcasm take over. The book alternates between a first person narration featuring the arrogant djinni, who I read as a cross between two TV characters: Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Hugh Laurie’s House, and the story of a boy sold by his parents into a life of a magician’s apprentice, told in the third person. This series has extensive world building (maybe why it is a touch slow), but basically the world is run by magicians who summon magical beings to do their dirty work. Nathaniel is to be apprenticed into this circle of power. Bartimaeus is a djinni that the boy summons. Their interests do not always align, but they have to work together when some of the other magicians are up to no good.

Flubby Will Not Take a Bath

Part of a series of four early readers depicting the struggles of a cat owner, in this case getting her cat to the bath. A single sentence is usually paired with a funny comic-like illustration. I have a cat that has much in common with Flubby, so even my kids like to share in viewing these.

Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep with Read along CDGuess What!? (An Unlimited Squirrels Book)Scaredy Squirrel in a Nutshell

Without planning it or having a particular affinity for this creature, I read three books with squirrels on the cover this week. They were all different. This first one I found at the top of one of the many boxes my wife and I have been sorting through since her school experienced flooding. This is a Steve Jenkins illustrated book that I hadn’t seen before, so I needed to read it really quick before we got back to work. Nice rhyming text for young readers to go with the illustrations. I haven’t really been as in to the Unlimited Squirrels by Mo Willems, and of course it doesn’t measure up to Elephant and Piggie, but I do have some young readers who think these new characters are funny and appreciate the corny jokes. My last squirrel book for the week was the first Scaredy Squirrel graphic novel. I know there are more of these coming out soon and the picture books were popular in my library (based on certain teachers reading them in their classrooms), so I thought I would check out this first one. The title squirrel is scared of everything. He does learn to conquer some of his fears and finds it is worth it in order to make a new friend who he sees he has somethings in common. There is also some good humour around his fears.

Spiderman A New Bginning

I found there were a lot of Spiderman graphic novels out there right now, but my readers were asking for more than the few that I had. I chose this one because it has Peter Parker, as well as Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy. The new beginning has these characters finding each other, and it seems, beginning to work together. I have a second one on order. The art is very good and the story was also good with the more diverse cast being a bonus.

The Shattered Castle (Ascendance, #5)

This is the fifth in what is known as The Ascendance Series, but more commonly with my readers as The False Prince (Book one) series. I had thought this series had a very tidy ending after the third, but Jennifer Nielsen was able to bring one of her most beloved characters back for two more books. There was certainly an appetite for it at my school and I enjoyed the last two books as well. Much like in The Amulet of Samarkand, a gray character is the show. Jaron is at times arrogant, at times self-deprecating, but always sarcastic and combative. The story moves along quickly with a great mix of action and humor, but at its heart is Jaron’s struggle to find out how to get what matters to him most amongst the noise of so many other demands. This fast paced book is a must for fans of this series, set in the author’s created medieval world.

Pony

A wonderful story set in the 1860s in the Midwest. Silas is a twelve year old boy who lives with his father (having lost his mother at birth). Their lives are simple but the love between them is not. They farm, the make boots and also explore knowledge in many scientific areas. Everything changes when some men arrive to take Martin (Silas’ Pa) on a journey that he doesn’t want to take, and one that seems shrouded in Martin’s past, which is unknown to Silas. Silas is supposed to wait for his Pa, but he has nothing else and this pony that arrives seems to want to take him somewhere…

This book made me recall two that I loved, Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart and Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan, but it is very much its own story. It has rollicking adventures and deep emotions. Don’t miss the Author’s Note at the end, very detailed and with lots of great further reading material.

Currently Reading and Next Up

StarfishThe Golem's Eye (Bartimaeus, #2)Aven Green Baking MachineSunny Makes a Splash: A Graphic Novel (Sunny #4)Friends Forever

I have been reading Starfish, a little late to the party on that one, but I have lots of verse readers that will love this one. My family moved to the second of The Bartimaeus Trilogy from Jonathan Stroud. I have a lot of short books that I want to be able to direct library patrons to, so I am going to read farther into some series that we have enjoyed. I love the Aven Green chapter books by Dusti Bowling (not as much as the novels, but… I hope we get another novel) as they are quite funny. I also have the newest books from graphic novel series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm and Shannon Hale. These are always fun.

Thanks for stopping by to read this. All the best to you and your family. Spend some enjoyable time together to end 2021 and start the new year off right.

It’s Monday, December 20. What are you Reading?

Secrets of the Shadow BeastsIMWAYR

This might be my last post of 2021, and I get to start with a book that I was sent an early copy of, Secret of the Shadow Beasts. I really enjoyed two earlier books by Diane Magras, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter and it’s sequel, so I signed up to be on her street team, in order to get an early copy of this book, which is currently scheduled to be released in June 2022. I am pleased to share these, and the other books I read this week with the bloggers at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

The terrific cover and title of Secrets of the Shadow Beasts does not disappoint. This is a creature story that did remind me a little of Lockwood and Co. as was suggested by, I think, Goodreads because the creatures terrorize adults but have weaknesses that can only be exploited by children. Also, each of these series have their own world building, character backstories, and feature the importance of working together in defeating enemies.
What shines through in the first of this series is how well characters are being developed, and how the Order of the Hawks, a group of modern knights who take on creatures after the gloaming begins, support each other so well. In fictional Brannland, hideous beasts that resemble giant wolves, and spiders, among other terrors, can produce enough venom to kill full grown adults, but some children have immunity and are trained to fight them. Nora, seems to be different from the other children, and her initial “duties” are filled with more battles and creatures than even the high performing Hawks are used to. She also seems to be at the center of a secret that helps to explain why the problem has been getting worse.
There are lots of great details about how this organization of knights is run, how society views them, and how the pressure to train and perform drains on them. Hopefully, this is just the start of a really great series.

If I Built a HouseIf I Built a School

I am kind of late to the party of this series, and I still don’t own the initial one, If I Built a Car, but these are super fun. If you have ever assigned or written something about how to build the ideal ______ that is kind of the idea here. The author/illustrator lets runs with a fairly common idea but does so in a humourous way that kids are loving. Somehow, the illustrations are of modern, high tech stuff while also having a retro look.

Eat Your Rocks, Croc!: Dr. Glider's Advice for Troubled AnimalsMothMars! Earthlings Welcome (Our Universe Book 5)

These are three non-fiction books that are new to my library. They each have their own style and while two of them certainly have an illustration style that immediately appeals to very young readers, the information in all three can be used for older students. Eat Your Rocks, Croc! is the first in a series in which animals that have trouble with certain things, such as digestion in the case of the cover animal, write to Dr. Glider who identifies how these animals have developed solutions that would fix the “problem.” Neat narrative style that my youngest students like (plus they recognize the illustrator from his other work) but the language is well above their level, there is a great glossary at the end. Moth, also features evolution solving the problems, but this time just one animal. It was a fascinating look at how a moth evolved multiple times to adjust to things humans have done. The illustrations are really great. Lastly, I think this is the fifth in the Our Universe series, this time with Mars being profiled. This series has highly appealing visuals for students and facts that my grade 2/3/4 classes really enjoyed. Everytime a new book in this series comes out, there is a rush on the others.

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My class finished our last week of school on Friday. Earlier in the week we finished our Global Read Aloud book, The Barren Grounds, the first in the Misewa Saga. I think this one was hurt by our three week absence from school while our District dealt with flooding in the area. It is a really great book though. 

That kind of covers my reading week. This week I am hoping to read The Shattered Castle, the fifth in Jennifer Nielsen’s Ascendance series and Pony by R.J. Palacio. I am way behind on all my reading goals for 2021 but I do have a lot of picture books I was supposed to read from my library. I won’t really worry about what my final number between 200-250 books is, but recognize that in this year of so many challenges, reading was one of my normal activities, even if I don’t get quite as much of it done. Hope everyone has an excellent Christmas, if you celebrate, and if not, just a safe and happy week. Thanks for stopping here to see what I have been reading.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? 12/13/21

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Last time I posted here was two weeks ago, and I was still waiting to get back into my home after flooding impacted a lot of homes in my community and in my case, the water and sewage services in the area. I did get back ten days ago and am fortunate that where I live there was no damage. Some people that live within a few kilometers of my house are still waiting. Our town continues to rebuild. Our school system is a good example. There are five elementary schools in town, and two will remain closed for a lengthy period of time (3-9 months?) and our high school will also be closed for months. In my family, my wife and two children each attend one of the three closed schools. I am the only one that works at a school that is back in session as I write this.

Crazy times, but in this decade it is becoming the norm. I was able to get some reading done this week, and these books have helped me relax a bit. I am grateful to link this post up with the others at Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts. Thanks to Kellee, Ricki and Jen for hosting.

Books I Enjoyed Last Week

Realm of the Blue Mist (The Rema Chronicles, #1)

This is the beginning of a new graphic novel series that this author has been working on in different formats (web comic, novel) for a very long time. There is fairly extensive world building and backstory that will invite some obvious comparisons to Amulet (especially considering that the author has worked with and is married to Amulet author Kazu Kibuishi). I enjoyed this book a lot and think it could be the beginning of a great series. I read an e-ARC from Edelweiss and this version is scheduled to publish on March 1, 2022.

I Must Betray You

I am a big fan of Ruta Sepetys, and this book did not disappoint in telling the story of one of the last and most ruthless totalitarian/communist regimes in Eastern Europe. I don’t stock all of her books in my grade 5/6 class, because I don’t think they are really ready for some of the scenes in books like Salt to the Sea, or Between Shades of Gray, but I think I will be able to have this one for some of my readers. There are some scenes of violence in which young people are beaten by the police force of the government, but that usually does not disturb my readers as much as say, sexual content. The book is very fast paced and comes out February 1.

From Tree to Sea

This book is filled with beautiful rhyming text and the art is also gorgeous. Lots of great observations about nature and treating people and the world with kindness.

The Aquanaut by Dan Santat 

An adventurous graphic novel filled with heart that I think kids will enjoy. I read an ARC that I got from Edelweiss, and really enjoyed this story about what really matters. It’s got a very unique plot and I read that it is one that the author has worked on for quite a while.

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I learned about this book from many of the bloggers that write and post to our link-up. Thanks to all of you for recommending it. It is a very cute story of a confident kingfisher who knows that she will be able to fly. Her story ends up with ups and downs that my students have really loved. A good story to use to talk about bravery.

Currently Reading

Secret of the Shadow BeastsThe Barren Grounds (The Misewa Saga, #1)The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus, #1)

I am enjoying the upcoming Diane Magras book that i started last night. What a great cover, too! My class is finishing The Barren Grounds this week. We were a little behind our Global Read Aloud schedule before missing three weeks after the flooding in the area. The Amulet of Samarkand is my family read aloud that we will probably finish late next week. 

Thanks for stopping by here, I look forward to seeing what others have been reading.

It’s Not Monday Anymore, But I Still Want to Know What you are Reading? 11/30/21

This post is actually on Tuesday, but life has been a little hectic lately, and I can’t figure out how to post this on my phone. I wrote it on Monday, hopefully that counts. My town in BC was fully evacuated due to flooding two weeks ago. I am part of the largest section of town that is still not allowed back in our homes. We did get one day pass to go and check everything out on Saturday. We are okay, and our home is okay, we are among the very lucky. However, there is a lot of sewer and water infrastructure that needs to be repaired in order for our home to be considered safe.

We are fortunate to be staying with my wife’s parents, nearly two hours away. My school may go back this week, but I will likely remain here for a bit longer until infrastructure is repaired. Life has changed a lot. First world problem, but we don’t have much for Internet here compared to home, and it has made it hard to read the digital ARCs that I had lined up for late November. We have become familiar faces to the local public librarian, and that has been nice. I did manage to do some reading over the last couple of weeks, and I will highlight a few here. I am hoping to be able to link these reviews up with the others at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Thanks to those sites for hosting the It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Posts.

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Spell Sweeper

It’s easy to compare any book that takes place at a school for wizards to Harry Potter but this book (it is out today if you are reading this on Tuesday) but Lee Edward Fodi has gone out of his way to build his own wizarding world that stands on its own, but does kind of poke fun at some of the differences between what people might think wizards are like (from Harry Potter and other stories, I assume) and the way they “really are.”

Instead of the main character being the “chosen one,” like a certain scarred young boy, Cara Moone is practically flunking wizard school, and is given the role of cleaning up the messy spell dust left behind after the brilliant spells of others, including her nemesis, the real prodigy of the school, Harlee. Cara discovers that there is something peculiar that seems to happen when she is cleaning up after Harlee, and this becomes a mystery she must solve.

The story is filled with this mystery, its impact on the wizarding world and the world of the Bliss (similar to Muggles, they are ignorant of the wizarding world), as well as Cara and Harlee’s back stories. There are many humorous details along the way, creatures and for me the setting of the Pacific Northwest was well written and added to the story. This was a fun, entertaining read that I will be purchasing for my library.

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Network Effect

Like most of you, when faced with a natural disaster and pending evacuation, you ask yourself important questions, like what books should I pack. This was one of the first books I grabbed. I probably shouldn’t make light of that, as we really had plenty of time to leave town, giving me lots of time to think about things like books. Others may not have been as lucky. We thought we would be gone for a couple of days, tops. I thought, why not catch up on some of the more adult reads I have and then go back to MG when we get home. This book was meant to be an escape during my second forced vacation of the year. It did its job.

Its excellent. I am sure that a few of you have read it, so you know that the first full length Murderbot story is not disappointing. Absolutely hilarious lines as this robot continues to explore its humanity. The return of a character from the earlier novellas, one that Murderbot has something in common as well as new characters that they have even more in common with was very compelling. A must read for fans of this series.

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Switch

I have long been a fan of A.S. King but somehow I forgot to buy this one when it came out in May. But, lucky for me the very small town library that is currently my third home had it. This is a surreal book that has a kind of Vonnegutesque quality to it. In this story “real time” has stopped and humanity struggles with what to do without something that seems to have governed a lot of their actions. Tru Beck wants this to be something that radically changes the world and how people treat each other. Much of the world just wants to re-create the old system. Tru has other odd stuff going on in her life, like suddenly being able to throw a javelin well past all world records. But really, she just wants the people she cares about to see the things that are really important. This was a great book to read while under some odd circumstances, such as I was/am.

 

I did read a number of other books, several picture books, but really these three are the standouts for me. Read them all, if you haven’t already. I hope you have a great reading week, and I hope to check up on what you all have been reading later on Tuesday.