#IMWAYR November 13, 2017


#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

Today's post is a recap of what I have been reading in the past couple of weeks. I've been busy gallivanting around the province. We returned from our place in Oliver, BC and hardly had time to turn around before I was off to Powell River where my sisters and I spent about 5 days together. We worked on a quilt, gabbed a lot, had a few adult beverages, and ate like queens. I didn't get much reading done, but I did get some knitting in.

My school district is desperate for substitute teachers so I have been working a couple of times a week. I had forgotten how exhausting and exhilarating teaching is. I'm glad it's not more. 

BLOG POST


BOOKS FOR BABIES


4 stars
Sharing Our World by Ian Reid & illustrators Ryan Cranmer, Doug Lafortune, John Nelson, Francis Horne Sr., Paul Windsor, Corey Bulpitt, T.J. Young, Ben Houstie, & Eugene Isaac

These gorgeous west coast illustrations of different animals were created by different indigenous artists. Each animal is paired with text telling readers a bit about it. Most explain a lesson we can learn from them.

3.5 stars
So Many Babies by Lorna Crozier, Laura Watson (Illustrations)

Lorna Crozier is an award winning Canadian poet so when I discovered this on a visit to the library with Ada, we had to read it. We both liked the rhyme and rhythm and the bright colours in the illustrations.

3 stars
Smile! by Roberta Grobel Intrater

Our babies liked this one, but not as much as Baby Faces by Margaret Miller.

5 stars
What Noise Does an Owl Make? by Nick Ackland, Bella Bee (Illustrations)

This is one of my grandbabies favourite book these days. Each page shows a cartoon of an animal with the question, What sound does a ____ make? Then there is a pull out section with text for the animal's sound. When I first started reading it to Ada, she would scan the pages and turn her head to look at me (dumbfounded) when I made the animal sounds. Yesterday when I brought it out to read to her, she got excited just looking at the cover. She does not do that with just any old book! Everett is coming to visit on Monday so I will see if he is also a fan. 

PICTURE BOOKS

3 stars
Say Zoop! by Hervé Tullet

While I really enjoyed Press Here, this book didn't work for me. It just went on for too long.

4 stars
The Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy, Michael P. White (Illustrator)

I would have loved to have had this book in our school library. It’s very clever and full of hilarious puns. The ending is transformational!

3 stars
Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems

I’m not sure about this book. Edwina is a very helpful dinosaur who bakes cookies, helps old ladies across the street, plays with kids, and is generally loved by everyone in town. Except of course by one person who goes out of his way to convince everyone that dinosaurs are extinct. This didn’t quite work for me, although I appreciated that it modelled civilized debate. It also shows us that sometimes, all we need is someone to listen to us.

5 stars
Whose Moon Is That? by Kim Krans

Gorgeous illustrations and rhyming poetry go together to make this a picture book to read again and again. I read it with my 4 1/2 month old granddaughter and we were both enchanted.

CHILDREN'S NONFICTION

5 stars
Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing by Dean Robbins & Lucy Knisley (Illustrator)

Like Ada Lovelace, Margaret Hamilton will be an inspiration to young girls (and boys) everywhere. I love the layout in this book; the way the narrative begins with Margaret asking questions and coming up with her own solutions. She grew up to be a mathematician who created the computer software that helped get astronauts to the moon. We learn about her successes, but at the same time, her joy, passion and brilliance are there in every page. We have Lucy Knisley's illustrations to thank for this.
My granddaughter is named after Ada Lovelace. I've told my sons that whoever has the next girl will have to call her Margaret.

3 stars
From Egg to Spider by Anita Ganeri

Wonderful photographs and other text features such as captions, bold words, a life cycle chart, labelled photograph, glossary, index and bibliography make this a good book for young readers. It focuses primarily on a generic spider’s life cycle. I wish there was more detail on parts of a spider’s body, but it is still a good book.

MIDDLE GRADE NOVELS

5 stars
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez

This is a stellar book about accepting and being who you are. Malú (Maria Louisa) is a half Mexican punk rock fan. This puts her at odds with her "SuperMexican" mom who wants her to be more señorita. When the two of them move to Chicago, away from her father, Malú has a hard time adjusting. Ultimately she finds a way to connect all the pieces of herself in a way that is just herself.
There is a lot to love about this book. Pérez has created authentic characters you can't help but want to cheer for. This is as true for Malú and her peers as it is for the adults around them. She shows us a complex Latino culture that is much more than food and music. I love the zines and can see a teacher using this book as a read aloud, and using this model in all kinds of meaningful ways!

3 stars
Horizon by Scott Westerfeld & Johnathan McClain (Narrator)

This was more enjoyable than I expected it to be. Westerfeld is a brilliant world creator in all of his work, so I really don't know why I am surprised. When a plane crashes over the arctic, only a few teens survive, but the place they end up in is not the kind of icy environment you might expect. Keeping all the characters separate was a bit of a challenge in the audiobook, but I was able to follow them and their adventures eventually. I appreciate how each of the individual teens has their own strengths that end up being of benefit to the rest of them.

4 stars
Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder

This is a heartfelt book about a young girl in the foster system. When an opportunity for adoption arises, she has to let go of her belief that her birth mother still wants her.

4 stars
Saving Marty by Paul Griffin & Paul Griffin (Narrator)

Fans of Babe will like this one. Marty is a pig who is raised with dogs. He lives with Lorenzo Ventura and his family. However, as Marty gets older and much bigger, he becomes a danger to those around him, and Lorenzo has to find a safe place for him. That isn't all Lorenzo has on his plate though, there is the issue of his father who died in a war, and the secrets about him that his mother is keeping. There is his friendship with Paloma which seems to be disintegrating when she goes off to summer camp.

4 stars
The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick

Maverick and his mother live in poverty, a condition that is exacerbated by his mother's alcoholism and lousy choice in men. He doesn't want anyone to know just how bad it is. School is not a safe place either, but Maverick is determined to be a hero this year and carries a sheriff's badge his dead father gave him to remind him of it. When Maverick gets into trouble, he calls his aunt instead of his mother. His life just gets increasingly messy until it falls apart and he and his mother finally get help.
I liked that other than his mother, the adults in this book are positive characters. This is especially true for the school principal who is rumored to be a terror, but in reality, is very supportive.


YA & ADULT NOVELS

5 stars
The Lightkeeper's Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol & Tom Parks, Dawn Harvey & Dara Rosenberg (Narrators)

Elizabeth is an aging woman whose eyes have failed. Morgan is a gifted artist and juvenile delinquent. When she gets caught tagging the fence of the care home where Elizabeth is staying, she ends up working there as part of a restorative justice program. The two unlikely characters become friends and realize they are connected in a much deeper way when Morgan ends up reading Elizabeth's father's journals to her.
This novel is beautifully written. Pendziwol positions us seamlessly between the world of Porphyry Island and that of the modern day reality of the care home and Morgan's foster home. The characters are brilliantly conceived. I just couldn't stop listening to this.
There are novels where you think you know where the plot is going, and you end up being right. This isn't one of them.

CURRENTLY

I'm listening to The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud and won't be reading anything else until it is finished. I hope this isn't the end of the series! I started The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz but abandoned it when I started the Stroud book. I will get back to it soon unless I just start listening all over again.

UP NEXT

I have both Sunny Side Up and Swing it Sunny by Jennifer Holm so I plan to read those. The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner, has to go back to the library soon so I will get to that as well.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MUSTREADIN2017 25/36

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 7/12

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 32/50

Chocolate Lily (CL) 51/51

Big Book Challenge 4/6

Goodreads Reading Challenge 366/333 
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Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez

Upon finishing this novel I was reminded of this line by Sherman Alexie, "If it's fiction it must be true." 

Scarborough is a diverse cultural community within Toronto, Ontario, a major city in Canada. This novel is about a low income community who live in or near a shelter in the neighbourhood. It centres around a group of families and children who live in the shelter and attend a literacy/breakfast program run by a Muslim woman, Miss Hina.

Hina and three children, Laura, Sylvie and Bernard, the primary characters, are introduced to us first.

Laura's mother packs up Laura and her things and drops her off at a bowling alley for her father, Cory, to pick her up. Cory is a poor, white, alcoholic, aging skinhead. He loves his daughter, but has no idea how to be a parent.

Sylvie, an indigenous child, and her mother, Marie, are rushing home to the shelter from a doctor's appointment where Maria was trying to get help for her three year old, Johnny, who she knows has something wrong with him.

Bing, a gifted Filipino boy, waits for his mother, Edna, in the nail salon where she works, and remembers the day they fled from his crazed father.

Hina is hired for the position of Program Facilitator at the Rouge Hill Public School location of the Ontario Reads Literacy Program.

Their stories unfold through multiple perspectives. Not only do we see the world through the lenses of these primary characters, we see it through the eyes of their parent’s and other front line workers. This patchwork of voices enables the reader to more fully comprehend the inhabitants, how they function individually and as a collective. It reads like a series of connected vignettes that grabbed me by the throat and forced me to bear witness to these many different lives as they experience racism, despair, tragedy, friendship, and success. As a teacher I understand that parents, except in very rare circumstances, always do the best they can for their children. Despite the hardships, this is abundantly clear here. 

I cried. I laughed. I rejoiced.

For some of these children, their lives only get better when they die. This line near the end, continues to haunts me.
"It feels so good to hug someone who will never hit you."

Hernandez' writing is brilliant. In an interview with Susan G. Cole from Now, she stated, "If I’m not shit-disturbing, what’s the fucking point in writing?” I hope she continues doing both for a very long time. 

#IMWAYR October 30, 2017


#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

It was an intense reading week for me. The adult novels left me reeling. I abandoned Last Night I Sang to the Monster because even though it was an ebook, I couldn't make the font larger. This probably isn't a problem when you are young, but even with my reading glasses on, small print is a serious challenge for me. It won't be long and I won't even add books to my want to read list unless it is available in either audio or large print format.

PICTURE BOOKS

3 stars
The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater & Eric Fan & Terry Fan (Illustrators)

The Fan brother's illustrations are just jaw droppingly beautiful in this book. It's a deeply philosophical narrative about a wolf and other animals who head off on a ship in search of the perfect island. While I liked it well enough, I'm not sure this will work with younger students. However, it would be interesting to share with intermediate age students to see what they make of it.

4 stars
Now by Antoinette Portis

This is a beautiful book that reminds us to live in the moment and enjoy and love what we are doing now to its fullest.

4 stars
A Cat Is Better by Linda Joy Singleton & Jorge Martin (Illustrations)

This humorous book presents is with a cat who thinks it is much better than a dog. Eventually, after living with a dog for a while, it changes its mind. The simple bright coloured cartoons are lots of fun.

3 stars
Zigzoo by Ruowen Wang & Wei Xu (Illustrator)

When a young dragon, Zigoo, ends up with a cold, his grandmother sends him off to see a human doctor. The doctor, worried about what the dragon might do to his office, refers him to another specialist. This continues until the dragon’s cold starts to go away on its own. In the end, Zigoo manages to get his fire back in a way that makes the humans start to appreciate him.

4 stars
If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don't! by Elise Parsley

Libraries may not be the quiet places many people think they are, but a circus in a library is still too much for all kinds of reasons. This funny book lets readers know what they are. This is from the author of If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't! If you liked that one, you will enjoy this.

4 stars
My Friend Lucky by David Milgrim

I would snap this book up in a heartbeat if I were still in the library. It is a delightful book about a boy and his dog. Each page has two words on it starting with Lucky. Each two page spread presents opposites. This makes it perfect for emerging readers who can engage with the text meaningfully. The humour and love in the pages will make it a favourite so they will happily reread it!

TRANSITIONAL CHAPTER BOOKS

5 stars
Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder & Emily Hughes (Illustrator)

I am madly in love with these two fictional boys. How I wish that this book had been around when my own two sons were younger. Charlie and Mouse are two brothers who live in a loving family. The four little stories are just charming in their simplicity.
Emily Hughes' illustrations are the icing on the cake. She captures an innocence in childhood and shows us a diverse cultural community living together in harmony.

MIDDLE GRADE NOVELS

3.5 stars
The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

I enjoyed this book about an Iranian girl growing up in LA.Her parents are financially well off and Daria seems to live a charmed life with her group of diverse friends who call themselves The Authentics. When their class is asked to do a genealogy report for high school, the group decides to get genetic testing to add to their reports. Daria's results come as a shock and leave her wondering who she really is.
I appreciate the diverse group of characters included in this book. I like the backdrops of Iranian and Mexican culture. I especially appreciate that by the end of the novel all the characters have transformed in some way or another.

5 stars

Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy

I read this book after finishing Jesmyn Ward's novel. (See below) It was the perfect sequel. Sure it made me cry, but this is ultimately a story of hope. It is the tale of a young white girl and her family who return to her parent's home town to look after her grandmother, who has Alzheimers. Alice connects with their elderly black neighbour, Miss Millie, who helps her make friends and cope with her feelings about the move and her absent father.



YA & ADULT NOVELS

4 stars
Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez

This is a powerful novel about families living in a low income neighbourhood in Toronto. I've got a full review just about ready to post. 

5 stars
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward & narrated by Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Chris Chalk and Rutina Wesley

I had no idea there was even such a thing as Southern Gothic until I read this book. If that means anything to you, then you will know something about what to expect. I'm hoping to have a more in depth review for this up next week.
Nothing I can write will ever do justice to it.

CURRENTLY

I'm reading The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick. I'm listening to The Lightkeeper's Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol.

UP NEXT

Saving Marty By Paul Griffin is the audiobook that is next on my list. The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez is on top of my to read with my eyes pile.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MUSTREADIN2017 25/36 

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 7/12 

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 31/50 

Chocolate Lily (CL) 51/51

Big Book Challenge 4/6

Goodreads Reading Challenge 350/333 
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