#IMWAYR FEBRUARY 1, 2016

I appreciate all my library monitors, but I have come to cherish my conversations about books and life with Anna, one of my grade sevens, who comes in to help me after school on Friday afternoons. This week Anna guest hosted my blog with her review of Tomboy. My editing was minimal. Please read it. I am not sure which of us was more excited when Liz Prince tweeted a response after reading her post. Anna is also writing a novel. I am looking forward to reading it some day soon.



Today is Monday and time for #IMWAYR. Many thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting this weekly event. Their kindness enables the rest of us to find out what other kid lit aficionados are reading and blogging about. 

What with supporting my mother as we wait for a place where she will get more care, attending different kinds of meetings last week after school, and trying to get the library under control, it was an overwhelming week, and truthfully, my reading life, up until Sunday, showed it. If it were not for audiobooks, I'm not sure I would accomplish anything. I wondered if I was in a reading slump, as all I was doing was listening to stories. Yet this weekend, something changed. I gave myself permission to not finish all the work on my to do list, and spent Sunday afternoon relaxing on the sofa reading. I suspect not reading text during the weekdays might be just from the exhaustion of days so full they seem to never end. 

NOVELS


Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger

3 stars
In this conclusion to the Finishing School series, Sophronia, in her last year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, is forced to utilize all her special training and fancy tools. It is discovered that the Picklemen are involved in a nefarious plot to take over the government. To do it, they must take over the school, a massive dirigible, and get it to London. Sophronia embraces all manner of subterfuge, coquettishness, and even hand to hand combat in order to save the country, her school, and her life. Two out of three isn't bad I supose. I wanted to love this book more, but it just didn't live up to my expectations.

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

5 stars
This book is why I gave myself permission to abandon my to do list. I discovered Sunday morning that I had this book checked out from the library and that it was overdue. From the first line to the last it was as if I'd fallen into a beautiful magical world of unconditional love and adventure. I couldn't help but make connections to Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant. Rundell's writing is just stunning. Here are some examples: 

Mothers are a thing you need, like air, she thought, and water. Even paper mothers were better than nothing – even imaginary ones. Mothers were a place to put down your heart. They were a resting stop to recover your breath. Page 32 

"Books crowbar the world open for you." Page 34 

Carrie Gelson, if I didn't already love you, I would now for recommending this book to the rest of us.

NON FICTION


5 stars
Tomboy by Liz Prince

I am so glad Anna convinced me to take this book home and read it.
Not only did I enjoy it, I made personal connections to my own youth in this look at what it means to be a girl. I did get a bit freaked out when Liz worries that she will never be 'normal' and professes to hate girls. Thankfully Harley starts her on the road to understanding that being a girl has many more configurations than what is portrayed in modern media and popular culture.


My discussions with Anna about this book were rewarding. We had a long conversation about the use of the word 'tomboy.' Like Anna, I will be recommending it to older elementary students. If I taught in highschool, I would invest in a literature circle set of it. 

The Inventor's Secret: What Thomas Edison told Henry Ford by Suzanne Slade & Jennifer Black Reinhardt (Illustrations)

4 stars
Essentially the first part of this book is the story of how Thomas Edison inspired Henry Ford to create his many different automobiles. The picture book section is interesting narrative, but it is Reinhardt's illustrations that made the book for me. I really don't understand cars at all, but her illustration on page 21 showing how a four stroke cylinder works went a long way to remedy this. I also enjoyed seeing the illustrations of the different kinds of cars Ford invented. I have to confess that I had a special interest in seeing them because my partner's parents traveled from Saskatchewan to British Columbia in a Model T back in the 1940's.
I appreciated the sections at the end of the book that deal more specifically with the two inventors relationship and their different inventions.


From The Mountain to the Sea: We Share the Seasons by Brenda Boreham and Terri Mack (available from Strong Nations)

4 stars
This nonfiction big book is as much a collection of charts as it is a book. It enables teachers to implement aboriginal learning principles into their primary classrooms throughout the year. Clicking on the above link will take you to where you can read more about the many ways to use this in your classroom, but you have to see the book for yourself to appreciate the gorgeous illustrations. The left hand side of each page spread is illustrated to show the natural world. On the right hand side the illustrations reflect aboriginal culture. Each double page spread ends in a question that students, taking turns using the accompanying eagle feather, can respond to. 

CURRENTLY


Between the World and Me written and narrated by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Learning to see the world in new ways is one of the reasons I am a reader. This book humbles me, enrages me and makes me weep. If it isn't already on your want to read list, it should be. I've already decided to purchase a print copy for myself. 



On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta


The beginning of this book was a bit confusing for me, but I persisted because the writing is just stunning. I've got this on my portable devices and whenever I get a chance, or have to stop and wait, I just read. I think this is the title that is most helping me get back into more real reading. 

A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children edited by Doris Seale and Beverly Slapin


Last week, after reading Debbie Reese's post Where do you shelve Native American stories? I decided to take a hard look at our collection. I know we have texts that are beyond problematic, but haven't gotten around to weeding them because I'm sure how to replace them. In addition to all this, while I may have Menominee ancestry through my grandmother, I am mostly a mix of everything and have lived a life of white privilege. In essence, I am in no position to really understand all the nuances that might make a book distasteful at best and harmful at worst. Then I discovered this book. It isn't the kind of book you sit and read cover to cover, but it is an excellent resource filled with information about different authors and titles. After a bit of work, the "I should probably weed these books" pile is much higher than the"Keep these" pile. 

UP NEXT
I'm going to read Red Wolf by Jennifer Dance. There has been some controversy over whether or not this book should be in our library system given that the author, while she has family in an aboriginal community, is not herself, an aboriginal woman and should not be telling stories that are not hers to tell. The book has won all kinds of accolades and awards here in Canada and has even been lauded by Joseph Boyden. We shall see....

Tomboy: a graphic memoir by Liz Prince Guest Hosted by Anna in grade 7

20256612This blog post is written by Anna, one of my grade seven library monitors who encouraged me to take this book home and read it.

Tomboy is a very interesting graphic novel. I've read it many times and I find it a great read.

Tomboy goes through the life of Liz Prince from when she was maybe 4 to when she was probably 17. It shows the struggle she faced of being bullied throughout her life, moving from one place to another, losing friendships and being pressured into sex and drugs.

This book is amazing! While sounding quite serious it has quite a hilarious aspect to it and will definitely make you laugh and sometimes, clench your fists. I wanted to jump into the book and punch characters in the face. I would definitely recommend it to my friends and some of my friends have actually read it.

To be honest when my mother bought it for me about a year ago she didn't realize how much swearing was in it and she wasn't terribly pleased but I still read it and loved it. I would definitely recommend it for older ages because it does have references to swearing, sex, and drugs.

I recommend Tomboy for ages 11 and up considering it's quite a mature graphic novel.

#IMWAYR January 25, 2016

#IMWAYR is when bloggers write about the titles they have been reading the previous week. Originally it focused on adult literature. Then Jen at Teach Mentor Text and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers created a kidlit version of this meme. If you are interested in finding out what's what and who's who in children's literature, you will want to read these blogs even if you are not a  blogger yourself. 


Thankfully my mother is out of the hospital and back in her own home with a bit more support. We hope this will help her function while we look around for alternative care that will eventually become inevitable.

My reading life this week has been mostly delightful. 

I perused many picture books in search of books to support one of our teacher's anti bullying unit. I'm going to have to group this collection together so I don't have to search for books each time. On top of that, books that should have been on the shelf were not. Other librarians will most likely understand my frustration when I discover that important books have gone missing. Grrr..

On a more positive note, one of my super library monitors did a guest post for me last week. Check out what Maya S (I really love this kid) thought of Bird and Squirrel On The Edge. I'm hoping to get more students to take on guest hosting my blog for me. They get first dibs and new titles so I figure we are all happy, and after all, it is impossible for one person to read all the books that come into our library!


NON FICTION

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford & Ekua Holmes (Illustrations)
5 stars

I am so grateful to Tara Smith at A Teaching Life for introducing me to this book. I suspect that Fannie Lou Hamer will continue to be an inspiration for many people long into the future. This quote of Hamer's that marks the beginning of the rest of the text, told me I was going to love this woman. 

The truest thing that we have in this country at this time is little children.... If they think you've made a mistake, kids speak out.

Anyone who has ever worked with children in any capacity understands this truth. 

Weatherford's poetry is beautiful and powerful. With reference to Lyndon B. Johnson's signing the Civil Rights Bill into law, she says, "The blood of freedom fighters was in his pen." Ekua Holmes illustrations augment and enhance Johnson's words. 

While I'm trying to find more picture books to reflect Canadian black history, Fannie Lou Hamer's story will provide a glimpse into the larger context. 

4 stars
Emu by Claire Saxby & Graham Byrne (Illustrations)

One of my library monitors exclaimed, "Wow, what an artistic book with lots of interesting information." I couldn't have said it better myself. I was particularly fascinated to learn that it is the male emu who sits on the nest and looks after the chicks for the next six months until they are old enough to look after themselves.

I'm so looking forward to whatever this team come up with next.  

5 stars
The Blue Whale
 by Jenni Desmond 


WOW! This is some amazing nonfiction writing. I especially appreciate the comparisons that are shown in the text and the images. For example: as well as informing the reader that a blue whale can measure up to 100 feet, it goes on to explain that "this is the same length as a truck, a differ, a boat, a car, a bicycle, a motorcycle, a van and a tractor-all lined up." The accompanying illustrations shows all these vehicles lined up in a row. I love that the page discussing the eye explains that it is 6 inches wide, and the image of the eye is 6 inches. The language is so straightforward and beautiful it will make fantastic mentor text for nonfiction writing. 

NOVELS


5 stars
Stella By Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

I enjoyed this story of a young black girl growing up in the 1930's. The audiobook was extra special because of being able to listen gospel music. I love reading historical fiction because of what it reveals about time and place and the people who lived there. I was worried that this novel would be a harder read because I am not unaware of the horrific challenges faced by black people in the states and here in Canada at this time. ( I wish we could say it was over) Instead, this book is inspirational. It is filled with love and purpose and the enduring power of community.  

I went looking on the internet to see if there might be a playlist of the music and instead I found this lovely book trailer where Sharon M. Draper explains her inspiration for this story. Discovering that it comes from the true story of Draper's grandmother just made this book more poignant for me.  






3 stars

The Fugitive (Theodore Boone #5) by John Grisham

The truth is that I started listening to this book because I didn't have anything else ready to go and it was available from the library. It is an ok read, but I think I might have just had enough of Theodore Boone. In this one, a culprit from an earlier novel makes an appearance and finally gets his comeuppance. 

CURRENTLY

I finally started Tomboy by LIz Prince. It has been on my to read list for ages, but last friday another of my library monitors convinced me that I should read it over the weekend. So far I am completely enamoured with this book. The reason I haven't already finished it is that Manners and Mutiny as both a book and an audiobook became available from the public library. As I get into this story I am both delighted and distressed as this is the last book in the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger. I will have to go back to reading her adult fiction I think. I'm loving Moira Quirk's narration so much that I'm pretty sure I did much more housework today just to have an excuse to continue listening. I have abandoned Pickle by Kim Baker, but I'm still reading The Pirate Code by Heidi Schulz.  

UP NEXT
It will depend on what becomes available but I'm thinking it might be time for an adult read of some kind. I'm waiting as patiently as is possible for me for All American Boys to become available. 

Bird and Squirrel On The Edge by James Burks (Guest Post)


I've started to let my library monitors get first dibs at new books for our library. The catch is that they must then write a review of the book which will be posted here. This post is from my first SLM (super library monitor) borrower. 


25205300
Bird and Squirrel On the Edge is an hilarious and exciting book. It has lots of great friendship bonds and characters helping each other. My favorite part is when the Bear can't stop licking the bird and the bird hates it but later on he laughs. 

I recommend this book for grades one to five.

by Maya 



#IMWAYR JANUARY 18, 2016

Sometimes one week morphs into the next and I am scarcely aware of it. Here it is Monday again and time for #IMWAYR. Thank you so much Jen at Mentor Texts and Kellee and Rickie at Unleashing Readers for hosting this weekly event. Last week went to hell in a handbasket and I didn't have time to read everyone's posts. I'll try to do better this week.

This I know is true.
There is a lot of undignified business involved in getting old. 

My mother ended up in the hospital a week ago Sunday. It's been a hell of a week that ended a hell of a month. Mom's cancer has metastasized to many different parts of her body with an ensuing increase in pain. About a month ago, she was prescribed opiates to deal with this. Opiates can leave even the most high functioning individuals goofy, but for those, like my mother, who have had a traumatic brain injury, they can be completely debilitating. Confusion, hallucinations, and inability to monitor her basic needs have been part of the nightmare. On top of this, she was being over medicated. We are actually thankful that Mom ended up in the hospital. I took a few days off work this week to find opportunities to talk face to face with her doctor and the social worker there. The good news is that they are attempting to get her pain medication sorted out, are aware of how confused she is, and won't be releasing her until they are certain that she will be returning to a place where she is safe, comfortable, and well looked after. I wish this meant I could relax, but it only means that our biggest worry is appeased.

Our family lost our father in an instant. We are losing our mother in increments. I'm not sure which is worse.

I needed reading to be a refuge for me this week. I was listening to An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir but I couldn't handle the brutality of it. It would probably be a challenging read for me anytime, but I had begun to dread returning to it because it was exacerbating my already over stressed state. I finally abandoned it and started listening to The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall. But honestly, what I've craved most this week was sitting in front of the TV screen watching mysteries and knitting. I've been carrying The Pirate Code by Heidi Schulz around with me, but because my mother is aware enough to want to interact with me when I visit her everyday, it has mostly remained in my bag.

NOVELS


5 stars
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall

The more I read of the Penderwicks, the more I love them. They truly are classic modern family stories. After talking to some fans at school, I discovered that most of them were introduced to the Penderwicks by a parent reading it to them. Then they became fans in their own right and have continued to read the books. I'm going to have to work on parents to get them to read these to their children.

5 stars

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. 

There is so much I love about this book. It's a coming of age tale that focuses on ordinary teens living their lives against a backdrop of supernatural events. It's a sly poke at all the chosen one narratives. I laughed out loud many times. Each chapter begins with a short summary of what is going on in the lives of the "indie kids" who are involved in battles with immortals in an effort to save the world. Meanwhile, Mikey and his friends and family are just hoping it won't interfere in their lives too much. The real battle for them is mental illness. Mikey has OCD and his sister has an eating disorder. However, there is nothing really angst ridden about this. In fact, the ending leaves readers with hope that each of them will be able to deal with their problem. Mostly I am in awe of the sweetness of this story. The relationships between the friends and the siblings is filled with love and respect and kindness: kind of like it is for the most part in the real world. 
I was a bit nervous about tackling this one because the last Patrick Ness novel I read was The Knife of Never Letting Go, which traumatized me. This title makes me determined to find time to read A Monster Calls

 PICTURE BOOKS


I know I read more picture books than I recorded in Goodreads, but I honestly can't remember the titles... I went shopping for books this week and picked up a few. I can't help but notice that half of the picture books deal with loss.

4 stars
Your Alien by Tammi Sauer, GorĊ Fujita (Illustrations)


This is a lovely story of a boy who befriends an alien. Everything is wonderful until he realizes that something is wrong with his alien. It takes the boy a while to figure out what is making his new friend so unhappy. I love this delightful message about having the courage to say goodbye and let go even when you don't want to.

5 stars
The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr

This is the perfect book to read to children who are facing the loss of someone important to them. I love Parr's comments at the end of the book where he says.
"Of all my books, this was the hardest to write - because it's never easy to say goodbye."


4 stars
The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein

This book gave me shivers as I read it. Sylvie, a cat, wakes her owner, a young child, while the world is still dark. She drags the child outside where everything is in shadow, yet "the dark is soft and comfortable." The flowers are devoid of color. Animals of all sorts murmur and whisper, "It's coming" and "It's almost here." This is a beautiful build up for what ensues. The only color in most of the book is in the cat's green eyes. This makes the ending even more spectacular. 

3 stars
Waddle! Waddle! by James Proimos

I read this one at the bookstore. A penguin searches for a friend he met who loves to dance. It was ok, but it just didn't scream pick me! pick me! And so I left it behind. 




5 stars
Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Oh this book is just so so much fun. A very cranky bear who loves to eat eggs, ends up with a batch of freshly hatched goslings that imprint on him. I love how this cranky bear slowly but surely undergoes a transformation. 



CURRENTLY



I'm trying to get into Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker but it's not really working for me. I'll give it a bit more energy before I decide to abandon it though. I'm continuing to work on Heidi Schulz’s The Pirate Code. I've just started listening to Stella by Starlight.

UP NEXT


I think I'll rummage through these stacks of books to see what strikes my fancy.  

#IMWAYR JANUARY 11, 2015


It's time for #IMWAYR again. Thanks ever so much to our marvelous hosts, Jen at Mentor Texts and Kellee and Rickie at Unleashing Readers for hosting this weekly event. It is a time to find out what others are reading in the world of kid lit (and adult stuff sometimes too) and come up with new ideas for yourself. 

Well it was a week of frenzied picture book reading for me although I did manage to finish up three novels and a couple of nonfiction titles. I also managed to get a couple of reviews posted and am working on another.

 

PICTURE BOOKS


I spent a lot of time this week going through our collection of picture books that present vignettes of Canadian history. While there are some jewels there, there are some that just need to be weeded. I'm working on a post to pick out and talk about the best of them.

Aside from those I finished reading:

Tommy Can't Stop! by Tim Federle & Mark Fearing (Illustrations)

4 stars

Tommy is one of those wild kids. His family comes up with all kinds of plans to try and help him find control. It isn't until he discovers tap dancing that his energy finds a focus. In fact, it turns out that Tommy has talent! I suspect that this book resonated for me since I was a kid like Tommy. Anyone who really knows me will tell you I'm still kind of hyperactive....



I'm New Here by by Anne Sibley O'Brien


4 stars
This is the perfect book to read when a new student from a different culture with a different language enters a classroom. It brilliantly provides insight into what it feels like to be that child and will help other students be more compassionate. It tracks three new students, one from Guatemala, one from Korea, and one from Somalia as they learn to survive in a new country.
After reading this book, I pulled one of our new students into the library to ask for his feedback. (His family arrived here last fall) With a huge smile, he told me this is how it was for him too.



3 stars
The Full Moon at the Napping House by Audrey Wood & Don Wood (Illustrations)

This just didn’t work for me in the same way as the original did. I can see how it is a wonderful book for new readers because of the pattern language though. 






4 stars
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk & Brendan Kearney (Illustrations)

This book didn't quite live up to my expectations for it. I guess it is because I have heard so much about it, I just expected more. It is humorous. I appreciated the message at the end. Maybe if I hadn't read it Friday afternoon I might have had more energy to enjoy it more? Anyway, I'll have to try this out on a group of kids to see what happens.



4 stars
Orion and the Dark by Emma Yarlett

This is a beautiful book about making friends with what you fear the most. (But I'm still not making friends with a spider - except for maybe Charlotte) For Orian, this would be the dark. It is beautifully illustrated. I can see children getting lost in all the little details in this book

 


NONFICTION 



Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, Sophie Blackall (Illustrations)

4 stars
This nonfiction narrative is brilliantly done. It begins with the mother telling her young child a story about a bear. This narrative is interspersed with the mother's telling about Harry Colebourn and how he found and kept The baby bear who came to be known as Winnie the Pooh. Sophie Blackwell's illustrations are just bloody gorgeous. I also enjoyed the photographs at the end of the book.



5 stars



This is such a gorgeous book! You can read more of my thoughts on it by clicking on the link. The most important thing I have to say about it is that if this book isn't on your want to read list by now, it should be. Actually, whether it is or not, you should go right out and get a copy and read it.


NOVELS


The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud


3.5 stars
This isn't my favorite book in this series. I didn't like this ending and I wasn't comfortable with the relationship between the two girls in this novel. It was too stereotypically antagonist. Other than this, it was another exciting, slightly scary, adventure. However, I really hate novels that end on a cliffhanger, and this one does. Not good! If I were not already addicted to this series I would quit.



4 stars
Amanda in Alberta by Darlene Foster

This was one of my #mustreadin2015 titles. It is also part of my goal to read more Canadian fiction. I've now become a fan of Amanda. Amanda is a spunky Canadian girl who lives in Alberta, but ends up traveling around the world solving mysteries. In this one in the series, she stays at home. I particularly enjoyed revisiting familiar Alberta places along with Amanda and her friend, Leah, from England.


Poached by Stuart Gibbs

3 stars
I'm not going to sugar coat this. I was glad when this book was over. I listened to it because my readers are into this series, but it was just a bit too macho and even misogynist for me. I wasn't comfortable with how women and girls were portrayed even though Teddy Fitzroy's mother is a scientist.



CURRENTLY


I didn't finished The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer because when I went to finish it, the ebook had already expired. This is also what happened to Jellicoe Road. I've asked for both of them back, but in the meantime, I've got a whole mess of books from the public library to finish. I'm in the process of listening to The Ember In the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.


UP NEXT


I have a lot of audiobooks and hardcovers checked out from the public library! Why is it that everything I put on hold arrives at once? The next book due back is The Pirate Code by Heidi Schulz so I'll be getting to that I think.