This is my final summer holiday It’s Monday What are you Reading (IMWAYR) post in some ways as I return to work today. My district has some professional development this week before students return next week. IMWAYR is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. If you time to read the approximately thirty or so blogs that contribute each week, you will have an excellent survey of current books and classic reads to add to your to-be-read lists.
The first book that I finished this week was a book that I was reading with my six year old. This is the second of The Chicken Squad books that we have read and my little one eats up the humour. If you have read Doreen Cronin’s J.J. Tully mysteries you may know these four chicks from those tales. We are actually doing it a little backwards as we discovered The Chicken Squad first. Both are great little early chapter books. I think it is the same part of my child’s brain that loves the TV show Inspector Gadget, that loves these books. The chicks are not the best detectives in the world and often stumble upon a solution to the problem. Each of the four has a role and personality that adds to the humour, and their misunderstandings cause the “misadventures” that make us giggle.
I was hooked into this MG book right away for two reasons. Our main character has her world rocked right away and is in a heap of danger. Secondly, the book is set in Rome, even though the main character is an American. I got to brush up on the few Italian and Spanish (the character’s family speaks Spanish) words that I know. Young Cassie is thrust into situations in which a secret society is after her and she does not know who, if anyone, she should trust. She is a determined character that I wanted to see succeed in figuring out what is going on in her world. This book was recommended to me by a student after we purchased it together at our Scholastic Book Fair last year. She read it right away, but I had too many to read at the time and only got to it this week. I think my timing was better as the sequel comes out on September 27 and my student was eager to read it immediately after finishing Moving Target over six months ago.
This is another of my efforts to read some of the many books that students have recommended to me for the summer. After reading Moving Target, I thought I would read this one which looks like it could also have taken place in Italy based on the cover. However, Ally Carter sets this in a small, fictional, Mediterranean country. This is a similar book to the last one that I reviewed in that the main character is in danger and unsure of who she can trust to help her. She is also a spirited female lead and this was also the first in a series called Embassy Row, as the teens in this book are children of people that work in foreign embassies. The second book arrived just before Christmas 2015, and the third is coming late in 2016. I will certainly check out the second title See How They Run and this series has the same level of action, with a hint of potential romance that Heist Society and Gallagher Girls had.
This is a book that I am surprised took me so long to read. At some point, I decided I would wait until my kids were old enough, and this did become a family read aloud with my wife, and six and nine year old daughters. It is a pretty long book, but all four of us really enjoyed it (lucky for me as it was my turn to pick and we had other series we are part way through). This book is really ideal for those that love books as there are loads of book references (quotes at the beginning of each chapter), and the plot revolves around characters being pulled out of books, the power of words and writing. There are well developed bad guys and action for those that are not enthralled by the book references. It is a little long at over 500 pages, and the pace is not super fast, but there was certainly enough to hold my six year old’s attention, and we talked about reading the next book at some point.
I am going to end with three picture books that I bought on a recent trip (there are no bookstores where I live). Cowboy & Octopus is a series of tales about a pair that are friends despite their many significant differences. This book has been around for a while but I hadn’t read it until yesterday and comes from the team that is better known for the Stinky Cheese Man stories. I wonder if it is confusing for young readers when there is not one consistent narrative in a story, but the moments of humour are sure to pull in my little six year old. Julia, Child is a complicated little story. I was hoping to find another PB bio for a unit I am working on, but this is not as simple as it sounds in this case. The book is loosely based on the ideas of Julia Child, but that tricky little comma is a hint that this is not a bio. It is more like a calling card for Julia, a girl that wants to forever be a child, and help others keep their child-like qualities through the food that she prepares with a friend. It’s a cute idea, and kids will really go for some of the statements about grownups inside.
Lastly, the oldest book on this list. The Wreck of the Zephyr. I purchased the 30th anniversary edition on the right. As expected from this writer/illustrator, there are some beautiful pictures here, and the story has a twist at the end that I think many kids will predict, but also really like. One of the characters could be considered stubborn and has a large ego, but this would make for good discussions with kids. Some will just day dream looking at the art though. That’s pretty much what I do when I look at the new cover.
Up next: I am choosing another student recommendation: A Tale Dark and Grimm (this one I mentioned in class as a book I could not wait to read, and then it was promptly out for the the four months of school after I bought it- I love being a librarian). My oldest child will be choosing the fifth of Chris Colfer’s Land of Stories series, An Author’s Odyssey. We have read the previous four together for our family read alouds, and this was a must-purchase-in-hardcover-Dad-comes-back-from-a-bookstore-a-hero buy early in the summer. I thought my kids were going to complain about the length of Inkheart when I purchased An Author’s Odyssey, but they did not. Inkheart is that good. I am also keen to read All-American Boys, which I finally broke down and bought (no library copies in our system). This book might be too much for the grade five/six class I will be teaching so I might squeeze in a couple more books that I want to recommend to them before the start of the school year and then start All-American Boys. Happy Reading to all! Hopefully, your summer ends well!