I have been very efficient today (or yesterday) but I am trying at the last minute to finish my contribution to this weekly meme hosted by the excellent people at teachmentortexts and unleashingreaders. I am sure there are thirty or so blogs represented as I write this with dozens of great additions to my TBR list.
Here are the books that I was able to read this week:
I was fortunate enough to have a Twitter follower re-tweet the writer’s request for feedback on his forthcoming book. I replied quickly and he sent the book to me. I was able to finish reading it this week. I found this to be a very exciting beginning of a MG sci-fi series. I enjoyed how the parents and kids experience the events with different viewpoints and how these perspectives shape their actions. The twists near the end set the stage for an interesting second book that I look forward to reading. The most obvious comparisons that I had while reading it were actually books for adults (The Martian and Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves- two of my favourite reads last year). The basic premise is that humanity is trying to find a new home after having to leave Earth and then Mars. One the last day on Mars, our characters run into some unforeseen challenges. I got this into the hands of a grade 5 student Friday, and he is loving it too. He will be finished in a day or two and there is a long line requesting to read this amongst the grades 5-7 classes. Likely, the only complaint will be how long it will take to get a second book in the series. This book comes out on Feb. 17.
Here is a complete change of pace. Another one of Mo Willem’s perfect titles for early readers. I had a young early reader offer to curl up with me and read this aloud. Who am I to say no to that? This was a perfect book to see how much my six year old enjoys to read with expression. There are many opportunities for that, and I am grateful that my six year old has read so much with my nine year old, who I give some of the credit to for developing her little sister’s expressive reading. Hooray for read alouds!
I had really wanted to read this last year and just did not get to it. This year, I decided to start the year by reading at least one early chapter book a week (thanks to Alyson Beecher’s blog for that) and so far I have done so. I think it has already helped me to better match readers in one of my library blocks to books they seem to be enjoying. This one is a funny, crazy look inside the imagination of a six year old. Filled with perfect moments that I have shared with my kids involving blanket forts, aborted toy clean-ups and the many conditions older siblings attach to playing with younger siblings.
This was our latest family read aloud, chosen by our six year old, who found this on a clearance table at Mosaic Books (awesome store) this summer. We have enjoyed some of William Joyce’s picture books from the Guardians of Childhood series, and we enjoyed this immensely too. It’s a wise tale of the relationship between children and their faves (favourite toys), and the magic that exists between the two. At turns, it reminded me of The Velveteen Rabbit and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, but it certainly has its own sense of self too. At times lyrical, and at times action packed, I think this book had a little something for all the readers in my family.
Small spoiler ahead, but if you have heard anything about this book at all, go ahead and read this, because you already know what this one is about. I have developed really high expectations for any Kate Messner book and this book had a lot of hype. I think it delivered on that hype. This book is so good and I had it on my list to read for a while, but no copy in my area. Finally, I bought it (not as many hardcovers this year, Mr. Principal, yes the budget, oops, so sorry) and I can’t understand why some have censored it. It handles the challenging topic of addiction so well. The story seems real and not dumbed down. It respects its audience but doesn’t need to tell the story with any graphic details. I was glad to see the story from Charlie’s perspective, rather than the person going through addiction, and see how she came to grips with the challenges she and those around her had. This book is really about a lot of other things as well, but the addiction element is really important and has gotten lots of attention.
I still marvel at how Kate Messner writes so many different types of books well. My wife had a stack of her books for her elementary classroom over the weekend, and really almost any type of book you wanted was represented. This was another great title in this set and really a perfect subject with all that goes on in a garden. The illustrations are excellent and help the book travel through the seasons. Excellent notes on the animals from the book come at the end and help to clarify why “Every garden is a community garden.”
Currently Reading and Upcoming:
I have been holding on to this for too long. It is really, really good. Newbery Honor gave me the last little nudge to get going.
I am still reading this with my six-year old and the final match for the Quidditch Cup was her very favourite part so far.
We are now reading 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson as our family read aloud as well. It is a re-read for the parents, but one I think my nine year old, particularly, will love. Also, this week I have some new picture books with an Aboriginal theme that I will be reading, and Dan Gemeinhart’s new book Scar Island (if I finish The Inquisitor’s Tale quickly). I have yet to pick an early chapter book. I might adapt the plan slightly and choose The Bad Guys, which is a graphic novel, but I think still for early readers, or Amulet (which I cannot believe I have never read). There are a few distractions sitting in a shopping bag under my desk at school though. Happy Reading!