It’s Family Day (in BC) What are you Reading

This is my weekly contribution to the meme hosted by unleashingreaders.com and teachmentortexts.com, both are great places to enrich your reading lives with more great books for your TBR lists.

Finished this week:

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I was enthralled with the last third of this book, and thought about it most of yesterday. It is a story about “Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog” but really it is a vast story of big ideas about the world, and human nature. I think the title tells you that the events that take place with the children are important, but the impact on others is even more so. The story of the children is told by people who congregate in an inn, with many individuals taking turns, and sometimes more than one as they move in and out or as someone else fills in a hole in the story that others do not know. I thought the different perspectives were really effective.

Much like a few of the characters in this book, I feel like I am often trying to hear truth “above the din of other voices”. In our world of alternate facts, there is perceived orthodoxy and heresy that makes our world more “confusing and strange,” as we “face the flames of hate,” that are being fanned voraciously. In this novel, as in our world, one person’s orthodoxy is another’s heresy.

I do enjoy how Adam Gidwitz does not tone down (or dumb down) his books for readers, and as such he makes a big ask of young readers. I am curious how young readers will appreciate this book but also curious how people with religious faith that is far stronger than mine read the discussions of “god’s plan” which comes up more than once.

In addition to these deep thoughts, there are also moments of action, humour and gore that we would expect having read A Tale Dark and Grimm and its sequels. There are farting dragons, and dismembered body parts, so if you have never read any of Gidwitz’s prior works know that the books I have read are not for the faint of heart, although its not super graphic either.

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These are funny, short stories about a young girl who goes into secret agent mode and regularly saves the world (at least from her point of view). Reading three in one volume gets a tad repetitive as similar lines come up. However, some genuinely funny moments (particularly when Amelia uses disguises featuring Mom’s clothes) that will make this an attractive early chapter option. I read this one as part of my goal to read one early chapter novel each week. Each of these stories are about 45-60 pages, so at first this might look like a longer book for early chapter people, but its really not. There are a lot of pictures and not too many words on most pages.

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This is a very colourful picture book with a strong, simple message that what makes you who you are comes from within. Here, a blonde haired, blue eyed girl named Celina struggles with her identity as a Mohawk in the face of bullying. One child in particular questions the new girl in town on her identity and makes her even question herself. The girl’s love of dancing and conversations with an elder help her to come to terms with things and stand up for herself.

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This is one to file under, how could I be a teacher and now a librarian for more than a year and not have read this. Well, its often out, and I never had to recommend this to students. The other students took care of that for me. I was curious, but never made the time until this afternoon. It has beautiful art work that really conveyed the emotion of characters and motion. I have no art background, and even my stick men are terrible so the fact that I think I noticed that is significant. The story is really engaging from a tragic event in the first few pages to a cliff-hanging, should read the next one soon ending. Its set in a really intriguing alternate world that is teased at in book one and will probably be revealed a bit more in each book. Most of you probably already knew that though. But, if not, know that you will likely enjoy this title in one quick read. I will likely spend a few idle moments in the library (that never happens unless I go in on the weekend like today) reading the second title.

Currently Reading:

100 Cupboards  (100 Cupboards, #1) 100 Cupboards is our family read aloud. My nine and six year old girls seem hooked on this MG fantasy by N.D. Wilson. My wife loves the whole trilogy, and I have read the first two. I got a little bogged down in the middle of the second one, and never returned to book three, but the series is filled with some fantastic worlds and is a good complement to fans of Narnia.

The War that Saved My Life I am re-reading the Newbery Honor book from Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. It is phenomenal, and just as much so the second time. I am very excited to be using this as a lit circle book with my class this year, and in my district’s Battle of the Books.

Masterminds (Masterminds #1) I also picked Masterminds for lit circles and Battle of the Books this year. It is an exciting dystopian for tweens kind of book. Low trust for adults, but without the violence or love triangles that characterize the genre in YA (at least that is what I find- and I like some of those books).

Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune I am really excited to be reading this book. I don’t read much (maybe not enough) non-fiction but I really enjoyed the first two chapters. This would be an easy book talk for students that love history and action. Just read the back- “Very few people in this story die of natural causes” and show off the cover. Done.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3) My six year old and I have one chapter left. Most of the secrets are uncovered, I think, and I am not sure how we are going to be set up for book four. My child is a little spoiled now for books that do not contain magic. They have an uphill battle for her attention.

Upcoming Reads:

I am hoping to get to Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart, I might have written that before though. My youngest and I are going to read The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation, this is a favourite early chapter series of ours. Happy Family Day Reading to everyone!

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13 thoughts on “It’s Family Day (in BC) What are you Reading

  1. I wondered too about the religious aspects of The Inquisitor’s Tale, yet thought it was handled gracefully. I love The War That Saved My Life; it’s great you’ll be reading it with a group. And I enjoyed all your reviews, will look for I Like Who I am. Thanks!

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  2. Enjoy reading The Princess in Black with your little one! I am also trying to get Scar Island read but holds keep showing up at the library so I have to rearrange reading order! Amulet is SO popular in my room. Kids read and reread this series.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on Inquisitor’s Tale. Definitely a big ask for readers, but I sometimes think middle-grade doesn’t ask quite enough of them in terms of big ideas and philosophy. When I think about the big ideas that can engage my son, I feel like much middle-grade can be a bit limiting in its focus on interpersonal relationships, family, friendship. Not that those things aren’t important, but I just see a broader willingness to engage and think in my son than books for that age fully seem to reflect. I am another one who has never read Amulet, but your review has convinced me that I need to. I still need to read War that Saved My Life too. Might try it with my son!

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    1. I agree with you that some middle grade fiction can focus on relationships. Some even get formulaic. I try to choose Lit Circle/Battle of the Books titles that are a little different for that reason (War that Saved My Life is one for this year). I think I am going to find me a grade 7 to read The Inquisitor’s Tale this week.You have some great titles to read with your son, enjoy!

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  4. I finished The Inquisitor’s Tale this week also. Your comments are more profound than mine, and capture my feelings about it. Having been raised Catholic, and read about martyrs and the inquisition, I made many connections as I read it.

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    1. I noticed that you read it this week too. I wondered if I was missing stuff having not been raised in a religious household, and how students who may not be aware of differences between Judaism and Christianity would read it. An amazing book either way, and I think it will spark interest and those topics, and of medieval studies as well. You had quite a week surviving Merritt and the Coquihalla. I can imagine a group of travelers sitting around here discussing it. The Traveler’s Tale.

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