It’s Monday, what are you reading? November 20, 2017

I am linking up my post with other book bloggers at teachmentortexts.com (hosted by Jen) and unleashingreaders.com (hosted by Kellee and Ricki). These are great places to find books to fill your actual and virtual book shelves. It was kind of a slow reading week for me in terms of books finished, report cards will do that to many teachers, but I have a couple that I find noteworthy.

Books I finished this week:

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I actually had the pleasure of attending a book launch for this new title at a cafe in Merritt. Author Nicola Campbell grew up just west of Merritt and was there to read some of her poetry and the book itself. She attended the school that I work at, so it was great to have her sign the book to our students and then bring it back this week for kids to enjoy.  It’s exciting to have a book with many words in the traditional Indigenous language of the area. There is some information about local plants and there usage as well as the characters explore and gather with their relatives. The book really came to life when Nicola read the story and I got a real sense of what her childhood was like. I wish I could have her in to read it to my students, as I will not be able to read it as well as he does, but she actually lives in the Lower Mainland now. This book is a great addition to our library and the fact that the author and setting are local is amazing.

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I just finished this book and I really liked it. There was an obvious comparison to me to Pax, which I read with my class last year and that is valid, but this book stands on its own as well. There is a little bit of mystery, some supernatural elements, some sad parts for sure, and a broken family trying to keep it together. The connections between people and the land, and the main characters and animals will be intriguing for readers at my school.

Currently Reading:

Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package (Tales from Deckawoo Drive #4)The Skeleton TreeInkspell (Inkworld, #2)

I am reading the fourth Deckawoo Drive book with my seven year old right now. We do not miss these titles, and the series has become popular in my school as well. The secondary characters from Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series have captivated a few students who loved seeing the changes that the underwent.

The Skeleton Tree is a book I read last year. It is a survival story set in Alaska that also has a subplot in which two characters struggle to come to terms with issues they have had in their families. We are going to be using this title in our District Battle of the Books this year, so I am re-reading it for that purpose. There are several exciting scenes in this one, but the struggle between the two boys that are stranded is the most frustrating and satisfying for me as a reader.

My family continues to read Inkspell, there are times when I absolutely love this series and times in which it does not really have my heart. It is quite long, so that is understandable. I think if we could find more time to read it together, I would like it more.

Thanks for reading, I hope your reading week is great. I hope to finish off these report cards today and have more time for books!

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#IMWAYR November 13

One of the better ways to spend a holiday Monday is connecting with other readers after taking a break from a little too long. Head over to unleashingreaders.com (thanks to Kellee and Ricki) or teachmentortexts.com (thanks to Jen V) to see more kidlit reading lists for the week.

Books I finished this week:

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After re-reading House Arrest, I was thrilled to get this one through Net Galley. It is phenomenally good. The companion novel to House Arrest shows the world through Levi’s eyes several years after the events of the first book. Levi is about the same age as Timothy was in House Arrest. This was the perfect way to see how the Davidson’s life could continue. I loved some of the shapes the verse was written in and how the rhythms reminded me of the sounds of boxing. Levi is such a great character, and his relationship with those that care about him is so well defined and engaging to experience. I almost wrote read, but changed the last word of that sentence to experience because there is so much that you feel in this book the word read doesn’t cut it. I feel kind of bad telling you to run out and grab a book that’s not out until March, but at least you have time to plan your purchase.

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Ame Dyckman’s books have become must-reads in my school and house. We pre-ordered this new title and it was full of giggles when read in the house and with a grade 2 class at the end of the week. Make sure you take the book jacket off and have a look too. Best question from the grade 2s pre-reading: “Why are those little guys reading the book upside down?” We answered that by the end of the book as well as learned about lemmings and a new favourite word, Ditto.

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Global Read Aloud ended last week and this was the book that I read with my grade 5/6 class, partnering with classes in California, Argentina, and New Zealand. The book is amazing, even as a re-read for me. We used Flipgrid to make and share videos on some of the big questions that we had. Students became much more aware of their privileged lifestyle, and we also discussed things like the book’s mood, it’s dual narrative and cliffhangers. We also enjoyed the Livestream that Linda Sue Park and Salva did partly for the Global Read Aloud audience. Here is the link, skip the first 20 minutes though.

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This is a book that I had been meaning to read for a while and it just kept getting pushed down the pile. I added it to my Must-Read-in-2017 list to help and still it lingered. Finally, a student getting really excited about the series got me to read it. I always loved the blurb at the top, I thought if that didn’t motivate kids in 2011 when it came out, what would? In the end, it reminded me a little more of Divergent than Hunger Games, but really its a tween dystopia set in a magical world. Just the type of book my own daughter seems drawn to right now, and sure enough she picked it up at her library shortly after I started reading it. It is an interesting world that Lisa McMann created and there are many lingering questions about that world after the first book ends that lead into a long series that one of my students is close to finishing (she is on book 6). Call me late to the party, but I was intrigued enough to possibly read sequels when I find the time.

Books I finished over the last month that I should have shouted about

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The first in a promising YA supernatural trilogy, this book is a mystery, but its also about a community constantly dealing with tragedy, and how it and the individuals cope with this. It takes place in a remote Indigenous community in Canada’s north, and features some interesting characters such as a trickster figure, and a few of the teens who are well developed. There are some tragic events here for sure, but the interesting parts are how the characters deal with it and some of the Cree culture that makes this a unique story for this age group. Although, there is some explicit language (not much) used that is authentic but not typical of a middle grade fiction that I would shelve in my classroom I am so eager to find MG novels written by and about Indigenous peoples in Canada, I almost want to just buy this and throw it on my shelves anyways (for grades 5 and up). There really are not any other concerns I would have with my kids reading this, but again, its a series so who knows where it will go from here. David Alexander Robertson infuses some humour into the story with his teens’ wit, and most of all with the Coyote character.

34129063I love reading this series with my seven year old.

34415916This would have been great to have during the week of Orange Shirt Day but remains an important book to share with kids regarding the residential school impact. The back flap has some info about the author and why this story came to be.

34218224This was a great addition to Jason Reynold’s Track series. The events happen after Ghost, but  really it is Patty’s story, not Ghost’s at all. He is a secondary character. This series is going to examine the lives of its characters in depth and deliver great messages in an entertaining way.

Currently Reading

Inkspell (Inkworld, #2) This is our family read aloud. I usually have a few other books to list here, but I am between books right now and writing report cards too. I am going to reach to my Must-read-in-2017 list and choose something that my children or students have asked me to read like Cinder, The Whispering Skull, Into the Wild (Warriors) or Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard.

 

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great reading week!

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

I was lucky enough to read The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie through an ARC on Net Galley. It was released on Tuesday, October 10.

This book presents like a creepy MG thriller and it delivers on this promise with a moderately scary plot that will be suitable for almost all middle grade readers. It’s certainly creepy but young children are not likely to be too scared. In addition, like other creepy books that my grade 5-7 students have enjoyed such as The Nest by Kenneth Oppel or The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, the book has many other important messages and themes that are delivered in a subtle fashion through engaging characters.

Here is the book trailer, and my review continues after:

Tessa is a middle school-aged girl whose life is in a state of upheaval when her family moves from Florida to Chicago. She misses her best friend, Rachel, and is not sure how she will thrive in the Windy City without her. Matters are compounded when strange things begin to happen in the old house the family moves into, which her parents got for a “steal”. With her parents busy sorting out their new job and unpacking, Tessa is not sure who to turn to. Luckily, Tessa stumbles upon Andrew and the two form a friendship that gives Tessa some of the support she needs to puzzle through what is really going on and find the courage to survive increasingly freaky events.

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The possibility of a ghost being in her house provides a mystery that readers will love trying to solve with Tessa and her friends, making the story both spooky and thoughtful. Tessa benefits from the help of Nina, who loves researching the paranormal and knows that Tessa is “having a bad time and… need(s) help right now.” The kids in this book know that part of being a friend is giving someone what they really need. Friendship is key to characters in this book. When they have it, things are positive and hopeful, and the characters that are unable or unwilling to lean on friends at certain points are shown to struggle.
Image result for the peculiar incident on shady streetYoung readers are often attracted to spooky plot lines and it’s here in abundance with ghosts, creepy noises in an old house and a walk in a cemetery, but readers will also be engaged by the characters working together and overcoming fear. The message that family and friends should support each other is also perfect for MG readers. This would be a good addition to any library around Halloween, but also throughout the year.

About the author: Although Lindsay is the author of several YA books, I think it is clear that she belongs in MG due to the fact that she always wanted Anne Shirley’s red hair. This book appears to be a labour of love as it combines her home city of Chicago as the setting and the spooky elements of it remind us of her favourite holiday, Halloween. Below, Lindsay Currie offers more information as part of her walking tour of the setting of the book including a graveyard in Chicago.

 

Thanks for stopping by, this is an excellent book and I hope that many of my students get the chance to enjoy it!

It’s Monday What are You Reading 10/09/17 Canadian Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to any Canadian reading this! I feel I have much to celebrate and a large TBR list is one of them. I managed to remove a few from that list this week, but I am sure more will be added when I link this post up to teachmentortexts.com (thanks to Jen for hosting) and unleashingreaders.com (thanks to Kellee and Ricki for hosting).

Books I finished this week:

Wonder

Third or fourth time I have read this one and it is still fantastic. It was a terrific class read aloud with characters that compelled my students to urge me to read through break and PE. Like many educators, I have kids now asking what they should read now that we are finished Wonder. I usually answer with something like Out of My Mind, Mockingbird, or Auggie and Me. I Wonder what other people use for readers who want something like Wonder.

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)

This was a book that lived up to the hype for me. I have reading about this book for months and months and eagerly anticipated the pre-order that I had made. The cover gives you the premise that it is really about what happens after the more famous events in the life of Humpty Dumpty and it is a beautiful story of perseverance, courage and growth. The pictures are stunning and the ending will stay with you for a while. I will be reading this to pretty much every class I can find next week. It is not only entertaining but hits on so many themes that teachers want to talk about. If you have a chance to listen to Dan Santat talk about the inspiration for this book, it is also a memorable experience, but maybe not for all students.

By the way, I am not liking some of my pre-order decisions as they seem to come well after release date. I have no book store where I live so I order online a lot. Curious if other people are happy with pre-ordering a book they are anxious to get. I have a theory to test.

Greetings from Witness Protection!

Greetings from Witness Protection is from debut author Jake Burt. This book had a neat premise, as an orphan girl who had many experiences with the foster care system becomes a key cog in a plan to disguise a family who is in the witness protection program by adding a child to it. The dynamics of adding a child to an existing family were told with humour and heart. The events seemed authentic both within the family and within the school. All of the characters were well developed, and I could read more with these people and/or more from this writer.

Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? (Tales from Deckawoo Drive, #3)

The latest of my read alouds with my seven year old, and another series we always head back to having gone through the six Mercy Watson stories and now a third in the spin-off Tales from Deckawoo Drive. Kate DiCamillo is one of the only writers who can hold my youngest’s attention without any magic, or action scenes. I think she just really likes the characters even when they act in ways she would not (Eugenia Lincoln). I loved to see her thinking about what it would be like to be Baby Lincoln, a secondary character whose world kind of expands in our eyes. We waited for the paperback to come out and had some regrets about that at times, but if you are a fan of the series and have not found your way to this book, it is a necessary journey. We may not wait for the fourth installment to go to paperback, the hardcover is out on Tuesday.

Currently Reading:

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True StoryThe Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2)Inkspell (Inkworld, #2)

A Long Walk to Water is my current class read aloud. We have two classes in our school participating in the Global Read Aloud. We are connecting with schools in California, Argentina, and hopefully this week with Texas and New Zealand the week after (they are on break). I have previously read this book and it is amazing and gut wrenching. This is the first time I am reading it to students. The first three chapters have been eye opening for students. I am reading the second installment of Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series, and it is very much vintage Riordan, I am a fan. My family is reading Inkspell, the second in the Inkworld series by Cornelia Funke. This will take us a while, but we really enjoyed the first book.

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian reading friends, and happy reading to everyone! Have a great week, the alternative is not nearly as enjoyable.

 

It’s Monday What are you Reading? The It’s Already October Edition!

The fact that it is already October is frightening to this teacher, but I have still been able to get in some great reading by myself and with my family. I am pleased to link up to the kidlit It’s Monday hostess’: Jen at teachmentortexts.com and Kellee and Ricki at unleashingreaders.com. Both are terrific websites all week, but even better on Mondays.

Books I finished this week:

It's Not Jack and the Beanstalk

Josh Funk can really do no wrong in my library, and usually my grade 5/6 classes look forward to seeing his books before I get them into the library. This one will work well with those older students, and some young ones too. Jack wants to modify parts of his story in this tale, and he finds other characters that are willing to work with him (much to the dismay of his narrator). A funny story that would work well at the end of a fairy tale unit.

Goodnight, Hockey Fans

Just a cute little story about a kid who really wants to stay up and watch hockey but has to go to bed. It has a traditional feel to it when the child ends up listening to the game on the radio. There is also a dream like feel when the child falls asleep thinking about hockey. The illustrations add to the dream like quality. I think adults who had similar experiences will love this book the way I did. Others might have trouble relating to the experience, but will hopefully be drawn in by how much joy the boy gets out of hockey. I think this one comes out on Tuesday. I got an E-ARC on NetGalley.

Stella by Starlight

There is a very minor spoiler near the end here (although another readers says it’s not) A slice of life story of a young girl and her family living in North Carolina in 1932. Stella’s family lives through some of the racial turmoil of that time as well as the Depression. This book is full of thrilling events that test her family’s mettle. Readers will be excited with the action and also distressed at the racism the family is forced to endure. The ending of the novel was not the tidy conclusion that you would expect from a story, because Stella’s family had to continue to persevere after the story ends. That racism did not end, and life went on. This, it seems, is one of the points of the book. Indeed, there is a moment in which Stella has to decide whether to let the people in the town know about a particularly egregious event that takes place late in the book. She decides that everyone in town already knows that the perpetrator is a racist, and responsible for many despicable acts. She doesn’t really announce it to townsfolk. I struggled with this one part of the ending for a while. We teach kids to speak up, and I’m not saying the characters don’t fight racism in this book, they certainly do, but at one of many pivotal moments the response is a little muted. I have been thinking that this is likely realistic for people in that situation, and perhaps they had to fight battles that they had a chance to win, instead of all of the ones that worth fighting. Certainly, this is a novel full of points worth discussing and this is one of them for me. This is a really well written, thought provoking read.

Dory Dory Black Sheep

I continue to love reading this with my seven year old (and my ten year old lurking nearby to witness the hilarity). Dory enters grade two and struggles with her reading, which I think was a brilliant addition to this character for readers who may be doing the same. The machinations of her wild imagination kind of interfere with her ability to buckle down and learn to read. Usually, this poses no problems but now she is separated from her best friend during reading time. This motivates her to “get into” her book, a story that takes place on a farm. Once old favourites like Mr. Nuggy and Mrs. Gobble Gracker enter the story along with the existing characters, chaos ensues. This is my current favourite among early chapter books. I am consistently impressed with how well Abby Hanlon writes small children as characters. Maybe that says more about my kids. My family could read these all day.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)

I think this was one of my favourites of the series. It seemed like the ante was upped in this one and Harry and his friends had more to overcome and had to amp up their game. There were a lot of shades of gray in which characters did not behave the way Harry wanted them to, or in a way that made things simple for him. There were a few small surprises along the way as well, in which J.K. Rowling could have made life simpler, and better for Harry, but instead the plot went a different way. Which is not say that it was all gloomy, as the very end was not. There is an interesting point to be made about a person’s support network, or the community that they build around them.

Currently Reading:

WonderWhere Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volume ThreeThe Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2)Greetings from Witness Protection!

Wonder is my first class read aloud of the school year and I think we will finish tomorrow. It has been great! Where are you Going Baby Lincoln? has been a “necessary journey” with my seven year old as we have read all of the Mercy Watson and Deckawoo Drive (this is the third) books together. We waited for paperback on this one, but its good. I am reading two books by myself at the moment, an E-ARC through Net Galley of Greetings from Witness Protection. It is funny so far, and I think Jake Burt has an authentic voice that knows his characters (from teaching, I think). When my IPAD is not practical, I am reading the second in Rick Riordan’s Norse mythology series. I am only on chapter two, but The Hammer of Thor is vintage Riordan from the get go.

On deck:

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True StoryInkspell (Inkworld, #2)

Tomorrow is the kickoff for the Global Read Aloud, a reading event started by Wisconsin educator Pernille Ripp in which classes all over the world connect and share through reading a book in common. My class will read Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water and we are connecting with at least three classes in three different countries so far. There are five reading options for GRA, and over 2 million students in over 80 countries are planning to take part. This will be my third year in GRA, it is a lot of fun. Also, I have read the book and it is phenomenal. Inkspell is our new family read aloud starting tomorrow. We rotate choices, Harry Potter was my seven year old’s choice, and this one is my wife’s. Happy Reading Everyone!

#IMWAYR Sept. 25/17

I am happy to be able to link up this post with Jen Vincent’s blog at teachmentortexts.com and Kellee and Ricki at unleashingreaders.com to see what everyone has been reading this week.

The Blackthorn Key (The Blackthorn Key, #1)Mark of the Plague (The Blackthorn Key, #2)The Assassin's Curse (The Blackthorn Key, #3)

I actually have not read these books this week, but I will be listening to Kevin Sands talk about them on Monday in my school’s library. We have Kevin visiting our district for three days. A great way to start the week. He will be talking about what it was like to be a child in the 17th century, and also about secret codes, which are both a big part of the book.

Books I finished this week:

The Great Art Caper

Ever since I read Rollergirl, I try to get everything by Victoria Jamieson. This series is obviously quite different though. This is the second, and follows The Great Pet Escape. Its a super cute, funny graphic novel about class pets that get into adventures at night when the school is empty. I think its a terrific series for early readers.

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Honestly, I could not immerse myself in this story as much as I did the first one. The first half of the book seemed to dawdle a little bit. I did enjoy the last half as the mystery started to ignite a little more. The Pine family runs Greenglass House as an inn for smugglers. The setting itself is creative, unique and almost the most intriguing character in the book. Young Milo Pine and a friend work to solve a mystery featuring a kooky set of suspects that mingle through the inn as Christmas approaches. There is a supernatural component to the mystery as well as heavy use of an RPG called Odd Trails that allows the young sleuths to have the abilities necessary to effectively tackle the mystery. The mix of fantasy and mystery worked really well in book one, Greenglass House, but not as much in book two for me.

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This is a very cute picture book about making new friends. There is also a lot about being brave here as well. It also has a lot of honesty to it. It seems like another huge Mo Willems hit. I had a teacher ask if we could do a Movember thing in November with Mo Willems books and the obvious answer was yes. I immediately moved to buy more of his books.

Long Way Down

Loved this book! Read most of it in one sitting, and would have but life happened. The last 50 or so pages are especially brilliant, but the last page… wow. This writer can do so much in just a few pages, just a few words. A vicious cycle of violence is brilliantly presented in a way that will stick with readers. Will’s brother is shot. He plans his revenge and the novel goes through a 60 second span in which he considers the decision. Long Way Down was just put on the list of contenders for the National Book Award, but if you have read anything by Jason Reynolds you didn’t need to know that to want to read this book. It does not disappoint.

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A graphic autobiography of a young girl’s journey through her school years with a focus on the ups and downs of forming and keeping friends. Its an honest and emotional read that I let out to a couple of my students in the first week of school. It was devoured by both within a couple of days. Students that are drawn to graphic novels or realistic fiction (mostly girls, I think but not only girls, I really liked it) will love this book.

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I read this with my seven year old. I found it funnier than the first in the series. If you are unfamiliar, a Venus Flytrap aspires to be the greatest detective in the world with the help of his assistant Nina, the goat who eats nearly everything. In this one, President Horse G Horse reminded me of a certain someone. See if you can guess:

When the President is asked to take down a large statue if himself in order to save the world he replies, “Nope you stupid plant. And I’m the President, so you can’t make me! So HA-HA! So find some other way to save the city, the country, and the world. I’ll be busy taking photos of myself holding my salt and pepper shakers next to my limo parked under the statue of me!”

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A really pleasantly illustrated book about perseverance and bravery. Lou has lots of fun with her friends but there is one thing that they like to do that she is not able to. She invents “SO MANY REASONS not to try” but in the end has the bravery to try. The ambiguous ending is actually refreshingly honest and worthy of discussion.

Currently Reading:

Stella by StarlightWonderHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)Dory Fantasmagory: Dory Dory Black Sheep

I am reading and enjoying the second half of Stella by Starlight this evening, a great book that I should have read long ago. It portrays an important piece of American history, as blacks in North Carolina have the courage to seek the vote and defy the KKK. With my class, I am reading Wonder, and it is going really well. My family and I are in the home stretch of the fifth Harry Potter book. With my seven year old, we are reading the third Dory Fantasmagory book. Every time we start reading this, my ten year old sneaks close enough to listen taking a break from whatever Rick Riordan book she has right now. She would never have picked this book up herself, but can’t resist the brilliant humor of these characters.

Have a great reading week everyone! Thanks for stopping to view this post.

 

 

 

 

It’s Monday What are you Reading 9/18/17

I am once grateful for Jen at teachmentortexts.com and Kellee and Ricki at unleashingreaders.com for providing a place for readers to link up their review of kidlit reading over the past week.

Books I finished this week:

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It was mostly graphic novels this week for me, and I would never have believed that two years ago. I have been reading my novels through NetGalley on my IPAD this week and there are places that my IPAD should not be going, and when I have been in those places I have been carrying these graphic novels. This is a really popular series at my school amongst the grade 5-7s, particularly girls. Even after reading it, I am not totally sure why, I thought it was okay, kind of funny in parts. My best guess is that the characters in this book seem to feel free to act however they please, even if it is irreverent and a little kooky. So, if you have some free spirits that are looking for reading material, I think this series might work.

Zita the SpacegirlLegends of Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl #2)The Return of Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl, #3)

Recently, I finished Ben Hatke’s second Mighty Jack graphic novel, Mighty Jack and the Goblin King. I really love that series and the newest has spent almost no time on shelves since the school year started. It made me want to go back and read this series. If you are fan of the first Mighty Jack and are close to reading the second one, make sure you read these first. I think it will help you to enjoy MJATGK even more.

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The latest in Ryan Higgins’ books featuring the lovable, grumpy bear from Mother Bruce and Hotel Bruce sees Bruce decide that enough is enough and its time to escape his home. I don’t find this one quite as funny as the first two, but its still really good. My primary grade classes are clamouring for this one, which I pre-ordered and got a lot earlier than expected. The release date, according to Goodreads, is Sept. 26.

Currently Reading:

Ghosts of Greenglass House (Greenglass House, #2)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)WonderInspector Flytrap in The President's Mane Is Missing

Ghosts of Greenglass House is an ARC I am reading on my NetGalley account. The first half has not really grabbed me. I really liked the first one, but it seems to have taken me a while to get to where I am right now in the plot. I think it is just starting to get interesting as I reach the halfway point in the book. I think fans of the first will likely enjoy this one when it comes out on October 3, but might have to exercise some patience. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the type of family read aloud that has Dad cheating and reading a little extra the last few nights. We have less than 200 pages left and there is a lot of tension right now. Wonder is my class read aloud and I think almost everyone knows how great it is for grade 5/6s. One of my kids said that she likes it, but misses last year’s first read aloud, (she was in my class that year too) The Scourge by Jennifer Nielsen (more action, she says). The final book here is the second Inspector Flytrap book, a good early chapter reader. My seven year old thinks its hilarious that a plant can solve mysteries. I think her Mom might get a Venus Flytrap for her birthday, hopefully she won’t read this.

Happy Reading Everyone!