#IMWAYR April 6, 2015


It's Monday again and time for #IMWAYR. It's when bloggers write about the books they have been reading in the past week. A warning to the wise that this can become an expensive addiction! Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Rickie from Unleashing Readers host this weekly event. Check out their blogs for links to the many participants.

Thank Goodness for a four day weekend. I might just be getting caught up with my 2015 must read goal! I've finished up a few novels and a couple of picture books this week.

The Search For the Red Dragon by James A Owen

3 stars

I enjoyed this second book in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, but can't see any but my most sophisticated readers getting into it. There are numerous historical and literary references. Without the background knowledge, I'm not sure that it will work. That said, for serious Tolkien fans, this book would be right up their alley. 



This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J Cavanaugh

5 stars
This is a heartbreakingly poignant book. Cavanaugh's characters just barged right into my life. I couldn't help but care and worry about them all. 

Ratchet, a young homeschooled girl, wants more than anything to have a friend. Her father is a passionate environmentalist who, with Ratchett's help, fixes cars in their garage for a living. Her mother died when Ratchet was young. Ratchet has it in her mind that if she can only find out more about her mother, she will be able to figure out who she herself is. While her father won't talk about his wife, he does keep a hidden locked box. Ratchet is sure that the secrets it hides will help her figure out herself. 

When her father is forced to do community service teaching a go kart building course to local youth, Ratchet finds a place for herself where she is needed. She even makes a friend in one of the students, Hunter. Hunter struggles with learning issues, and as she helps him out, reveals hidden strengths in herself. 

If I had my own classroom I would read this book out loud and have my students do some of the writing activities.  Here is an example of one of the powerful poems that left me gasping.

Dad is saving
The planet
for the Good Lord
Sometimes
I wonder
if anyone
is worried 
about saving
me.


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  
4 stars
Jordan and Josh are basketball playing twin brothers. Their father, a former basketball star, is their primary caretaker. The twins are all tangled up in each other's lives until one of them falls in love. Then Josh does something that could destroy them. On top of all this their father becomes very ill. 

There is so much love about this book. The writing is dynamic and powerful. 

Happy is a huge river right now and I've forgotten how to swim. (p207)

Filthy, silence don't mean
We have run out of things to say,
Only that we are trying 
Not to say them. (p208)

He's no longer listening to music,
But his tears are loud enough
To dance to (p212)

It's punctuated with Basketball Rules that reveal truths about how to live your life.

Basketball Rule # 3
Never let anyone
lower your goals.
Other's expectations
of you are determined
by their limitations
of life.
The sky is your limit, sons.
Always shoot for the sun
and you will shine.

Until now I would have said the only sport worth reading about was baseball. Kwame Alexander has changed my mind. I just wish the whole book had worked more for me. Even after rereading the last section again, I don't really understand the ending. 


4 stars
Messenger by Lois Lowry

I read The Giver ages ago and then when Son was published, I found and listened to Gathering Blue. Since then I've reread The Giver. They have all been satisfying reads. While I enjoyed finding out what happened to Matty, I'm mostly just blown away by how relevant this series still is. I hope that Son won't disappoint me.



X a Novel by Ilyashah Shabazz & Kekla Magoon

4 stars
This is a fictionalized biography of Malcolm X in his early years. It's a telling tale of a brilliant young man falling into trouble and deeply out of control. It isn't an easy read as it's akin to watching a train wreck about to happen. At the end Malcolm finds some kind of redemption. What struck me as profound in this novel isn't so much that this is Malcolm X's story, but that it is a story whose deeply etched grooves continues to find actors in the many young men before and after him who are disenfranchised from mainstream society.  My only quibble with this book is the jumping around in time which I found disconcerting. I encourage readers to read the notes at the end.  

Wild by Emily Hughes


3.5 stars
The illustrations in this book are stunning; rich with detail and humor. I'm not even sure why I don't like it. I wanted to love it, but I didn't leave the book feeling anything but sad and disheartened. So that's probably why. Still I can imagine that it could engender rich conversations about what it means to be human. 


The Queen's Shadow: A Story About How Animals See by Cyb√®le Young


5 stars
I don't know who wrote about this book in an #IMWAYR post a few weeks ago, but wow am I glad you did. This is a book I can't wait to get for our library! At a gala event the Queen's shadow goes missing. Mantis Shrimp, a detective, interviews the other animals who tell what they saw through their eyes. For the reader, we discover the many different ways that animals see the world. This is told through the fictional account, the images on the page, and a sidebar that gives additional information. The book is made even richer by supplemental information at the end of the narrative; first on vision and then more details about the animals in the story. To top all this off, there is a glossary at the end of the book!
(I think I figured out it was Adrienne Gear who turned me on to this one.)

Currently I'm reading (with my eyes) Finding Grace by Becky Citra and listening to Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. I'm loving both of them so far!

24 comments:

  1. I love the whole GIVER series. I was satisfied with SON even though it was not at all what I was expecting. The Queen's Shadow looks fascinating. I'm adding it to my list of books I want to read!

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    1. I hope I feel the same way as you do Kay. I have been very happy so far. Enjoy The Queen's Shadow. It is fabulous!

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  2. The Crossover is on my really soon TBR list! I have X written down too. Thanks for the review, I only had seen bits and pieces about this book. I adored Ratchet :) Glad you enjoyed!

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    1. The Crossover and X are both important books to read. Reading them back to back was interesting because of the possible comparisons between then and now.

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  3. I loved X so so so much. Chapter 3 in particular still haunts me and helped me better understand why a certain word that has been deemed verboten has so much power.

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    1. I know Beth. it is such a powerful read on so many levels.

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  4. The James Owen series started when I had a LOT of very serious fantasy readers. I don't have as many now, but I look at the series as an investment. A couple of students a year read it. I loved The Crossover, but couldn't buy This Journal Belongs to Ratchett because the slang around here has "ratchet" as a very uncomplimentary word! X was interesting but a bit intense for middle school. What a great selection of books!

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    1. I can see that it the series would be compelling. I adored the first one and even enjoyed the second one. Like you I have the occasional student who reads it and love it. I have to admit that I was curious about an alternate meaning for ratchet so I went and looked it up. The evolution of language is so fascinating! (btw, thanks for the spelling hint) I agree with you regarding the suitability of X. I wouldn't get it for my readers, but then middle school can be really a mixed bag of grades and readers.

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  5. Wild is quite amazing shared with a group of children. Really, very worth it. B and I have both read the entire Giver series - it was great to take the kids to the movie. They recognized how much better the book was but still lots to talk about.

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    1. I will try out my borrowed copy with students this week Carrie. If they like it, I'll add it to that list of books I hope to purchase some day!

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  6. I loved The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Great choice.

    Lisa
    LisaTeachR'sClassroom

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    1. It is a good choice Lisa, and I did love it, just not as much as I thought I would. That's the problem when books get so much good hype I think.

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  7. Wow, Cheriee, so many good books here. I will look for This Journal Belongs To Ratchet-sounds very sweet, & I didn't share The Queen's Shadow, but it is on my list to get. That review made me really want to read it. I did love Crossover, so you've now made me wonder what you mean. I'll need to find the book to re-read that ending! Thanks for all!

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    1. I just didn't understand why Josh ended up with the ring. I reread it but still couldn't understand why he got it and not Jordan.

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  8. I really enjoyed both X and The Crossover. I felt like I understood the ending of The Crossover, but felt it was rushed. I need to read it again. This journal belongs to Ratchet has been on my TBR for a long time now. I need to get to it.

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    1. Perhaps you have hit it that is was rushed. I just don't understand why Josh got the ring. This Journal Belongs to Ratchet is so very delightful; one of those sweet, poignant stories with a happy ending.

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  9. Thank you for your honest review of X! I have had it on my nightstand for too many weeks. I am looking forward to it, and I appreciate your honest review!

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    1. You are most welcome. In spite of my quibbles, it is an important read, and not just because it is connected to Malcolm X.

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  10. It is the first time I'm hearing about The Queen's Shadow - hmm, I would have to look for that one, sounds like my kind of read. Glad to read about your thoughts on The Crossover - I know that it's a hit or miss for most people. I have a feeling though that it would be a definite hit for my 13 year old girl who also plays basketball. She is looking forward to reading this one for our book club discussion.

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    1. There is a lot to love about The Crossover, but it took a bit to get fully into it for me. I was riveted when that happened, but Crystal Brunelle mentioned earlier that she thought the ending was rushed. This might be why the ending didn't work for me.

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  11. The Queen's Shadow sounds fascinating! First time I'm seeing it too. I really loved The Crossover but did feel the ending was too rushed. As a reader, I didn't have enough time or space to process what happened. And I suppose that was intentional on the author's part, but it still felt too hurried to me. I really need to dig out my copy of Ratchet and read it. Sounds like just the kind of book I love! I have X but haven't read it yet. So many books!

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    1. The Queen's Shadow is a gorgeous book Elisabeth. I was in the middle of reading it before I realized how the images and fictional text worked together. Then I had to go back and start over. I marveled over how profound it is to show complicated ideas in images like this. I think Adrienne Gear is the one who shared it a week ago. Ratchet is so very sweet. I am sure you will like it.

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  12. LOVE Ratchet and The Crossover! The Queen's Shadow looks great!

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    1. It is. I think I adore Ratchet. I have this poem up as I am posting (with the help of students) a poem a day for April.

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