#IMWAYR NOVEMBER 23, 2015

Greetings! 
Hello #IMWAYR! Jen at Mentor Text and Kellee and Rickie from Unleasing Readers host this weekly event where bloggers connect and blog about the kid lit (and other stuff) they have been reading in the past week. 

It has been a week. 

We ended up with around 75 book club member wannabe's. I hate to admit this, but I won't be unhappy if a significant number decide they are not yet ready.  I already met personally with one little guy who wasn't ready to take on this level of reading challenge. I filled him up with a collection of great books for him to read and he left feeling happy. 
The group decided to split up based on age. We will still have family groupings, but they won't stretch quite so wide. This means we will have book club meetings three days a week for the next little bit. After that we three teachers will decide what to do next. 

I managed to get a lot of reading in over these past seven days. I even got some blog posts up! Click on the titles below if you want to read more. I've tried focusing on our bookclub books. We are primarily reading Canadian children's literature. You can see the titles here.  

PICTURE BOOKS


4 stars
From Lands of the Night by Tololwa M. Mollel, Darrell McCalla

I really enjoyed this tale from Tanzania demonstrating how cultures take on and integrate outside influences into their previous understanding of the world. Yet while there is a unique perspective shown here, it's a also a universal story of a family wanting desperately to save their ill baby, by any means possible. A note by the author at the end of the book explains how this melding together of mystical powers is common in different parts of the world.  

5 stars

Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein & Matthias Arégui 

Oh how I love this complicated look at change over time. It's filled with consequences and possibilities. These two illustrators have created a wordless work of visual majesty in the simple power of these images. It is a testimony to how sophisticated this book really is, that a list of grade six and seven students put it on reserve after it went on display last week. 

5 stars
My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald & Freya Blackwood (Illustrations)

This is a beautifully illustrated book that tells the story of what it is like to have to flee one's home because of war and then spend time in a refugee camp before moving to a new country. I love the comparison to language and culture as a blanket, but what I love most about this book is that it shows how important and powerful friendship is. 
  


4 stars
Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato

I'm either late to get on the Little Elliot bandwagon, or I read this book a while ago and forgot about it. (Honestly, if I don't record it in Goodreads, I can't remember what I read anymore.) There is so much to love about this book - the illustrations, the problems of being different, and the possibility of finding friendship.



5 stars
Blue on Blue by Dianne White & Beth Krommes (Illustrations)

I fell in love with this book cover ages ago and ordered it. I finally got it back from processing, and made time to read it before I put it on display. Beth Krommes images throughout the book are just bloody stunning. I'm not a huge fan of rhyming text unless it really works. Dianne White's poem of a stormy day on a farm works. I can't wait to read it out loud to a group of kids. If you don't own this book, you should get it.

4 stars
Little Tree by Loren Long

This is one of those books you can take one of two ways. On the one hand you can look at it as a story of letting go when you are ready to let go, and then continuing to grow. Or you can take it like I did, a creepy story warning that if you don't learn to let go, your growth will be stunted.
Of course Loren Long's illustrations are just drop dead gorgeous and if you interpret the book from the former perspective, like one of our primary teachers did, and frame it to your students as a happy way of showing that we all grow and change at our own rates, then this book will be amazing to you. I get this, but I still think it's kind of a creepy message without this kind of intervention.

5 stars
The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers (Illustrations)

What a fabulously brilliant book. Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers have proven, once again, that they are comedic geniuses. I flip through the book for the second, or is it the third time? I've been trying to decide which crayon I love most. I think it's a tossup between Turquoise and Esteban the Magnificent, but the truth is, every time I turn a page, I like this crayon best.

NOVELS


4 stars
TheCat at the Wall by Deborah Ellis (Book Club Book)

This is a disturbing little book. It is set in Bethlehem, Israel, smack in the middle of the conflict zone. While nothing really terrible happens, the possibility of it lurks like the cat on the wall. The cat is both observer and participant in this story of two Israeli soldiers who have taken over a Palestinian home so they can spy on the neighbours. By the finish of the book, Ellis leaves the reader with a miniscule faint hope for peace in the region. I'm not sure if it is realistic or not. 


3 stars
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

While this series might not be stellar literature, the books themselves are an engaging read. I am conflicted about the roles enacted by Theodore Boone's female peers, but enough social justice issues relevant to kids are addressed to make me comfortable recommending the series. I read the second one, then went back to this one, and have concluded that they don't need to be read in order. There is a certain amount of setup  here, but I didn't miss it in the second one. 

INFORMATION


5 stars

This is a graphic biography of Michel Chikwanine, who at the age of five, was abducted by rebel soldiers and forced to become a child soldier. His tenure was relatively short, but still scarred him. The story continues on to tell how his family was forced to flee to a refugee camp and how only some of them finally ended up in Canada. While not as graphic as A Long Way Gone : Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah or Never Fall Down : a Novel by Patricia McCormick, this is still an uncomfortable story to read.

CURRENTLY


All the Light We Cannot See is the audiobook I'm listening to these days. I've just started reading Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski, another of our book club books. 

UP NEXT


More book club books, and of course I must read the nine books I picked up from the public library on Sunday.

16 comments:

  1. I too did some raving about Little Elliot this week! I so agree with you about Blue on Blue. a must have for every school library.

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    1. I'm going to go and read your comments right now!

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  2. Pretty sure that The Cat in the Wall ended up in Speculative Fiction for the Cybils last year. I was surprised. I loved Ellis' The Breadwinner, as well as her other books, but this just didn't work for me.

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    1. I know what you mean. Clare, the person, is just pretty despicable with no discernible redeeming qualities.

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  3. Hoping you have an awesome Thanksgiving! I plan to get caught up on reading. Thanks for some great suggestions!

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    1. Hi Jana, hope your Thanksgiving is awesome. Here in Canada, we celebrated Thanksgiving in October.

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  4. I loved Blue on Blue. The text is lovely, but those illustrations are amazing. Good luck with your book club. Guess it's time to celebrate that so many want to read, but it is challenging, I know. I'll look for From Lands of The Night, sounds very good, and The Cat On The Wall, interesting choice of topic for a picture book. Thanks, Cheriee!

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    1. Linda, The Cat on The Wall isn't a picture book. I wonder if it might have worked better if it had been. I think Ellis is trying to say a lot in this book, but I'm not getting it.

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  5. I hope you enjoy All the Light We Cannot See. Loved that book!

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    1. So Far I am in awe of the beautiful language!

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  6. Blue on Blue is one I still haven't read, but of course it's on the TBR list. I enjoyed reading the update about the book clubs. So amazing to have such interest! Kelly Gallagher said something I found super fascinating at NCTE: his reluctant readers (9th graders) are doing a lot more reading in the context of book clubs than they do in the context of independent reading. I'm always pursuing the independent reading path to the exclusion of just about anything else, so I'm really rethinking some of my assumptions here. Honestly, I am relieved to know that someone else found Little Tree kind of creepy. I definitely see how other readers find the positive message in the book, but it didn't work for me. Oh, I still haven't read All the Light We Cannot See either. How is it on audio? Often I find it easier to get through literary fiction for grown-ups in that format.

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    1. I am enjoying the audiobook a lot! But I am a huge fan of audiobooks anyway. I think there is something about just hanging out and talking about books - and especially, having your ideas valued, that makes book talk work. I am going to have to write a blog post about it eventually. Every year is a new experience though.

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  7. Glad to hear about your immensely successful book club! I lovelovelove book clubs - I have three here in Singapore (and counting) across different age groups, and I love preparing for our book meets. When I was in Perth a few months back, everyone was talking about My Two Blankets - I should have gotten a copy while I was there, bound to win a lot of awards next year, for sure.

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    1. Wow three book clubs! I do love the different age groups and honestly, I don't think I prefer any of them better than the other. I'm pretty much that way with any group I work with anyway - but I love how the younger ones are more willing to take risks. You will love My Two Blankets!

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  8. The first three picture books sound really interesting. I'll check and see if our library has them.

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    1. They are all fabulous, but Carl, it has been mostly boys who have reserved before after.

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