It's Monday and not only is it time for #IMWAYR, there are only two weeks of school left til winter break. I admit that the latter makes me a tad more excited than the former, but just a tad. Thank you Jen at Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting this weekly party.
I have held my last book fair. It is very liberating to say this. It isn't that Scholastic didn't have some spectacular books. They did. In an ordinary year, I would be having another one in the spring, but this last one was so frustrating, I decided to just say enough. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the 'seasonal' collection was all Christmas books. I teach at a multicultural and multifaith school. To be honest, I was ashamed to see this selection of books. I have been complaining about it for the last number of years, but this year when I was told that they had included some other titles but they didn't sell, I suggested that maybe they needed to have better choices. My other frustration came from the fact that they upgraded their Wi-Fi credit/debit machines and now they don't work at our school. I want to thank Ms Yingling, whose comments here last week gave me extra courage to make this decision.
I went book shopping on Saturday and picked up a passel of new Hanukkah titles and even scraped together time to do a blog post about them. You can read my post about them here or see them on goodreads here.
I also picked up some new Christmas books, but I'll blog about them next week some time.
Other than seasonal books, I did get some other books read.
If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur by Linda Bailey Colin Jack (Illustrations)
I must confess that I have adored every Linda Bailey book I have ever read. In other words, I am a fan. This is one of our Chocolate Lily book club books for this year. Readers will discover all the truly positive reasons why owning a dinosaur is a good thing. This is a fun read that will leave young readers with a model for writing their own story. Colin Jack's cartoon style illustrations add an extra level of hilarity for the reader.
Of the many picture books I read at the book fair, these are a few that stuck out.
The Very Noisy Bear by Nick Bland
I have loved every one of Nick Bland's books about Bear, and this one is no different. I loved that bear wasn't afraid to keep trying new instruments until he found the right one, even though the instruments (and their original owners) suffered for it. I finished this book up with a surprised laugh.
Monsters Love Underpants by Claire Freedman & Ben Cort
Ben Cort's bold and colorful illustrations are perfect, albeit, some are a tad scary. Mostly the poetry works for me but occasionally the rhyme and rhythm falters. I can see that this would be a great book for children just moving out of diapers!
Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz & Dan Santat
This book is a lot of fun. I read it during the book fair with a few boys I have been doing writing workshops with. It will make a perfect addition to the twisted fairy tale telling ideas they have been coming up with. In fact, I told them they could have written this. (Maybe without the rhyme scheme as they are only 6 and 7 years old) We were not totally satisfied with the ending because while we didn't want the wolf to eat Red Riding Hood, he really had worked hard to become a ninja!
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall & Narrated by Susan Denaker
Adoration isn't too strong a word for how I feel about the Penderwick family. Each book is like visiting with a family of old friends. I can't imagine listening to a finer book to provide a break from the insanity of book fair week. I loved discovering what was going on with them through the voices of Batty and Ben. I laughed and I wept a bit while driving home and listening to this book. Susan Denaker's voice captures this family brilliantly. The best part of finishing it, is discovering that I missed The Penderwicks at Point Mouette so I have it to look forward to while waiting for the fifth book in this series to come out.
Rabbit Ears by Maggie de Vries
This book deals with difficult subject matter. It is the story of a girl, Kaya, and her family after she ends up addicted to heroin and working the streets in the downtown eastside of Vancouver, BC. We eventually discover that an old man in their neighborhood abused her when she was younger. It is not an easy read despite being a relatively short and simple book. de Vries knows her subject matter having written earlier about her sister, Sarah, who was one of the Missing Women from that part of town.
I have to admit that I'm nervous about my grade sevens reading this book. It's part of the Stellar book club books chosen for high school. I'm sure glad that I've read it and can debrief it with them in our meetings.
I've started listening to The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands and reading The Rule Of Three by Eric Walters.
Since we separated book club into three groups, and I am leading only one of them, I feel a bit relaxed about needing to finish them all. I hope to get a few more of my must read in 2015 titles completed before reckoning day arrives.