#IMWAYR August 22, 2016

It's time for #IMWAYR again. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host this event where readers and writers of kid lit get together to talk about what they have been reading. I love to read everyone's posts and beware, if you start, it can get to be addictive and expensive. 

Aside from reading, I almost have the roses under control. I've got the scars to prove it. The people who lived in this house before we moved here last fall loved roses and rhododendrons. The roses surround the yard: a thicket to keep out intruders as though the cement fence isn't enough. In my last garden I had one rose and no rhododendrons. Roses are just too fussy. That said, there is something magical about pruning and deadheading them. It is akin to weeding the library. It seems like the harder I prune, the more it inspires new growth in leaves and blooms. The plants end up looking healthier than they were before.

It's been hot this week. Really hot for here in Vancouver, BC. The weather forecast is for another week of this at least. I'm almost ready to call on the rain gods to return. It's been too hot to do much more than read, but I haven't really been able to settle in to focus. Still, I seem to have read more than I realized. 

NOVELS

Still a Work in Progress by Jo Knowles

4 stars
I'm not quite sure how to respond to this novel. I started it one day and couldn't put it down till I was done. Knowles writes with such authenticity it feels like these characters and their experiences are real. Truth is revealed in her words. This story is told from the point of view of Noah, whose sister, Emma, has an eating disorder. Because of this, and that it is also loaded with humour in spite of the serious topic, it's the kind of book guys will be able to relate to.


Booked by Kwame Alexander

3 stars
I liked this book well enough but not as much as Alexander's first one. Eighth grade is hard enough without your parents splitting up. Nick lives for soccer and TV and hates to read. He wants April to be his girlfriend, but isn't quite brave enough to make the first move. Dan and Dean, two bullies harass him. His academic father has unrealistic expectations. Thankfully, his best friend and fellow soccer enthusiast, Colby, has his back in all things.

I appreciated that Nick has strong compassionate adults as teachers and parents. With their support he just might survive the year, and learn to enjoy reading. This book highlights why schools need school libraries and teacher librarians!

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

4 stars
Veda is a gifted Bharatanatyam dancer just on the cusp of achieving professional acclaim. Then a tragic accident results in her losing her foot. She is fortunate to have excellent care and ends up with a prosthetic leg that enables her to continue to dance. However, she has to leave the world of competitive Bharatanatyam dance and relearn how to connect with this dance at a more spiritual and emotional level. Along the way she learns to be more open and accepting of others. She also experiences her first infatuation and romance.
I enjoyed this book written in verse. It is beautifully written, philosophical and inspiring. I wanted desperately to be able to put it in the hands of one of my grade seven book club members who is also a gifted dancer.
The story is set in India. The country's culture of dance is integral to the plot. Aside from this, there isn't much description of place, which I would have liked to see more of.

2 stars
The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I abandoned this last week almost done. I am obviously not the target demographic for it, but it was just too painful to continue listening. I came to dread it. I may try to get to it again since I only have a couple more hours till it is complete, but so far, I'm done with it. 


4 stars
Maxi's Secret: or what you can learn from a dog by Lynn Plourde

I just finished this one Sunday afternoon. I'm in the process of writing a blog post about it to publish later this week. It was delightful and heart wrenching and I am not even a big fan of dogs. 



CHAPTER BOOK

Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? (Tales from Deckawoo Drive #3)
by Kate DiCamillo & Chris Van Dusen (Illustrations)

5 stars
You know those books that lift your heart into the sky and let it soar? This is one of those.
Maybe it is because I am an older woman (ok 63 isn't that old and hopefully not as old as Baby and Eugenia) and I am on the cusp of a new way of being in the world. But really I think there is a universal message in this book about finding out who you are and sharing it with the world that can't be repeated often enough. 
If I wasn't already an unadulterated Kate DiCamillo fan, I sure would be after this one. 

PICTURE BOOKS

Hippopotamister by John Green

4 stars
Fabulous illustrations filled with lots of humorous fun will make this graphic story a hit for younger kids. The zoo Red Panda and Hippopotamus live in is falling apart. No one visits and the animals are in terrible shape. Red Panda has gone off to work in the real world and comes back to tell Hippopotamus all about it. Eventually Hippopotamus, becomes Hippopotamister and goes to join him. Unfortunately all of the jobs that they try out end up in disaster, especially for Red Panda. Eventually Hippopotamus returns to the zoo while Red Panda stays outside. However all of the things that Hippopotamus has tackled in the outside world have given him the skills to start to work on the zoo and it's inhabitants, and it all works out in the end.
My only quibble is with the whole idea of a zoo in the first place.

The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi

3 stars
I don't think Bluefire Reader does credit to the quality of Miyakoshi's illustrations. They came across as grainy and unfocused. In spite of this, I am awed by the quality of the art in this simple story of a boy looking forward to going to the beach when a massive storm blows in over night. Miyakoshi captures the violence of the storm and the boy's worry in her images. I was hoping to find a copy of this book at our local library, but alas, all I could find was The Tea Party in the Woods. I'm definitely going to read it. 

INFORMATION

Why We Live Where We Live by Kira Vermond & Julie McLaughlin (Illustrations)

3 stars
I like the big picture scope of this book. It begins with information about why our planet is perfect for us. The answer to why we live where we live includes many different aspects including climate, water access, language, economics and family just to start. 

However, I wasn't happy to read this part in the section on immigration. The passage prior is talking about how some countries want people to come. Then there is this:

"A big country needs people to fill it up.
This happened in Canada more than 100 years ago, when the government offered Europeans 160 acres. (65 ha) free farmland in the massive country if they'd hop a (free) ship and come over. It worked. By 1910, Canada's population had doubled."
Notice that there is no mention that that free farmland was actually territory taken from numerous indigenous peoples whose children then ended up in residential schools?

Zak's Safari: A Story about Donor-Conceived Kids of Two-Mom Families by Christy Tyner & Ciaee (Illustrator)

3 stars
Zak's Safari is chock full of great information on how to explain to your children that they are donor conceived. Zak is a loveable kid who lets readers know how he came to be, but also shows us that he lives a pretty ordinary love filled life. I really enjoyed it, but wish the quality of the print was better. It doesn't do Ciaee's illustrations justice.

CURRENTLY

I'm listening to The Secret Place by Tana French. I am enjoying the sections from the detective's perspective better than that of the teenage girls. I'm reading Clara Humble and the Not-So-Super Powers by Anna Humphrey and Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart. 

UP NEXT
I've got this pile from the library so one of these will be next. 





20 comments:

  1. HA I wrote about the hot hot weather this week, too! We Vancouverites are such a spoiled bunch. :D

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    1. Thank goodness we get a few days of respite!

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  2. I've got Knowles' book sitting on my desk as well! I am not familiar with DiCamillo's Tales of Deckawoo Drive; will have to look those up. Thanks for the great reviews! Oh, and I loved Tea Party in the Woods--we have it in our school library.

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    1. Deckawoo Drive are stories connected to Mercy Watson, but they are about adults and they are lovely. Glad to hear about Tea Party in the Woods!

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  3. I just loved Maxi's Secrets and I'm not a big dog fan either. It was so much more than just a dog story. I have Booked, but haven't yet started it. The message sound like a great one!

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    1. I loved the lessons learned in Maxi's Secrets.

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  4. I love that about Maxi's Secrets. I don't consider myself to be a dog person either, but anyone who goes into that book thinking it's mostly about the dog is in for a happy curve ball. What this book teaches us about ourselves, and each other, and humanity is what will make it such a favorite, I think.

    I also thought Jo's Still a Work in Progress was a wonder. She invites readers to experience such real and raw emotions. Beautiful.

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    1. I agree with you about both these books.

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  5. I liked Still A Work In Progress, thought the challenges were handled so well. Funny about the Red Queen. I have it, but a friend didn't like it either so I haven't started it. Maybe time to donate it somewhere? Thanks for sharing about the others. I'm looking forward to Maxi's Secrets! It's hot here in Denver, too, cooler later in the week!

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    1. I think those of us who don't like The Red Queen are in the minority.

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  6. Nice assortment of books. I read The Red Queen and thought it was okay. Fantasy is my go-to genre and I am an experienced reader. It helped. Here is what I did and read last week. Happy reading!

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    1. It isn't that I don't like fantasy, I do, but I admit I enjoy it when there is some humour and satire added to it. I think I would have preferred reading The Red Queen rather than listening to it.

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  7. Enjoy We Were Here - one of my absolute favourites. I too liked Booked but not as much as his first title which our whole family LOVED. Isn't Knowles a special writer? I adore her books. And yes, I agree, TOO HOT!

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    1. I adore Matt de la Pena so I'm really looking forward to it. Thank goodness for a few days of cooler weather!

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  8. I really enjoyed reading your reviews. You have piqued my curiosity about The Red Queen. I wanted to know why, specifically, you abandoned it. I love Kate DiCamillo and have not read this book yet, so I am heading to the library today!

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    1. Thanks Maureen. That is a good question about The Red Queen. I think it is a combination of things - there is a level of violence that is difficult for me, but it is also that I'm having a hard time with this character who is supposed to be strong and smart, and yet is so easily duped and doesn't listen to people she trusts. Then there is the whole love triangle thing.

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  9. That is sad to hear about the Red Queen. I have it on my nightstand, but I think your comments reflect my worries. I will read it eventually, but I am not sure when I will have the courage to give it a whirl.

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    1. Maybe you will like it Ricki, but there is that girl rivalry component as well. It's just not my kind of book.

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  10. I just got Still a Work in Process, but haven't had time to grab it yet. I have heard about the Red Queen, but may give it a pass. A Time to Dance is one I loved.

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    1. Still a ork in Process is a great read Crystal. I could gush all over the place about it. The Red Queen seems to be a book that people have strong opinions about either way.

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