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.
Still a Work in Progress by Jo Knowles
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? (Tales from Deckawoo Drive #3)
by Kate DiCamillo & Chris Van Dusen (Illustrations)
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.
Hippopotamister by John Green
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
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.
Why We Live Where We Live by Kira Vermond & Julie McLaughlin (Illustrations)
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)
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.
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.
I've got this pile from the library so one of these will be next.