#IMWAYR November 27, 2017


#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

I'm having problems with Goodreads keeping track of my read dates. I need this fixed so that I remember all the books I read in a week. It has been over two weeks and I really hope it is fixed soon. It's driving me crazy!

There is less than one month to Christmas. I am realizing that it is highly unlikely that I will achieve all my reading goals this year. I don't want to even think about Netgalley. 

Here is a picture of my two grandbabies hanging out together this week. They had a lot of fun, and we enjoyed watching them. 



BOOKS FOR BABIES

5 stars
Hello Lamb by Jane Cabrera

Ada (my 5 month old granddaughter) and I have been reading this book a lot this week. As soon as she sees the face on the cover she gets excited. She reaches out and wants to get as close as possible to the images and turns to look at me weirdly when I get into the animal sounds while reading. We are both enjoying this series!

3 stars
What's On My Head? by Margaret Miller

I thought Ada would love this one, and while it is ok, it isn't either of our favourite reads this week. Perhaps it is because many of the faces are cropped so that not all of it is showing. I have to work really hard to keep her entertained with this one.

4 stars
Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton

Ada and I have been reading this book a lot too. It's not her favourite but it's ok. I like the rhyming text, and she seems to appreciate it also, but Ada is more into faces these days. She does seems to get a big kick out of the cats saying meow!

GRAPHIC

4 stars
All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

I enjoyed this coming of age graphic novel. Imogene, whose family are involved with a medieval faire, decides to give up being homeschooled and go to middle school. Once there she has to learn to navigate the social minefield and figure out who she wants to be.
This book would be great paired up with Real Friends by Shannon Hale.

MIDDLE GRADE NOVELS

4 stars
The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner

This is an important book. Zig and his mother are in trouble ever since his missing father has stopped his support payments. They end up homeless and living in a shelter. His mother won't tell him why his father can't help them out. Zig starts out geocaching, certain that Senior Searcher is his father, since Zig is known as Zig Jr and his father was Zig Sr.
I love how Kate Messner shows us that all is not as it seems behind the faces of the people we see. It is especially significant for teachers to read this and understand that our students have secret lives we can't begin to imagine.

YA & ADULT NOVELS

4 stars
Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

Well, this was fun. It’s set in the Regency period in England. When Annis’ father is killed in France, he leaves her and her Aunt Cassie nearly destitute. Annis soon figures out that her father was a spy and is determined that she will become one to avenge his death. When she is rejected, their new maid, Millicent, helps disguise Annis so she can use her dressmaking magic to earn a living. The book is full of twists and turns and clever humour. Although this book didn’t wow me like her Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, (a book that is truly exceptional) I’ll read a sequel if Kelly Jones writes one.

4 stars
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn & Saskia Maarleveld (Narrator)

This novel is based on the true story of a spy network created by Louise de Bettingnies (code name Alice Dubois) during WW1. It is told alternatively through the voices of Lily, Alice's preferred name, and a young American, Charlie St. Clair, who in 1947, has come in search for her missing French cousin. Her research has taken her to Lily. The two discover they have a similar enemy. At over fifteen hours, this was a very long listen. It was also very intense, so I had take regular listening breaks. There was one very horrific section that I skipped completely. Thankfully the ending, however schmaltzy and expected, made up for it.

4 stars
A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré & Tom Hollander (Narrator)

I am a hard core le Carré fan so when this became available, I just had to listen. It isn't as intense as the previous spy novel, or as some other le Carré spy novels, but it was delightful to be back in that world. I would have been happier with more of George Smiley, but I am still content.

CURRENTLY

I'm listening to Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. I'm in the middle of Boundless by Jillian Tamaki and have started reading #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women.

UP NEXT

I will read You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins, and hope to get to Lost Girl Found by Leah Bassoff, a book on my must read list. I'm trying to see if anything on my must read list is available in audiobook format from my local library.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MUSTREADIN2017 26/36

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 7/12

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 32/50

Chocolate Lily (CL) 51/51

Big Book Challenge 4/6

Goodreads Reading Challenge 393/333


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#IMWAYR November 20, 2017


#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

I'm beginning the ‘making things for Christmas frenzy,’ finishing up quilts, knitting sweaters and working a couple of days a week. Then I'm busy with my granddaughter so her mother can work. My reading life is seriously limited, but I am catching up on my netflix watching. 

The best part of last week was finally sewing the binding on this quilt. It was started by my mother, Evylin Weichel, a number of years before her accident. She continued working on it even after her brain injury. It wasn’t easy. Many friends and family members contributed squares to help her out. My sister and I helped her out near the end. I finished piecing the top just before she died. It was beautifully quilted by my friend Lorna Penner Kelly.




BOOKS FOR BABIES

5 stars
I Love Frogs by Amanda Miller & Sandra Mayer

I was excited to find this nonfiction board book while on a visit to my local library with my granddaughter. She seemed to be excited about it too, although she seems to be enthused by any book with bright illustrations these days, especially if there is any kind of face. This book has that in spades. It doesn't show the life cycle, but the beautiful photographs show frogs in all their glory.

4 stars
We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers by Julie Flett

It's written and illustrated by Julie Flett so you know the images will be amazing, and they are. Each two page spread has the numeral and the Cree word for the number. Small print provides a pronunciation guide.

The images portray different aspects of Cree culture. My favourite is the three aunties laughing. There is so much joy in that picture. 

I also love the double meaning for ‘we all count.’





PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars
Nerdy Birdy Tweets by Aaron Reynolds & Matt Davies (Illustrations)

I'm so glad that Nerdy Birdy and Vulture are back again. Just like the first in the series, this one sends an important message about friendship and bullying, only this time, in the digital world. Matt Davies' illustrations accent this message with sweet humour. I appreciate that this time Aaron Reynolds shows that silly things that are ok between friends are not necessarily appropriate for a wider audience. He also shows how important it is to get permission from others before posting anything about them. When I was working in schools, and aware of the kinds of social pressure that can be put on students, I took this lesson a step further and said it wasn't appropriate to post any picture that showed someone in any kind of unflattering situation.

5 stars
Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak

Drop dead gorgeous illustrations are paired with a call and response kind of text to highlight the changes that happen when autumn gives way to winter.
I loved this so much I went through it a few times just to fully appreciate it.

4 stars
Crow Call by Lois Lowry & Bagram Ibatoulline (Illustrator)

I'm wowed by Bagram Ibatoulline's gorgeous illustrations in this book. Lois Lowry tells the story of an oversized hunting shirt her father purchased for her before he went to war and their getting to know one another when he returns home. Their day in the woods in late autumn is a celebration of this.
It's a sweet and gentle story for all children whose parents leave and come back from places of conflict.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

5 stars                             4 stars
Sunny Side Up (Sunny #1) Swing it, Sunny (Sunny #2) by Jennifer L. Holm Matthew Holm (Illustrations) & Lark Pien (Colorist)

I enjoyed both of these books a lot. The first, when Sunny goes to stay with her Grandfather in a senior home while her parents try to get her older brother under control, has more humour. The second, while still dealing with the now absent brother, focuses more on ordinary life in that era. Having experienced the 70's first hand, I connected to many of the cultural references, but it is Dale's drug issues that resonate most profoundly for me. After graduating from high school in 1971, I lost a number of friends to addiction. I appreciate that the Holms address this with such sensitivity and honesty. While the people I knew were not family, watching them spiral downwards while feeling helpless to support them, was heartbreaking. And while this is set in the 70's, given the current issues with fentanyl and other drugs today, it seems profoundly timely.


5 stars
Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin

At first I wasn't sure about this wordless graphic picture book. The monochrome illustrations are interesting, but slightly off putting. Still the story engaged me enough to continue.
A class is invited to bring something old and treasured to show and tell the next day. A young girl brings her stuffed fox. When she is on the playground, a young fox absconds with it. When her best friend realizes what is happening, he goes chasing after it with her.
This is where the story gets really interesting visually since the fox cub is the only other colour in this monochrome world. While the two friends are chasing through the forest, we see a bird in a tree who is notable because it is also in colour. As the two children journey through the forest, this spot of colour identifies places where they stop to ask some kind of animal if they have seen the fox.
Meanwhile, the little fox has his own adventures when a badger tries to steal the stuffie from him.

When the two friends finally enter into the animals wonderland, the world is revealed in a blaze of colour. They go in search of the pilfering fox, and when they finally find it, the ending is delightfully satisfying.

MIDDLE GRADE AND YA NOVELS

5 stars
The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud & Emily Bevan (Narrator)

As satisfying and wonderful as this book is, I can't bear to think that it is the last in the series. I'm just not ready to say goodbye to these fabulous characters. Since this fictional world isn't really completely cleaned up, I'm not giving up hope that there might be at least one more to come. Please Mr. Jonathan Stroud.
Perhaps the rumoured TV series will take it's place.

CURRENTLY

I'm listening to The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. It is intense. I'm almost finished The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner. I need to get back to The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz, but it isn't due back at the library for a while.

UP NEXT

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones has to go back to the library soon so I will get to that in the next couple of days.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MUSTREADIN2017 25/36

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 7/12

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 33/50

Chocolate Lily (CL) 51/51

Big Book Challenge 4/6

Goodreads Reading Challenge 384/333

#IMWAYR November 13, 2017


#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

Today's post is a recap of what I have been reading in the past couple of weeks. I've been busy gallivanting around the province. We returned from our place in Oliver, BC and hardly had time to turn around before I was off to Powell River where my sisters and I spent about 5 days together. We worked on a quilt, gabbed a lot, had a few adult beverages, and ate like queens. I didn't get much reading done, but I did get some knitting in.

My school district is desperate for substitute teachers so I have been working a couple of times a week. I had forgotten how exhausting and exhilarating teaching is. I'm glad it's not more. 

BLOG POST


BOOKS FOR BABIES


4 stars
Sharing Our World by Ian Reid & illustrators Ryan Cranmer, Doug Lafortune, John Nelson, Francis Horne Sr., Paul Windsor, Corey Bulpitt, T.J. Young, Ben Houstie, & Eugene Isaac

These gorgeous west coast illustrations of different animals were created by different indigenous artists. Each animal is paired with text telling readers a bit about it. Most explain a lesson we can learn from them.

3.5 stars
So Many Babies by Lorna Crozier, Laura Watson (Illustrations)

Lorna Crozier is an award winning Canadian poet so when I discovered this on a visit to the library with Ada, we had to read it. We both liked the rhyme and rhythm and the bright colours in the illustrations.

3 stars
Smile! by Roberta Grobel Intrater

Our babies liked this one, but not as much as Baby Faces by Margaret Miller.

5 stars
What Noise Does an Owl Make? by Nick Ackland, Bella Bee (Illustrations)

This is one of my grandbabies favourite book these days. Each page shows a cartoon of an animal with the question, What sound does a ____ make? Then there is a pull out section with text for the animal's sound. When I first started reading it to Ada, she would scan the pages and turn her head to look at me (dumbfounded) when I made the animal sounds. Yesterday when I brought it out to read to her, she got excited just looking at the cover. She does not do that with just any old book! Everett is coming to visit on Monday so I will see if he is also a fan. 

PICTURE BOOKS

3 stars
Say Zoop! by Hervé Tullet

While I really enjoyed Press Here, this book didn't work for me. It just went on for too long.

4 stars
The Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy, Michael P. White (Illustrator)

I would have loved to have had this book in our school library. It’s very clever and full of hilarious puns. The ending is transformational!

3 stars
Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems

I’m not sure about this book. Edwina is a very helpful dinosaur who bakes cookies, helps old ladies across the street, plays with kids, and is generally loved by everyone in town. Except of course by one person who goes out of his way to convince everyone that dinosaurs are extinct. This didn’t quite work for me, although I appreciated that it modelled civilized debate. It also shows us that sometimes, all we need is someone to listen to us.

5 stars
Whose Moon Is That? by Kim Krans

Gorgeous illustrations and rhyming poetry go together to make this a picture book to read again and again. I read it with my 4 1/2 month old granddaughter and we were both enchanted.

CHILDREN'S NONFICTION

5 stars
Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing by Dean Robbins & Lucy Knisley (Illustrator)

Like Ada Lovelace, Margaret Hamilton will be an inspiration to young girls (and boys) everywhere. I love the layout in this book; the way the narrative begins with Margaret asking questions and coming up with her own solutions. She grew up to be a mathematician who created the computer software that helped get astronauts to the moon. We learn about her successes, but at the same time, her joy, passion and brilliance are there in every page. We have Lucy Knisley's illustrations to thank for this.
My granddaughter is named after Ada Lovelace. I've told my sons that whoever has the next girl will have to call her Margaret.

3 stars
From Egg to Spider by Anita Ganeri

Wonderful photographs and other text features such as captions, bold words, a life cycle chart, labelled photograph, glossary, index and bibliography make this a good book for young readers. It focuses primarily on a generic spider’s life cycle. I wish there was more detail on parts of a spider’s body, but it is still a good book.

MIDDLE GRADE NOVELS

5 stars
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez

This is a stellar book about accepting and being who you are. Malú (Maria Louisa) is a half Mexican punk rock fan. This puts her at odds with her "SuperMexican" mom who wants her to be more señorita. When the two of them move to Chicago, away from her father, Malú has a hard time adjusting. Ultimately she finds a way to connect all the pieces of herself in a way that is just herself.
There is a lot to love about this book. Pérez has created authentic characters you can't help but want to cheer for. This is as true for Malú and her peers as it is for the adults around them. She shows us a complex Latino culture that is much more than food and music. I love the zines and can see a teacher using this book as a read aloud, and using this model in all kinds of meaningful ways!

3 stars
Horizon by Scott Westerfeld & Johnathan McClain (Narrator)

This was more enjoyable than I expected it to be. Westerfeld is a brilliant world creator in all of his work, so I really don't know why I am surprised. When a plane crashes over the arctic, only a few teens survive, but the place they end up in is not the kind of icy environment you might expect. Keeping all the characters separate was a bit of a challenge in the audiobook, but I was able to follow them and their adventures eventually. I appreciate how each of the individual teens has their own strengths that end up being of benefit to the rest of them.

4 stars
Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder

This is a heartfelt book about a young girl in the foster system. When an opportunity for adoption arises, she has to let go of her belief that her birth mother still wants her.

4 stars
Saving Marty by Paul Griffin & Paul Griffin (Narrator)

Fans of Babe will like this one. Marty is a pig who is raised with dogs. He lives with Lorenzo Ventura and his family. However, as Marty gets older and much bigger, he becomes a danger to those around him, and Lorenzo has to find a safe place for him. That isn't all Lorenzo has on his plate though, there is the issue of his father who died in a war, and the secrets about him that his mother is keeping. There is his friendship with Paloma which seems to be disintegrating when she goes off to summer camp.

4 stars
The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick

Maverick and his mother live in poverty, a condition that is exacerbated by his mother's alcoholism and lousy choice in men. He doesn't want anyone to know just how bad it is. School is not a safe place either, but Maverick is determined to be a hero this year and carries a sheriff's badge his dead father gave him to remind him of it. When Maverick gets into trouble, he calls his aunt instead of his mother. His life just gets increasingly messy until it falls apart and he and his mother finally get help.
I liked that other than his mother, the adults in this book are positive characters. This is especially true for the school principal who is rumored to be a terror, but in reality, is very supportive.


YA & ADULT NOVELS

5 stars
The Lightkeeper's Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol & Tom Parks, Dawn Harvey & Dara Rosenberg (Narrators)

Elizabeth is an aging woman whose eyes have failed. Morgan is a gifted artist and juvenile delinquent. When she gets caught tagging the fence of the care home where Elizabeth is staying, she ends up working there as part of a restorative justice program. The two unlikely characters become friends and realize they are connected in a much deeper way when Morgan ends up reading Elizabeth's father's journals to her.
This novel is beautifully written. Pendziwol positions us seamlessly between the world of Porphyry Island and that of the modern day reality of the care home and Morgan's foster home. The characters are brilliantly conceived. I just couldn't stop listening to this.
There are novels where you think you know where the plot is going, and you end up being right. This isn't one of them.

CURRENTLY

I'm listening to The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud and won't be reading anything else until it is finished. I hope this isn't the end of the series! I started The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz but abandoned it when I started the Stroud book. I will get back to it soon unless I just start listening all over again.

UP NEXT

I have both Sunny Side Up and Swing it Sunny by Jennifer Holm so I plan to read those. The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner, has to go back to the library soon so I will get to that as well.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MUSTREADIN2017 25/36

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 7/12

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 32/50

Chocolate Lily (CL) 51/51

Big Book Challenge 4/6

Goodreads Reading Challenge 366/333 
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