#IMWAYR September 20, 2021

Hello everyone. It's #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.

Today is election day here in Canada. I will get around to reading everyone's posts as soon as the excitement dies down. 

I'm sharing a couple of weeks worth of reading because family events last weekend took precedence. I'm going to be away the next couple of weekends so I figured I better get a post in this week. Next Sunday I will be heading off for a week with women friends. We usually get together on the May long weekend, but the pandemic put it on hold for two years. I am very excited. The following weekend I will be with my grandkids. 

Hope you are all doing well. In spite of getting through a number of books, I am still having a hard time staying focused when reading with my eyes. I appreciate Kelly and Shaye helping me articulate that I've just lost the joy in reading. It feels like work. On Sunday I began sorting through the piles of books from the library. I'm going to return everything that isn't on one of my must read lists or isn't a Canadian author. Thankfully I still enjoy listening to books and I enjoyed the few picture books I did read. 

We had a lovely outdoor birthday tea party for my partner on Thursday. Nobody drank tea, but whatever we imbibed was sipped from fancy teacups and saucers. He enjoyed the home made socks I knit him even if they were not really a surprise. He is now as old as me again. 

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian or Indigenous Canadian Author and or Illustrator. 

Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page of the book.

RECENT BLOG POSTS


Cary Fagan 

PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars

Watercress
by Andrea Wang & Jason Chin (Illustrator) March 30, 2021

Right off the bat, this book reminded me of my mother. She also had eyes "as sharp as the tip of a dragon's claw." Wild asparagus was her speciality.
Like this family, when she spied it, we all climbed out of our car and set off picking bags of it. I'm now thankful that our foraging wasn't fraught with the conflict and history of Andrea Wang and her young protagonist. I will now be keeping my eyes peeled for wild watercress growing in ditches around here.
Jason Lin's artwork is an homage to combining cultures as he brings these memories to life.


A hungry young T Rex has to learn that eating your classmates is a bad idea. It's full of humour, but is also a sweet story about learning to get along with other people, no matter how delicious they look.

4 stars

Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths
by Graham Annable April 10, 2018  ๐Ÿ

This is a delightful graphic novel for beginning readers. It's a story about friendship, about opposites attracting, and about moving out of your comfort zone. It's full of humour and sweetness.
It reminds me of Sergio Ruzzer's work.


I had to read this a few times to fully appreciate this board book. I ended up loving both the poem as well as the glorious artwork. It celebrates the different animals found in this part of the world. Poetry doesn't always work in picture books, but this one, with it's repeated refrain of I am Dreaming, the rhythm and rhyme made me want to read it out loud to my grandkids. They aren't here so I read it to myself.


I adore Dena Seiferling's vintage style illustrations almost as much as I appreciate the book's message of accepting who you are without judgement or comparison with others. Check out my full review to find out more and see examples of the art. 

CHAPTER BOOKS

5 stars

Charlie & Mouse Outdoors
by Laurel Snyder,  Emily Hughes (Illustrator)
March 03, 2020

I'm such a fan of this series. It tells the story of Charlie & Mouse and their parents on a camping trip. It's a celebration of the power of imagination.

SHORT STORIES 


"Set on five continents and spanning nearly a century, We Two Alone traces the long arc and evolution of the Chinese immigrant experience. A young laundry boy risks his life to play organized hockey in Canada in the 1920s. A Canadian couple gets caught in the outbreak of violence in Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The consul general of China attempts to save lives following Kristallnacht in Vienna. A family aspires to buy a home in South Africa, during the rise of apartheid. An actor in New York struggles to keep his career alive while yearning to reconcile with his estranged wife."

I loved this collection of short stories. They took me far away from my small town in the middle of nowhere. I followed the Chinese diaspora across a hundred years of time and space. Many of these stories were heartbreakingly uncomfortable to read, (or in my case, listen to.) I am enriched and enlightened by all of them.

NOVELS


A young girl plans for a secret sleepover at her absent grandparent's home. It ends up with her being left behind when her community and the surrounding area are evacuated. The neighbour's dog becomes her companion. As the years stretch on, she deals with looters, wild animals, fires and floods.


Malian, a young Wabanaki girl, is quarantined at her Grandparent's home during the Covid 19 quarantine. A stray dog makes its home with them during her stay there.
I liked a lot about this book. I liked the community that looks after one another and the stories by her grandparents that help Malian become more rooted in her culture. I loved the intergenerational relationship.

ADULT NOVELS

This is an exquisitely written debut novel about a Nigerian family. Kehinde and Taiye are twins who, after a bad thing happened, have grown apart. The story moves back and forth in time unravelling what happened, detailing their lives as they travelled the world. They return to Lagos to be with their mother, Kambirinachi, who believes that she is an Ogbanje, a non human spirit who should have died, but stayed alive out of love for her human family. Together the family finds a way to be at peace with themselves and each other.
The descriptions of food in this book are probably some of the finest I've ever read. I was hungry nearly all the time. #CanadaReads


I picked this from NetGalley because, thanks to my sons, I am a fan of Josh Ritter as a singer/songwriter. I am now an enthusiastic supporter of his work as an author. 
Weldon Applegate could well have been any one of my many uncles who followed their father into the wilderness to cut down ancient trees. I see many of them in his character, but especially my Uncle Harry, who had tears in his eyes when he took my father and our family to see the new technology of helicopter logging. 
Check out my full review here to find out more.


This might be my favourite of the series. It integrates reality and fiction. Yes, there is a murder mystery, but there is so much more. It's set at an imaginary end of the Covid 19 pandemic when everyone is vaccinated and everyone is safe. It asks the question, can we ever justify killing? It examines how love can be a motivation for murder. It addresses the lack of morality around our treatment of the aged and disabled. Gamache is haunted by the conditions he found in care homes in Quebec during the outbreak. I am wondering if the research he is gathering will be dealt with in a new book. 

CURRENTLY

The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce by Angie Manfredi 
The Great Bear by David A. Robertson
The Silence of Bones by June Hur

UP NEXT

Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden
A huge pile of picture books

BLOG POSTS PLANNED FOR NEXT WEEK (Hopefully)

The Great Bear by David A. Robertson
Gemma and the Giant Girl by Sara O'Leary

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2021 25/25
 

#MustReadNFIn2021 9/12

#MustReadPBIn2021 54/100 

Big Book Summer Challenge 9 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 31/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 89/100

Canada Reads 2021 5/5 

Discworld Series 41/41

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 333/333 

Bear Wants to Sing by Cary Fagan & Dena Seiferling (Illustrations)


Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this charming picture book. It was released September 14, 2021 by Tundra Books.

Bear chances upon some musical instruments left in the woods. After strumming a ukulele, he thinks he would like to sing his own song to his beloved friend, Mouse.


Before he can start, Crow shows up and caws her own tune.


Before Bear gets a chance, Snake enters the clearing and begins her song.


Other animals arrive and interject with their own ditties. All of their songs proclaim how great they are. 


When Bear finally gets his turn, his song just asserts that he is a bear. The other animals are not impressed and Bear wanders off to be by himself.


Mouse follows him. He tells Bear he likes his song “Because it is just like you.” Bear helps Mouse find his own song and the two friends float merrily down the river.


The sweetness in this book might lead you to overlook the profound message it conveys. Yes, it's a wonderful book about friendship. But most importantly, it's about accepting who you are without judgement or comparison with others. Good friends help us get there. 

Dena Seiferling's vintage style illustrations won me over in King Mouse. I'm delighted to spend time with her artwork here. I can't imagine this book any other way. 

The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All by Josh Ritter


Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this adult novel. It was released September 7, 2021 by Hanover Square Press.

At the turn of the century, from the late 1800’s on, my grandfather logged his way across the United States and north into Canada. He owned his own company and my grandmother cooked for the crew. My mother was the last of their 17 children. All my uncles were lumberjacks. Many of their male children were jacks. My father married my mother and joined their ranks. They were tough, untamed men with hearts as big as the forests they decimated.

I tell you this because I want you to know that when I tell you how authentic the voice in this novel by singer/songwriter Josh Ritter is, I know what I’m talking about.

From the Goodreads blurb:
“In the tiny timber town of Cordelia, Idaho, ninety-nine year old Weldon Applegate recounts his life in all its glory, filled with tall tales writ large with murder, mayhem, avalanches and bootlegging. It’s the story of dark pine forests brewing with ancient magic, and Weldon’s struggle as a boy to keep his father’s inherited timber claim, the Lost Lot, from the ravenous clutches of Linden Laughlin.” 
From his hospital bed, the mythic Weldon Applegate moves back and forth in time narrating the two interwoven threads of his life.

One is the story of his youth and coming of age. His father, Tom, was a lumberjack who gave up logging for his mother. Upon his mother’s death, thirteen year old Weldon and his father moved to operate a store in the small timber town of Cordelia, Idaho. Tom had inherited the Lost Lot, a treacherous timber claim on a mountain just outside the town. They hadn't been there long when the legendary Linden Laughlin showed up and connived his way into their lives. Tom was seduced into breaking his vow to his wife and headed out logging the Lost Lot with Laughlin. He died on the mountain soon afterwards. The magnitude of Laughlin’s evil becomes obvious when, in an attempt at stealing Weldon's inheritance, he terrorizes Weldon and Sohvia, the Witch woman who lived with them. Once Weldon realizes he can’t sell the Lost Lot, he returns to Cordelia, gathers supplies and courage, and heads up the mountain to work with the crew.

In the story of his later years Weldon talks about his more recent mortal enemy, Joe Mouffreau, son of the original mill owner. Joe is a greedy braggart about 15 years younger than Weldon. “A lot of people had to perish to keep Joe’s war stories fresh, but it was a sacrifice that he was willing to make.” If the two of them are enemies in life, they represent conflict on a much larger scale. Theirs is difference in world views. It's the difference between integrity and deceit. It's the difference between generosity and greed. It's the difference between preserving the natural world and destroying it. Weldon, after working the mountain in his thirteenth year, never felled another tree on his land. He ended up giving it to a Nature Preservers group. In contrast, Joe clearcut the mountain he inherited from his father. 

Ritter’s beautifully crafted words transport the reader into an enchanted forest and logging town right smack in the middle of this coming of age tale. Along with Weldon, they get to figure out just what it means to be a hero. I wish I had Ritter's way with words to tell you how brilliant this books is. Weldon is as authentic a character as any I have ever read. He could well have been any of my relatives. Reading his story brought them back to me in all their rough hewn glory.

#IMWAYR September 6, 2021

 Hello everyone. It's #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.


Happy Labour Day Everyone!

I'm sharing a couple of weeks worth of reading because life has been exceptionally busy with camping, canning, company, gardening and sewing. Whew!
Here's a little outfit I made for my youngest Granddaughter's first birthday. It needs to be ironed. (I bought the jeans.)

I feel like I am entering a reading slump, and yet I see lots of stuff on my list today. Maybe it's just that there is so much going on that when I sit down to read I am easily distracted and plagued with guilt over other things I think I should be doing. Maybe I'm just overwhelmed by the books piling up around the house. Maybe I'm just overwhelmed. I'm really glad to be retired and not having to think about teaching. I am especially thankful for audiobooks, since it seems to be the main way I read these days.  

I still have to get around to reading people's #MustReadUpdates, but hope to do that this coming week. That will be after the juicing of 300 pounds of tomatoes. I grew up drinking home made tomato juice. Store bought just can't compare. These days my partner and I get together with my aunt and uncle and make it. That 300 pounds will end up in about 100 jars of juice. I drink a quart a week all by myself. 

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian or Indigenous Canadian Author and or Illustrator. 

Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page of the book.

RECENT BLOG POSTS


BOOKS READ WITH GRANDKIDS

My son and his family spent five days with us. My four year old granddaughter and I read a couple more Princess in Black titles as well as many favourite picture books. 
Her 16 month old little sister is a huge fan of books! She carried around Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night, and climbed up on whatever lap was available and made the owner of the lap read it to her. 

5 stars

The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate
 by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale & LeUyen Pham (Illustrations)

Princess Magnolia and Princess Sneezewort plan a playdate, but end up battling a monster who has followed Magnolia into the city. There are so many wonderful messages in these books about being a strong girl. 

5 stars

The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation
 by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale & LeUyen Pham (Illustrations)
An exhausted Princess Magnolia leaves the Goat Avenger in charge of the goats and heads off to the beach for a well desired rest. Her down time is disturbed by a a sea monster. Luckily she brought her Princess in Black disguise with her. 


What I think of this book is irrelevant.
It is obviously a hit for the target audience and it's actually fun to read out loud - even if it is over and over and over and over again.

PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars

Nimoshom and His Bus
by Penny M. Thomas & Karen Hibbard (Illustrator) ๐Ÿ

This is a sweet story about a Cree school bus driver and his interactions with the students on his bus. Cree vocabulary is integrated into the text.

5 stars

Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family
by Nelly Buchet & Andrea Zuill (Illustrator)

This book is perfect for beginning readers. The words, cat dog dog are just about the only text in the book. The story, in all its hilarious, heartwarming brilliance, is revealed in Andrea Zuill’s illustrations!


Dear Librarian
by Lydia M. Sigwarth, Romina Galotta (Illustrations) & Ira Glass (Foreword)

“Libraries are the last safe, free, truly public space where people from all walks of life may encounter each other.” Philipp Schmidt
Based on a true story, a girl, whose family are homeless, finds a home and friendship in the local library. I love the photographs at the end that show the reunion between the girl and the librarian who made a difference in her life.
In my time as a teacher librarian, the library was regularly a refuge for all the misfits - children who, for whatever reason, didn’t fit an expectation of normal.

SHORT STORY 


Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory
by Martha Wells

I enjoyed this ‘behind the scenes’ look at the process of establishing Murderbot on Preservation Station. I also liked that it’s from Mensah’s point of view.

NOVELS


I could have sworn I wrote a review of this book on Goodreads, but when I went to retrieve it, it's not there. Grrr.

In a North America parallel to our own, this story integrates Indigenous reality with paranormal creatures. It's full of magic, monsters and Indigenous ways of knowing the world. Our hero, Elatsoe, can talk to the ghosts of dead creatures. She needs it, and the help of her friends as they try to find out how her cousin was murdered and who did it.


This book is beautifully written.
Truly Bateman is a character who took hold of me from the get go and won’t let go. This eleven year old is so authentic I’m wondering how she turned out.
She lives in an Indigenous owned trailer park with Clarice, her disgrace of a mother. Luckily, the owner, Andy El, takes her under her wing and looks after her.
In the summer of 1978, a year after Elvis Presley’s death, Andy El has Truly set up a lemonade stand. Truly doesn’t expect much to come of her summer venture, but on the first day, an Elvis impersonator shows up to rent one of the trailers. Truly is sure he is the real deal.
Her lemonade business turns out to be a success. The rest of the community steps up to buy her lemonade and contribute other things to sell. She makes friends with Andy El’s two grandchildren. Clarice is away most of the time with her new boyfriend. It’s the best summer of her life.
Truly tells everyone that she is saving up for a dog, but secretly plans to take the ferry to Vancouver, find her father, and bring him home to meet Elvis.
Before she gets a chance, something terrible happens.
I cried.
This book highlights the importance it taking a community to raise a child. It’s a book about stepping up and doing what is needed. It’s about love and finding the family you need.
It’s wonderful.


Mister Impossible
by Maggie Stiefvater & Will Paton (Narrator) 

I'm so far into Maggie Stiefvater's Dreamer Trilogy that the only way out is to continue reading. I listened to this twice, and I'm still not sure what is going on. It is one heck of a ride/read.
If I am completely honest, I must admit that I am addicted to Will Patton's narration. For me, his voice is The Raven Cycle and now this spin off series.
Ronan, Hennessy, and Bryde attempt to destroy the places that interfere with ley lines. This reminded me a lot of the characters in The Understory who ended up resorting to violence to save old growth trees and forests. 

4 stars

The Bear and the Nightingale
 by Katherine Arden & Kathleen Gati (Narrator)

This retelling of a Russian folktale is intense! It examines what constitutes evil from a number of perspectives. It contrasts the reality of the Christian church with a people who live close to the land. After a new priest extorts people to abandon their belief in the old ways, the community begins to suffer.
Vasilisa Petrovna, whose mother died at her birth, can see and communicate with the old spirits and tries her best to honour and support them, but her offerings are not enough. A great evil, working through Orthodox Christianity, is stalking her village.

NON FICTION


Freedom Is a Constant Struggle
by Angela Y. Davis, Cornel West (Foreword) & Frank Barat (Introduction)

I appreciated reading this collection of essays. Davis always stretches my thinking about the inequities in the world.
“[Prison] relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism.”

CURRENTLY

The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce by Angie Manfredi 
Bear Wants to Sing by Cary Fagan
The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All by Josh Ritter
We Two Alone by Jack Wang

UP NEXT

Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden
Truly Tyler by Terri Libenson
Under Shifting Stars by Alexandra Latos
Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac

BLOG POSTS PLANNED FOR NEXT WEEK (Hopefully)

Bear Wants to Sing by Cary Fagan
The Great Bear by David A. Robertson
The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All by Josh Ritter

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2021 25/25
 

#MustReadNFIn2021 9/12

#MustReadPBIn2021 51/100 

Big Book Summer Challenge 9 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 30/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 83/100

Canada Reads 2021 4/5 

Discworld Series 41/41

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 321 /333 

#MustReadIn2021 Fall Update


Carrie Gelson at There's a Book for That started #MustRead as a way to address our GoodReads lists. This year Leigh Anne Eck at A Day In the Life and I are taking over for her.
 
How's your reading life going?

Are you on top of your goals? Are you asking yourself, what goals? If you joined up with the #MustReadIn2021 challenge, it's time for the optional checkin to update your progress. 

My original goals for this year are posted here. I update my progress on my goals every week and think it helps to keep me on track. Here's where I am at so far this year. 

NOVELS

Since the April update I'ver read 15 more books from my #MustReadIn2021 fiction list. This takes me up to 23/25 titles completed. To read more about the books on this list, check here

Amina's Song by Hena Khan
Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth
Bloom by Kevin Panetta
Child of a Mad God by R.A. Salvatore
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh
Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sรกnchez
Jackpot by Nic Stone 
Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

NONFICTION

I've read five more from my nonfiction list to equal 9/12. I'm currently reading The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce by Angie Manfredi et al. To read more about the books on this list, check here


The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Light the World by Mike Winchell
Parts of this were fascinating - other times meh.
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis
I appreciated reading this collection of essays. Davis always stretches my thinking about the inequities in the world.
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
Reichl's stories of disguising herself to fool restaurateurs are heartbreaking and hilarious. 
A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency by Seth Klein
This brought me hope that, if only we can drum up the political will, we can address the climate crisis. 
The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution by Richard W. Wrangham
I was enthralled by this analysis of how we humans have managed to domesticate ourselves.

PICTURE BOOKS

I've read another 25 picture books from #MustReadPBIn2021. This brings my total to 48 out of the 100 books I planned to read. This is a list curated for their reviews of excellence. They are all 4 or 5 star books. 

I might not accomplish this goal. I admit to being sidetracked by the shiny covers and smell of new books. Writing this update sent me over to my local library where I put a hold on at least 10 books from the list. I'm not throwing in the towel just yet.

 To read more about the books on this list, check here

A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy
Almost Time by Gary D. Schmidt
And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano
At the Pond by Geraldo Valรฉrio
Bad Dog by Mike Boldt
The Bat by Elise Gravel
Because by Mo Willems
Blue Rider by Geraldo Valรฉrio
The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle
The Farmer and the Monkey by Marla Frazee
The Fog by Kyo Maclear
Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang
I Promise by Catherine Hernandez
Hike by Pete Oswald
Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall
Juliรกn at the Wedding by Jessica Love
Mr. Postmouse's Rounds by Marianne Dubuc
Mr. Postmouse Takes a Trip by Marianne Dubuc
My Day with Gong Gong by Sennah Yee
My Family, Your Family! by Kathryn Cole
Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki
Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets: An Unusual Alphabet by Sara O'Leary
Story Boat by Kyo Maclear
Snail Crossing by Corey R. Tabor
Terry Fox and Me by Mary Beth Leatherdale
The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering

INDIGENOUS AUTHORS

I finished off another fourteen books for this category so I'm now ahead of the game with 28/25 books read. 
To read more about the books on this list, check here



Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by Cynthia Leitich Smith et al
Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth
Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
Louis Riel Day: The Fur Trade Project by Deborah L Delaronde
Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know by Brittany Luby
Neekna and Chemai by Jeannette Armstrong
My Name Is Seepeetza by Shirley Sterling
The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
Sisters of the Neversea by Leitich Cynthia Smith
Spirit Bear: Fishing for Knowledge by Catching Dreams by Cindy Blackstock
Stand Like a Cedar by Nicola I. Campbell
The Train by Jodie Callaghan
We All Play by Julie Flett

CANADIAN AUTHORS

I've read another 51 book by Canadian authors since April bringing my total to 78/100 so far this year. Here is what I've finished since then.  To read more about the books on this list, check here

DISCWORLD

I was heartbroken to finish up all the Discworld novels. If you are looking for a respite from the real world, these might work for you. Terry Pratchett provides us with a mirror to look at our own world in all it's glorious. Oftentimes he shows us the things that we think we need respite from. The thing is that he does it with such remarkable grace, humour, and tenderness, it makes the real world seem ok again. I am now a serious fan. 


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#IMWAYR August 23, 2021

 Hello everyone. It's #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.

Just a reminder to everyone that it's just about time for the fall #MustReadIn2021 update. I will create a post the last weekend of August for people to connect to. I'm looking forward to seeing how you are all doing. 

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian or Indigenous Canadian Author and or Illustrator. 

Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page of the book.


PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars

The Farmer and the Monkey
 by Marla Frazee
September 22, 2020

I am astounded by how much emotion Marla Frazee shows in her illustrations. The beginning pages haunt me with their images of loneliness. The image of the farmer reading and holding the sleeping monkey almost made me weep.
I've read that some people see this book as problematic and understand this aspect of it.

GRAPHIC NOVELS


Yasmin, a young chef, and her father struggle to get by. They survive because of Yasmin's foraging skills and the kindness of two locals who farm in the local community gardens. When the gardens are unexpectedly sold to a corrupt potato farmer, she ends up stealing food from neighbour's gardens. 
There is something sinister about the potatoes. Not only do they make you go bonkers, once you get a taste of them, you won't eat anything else. It's up to Yasmina and her friends to figure out what's going on and fix it. 
The artwork in this is interesting. It's not at all like more traditional graphic novels. I like it. Check out some images here


Forever Friendship is a continuation of the Real Friends series. Hale's earlier memoirs, with brilliant artwork by LeYuen Pham, captured the social dynamics of girl friendship and bullying in elementary school. This one addresses Shannon's internal turmoil in middle school. Like the first two, it ends up being a template for how to survive and thrive through a tumultuous time in your life. Older girls and women might learn a thing or two from it. Check out my blog post here to read my full post and view some images from the book. 

4 stars

The Okay Witch
 by Emma Steinkellner September 3, 2019

I picked this up because Emma Steinkellner worked on Quince, a graphic novel finalist for the Cybils awards. I liked this story well enough that I will read the sequel, but it didn't wow me like Quince did. Essentially it's a tale about feeling like you don't belong and finding your identity.
Moth Hush is interested in anything connected to witchcraft. When she discovers that she has magical powers, it's unfortunate her mother hasn't taught her anything about it. It's worse that she refuses to help Moth develop her powers or tell her anything about her father or their history. 
I liked the diverse cast of characters. I liked that each of the three generations of witches has much to learn. I liked the artwork. My problem is that it's text heavy and the font is really small for my eyes. This probably isn't a problem for younger people.

4 stars

Pawcasso
by Remy Lai May 25, 2021

Jo connects with a dog carrying a basket. The dog is shopping. Jo accompanies it and gets mistaken for its owner. She doesn't deny it and soon her little lie becomes a huge one. She claims the dog's name is Pawcasso and takes it to art lessons at a local bookshop every Saturday. She ends up with a whole new circle of friends. When Pawcasso becomes the centre of controversy, Jo doesn't know how to extricate herself from the mess she has inadvertently created.
Two side stories weave their way through the plot. Jo's father works away from home, only to visit for a week every once in a long while. She has a hard time every time he leaves and would rather not care about him at all. At the same time, the dog's owner and her own father are estranged. Will Pawcasso be able to help them all mend fences?

CHAPTER BOOKS

5 stars

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey
 by Erin Entrada Kelly May 4, 2021

Through Marisol readers discover what it's like to be anxious and worried. She is afraid of many things, especially Peppina, the magnolia tree in her back yard.  With the help of her best friend, Jada, she just might be able to overcome it.
Erin Entrada Kelly writes authentic characters it's easy to bond with. She puts them in authentic relationships and situations. She does it again here with Marisol Rainey and her family. 
The bond between Marisol and her older brother Oz is at times conflictual, but it's also clear that they love one another. Entrada Kelly shows us that when problems arise between friends, being honest is the best way through them. 

NOVELS

5 stars

My Name Is Seepeetza
by Shirley Sterling November 1, 1992  ๐Ÿ

This is a classic Canadian novel about life in a residential school. It highlights the racism of the time.
Seepeetza keeps a journal for the 1958/1959 school year when she is eleven. The harshness of the school contrasts with her loving home life. She writes matter of factly about the physical abuse and deprivation students endured, but other horrors are referred to as 'bad things.' 


This book has forbidden love, K-Pop, boarding school and grandparents.
Ok, so it's a bit over the top, but I still mostly enjoyed this delightful teen romance. Although I don't know much about K-Dramas, I suspect this novel might be one of them.


3 stars

Jackpot
by Nic Stone October 15, 2019

I'm not a hard core fan of YA romance in the first place, and I already had my fill of that kind of angst for this week. So that probably influences how I feel about this book. 

Reminder to self: Never more than one YA romance a week or maybe a month.

Rico, a poor black girl, enlists Zan, a rich white boy, to help her track down a winning lottery ticket. In the process they develop some kind of, almost, maybe, romantic relationship. My partner tells anyone who will listen that you have as much of a chance of finding a winning lottery ticket in the ditch as you do of winning. So right off the bat this book is essentially a fairy tale. I have nothing really against fairytales so long as you take the time to unpack them, and realize they are not real.
There were chunks of this I liked. I like that the main characters have depth to them. I liked that Rico did not instantly fall into the arms of the rich boy. I liked that Zan became a better human being through his relationship with Rico, although it seemed like it was a lot of work for her to get through to him.
Rico's mother irritated the hell out of me. Refusing to accept any aid, like health insurance, for your children, seems like an incredibly irresponsible and careless action. When your children's wellbeing is at stake, you set your pride aside and do what is needed.

CURRENTLY

Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer by Leslie Gentile
The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce by Angie Manfredi 
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
Bear Wants to Sing
 by Cary Fagan
The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All by Josh Ritter

UP NEXT

Freedom Is A Constant Struggle Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of A Movement by Angela Y. Davis
Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater

BLOG POSTS PLANNED FOR NEXT WEEK

Bear Wants to Sing by Cary Fagan
The Great Bear by David A. Robertson

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2021 22/25
 

#MustReadNFIn2021 8/12

#MustReadPBIn2021 49/100 

Big Book Summer Challenge 9 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 28/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 81/100

Canada Reads 2021 4/5 

Discworld Series 41/41

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 308 /333