#IMWAYR December 29, 2014

Between finishing up homemade gifts, hosting a book fair, and a family crisis, the last month has been a wee bit insane. It hasn't left much time for blogging, but I've continued to read with my eyes and ears. The truth is that no matter what else is going on in my life, reading is one of those things that keeps me sane. It's just that writing about my reading life has had to drop in priority. I hope things are returning to as normal as they ever get around here. 

I am overjoyed to be getting back on track with #IMWAYR. In the past week I've read a number of picture books and listened to a number of novels. I can't wait to read what other bloggers have to say about their reading lives! Check out Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers, and you too may discover all kinds of treasures to read.

I listened to If I Stay by Gayle Forman earlier in the month and was delighted with the sequel, Where She Went, that I listened to last week.  I enjoyed both of these books. It was interesting that the first book was narrated by the girl, and the second by the boy. 4 stars

I finished up Spirit Animals #1, Wild Born, by Brandon Mull. Students at school are really enjoying this series so I wanted to see what was drawing them in. I get it. There is action and suspense, but what I suspect is most appealing are the characters' special connections with their spirit animals. This connection had me thinking of Lyra Belacqua from Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. Unfortunately, Wild Born, while an entertaining read, doesn't compare to that book. 3 stars

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech has been on my to read list since last March so I am happy to have completed it. I loved the sweetness of John and Marta and their capacity for unconditional love. This is an exquisitely written book. Much as I truly enjoyed this story, I'm not sure how many of my readers will take to it. To be honest, I worry it is a book more for adults than children. 
4 stars. 

I also found time to listen to The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holme. Wow! That is some read. I loved the characters, the plot, the science, and the moral dilemma. 
5 stars

I downloaded The Book of Lost Things (Mr Max #1) by Cynthia Voigt, just because  we have some of her work in our library, but I have never read anything by her. It was ok. I liked the bizarreness of it. Max Sterling's parents have gone missing and he has to learn to survive almost on his own.  I liked the characters, (the grandmother is a librarian, so I had to like her) I liked that it is a collection of stories that wend themselves together. I'm not sure about the role of Madam Olenka, but expect readers might learn more about her and her nefarious family in a sequel. It was a delightful book to listen to, but I doubt I'll do any more. 3 stars

I'm almost finished Goblin Secrets by William Alexander. We have this one at school but it doesn't get much circulation so I decided to find out if it was worth keeping. So far, I'm enjoying it. I like the combination of fairy tale and steam punk. I especially like this representation of Goblins who are not what I expected at all. I will definitely encourage fantasy and adventure readers to try this one. 

I've been working on For the Win by Cory Doctorow. I'm conflicted about it, but mostly I'm just confused. I think I need to learn a whole lot more about the world of video games so I have enough background knowledge to make sense of this one. I persist only because it is Cory Doctorow.  

I got my husband, who is a filmmaker, an early Christmas gift. Gallop!: A Scanimation Picture Book by Rufus Butler Seder, so intriged him and another friend, they started talking about taking one of the pages apart to figure out the technology behind the animation. Thankfully, the internet provided information about the process. My two year old niece was over during the holidays and was also enchanted by this one. 5 stars

I laughed out loud a number of times while reading The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak. I can't wait to read it to a group of children! 4 stars

The Hug Machine by Scott Campbell, a story of a little boy who goes around hugging everyone and everything is adorable. I'll have to get a copy for our library. 4 stars

Mr Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis is an engaging nonfiction picture book that tells the story of the creation of the first ferris wheel. It is a fabulous read for any ages. I caught a few of my adult guests reading and talking about it earlier this week. I will definitely get this one for our library! 5 stars

We are heading off to our place out of town that has no internet. I am giddily looking forward to reading the pile of books I've been saving for just this time. Included in this collection are Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm also planning on rereading Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, and starting How Not to be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg, both books I got for Christmas. 

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

I loved this book. The illustrations are jaw dropping gorgeous with a storyline and characters that kept me fully captivated. 

Marino and Jillian Tamaki have captured the lethargic essence of summer. There is something timeless and universal in their portrayal of the two girls, Windy and Rose, as they wend their way through this one summer, hovering on the cusp of adolescence. They are caught in limbo between the innocence of their early years, and the inevitable shattering of it as they come of age. It's in the juxtaposition of their wisdom and naivety as they emulate the vocabulary and actions of the teens and adults around them. They are extras in the drama of teen pregnancy played out by the local youth and front row spectators to Rose's parent's conflict. All the while they are trying to figure out what's right, and oftentimes failing. 

I love the diversity of the characters the Tamaki cousins have shared with us. I love that while they all have faults, I came to care for them anyway. Some day I hope to be like Windy's grandmother, sipping virgin daiquiris with my grandchildren as we read books on the porch.  

This book resonated with me - not so much because I went away to the beach each summer, but because it takes me back to my own summers growing up in a small town, trying to figure out the behaviours of my older cousins and the adults around me. It reminds me that we are always on the cusp of growing up, no matter how old we are. 

I'm not sure if I will get a copy for our elementary library. If I do it will have to go on the grade seven shelf. If I taught in a high school, I'd contemplate a lit circle set. I can imagine all kinds of juicy conversations emerging from it.

I liked it so much, I think I'll go and read it again before I return it to the library. 

#IMWAYR December 1, 2014

Here we are again! #IMWAYR, when bloggers share the books they have been reading in the past week. If you follow these links, Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers, you can find many great reads.

Busy Busy Busy. That's my life these days. 

Last week I started two books and abandoned them. I read the first chapter of The Beckoners by Carrie Mac, and realized that I couldn't read the rest of the book. That bit is a graphic description of some of the most horrific bullying I've ever seen. I couldn't go on. 

 I listened to more of The Diviners by Libba Bray, but then it got too terrifying for me to listen to any more. It isn't that these books are poorly written. In fact, my visceral responses to both of them are probably a testimony to how powerful the writing is, but I couldn't take any more. I've come to the realization that when my real life is stressed, I can't handle any additional stress from my reading life. That, and I don't do scary very well at the best of times.

I finished Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick. It's the story of a young boy who moves to a new town and pretends to be someone he isn't. He got his reasons for not wanting to live his life, and some good arises out of his facade, but ultimately he gets caught out. This wasn't one of my favourite Sonnenblick novels, but I enjoyed it. 

The Scholastic book fair arrived in the library last Friday. I sat on the floor and read a number of picture books. These are the few that jumped out at me. 


Shh! My Brother's Sleeping by Ruth Ohi. I adore this tale of an older sibling trying to keep quiet so the younger brother can sleep.
We're All Friends Here by Nancy Wilcox Richards is the story of two very different friends. It struck a chord with me because the story is narrated from the perspectives of these two characters. 

Princess Pink and the Land of Fake Believe: Little Red Quacking Hood by Noah Z. Jones, Dragon Masters: Rise of the Earth Dragon by Tracy West, and Eerie Elementary: The School is Alive by Jack Chabert, and Kung Pow Chicken: The Birdy Snatchers are part of the Branches collection. Each one that I have read so far have been delightful. Written at a grade two reading level, these illustrated chapter books are perfect for students transitioning into more substantial novels. 

These days I'm in the middle of reading The Young Elites by Marie Liu. So far I'm enjoying it, even if it does have its terrifying moments. I'm listening to Mastiff by Tamora Pierce. Pierce is a guilty pleasure of mine. I  think this is my favourite series of hers. 

Waiting for me next week if I find time to read, is This One Summer, written and illustrated by two cousins, Mariko and JIllian Tamaki. It won the Governor General Award for children's literature this year. If I didn't already have overdue books from the library, I would already have finished it. I've also got El Deafo by Cece Bell beckoning me.