This week Ayla, one of my grade five library assistants, guest hosted my blog with her review of Lumberjanes. I've been lucky to have worked with Alya a number of times over the years. Like those Lumberjanes, Alya is the kind of person who can get along with just about anyone. 

It's Monday and that means time for #IMWAYR. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host this weekly event where bloggers connect and talk about the middle grade and YA literature they have been reading.


4 stars
Nerdy Birdy
by by Aaron Reynolds & Matt Davies (illustrator)

Nerdy Birdy likes reading and playing video games, but he is lonely. He doesn't fit in with other birds, not even at the bird feeder because he is allergic to bird seed! He would like to be like the cool birds, Eagles, Cardinals, and Robins, but they want nothing to do with him. Eventually he finds a group of other nerdy birds to belong to. They all like to read, play World of Wormcraft and many have the same food allergies. Then a new bird, Vulture, enters the community. He isn't like the cool birds, but neither is he like the nerdy birds. When his new friends rejected Vulture, Nerdy Birdy knew something was wrong and decided to make friends with him anyway. I love the ending message in this book, that you can be friends with people who are not the same as you. Students are sure to love these illustrations as much as I did.


5 stars
Jellicoe Road
by Melina Marchetta

I am so glad this book was on my #mustreadin2015 list and that I transferred it to my #mustreadin2016 list. Wow! It took me a while to figure out what was going on, and who all these characters were. By the time I started to understand, I was hooked. This is a powerful story about love and loss and forgiveness.

It is a book that made me cry, not just at the heartbreaking moments of sadness, but sometimes just because of the heartbreaking sweetness.

Taylor is caught up in game of war between different groups of teens on the Jellicoe Road. There are the townies, the cadets, and Taylor's faction, the boarders. It's a strange conflict with roots that, unbeknownst to Taylor, tangle up with her own.

Since her mother abandoned her at a 7/11 when she was eleven, Hannah has been the one dependable adult in her life. There is a parallel story, written by Hannah, of the young people who once upon a time inhabited this space, and out of boredom, created the war. 
When Taylor discovers that Hannah has disappeared, she starts to read the novel in an attempt to figure out what is going on. Eventually she heads off in search of her. 

There is a reason books win the Printz award. The writing in this book is just gorgeous. The story is mythical and magical. I love the honesty and love between the characters: not just the romantic love, but the deep caring that Taylor's housemates and the other characters have for each other. 

4 stars
Red Wolf
by Jennifer Dance

This is a powerful story about a five year old Anishnaabe boy who is taken from his loving parents and forced to attend residential school until he is 15. There he is stripped of his name, his language, and his self-respect. He is taught that all indigenous peoples are "dirty savages" who must be saved and assimilated. Equality was never part of the equation, as the children, once they left, were expected to do nothing more than work as menials for white people.

This is a very dark and troubling story, made worse by the fact that while Red Wolf may be a fictional character, what happened to him and his peers was reality for many children here in North America. This story is set in the late 1800's, but the last residential school in Canada closed in 1996.

I'm hoping to get a full blog post up about this book sometime later this week.

4 stars
Gregor the Overlander
by Suzanne Collins

I'm not sure I really want to give this book four stars, but it is definitely more than three. My students have been encouraging me to read it and since I was between audiobooks and this one was available, I decided to listen to it. I was reticent because Collins also wrote The Hunger Games series. I finished the first in it, but couldn't read more because they were too violent for me. Gregor was a pleasant surprise. Boots is a delightful character and Gregor is such a loving brother. It is a really great middle grade adventure. I might even listen to more of the series.


5 stars
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
This is a fabulous book that tells how a family worked hard to ensure that their children and other Latin American children would have the same quality of education as the rest of their peers. I loved the illustrations as much as the story. The notes at the end of the book provide additional detail about how this story eventually leads up to the better known Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case that ended segregation of students across the United States.

5 stars

Redwoods by Jason Chin

What a great read! A young boy picks up a book about redwoods, and as he reads from the book we see him transported into the Redwood forest. I love how Jason Chin's illustrations make the text come alive. I learned much as I read this deceptively simple picture book. The ending is a delightful surprise.

5 stars
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I've finished this book for now, but I'm not sure it is the kind of book that will ever let go of me. Coates words pierced my consciousness and from hereon in, will haunt how I interpret the world around me, especially when it has to do with my personal and societal interconnectedness with black people. These days I'm worried how our lessons on black history in Canada might be perceived by the black children in our school.

Ta-Nehisi Coates can really write. Words and phrases carve themselves like tattoos onto my consciousness. Lines like this, "Some of us make it out but the game is played with loaded dice." leave me stunned as I take in the hard, simple truth of them.

Here is a man brilliantly passing on his knowledge and wisdom to his teenage son. But it's also a lesson on history, civics and morality for the rest of us as he reveals the inherent danger of occupying a black body in America and how it signifies everything that is wrong with the dream of America. I am left mindful that the dream of Canada is carved into the skin of our indigenous population and other immigrants not deemed white enough. 


I'm listening to Flunked by Jen Calonita, another book we have in our library that I need to read. I'm still waiting for All American Boys so instead I started reading The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds. 


I've got The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson waiting for me. I'm also hoping to get to Zomboy by Richard Scrimger, one of our book club books. I also have to read Lumberjanes!

Lumberjanes by Noel Stevenson, Grace Ellis & Brooke Allen Guest Hosted by Ayla in Grade 5

This blog post is written by Ayla, one of my grade five library monitors. I meant to bring the book home with me this weekend, but forgot it. I'm going to get to it soon! 

Lumberjanes is an amazing book about a group of friends going to a summer camp. If you like friendship books or books with gods and goddesses, then you will love this book. It has lots of twists and turns. This book has lots of amazing and very detailed drawings. 

I love how all the characters have completely different personalities but they can work together. My favorite character is Rose. I really like her personality because she is so strong. 

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone nine and up.