#IMWAYR MARCH 21, 2016

Hello #IMWAYR! Jen at Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki atUnleashing Readers host this weekly event when readers and bloggers of kidlit get together to share what they have been reading. 

It's been a while since I last participated. I'm an all or nothing kind of person, and if I'm part of this, I feel the need to read everyone's posts and comment. But February was a hard month. My mother ended up in the hospital again. I was in the throws of last minute organization for Winter Tonic, our annual Teacher Librarian professional development and social event. And then, my Aunt Yvonne died. She was only a few years older than I am. I couldn't do and cope with everything, so I prioritized. Once the tonic was over, I carved out some space to grieve and started spending more time with my mom who hasn't left the hospital. 

Anyone who is a school librarian knows that libraries are about so much more than books. I took time to contemplate the workshops I attended at the Tonic, most especially creating more makerspaces in our library. I am loving the kit of Littlebits I purchased and hoping to round up money for more. Then there was the intensity of end of term work with students: finishing up book trailers and helping my young writers publish their stories. (coming soon)

I started out this first week of spring break by attending my last BCTF AGM. I love participating in democracy and appreciate everything I learn when I am there. I had no time to read or even listen to a book for four days! I did read lots of resolutions and rationals for them though.

Although I took a break from blogging, I did not take a break from reading. Reading is my break from real life and one of my first priorities! Here are some novels I have been reading. Don't worry, I'm only going to highlight my favourites today.


Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
This is a fascinating look into an illness that I know nothing about. Sometimes when an author's writing draws you into their world with such finesse, you just trust them, and go along for the ride. This is what happened to me here. Madeline Whittier has SCID. This means that leaving her house can kill her. Up until now, Madeline has been content with her life, but that all changes when new neighbours move in next door and she starts up an online relationship with their very attractive teenage son.
Some of what I enjoyed most about this book were Madeline's musings and decisions about what it means to have a life. (Ok, So I also loved Madeline's dictionary entries and her Spoiler Reviews)
At one point I thought I would stop reading because I anticipated a tragic, heartbreaking ending. I'm glad I didn't. 
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
I could have sworn I took notes and wrote about this book, but I can't find them anywhere. I read it while travelling home from my aunt's funeral. Of course I cried. I just adored the sweetness of this story about a young boy who has lost his mother. He attends funerals to watch the mourners and find a connection to others who have experienced his level of grief. It's also a bit of a quirky romance. I love love love all the characters in this story.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt
I am in awe of the way Gary Schmidt crafts his characters. His are young boys to become smitten with in so many ways. This book is no different. Jack lives in a happy family with his mother and father. They take in Joseph, a troubled young man a couple of years older than Jack. Joseph has had a hard life. He lived with an abusive father. Then at 13, he ended up falling in love and getting his girlfriend pregnant. What ensued was a year of hell. By the time he came to Jack's family he was badly damaged. Most of this book is about the redemptive quality of love and acceptance. It reminds us how important a few select adults can be in a child's life. Over time Joseph shares his story with them. More than anything he wants to see his baby girl, Jupiter.
I suspected what was going to happen with Jupiter. I did not like the way Joseph's story went.

Dory and the Real True Friend by Abby Hanlon
I adore Dory! If the gods had given me a daughter, I would have wanted one just like her. I suspect she would have driven me around the bend and I already have two boys who do that.
In this chapter book, Dory goes into grade one. I love the advice her older siblings give her:
You can't wear that dirty old nightgown.
You can't talk to yourself.
Do not move furniture around in your classroom to build a fort.
No matter what, do not use your imagination!
At school, after disregarding these directions, Dory finally makes a real best friend. Unfortunately her older siblings don't believe her.
My younger readers are devouring this series!

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King
I'm finished this book, but I'm still trying determine what the heck happened. I've got synapses sparking all over the place, but I'm still working to identify the big ideas. In a strangely familiar parallel reality, four brilliant teens experience the build up to the insanity of high stakes testing week. In the midst of all this, the story is an exploration of the power of belief, truth and honesty, love and acceptance. At least that's what I've figured out so far.

Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart
From the cover you might think this is a goofy book. It is not. While there is humour, it's also a profound story of a boy and his mother coping with the loss of father and husband. They are in dire financial straits and will be evicted from their apartment if they can't come up with enough money soon. Ben hopes to do this by winning some kind of contest.
Toilet paper comes into the story when Ben writes a letter to a toilet paper company telling them how much he misses their superior product now that his mother has to buy a cheaper brand. I enjoyed reading the toilet paper facts at the beginning of each chapter.
There is so much to love about this book. There are sensitive realistic characters dealing with complicated issues. 

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Just bloody lovely. This is a beautiful novel that integrates nonfiction information about jellyfish into a heartbreaking story of loss, forgiveness and acceptance.

The first in this series was published in 2011 and I'm only reading it now. I regret having missed it earlier. Neil FlambĂ© is a 14 year old chef who runs his own restaurant. Because of his superb sense of smell, he helps the police solve crimes. 


The Outside Circle by Patti Laboucane-Benson & Kelly Mellings (illustrator)
I wish I could say that all of the intergenerational pain dealt with in this book was news to me, but it isn't. It is the story of Pete, an indigenous young man who grew up with a damaged mother who came from a family damaged by the residential school system. He got tangled up in a gangster world of drugs and violence. Then he killed his abusive stepfather and ended up in prison. In prison he connected to a special warriors program that focused on healing him and saving his life.
This book is gritty, but ultimately hopeful. The notes at the end tell more about the program Pete attended.
One of my goals for this year is to read all the longlisted Canada Reads titles. This is my first finished one. Unfortunately, it didn't make the short list. The battle over which book will win begins tomorrow. 


Worm Loves Worm by by J.J. Austrian & Mike Curato (Illustrator)
This book is perfection in so many ways. I could connect to the craziness of organizing a wedding since my son was married last September. But this book is so much more than this. I loved sharing it with students and talking about the biology of worms. 


Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder (Goodreads Author), Julie Morstad (illustrator) 
Beautiful just beautiful. The text is a graceful dance. You must take time to look closely at the images for they are filled with surprises. This ending is the most beautiful reflection on dying.
"Every day must end in night.
Every bird must fold it's wings.
Every feather falls at last, and settles."
I took this in and read it to my mother. We were both in awe. 

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh
I am such a fan of Duncan Tonatiuh's art. I loved this narrative that educates readers about Posada's art, Mexican history, political cartooning, and the meaning behind the day of the dead. 

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray by Dave Eggers, & Tucker Nichols (illustrator)
I adore the abstract illustrations and the straightforward narrative. Such a beautiful combination! 

I read this just after finished Funny Bones and I think the juxtaposition of the two books made me appreciate the art in each of them more. 


I am in the middle of trying to decide what audiobook to go to next. Otherwise I'm reading The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage and Audacity Jones to the Rescue by Kirby Larson. 


I've just picked up All American Boys from the library and am nearly delirious with excitement to start reading it!
I'm heading away for a week's holiday next week and loading up on books, but not too many. In my need to prioritize and focus on spending time with my mom, I'm working hard not to overwhelm myself with things I must do, and that includes bringing home an overambitious number of books to read during breaks. Aside from what is on my device, here is what I'm bringing with me. 

I've got some of the longlisted Canada Reads titles as audiobooks and I think my partner and I will listen to one of them on our trip.  


  1. I'm sorry about your aunt, Cheriee, and then your mother in the hospital. I hope that she'll be home and better very soon. I understand about the setting priorities. You just cannot do everything! I have read most of what you shared, but still want to read Orbiting Jupiter. I have enjoyed Schmidt's books a lot. All American Boys is great. Enjoy it, but it isn't a fun read, very thoughtful and powerful. Thanks for sharing so many good ones.

    1. Thanks Linda, I too love Schmidt's work. I've got such a varied collection to take with me that having one hard book will be ok I think.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about your aunt and your mom, I know tough times are supposed to make us stronger but it sure doesn't feel like it. I'm glad you had books to take your mind to a new place for awhile. Thanks for your reviews! I hope you get time to relax on holiday!

  3. I'm sorry that you had such a hard February. I hope you find your Spring Break energizing and that your Mom's health takes a turn for the better. Come see my reading week here. Happy reading!

    1. Thanks Kathy. My mom is in her last months here on earth, so our goal is to make them as comfortable as we can. I think it will be hard for the next while. In the meantime, I'm hoping to be rejuvenated after this break!

  4. Cheriee, I had been missing you! I'm so sorry about how hard February was and for your loss! I'll be thinking about you! This was quite a list of books! I'm going to open Goodreads and look at this post together.

    Hope March and April bring you better days, and happy reading!

    1. Hi Kellee, I missed you too! I think we have similar reading tastes. If you enjoy it, I know I have to give it a try. I'm not sure that my life will get better, but I hope that I continue to cope with all the stuff happening around me.

  5. Orbiting Jupiter stuck with me for weeks after I read it; Schmidt's writing is just so elegant. I didn't realize that Neil Flambe had more than two in the series, excited to find more. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful books.

    1. You are exactly right. His writing is elegant and eloquent. What did you think of the ending? I loved listening to The Yarn's podcast of the interview with him. It made much of what happened in the book much clearer. But I still hate that ending!

  6. Hi Cherlee,

    We are so sorry to hear about the loss of your aunt. Please know that we'll be thinking of you. The books you wrote about are incredible - Loved The Thing about Jelly Fish too. Can't wait to read Funny Bones and the newest book about Dory. Thank you for sharing these titles with us.

    1. Thanks Tammy and Clare. I am sure you will love this new Dory book. She is such a character!

  7. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your aunt and your mother's hospitalization. You're definitely in my thoughts and prayers. I'm glad that you are able to find comfort in reading. Reading is a great escape, it only for a little while. You've got a lot of novels that are on my list of books I'm meaning to read. Spring Break starts for me in 3 days, and I'm looking forward to relaxing with some great books, too.

    1. Thanks for your kind thoughts Jane. I hope you get lots of great reading in During your break?

  8. I'm sorry to hear you've been going through such a tough time, but it sounds like you have been trying to take some time to focus on yourself and your family, which is so important at hard times like this. You've been doing some great reading while you've been away from your blog, I have so much to catch up on! Take care of yourself!

    1. You are so right Jane. With my mom I realize I'm only going to get this one chance to help her die with grace and dignity and peace. It isn't the kind of thing you want to screw up.

  9. My goodness. You certainly came back with a vengeance! I am so sorry to hear that things are not going well for you. I've been popping back to your blog every so often to look for you. I am glad that you are back. I am an all or nothing kind of gal, too, so I understand! And priorities are always important, so we understand. I read nothing this week because of priorities. I try not to feel too guilty.

    1. You are so kind Ricki. I've checked in on you every once in a while too. Mostly just reading though. I think sometimes we think we are not reading but we are, just not what we would really like to be reading!

  10. Hi there Cheriee, so sorry to hear about your aunt and your mother's illness - one of my best friends just passed away a few weeks ago, and I know what you mean about finding it difficult to carve time to just grieve. And yes, books are also my link to sanity. You've read so much over the past weeks, how amazing for you! I really am intrigued by The Thing about Jellyfish - much of the reviews I read remind me a little bit of Counting by 7s.

    1. Hi Myra, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I didn't make that connection myself while reading it, but I can see that it is there. I think Counting by 7s is more about transformation while this one is more about forgiveness. I hope you find time to read The Thing About Jellyfish.