#IMWAYR August 29, 2016

Hello everyone. I've been reading, but not nearly fast enough to keep up with the piles of books becoming available from the VPL. I'm looking forward to checking in with Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers to see how the rest of your reading lives are progressing. I'm also thinking about the many teachers in other parts of the planet who have returned to work already. 

Here in Vancouver, B.C., over the span of 24 hours we have gone from OMG it's so hot, to should we turn on the furnace?

This week, not only did I get in some serious reading, I managed to get reviews posted for these books last week.


4 stars
Max at Night by Ed Vere (NetGalley)

I'm a serious Max fan. In fact, I think Max is my favourite fictional cat. After reading a Max title, my heart aches that I am allergic to felines. This book is a must purchase to add to your shelf of bedtime books. If I was still in the library, I would get two copies, one for the library, and one for my great nephew, Max. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Max and the Bird.

4 stars
Rosie the Raven by Helga Bansch & Shelley Tanaka (translator) (NetGalley)

I adore these illustrations. The message of inclusion, adapting, and acceptance that this book embodies is an important one for people of all ages. Upon completion of this book I hope to read more about Rosie and really want to read In the Night, Bansch's most recent book. 


3 stars
Clara Humble and the Not-So-Super Powers by Anna Humphrey & Lisa Cinar (illustrator) (NetGalley)

I picked this from Netgalley because I admire Lisa Cinar's work. I'm still working on a review. I liked it more at the end of the story than at the beginning. I'm still trying to figure out why this is. It might be that I started it following Piper Green's Too Much Good Luck.

4 stars
Some Kind ofCourage by Dan Gemeinhart

I truly enjoyed this book. It's a western (think Louis Lamour and Zane Grey) for the younger crowd. The orphaned kid, Joseph, is adorably strong and sweet and softhearted all at the same time. This is a book I know my brothers would have loved when they were younger. I've told James, the one who is a teacher, that he better get a copy for his grade seven classroom. I was hoping to read something from Debbie Reese about the section at the Indian Camp, but couldn't find it. So all I can say about that section is that it felt unrealistic, but then, this whole book has that tall tale feel to it (in a most delightful way.)

3 stars
The Secret Place by Tana French & narrators, Stephen Hogan & Lara Hutchinson

I enjoyed this murder mystery well enough. The story is told through alternative points of view. The police perspective is told through the eyes of Stephan Moran, a young detective who wants to move from cold cases to the murder squad. His chance comes when a young woman, Holly Mackey, brings him evidence in an unsolved murder that occurred at her school. The other perspective is told through the eyes of Holly and her group of friends. I enjoyed reading the police perspective more than the teen one, but that is probably because the teen one was loaded with all the stuff I hate about some YA fiction (mean girls, girl rivalry over boys, etc etc)

4 stars
The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island by Dana Alison Levy & Dan Woren (narrator)

Sam, Jax, Eli, Frog and their fathers, are back with more adventures and troubles while on vacation at a resort community on the ocean. The Fletcher family is one of my top five fictional families. They are right up there with the Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall and the Gaither sisters by Rita Garcia Williams. If you haven't read, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, the first in this series, then you should. You probably won't need it to enjoy the second installment, but it will help you appreciate these characters more fully.


I'm listening to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (one of my #MustReadIn2016 titles) and reading with my eyes, We Were Here by Matt de la Pena.


I'm overwhelmed by books that have become available from the VPL all at once! I am going to have to do some serious prioritizing. See what I mean? And this doesn't even include the digital titles and the ones I have to pick up this week!

Rosie The Raven by Helga Bansch & Shelley Tanaka (translator)

Sometimes you open a book and fall into an art gallery. A landscape populated with images of wonder, enchantment, and possibility. A world where words seem almost irrelevant.

Rosie the Raven is one of these. You can get lost in these images. You hardly need the words to figure out what is going on.

The author and illustrator, Helga Bansch, is a teacher and counsellor of special needs children.

Rosie's is a story about being different, about trying to fit in, about accepting who you are and making the most of your life. Rosie is born into a family of ravens. She has four siblings who grow and develop as ravens usually do. Her raven parents are aware that Rosie is unusual even before she is, and provide her with a dress and hat to keep her warm.

It isn't until other animals comment on her oddness and offer up advice, that Rosie realizes she's different.

It doesn't matter what she does or how hard she tries, Rosie can only be who she is. When she accepts this, she starts to realize that she has gifts and talents that her siblings lack.

I appreciated how hard these parents had to work to ensure that Rosie would always be part of the family, even going so far as to learn how to fly with her on their backs.

Rosie is an admirable character whose adventures I would love to read more about.

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

I truly enjoyed this book. It's a melodramatic western (think Louis Lamour and Zane Grey) for the younger crowd. The hero, an orphaned kid, Joseph, is adorably strong and sweet and softhearted all at the same time.

Following the death of his father, Joseph is left in the care of a scoundrel who treats him like a servant. When Mr. Grissom sells Joseph's horse, Sarah, to another blackguard, Ezra Bishop, Joseph has had enough. He takes the money and a gun, and heads out to get back the only family he has left.

He connects up with Ah-Kee, another orphaned boy and they set out on their journey together even though they speak different languages.

And Holy Carumba do they ever have adventures!

Right off the start they have an encounter with a mama grizzly bear. Then they rescue a young Native American and end up visiting his camp. Next there is the wild gallop on a horse with Ah-kee falling off repeatedly. The two seem to be always just behind Ezra Bishop, but eventually manage to find and outsmart him. Unfortunately, Sarah has already been sold to Mr. Campbell, another horse trader.

The pair then end on a hair raising canoe ride down a river. Along the way they help birth a baby. They manage to make it into Yakima in one piece only to discover that Mr. Campbell has already left town. Luckily Ah-kee finds his father there, but Joseph still has plenty of adventures ahead of him before it's all over.

I would love to share this with some students to see what they think. I think there is enough excitement to keep them enthralled even if they are not familiar with the genre. I adore the character of Joseph, a sensitive moral hero, who ends up bawling his eyes out numerous times during the story. I admit to getting a bit weepy myself once or twice. I appreciate the multicultural aspect and that the two boys became friends in spite of their differences.

While this book is loaded with action and drama, it is really about belonging, friendship, and what matters enough to discover one's own kind of courage. I think it would make a fabulous lit circle title. If I were still working, I'd make a note to purchase copies when the paperback edition is released.

Max at Night by Ed Vere

I adore Max. I adored Max the Brave, and feel the same about Max at Night. Max is pretty much my favourite fictional kitten. 

I have a four year old great nephew named Max. When I got Max the Brave from Netgalley to read, I shared it with him. We read it over and over again and laughed and laughed. I bought two copies of that book, one for our school library, and one for my Max.

In this second book, it is long past Max's bedtime. Sleepy Max heads off to do his ablutions before saying goodnight to Fish, Box, Spider, and then Moon. 

When Max cannot find Moon anywhere he sets out on a journey to find it. In the dark night Max climbs over the sleeping dog, up a high tree, to the rooftops and eventually onto the tallest building. When he can't find Moon there, Max has to climb to the highest of the high hills. When Max has finally had enough, 

Moon finally reveals itself. A reassured and now very tired Max, returns home the way he came.

Ed Vere has embedded so much sweetness in these books. I love this marriage of images and words. This is a book that will make lots of little people and their parents happy. It's the perfect bedtime story. Purchase it for your library. Gift it to the little people you know. I know what my Max will be getting for Christmas this year. 

Thank you so much Mr. Vere. 
I can hardly wait for the next installment of Max's adventures.

Still A Work In Progress by Jo Knowles

Noah is a pretty ordinary eighth grade guy. He's got a couple of best friends, Ryan and Sam. They josh around together like ordinary teens. The trio are fascinated by girls but worry and wonder about who likes who and what you actually do with a girl if she likes you.

We are introduced to them right off the bat as Ryan hides in a bathroom stall from a girl, Molly Lo, who he claims is stalking him. The bathroom door is locked from the inside, but no one unlocks it, they just climb over the top. After all, who in their right mind would touch the floor of a boys' high school washroom?

This is followed by the discovery of the smell of dead fish coming from Small Tyler's locker. It turns out that 'locker juice' has evolved from a tuna sandwich left in his locker.

These beginning incidents are hilarious and this comedic aspect wends its way through this otherwise serious book. The humour, and that it is told from Noah's point of view, will attract and keep guys reading this important novel. 

Everyone in Noah's family worries about his older sister, Emma. The Thing That Happened before haunts them all. While we don't know what it is outright, there are enough hints in the description of how she dresses (layered sweaters so she looks like Spongebob) and the way the family act around food to figure it out. As the symptoms manifest themselves, no one actually talks about The Thing That Happened and what is going on now. As Emma's eating habits become more and more particular, they accommodate her (according to Noah) disgusting vegan diet. As Emma eats less and less food, no one actually confronts her.

It isn't until Emma collapses that they are forced to acknowledge how bad things are and take her into the hospital. Eventually Emma is admitted to a special eating disorder clinic a few hours drive from their home.

What this book reveals to us is how a family experiences one of its own dealing with an eating disorder. The story focuses primarily on Noah's experience and is told from his point of view. His worried parents spend their emotional energy on Emma while Noah is abandoned. What comes across is how much Noah loves his sister regardless of this.

Noah is a gifted artist and it is this, along with the support of a couple of compassionate teachers at his school, Ms Cliff, the art teacher and Tank, the social studies teacher, that help him get through this time.

I absolutely loved this story. Knowles writes with such authenticity you know what you are reading is truth, 
however fictional her characters.