#IMWAYR January 29, 2018

#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.

Between working and knitting I'm trying to get all the graphic novels for the Cybil awards read ASAP. I'm almost there. 


I looked after my seven month old grandson this week and we read some books that my son had brought home from the library for him.

Guess What - Food? by Yusuke Yonezu

These clever illustrations with flaps to lift excited Everett. I'm not sure he enjoyed the book as much as just playing with the flaps and my making the animal sounds of the animals the flaps revealed.

5 Little Apples by Yusuke Yonezu

This one is also very clever. Again, the flaps entertained Everett much more than the story and the counting, but I can see that this will be popular for its content given a bit of time.

Splish-Splash (Mr. Horse) by Nicola Smee

I liked this more than Everett did. It was a lot of fun and I loved the ending when the animals all want to do it again. I can see it becoming a favourite as babies become older.

My Animals by Xavier Deneux

The black and white illustrations with occasional splashes of colour are striking. My little fellow focused on the pictures and enjoyed my making the animal sounds for each one.


Life by Cynthia Rylant, Brendan Wenzel (Illustrations)

This book is right up there with the best of the picture books I read and posted a week ago. Brendan Wenzel's illustrations are jaw droppingly gorgeous. Cynthia Rylant's profound words dance because of them.


Turtles All the Way Down by John Green & Kate Rudd (narrator)

I'm trying to decide between a 3 and 4 for this one. I came away with a deep understanding of what it is to have this kind of mental health problem. I liked how the friendship between the two girls became stronger as the novel progressed. I just wish the novel had focused more on the mystery. Aza's obsessiveness consumed a lot of this novel. This might represent what it would be like to actually have to live with this but once I figured this out, I wanted more from this story.


Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld , Alex Puvilland (Artist), Hilary Sycamore (Colorist) YA

You will want/need to read this one for yourself to fully appreciate it. The worldbuilding is powerfully creepy. The plot is intense. The characters are compelling. I can hardly wait to read the sequel, The Broken Vow, which won't be published until July!

Buddha: An Enlightened Life by Keiron Moore & Rajesh Nagulakonda (Illustrations) YA

This beautifully illustrated novel tells the story of how an Indian prince became an important spiritual leader.

Where's Halmoni? by Julie Kim MG

These stunning illustrations integrate Korean folklore into the everyday life of a couple of  Korean children's day when they go to visit their grandmother. The book arrived from the publishers and I brought it in to read to a group of students without having previewed it first. I wish I hadn't done that because then I could have set the book up so that they got more out of it. In spite of this, it was still a hit.

Spinning by Tillie Walden YA

This is the coming of age story of a young girl who skated competitively from the time she was a young girl till nearly the end of highschool. The illustrations capture the essence of those early morning wakeups and time spent in an almost empty auditorium. (I vouch for the authenticity of this from my time taking my son to hockey practice) I really liked the information on the different jumps and spins.


I've just started listening to A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore & Fisher Stevens (narrator). I have to finish up Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough by Doug Saunders this week because I am hosting book club next Monday! I'm rereading The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner.


I will reread Soupy Leaves Home by Cecil Castellucci & Real Friends by Shannon Hale and then dig into Palestine by Joe Sacco. My next audiobook will be Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali & Ariana Delawari (narrator)


#MustReadIn2018 5/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 1/12 - 1 in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 1/25

Cybil Graphic Novels 9/12 - 1 in progress

Goodreads Reading Challenge 32/333

Suee and the Shadow by Ginger Ly & Molly Park

Suee Lee and her father have moved from Bustle Elementary, on Bustle Street in Big City to Outskirts Elementary in Outskirtsville. Moving to a new school is fraught with challenges already. Making friends and navigating bullies are of a higher priority than academic excellence. Suee seems immune to this because she only wants to be friends with people who are her equal. However, on her first day of school she has an accident in the 'Exhibit' room that lands her in the nurses room, although she has no memory of what happened. That night her shadow starts talking to her. 

Soon afterwards the vice principal starts up an after school club for students who are considered 'losers' by their peers. To their peers they are like zombies and have no shadow. These so called 'zero' students are acknowledged by other students, but adults notice nothing. It's a harsh hint to adult readers about how much we miss about the reality of childhood and adolescence. 

Suee connects with two other students, Haeun and Hyunwoo who start up the Zero Detective Agency. Their goal is to figure out what is going on and how these students ended up like this. However, soon Suee's shadow takes control of her and she discovers that the problem is much closer to home than she could have imagined. 

I love so much about this book. I appreciate that the book reveals that Suee's attitude of not caring and claiming that these bullied children are none of her business is comparable to the bullies actions. I'm thankful that it shows that it is ok and even necessary to ask others for help when problems are out of control. I love how her two compatriots show Suee how to be a better person. 

The crisp illustrations are primarily black and white and shades of grey with sparing use of other colour; mostly purples reds and orange. This establishes an ominous backdrop for an already creepy story. Once I finished the novel I went back and reread the prologue. Noting the eyes of the young girl in that section helped put the whole narrative into perspective.

The main characters are richly developed although I wish that the popular girl bully, Yejin, had more depth to her. The contrast between her and Hyunwoo, who is popular, smart, and kind is an important distinction.

I handed this over to my Korean daughter in law to read. She informed me that this was a classic Korean style of illustration. She felt that the book resonated Korean culture. I see it as telling a universal kind of story from a Korean perspective. We are both full of questions and wondering. What will happen to the trapped soul? Why would someone want such a pot created in the first place? 

I generally hate books that end in cliffhangers, but this book has the kind I can live with. The essential problem in the book is resolved. The ending is more of a hint for what will happen in the sequel. You can bet I want to read it. 

#IMWAYR January 22, 2018

#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.

Kidsbooks, our local children's book store had a huge sale this week. I went with a friend and managed to spend less than $100 on books. 
I miss my library budget. 
As well as the books I've talked about below, I purchased a copy of The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His A B C's by Patrick McDonnell. I talked about it here. I didn't actually purchase Rot by Ben Clanton, but I did sit and read it and then proceeded to tell my librarian friends that they should have a copy in their libraries.



Unless she is really tired, actually reading books with Ada, my seven month old granddaughter is getting more and more challenging. She wants to be interacting with everything near her these days. If you give her a book she will sit opening and closing it for a good while (in baby time) before trying to chew on it. My partner has given her her own real paperback novel that she loves to fan the pages of. When I am reading with her, she wants to turn pages so I have to 'help' her get the next page to turn. She will turn it back and forth for a while before Grandma gets bored and forces her to go on to the next one.

Here is some of what we have been rereading.

5 stars
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury

We get a bit more actual focus with this one because Ada is fascinated by other babies and fingers and toes these days.

4 stars
Look At You by Kathy Henderson, Paul Howard (Illustrator)

This one works for the same reason that the Mem Fox title does. 

5 stars
Little You by Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett (Illustrator)

There is something about the colour in this one that encourages Ada to calm down, (a nearly impossible task.)

4 stars

Ojibway Animals by Jason Adair

I think it's a combination of the gorgeously coloured images and my making the animal sounds that keeps our little one paying attention to the pages in this book.


Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Paris Rosenthal, Holly Hatam (Illustrations)

5 stars
I purchased this book for my son, daughter in law, and granddaughter based on reviews of people I trust. I'm sure glad I did.
This books is a celebration of being who you are. My favourite page spread reads:
Dear Girl,
Find people like you.
Find people unlike you.

That's good advice for everyone!

Rot, the Cutest in the World! by Ben Clanton
5 stars

If I was still in the library I would absolutely purchase this book and read it out loud to every class in the school from K to grade 7. Not only is it hilarious and sweet, it’s got a surprise ending that includes an important message about how beauty is defined. If you don’t fall head over heels for Rot, you probably don’t have a heart.

Love by Matt de la Peña (Goodreads Author), Loren Long (Illustrator)

5 stars
I got shivers right from the first page of this book. I didn't read any more then. I just added it to my shopping cart. At home tears came to my eyes with each page I turned. Loren Long's illustrations take Matt de la Peña's words and together they raise up powerful truths. I can see why people are lauding this book and claiming it will be the book to hand out to graduates.

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

5 stars
Oliver Jeffers wrote this book for his son, filling it with the things he thought he needed to know. If I were purchasing a book for a graduate, it would be a challenge to choose between this one and Matt de la Peña's, Love. This one also gave me shivers.  It's beautifully illustrated pages are filled with ideas that everyone should understand.
An example is the page spread that reads:

People come in many shapes, sizes and colours.
We may all look different,
act different and sound different...
... but don't be fooled, we are all people.

I love this book so much that I might have to purchase a couple of extra copies, one for each of my grandbabies.


The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standosh & Kirby Heyborne (Narrator)

3.5 stars
Emotionally, the book feels like it starts up where Bridge to Terabithia ends. Right from the get go Ethan is dealing with the loss of his best friend Kacey. We don't know a lot about what happened to her at first. We are just thrown into an emotional roller coaster.
The family moves out of Boston to live with his mother's estranged father in a small town in Georgia. Ethan and his brother Roddy manage to bond with their Grandfather Ike, but there is a lot of friction between Ike and their mother. To add to all this, Ethan's parents are keeping secrets from him.
At his new school Ethan makes friends with Coralee, a vibrant young woman with secrets of her own.
It takes a hurricane and near disaster before all the characters start being honest and accepting of each other.

4 stars

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (MG)

I'm working on a full blog post for this one. It's the coming of age story of an American girl whose mother immigrated from India. I loved the use of colour to emphasize the magical elements.

5 stars
Suee and the Shadow by Ginger Ly & Molly Park (Illustrations) (MG)

I'm working on a blog post for this one too. It is probably my favourite of all the graphic novels I've read so far for the Cybils. I love the character development, the crisp illustrations, the story arc and the inherent messages for kids and adults.

3.5 stars

New Super-Man: Made in China (Volumes #1-6) by Gene Luen Yang (Writer), Viktor Bogdanovic (Artist), Richard Friends (Inker), Dave Sharpe (Letterer) (YA)

I'm not really a superhero comic fan, so this one was a challenge. Luckily there are layers of meaning and intrigue and I was fascinated by the cultural implications of a western style superhero inserted into a Chinese reality. Also, it's Gene Luen Yang!

4 stars

Diesel:Ignition by Tyson Hesse (YA)

It took me a while to appreciate the protagonist, Dee Diesel in this superhero style comic. While I have some serious problems with this novel in regards to the way the female bodies are depicted and the stereotypical conflict between the only two female characters, the artwork and world building is just stunning.


I've just started listening to Turtles All the Way Down by John Green & Kate Rudd (narrator). I'm still working on Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough by Doug Saunders for book club. Spill Zone, the graphic novel by Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland is so intense I've had to take a short break or I would have finished it. 


I'll continue reading from the pile of graphic novels for the Cybil awards and whatever picture books arrive from the library. 


#MustReadIn2018 4/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 1/12 - 1 in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 1/25

Cybil Graphic Novels 4/12 - 1 in progress

Goodreads Reading Challenge 21/333

New Super-Man: Made in China volumes 1 - 6: by Gene Luen Yang with art by Viktor Bogdanovic.

In the first few pages of this book my expectations of how a Superman story might unfold were trashed. Right off the bat Kong Kenan does not seem to be hero, never mind superhero, material. Granted, I haven't read any kind of Superman comic for close to five decades, but this New Superman didn't seem to have much in common with the Mr Nice Guy of my youth. Nonetheless, he is targeted by a secret, scientific foundation to become China's new Superman. 

I should have known better than to doubt Gene Luen Yang. While my interest flagged a bit after that beginning, I continued to read. It didn't take long before I was completely engaged by the novel. 

The story arc is fabricated of layers of convoluted intrigue. Ancient mythology is integrated with modern Chinese politics. It is full of complexity as multiple cadres of super powered individuals claim to work in the best interests of China. Readers will question the motivation of many if not all of them. Then there are surprising revelations. Alliances are formed and broken.

The continuing question is what kind of hero will Kong Kenan become? Which side is the right side? Who will he end up supporting?

The illustrations are primarily shades of blue with some other warmer colours. It includes classic action scenes loaded with energy and power. The facial expressions work most of the time but other times there is a kind of blankness (is this supposed to be stoicness?) to the characters. Some individuals seem truly evil, but this can be deceptive. In this novel, who to trust is a major dilemma.

I liked the humor that wends its way through the text, although, and this is my only real complaint, the font is very small. However, given that I feel this way about all the graphic novels I'm reading these days, this seems to be more about my aging eyes than anything else.

What I appreciated most about this novel was the character development. Kong starts out as a self centred narcissist, but over time begins to mature into a more considerate person. I like how his relationships between the other Chinese Justice League members, Wonder Woman and Batman, evolve and consolidate making this a book about friendship and trust. I suspect readers will be anxious to read the next in the series, especially with that ending!

Tyson Hesse's Diesel Ignition

Diandra (Dee) Diesel’s father, Tungston Diesel, disappeared years ago in a raid by the Teppan, a nation of birdmen, who are their archenemies. On her 18th birthday, she will inherit control of Peacetowne, the airship colony she calls home. She looks forward to taking over ownership, but has not learned anything about running it. She is brilliantly lazy with no awareness of her latent superpowers other than that she creates a lot of static electricity.

The day before her birthday Dee finds a machine made by the Teppan. She manages to start it without knowing how. When the birdmen come looking for it, Dee and her robot escape, but Peacetowne is destroyed. She thinks she saw her missing father on the Teppan vessel.

When Dee crash lands in a wasteland on solid ground she is rescued from vicious coyotes by her brother Bull who she has not seen in years. The two of them come up with a plan to destroy the Teppan who have headquarters in Stableburg, Bull’s city. If they survive that they plan to warn the Gass people of the Teppan plans, see if they can find the ruins of Peacetowne, and rescue Tungston Diesel.

There are a number of things I liked about this book. 
Gorgeous illustrations loaded with details reveal fabulous worlds. Action scenes are vibrant and powerful. Bright oranges, reds and yellows contrast with dark greys, greens and blues.  Emotion is fully realized on the different individual faces. The witty repartee and humour of the text makes the reading fun. It is populated with mostly multifaceted characters who grow and develop as the story progresses. Irresponsible and selfish, Dee Diesel is not at first a sympathetic character. Thankfully, by the end of the book, she has matured somewhat. I even came to grudgingly admire her.

I appreciated the complexity of the relationships between the different groups. While the Teppan are considered enemies, we learn that they were irreparably damaged by chemical warfare in a previous conflict.

I do have a number of quibbles with this and for me at least, they are not inconsequential. First, the font is so small I had to go and find my reading glasses, (although to be fair, this is a reality for all the graphic novels I am reading these days.) Second, while I appreciate the strength of Dee and Cap, who pilots Peacetowne, I do not like the Barbie doll shaped bodies of these two young women. Finally, the trope of conflict between the only two women in the novel just irritates the heck out of me.

While the novel ends with a satisfying conclusion, there are still plenty of questions to be resolved in sequels. I can’t help but wonder if Tungsten Diesel is working for the Teppan voluntarily or involuntarily. How many of Peacetowne’s residents, if any, survived the crash. I might have to read the sequel to find out.



#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 Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

Here in our home in Oliver, BC, I'm writing in front of the living room window. The brightness of the snow compensates for the grey overcast sky. As dusk settles into dark I am struck by the quiet of this place and realize I have internalized this peace. Small towns might have their limitations, but in this deep winter calm and respite from the rest of the world, they are piddling. Monday we return to the hum of background noise that is the city. I am missing my family there, but at the same time, sad to be leaving here. Tomorrow I will run around like a chicken without its head cleaning up things I should be doing now, but I'm sitting here, having finished a draft of this post, a glass of wine at my side, and revelling in this moment of being right with the world.


Not For Sale by 

4 stars
I read the sequel to this last year and loved it so much that I've been meaning to read this one ever since. Cyrus and his brother, Rudy, are happy in their house in the city and don't want to move. But their parents aren't working as often as they once were and they need to downsize.
Cyrus comes up with a plan to stop the sale of the house. It almost works.
What appealed to me in the sequel was the fabulous characters Sarah Cassidy has created, and I ended up loving them even more now.
If you have readers who are fans of Laurel Snyder's Charlie and Mouse, but are ready to move on to a bit more challenging material (the publisher states that the reading level is for children from seven to nine) this series will appeal. This is a warmhearted family that will make you laugh and love with them.


4 stars
Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Katherine Applegate writes, "In Kek's story I hope readers will see the neighbor child with a strange accent, the new kid in class from some faraway land, the child in odd clothes who doesn't belong, ... I hope they see themselves"
She certainly succeeded.
In my teaching career I worked with different children from different places. It wasn't till I spent time immersed in a different culture and language that I began to understand what it might be like for them. This books unveils the trauma and culture shock new immigrants deal with.

5 stars

I absolutely adore these characters!

5 stars

4 stars


4 stars
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown & Karen White (Narrator)

I am deeply inspired by Brené Brown’s work. This book motivated so much, that I have decided to make vulnerability my personal word for the year. I hope it will enable me to build stronger connections to my family, friends, and people I meet and work with. I'm going to have to purchase my own copy.


I'm listening to The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standosh. I'm still reading Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough by Doug Saunders for book club, and have just started Cast No Shadow, a graphic novel by Nick Taplanasky and Anissa Espinosa.


I now have a pile of graphic novels to focus on for the Cybil awards. I'll start listening to whatever audiobook becomes available next. 


#MUSTREADIN2018 3/25 - 1 in progress

#MUSTREADNFIN2018 1/12 - 1 in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 1/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 10/333