#IMWAYR July 30, 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.

Boy has it ever been hot here in Vancouver, BC! In our house in Oliver, we have air conditioning, but here we have to get by with fans, leaving windows open all night and closing everything up first thing in the morning. The heat wave is supposed to break early next week and I am very much looking forward to it! It's hard to get anything except reading, sewing, and lazing around, accomplished when it's like this.


We are always reading books with the babies so I'm just sharing a couple of books today that seem to be special these days. 

5 stars
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

I swear I’ve read this a bazillion times. It is, hands down, my granddaughter’s favourite book. If it’s new to you, it shows different animals doing different actions and then shows a child doing it and saying, “I can do it.” Our little one year old thumps her chest and points to the room where the books are. The gorilla is her favourite page, but she can do almost all of the other actions too.

5 stars
Peek-a Moo! by Nina Laden

Like Peek- a Who! by Nina Laden, we love this. I've been forced to read and reread these two books for the past few weeks. I got this one just to have some kind of break. Ada laughed with delight the first time we read this. She loves to turn the pages herself and tries to make the sounds of the surprise. She sure surprised me when we got to the grew page and she showed me the sign for food! Just about her favourite page is the rooster shouting cock-doodle/doo! I only picked this one up two days ago and have read it at least a dozen times. Now to see if the other grand baby loves it as much.


4 stars
My Friends Make Me Happy! (The Giggle Gang #3) by Jan Thomas

This is a delightful series for beginning readers. Sheep's friends might make him happy, but sometimes they also make him crazy. You'll want to read it for yourself to see why. It will appeal to fans of Elephant and Piggie and Fox and Chick.

4 stars
My Toothbrush Is Missing (The Giggle Gang, #4) by Jan Thomas

I read this today on my phone while riding the bus. I had to read the first set up and punch line to my cousin who was sitting beside me. We ended up giggling. (This was before the concert and adult beverages) I am absolutely infatuated with the goofiness of these books.

Next Week I'm going to read the first two in this delightful series.

5 stars
Sugar and Snails by Sarah Tsiang & Sonja Wimmer (Illustrator)

Apparently the make up of girls and boys is a whole lot more complicated than that old rhyme could begin to explain. An older man, who I assumed to be a group of children's grandfather, makes up new verses for it that highlight how multifaceted children are, irrespective of their gender. Sonja Wimmer's illustrations are a wild and wonderful celebration of this. Sarah Tsiang's text is written in rhyming verse that works. It was a delight to read out loud.

5+ stars
Islandborn by Junot Díaz & Leo Espinosa (illustrator)

Lola has to come up with a picture of where her family is from, but has no memories of the island she was born on. As she asks people what they remember, she begins to put together ideas on paper: bats as big as blankets, people dancing in the street, head sized mangoes, and fish that jump out of the ocean right into your lap. These and other exaggerations fill the book with laugh out loud moments. There’s also Nelson, who’s always yelling, and so just might be an old person in training.
But the book doesn’t skirt the hard stuff. A monster fell upon the island and everyone was terrified. This description of political terrorism without calling it that, is brilliant.
I adored Leo Espinosa’s gorgeous artwork as much as I did Junot Díaz‘ words.
There is considerable text the pages, but since I envision using this with older students, that isn’t a problem. What is a bit of an issue is that on a few of the pages the text and illustrations are close to the same tone and make it challenging to read.

4 stars
Amandina by Sergio Ruzzier

This is absolutely charming. Amandina is a very talented, but solitary, dog. She decided to stop being so shy and show the world what she could do. She rented a run down theatre that she then refurbished. She built and painted sets, sewed costumes, sent out invitations and put up posters.
This line from what happened on opening night felt like the reveal of an important universal truth to me, "The theatre was empty: nobody had come. Sometimes these things happen, and nobody can say why."
Undaunted, Amandina's show went on.
Amandina is an inspirational character who reminds the rest of us to follow our own dreams no matter what.

5 stars
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina & Angela Dominguez,(Illustrations)

When a young girl’s abuela (grandmother) comes to live with them, they speak different languages. Over time they become very close and help each other become bilingual. Mango is the parrot the family brings home to keep Abuela company during the day.
The book makes my heart sing. I love the sweetness of the text and the charming illustrations.

5 stars
Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham, Charles Waters, Sean Qualls (Illustrator) & Selina Alko (Illustrator)

I've read and reread this to make sure it's as good as I think it is. I gave it to my brother to read. He loved it and came back with this quote, "there's men dressed in suits so sharp you could cut yourself by looking at them."
You need to get this book and read the back matter explaining how it came to be. Two authors, one white and one black, have collaborated on this collection of poems that take us into the the lives of a white girl and a black boy who are paired in a writing project. Through their poetry we learn about their lives. At the same time as these two protagonists discover their differences, they also realize what they have in common. Their eventual friendship changes their relationships with other children in their class.
Sean Qualls and Selina Alko's illustrations are gorgeous.

4 stars
Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival

One day Norman, a perfectly ordinary boy, grew wings. He enjoyed his first flight and then began to worry about what would happen when others realized he was different.
I was fascinated by how Tom Percival used colour. For the first few pages, everything except Norman is in black and white. Colour explodes on the page as his wings grow in and he experiences flight, but then everything returns to black and white again when he decides to hide his wings.
I especially connected to the part where Norman decides to let his wings show, and his courage allows other children to free their wings in turn. Sure wish I had a few children old enough to talk about this with.


3.5 stars
Ada Lace, on the Case by Emily Calandrelli, Renee Kurilla (Illustrator) & Tamson Weston (Contributor)

Ada Lace and her family have just moved to San Francisco. Instead of exploring her new neighbourhood, she is stuck in her house with a broken leg after a science experiment with a bungee cord went wrong. Luckily she makes friends with Nina, a girl who lives nearby. They spend their time watching their neighbours and realize that Ms Reed's dog, Marguerite, is missing. The two girls set out to find out what happened to her. 


4 stars
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

I wish I had been smart and taken notes after finishing this book, but I didn't. I know I enjoyed reading about Lucy Callahan, a seventh grade math savant (brought on by a lightning strike.) Up until now she has been home schooled, but she is forced to attend public school for one year before she will be allowed to go to college. Along the way Lucy learns a lot about friendship and working together with other people. I remember that this book made me cry. 

5 stars
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck & Dylan Baker (Narrator)

There is a reason books win big prizes like the Pulitzer. Just the writing alone in this is jaw dropping, but its political and philosophical relevance across time takes my breath away. It’s a prescient warning for our time.
I was absolutely hooked by this audiobook from the end of the first chapter. Set in the 1930’s, the Joad family are forced to leave their land in Oklahoma and migrate to California in search of work.
The story is brutal, but the characters are beautiful. I really loved the alternating between the big picture sections and then showing the reader what this was like at an intimate level through the Joad family. It gave me insight into what it was like for my parents and in laws who were children at the time.
That bleak ending shocked me and left me hanging, which I guess it was supposed to do.
I’ll be carrying the Joad family around with me for a while. I wonder if Steinbeck had any ideas about what happened to them all.


5 stars
Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Robert Probst & Kylene Beers

This book provides a new way of looking at how we talk about our reading. While it's set in America against a backdrop of high stakes testing, much of this will be relevant to teachers here in Canada who want to ensure that children grow up to be social activists engaged in deep aspects of democracy.
A couple of things surprised me. First, although I knew the amount of reading a student did made a difference in their academic achievement, the numbers in vocabulary acquisition based on how much reading was going on stunned me. Second, although I would never want to spend more than a month reading a novel out loud, their suggestion that it shouldn't take more than a week was an aha moment for me.
I wish I had read this book while I was still teaching. I hope I can use these ideas if I end up substitute teaching in the coming year. At the very least I hope to be able to use the HBB model for book club conversations.
The most distressing thing for me is that we still need to assert the importance of free choice reading everyday for students.


I've put The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora aside to finish up Big Foot and Little Foot by Ellen Potter. I'm in the middle of, and enjoying immensely, The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. Both of them have to be back at the Library on Wednesday. I've started listening to Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie & Zainab Jah (Narrator)


Whatever strikes my fancy in my piles is what I'll read next.


#MustReadIn2018 17/25 1 in progress

#MustReadNFIn2018 5/12 1 in progress

#BigBookSummer 3/4 1 in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 14/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 266/333

#IMWAYR July 23, 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.

It's been another busy week. My partner and I travelled to our house in Oliver, BC where we went to a gender reveal party for our friends' daughter. They will be having a girl. I'll be dropping off off the baby quilt at the quilters' Monday afternoon.
Other than that my brother and I travelled to go to a memorial service for one of our aunts. He didn't have any outlets that I could connect my Iphone to, so we couldn't listen to the audiobook I had picked out, (Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.) We ended up listening to the absolutely WORST BOOKS ever.


5 stars
Fox & Chick: The Party: and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier

I loved this so much that I am in the middle of writing a blog post about it. 
It is a collection of three little stories that are perfect for fans of Elephant and Piggie and ready to move on to slightly more challenging books. It is written in a graphic format. Lovely colourful illustrations are deceptively simple. They are rich in detail and nuance. I adore the interactions between the two characters. You have to pay close attention to the facial expressions because much of the humour is revealed there.

3 stars
Fishing with Grandma (English) by Maren Vsetula, Susan Avingaq & Charlene Chua (Illustrations)

Two children go to visit their grandmother. Then they decide to go on an outdoor adventure. Readers, along with the children, will learn a lot about ice fishing. At the end of the day when they have caught more char than they can eat, they learn a lesson in generosity.
I like a lot about this book, including everything I already got mentioned. I appreciated that it is a woman taking the children to learn traditional outdoor activities. The back matter contains a glossary of Inuktitut terminology used in the book and images with accompanying information about the fishing tools used.
Th illustrations are a bit too cartoonish for my liking, but the publisher, Inhabit Media, is an Iqaluit company, so what do I know?

3 stars
Kamik Joins the Pack (English) by Darryl Baker & Qin Leng (Illustrations)

This is another Inhabit Media publication. Jake dreams of owning his own dogsled team. He brings Kamik, his dog, to visit his uncle, who is a musher and winner of many races. Jake learns that being a musher involves much more than he imagined. Then he and his uncle harness Kamik to the back of pack and take him on a run with the rest of the dogs.
I liked this for the most part. The pages are a bit heavy on the text side, but still ok. The artwork is done by Qin Leng so it is gorgeous. What I wonder though, is why an Inuit artist wasn't involved.

4 stars
Pool by JiHyeon Lee

Two children dive beneath a throng of people at a swimming pool and discover a magical underwater world. The crowd is in black and white, but this realm beneath them is abundant in colour. This is a beautiful wordless book!

3 stars
Yellow Kayak by Nina Laden & Melissa Castrillón (Illustrations)

There are specific things about this book that bring out my inner cranky old lady. First off this kayak does not look like a very seaworthy boat. Second that’s a baby out there in this tacky boat all by itself. Aside from these things, the book is visually gorgeous and I liked the poem that accompanied it.


5 stars
Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen by Deborah Hopkinson & Qin Leng (Illustrator)

Jane Austen is my preferred author across time and space. For a number of years I would reread her books on a regular basis. I have no idea how many times I’ve read each one. Emma is still my favourite book, but have you seen the BBC mini series production of Pride and Prejudice? It is the best film adaptation! 
Obviously I had to read this. So far I’ve read it three times. Qin Leng’s illustrations are gorgeous. I love how she captures the time period and essence of these characters. Deborah Hopkins has introduced me to aspects of Jane Austen’s life I didn’t know about. Of course I loved this! Now I’m off to read it again before it goes back to the library.
I realize I forgot to mention that this book is an important inspiration for want to be writers. The back matter is also significant. There is a timeline of important events. A section titled “Jane’s Bookshelf” provides a synopsis and quotes from each of novels. There is also a bibliography with internet and hard copy resources.


4 stars
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Thoroughly enjoyed this. Amal is a character you can’t help but like and admire. Readers will experience vicariously how difficult it is for people in other parts of the world, especially for girls and women. I appreciated the notes at the end explaining more about indentured servitude and that many are not as lucky as Amal.

1 star
The Guns of Avalon (The Chronicles of Amber #2) by Roger Zelazny & Alessandro Juliani (Narrator)
This is one of the two audiobooks my brother had in his car. We both thought it was godawful! There were times when the similes and metaphors were so outlandish both of us would burst into laughter. When the book finally came to an end, we were both disgusted because it just left us hanging without resolving the story at all. The best thing about it was that it made the next book we listened to seem almost reasonable. Imagine my surprise when I went to look at this on Goodreads and saw that the average rating is 4.15 stars. Obviously I am not the target audience. 

2 stars
The Devil's Badland (The Loner #2) by J.A. Johnstone
Louis L'Amour would have loved this. Me, not so much, but it was better than trying to read my book and get carsick. It was palatable because it was so much better than The Guns of Avalon, but that isn't saying much. My brother will finish listening to it on his way home. I've abandoned it. This one has a Goodreads rating of 4.33. Again, I am not the target audience. 

The worst thing about this road trip with my brother was that just as we were almost home, my brother mentioned that he thought the sound system could be accessed through blue tooth. I checked and it could. Grrrrr. 


My partner and I have been listening to The Grapes of Wrath while we are in our car. Perhaps it's the contrast between this and those other audiobooks that make them seem so awful. I'm also about 2/3rds finished reading The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl.


I'm hoping to get to The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya. Then I'll decide between Rebound by Kwame Alexander and Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages.


#MustReadIn2018 17/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 5/12 1 in progress

#BigBookSummer 2/4 1 in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 14/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 252/333