#IMWAYR August 20, 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.



I've been away for a couple of weeks. First I got together with my siblings for a stone laying ceremony for our parents' grave at our home town of Oliver, BC. It was profound, but it was also a fabulous, fun, time. Then my sister and I worked together on a quilt. In the middle of that we wrote a eulogy and prepared for our other sister's funeral the following weekend. It was an emotional, difficult time. The service and get together afterwards was fine, but I'm still in that, can't quite believe it's real, stage.

I don't know what it's like where you are, but here in BC, wildfires are raging across the province. Our sky is thick with a grey haze that the sun shines eerily red orange through. Because I have asthma, I'm mostly stuck inside although I do venture out to putter in the garden or wander off for short walks. My head is plugged and my lungs ache all the time. It's nasty. I'm haunted by these lines from The Hollow Men by TS Elliot: 
"This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

You would think I would at least get some reading done, but I haven't been in much of a reading mood. Unfortunately this means I have been returning more novels to the library these days than I read. The worrisome thing is that it's beginning to feel normal.

On a positive note, thanks to all of you helping me curate my reading life, everything I do read is exceptional!

BOARD BOOKS

4 stars
La Catrina: Emotions / Emociones: A Bilingual Book of Emotions
(Lil' Libros) by Patty Rodríguez

With board books and babies, there is no such thing as a finished date. I'm calling this one finished anyway even if I've only read it 10 times in the past few days. My granddaughter loves it. Her mother reads it to her in Spanish and I read it to her in English. She gets excited by each new expression, and is even a bit worried by the angry face.

Update: She now laughs at the scary faces and wants me to copy them.

Honestly, there is nothing better than reading with little ones.

PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars
What Is Chasing Duck?
(The Giggle Gang #1) by Jan Thomas

The Giggle Gang series is ideal for fans of Elephant and Piggie. Something wild and hairy with big teeth is chasing Duck, Sheep and Donkey. Bear convinces them to stand up to their fears. Who is actually chasing them ends up being a hilarious surprise. 
Only one more to go and I will be caught up with this series. 

5 stars
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story about a Simple Act of Kindness
by Kerasco√ęt

A powerful wordless book about the power of kindness and how to stand against bullying. As I was reading it I was reminded of Whitewash by Ntozake Shange.

5 stars
This Is Not a Picture Book!
by Sergio Ruzzier

I've been on a Sergio Ruzzier picture book binge these days. I am completely infatuated with his work. This one is a gorgeously illustrated celebration of the power of words. It's a metaphor for learning to read. As a duck reads a book without pictures, struggling at first to make sense of the text, the pages show the worlds the words take it into. The end papers are ingenious. The front ones are full of text where only some of the words are readable. The back ones tell the story that is in the book. I'm going to have to find another copy of this to read since the cover is taped over my library copy.

5 stars
Two Mice
by Sergio Ruzzier

Two mice head out on an adventure in a boat. They hit rocks, capsize, and nearly end up as dinner to baby birds before making it back home safe and sound.
It's the combination of the sparse text and delightful illustrations that make this book a hit. Using only the numbers, one, two, and three, the text is composed of two word phrases where the first word is one of these numbers. The rest of the story is revealed in the soft images.
I loved the humour in this. Even my one year old enjoyed it. It is the perfect book for children just breaking through into reading.

4 stars
Hey, Rabbit!
by Sergio Ruzzier

Rabbit’s suitcase is full of exactly what his friends need and want. The question is whether or not there will be anything left for him.
The images that spill out as each character opens the suitcase and removes their items are glorious. A leaf for the toucan becomes a jungle. The cat’s transformed ball of twine reminded me of my mother-in-law’s yarn stash!
My heart sang at the ending where Rabbit’s friends end up giving back to him just what he wants and needs. This message about the joy of reciprocity is one we can’t spread often enough.

NON FICTION PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars
The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art
by 
Barb Rosenstock & Claire A. Nivola (Illustrator)

I haven't met a Barb Rosenstock book I haven't loved, and this might be the best one yet. It tells the story of Nek Chand, folk artist extraordinaire, who created a hidden world that reflected the multiple stories of the town he grew up in.
Claire A. Nivola's illustrations are stunning. The full spread of photographs near the end of the book shows the magnitude of the work.

5 stars
Trees
by Lemniscates

Here in the middle of the summer, while forest fires rage across the world, I have been pondering the significance of trees and what happens when they disappear.
I like this book a lot. It's is beautifully illustrated in an abstract fashion. Each chunk of text imparts important information about trees. I am especially happy by the page that states, "Trees use their roots to communicate and to help one another." It's true, but I wasn't sure this nugget of truth would make it into a picture book.
We need to do more to save trees and ourselves.

GRAPHIC

4 stars
Escape from Syria
by Samya Kullab & Jackie Roche (Illustrations)

This fictional graphic novel follows a family of four as they are forced to leave their home in Aleppo and travel to Lebanon. There they live as refugees before finally making it to Canada. Although the characters themselves are fictional, they represent the very real experiences of ordinary Syrians.
This important book will educate readers about what it means to be a refugee.

4 stars
The Prince and the Dressmaker
by Jen Wang

Gorgeous artwork is the backbone of this story about a prince who likes to dress up in women's clothing. He hires his own seamstress, Frances, a talented clothing designer. Prince Sebastian becomes Lady Crystallia and her attire is copied by all the other ladies in the city. Unfortunately Frances gets none of the credit. Their lives become more and more complicated until things fall apart.
My heart ached for both of these characters who were caught in untenable circumstances. To be honest, while I liked this conclusion, it felt somewhat simplistic and outlandish. Still, I'm always happy with a happy ending.

JUNIOR NOVELS

5 + stars
Big Foot and Little Foot
by Ellen Potter & Felicita Sala (Illustrator)

How can you not love a book where children trade monster cards for stink sap and the school is organized like this:
“There were three classrooms in the Academy. Classroom One was for the younger squidges. Classroom Two was for squidges who are old enough to know better. Classroom Three was for squidges who thought they knew better than everyone else but really didn’t.”

Hugo is one of these young squidges in Classroom One. On a sneaking expedition with his class he sees a human. By chance, this same human, Boone, and Hugo end up writing letters to each other and eventually become friends.

Ellen Potter has created a world I want to be part of. I especially want to eat like a Sasquatch: hazel nut pancakes, wild mint juice, acorn butter and raspberry cream sandwiches, walnut pie, mushroom casserole, acorn butter cookies, gooseberry pie, walnut rumples, huckleberry trifles, and rosehip crunchers! There is a whole Sasquatch culture with baby Sasquatches called chuddles. That’s going to be my new word for my grand babies!
Ellen Potter never lets her readers down! I can’t wait to read the further adventures of Hugo and Boone.

NOVELS

5 stars
Dragon Overnight
(Upside-Down Magic #4) by Sarah Mlynowski (Goodreads Author), Emily Jenkins, Lauren Myracle & Rebecca Soler (Narrator)

I probably say this every time I read a new book in this series, but this is the best one so far. The UDM (Upside Down Magic) kids have magic that doesn't work the same way as other children's magic does. This can lead to some pretty exciting adventures and mishaps. In this one, Nory's class ends up on an overnight field trip at Dragon Haven with the grade five students from Sage Academy. Nory's father, their headmaster, is also there.
What I liked was how the students from this school appreciated the talents and skills of the UDM children. I also loved that Nory and her father seemed to come to a new kind of understanding.

4 stars
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
by Pablo Cartaya

What a collection of characters to become infatuated with! Sure it's the story of the little guy defeating the big, corrupt corporation, but it's also about family, friendship, first loves and food.

5 stars
Bob
by Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead

When I saw that two of my favourites children’s authors had collaborated on a book, I expected awesome. Have they ever delivered!
I want to have deep philosophical conversations about this book with other readers. 

4 stars
Long Way Down
by Jason Reynolds

Reynolds’ gorgeous writing grabbed me from the get-go. There's something slightly Dickensian about it. After his brother Shawn's death, Will sets off to follow The Rules: No crying. No snitching. Revenge. On his way down the elevator to finish up number 3, he is visited by numerous ghosts. Although there were moments that flagged a bit for me, that ending more than made up for it.

ADULT FICTION

5 stars
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie & Zainab Jah (Narrator)

The best thing about historical fiction is what it teaches us about who we are, and what we don’t know about the world. I was a young teenager when this novel takes place. The only thing I knew from western media was about the starving Biafrans and how I better eat my vegetables. This book shows us, through the stories of three connected characters, how Biafra came to be, what it was like to live through the war, and how it was lost.

CURRENTLY

I'm rereading One Native Life by Richard Wagamese and have just picked up Firewater by Harold Johnson for my book club on the 27th. I'm also in the middle of Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth. Unfortunately three of the audiobooks I started listening to expired (Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman) so I am waiting for them to be available again. In the meantime I'm listening to A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny.

UP NEXT

I'm hoping to get to Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro, but it means I am going to have to be doing little else but reading for the rest of the week.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2018 19/25 1 in progress

#MustReadNFIn2018 5/12 1 in progress

#BigBookSummer 4/4 1 in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 14/25 3 in progress

Goodreads Reading Challenge 282/333

28 comments:

  1. The wildfires and being stuck inside sounds terrible. Hopefully, there is an end in sight. I read Americanah, but not Half of a Yellow Sun. I love historical fiction so it sounds interesting.

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    1. I fear that the fires and floods will only be getting worse. I haven't read Americanah, but was totally absorbed by Half of a Yellow Sun.

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  2. I'm so sorry to hear about the wildfires. We were once evacuated from our home due to fires, so I understand how scary that can be. You've shared some wonderful books this week. I'm looking forward to reading I Walk with Vanessa and This is Not a Picture Book. And you've definitely captured my attention with Big Foot and Little Foot. I completely understand your desire to have deep philosophical conversations about Bob. It has stuck with me a while. Hope you have a great reading week, Cheriee!

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    1. Big Foot and Little Foot is probably my favourite title of them all this week. Ellen Potter really knows how to write the perfect novel!

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  3. We have some smokiness, but I imagine nothing like you're experiencing, Cheriee. I'm sorry for that and for these recent very emotional weeks. I too adore books by Sergio Ruzzier & you've shared a few I haven't read, so thanks for that. I loved Bob, too, such a creative story! Thanks for every bit you shared!

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    1. This morning we were on a 10+ air quality alert. I long for rain to clean out the air and put out some fires.

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  4. I've seen photos of the wildfires. It's devastating and yes, pretty grim. I wish you healing in your time of loss. I've been returning many unread books too. Life just doesn't always follow expectations. I wish you well. You have intrigued me - I'll have to look for Bob.

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    1. Bob is profound Crystal. He represents so much more than just a magical creature.
      When we were in the Okanagan we watched a fire burn about two kilometres from our house. Luckily the firefighters with helicopters managed to get it under control quickly.

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  5. I am so sorry about the fires. It seems they get worse and worse every year. We had a scary pre-evacuation notice in our town this week when a fire started in the forest on the edge of town, but it ultimately headed in a different direction. I was stuck wondering how I was planning to evacuate 9 cats in 2 cat carriers.... buying some new ones this week just in case of emergencies. I am especially eager to read The secret Kingdom (I agree with you about Barb Rosenstock's books--all so good) and Big Foot and Little Foot, but my library has neither. I may put in a purchase request. I am loving the Jan Thomas books so thank you for highlighting them. Duck is my favorite character. So funny!

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    1. The fires are getting worse. Getting a pre-evacuation notice would be terrifying.
      Big Foot and Little Foot was my favourite of the bunch this week. The world building is spectacular. I hope you enjoy it as much as the Jan Thomas books.

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  6. We dealt with a lot of smoke from the wildfires last year, it's so sad to see for everyone involved. I loved this reading list you shared. I loved The Prince and the Dressmaker so much. It's such a beautifully colored story that so many readers can relate to.

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    1. I agree. The Prince and the Dressmaker really is gorgeous!

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  7. You have a nice list of books this week, in spite of the unpleasant circumstances around you. I'm glad to see Jan Thomas and Sergio Ruzzier in the mix, as those are both good for a giggle and a smile! Hope that you're safe from the fires and that the smoke clears up so you can feel healthy outside!

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    1. Jan Thomas and Sergio Ruzzier are two of my favourite children's book authors these days!

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  8. Trees looks interesting, what a gorgeous cover! And I loved The Prince & The Dressmaker, as well as Long Way Down. Such great ones!

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    1. Yes, I read a collection of fabulous books recently!

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  9. Welcome back! So much goodness in this post!
    Love Upside Down Magic, Long Way Down, Arturo Zamura, Prince & the Dressmaker, Secret Kingdom, Vanessa, and This Is Not a Picture Book! Such wonderful books!
    Trees looks beautiful, and I really want to read Bob.
    Thinking about everywhere that is having wildfires--they are so terrible (I've been through some here in FL).

    Happy reading this week :)

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    1. Yes, it feels like the world is on fire these days! I don't understand why more people don't rave about the Upside Down Magic series more!

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  10. I have The Secret Kingdom and Arturo to read - you're making me want to drop current reads and start them!
    I'm glad that your family was able to be together during a tough time. It's amazing how important it is to be able to rely on them.

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    1. It sure is Michele. I especially loved The Secret Kingdom. Arturo was a delightful read also.

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  11. Yes, that smoke is terrible, and there is no escaping it in any direction. I am fortunate to be able to handle it most days. I went for a jog tonight but have to take it easy sometimes. It was actually worse when I got in the car in Seattle today compared with where I got out in Merritt, but that was luck. Tomorrow could be completely different.

    I am sorry that you are not feeling as well, but looking at your list of books, it still looks like a pretty great week. A lot of books that I really loved there and several that I hope to get soon such as Bob, Epic Fail... (I loved his more recent Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish), and Big Foot, Little Feet.

    I don't have much luck in bookstores lately as they seem to often be out of what I am looking for. I had that with Give Me Some Truth as I looked in four stores this weekend and did not see a single copy. I feel an online order coming! I hope the smoke situation improves and you have a happy reading week! Thanks for the great post!

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    1. Although I am enjoying Give Me Some Truth, I think I liked If I Ever Get Out of Here more, but I'll see how this one goes...
      I know the smoke in Oliver was almost unbearable except that thankfully we have air conditioning and it filters out the nasty bits.
      You must must must read Big Foot, Little Feet with your little ones Aaron. I adored it and am only sad that I don't have anyone to read it to yet!

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  12. There are so many books on this post that were my favorites. The Prince and the Dressmaker, I Walk with Vanessa, Arturo Zamora, Long Way Down. Gosh. You read so many good books this week!

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    1. I did indeed. If you haven't read Big Foot, Little Feet, please do Ricki! I'm sure your little people will love it!

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  13. For someone who claims she has not done a whole lot of reading - this is a WHOLE LOT, really! You have been immensely productive, really. The graphic novels you shared here are already on my radar, but don't own them yet - the Prince and the Dressmaker in particular is one I want to get my hands on. I just finished reading Half of a Yellow Sun a few months back - and I recalled you leaving a comment that you want to read it soonest, and you have! It requires some measure of commitment, because it's fairly long, detailed, and quite heavy for a theme - but definitely well worth it. And yes, my warmest thoughts go out with you - I know you're still experiencing grief and loss - but quilting, writing eulogies, and being surrounded by family sound beautiful too. :)

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    1. It looks like more reading because it is three weeks of it! There were days in a row when I didn't open a book in any format. Half of a Yellow Sun is intense, but brilliantly written so that I became completely invested in the characters and had to read through to see how they all fared!
      Thanks for your kind words about grief and loss. It all takes time.

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  14. Hi, Cheriee. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your sister.

    Thank you for this round up of books. Several are on my TBR. I just finished BOB -- my point of connection was Livy returning to her grandmother's house and country after many years away. Her struggle to remember previous visits resonated with my memories of visiting my grandparents' home in England.

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    1. Thanks Laura,
      I was lucky to live in the same small town as my grandparents, so I'm fortunate to have lots of rich memories of them and their houses. Still, there is something about Bob that harkens back to those days when the world was new and anything was possible.

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