Patina

I must admit that I am now somewhat fearful when I pick up a new Jason Reynolds novel. Mostly, the anticipatory joy takes over. But there is a little piece of worry. Everything he writes is just beyond beyond. What if this book isn’t?

Hah! It doesn’t ever happen. A few chapters in and the inkling of worry disappears and I begin to sail through his beautiful story. Gathering up characters to love. Rereading particular passages. Settling down into a time and place that he creates.

Patina, follows Ghost as the second title in ReynoldsTrack series.

From Goodreads:

Patina, or Patty, runs like a flash. She runs for many reasons—to escape the taunts from the kids at the fancy-schmancy new school she’s been sent to since she and her little sister had to stop living with their mom. She runs from the reason WHY she’s not able to live with her “real” mom any more: her mom has The Sugar, and Patty is terrified that the disease that took her mom’s legs will one day take her away forever. So Patty’s also running for her mom, who can’t. But can you ever really run away from any of this?

Patina By Jason Reynolds There's a Book for That

My thoughts:

You can lose a lot of things: luck, people, races, the social game of school. But these losses are temporary unless you let them take you down. At the same time, when you keep going – one powerful step in front of the other – you are collecting wins. Some days, you can look around and notice them all. Different things than what you lost. Maybe, somehow, more.

Patina is a story of survival. Of keeping on. Family. Connections. Amassing it all around you. Red beads in a multitude of braids. Finger nails painted in a hero’s style. The security in same old, same old turkey wings. Daily car rides filled with chitter chatter. Sunday visits.

Patina is a sister. A daughter. A niece. A teammate. A runner. A fast one. Sometimes, it seems that the races speed her away from everything. But each painful and powerful step counts. Each one gets her there.

When you are running for two people, it’s not about stamping out the rage. It’s about racing for the love.

Resilience. Community. Family. Strength. Power.

This book delivers.

Thank you to Jacquelynne from Simon and Schuster Canada for the review copy.

Releases August 29th, 2017

 

Celebration: There Are Books for All of Us

I could say all kinds of things about the US election results. I feel all kinds of things. Fear. Shock. Worry. Pressure. Responsibility. While Trump truly is #notmypresident, a border does not separate us from humanity. I am devastated and afraid about what is happening in America for all of us. For those experiencing all of the horrible discrimination, hatred and fear in the U.S. right now and for the influence America has on the world. I worry for the American children who are worried. For the children and their families who have experienced discrimination and see it getting worse. I worry for our Canadian children who feel their own fear. What about here? Can that hate come here? Is it here already? How safe are we?

Safety feels turned on its head. Hatred feels like it got a green light. It’s early days. He’s not even the President. People are talking about feeling afraid to walk outside.

To quote Aaron Sorkin:  “Hate was given hope.”

Everything is wrong with that.

I am a mother. I am a teacher. I am a person who has spent her life advocating for children.

I am horrified.

Fear can freeze us. We need to release ourselves. Begin doing something to make a change.

Sometimes, this means something completely new. Yes, do those things. Speak up when before you didn’t. Don’t ignore what you might have in the past. Engage in the hard conversations. Be uncomfortable.

Sometimes, it is to repeat what we know. Don’t stop what you already do to make a difference. Continue. It is now even more important.

This is what I celebrate today. That despite my fear, I am not turning in circles helplessly. I know where to start.

It is in my classroom full of books.

I can walk back into my classroom Monday morning and talk about books. I can book talk. Read aloud. Provide hours every week for independent reading time.

Words reassure. They challenge our thinking. They shake things up. They soothe us and make us question the world that we know.

I celebrate that I am a reader. I know my books. I think in lists. I can reach out literally and find that book for that child. “Here is a book for you,” “There are books here for all of us.” “Read this. It’s a story you should know.”

I can offer this gift endlessly.

Stories do their magic thing. They touch us where we are most human. They remind us to think deeply. To feel in mighty ways.

Our children need this. Time and space to grapple with their questions and their worries. Stories to let them see the most in themselves and in others.

Our guidance.

A room full of books.

This I can do.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

So often I focus on picture books as the place to begin. My students are always immersed in picture books. Please immerse yours!

Today my recommendations focus on chapter books for our intermediate students. Middle Grade novels. These are the titles I want to see in the hands of my Grade 4 and 5 readers and are actually on my shelves (or soon will be). I have read every one and recommend each of them. All of these books remind us, we have no time for judgement. We must make room for kind. We are all so very different and that’s what makes our world.

Read. Share. Talk. Over and over and over again.

Listed in no organized order. I just started typing.

George by Alex Gino

George

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

ghost

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

As Brave as You

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks  and Gita Varadarajan

save-me-a-seat

Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood

making-friends-with-billy-wong

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

the-land-of-forgotten-girls-erin-entrada-kelly

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Blackbird Fly

Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Nine, Ten- A September 11th Story

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily and Dunkin

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Full Cicada Moon

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

Listen, Slowly

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai

inside-out

 Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish In A Tree

 Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

crenshaw-katherine-applegate

 Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper

Stella by Starlight

 Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

Gracefully Grayson

 The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War That Saved my Life 2

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Better Nate than Ever

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

Revolution

El Deafo by CeCe Bell

El Deafo

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

brown girl dreaming

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

the red pencil

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be

Crow by Barbara Wright

Crow

Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

anything-but-typical

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco 

Beholding Bee

The Misfits by James Howe

The Misfits

The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata 

luck

Wonder by R.J.Palacio

wonder 12 for 2012

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

lions-of-little-rock 12 for 2012

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

echo

The Real Boy written by Anne Ursu

cover.The Real Boy - Front Jacket - 2-13

Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai

Shooting-Kabul-Senzai-N-H-9781442401952

For many more titles, visit the We Need Diverse Books site. They are many resources and book lists featured there.

wndb

Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That We Need Diverse Books logo

The definition of diverse books on the We Need Diverse Books site is one that I always refer to:

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

From the Mission Statement on the We Need Diverse Books site.

Issue yourself or your students The Reading Without Walls Challenge from Gene Luen Yang who is America’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Number 1 seems particularly meaningful now: Read about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.

rww-challenge-1

In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out

I am celebrating the characters in middle grade and young adult novels who make strong impressions. When you read a lot of novels, there is the wonderful opportunity to “meet” many incredible characters. First, it was these 25 boys that I wanted to highlight. Now, it’s time for the girls!

These are the female characters who have stayed with me. I sometimes worry about them. I stop and remember their actions. The big and bold things and the quietly brave. I admire their choices, the way they move on from mistakes, their soul searching. I honour these 25 girls who live beyond the pages of the books they live in.

In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Sophie in Endangered written by Eliot Schrefer

Endangered In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Francesca Schnell in The Summer of Letting Go written by Gae Polisner

The Summer of Letting Go In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Flora Belle Buckman in Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate DiCamillo

flora and ulysses In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Marlee in The Lions of Little Rock written by Kristin Levine

lions-of-little-rock  In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Jewel in Bird written by Crystal Chan

Bird In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Comfort Snowberger in Each Little Bird That Sings written by Deborah Wiles

each little bird In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Fern in See you at Harry’s written by Jo Knowles

 see You at Harry's In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Vera in Please Ignore Vera Dietz written by A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Georgie Burkhardt in One Came Home written by Amy Timberlake

one came home In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

May in May B. written by Caroline Starr Rose

May-B In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Hattie Brooks in Hattie Big Sky written by Kirby Larson

hattie-big-sky In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Calpurnia Virginia Tate in The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate written by Jacqueline Kelly

Evolution-of-Calpurnia-Tate In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Lucy in Half a Chance written by Cynthia Lord

Half a Chance In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Josie in Out of the Easy written by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Stargirl Caraway in Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

stargirl In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Gloriana (Glory) June Hemphill in Glory Be written by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Gabi Hernandez in Gabi, A Girl in Pieces written by Isabel Quintero

Gabi A girl in pieces In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Turtle in Turtle in Paradise written by Jennifer L. Holm 

 Turtle in Paradise In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Liesel Meminger in The Book Thief written by Markus Zusak

book thief In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Georgina Hayes in How to Steal a Dog written by Barbara O’Connor

 how to Steal a Dog In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Hayley Kincain in The Impossible Knife of Memory written by Laurie Halse Anderson

impossible knife In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Rose in Rain Reign written by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Carley Connors in One for the Murphys written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

OnefortheMurphys In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Piddy Sanchez in Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick your Ass written by Meg Medina

yaqui In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Willow Chance in  Counting by 7s written by Holly Goldberg Sloan

counting by 7s In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Which characters would make your list? 

In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out

I read a lot. As in hundreds and hundreds of books a year. Many, yes, are picture books. But many are novels. 95% of these are middle grade and young adult novels. So, in some ways, I can say I “meet” a lot of young people. Some make me cry. Some leave me laughing. Some inspire. I have a myriad of emotions as I read about each of these young fictional lives: confusion, hope, worry, relief, upset, happiness . . .

These characters often stay with me. And because they do, I want to honour them here. These boys*, in the pages of the books where they live, impressed me in notable ways. I admire so many of them for their honesty, their growth, their vulnerability, their hard choices, their loyalty, their mistakes, their learning and their endurance.

In their own way, each is brave and real. Meeting them will enrich every reader.

 In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Doug Swieteck in Okay for Now written by Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for Now  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Miguel in We Were Here written by Matt de la Peña

We Were Here  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Nate Foster in Better Nate than Ever written by Tim Federle

Better Nate than Ever  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That,

Jack in Dead End in Norvelt written by Jack Gantos

 Dead End in Norvelt  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ben in Half Brother written by Kenneth Oppel

 Half Brother  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Travis in Blue Fish written by Pat Schmatz

bluefish  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Fadi in Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai

Shooting-Kabul-Senzai  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Matt in The Boy in the Black Suit written by Jason Reynolds

boy in the black suit  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Moon in Alabama Moon written by Watt Key

 Alabama Moon  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Holling Hoodhood in The Wednesday Wars written by Gary D. Schmidt

 The Wednesday Wars  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Lucky Linderman in Everybody Sees the Ants written by A.S. King

 Everybody Sees the Ants  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Oscar in The Real Boy written by Anne Ursu

 The Real Boy  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Moses in Crow written by Barbara Wright

Crow  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

 Victor (a.k.a. “Little Man”) in Paperboy by Vince Vawter

 Paperboy  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Julian in Twerp written by Mark Goldblatt

twerp  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Josh in Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

 Living with Jackie Chan  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for ThatJoey in Nest written by Esther Ehrlich

Nest  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ali in When I Was the Greatest written by Jason Reynolds 

when I was the greatest  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Albert in Fish in a Tree written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish In A Tree  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Albie in Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Absolutely Almost  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Junior in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie

absolutely true  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Jack in Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson 

Small_as_an_Elephant  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ryan Dean West in Winger written by Andrew Smith

Winger  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Peter Stone in Wish Girl written by Nikki Loftin

Wish Girl  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Steven in Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie written by Jordan Sonnenblick

Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Which characters would make your list? 

*Coming soon: In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015

Considering how much I love books (the reading, the talking about and the book loving community) and how often I make lists of books, I thought it was time to begin participating in Top Ten Tuesday, a meme created by The Broke and Bookish.

TTT

This week’s theme? Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015

Listed by date of release.

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave by Jen White (June 2015) 

This is an unknown author for me but I am seeing some positive reviews from my Goodreads friends and I have a thing about resilient kids . . .

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015 There's a Book for That

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn (June 2015)

I have read two other titles from Kuehn. They were dark, serious and very well written – looking forward to more.

Delicate Monsters Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015 There's a Book for That

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (July 2015)

I read the first Calpurnia Tate title to my children on a family holiday in Hawaii. We were smitten with the character, the time and the science. Sign me up for more.

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015 There's a Book for That

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (August 2015)

A Monster Calls was a wow title for me. This one looks like a wild ride.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015 There's a Book for That

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (August 2015)

Rebecca Stead. Rebecca Stead. Rebecca Stead!

 Goodbye Stranger Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015 There's a Book for That

I Crawl Through It  by A.S. King (September 2015)

Okay so who is with me in being thrilled that A.S. King is so brilliant and so prolific?

I Crawl Through It  Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015 There's a Book for That

Stand Off (Winger #2) by Andrew Smith (September 2015)

Loved, loved Winger. Love Andrew Smith.

Stand Off (Winger #2) Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015 There's a Book for That

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell (September 2015)

So if one were to judge a book by its cover . . . this is pretty gorgeous. But I have also read two titles by Rundell this year and am ready for more.

The Wolf Wilder Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015 There's a Book for That

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (September 2015)

Yes, that Katherine. Oh so very excited.

 Crenshaw Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015 There's a Book for That

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt (October 2015)

Okay for Now by Schmidt is one of my all time favourite MG titles. The man is brilliant.

Jupiter Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015 There's a Book for That

What 2015 titles are you looking forward to reading?

Likely to produce some tears . . .

I promised my student book club I would regularly update this blog with titles I’ve been reading this summer so that I can pass on recommendations throughout the holiday break. This week’s theme: realistic fiction, guaranteed to produce a few tears . . . All of these are middle grade reads.

One for the Murphy’s by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Carely Connors is released from the hospital into the care of the Murphys –  a family that is able to show her what looking out for family really means. The dynamics of her relationship with her new family are very believable. Not everything is smooth. Neither are Carley’s first few weeks at a new school. Friendship dynamics are explored in a believable and appealing way. Trying to decide just where she belongs, Carley watches the way the Murphys  interact and rethinks everything she has known about family. A highly emotional book, reminding us that we are always better people to have known each other, even when our time together is short. This book speaks to the power of unconditional love, the magic of resiliency and the need we all have to matter. Lynda Mullaly Hunt has crafted a story that will pull at every heartstring you have.

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker

Stella and Angel now share a secret when they only once shared a somewhat respectful disdain. Both girls have been in the care of Stella’s Great Aunt Louise. Angel is an orphan in foster care and Stella for a time, has been orphaned by circumstances. Her mother is “finding herself” and Stella is not part of the plans. When Louise dies, the girls decide to handle the burial themselves and tell no one in order to try and ensure the possibility of family security that both girls want so desperately. A secret this big, hidden in plain sight is all encompassing and caring for themselves and each other over the course of this important summer is more difficult than they first anticipated. How this story enfolds is heartbreaking, full of vulnerability but often delightfully humorous.

See you at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

It’s difficult to write about this book without giving away important plot points. This is a story of a family whose daily lives are defined by the family owned restaurant they operate. But a busy family with four children means that there are many relationship dynamics to explore. The third daughter Fern tells a story that is hard to tell. When something happens that changes everything, the family must navigate their way both alone and together to the “moving on” side of life. Guilt and grief and hope are intertwined. Knowles reminds us that love is holding close and letting go. I adored Fern. She is humble and true. She stands on the brink of young adulthood and feels so much. She is far from perfect but she is so so good. The ideal narrator for this story. It’s an emotional ride, this book. But in the end, somehow, one is soothed.

Dramatic middle grade adventure novels – fantastic to read aloud

Highlighting the adventure genre:

One of the many interesting things about having boy/girl twins is selecting books that will have read aloud appeal for both of them. The books below are selections from recent read alouds that we have particularly enjoyed together.

In the mood for . . . Adventure? Suspense? Mystery? These titles will capture you!

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby

Hugely suspenseful yet beautifully lyrical, Kirby’s tale pulls the reader into a frozen land cut off from the world by ice. It is a landscape that protects and threatens Solveig, her siblings and those warriors sent to protect them while their father battles an enemy on a distant battlefield. When it is clear that a traitor resides amongst them, everyone becomes suspect. Solveig navigates the world through observation and a mystical connection to her dreams and possible prophecies. Not beautiful like her sister, or valuable as the future king, like her younger brother, Solveig slowly discovers that her talent lies in the power of words. She apprentices with Alric to be a skald (storyteller) and ends up wielding as much power as the weapons of war with her carefully crafted tales. Nuances of old Nordic tales with suspicions of treachery, much mystery and beautiful prose, Icefall held us spellbound.

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Kenneth Oppel has crafted a story full of adventure, fantasy, suspense and high drama aboard the Aurora, an airship sailing through some sort of alternate history. Matt Cruse is a cabin boy who is more at home in the air than on the ground and calls the Aurora home.  He meets passenger Kate de Vries who has come aboard to find out if the mysterious creatures her grandfather spotted from his hot air balloon might exist. Matt is intrigued by the possibility and attracted to Kate’s independent spirit. These two characters find themselves beginning a quest of proportions they would never have dreamed about. Pirates. Mysterious creatures never before discovered. Storms. Seemingly deserted islands. Shipwrecks. And villians you would never want to encounter. Airborn is the first book in a trilogy.

Alabama Moon by Watt Key

Moon is 10 years old and for as long as he can remember, has lived in the forest with his father who is determined that they have minimal contact with the outside world. They need to avoid the government, depend on no one and always be prepared for “someone coming for them.” When Moon’s father dies, Moon tries to carry out his father’s wishes and head to Alaska to find others who will be like him. But getting to Alaska from Alabama alone is not an easy feat. Along the way, Moon is caught and placed into the system – a boy’s home on lock down. His escape attempt is successful but nothing else is simple. Friends and enemies enter into this new world in ways he is not at all prepared for. He can make a shelter, eat from the forest, “whip up on anybody” but how does he deal with this outside world that he might in fact need?  A real story of survival. Compelling.