Monday March 18th, 2013

 It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Connect with the #IMWAYR posters and link up to Jen and Kellee‘s meme to share all of your reading from picture books to young adult novels.

I finished two novels this week:

Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky I read this book with my student book club – we decided to go with a different genre – something with mystery and suspense and even a little bit of bordering on terrifying . . . It definitely gripped the students and they were eager each week to talk about each part and predictions about what happened next. While this story certainly had creepy elements, it was not too over the top for intermediate age readers – definitely appropriately categorized as middle grade. I don’t want to give too much away but will hint at a few plot elements. Juniper goes in search of what seems to be the root of why her parents have changed and seem so distant. She meets a new friend Giles who reveals that the same thing has happened to his parents. The two children discover more than they bargained for when they find an entrance in an old tree. Wise birds, freaky balloons, a woodcutter, promises of  . . . Decisions you never thought you would consider . . .

juniper berry

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth This young adult novel touches on many themes: family, friendship, coming of age, grief – so it has emotions everywhere you look with lots to explore. Cameron is independent, surly even and her voice resonates as raw and real. When Cameron’s “born again” aunt discovers that Cameron is in love with a girl, she sends her to a Christian camp that will “fix her.” This is what drew me to the story because it just seems crazy that such prejudice exists and I wondered what would it look like imposed on a teenager in this context. Whoa. Parts of this story were very tough. There is one section of the story where Cameron is talking about how she is treated at this camp to someone from the state who is investigating. She hints at emotional abuse,

“- the whole ___ purpose of this place is to make us hate ourselves so that we change. We’re supposed to hate who we are, despise it.”

“I see,” he said, but I could tell that he didn’t at all. “Is there anything else?”

“No, I think the hate yourself part about covers it.”

Such a sad statement on society that places like this even exist. A powerful book.


Normally, I have many picture books to highlight. And this week I just don’t. I shared many stories with my class that were rereads for me and so I am not highlighting them here. And the new to me books just didn’t strike me as fantastic. Sometimes that happens.

I am off on Spring Break now so have a huge stack of novels I plan to read through – starting with Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson. 

Happy Reading everyone! 

Monday March 11th, 2013

 There's a Book for That!It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

I enjoyed a week of reading fractured fairy tales to my class – various versions of The Princess and the Pea inspired fun art projects like the one on the left.

Now that I am finished report card writing, I was also able to settle back into some indulgent quiet reading time and managed to finish 3 novels!

And, as always, all of my library visits allowed me to discover a variety of fantastic picture books!

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme to share all of your reading from picture books to young adult reads.

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys I absolutely adored these characters and the chance to dive into this book and be immersed in New Orleans in the 1950s. There is much to this novel – mystery, a sense of history, questions of what makes family and how deep loyalty can go. I loved that even though Josie was in many senses abandoned by her mother, she was treasured by so many others.

Out of the Easy - There's a Book for That!

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King This is now my third A.S. King novel and the only thing I don’t like about her is that she hasn’t written more books. I would give this title to my once teenage self and say, “Read this and realize the wonderful strength and wisdom of youth.” King hardly paints fairy tale scenarios. Lots is challenging. Much is ugly. Living and learning and making mistakes run through her titles. In this book, like others, I found the parent child relationship fascinating. My only criticism, is wow, there is a lot of teenage cruelty highlighted. Not saying it wasn’t believable, but heavy. Loved Vera. Loved her journey. Loved her strength.

Please Ignore

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool I have heard a lot of buzz about this novel in the last few months and so was excited to finally begin reading it. Unlike many others who weren’t wild (or at least not Newbery wild) about Vanderpool‘s debut novel Moon over Manifest, I loved it. But while Moon was gentle and meandeiring and about the big pictures in the small town, this book requires you to settle into it with your guard up. This book is clearly an adventure and a mystery and a layering of story upon story so at times it doesn’t really matter what is real and what isn’t. There is much sadness in this novel. It’s a novel of loss and finding one’s way. It’s a story of trying to figure out grief. It’s a story of figuring out how the universe connects and what our part in it is. It is also just very much a story of two boys. Early and Jack. What they give to each other and what they learn on their quest. Like other reviews I’ve seen, I think that “navigating” this novel requires a slightly older reader. I can see reading it aloud to my children and stopping to talk and discuss much. I think that while I am now finished reading this book, it isn’t quite done with me.

Navigating Early

My favourite picture books of the week:

Something Beautiful written by Sharon Dennis Wyeth and illustrated by Chris K Soentpiet A really emotional story. A little girl searches for her something beautiful amongst surroundings of graffiti, homelessness and a courtyard full of trash. The artwork is stunning – vibrant, colourful and true to life.


The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Sue deGennaro I love fairytales. Many fractured fairytales, not so much. They are too often just “too done” and lose so much in the mixing up. Some though are fresh and fun and the twists take us to new perspectives worth thinking about. This is one of those worth a read fractured tales because it pokes fun at the “sensitive” ( I call it high maintenance)  princess who is supposedly the ideal “wife to be.” Prince Henrik is instead looking for someone who shares his interests ( hockey, camping) and who had a nice smile. The “princess” he finds is actually an old friend and someone who he can actually enjoy his time with. A fun story and great inspiration for some Princess and the Pea art projects that we hope to finish this week. (See an example of stage one above)

princessand peas

Peep!  A Little Book about Taking a Leap by Maria Van Lieshout A sweet simple book about courage. It depicts all of the up and down emotions associated with fear and then the courageous leap . . .


Kitty and Dino by Sara Richard So this is my “Wow!” discovery of the week! Nearly wordless, this book explores the new pet in the house theme. But, this book feels like nothing you might have read before. First of all, the new pet is a dinosaur who has come to share the house with Kitty (who is really having none of it). Second, check out this dinosaur!! The book is part graphic with illustrations inspired by Japanese ink paintings. Stunning. Wild. Gorgeous. Third, when Kitty finally does warm up to the idea of another pet in the house, the dinosaur/Kitty interactions are divine. Pure joy and beauty in this book!

Kittie and Dino

Baboon by Kate Banks and illustrated by Georg Hallensleben I enjoyed the rhythm of the language and the soft gentle story of little baboon and mother exploring the world. With each new thing he discovers, little baboon thinks he has discovered the way the world is until he discovers another animal or aspect of his habitat that teaches him something different. Mother Baboon is always wise and reassuring. For example, when little baboon watches a turtle, he remarks,

“The world is slow,” he said.

“It can be,” said his mother.


An Island Grows by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Cathie Felstead The ideal information story book for young readers – lyrical text and striking illustrations explain how an island forms over time. There are more details in the back of the book to enhance further discussion.

an island grows

I am currently finishing Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky with my student book club and plan to start The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth as my next novel.

What are you reading?