Archive | September, 2018

A Canadian Gem

19 Sep

One of the Canadian books I picked up this summer was Ebb & Flow, a novel in verse by Heather Smith.

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As soon as I saw the cover, I knew I would love it. When I picked it up I was even more certain. The book had heft. The paper was a better quality than most books giving it a little more weight, and the trim size, 5 1/4″ x 8 3/4″, makes it just a little taller and narrower than the more traditional 5 1/2″ x 8 1/4″.  It is the perfect size for the sparse language of Smith’s poems, that slowly unfold Jett’s story.

This is a quiet tale, of a complex character. It is heart-breaking and uplifting.

Publisher’s Summary:

One summer,
after a long plane ride
and a rotten bad year
I went to Grandma Jo’s.
It was my mother’s idea.
Jett, what you need is a change of scenery.
I think she needed a change of scenery, too.
One without me.
Because that rotten bad year?
That was my fault.

Thus begins the poignant story, told in free verse, of eleven-year-old Jett. Last year, Jett and his mother had moved to a new town for a fresh start after his father went to jail. But Jett soon learned that fresh starts aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. When he befriended a boy with a difficult home life, Jett found himself in a cycle of bad decisions that culminated in the betrayal of a friend – a shameful secret he still hasn’t forgiven himself for. Will a summer spent with his unconventional grandmother help Jett find his way to redemption?

Writing in artfully crafted free-verse vignettes, Heather T. Smith uses a deceptively simple style to tell a powerful and emotionally charged story. The engaging narrative and the mystery of Jett’s secret keep the pages turning and will appeal to both reluctant and avid readers. This captivating book offers a terrific opportunity for classroom discussions about the many ways to tell a story and how a small number of carefully chosen words can have a huge impact. It also showcases the positive character traits of empathy resilience, courage, and responsibility.

 

Celebrating the signs of Autumn

18 Sep

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All the leaves are green
except for those on the tree
that stands sentinel
at the top of the street.
Its yellowing leaves
are the harbingers of Autumn.

There are other signs.
They appear most mornings,
announcing the change of seasons:
slippered feet on cold floors,
car lights turned on
for my dark drive to work,
jackets, worn to work, but
casually carried home
on warm afternoons.

Back to school
comes long before
Fall really begins
and I long to wear
tights and sweaters
and to feel the chill disappear
as I pull on my hat and gloves.

 

Save that donkey

17 Sep

Maybe you’ve seen this video of baby goats in pyjamas.

It is the visual I held in my mind this weekend as I read Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech, even though the Winslow in the title is a baby miniature donkey who does not wear pyjamas.

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With simple language and short chapters, this is a perfect book for an elementary age reader who loves animals.

Publisher’s Summary: Perfect for fans of Charlotte’s Web and The One and Only Ivan, Saving Winslow is an uplifting modern classic in the making about a young boy who befriends an ailing newborn donkey and nurses him back to health, from New York Timesbestseller and Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech.

Louie doesn’t have the best luck when it comes to nurturing small creatures. So when his father brings home a sickly newborn mini donkey, he’s determined to save him. He names him Winslow. Taking care of him helps Louie feel closer to his brother, Gus, who is far, far away in the army.

Everyone worries that Winslow won’t survive, especially Louie’s quirky new friend, Nora, who has experienced loss of her own. But as Louie’s bond with Winslow grows, surprising and life-altering events prove that this fragile donkey is stronger than anyone could have imagined.

Written in the spirit of Creech favorites Moo and Love That Dog, this standout tale about love and friendship and letting go will tug at the heartstrings.

P.S. Pyjamas is my preferred spelling. It is the British spelling I grew up with. I like how it looks, with the y and j side by side, and just can’t bring myself to spell it with three As.

This week’s book talks 9/10-14

14 Sep

Monday

The Last Boy At St. Edith’s  by Lee Gjertsen Malone

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Tuesday

Train I Ride by Paul Mosier

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Wednesday

The True Meaning of  Smekday by Adam Rex

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Thursday

Zombie Baseball Beatdown  by Paolo Bacigalupi

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Friday

The Whydah by Martin W. Sandler

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Longlist for the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

13 Sep

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  • Elizabeth AcevedoThe Poet X
    (HarperTeen / HarperCollins Publishers)
  • M. T. Anderson and Eugene YelchinThe Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
    (Candlewick Press)
  • Bryan BlissWe’ll Fly Away
    (Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Leslie ConnorThe Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
    (Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Christopher Paul CurtisThe Journey of Little Charlie
    (Scholastic Press / Scholastic, Inc.)
  • Jarrett J. KrosoczkaHey, Kiddo
    (Graphix / Scholastic, Inc.)
  • Tahereh MafiA Very Large Expanse of Sea
    (HarperTeen / HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Joy McCullough, Blood Water Paint
    (Dutton Children’s Books / Penguin Random House)
  • Elizabeth PartridgeBoots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam
    (Viking Children’s Books / Penguin Random House)
  • Vesper Stamper, What the Night Sings
    (Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House)

Room for everyone

12 Sep

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The title and the cover  hooked me. The story and characters held me fast. Not a lot of books these days show teens really reflecting on the Christian faith. Don’t mistake my meaning, this isn’t Christian fiction by any stretch of the imagination. But we get to see teens who have faith, but struggle with it. Teens who are ardently atheists become more tolerant and understanding of those who believe in god. I feel like the book really shows that there truly is room for everyone – even an atheist at a Catholic school.

Publisher’s Summary: When Michael walks through the doors of Catholic school, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow atheist at that. Only this girl, Lucy, isn’t just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest.

Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism.

Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies one stunt at a time. But when Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.

Thank you, Universe!

11 Sep

I may have mentioned my deal with the universe, the one where, if the Universe let me stay in 6th grade, I would go to Outdoor School this year and not grumble about it.

There were many reasons why I didn’t go last year. one of them had to do with compensation. Teachers had to be away from home for three nights, with no financial compensation and I was going to be out-of-pocket for Lucy’s boarding fees. All teachers were given was an additional personal day.

Yesterday, at my union meeting I found out that we are going to be remunerated for those three nights at a rate that made me cheer.

I have several months yet to think up the woodsy name I will put on my wood cookie nametag.

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Look out Outdoor School. Here I come!

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