Tag Archives: E.K. Johnston

Happy Canada Day 2019!

1 Jul

It’s Canada Day!

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Here are some books I have enjoyed recently by Canadian writers.

The Girl and the Wolf,  written by Katherena Vermette and illustrated by Julie Flett is a sort of Blueberries For Sal  with a First Nations twist.

The-Girl-and-the-Wolf_theytustitlemainPublisher’s Summary: While picking berries with her mother, a little girl wanders too far into the woods leaving the safety of her mother behind. Noticing that she has wandered far enough on her own to get lost, the little girl begins to panic. Adding to her perceived fear, a large grey wolf makes a sudden appearance between some
distant trees. The wolf sniffs her and tells the little girl that he can help her find her way home, but she should eat something first. He asks the little girl if she can hunt, to which she replies “no”. The wolf replies by asking the girl to look at her surroundings and tell him what she sees. The little girl notices some edible berries on a nearby bush and states that she can eat them. It’s through these realizations that the wolf helps the little girl find her own way home. She has the knowledge and the skill to survive and navigate herself, she just needed to remember that those abilities were there.

As always with E. K. Johnston’s books, The Afterward is unlike any of her previous novels. This one tells what happens after a quest, and the story fo the quest is revealed in bits as we see how the questers are coping.

 

Love from A to Z,  by S. K. Ali is an endearing YA novel.

love-from-a-to-z-9781534442726_lgPublisher’s Summary: A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

 

My Canadian Week

23 Oct

I had a sad moment last week. I was sitting in a conference room with seven other 6th grade teachers and I realized I was the only one who knew, and cared, that Gord Downie, lead singer of the Canadian band The Tragically Hip, had died.

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I don’t feel foreign very often, but I did that day. I felt a little alone in that room.

Later in the week, while reading That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston, I felt like I had insider information.

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Much of the story is set in Muskoka, where my sister has lived for almost 30 years. I laughed out loud at parts that American readers will not see as funny. I felt smugly superior, even though I was home alone. You don’t need a Canadian background to find the book witty and engaging. You simply get to enjoy it at an even deeper level, if you are.

Publisher’s Summary: Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendent of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history. The imperial tradition of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage. But before she does her duty, she’ll have one summer of freedom and privacy in a far corner of empire. Posing as a commoner in Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire’s greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an extraordinary bond and maybe a one-in-a-million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process.

Set in a near-future world where the British Empire was preserved not by the cost of blood and theft but by the effort of repatriation and promises kept, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a surprising, romantic, and thought-provoking story of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.

 

Retelling Shakespeare

26 May

Great masterpieces of literature have been retold many times. How could we forget that great fan fiction film classic Clueless?

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In case you didn’t see the movie, it is loosely based on jane Austen’s Emma. It wasn’t really my cup of tea.

Loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale,  E. K. Johnston’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear is far more my cup of tea.

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The title comes from stage directions in Act III, Scene 3. And it is why our main character is named Hermione Winters, and her boyfriend Leon. Unlike the play, the book opens at cheerleading camp in Northern Ontario, Canada, where, as a senior, Hermione is one of the leaders. I will admit that I was a little put off at first because of the cheerleading aspect of this book, but I set my prejudice aside, trusting in E. K. Johnston’s ability to tell a story.

Summary: Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

Every girl who suffers a sexual assault should have the support system Hermione has. Every girl who knows someone who has been sexually assaulted should be as supportive as Hermione’s friends, family, coach, and police officer in charge of the case. Johnston admits that she has written an ideal support system, and I think it is important that she has. Sometimes we are cast as the main character, sometimes the supporting characters and the supporting characters in this book have a lot to teach us.

This might be one of the best books for young adults I’ve read this year.

 

Smokey detour

23 Aug

Yesterday the sky was eerie, due to wildfire smoke that was blown down the Columbia River Gorge and into Portland. It truly transformed the city. It also got me thinking about books with smoke on the cover, in pictures or words.

Although it is not smoke from a wildfire, the cover of Looking for Alaska by John Green is quite striking. This is my absolute favorite John Green novel. I loved TFIOS, but this one is even better!

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Publisher’s Summary: Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .

After. Nothing is ever the same.

Local author Laini Taylor captured my attention a few years ago with The Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

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Publisher’s summary: Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Ellen Hopkins followed up her novel in verse Burned, with a sequel entitled Smoke. 

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Burned: Seventeen-year-old Pattyn, the eldest daughter in a large Mormon family, is sent to her aunt’s Nevada ranch for the summer, where she temporarily escapes her alcoholic, abusive father and finds love and acceptance, only to lose everything when she returns home.

Smoke: After the death of her abusive father and loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn runs away, desperately seeking peace, as her younger sister, a sophomore in high school, also tries to put the pieces of her life back together.

Another great novel with a sequel comes from E. K  Johnston.

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The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim: In an alternate world where industrialization has caused many species of carbon-eating dragons to thrive, Owen, a slayer being trained by his famous father and aunt, and Siobahn, his bard, face a dragon infestation near their small town in Canada.

Prairie Fire: Every dragon slayer owes the Oil Watch a period of service, and young Owen was no exception. What made him different was that he did not enlist alone; his two closest friends stood with him shoulder to shoulder. Steeled by success and hope, the three were confident in their plan. But the arc of history is long and hardened by dragon fire… and try as they might, Owen and his friends could not twist it to their will. At least, not all the way…

The air in Portland smells a little less smokey this morning and the air should be clear sometime tomorrow. Fortunately, even after the smoke has cleared, we’ll still have these great books.

 

On my bookshelf

11 Apr

I currently have two stacks of books.

There’s the Morris Award pile of books I’m reading, or have received and meet the basic Morris criteria. That stack is getting bigger and I don’t have to read all of them. We divvy those out, but we all have to read any we decide to nominate. This one sits on a table on the east side of my living room.

On the west side, I have the stack of library materials I want to get to. This is mostly books, but also Audiobook CDs and a DVD or two. Here is a picture of that shelf.

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It is a snapshot that captures this moment today. It s a shifting shelf and might look different tomorrow. Currently, there are no picture books.

The four I am most excited about are

Prairie Fire by E. K. Johnston, a sequel to The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trondheim

Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place  by Julie Berry (audiobooks CD narrated by Jayne Entwhistle)

 

How I did on the ALA Youth Media Awards

2 Feb

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This morning the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced. I got a few right.

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The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet won the Sibert Award and  Caldecott Honor.

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Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith won a Printz Honor Award.

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Gabi A Girl in Pieces  by Isabel Quintero won the Morris Award.

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Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson won several awards.

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El Deafo  by Cece Bell got a Newbery Honor.

If you missed the live webcast, you can watch it here, or read below.

Here are the details:

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

The Crossover written by Kwame Alexander, is the 2015 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Two Newbery Honor Books also were named:

El Deafo by Cece Bell, illustrated by Cece Bell and published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS.

Brown Girl Dreaming written by Jacqueline Woodson and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend illustrated by Dan Santat, is the 2015 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was written by Dan Santat and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Six Caldecott Honor Books also were named:

Nana in the City illustrated by Lauren Castillo, written by Lauren Castillo and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

The Noisy Paint Box: The  Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art illustrated by Mary GrandPre, written by Barb Rosenstock and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett and published by Candlewick Press.

Viva Frida illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Yuyi Morales and published by Roaring Brook Press, a Neal Porter Book.

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant, and published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

This One Summer illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki and published by First Second.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

Brown Girl Dreaming written by Jacqueline Woodson, is the King Author Book winner. The book is published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Three King Author Honor Books were selected:

Kwame Alexander for The Crossover published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.

Marilyn Nelson for How I Discovered Poetry illustrated by Hadley Hooper and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Books (USA) LLC.

Kekla Magoon for How It Went Down published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:

Firebird illustrated by Christopher Myers, is the King Illustrator Book winner. The book was written by Misty Copeland and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Two King Illustrator Honor Book were selected:

Christian Robinson for Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, by Patricia Hruby Powell, published by Chronicle Books LLC.

Frank Morrison for Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, by Katheryn Russell-Brown, published by Lee and Low Books, Inc.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award:

When I Was the Greatest written and illustrated by Jason Alexander, is the Steptoe winner. The book is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:

I’ll Give You the Sun, written by Jandy Nelson, is the 2015 Printz Award winner. The book is published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, a Penguin Random House Company.
Four Printz Honor Books also were named:

And We Stay, by Jenny Hubbard, and published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., a Penguin Random House Company.

The Carnival at Bray, by Jessie Ann Foley, and published by Elephant Rock Books.

Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith, and published by Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, a Penguin Random House Company.

This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, and published by First Second.

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:

A BOY AND A JAGUAR written by Alan Rabinowitz, illustrated by Catia Chien and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, wins the award for children ages 0 to 10.

RAIN REIGN written by Ann M. Martin and published by A FEIWEL AND FRIENDS BOOK, is the winner of the middle-school (ages 11-13).

The teen (ages 13-18) award winner is Girls Like Us, written by Gail Giles and published by Candlewick Press.

 

Pura Belpre (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:

Viva Frida, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, is the Belpre Illustrator Award winner.  The book was written by Yuyi Morales and published by Roaring Brook Press, a Neal Porter Book.

Three Belpre Illustrator Honor Books were named:

Little Roja Riding Hood, illustrated by Susan Guevara, written by Susan Middleton Elya, and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Green Is a Chile Pepper, illustrated by John Parra, written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, and published by Chronicle Books LLC.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh, and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

Pura Belpre (Author) Award honoring Latino authors whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience:

I Lived on Butterfly Hill is the 2015 Pura Belpre (Author) Award winner. The book is written byMarjorie Agosin, illustrated by Lee White and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

One Belpre Author Honor Book was named:

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes, written by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Raul Colonand published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children:

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, written by Jen Bryant, is the Sibert Award winner. The book is published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Five Sibert Honor Books were named:

Brown Girl Dreaming, written by Jacqueline Woodson, and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & the Fall of Imperial Russia, written by Candace Fleming, and published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, written by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated byChristian Robinson and published by Chronicle Books LLC.

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands, written and illustrated by Katherine Roy, and published by David Macaulay Studio, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience:

This Day in June, written by Gayle E. Pitman, Ph.D., illustrated by Kristyna Litten and published by Magination Press, an imprint of the American Psychological Association, is the winner of the 2015 Stonewall Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award.

Three Honor Books were selected:

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin, photographed by Susan Kuklin and published by Candlewick Press.

I’ll Give You the Sun, written by Jandy Nelson, published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, written by Christine Baldacchio, pictures by Isabelle Malenfant, published by Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press.

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book:

You Are (Not) Small, written by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant, is the Seuss Award winner. The book is published by Two Lions, New York.

Two Geisel Honor Books were named:

Mr. Putter & Tabby Turn the Page, written by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard, and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Waiting Is Not Easy! written by Mo Willems, illustrated by Mo Willems, and published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group.

William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens:

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, written by Isabel Quintero, is the 2015 Morris Award winner. The book is published by Cinco Puntos Press.

Four other books were finalists for the award:

The Carnival at Bray written by Jessie Ann Foley and published by Elephant Rock Books.

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, written by E.K. Johnston and published by Carolrhoda Lab™, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.

The Scar Boys written by Len Vlahos and published by Egmont Publishing.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender written by Leslye Walton and published by Candlewick Press.

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults: 

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, written by Maya Van Wagenen, is the 2015 Excellence winner. The book is published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Four other books were finalists for the award:

Laughing at My Nightmare written by Shane Burcaw, and published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan’s Children’s Publishing Group.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia written by Candace Fleming, and published by Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business-and Won! written by Emily Arnold McCully, and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights written by Steve Sheinkin, and published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

ALA Youth Media Awards

1 Feb

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Tomorrow is the big day when the Youth Media Awards are announced. I hope to watch them live, but that means I will have to get to school extra extra early. Or take the morning off. You can watch them live here.

There are many books I hope to see honored at the ALA YMA and I think today is a good day to share a few of  them with you, in no particular order.

Unknown-1 The Story of Owen by E. K. Johnston

images Poisoned Apples  by Christine Heppernan

Unknown The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus by Jen Bryant

Unknown The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

Unknown El Deafo by Cece Bell

Unknown Gaston  written by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christine Robinson

Unknown I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

20615330 Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Unknown Going Over  by Beth Kephart

Unknown-1 The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

Unknown Nuts to You  by Lynne Rae Perkins

Unknown Audrey (Cow)  by Dan Bar-El (this can;t win a Newbery because Bar-El is Canadian)

20702546 Gabi A Girl in Pieces  by Isabel Quintero

Unknown-2 Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

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