It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.
Last Week’s Books:
Well, I told my students I expected to read about 8 books over winter break, and with one week to go, I am more than half-way there!
Huzzah! The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen reminded me of all the the things I love about fantasy books. Sage is an orphan who has been plucked from the streets by a nobleman named Conner and forced to compete against other boys to find out who will best be able to impersonate the dead Prince Jaron and save the kingdom from falling into the hands of an ambitious regent. Of course, there is much, much more to the story–including numerous twists and turns and breath-taking moments when you fear the worst will happen to Sage. And Sage is such a delightful protagonist–quick-witted, sharp-tongued, mischief-filled, and definitely more than he seems. It’s a must-purchase for middle grade readers, if you haven’t gotten it–and its sequel The Runaway King–already.
Ungifted is classic Gordon Korman–funny realistic fiction with likable characters in somewhat unlikely circumstances. Donovan Curtis is accidentally sent to a special academy for the gifted, and, rather than tell anyone it is a mistake, he hides out there to avoid being discovered and punished for a prank that accidentally lead to tremendous damage to his middle school’s gym. Donovan and his socially awkward classmates bond together over the upcoming robotics competition, dramatic events occur, and it all works out OK in the end. Multiple narrators with unique voices make this one of my favorites by Korman.
So after reading Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker, I am noticing an unplanned trend in my reading. This is the third book in two weeks which has featured a mother who has been unable to care for her child due to mental health issues. In this book, Stella is placed with her Great Aunt Louise when she is taken away from her mother for abandonment. Stella and another foster child, Angel, will spend the summer on Cape Cod, where Louise manages rental cottages for tourists. Almost immediately, Louise passes away, and the girls bury her in the back garden and tell no one because they are afraid of where the foster care system might place them next. They do an excellent job of running and cleaning the rental units, a mediocre job of feeding themselves, and a surprising job of constantly ducking the questions and visits of George, the property owner. I have to admit that this book made me wonder about whether it fits the designation of realistic fiction. The hiding of Aunt Louise’s death for so long from so many people stretches my suspension of disbelief about to its limit. But how else would one categorize the book? That said, I found much beauty in the relationship between Angel and Stella, and in Pennypacker’s language, so I enjoyed reading the book, even as it confused and bothered me a bit.
I adored Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” Speech as I do pretty much anything he writes. And so I featured it in my last Saturday Book Share of 2013.
If you are a fan of Gaiman’s and have not yet checked out his blog or followed @neilhimself on Twitter, you really, really should. In real life and in the writing of short things, he is insightful and witty and all the good things he is in his books.
I loved reading a second funny book this week! (actually third, if you count The False Prince) The Fourth Stall chronicles the exploits of sixth-grader Mac, who runs a business “helping kids, ” out of an abandoned bathroom in his school. Mac, his best friend, Vince, and a few henchmen solve kids’ problems, sometimes breaking or bending school rules in the process, in exchange for money or favors. When big-time bookie Staples moves in on the school, leaving kids with less cash and more problems, Mac faces off with him in a battle for power, control, and his Cubs-World-Series-tickets fund. This is another pretty far-fetched book–but intentionally so–and it also gets into the nitty-gritty of Mac and Vince’s lifelong friendship. Again, a great middle grade read.
Currently Reading and On Deck:
To complete the winter break pile, I will read See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles and Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus. Also, I have a graphic novel galley to review for Library Media Connection this week. I stashed the review box in the basement for Christmas, so I will let you know at least its title after my review is done. Finally, I have chosen A BOOK FOR ADULTS as my First Book of 2014–one that I have been itching to read for a while and which will usher in a new year of reading. Look for my post on January 1st 🙂