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:
Last week’s Books and Bites’ theme was “Read to the Rhythm,” as that is the theme for our public libraries’ summer reading programs. We always like to have a graphic novel or two to booktalk, and my awesome (and, sadly, now gone) student teacher found Zebrafish by Sharon Emerson on the shelves. It’s about a girl named, Vita, a singer/songwriter/guitar player who puts up flyers at school looking for band members. The few kids who show up are motivated, yet lack any instrument playing abilities. Still, they work together to create a back-up video and choose a charity (saving pandas) for the benefit concert Vita will perform solo. The “zebrafish” of the title refers to the creatures used for the cancer research Vita’s older brother and guardian is working on. Readers also learn that Vita’s mother died from the disease, and Vita’s panda-loving friend Tanya has leukemia. In the end, Vita surprises everyone, announcing that the concert’s proceeds will go towards a machine for her brother’s lab. Although this middle-grade graphic novel was well intended, it had an awkward lack of flow and seemed a little forced. I am going to give it to a few seasoned graphic novel readers at my schools to get their opinions.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman was the third 400+ page YA fantasy novel I have read in as many weeks. And it was without a doubt the best one. Seraphina is a gifted musician who has recently come to court as an assistant to the court composer. As she arrives, the kingdom of Goredd is in somewhat of a tizzy preparing for the upcoming anniversary of a peace treaty between humans and dragons. Hartman’s dragons are some of the most unique I have encountered–they have the ability to assume human form, and some do on a regular basis. Not very far into the book the reader learns that Seraphina is half-dragon–her dragon mother married Seraphina’s father while in human form and never divulged her secret, but her silver blood gave her away when she died in childbirth. Seraphina encounters a host of problems attempting to hide her bands of scales that appeared at puberty, but what’s even worse is that there are numerous parties, both human and dragon who seem to be working to destroy the peace. Throw in Seraphina’s “mind-garden” of creatures that she begins to meet in real life and a budding romance with Kiggs, prince and captain of the guard, and it’s one great, epic tale that I am not doing justice by this short description. Hartman’s language is beautiful, and her world building is superb. It’s no wonder that I can count this book for my 2015 Award-Winning Book Challenge (ALA’s Morris Award for a debut YA author). I will definitely read the sequel, Shadow Scale, this summer.
To end the week, I read Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate. It is the picture book companion to her Newbery Award winner The One and Only Ivan. Through sparse but moving text and gentle, beautiful illustrations, young readers learn about the real Ivan’s life, before, during, and after his time spent caged inside a mall exhibit. Students who read the novel will love it. This book is my Random Read for May.
Currently Reading/Listening To: