MONDAY FUNDAY: March 20, 2017

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share some of the titles you’ve been enjoying, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

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Happy Monday, everyone! I hope everyone had a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day on Friday. I shared a poem by W. B. Yeats in honour of my Irish heritage, which you can check out here.

I also shared a collection of picture book biographies celebrating feisty, fabulous, fearless females as part of Nonfiction Wednesday, be sure to check out the list and share these amazing stories with the young people in your lives!

Finally, just for a bit of fun, I participated in a book tag – the Stationary Book TagCheck it out to find out a bit more about the mysterious person behind the blog!

And on to this week’s mini reviews – there’s not a huge assortment of books this week, as I’ve been pretty busy, but here we go!

Rhino’s Great Big Itch

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Poor Rhino has a great big itch in his ear, and no one seems able to scratch it! Frog is too slimy, lizard is too prickly, and silly old monkey is just too silly to be of any help at all. Fortunately bird, though small, is clever, and knows just what to do to solve a pesky itch. Sure the “size doesn’t matter” has been done countless times before, but it’s always worth repeating. There are a few movement scenes that are fun to act out, and the brief, limited text and sweet illustrations make this a pretty OK choice for a wiggly, impatient story time crowd.

Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise

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Everyone knows that owls are wise, but Hoot Owl is also a master of disguise! A hungry night hunter, Hoot Owl sets his sights on several tasty meals, including a bunny, a bird and a sheep. His disguises, however, leave a little something to be desired! But Hoot Owl isn’t one to give up easily, and eventually his persistence pays off with the best dinner ever! This is a sweet story about a little creature who doesn’t let his failures dent his optimism. The text is a bit long for my group, but it’s easy enough to shorten it to suit a wiggly audience (pro tip – I’m always adapting my picture books to meet the needs of different audiences. The kids aren’t reading along with me anyway – they’re too busy staring intently at the pictures!). We had some great conversations about being persistence, having self-confidence, and never giving him, which are always worth having!

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Carrie

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The back cover warned me of a tale “gruesome, gory and horrifying”, but while the deeds of telekinetic teenager Carrie are indeed violent, the text left me more saddened than horrified. Even if you haven’t read this early Stephen King novel, you’re likely familiar with the general story – Carrie is a plain teenage girl who’s bullied and tormented both at home and at school. Her mother, who is clearly insane and gripped by a violent religious mania, locks Carrie in a dark closet for perceived transgressions, and abuses her verbally, emotionally and psychologically, as well as physically. Unable to fit in with other teenagers, Carrie’s peers mock her mercilessly, taunting her and driving her to despair. Eventually something has to give, and a truly terrible act of bullying causes Carrie to snap and exact a terrible vengeance that leaves swathes of destruction in its wake.

Carrie is in no way a subtle book – King wields his distaste for religion like a club, beating readers over the head with his “religion is evil!” sentiments. Whether or not you share his point of view, the lack of subtlety can be tiring. I get it, Mr. King, Carrie’s mother is a religious fanatic. Yeesh.

Still, Carrie’s experiences are so harrowing that you can’t help but feel sorry for her. There’s no condoning acts of violence, whatever their motivation, but you can see how years of ceaseless torment with no outlet or support could cause an individual to become “unhinged”, and to lash out at a world they see as cruel and uncaring. While Carrie is a fictional character, and her actions are outlandish, with a supernatural element, there are countless young people out there like Carrie who are mistreated at home and / or at school, and who feel that there is no way out, no way to end their suffering.

Carrie is a short novel and a quick read, but its depictions of abuse, both at school and at home, are harrowing, and could be upsetting for some readers. Hopefully, though, it might just inspire people to take a harder look at their own treatment of others, and to consider how their actions (or lack thereof) might impact the people around them.

Have a great week, everyone!

Stranger Things Book Tag

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I am so tardy to the Stranger Things party, but I am so glad I finally took the plunge. My partner and I started watching Stranger Things on a whim, and boy, were we hooked! The D&D references definitely sealed the deal for us. 😉

I discovered the Stranger Things book tag through Nut Free Nerd, and I just knew I had to give it a go. I haven’t been tagged by anyone, but hey, since when has that stopped me from doing a tag?

Here we go!

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THE FIRST BOOK IN A SERIES THAT LEFT YOU INTRIGUED AND SLIGHTLY CONFUSED

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.

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What an intriguing premise! In the community of Prentisstown, residents’ thoughts are publicly broadcast through a kind of inadvertent telepathy, and the townspeople live with a constant, maddening barrage of noise and a complete nonexistence of privacy or solitude. Todd, one of the community’s youngest members, stumbles upon a secret so terrible that it threatens to shatter his entire world, and puts his very life in danger. This is a thrilling, strange and confusing beginning to a fascinating series.

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A BOOK WITH A SETTING YOU WOULD NEVER WANT TO LIVE IN

World War Z by Max Brooks

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I have spoken about this terrifying zombie setting before on my blog. Written as a fictionalized account of the “zombie war”, what makes World War Z’s so effective is that it feels so very real, despite its imaginary premise.

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A BOOK YOU OWN THAT IS SOMEWHAT DAMAGED, BUT LOVED TO PIECES

The Lord of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

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I have an extremely battered copy of LOTR that my mum must’ve bought years and years ago and has obviously read TO DEATH. I’m not actually sure why it’s in my bookshelf – want it back, mum? 🙂

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A TRILOGY YOU ALWAYS GO TO WHENEVER YOU NEED A PICK-ME-UP

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

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This is not a trilogy so much as a series, but the adventures of plucky red-headed Anne have always been there for me when I need an escape from the everyday. Anne is such a loveable character – frustrating, stubborn, imaginative, loyal, independent, talkative, intelligent and accident-prone – and watching her grow and develop through the course of the series has always been such a comforting pleasure.

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A BOOK WITH A TERRIFYING BEAST YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO FACE IN A DARK ALLEY

IT by Stephen King.

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A killer clown….*shudder*….need I say more?

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A BOOK WITH A VILLAIN WHO IS BOTH MANIPULATIVE AND DEDICATED

The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett

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The city of Ankh-Morpork, which plays a starring role in many of the entries in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld fantasy series, is ruled over the The Patrician, Lord Ventinari. Ventinari is a cold, ruthless dictator, who rules over his domain with an iron fist in a highly undemocratic system – “the political system of Ankh-Morpork is described as “One Man, One Vote,” in which Vetinari alone is the Man, and he has the Vote”. Still, Ventinari is a brilliant leader who has brought relative peace and prosperity to his people, and is undoubtedly the most dedicated and successful ruler the city has ever know. Manipulative, dedicated, and at times hilarious, Ventinari is certainly a ruler to remember.

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A BOOK YOU DIDN’T EXPECT TO LOVE

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

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R is a zombie. Julie is a human. Will their love be able to bridge the divide between them? 

I really did not have high hopes for this one. A zombie take on Romeo and Juliet? Really? Not my usual cup of tea. In fact, if I hadn’t had to read this one for a Young Adult/New Adult class in library school, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

And that would have been a shame, because this is actually a very enjoyable book. Sure the end is a little cheesy, but there’s a refreshing lack of angst in this story of star-crossed lovers, combined with a refreshing dose of positivity, hope and optimism that seems to be so often be lacking in this era of dystopia-madness. Warm Bodies is what we sometimes call a crossover book – it was written for adults (the main character actually wears a suit in the novel, though he is given a hoodie and jeans in the film adaptation in an attempt to draw in the teen demographic), but the storyline and characters also have strong YA appeal, particularly for older teens. It’s fresh, it’s fun, it’s frightening, and it’s really a surprisingly enjoyable read that I don’t hesitate to recommend.

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A BOOK WITH A SETTING THAT’S JUST A LITTLE BIT STRANGE

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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Bored and lonely, young Coraline explores her family’s new home, and discovers a mysterious locked door. Behind the door lies a strange and fantastic new world, similar in so many ways to her own, yet hauntingly different. Like the Upside Down, this alternate world is both familiar and terrifying, and its residents are very keen on keeping Coraline with them, whatever the cost.

And there you have it! Feel free to tackle this tag yourself if you’re a Stranger Things fan like I am, and let me know if you do, so I can see all your great ideas!

Season 2 can’t come soon enough….

#IMWAYR – August 21, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

Hot…hot hot hot hot hot….It has been HOT. It was 30 degrees yesterday. THIRTY DEGREES. (That’s 86 degrees for you Yankees). Sure, compared to the East Coast heat wave that might not sound all that impressive (actually I was surprised when I did the conversion,it feels so much hotter than a measly little 86 degrees….), but here in the air conditioning-less Pacific Northwest, 30 is HOT.

OK, weather-related rant over and done with, on to the books!

This week I…..

Shared some ways to use Shaun Tan’s wonderfully weird picture book Rules of Summer  in a class or library group setting.

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  • Talked about some of my favourite book settings, and completely forgot to mention others (I blame it on my melting brain….).

TTT Top Ten Tuesday The Book Wars

I participated in another edition of Nonfiction Wednesday, talking about The Toad, another edition in one of my favourite nonfiction series for young reader, Elise Gravel’s Disgusting Critters!

I co-hosted another Diverse Kids Lit roundup – be sure to check it out for some fantastic titles and inspiring posts!

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My British Columbia-based Reading Staycation experience continues with one of my favourite story time books, the very funny Grumpy Bird by Vancouver-based Jeremy Tankard. Who can’t relate to this grumpy bird who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed?

I shook my Reading Staycation series up a bit with an interview with the fantastic, super-talented and super-duper nice Vancouver-based illustrator Dawn Lo. I love being able to support local, independent artists and creative entrepreneurs – the artistic life is a rewarding one, but it can also be pretty challenging, so let’s all support each other!

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I’m currently enjoying a new-to-me Stephen King novel, The Cell.  The premise is pretty cheesy – a mysterious event dubbed “the pulse” has turned cell phone users into terrifying zombie-like creatures. Cell phone usage = zombification. Not really the most imaginative (or subtle….) premise there (tell me what you really think about young people, Mr. King…), but if you can overlook that aspect of the novel it really it quite enjoyable (so far anyway).  King is a thoughtful, clever writer who balances shocking horror and character-drive story to create very readable experiences.  But oh MAN is this novel done a major disservice by its unintentionally HILARIOUS back copy…

From international bestseller Stephen King, a high-concept, ingenious and terrifying story about the mayhem unleashed when a pulse from a mysterious source transforms all cell phone users into homicidal maniacs. There’s a reason cell rhymes with hell.

Cell: A Novel by [King, Stephen]

So, there’s my week in a nutshell! Hope everyone has been having an AMAZING week – stay cool and hydrated everybody (unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, you lucky duckies)!