Today is basically my last "day off" for the summer; I have workshops both real and virtual taking over most of the last two-and-a-half weeks before the official first day of my teaching calendar. So what have I done the last two weeks? Reading! Still haven't finished my self-help nonfiction selections, but I'll get there. They were put aside for some fun kid/teen books:
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade was originally picked out by my middle-school-aged son, who then said he wouldn't have time to read it, so offered it to me. It's a steampunk story (though light on the steampunk) that incorporates British history, fantasy (a morphing main character), a bit of Jekyll/Hyde, a bit of "Hunchback of Notre Dame", and some good old-fashioned undercover work. While making connections with the stories of Jekyll & Hyde and the Hunchback were great, it's not necessary to know them to enjoy the plot...and may entice readers to explore the classics.
I do tend to favor sci-fi novels, and Black Hole Sun by David MacInnis Gill was a fun read. Set on Mars in the very distant future, it's about an outcast teen soldier-for-hire who adheres to the ethics by which he was trained, which results in his agreement to defend a ragtag band of miners from a cannibalistic horde. Twists and turns along the way as well as a lot of action keep the story moving, with some surprise details thrown in towards the end. Corporation corruption, some wacky characters, and the bleak Mars landscape reminded me of a mix of Dune, Star Wars (without the interplanetary travel), and the Wild West.
Picture books! At a friend's recommendation, I had to get my own copy of Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (remember I Want My Hat Back?), and Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers. Extra Yarn reads like a good folklore story, and would be great to discuss character traits like generosity and greed with students. Stuck is just outright fun silliness; it will be interesting to read to my classes and see how quickly the students figure out that they are smarter than the main character, discussing his inept problem-solving strategies.
To add to my collection of books about libraries and librarians, I purchased a copy of I Know a Librarian Who Chewed on a Word, by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton and illustrated by Herb Leonhard. Instead of the fly and other items swallowed by the old lady in the classic rhyme, the librarian swallows a word, then a book, then the book cart....It keeps you guessing what the word is, until the very end.
Today's library day, but I think I'll return my books and focus on my home to-read pile rather than check any more out. Back to school soon!