After taking a week off for the holiday (and taking a break from reading, to be truthful!), I'm back at chipping away my to-read pile.
This week, I finished:
Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller is a creepy-yet-sweet story of a tween boy coming to terms with his mother's death, his father's remarriage, moving into the town's creepiest house, and dreams that are becoming scarier and more real each night. The nightmares begin to fill him with the "darkness", affecting his relationships with his father, little brother, and best friends; he doesn't want a relationship with his "stepmonster". Is his stepmother really a witch from the Netherworld? Charlie and his friends face their fears in this supernatural story that has a satisfying ending.
There was a lot of buzz about A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall. You can read about the author's statement here, and the Texas Library Association's statement here. Aside from the controversy, I found it to be a fascinating look at how food gathering, preparation, storage, and service has changed during the past four centuries. This book would be a great jumpstart for projects on how any common recipe/ item/ process has changed over the years. I would be sure to read the author's notes, and discuss the points made in the linked articles regarding the incomplete/ inaccurate depiction of slavery with students when doing a book talk.
I was immediately drawn in by the gorgeous illustrations in Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson, illustrated by David Shannon (yes, of No, David! fame). Then the story grabbed me as well. Robertson's retelling of an Iroquois tale that describes how the Five Nations stopped warring and became one is a powerful testament to peace. I found several details that mirrored those in other major religions (i.e. Hiawatha forgiving the evil Tadodaho, the Peacemaker driving the snakes out of Tadodaho and climbing a tree that could lead to his death, but reappearing the next morning). As with the previous book, the author's notes are worth sharing, especially Robertson's memories of visiting a longhouse with his own Native American relatives.
Roller Girl, a graphic novel by Victoria Jamieson, is a coming-of-age story. Two elementary school friends discover their differences may be driving them apart as middle school approaches. Astrid, the main character, decides that roller derby is her new passion, while her friend Nicole is pursuing ballet--and boys, an interest Astrid doesn't share. The lengths Astrid will go to in becoming a roller derby skater are exasperating, commendable and touching, as we watch her lie to her mother, fume at her own incompetence yet persevere, and wilt in the face of a dying friendship. There is growth in the struggle that tweens will be able to relate to, and maybe learn from Astrid's mistakes.
What's next? Personal reading: Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. Professional reading: Sparking Student Creativity by Patti Drapeau. Children's lit: Space Case by Stuart Gibbs.
What is in your reading pile this week?