Favourite Finds for Everyone!

I am hoping that along with a regular Noteworthy and Nourishing post that I began last week that I can do the same for the stacks of picture books that I read. Some will be new releases, some upcoming releases and others will be older books that I have recently discovered, listed in alphabetical order.

Author: Antoinette Portis

Publisher: Neal Porter Books

Release Date:

April 14/20

Riddles with rich vocabulary all revolving about nature, one page provides the poetic riddle, with the following page providing the answer. I love the way Antoinette Portis reveals a new way to look at things with her words and the illustrations. Many may think that this book is one for younger readers, but I know the #classroombookaday teachers will look at the author’s craft of the language used to evoke beauty and a new perspective.

Author: Fan Brothers

Publisher: Tundra

Release Date: Sept. 1 -20

Waaaay beneath the surface of the Perfect Pets store where children can buy genetically engineered pets lives Barnabus, a Failed Project. Half mouse and half elephant, Barnabus dreams of the world above that his friend Pip the cockroach has shared with Before they are recycled by the people in green suits, the other Failed Projects band together to escape.

As with all other Fan Brother books, the illustrations alone are worth the purchase. This one packs an extra punch with its message of following your dreams and staying true to yourself. A definite book to add to your classroom and libraries.

Author: Jonathan D. Voss

Publisher:Henry Holt and Co.

Released: 2018

A delightful story about friendship, where Olive likes her adventures in books and Hoot the stuffed Owl prefers to experience his outside. Stunning illustrations, with some memorable lines such as, “As long I’m here and you’re there, and here and there aren’t very far apart, we can never be lost.” make this book the perfect older published find.

Author & Illustrator: Nelly Buchet & Andrea Zuill

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books

Release Date: April 28/20

Almost wordless, this is the story of two families coming together and figuring things out. Andrea Zuills’s subtle details in the illustrations capture so many emotions – one example is how the woman is standing on her tiptoes to hug the man upon arrival. The captured expressions on the animals are priceless and recognized by dog and cat owners. I loved this unique way to talk about becoming a blended family and will allow readers to share their experiences using an animal character.

Author: Katrina Moore

Illustrations: Xindi Yan 

Publisher: little bee books

Release Date: April 7/20

A story about a granddaughter meeting her grandfather for the first time, I love how BOTH of the characters overcome their language and cultural differences and begin to bond with one another. The expressions on Yeh-Yeh are spot on of what appears to be a cantankerous senior, and yet he is trying to get to know his granddaughter. Lots of ways to unpack this story and appreciate the recipe at the back so readers can experience how Daisy and Yeh-Yeh finally connected.

Author: Charlene Chua

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Release Date: Sept. 1/20

A cat coughs up a hairball and proceeds to say to the girl that he is not feeling well. The girl asks if the cat would like a hug, and he replies, yes. Animal after animal – come asking for a hug until a unicorn comes by and she asks if it too would like a hug and replies, no, I’m good. The little girl continues to be accosted by various animals for a hug until she finally has had enough and yells. A humorous looking at boundaries and personal space, asking for something and being okay to reply No. Lots of variety of animals and expressive illustrations will make this one a fun read-aloud.

Author & Illustrator: Derrick Barnes & Gordon C. James

Publisher: Nancy Paulson Books

Release Date: Sept. 1/20

A beautiful, beautiful book that inspires and provides hope. Our narrator expresses all the good things he is including the times when he has fallen, been there for others who needed a hug and the reality of how others see him and call him names. The illustrations that capture the fun, the sad and the love are breath-taking. It is hard to come up with something new and original about this book as people more eloquent than I have expressed the power of this book. No other way to say it, read this book and then share it.

Author & Illustratoe: A.E. Ali & Rachele Jomepour Bell

Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: June 30/20

A kindergarten class bonds, by sharing their favourite day over the school year. The choices of the favourite days often reflect different cultures, and there are opportunities lost to provide more information about the individual days and the pronunciations. I was pleased to see days that also included non-cultural days, so it is inclusive. There is a family that celebrates science, and so they talk about March 14 and Pi. This book shows another way to build relationships year-round, not just with the students in the class but to include families as well.

Author: Sarah Kurpiel

Publisher: Grennwillow

Release Date: May 12/20

I found out about this book through my TL friend Megan and who also personally can relate to the story as two of her pack are huskies. Maple is a husky who is often mistaken for a wolf and then begins to question her own identity. Confusion about who you are, how you fit in and trying to be someone you are not are common themes, and everyone will be able to relate to this story. Also important to note is the power wheelchair used in the book is the author representing herself, reaffirming everyone needs to see themselves in books.

Author & Illustrator: Miranda Paul & Ebony Glenn

Publisher: Clarion Books

Release Date: July 7/20

Another excellent way to share the many ways one can speak up. The book told in rhyme shared a variety of situations when you need to find your voice and speak up. I liked that it included mental health, the environment but also not following the pack when you know it is not the right thing and leading others away from a possible choice by offering an alternative. The back matter in this book is helpful by sharing ways for quieter individuals to have a voice without having to be the center of attention along with kids who spoke up to lead change.

So ten of my favourite picture books read this past month. I’d love to hear of your favourite finds this month in the comments.

September 2020 Reading Recap

By Kathie

I’m terrible for sticking to a monthly reading plan. Every time I try to set goals they either stress me out trying to accomplish them, or make me feel guilty because I didn’t achieve them. So why do I bother? As someone who has an anxiety disorder, I make to-do lists and plans in an attempt to feel like I’m in control of some part of my life. When everything feels chaotic, I know what I’m going to have for supper. When I have too many things on my plate, I have a color-coded chart of my priorities.

But when it comes to my reading life, I rebel Every. Single. Time. I like being distracted by a new release that everyone is discussing. I love when an author reaches out and asks me to read an ARC of their book. I’m delighted when I win a book in a giveaway and when it shows up I want to read it right away. I’m learning that I cannot plan my reading life the same way I can plan other aspects of my life. It needs to be flexible, adaptable, spontaneous, and driven by what I feel like today. As someone who is a bit of a control freak, letting go and giving myself the freedom to read has been one of my biggest challenges.

In mid September, I dropped the reading plans, but decided to bring back reading statistics. I know that there are three main types of middle grade books that I want read: Canadian authors, ownvoices stories, and 2021 debut authors, but restricting my reading to that eliminates many authors I love who don’t fit into those categories. Keeping statistics helps me ensure those books are making up the bulk of my reading, while not tying me down to specific titles or a quota. My reading life becomes like a kite with the freedom to explore the wide open sky, while at the same time staying rooted to the ground and what matters to me.

STATS

I read 20 books in September (above average for me) for a total of 159 books so far this year (below average for me). Of those titles, 4 were 2021 middle grade debut authors (20%), 6 were ownvoices stories (30%) and 10 were by Canadian authors (50%). I read 8 physical books (40%), which means over half of my reading was ebooks. I also bought 5 new books (4 of which I donated to a library or a teacher).

FAVORITES

My favorite reads this month were: Breakdown by David A. Robertson (a YA graphic novel coming in late October), The Sea in Winter by Christine Day (release date: Jan 5, 2020), Lightfall: The Girl & the Galdurian by Tim Probert (an MG graphic novel released on September 1st), and Hatch by Kenneth Oppel (an MG dystopian novel released on September 15th).

NEXT MONTH

I have quite a few eARCs I really want to read, but we’ll see where the kite takes me.

#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Sept. 28

Last Week…

  • CANADIAN picture books! I went through a lot of Canadian picture books to begin the selection for the Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Awards which I will blog about at a later time to highlight some of my favourites.
  • Audiobook: The Case of the Missing Marquess (Enola Holmes #1) by Nancy Springer narrated by Katherine Kellgren. Enola Holmes is the younger sister of famous detective Sherlock Holmes. Enola (Alone backwards) was unconventionally raised by her mother. On her fourteenth birthday she awakens to discover that her mother has disappeared, but has left her some clues to find her in the form of a special birthday present. I missed this series, but when Netflix made it into a movie special – I knew I had to read it. The first book followed the Netflix movie fairly closely and look forward to reading the other five in the series.
  • Audiobook: The Inheritance Game (Inheritance Games #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes narrated by Christie Moreau. Avery is a teen with some smarts, spunk and empathy. Living with her sister and her less than desirable boyfriend, her plan is to get through high school, get a scholarship and get out. Suddenly she is summoned to a will reading of billionaire Tobias Hawthorne where she discovers he has left her his entire fortune with one condition – she must live in the Hawthone estate with the family he has just denied his fortune. Obviously the family is upset and want to get Avery out of the house and Avery wonders why a man she never met has left his entire fortune to her. I enjoyed the strong character of Avery and her love of chess and things related to puzzles. There are puzzles that fans of Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Book Scavenger and the older Chasing Vermeer will enjoy. It is great to see a more books like this for these readers as they grow into YA.
  • Audiobook: Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson, narrated by Guy Lockard. Told in verse from his son ZJ, we learn about his father, a professional football player – the legend and the hero. To ZJ, he is just dad, as proud as he is of his father, football is not his jam – it’s music. His father appreciates this and encourages ZJ to do his thing. We read/hear about the time “before the ever after,” the time they spent together singing songs, spending time together as a family and how his dad was so calm and “there”. Now is the ever after – his father is having trouble remembering, has mood swings and debilitating headaches and having trouble with day to day tasks. No one is quite sure what is happening until the doctor diagnoses him with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). There is much to be learned, shared and perhaps revaluated about the games we play and watch.

Up Next…

  • I didn’t quite finish Amy Timberlake’s Skunk and Badger last week with illustrations by Jon Klassen but oh my this is going to be a wonderful series.
  • Another pile of Canadian picture books that I have not read and missed or been recommend by friends.
  • I have two days to read Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s Sky of Bombs Sky of Stars so I am ready for the MG Lit Online Book Club this Wednesday.

Down the Road…

  • Still trying to find time to read Sarah Allen’s Breathing Underwater and know Tuesday I will be getting more picture books for the Shining Willows

I want to acknowledge the two that started this all. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of children’s’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday, join in on the fun by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading. Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.    

Perhaps I will see some of you this evening at #MGBookChat to discuss Historical Fiction or Wednesday to chat about Sky of Bombs Sky of Stars, if not Happy Reading.

Laurie

#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Sept. 28

By Kathie

This was a quieter week for me compared to last week, but I managed to read another 2021 release, an INCREDIBLE graphic novel, and a scary book that I wouldn’t read at night.

  • The Trouble With Good Ideas by Amanda Panitch (January 12, 2021). Leah’s great-grandpa, Zaide, is finding it difficult to live on his own with his advancing dementia, but Leah is determined that he not leave his home against his wishes. She creates a golem who looks like a human girl her age, and whom she names Elsa. It’s Elsa’s job to take care of Zaide and keep him safe, but Leah quickly learns that Elsa has her own agenda. (3 stars)
  • Lightfall: The Girl & the Galdurian by Tim Probert (September 1, 2020). This is a stunningly beautiful graphic novel, and my absolutely favorite of the year. It’s about an anxious young adventurer named Bea, who pushes forward despite her fears. She befriends a Galdurian named Cal, a delightfully optimistic travelling companion who sees life as an adventure, and trouble as an excellent part of the journey. It’s 260 pages, but without a lot of texts, it’s excellent for Gr. 4 and up (5 stars)
  • Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon (September 15, 2020). I almost didn’t read this book because the cover freaked me out, but if you like chilling stories, don’t worry, the story is even freakier! Justin and his friends lose at a game of hide and seek because they didn’t follow the rules, and disappear to a world where they are surrounded by their worst nightmares and The Seeker is always out to get them. No one has ever won this game of hide-and-seek, but Justin and his friends understand that their lives are on the line. A great selection for those who like scary reads (4 stars)

Up This Week

I’m currently reading The Nightmare Thief by Nicole Lesperance, and look forward to sharing my thoughts with you next week.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of childrens’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday join in on the fun, by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading.  Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.  

Noteworthy and Nourishing

September

In my post yesterday, I talked about Melissa Stewart’s five genre classifications and how I hope to highlight some nonfiction picture books in our blog. Below are the five genre types that Ms. Stewart created with a brief description, so you can ponder my genre choices of the books shared.

  • Traditional: what we typically think of with nonfiction – writing/prose that explains, describes and informs the reader – mainly text with illustrations or photos alongside. (Think: True Book series and author Seymour Simon books)
  • Browseable Nonfiction: writing that has short amounts of texts in a block- like layouts with illustrations. (Think: Guinness World Record Books)
  • Narrative Nonfiction: tells a true story or experience, has a setting and real characters, a central theme and usually follows short story structure (rising action, climax and resolution). (Think: Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla)
  • Expository Literature: well researched, engaging design, art and layouts with rich language and a particular text structure (Think: Jess Keating’s World of Weird Animal series, Pink is for Blobfish, Cute as an Axolotl)
  • Active Nonfiction: the result of the maker movement writing that teaches skills and has readers engage in an activity or activities. (Think: Cookbooks and How to Books)

So without further delay, here are some great Canadian nonfiction books in publication order.

Canadian Women Now and Then: More than 100 Stories of Fearless Trailblazers

Author: Elizabeth MacLeod

Illustrator: Maia Faddoul 

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Release Date: April 7/20

With so many books celebrating the many accomplishments by females published recently, I am happy to see Canada represented. This book covers a wide range of Canadian Trailblazers organized alphabetically by their area of significance. From Actors to Writers, there is a vast area of topics such as Astronauts, Paralympians, Lawyers, Culture Keepers, in other words, something for everyone. Readers are introduced not only to the trailblazers who created the path but an individual who is leading the way today. The book uses a 2 page spread with a Now and Then title. Each page highlights who is currently carrying on the inspiration while the next page highlights the woman who paved the way. Each trailblazer has a one-page short biography highlighting the achievements in their given area. A strong addition to classroom and school libraries.

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Social Studies

Nonfiction Genre: Expository Literature – well researched, simple effective layout, descriptive text structure but also uses a cause effect with the Then and Now although in a reverse format

A Last Goodbye

Author: Elin Kelsey

Illustrator: Soyeon Kim

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Release Date: April 15/20

In this simple, yet specific poetic text, readers learn about the way distinct groups of animals deal with the death of one of their own. Gently, Elin Kelsey shares the different ways that animals help relatives in their final moments, how they mourn and what they do with the loved one afterwards. Some of the animal groups specifically mentioned are whales, chimps, elephants, gorillas and magpies. A unique book to support young readers to open discussion about loss – perhaps that of a pet and see how other animals grieve.

The artwork adds beauty and eloquence to the sparse text drawing the reader into small scenes. The endpapers show the complex process of how the art collages were created and photographed. A weblink also provides additional information and ways to use the book with readers. An open and honest way to explore a certainty in the lives of everyone, and provide an avenue for readers to talk about death.   

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Social Studies, Science

Nonfiction Genre: Narrative – death is the main character and follows a sequential text structure

PowWow: A Celebration Through Song and Dance

Author: Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Release Date: April 21/20

Author Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane provides readers not only with factual information but also shares personal stories and photos of her family and herself. The book has four chapters with subheadings within each chapter. The first chapter focuses on the origins of Powwows. Readers receive some background knowledge on how Indigenous people were treated, particularly in Canada, with The Indian Act, the Pass System and Residential schools. The author outlines how the governments of both countries, now known as Canada and the United States, tried to eliminate and assimilate Indigenous people. Fortunately, trying to remove their culture and how the Powwow helped to preserve a portion of their culture. The second chapter focuses on Powwow culture and what to expect if attending a Powwow, the different types of Powwows, the order of events and what you would expect to see. Chapter three provides the specifics for the variety of dances along with the protocols with the drum. Lots of photos allow the reader to appreciate the intricate beading, design and meaning behind the apparel worn by the dancers. The last chapter focuses on where and when Powwows from one coast to the other.

This is a comprehensive look at Indigenous song and dance making it a valuable resource that should be in all libraries.

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Social Studies

Nonfiction Genre: Traditional – mainly text, descriptive text structure and has photographs with minor captions

Ocean Speaks: Marie Tharp and the Map That Moved the Earth

Author: Jess Keating

Illustrator: Katie Hickey

Publisher: Tundra

Release Date: June 30/20

Marie Tharp had a love for science but was not able to pursue her passion due to the belief that women should not be scientists. Upon the start of World War II, because men were needed as soldiers, women were encouraged to pursue careers in science.

Her first job explored using sound to study the ocean floor. Marie, however, was not allowed on the ship – women were bad luck. Instead, she analyzed the data sent from the ship to create a map of the ocean floor. With the map completed, she discovered a deep rift in the middle with large mountains on either side. Her male counterparts disputed the map and even the famous explorer Jacques Cousteau attempted to prove her wrong. Shocked, the men realized Marie was correct and credited her with discovering the greatest mountain range and valley on earth.

Katie Hickey compliments Jess Keating’s words with a pallet of blues and greens with gold highlights that draw the reader in. Many will speak of the stunning gatefold and the use of the grid lines overtop the ocean floor, but the page where her father and little Marie are investigating and the reader gets a glimpse seeing the details of their many adventures and inquires is the page that will spark connections and conversations. The end matter includes an author’s note outlining other aftereffects of her map, a Q&A along with suggestions for further reading.

Another phenomenal biography to add to your collections.

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Earth Science

Nonfiction Genre: I would now put this book in Informational Fiction as there would be scenes and dialog that would not be able to be proved as factual based on the webinar I recently watched with Ms. Stewart (Originally categorized as Narrative – the story of Marie Tharp in a short story structure)

Making a Whole Person: Traditional Inuit Education

Author: Monica Ittusardjuat

Illustrator: Yong Ling Kang 

Publisher: Inhabit Educational Books Inc.

Release Date: July 7/20

An own voices look at how Inuit people learned the various skills and knowledge prior to European contact. Although there is not a Table of Contents, author Monica Ittusardjuat breaks this book into three sections, games, authentic learning experiences and observing adults. Each section also introduces specific vocabulary unique to the Inuit people. Illustrations are colourful and add more meaning to the text – such as the string game illustration. The back matter includes a glossary, a pronunciation guide with black and white photos, additional information about the author and illustrator, and a historical note.

A topic that has few current resources, the descriptive format reads like a narrative story as it is based on personal experiences. Always on the lookout for resources for Indigenous people of the north, the simple format of play, imitate and watch will provide readers with another way of knowing and be a welcome addition to library collections.

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Social Studies

Nonfiction Genre: Traditional– descriptive text structure with accompanying illustrations

111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl

Author: Rina Singh

Illustrator:Marianne Ferrer 

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Release Date: October 6/20

As a young boy, Sundar Paliwal grew up in a mining village in India. He saw first hand the destruction mining did to the environment and the inequity between males and females. Sundar never forgot what he witnessed as a child and when he became the elected sarpanch or leader as an adult, he constructed a plan to honour both the land and the girls born in the village.

Based on a true story, readers learn about the tragic loss that Sundar suffered as a child and a father that led him to think about planting trees to honour the loved ones he lost. It was hard for Sundar to convince the villagers to change their ways. As he convinced the community to plant 111 trees when a girl was born and commit to sending them to school and waiting until they were 18 to be married, the landscape slowly changed and brought the community together and prosperity to their village. There is additional information regarding Sundar and eco-feminism.

Another highly recommended addition to classroom and library collections.

Curricular Connections: English Language Arts, Social Studies, Environment

Nonfiction Genre: Narrative– true story of how Sundar fought for equal rights and the land in his community in a short story structure.

So hopefully some of these titles will be ones that you can enjoy and perhaps see they way nonfiction can have different genres. If you are familiar with any of these titles, I’d love to hear if you agree where I placed them in Ms. Stewart’s nonfiction genres.

From The Roots Up

Author: Tasha Spillett

Illustrator: Natasha Donovan

Publisher: Highwater Press

Release: October 27/20

Reviewer: Kathie

Thank you to the publisher for an eARC of this book.

I was very excited to get a chance to read this YA graphic novel sequel to Surviving The City. The series is set in Winnipeg, and it’s an important book for readers not only for its insightful and honest depiction of what many Indigenous youth face, but for greater empathy and understanding about the Two-Spirit person experience.

In this story, Dez is living in a group home after the death of her kokum. She and Miikwan are still best friends, but they’re both exploring relationships with other people. Dez is discovering that she is a Two-Spirit person, but she isn’t sure how to tell Miikwan. Miikwan is attracted to a new boy at school named Riel, and invites him to take part in an after school program for Neechi students. When Dez wants to take part in the drumming that is traditionally a male-only activity, the Elders are faced with addressing change and expanding their understanding of the gender roles with which they were raised. Riel’s Auntie Alex, who is a Two-Spirit person, attends one of the group’s meetings and talks about their experience, and the fact that many nations have had individuals who have different genders or sexualities, but that it’s a part of their cultures that were also taken from them. As Dez begins to connect to a new identity, each person in the story is affected by it.

I think this story is so important because I have never read a story for young people that addresses Two Spirit people, and how they can feel like they belong just as they are. Not only does the author teach the reader, but she does so in a way that’s relatable and respectful of teens and their relationships. I loved the older and supportive female characters such as the group mom, Karen, and Elder Linda, who help Dez and accepted her period of self exploration. The illustrations in this book are gorgeous, and add so much depth to the story.

This book is an essential addition to classroom and libraries not only in Manitoba, but also across Canada and the US. Please make sure you also have the first book in the series, Surviving the City.

Noteworthy and Nourishing

Back in 2018, I was fortunate enough to attend my first ever NeRDCaMP in Parma, Michigan and hear the magnificent Melissa Stewart. During her presentation, she spoke of different genres of nonfiction. I, along with everyone there, soaked it up. She shared her thoughts of Five Kinds of Nonfiction and updated her post as her thinking changed and grew. Later she answered questions and then provided examples titled Five Kinds of Nonfiction Booklists. This post also included research to share how young readers find nonfiction more engaging.

In fact, a recent study shows that more than 75 percent of students like expository books as much as or more than narrative titles, and42 percent have a moderate or strong preference for expository nonfiction (Repanskey, Schumm, & Johnson, 2017)


Repaskey, L. L., Schumm, J., & Johnson, J. (2017). First and Fourth Grade Boys’ and Girls’ Preferences For and Perceptions About Narrative and Expository Text. Reading Psychology, 38(8), 808-847. doi:10.1080/02702711.2017.1344165
Stewart, M. (2018, January 05). The Five Kinds of Nonfiction, Book Lists. Retrieved September 22, 2020, from http://celebratescience.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-nonfiction-family-tree-book-lists.html

I am now trying to see the world of nonfiction through this lens, to help colleagues and others who may be reading this blog. So a quick sentence or two to describe Ms. Stewart’s genres of nonfiction.

  • Traditional: what we typically think of with nonfiction – writing/prose that explains, describes and informs the reader – mainly text with illustrations or photos alongside. (Think: True Book series and author Seymour Simon books)
  • Browseable Nonfiction: writing that has short amounts of texts in a block- like layouts with illustrations. (Think: Guinness World Record Books)
  • Narrative Nonfiction: tells a true story or experience, has a setting and real characters, a central theme and usually follows short story structure (rising action, climax and resolution). (Think: Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla)
  • Expository Literature: well researched, engaging design, art and layouts with rich language and a particular text structure (Think: Jess Keating’s World of Weird Animal series, Pink is for Blobfish, Cute as an Axolotl)
  • Active Nonfiction: the result of the maker movement writing that teaches skills and has readers engage in an activity or activities. (Think: Cookbooks and How to Books)

As a result of the interest and popularity, Ms. Stewart is currently writing a book titled Five Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and Writing Instruction with Children’s Books to be published by Stenhouse Publishing that I am looking forward to reading. 

I wanted to provide my thinking before sharing books, and this post is rather lengthy. Tomorrow will be the first post of Noteworthy and Nourishing complete with books, all published in 2020 and proudly Canadian. Stay tuned.

The King of Jam Sandwiches

Author: Eric Walters

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Release Date: September 22, 2020

Reviewer: Kathie

Thank you to the author and publisher for sending #bookportage an ARC of this book.

This upper middle grade, character-driven story is raw and powerful. 13-year-old Robbie is a smart kid who excels in school, but hides his dysfunctional home life from everyone around him. He deals with his father’s emotional instability and unpredictability by planning for the future, until he meets Harmony, a new girl who is living with a foster family. They quickly form a bond and Robbie starts to open up to her about his situation. Robbie wants to be a friend to Harmony, but learning to trust the other with their secrets is a challenge for both of them. Can Robbie and Harmony handle having someone else know so much about them, and what does that mean when things get really tough for each of them?

I really appreciate how the author opens up that this is based on his own story. Many kids will be able to relate to growing up in unstable homes, and becoming responsible for themselves or their families at a young age. It’s easy to pass judgement on a kid who comes to school with clothes that don’t fit, or eating the same jam sandwiches for lunch every day, but this story helps the reader see what could be going on behind the scenes.

I predict this book will be a hit with my patrons; Eric has written over 100 books for children, and is a very well known and popular Canadian author for children. My favorite middle grade book by him is ELEPHANT SECRET.

Bloom. Hatch. May?!

Author: Kenneth Oppel

Series Name: Overthrow

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release Dates: Bloom (Feb. /20), Hatch (Sept. 15/20), Thrive (May 2021)

Reviewer: Laurie

Well I was able to get my hands on Hatch the second book in the new Overthrow trilogy by Kenneth Oppel and I vowed that I would not rush and would savour the book – well that didn’t happen. This series is creepy. Creepy creatures, creepy setting, and just overall creepy ideas that made me think of Neal Shusterman’s Unwind series. Once I got in, I simply couldn’t put it down.

For those who have not had the opportunity to read the first in the series Bloom, which I do think needs to be read to full appreciate Hatch, a quick recap…

Set in Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, a typical rain appears to have triggered a strange and now life threatening event. Plants – thick, black vine-like plants are sprouting everywhere, rapidly taking over land and fields. As the island attempts to solve the problem, they discover it’s not just in Salt Spring, but around the world. No one seems to know how to stop this invasive plant from spreading and its pollen is causing severe reactions and respiratory issues to everyone. Everyone, except for three teens who had unique problems prior to the plant invasion but are immune to the pollen and had nothing in common until now. These teens; Petra (allergic to water), Anaya (severe food, plant and animal allergies and Seth (foster child with strange scars), all have their own characteristics that set them apart, but now are working together to try to help their community survive. The ending gives the reader a chance to predict what may be happening and definitely leaves readers on the hook for the second in the series Hatch with a strange rain that is falling. Bioterrorism? Environmental factors? Invasion? Readers are thrown out possibilities of what may lie at the “root” of the problem as they get to know the three teens and watch them try to solve the same questions we have. 

Enter second in the series Hatch (released September 15), where readers get taken on a roller coaster ride as the rain that has fallen is actually filled with seeds and eggs that are developing into new and terrifying morphed creatures. Now we see Mr. Oppel’s twisted, hair-raising plan, in Bloom, there was the beginning of the creation of an entirely new ecosystem with the plants or vegetation. Now we are seeing the evolution with the introduction of the different species that will live in this ecosystem including Petra, Anaya and Seth.

In the first portion of the book, we learn that these three are not alone in the changes to their physical appearances and Colonel Pearson whisks the three hybrids, (now known as flyers, swimmers and runners) off to a secret location where other hybrids have been sent. We get to know other hybrids and the changes that everyone is undergoing. We realize the doctor collecting and studying the teen hybrids actually has become quite sinister. Dr. Ritter has become fixated on stopping the alien invasion by experimenting and using the hybrids as guinea pigs to find out all they can, even if it means the loss of their lives.

Dr. Ritter becomes the catalyst that vaults us into the next fast paced section as the hybrids plan an escape from the facility. Despite all wanting to escape, there is dissension within the hybrid groups, so now there are more conflicts not to mention the hatching of the new creatures. It is non-stop action from here on in. Will the hybrids be caught or will they all come together? Will the escape affect the aliens invasion plan? Will humans survive and if so how? What will happen to all the hybrids and especially Anaya, Petra and Seth? And all the time as you are reading, you are acutely aware that you are running out of pages for a tight ending. So yes, one finishes reading with a doozy of a cliff hanger, providing us plenty of time to use our own imaginations to attempt and discuss what will happen in Thrive.

Yep this is a series middle grade readers and YA are going to thoroughly enjoy and will be one that spreads through word of mouth – the best kind of endorsement. The sad news is – it’s going to be a long winter to wait until MAY to read the conclusion. Well played Mr. Oppel… well played.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR: Inkling, Every Hidden Thing and The Nest 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Gr 5+

#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Sept. 21

I had a really great reading week. I read two upcoming 2021 debut books, two books in a series by a Canadian author/illustrator team that were new to me, and started reading some books with the intention to write a post with some spooky recommendations published in 2020.

  • Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles (Jan 26, 2021). This is a story about a boy who is determined to save his neighborhood from gentrification by a large development corporation. I loved the inspiring activism shown by Wes, but also a look at how this predominantly Black community is faces change, how the families of Wes’s friends choose to respond and the impact to their tight-knit group. (4 stars)
  • Snazzy Cat Capers by Deanna Kent and Neil Hooson (Sept 18, 2018). I won this book in a giveaway by the author, and I can’t believe I hadn’t come across this Canadian author/illustrator duo before now! Ophelia is an infamous cat burglar, but one of the rules of her organization is that she must be paired with an inventor. In steps Oscar, an enthusiastic and eager assistant, but Ophelia insists she works alone. Can Oscar prove to her that they’re better together? It’s a funny story, and a great book for younger middle grade readers; I’m so glad I now have it in my collection. (4 stars)
  • The Fast and the Furriest by Deanna Kent and Neil Hooson (Sept 17, 2019). The second book in the series, Ophelia and Oscar must steal back a priceless artifact that was stolen from Furry Feline Burglary Institute (FFBI), but they’re being pursued every step of the way by the Central Canine Intelligence Agency (CCIA) who want it for themselves. Ophelia and Oscar must outsmart them, as well as an internal obstacle. Another fun and engaging story for young middle grade readers. (4 stars)
  • The Comeback by E.L. Shen (Jan 19, 2021). This 2021 debut looks at the competition, pressure, and rivalry that takes place in the skating world, with the added perspective from an ownvoices Chinese-American character who also faces racism at school that affects her performance on the ice. (3 stars)
  • Nikki Tesla and the Traitors of the Lost Spark by Jess Keating (July 7, 2020). The third book in the Elements of Genius series finds Nikki and her friends unfairly accused of a crime and on the run without the support of the Genius Academy. They must find out who stole a deadly biological weapon, and obtain the antidote, and do it all while being followed everywhere they go. I really enjoy this series and think kids will enjoy this latest story. (4 stars)
  • Kiki MacAdoo and the Graveyard Ballerinas by Colette Sewal (August 4, 2020). Kiki and her sister attend the Mount Faylinn Dance Conservatory to develop their ballet skills during summer holidays, but this place has a dark secret in the forbidden woods. Fairies, and eerie lake, and ghostly ballerinas that dance students to their deaths are just some of the danger Kiki faces in this story. I liked that it’s not an overly scary story for most of the book, and the friendship that forms between Kiki and one of the residents, Oliver. (4 stars)
  • Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang & Kati Bartowski (Sept 1, 2020). Here’s a scary story that you’ll want to read during daylight hours! Rae is new to Whispering Pines, but it’s the strangest community she’s ever lived in. Students have a history of disappearing and returning without their eyes, or not at all. Rae befriends Caden, her neighbor and the son of a ghost-hunting family, to help her discover what’s happening to their friends, but it’s not a creature from this world. Fast-paced, creepy, a little bit gory at points, and a read I would definitely recommend for those who love scary stories. (4 stars)
  • Hatch by Kenneth Oppel (Sept 15, 2020). Wow. This is a last minute addition because I could not put this book on Sunday. I read the whole thing in one day, and I’m SO glad I waited for a weekend so I could sink into it. I have to say, I liked this book even better than BLOOM, which I rarely say about a sequel. Science fiction with a mix of horror, this book is fast-paced and completely engrossing. I’ll leave the details for a review when I come down from the high, but a definite 5 star read for me.

Up This Week

I plan to add to my spooky book reading Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of childrens’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday join in on the fun, by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading.  Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.