It’s always fun to link up and share what I’m reading. You can join the fun by bopping over to Teach Mentor Texts written by Jen or Unleashing Readers by Kellee and see what so many others are reading. Go ahead.
Been a slow reading few weeks; I’ve started and stopped a few different books, but I have two to share. Small victories.
Jessamy’s family lives between two worlds; not fully accepted into the elite Patron caste that her father was born into, and yet not part of her mother’s Commoner caste either. And so they tread lightly every where they go, keeping their heads down and trying not be noticed, too much. Jessamy wants to be a dutiful daughter, but longs to openly participate in the Court of Fives, a physically dangerous game akin to parkour that would bring shame and a probable punishment to her family, which it eventually does when her secret is discovered. This high fantasy has a setting reminiscent of Ancient Egypt, and a culture that feels more in tune with Ancient Greece. Descriptions of the game itself are interesting and face-paced, and the story is convoluted enough to keep the reader interested. I enjoyed it very much, and have been able to share it with students who love adventure fantasy.
The Wolf Wilder
by Katherine Rundell
Gr. 4 and up
Gorgeous writing. Unusual setting. Quirky characters. I loved this one from the author of Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms and Rooftoppers. Young Feo (short for Feodora) lives with her mother in the woods of Russia in the time of the Tsars, where they work to re-wild wolves that had been pets to the wealthy Russian aristocracy and then discarded when they became inconvenient. Feo is far more comfortable with wolves than with people, but when her mother is imprisoned by a crazy, power-hungry officer in the Tsar’s army, Feo must rely on and work with others in order to escape capture and free her mother. There are lush descriptions of the Russian winter, heart-stopping action sequences and some funny, awkward moments for Feo, who is never quite sure what response is best and has to adjust her smile to suit the situation. Every kid who reads this is going to want to live with their own half-wild wolves, I know I did!
In this novel in verse, young Mimi narrates the ups and downs of having just moved to rural Vermont from Berkley, California where her black father has taken a job as a professor at a local college. Mimi struggles with a lot of “what are you?” sorts of questions, as well as fighting the stereotypes that girls can’t take shop or want to be astronauts. Her Japanese mother also tries to find a place in this new and unfamiliar environment, and together the family is constantly moving forward and onward. Mimi gets a lot of support from her parents, and their family is a very loving one that can withstand the prejudices that swirl around them. She also manages to make friends and find ways to pursue her interests despite the many obstacles. I really loved the story and Mimi’s voice. What I didn’t love was the poetry. This felt like one of those novels in verse that just had short sentences broken up randomly, nearly to the point of distraction. I repeatedly found myself thinking about how I would have written the poem differently. Sigh. It would have made a beautiful prose novel.