Its always fun to participate in the “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?” meme. Thank you to Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts for hosting us all.
The Rock and the River
By Kekla Magoon
Gr. 7 and up
I picked this one up because I had heard such good things about it, and because I am searching for a book to recommend to our 6th grade team as a new class read. I know, I know. My rating above states Gr. 7 and up, and as an independent read I think that’s still pretty accurate, but as a classroom read, with teacher-led discussions and context to the time period, I think 6th graders, in the latter half of the school year, could handle this one pretty well. There’s a lot going on here and the book is pretty intense. It is 1968 Chicago, the civil rights movement is in full-swing and young Sam Childs is right in the thick of everything. His father is a noted civil rights activist who works closely with Martin Luther King, Jr., and his older brother, Stick, is being drawn to the work of the Black Panther party. Sam is in the middle, torn between the love and respect that he has for his father and the absolute worship of his brother who can do no wrong. As events bubble up and sometimes boil over, Sam doesn’t always know which way to turn, isn’t sure who is right in every situation and doesn’t always see the big picture. What I love about this book is that Sam is a flawed protagonist; he’s young and inexperienced, but has a good heart and wants to do the right thing. I also love that the Black Panther party is shown here as a very nuanced organization, that did a lot of good things in their communities, including building free health clinics, providing breakfast for children and offering up education classes. Magoon does not shy away from showing the violence and injustices of the time, and I found myself time and again, reflecting on how the incidents she describes from 1968 are eerily, and sadly unsurprisingly, occurring now, nearly 50 years later. It is a great read; thought-provoking and full of insight about family dynamics and relationships as well as illuminating a very difficult period of history. I’m definitely recommending that the 6th grade teachers at my school read it, and in the meantime, I’ll be adding it to some summer reading lists.
The Seventh Wish
By Kate Messner
Gr. 4 and up
Publish Date June 7, 2016
E-ARC made available via NetGalley and the publisher
Thinking of wishes is easy for Charlie, it’s the consequences of those wishes that sometimes aren’t so easy. While ice fishing out on Lake Champlain Charlie accidentally uncovers a wish-granting source; an undersized fish with glowing green eyes that promises granted wishes if she releases him back into the lake. And this small piece of magic allows her to make wishes for family and friends alike. She wishes a new job for her mom, excellent basketball tryouts for her ice fishing buddy, Drew, a passing grade on a test for Irish dancing companion Dasha, and so on. All come true, all have unanticipated ripples that helps Charlie understand that not all troubles need wishing. One big problem that doesn’t seem to have a wishable fix is her big sister Abby, who’s first year in college has left her with a drug problem that lands her in a residential rehab facility. Charlie is angry, embarrassed and worried for her formerly athletic, bouncy sister who could do no wrong. Messner weaves an endearing tale as Charlie navigates problems big and small, at home and at school and manages to find a way to deal with all that is going on without relying on a fish in a lake. This new book reminds me quite a bit of All the Answers, which had a similar tone and small dose of magic that will resonate with plenty of young middle graders. I’ll be putting this on our summer reading list!
By Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick Press, April 2016
This one is my new favorite DiCamillo book since Because of Winn-Dixie, and its no wonder since this one has a similar feel. The not-so-glamorous side of Florida locale, quirky characters both large and small, and an absent parent that leaves the young protagonist confused and sad. Raymie Clarke is bound and determined to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire pageant, convinced that her father, who has run with a young dental hygienist, will see her in the newspaper and come back home. In order to win the competition, she needs a talent, and in 1975 Florida the only talent worth having is baton-twirling, and do a few good deeds. Baton-twirling classes leads to an unlikely alliance with two of her competitors, one faints fairly frequently and the other is tough-as-nails and determined to sabotage the entire pageant. At turns funny, poignant, and occasionally outlandish, the young trio manages to form a bond, do some good deeds and do their best in the pageant. And Raymie never does learn how to twirl a baton.
The Rock and the River sounds like a good and important book. It does seem that at least parts of history are repeating themselves this year.
Thanks for the heads up about The Rock and the River. It sounds like an interesting book to pair with One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. I will definitely check this title out. Raymie Nightingale didn’t work for me. I have added The Seventh Wish to my summer reading list!
Raymie was one of my favorites since Winn Dixie too! I think it had the same feel. I liked Flora also. You first two books are both books I haven’t read, but I love the authors!
Happy reading this week 🙂