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AMQS: Anne's 2019 Reading Recovery -- 2

This is a continuation of the topic AMQS: Anne's 2019 Reading Recovery.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Edited: Jun 1, 4:36pm Top

Welcome to my second thread!

My name is Anne. I am an elementary school teacher librarian in a little Colorado mountain school. My husband Stelios and I have two daughters: 17 and 20. All of us have tottering piles of books in nearly every room of the house. We love to hike, play games together, and travel. I read a lot of children's literature, and love audiobooks.

This is my 10th year in this wonderful group, and while there's no place I'd rather be, I found it very hard to keep up in 2018 and considered taking a gap year, but was encouraged by my sweet LT friends to return. I agree that it would be better to find some balance that includes this group in 2019 than to leave - it enriches my life so much.

Today is the first "official" day of my summer break. This school year was a hard one for a variety of reasons, so it seemed like a good time to start a fresh, new thread as the school year comes to a close.

This summer we will be traveling to Germany to visit my brother, his wife, and their new baby boy. As a bonus, we will also see my mom and our exchange student. Annaïg and her family will return the visit in August.

This photo was taken by my dad in February at the Great Plains Snow Goose Festival in Lamar, CO. Now a summer photo, but I just love that Colorado sky, especially with all of those birds!

Edited: Aug 10, 10:57am Top

August, 2019
54. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

July, 2019
43. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
44. Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier
45. Lost & Found: Helping Behaviorally Challenging Students (and, While You’re at It, All the Others by Ross W. Greene, PhD
46. Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
47. Venetia by Georgette Heyer
48. Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
49. Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood
50. The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle
51. Mac Undercover by Mac Barnett
52. Refugee by Alan Gratz
53. Krista Kim-Bap by Angela Ahn

June, 2019
34. To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer
35. Front Desk by Kelly Yang
36. Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre
37. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
38. Otherwood by Pete Hautman
39. The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
40. Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
41. Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh
42. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Jun 1, 4:04pm Top

January, 2019
1. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
2. Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur
3. Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
4. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

February, 2019
5. Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck
6. The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
7. Heartburn by Nora Ephron
8. Davita's Harp by Chaim Potok
9. We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, edited by Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson
10. A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis
11. Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa
12. Delicious by Ruth Reichl

March, 2019
13. Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
14. Knights Vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan
15. The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
16. The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
17. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
18. All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
19. Tight by Torrey Maldonado
20. A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey
21. We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays by Samantha Irby

April, 2019
22. The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey
23. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
24. As You Like it by William Shakespeare
25. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
26. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
27. The Watsons Go to Birmingham- 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

May, 2019
28. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
29. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones
30. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
31. Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan
32. Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
33. The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge

Jun 1, 4:23pm Top

Happy New Thread, Anne!!

Edited: Jun 1, 4:35pm Top

As I said in the opener, I am starting a fresh new thread as the school year ends and I look forward to a summer of rest and a new, fresh start to school in August.

I brought home a giant box of books from school and will try to read as many as I can, while also taking the time to read whatever I want:) This one is from The Box, and it is a great one:

34. To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

I am a sucker for epistolary novels, and this one for middle grade readers was awesome. Bett, a 12 year-old in California emails Avery, a 12 year-old in New York out of the blue. It seems that their dads, after meeting in Chicago while both were on work trips, have started dating and things are getting serious. Serious enough that they're thinking of a future together and are sending the girls off to summer camp together so they can get to know one another and hopefully become friends. Well, Bett and Avery are not having it. They are each very close to their respective dads, and quite like their lives exactly the way they already are, thank you very much. At camp, they contrive never to speak, and never to participate in the same activities, which thankfully, is easy as the girls are pretty much polar opposites. Bett is fearless, outspoken, and loves adventure, any kind of water sport, and animals. Avery is an indoor girl interested in reading, writing, crafts, and is terribly afraid of germs, random accidents, and especially of water. Yet they keep emailing. They want to stay one step ahead of their dads and prevent any major life changes. And they ask each other typical girl questions about likes and dislikes, crushes, periods, lip gloss, and the like. And of course, they develop a strong bond that carries them through the very eventful year that follows.

I just loved this book, and read it in nearly one sitting. Avery and Bett are terrific characters, and are joined by other wonderful characters contributing their own notes, letters, emails, and texts. Comparisons to The Parent Trap are fair, I think, though this is truly a 21st century story, with the timeless message that family can be a choice and that love is a gift.

Jun 1, 4:30pm Top

>4 ronincats: Hi Roni! Thanks for visiting! I am hoping to catch up a bit now that school is out. I need to come check on your garden and your art and your kitties (and you and your reading!)

Jun 1, 4:40pm Top

Happy new thread, Anne, and looking forward to following your summer reading.

Jun 1, 7:39pm Top

Happy new thread! Looking forward to your great reading and reviews! Adding To Night Owl from Dogfish to my list!

Jun 1, 9:45pm Top

Happy new thread!

Jun 2, 4:52am Top

Happy new thread, Anne!

Lovely picture at the top, so many birds in a clear blue sky.
Will your German trip bring you anywhere near the Dutch border?

Jun 2, 8:54am Top

Happy New Thread, Anne!

And congratulations on starting your summer break. I'm sure you're ready to start recharging your batteries.

Jun 2, 10:14am Top

Happy new thread, Anne. Here's to a summer of great reading. >5 AMQS: It looks as thought you are off to a great start.

Jun 2, 10:25pm Top

Happy new thread! You got me with that book bullet — it was on my radar, but I’m thinking I will definitely have to read it now!

Jun 2, 11:05pm Top

>7 bell7: Thank you, Mary!

>8 witchyrichy: Thanks, Karen! I really enjoyed it.

>9 drneutron: Thank you, Jim! Any CO trips planned?

>10 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita! My dad is retired and travels locally a lot to photograph wildlife, particularly when there's an event like this snow goose festival, and he never misses the Sandhill Crane Festival in Monte Vista, CO. Right now he is in Craig, CO photographing a herd of wild mustangs. Can't wait to see those photos!

We will spend most of our time in Munich, as that is where my brother and also my mother live. But we actually may come close to the Dutch border as we will be visiting our exchange student and her family for a few days and they live in Munster, in NW Germany. We won't have a car, and are relying on them to make plans for us, but we are kind of hoping to visit the Netherlands, as none of us has ever been before. We'll see!

>11 jnwelch: Thank you, Joe, and you're so right - I am so in need of a recharge. This was a hard school year for a variety of reasons, and my spirits are a bit low just now. I actually do need to go back at least once more as my end of year wrap up was disrupted by the delivery of 146 Chormebooks. I knew my August self would be drowning if I left them for her, so I cataloged and barcoded them now, which means there are a few loose ends to tie up. I am going to pay Callia to come with me and help, so hopefully I can finish in a half day (all I have since I will work my second job that afternoon). I know I'm wallowing in self pity, but that says a lot about teaching in America that I will work beyond my contract (unpaid) and actually pay someone else to help me finish in time to get to my other job. But again, my August self will thank me!

>12 BLBera: Hi Beth! It is off to a great start, as I really enjoyed To Night Owl From Dogfish, and the next book out of the The Box is excellent as well!

>13 foggidawn: Thanks, foggi! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Jun 2, 11:29pm Top

Lovely sky topper, Anne.

Happy New Thread.

Jun 3, 12:29pm Top

>14 AMQS: Lots of sympathy, Anne. Our daughter is a pre-school teacher, and she is so ready to be done for the year! She loves teaching and the kids, but it does wear her down. Four more days for her.

I just read that the average teacher salary here went down in the last decade. How crazy is that? We need to fix that. Your working beyond your contract unpaid to get things done, and even paying someone else to help you finish on time, seems very typical for that profession. There are so many dedicated people who love what they do, and who do something that is so important to all of us, who end up being woefully underpaid.

Jun 3, 12:30pm Top

>14 AMQS: Unfortunately, not in the near future. But who knows? Something may pop up!

Jun 3, 3:48pm Top

>5 AMQS: I adored The Parent Trap growing up (the Hayley Mills version) and your description has me tempted although middle-grade books and I don't always gel.

Jun 3, 9:07pm Top

>15 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul! And thanks for visiting my new thread.

>16 jnwelch: Oh, Joe, from what I've heard, preschool teachers have it even worse as far as pay and expectations, and I think they could have the hardest job in teaching. Four more days - she's nearly there, and then I hope she can relax this summer. I am fortunate to have a spouse with a good income. Too many of my colleagues work two and three jobs. My husband was a volunteer track and field coach at Marina's high school this spring, and became close to the head coaches, who are also teachers at the school. He has some idea of what their instructional day is like, and knows exactly what they put into track practices. But when we ran into one of the teachers/coach working at Home Depot on a Sunday my husband was pretty devastated. He knows a lot of teachers work other jobs to make ends meet, but it made an impact when it's a teacher and coach we know.

>17 drneutron: Well let us know if something does! I hope you have a great summer, Jim.

>18 MickyFine: Oh I adored the same version too, Micky. There's something about twins that captures the imagination, isn't there?

Edited: Jun 3, 9:24pm Top

35. Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Another book from The Box, and one that was chosen for our district's 2020 Battle of the Books. I was so pleased with the BOB participation at my school - my GT kids especially really got into it, and some read all 10 books from 10 different genres twice. This book is good, if occasionally clunky. I thought frequently as I read it that I wish every American 5th grader would read it, and since it is a BOB book it should be widely read next year.

10 year-old Mia immigrated to the United States from China with her parents. They came for the freedom and the opportunity and the hamburgers, but what they found was grinding poverty, paralyzing discrimination, and vicious exploitation. Mia's parents take a job managing a motel for shocking low wages, inhumane terms, and - the clincher - free accommodation. Cleaning the rooms daily takes everything both her parents have, and since they refuse to let Mia touch the cleaning chemicals, she mans the front desk, deciding whom to let in with the buzzer, requesting identification, and negotiating rates. Mia starts school, practices her English writing, and befriends "the weeklies" - motel residents who rent by the week. She experiences prejudices at every turn - from her classmates' assumption that she is a math whiz, to voiced opinions that Chinese maids are robbing their employers and that in China all they do is spit into the dirt (her parents are both skilled engineers). Mia finds her (English) voice, and takes prejudice head-on, dreaming of ways to escape the poverty she can already see is a cycle, while her parents court disaster by offering fellow immigrants in desperate circumstances refuge at the motel. Such an important, accessible glimpse of the immigrant experience, and based on the actual experiences of the author as a child.

Jun 3, 10:44pm Top

Happy new thread!

Jun 4, 8:50am Top

>20 AMQS: That was a good one -- glad you enjoyed it!

Jun 4, 8:43pm Top

I work closely with K-12 educators here in Virginia and many of them have said how stressful their lives have become. New initiatives, increased responsibilities, but no effort to increase pay and working conditions. We need to see ALL teachers as professionals who deserve a living wage that rewards them for their knowledge and expertise. Somehow, we have come to see them as missionaries willing to take what we give. Sorry...I know you know all this.

Do what you have to do so you can rest and relax on your break!

Jun 6, 9:48am Top

>14 AMQS: I would like a chance to meet, Anne, please let me know if the plan works out.

Jun 9, 1:44pm Top

>21 figsfromthistle: Thank you, Anita!

>22 foggidawn: It was a good one, wasn't it, foggi?

>23 witchyrichy: Yes, Karen, that's just it. New mandates and initiatives, so much data collection and reporting, testing, and generally many increased responsibilities that are not actually teaching. That take away from teaching. Classroom teachers are crushed by these responsibilities, and while I have different obligations, etc, I don't bear the same burden as classroom colleagues. I am very protective of my break time. I have lots of school tasks I say I am going to do, but honestly I try not to:)

>24 FAMeulstee: It would be lovely to meet, Anita! I have no idea what the family will have planned for us, but if I discover we'll be visiting The Netherlands I will let you know - maybe via FB Messenger?

Jun 9, 2:02pm Top

36. Agent Zigzag: A true Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre, audiobook narrated by John Lee

This was a terrific read about an incorrigible but charming crook and con man turned Nazi spy turned British double agent during WWII. The book begins with Eddie Chapman jumping out a closed window of a Jersey restaurant as police close in, leaving his uninformed girlfriend astonished. Chapman is serving a lengthy jail term in Jersey when the island is invaded and occupied by Nazis. Eventually he is transported to a grim Paris prison, from which he is extracted by the Abwehr, the German intelligence service that decides he might have potential. Throughout the war, no one is quite sure what to make of Chapman, or is completely sure of where his loyalties lie, and he never quite abandons his criminal inclinations. This is a fascinating history that is thoroughly researched (files were only recently declassified). John Lee's narration was amazing, but I also had a print copy of the book on hand so I could reread passages and look at the photos also included. A terrific and unbelievably true addition to the body of WWII stories.

Jun 9, 2:15pm Top

37. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson writes like an angel, even as her beautiful, spare prose and verse break your heart. This book follows August's girlhood in Brooklyn, arriving with her father and younger brother from Tennessee after her mother's descent into madness. Her watchful eyes notice Brooklyn - the flight of the white families as black people move in, the area's descent into drugs and crime and despair. She finds a place with three other girls: Gigi, Sylvia, and Angela, who are like a tribe as they grow up, hopeful and protective. But their neighborhood is a dangerous place for girls like them, and each will be shaped by their girlhood experiences. An easy (quick) difficult read, but a beautiful one. I am a huge fan of Jacqueline Woodson, who is a National Book Award winner, Newbery Honor writer, and the current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. While Ms. Woodson writes beautifully and powerfully for children, Another Brooklyn is definitely an adult book.

Jun 9, 3:58pm Top

>25 AMQS: Sounds good, Anne, just tried to send a message via FB messenger :-)

Jun 9, 4:16pm Top

Hi Anne, hope you have a good break and the chance to recharge. I love the topper: I wonder how do the birds manage to avoid a crash?

>5 AMQS: Sounds like fun. I'm trying to encourage a ( little bit) reluctant reader who has English as 2nd language, maybe this would be a good option.

Jun 9, 10:42pm Top

Oh good, Anne. Nice reviews of Agent Zigzag and Another Brooklyn. I loved both of those. Chapman made me think of an Errol Flynn swashbuckling character - but it was all true! Both authors have become “trusted” for me - I’ve enjoyed every one of theirs I’ve read. I just bought another Macintyre today at a book fair.

Jun 10, 3:59pm Top

I love Woodson, Anne. Brown Girl Dreaming was my favorite, but Another Brooklyn was wonderful as well.

Front Desk and Agent Zigzag sound good as well.

Enjoy summer! When I was on vacation, one night I talked about teachers and their experiences if they are not protected by unions; my dinner partners were surprised. :) I am so grateful for our strong union in Minn.

Jun 13, 3:11pm Top

>28 FAMeulstee: Yay, we're connected! I would love to meet you, Anita! I've never been to the Netherlands before. If we can't meet this trip Stelios and I will just have to plan another trip!

>29 charl08: Hi Charlotte! I hope it can encourage your reluctant reader - you never know when a book will reach a reader in just the right way.

>30 jnwelch: Hi Joe! Which one did you get? I've been eying his other books - looks like he writes a lot of WWII history. And like you I have loved everything I've read by Jacquline Woodson.

>31 BLBera: Hi Beth! Our union is a mixed bag, but mostly a force for good. I'm grateful for the protections, that's for sure.

Jun 14, 3:47pm Top

In between travels - just got back from Vail with the Chorale, and headed off to Germany on Tuesday.

38. Otherwood by Pete Hautman

This is a Battle of the Books selection for 2020, and I am very curious to see what my students think of it. I'm not even sure what I think of it. 9 year-old Stuey lives with his mother and his grandfather in their old house at the edge of a wood that used to be a family-run golf course. Grandpa Zach hints at secrets and ghosts, and staunchly claims that secrets and lies can break the world apart. These words take on a dizzying significance when Stuey meets Elly Rose. They share a birthday, a love of fantasy, and Elly Rose declares them soulmates. It turns out they also share a complicated and contentious family history, which creates hard feelings between their parents. Stuey and Elly Rose are discussing it in their secret place - a deadfall area they call Castle Rose - when Elly Rose disappears right in front of Stuey's eyes. The aftermath of this is what you would expect when a community loses a child: investigations, searches, grief, despair, endless interviews for Stuey. But on a return to their special place, he finds Elly - and she says HE has gone missing, the community in upheaval and his mom bereft with grief. A thoughtful, emotional story of concurrent realities and how confronting lies and secrets from an ugly past can help heal what's broken.

Jun 14, 5:48pm Top

Where in Germany are you going, Anne?

Jun 14, 10:31pm Top

Micky, we’ll be in Munich most of the time- that’s where my brother, sister in law, my newborn nephew, and my mom live. But toward the end of the month we’ll travel by train to Münster for a few days to visit our exchange student and her family. We’re excited!

Jun 15, 5:08am Top

Happy summer break- if that is what it's called. Glad your August self will be pleased with your hard work at this end of the proceedings!!

Jun 15, 12:28pm Top

Safe travels, Anne.

Jun 15, 3:59pm Top

>32 AMQS: I got his Operation Mincemeat, Anne. I've been hearing nothing but positives about it.

Have a great trip to Germany!

Jun 17, 2:24am Top

>36 LovingLit: Thanks, Megan! It IS called summer break, and it's the BEST! I have found that I need to leave detailed notes for myself from the end of one school year to the beginning of another, or I won't remember what I did. My August self will be glad I did the work I did in May:)

>37 BLBera: Thank you, Beth!

>38 jnwelch: I'll like to hear what you think of it, Joe! Thanks for your travel wishes - we're very excited!

Edited: Jun 17, 2:40am Top

39. The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

This is a heavy novel for middle grade readers that focuses on the plight of India's homeless children. Viji runs away from home with her sister Rukku after their father - long abusive to their mother, turns his fists on them. She has grand plans of earning an independent living and becoming a teacher, but is soon caught in the spiraling misery and despair of homelessness. Viji and Rukku are lucky enough to run into two boys - Arul and Muthi, who teach them the business of wading through rubbish heaps looking for materials to scavenge. The boys are something of a miracle, and the four of them form a family, sharing what little they earn, and helping each other with the filth, exploitation, exposure, crime, and danger of life on the streets. Particularly vulnerable is Rukku, who has an intellectual and developmental disability. She requires the most care, protection, and patience, but has the most loyalty, honesty, and love to give. A heartbreaking and hopeful story. The author draws on memories of children she met in India, but gives voice to children living in extreme poverty and precariousness worldwide, including here in the US.

Jun 17, 10:59am Top

Safe travels to Germany, Anne. I have a warm place in my heart for Deutschland since I lived there as a child, was married there, and our first child was born there. I wish I could go back to the two areas I’ve lived in. When we returned there (in 2006), we were in Hamburg and traveled by car up to Denmark. Have fun and give that new baby lots of cuddles.

Jun 17, 11:08pm Top

Thank you, Donna - yes, I imagine you do have a warm place in your heart got Deutschland! What happy memories. I can't wait to cuddle that baby!!

Edited: Jun 18, 1:28am Top

40. Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

I knew by page 14 that I would love this book and I did. Livy returns to Australia to visit her Gran after 5 years. She discovers Bob in the closet, waiting all that time for her to come back. Bob is a not-zombie-possible-chicken, and Livy and Bob try to understand his particular brand of magic and figure out how to get him back home. A sweet and lovely book that touches the essence of childhood, magic, fairy tales, and vulnerability.

Jun 18, 5:55am Top

>43 AMQS: Aw, I loved this one, too!!

Jun 18, 6:36am Top

Happy Belated New Thread, Anne! And happy travels to Germany. I really want to get back there, one of these days.

Jun 19, 2:33pm Top

Adding Bob to my list.

And, I read Uprooted at your recommendation and LOVED it! It was intense with the insidious evil of the Wood and the way it penetrated the psyche of the people. Agnieszka was a strong and complex female protagonist. Thanks for your review!

Jun 20, 1:24pm Top

>35 AMQS: Happy travels Anne! I hope you enjoy Münster. J has spent four weeks there in total, on two different exchange trips. He enjoyed it a lot, apart from the food in his first host family: from what I could make out they mainly ate cheese, ham, salami and bread in different combinations and J was not impressed. (His second host family was of North African extraction and the food was much more to his taste).

Nice to see you have got to the end of term. Mr SandDune has got until 4th July, and that's considered early in U.K. terms: a lot of schools don't break up until around 20th July, something like that. But then they don't go back until the beginning of September, which I think is later than you?

Jun 22, 4:54pm Top

>44 scaifea: It's a sweet one isn't it, Amber?

>45 msf59: Hi Mark! We're having a lovely time, and we're having good weather aside from some severe thunderstorms each evening. Looks like hot and dry weather next week. It's wonderful to visit family and get to know the new baby:) .

>46 witchyrichy: Oh, Karen, I'm so glad! Did you read Spinning Silver? It was so highly recommended here - I absolutely loved it and bought it as a gift for so many people. It led me to Uprooted. So glad you liked it!

>47 SandDune: Thanks, Rhian! We're looking forward to Münster next week, and really enjoying Munich in the meantime. I can relate to J's food impressions - German food is not my favorite, though some of it is excellent. Munich has had such an influx of refugees in recent years that the result is absolutely delicious international cuisine. We just cooked our "normal" food when we had our German exchange student last year, and she seemed to really like it (she said she loves Asian food above all else). She said she herself doesn't especially like German food, and aside from German bread, didn't particularly miss anything.

Mr. SandDune is getting so close! I'll bet he is ready for a break. I had no idea U.K. schools went so late, though I know that German schools do. Our poor exchange student hardly had any break last year because we start so early and her German school ends so late. And yes - we do go back very early. When I was in school myself we went back after Labor Day in early September, but now it's early August - so we can have more instruction before standardized testing, I suppose. My first day back is August 2 (AAAAAACKKKK!) and students are back August 14.

Jun 22, 5:25pm Top

41. Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh

I'm sure I share this problem with most LTers: I need to consider the clothes I pack for a trip maybe a couple of days or a week before I go, but I think about the books for several weeks. They need to be big (fewer books) and good but not so good I can't leave them behind, and not too heavy content-wise. I thought Leopard at the Door would fit the bill perfectly. But I can't decide how I feel about it yet. It was definitely an absorbing story that kept the pages turning, and it swept me away to a new place (1950s Kenya). It made me think - in a good way - and feel - a lot.

Rachel is returning at 17 I think to Kenya, having spent the previous 6 years at an English boarding school. She dearly misses her Kenyan home - a remote farm where life is hard but comfortable - and the numerous farm and household servants who love and care for her. But she returns to a Kenya roiling with violence and political tensions, a British colonial force maintaining a vicious facade of superior occupation, and a new, harsh woman taking the place of her beloved late mother. The brutality of the book is quite hard to take in places, though I have no doubt it accurately represents actual events during this turbulent time. So while the violence was off-putting at times, the story clearly illuminated how fiction can make readers more aware, awake (woke?), and more empathetic citizens. I really admire the sensitivity and skill with which Ms. McVeigh portrays Rachel's developing awareness of the thousands of micro-aggressions that pierce the soul of a subjugated people, in addition to the more obvious and overt systemic racism and associated cruelties. Rachel walks a fine line of compassion and danger, navigating multiple menaces that include an awful stepmother figure, a leering and brutal District Officer, and the very real threat to the Kikuyu laborers of the farm as well as her own life and property. Again, not sure how I feel about the book, but if you want fiction that makes you think and feel and learn, this is a good bet.

Jun 23, 9:18am Top

Happy new thread!

Edited: Jun 23, 5:30pm Top

Thanks, Chelle!

Jun 25, 11:35am Top

Just added Spinning Silver to my list. Thanks for the recommendation.

Saw your picture of the family in Germany by the little free library. Looks like you are having a wonderful time!

Jun 25, 4:27pm Top

Glad to hear you're having a fantastic time on your trip, Anne. Hopefully the weather continues to be good. :)

Jun 25, 6:21pm Top

>49 AMQS: Sounds like a good one, Anne.

It sounds like you are having a great time. Safe travels.

Jul 3, 5:09pm Top

>52 witchyrichy: Hi Karen, it has been a great trip! We're looking forward to coming home tomorrow, but we have really enjoyed sightseeing and visiting family.

>53 MickyFine: Hi Micky! The weather got very hot - you may have heard about the major heatwave Europe had - but after a few very hot days it has cooled down a bit. We altered a few plans this weekend but that only meant exchanging a few water castles for relaxed time at home visiting with new/old friends :) Hope you are well.

>54 BLBera: It was a good one, Beth. A good, chunky one to bring on a trip and not bring home, if you know what I mean:)

We are having a wonderful time. Even in the two weeks we have been here my baby nephew has changed so much. It has been wonderful to get to know him a little. We are so lucky - they are coming to Colorado for Christmas (my sister in-law's entire family is also coming) and we are so excited. But little Falcon will be an entirely different baby at Christmas, so we are thrilled to get to see him now. We're relaxing in our borrowed apartment tonight before flying home tomorrow.

Jul 3, 5:12pm Top

42. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

A foodie novel of the upper midwest comprised of loosely connected vignettes surrounding Eva, her extraordinarily sophisticated palate, and her humble but rock-solid food instincts. Funny and sad, and very unique. Good vacation read.

Jul 4, 11:36am Top

Wishing you safe travels, Anne, and excellent plane reads. :)

Jul 4, 11:40am Top

Also wishing you safe travels, Anne.

Happy July 4th.

Jul 6, 10:54am Top

>56 AMQS: I remember liking but not loving Kitchens of the Midwest. I think the food was what kept me reading.

Hope you are home safe. Christmas will come soon enough but you are right about the baby not being the same. Glad you had a chance to get to know him now.

Jul 6, 3:56pm Top

>57 MickyFine: Thank you, Micky! Our trip home was uneventful, which is exactly what it should be! I timed my reading pretty well also - finished a book with about 30 minutes to spare!

>58 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul! We did indeed arrive home safely, and went to bed just as fireworks were starting all over the city along with a terrific thunderstorm. Not the most patriotic of holidays, I'll admit...

>59 witchyrichy: I'm with you: I liked it but didn't love it. I felt a little guilty as I was reading it. I gave it as a birthday gift to my mom last year after reading rave reviews about it at the Tattered Cover from staff. She gave it back to me to read, but I see now it is definitely not her kind of book!

Yes, we are home safe and slowly recovering from jet lag. It takes awhile, so we're trying to get back into the groove without pushing too hard. We miss our family in Germany very much, and look forward to seeing everyone at Christmas. We went to Munster for a long weekend to stay with the family of our exchange student, and that was wonderful, as was Munster. They will be coming on a grand US tour that will end up in Denver in early August, so we look forward to seeing them even sooner!

Thanks, everyone for the wishes and messages! As you know, I am perpetually behind, but plan to make the rounds to your threads very soon! XOXO

Jul 6, 4:03pm Top

43. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

I enjoyed (liked but didn't love?) this novel that alternated back and forth between France during WWI and France a few years after WWII, telling the story of Eve, a fresh-faced, stammering, unlikely spy and member of the Alice Network of female WWI spies, and Charlie, young, pregnant, and haunted by the disappearance and presumed death of her beloved cousin Rose during WWII. Stories about the wars are often harrowing, and this one was no exception. I faulted the book at times for straining credulity, but it was redeemed when I read the author's historical notes, and was impressed by how many of the book's central plot points are actual historical fact. A good, if imperfect look at a lesser-known tale celebrating women taking incredible risks for their countries during some of the darkest periods of our recent history.

Edited: Jul 6, 5:04pm Top

44. Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

If you love middle-grade novels that weave fantasy with history and terrific storytelling, then you need to read Jonathan Auxier. I realize I've read everything he's written: The Night Gardener I loved for its celebration of stories, its historical atmosphere, and its genuine scariness (there are kids who LOVE scary stories, and too many of them are not truly scary - this one is). I loved Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes and especially its companion novel Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, two adventure/fantasy books that also celebrate books and stories. Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster I love best of all, and it will likely be a 2019 favorite.

If you have never climbed inside a chimney, perhaps you are wondering what it's like. Imagine holding an open book. Maybe you are holding one right now? Imagine a black tunnel exactly that size - an endless, winding tunnel with no light at the end.
Imagine that the walls of the tunnel are sharp enough to cut your skin bloody. Imagine some of the walls will crush you if you touch them wrong. Imagine some of the walls are on fire.
Now imagine placing a cloth over your head.
Take a deep breath, if you still can.
And crawl inside.

Little Nan Sparrow lived a hard but charmed life with the Sweep. He cared for her, kept her safe, shared their paltry food, and told her stories, including Story Soup, which they had on nights there was nothing to eat, but was somehow comforting and nourishing. But one day the Sweep disappeared, leaving Nan with nothing but a little bit of char, mysteriously warm. Nan at 6 years old becomes indentured to a brutal master and is a climber - a child that climbs from a hearth through to the chimney on the roof, cleaning while he goes - a very real and very dangerous job for poor and orphaned children in Victorian times. Nan becomes stuck in a chimney fire and is saved by her little piece of char, which comes to life when it catches fire. Nan and Charlie - her bit of char fashions a body for himself - make a life together. Nan scours storybooks to see if she can find anything like Charlie, and comes across a golem - monsters and protectors formed of clay and designed for obsolescence. The obsolescence part worries Nan - the idea that Charlie exists to fulfill a purpose and will die when he does fills her with fear and dread, and she devotes her life and energies to protecting her protector.

"That's what it is to care for a person," Toby said. There was not even a hint of mocking in his voice. "If you're not afraid, you're not doing it right."

Love and friendship is woven throughout the book, a heartwarming counterpoint to the bleakness of Nan's life on the streets of Victorian London. The book is pretty much perfect - adventure, harrowing danger, historical setting, and love. Like Mr. Auxier's other novels, it celebrates stories and their power, and has references to Dickens, Tolkein, Shelley (Frankenstein), William Blake, The Water Babies, and more. I loved it.

Jul 6, 5:34pm Top

>62 AMQS: Ooh, you got me bad with that one!

Edited: Jul 7, 10:18pm Top

>63 foggidawn: Oh foggi, I'm glad! I hope you love it as much as I did!

Jul 9, 4:17pm Top

Welcome home, Anne. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip. I remember liking Kitchens of the Great Midwest as well.

I read some of the stories from Toys Go Out to Scout today, and she loved them! She wanted the other books as well. She has a birthday in a month, so that will be a good present.

Jul 9, 4:18pm Top

Auxier goes on my WL.

Jul 9, 6:19pm Top

Beth, that makes me so happy! The chapter with Lumphy and the washing machine had us all rolling on the floor. I hope both you and Scout love the books as much as we do. I think you will love Jonathan Auxier's books, particularly Sweep. I have been thinking about it a lot.

Jul 10, 12:48am Top

Welcome home, Anne! Loved your photos!

Jul 10, 7:45am Top

She did love the chapter about the washing machine. She said her buddies that sleep in the cradle play at night as well. :)

Jul 10, 4:34pm Top

Anne, I'm glad you are home again and that you had a wonderful time in Germany. I loved all the pictures you posted on FB. I would love to visit there again someday. I have similar feelings about The Alice Network in that I didn't love it but still enjoyed the story. These days a book has to be exceptional to get a - !Wow! - from me.

I hope you have a few weeks off before you have to return to school. My daughter-in-law Rebecca's sister just got a new job as school librarian at Bromley East Charter School in Brighton, CO. My son is very happy as that is where Hope will be starting school next month. They live about 20 minutes away so he's hoping she can get some rides from Aunt Rachel!

Jul 11, 6:54pm Top

>62 AMQS: Yes, please: "If you love middle-grade novels that weave fantasy with history and terrific storytelling, then you need to read Jonathan Auxier." Have added all of them to my list!

Jul 12, 10:14pm Top

I am sure that you've all recovered from your jet lag by now and can enjoy a wonderful weekend.

Jul 14, 4:41pm Top

>68 Copperskye: Thank you, Joanne! I hope you are having a wonderful summer. We're enjoying the cooler temps today before the return to 90s next week!

>69 BLBera: I'm sure they do, Beth! Both of my girls loved their childhood stories, but Marina was particularly appreciative of childhood's magic. She's working on that topic for her college Common App essay :)

>70 Donna828: Oh Donna, that's great news! Besides the possibility of a ride to school, having someone who already loves your child in a school is a good thing. Congratulations to her! We had a great time in Germany, and I guess we were most surprised by Munster. It doesn't even appear in several of the Germany travel books we got at the library, but of every place we went, it's the place we think we could happily live. It was just lovely. We're told it rains a lot there, but it was hot and sunny when we were there. Marina and I were told the same thing about Wales, as we happily explored a country we both adored in warm temperatures and dazzling sunshine. We think they're just trying to "talk down" the places so people won't come. Something Coloradans should have caught on to long ago;) . Speaking of CO, are you due for a visit soon?

>71 witchyrichy: Yay, Karen! I hope you love them as much as I did! Glad you have Nevermoor ready for the right time also - love those books.

>72 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul! Yes, we're having a lazy weekend, which we're quite enjoying. Hope yours was good as well.

Jul 14, 5:07pm Top

45. Lost & Found: Helping Behaviorally Challenging Students (and, While You're at it, All the Others) by Ross W. Greene, PhD

I am participating in a book study with some colleagues, including our newest mental health professionals, and we will hopefully begin to implement the system and strategies detailed in Lost & Found. Some professional learning books can be lofty or unrealistic - this one was a good read, with the both unique and very practical premise that students will do well if they can, that behavior is often the result of lagging skills for solving problems, and that addressing the skills deficit collaboratively with the student rather than addressing the behavior and imposing adult-defined, unilateral consequences will lead to lasting behavior impacts. The book is conversational, honest (the author is upfront about refining practice or even discarding ones that have proved ineffective), and very realistic. I look forward to meeting my colleagues tomorrow and discussing with them.

Related to behavior, of course, is mental health and social-emotional learning. Mental health is the latest focus for schools, and not a minute too soon. Our school has hopefully gone from famine to feast. It can be a hard school to staff because of its size (small) and location (mountain). Last year, we had a patchwork of mental health support because we could not hire anyone to fill a position, but with the passage of my district's mill levy last year, there is more money dedicated to mental health support, and our school was able to offer more FTE , and we have two people on board to support next year, and social-emotional learning will be the focus of our school's UIP (Unified Improvement Plan). It's a daunting but very meaningful journey we'll be taking together, and hopefully it will really benefit kids.

Jul 14, 5:18pm Top

46. Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow

I absolutely love this series. it is quirky, very funny, magical, and with many of the same themes that make Harry Potter so wonderful: friendship, loyalty, proving yourself while staying true to yourself, learning to use and control powers (knacks), a nuanced examination of ethics, and a dark menace with unfinished business. This is the second book of Morrigan Crow's adventures and misadventures. I absolutely cannot wait for the third.

Jul 15, 10:20am Top

>75 AMQS: This sounds like a good one, Anne.

I hope you are rested from your trip; it took me a while when I got back this time.

Jul 15, 11:50am Top

>75 AMQS: Looks like the next book is Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow, and comes out March 10th, 2020. I'm excited, too, and glad there's less than a year to wait!

Jul 15, 1:35pm Top

>77 foggidawn: Ooh, exciting! I'm waiting for my hold on the second book at the moment but glad to see there's a date for book 3. :)

Jul 16, 3:29pm Top

>74 AMQS: Too often things like mental health support and social emotional learning are left behind when there is a lack of funding and in the face of testing. It's good to hear that your community has managed to find a way to get at least some staffing to work with adults and kids. I'll be interested in hearing how it goes.

Jul 17, 1:11pm Top

>76 BLBera: Beth, the Morrigan Crow books are fantastic! Hoping they catch on at school. They're big, which can sometimes be a deterrent unless a kid is already invested in the series like HP.

>77 foggidawn: Oh foggi, that's great news! I usually place an order in April before my purchasing deadline, so I should be able to get it for my summer reading next year!

>78 MickyFine: Me too!

>79 witchyrichy: Thanks, Karen. Education is a little crazy with initiative fatigue, constantly changing technology teachers are supposed to integrate everywhere, and of course, testing. My school has an advantage, I think because we're small and relatively stable as far as staffing, students, and most importantly, leadership. We had our book study meeting Monday. I found out one of our mental health professionals will be full time, which absolutely blows my mind (he's supposed to be half-time dedicated to gen-ed students and half time dedicated to GT students) and our other mental health professional is there 3 days a week. This is huge for us. We have never had that level of support before. Our previous mental health professional came from a state (UT) that "flips" the counseling/social-emotional services model so there's more support in elementary school and a bit less at the secondary level, the idea being that increased services at younger ages prevents some of the problems that appear in HS. I think CO is late to the notion that elementary students need support. Like somehow elementary students have no mental health issues or trauma and those issues just appear in HS? I think things are slowly starting to shift and that's a good thing.

Jul 17, 1:37pm Top

Feeling a little low after visiting with an orthopedic surgeon. I have had pain in my hip for a few years now, and it is steadily getting worse. I have seen my doctor a few times, and was suggested stretches, etc. I had a hernia repaired last fall in the same area and sort of hoped that was the problem, but alas no. So now I am seeing a surgeon and have had x-rays, an arthrogram and MRI (itself an arduous process of battling with insurance). The verdict: a labral tear, which can ordinarily be fixed with surgery. But I also have a chunk of my hip bone that is actually broken off and is floating around in the front of my hip. My surgeon likens it to a rock in my shoe, and thinks it's been broken off like that for years. For that reason the joint is not as stable and as strong as it should be, and I have quite a lot of arthritis degeneration. So he thinks I will need a hip replacement surgery in the next 1-4 years, and that surgery now will not help the problem and could actually hasten the degeneration. I am 49. In the meantime: physical therapy and cortisone shots if I need them. This is not the news I was hoping to hear. And my girls tell me it is too early for wine. Alas.

Jul 17, 2:01pm Top

>81 AMQS: Sorry to hear it.

Jul 17, 3:02pm Top

>81 AMQS: Ouch! I'm certain a chunk of hip bone floating around in your body entitles you to wine at any time you want!

Jul 17, 3:28pm Top

>81 AMQS: Oh Anne. Big hugs for you and maybe a healthy dose of chocolate until it's wine o'clock.

Jul 17, 4:53pm Top

>84 MickyFine: - Pshaw. It's always wine o'clock.

It's summer! You're not working! Indulge!

But I'm sorry for that news, Anne.

Jul 18, 7:10am Top

>81 AMQS: So sorry for you, Anne.

Jul 19, 9:06pm Top

Sorry to hear it, Anne. As someone with two hip replacements, I can tell you that part’s not so bad.

Jul 20, 7:30pm Top

Anne - I'm so sorry to hear about your hip. But, the good news is that surgeries and replacements are so much better now than they used to be. My sister had her first hip replacement when she was 30; I think her second was in her 40s and she still has that one, and now she is in her 50s.

Scout is loving The Toys Go Out, and my daughter is having fun reading them. Scout's birthday is soon and I got the other ones for her.

Jul 20, 10:37pm Top

>82 foggidawn: Thank you, foggi.

>83 norabelle414: That's what I said, Nora! However, cooler/soberer heads prevailed and we went out to dinner at a cool newish food market, in part to celebrate Stelios's birthday :)

>84 MickyFine: Yes, Micky, I have been trying to cut down on sugar, but I admit to a lot of chocolate that day...

>85 katiekrug: A woman after my own heart, Katie! Thanks for your words of encouragement, and for the reminder that I should definitely savor not working! Those days are drawing to a close, unfortunately.

>86 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita. I have had encouragement here particularly about the surgery, so I am feeling somewhat braver now.

>87 jnwelch: Joe, that is really good to hear. I have heard a lot of people say they wish they hadn't waited so long. We'll see how I progress. I start physical therapy soon. I am so glad to know about your experience.

>88 BLBera: Thank you, Beth. In her 20s??? Wow. Poor girl! My surgeon did say that nowadays they last for 30 or so years, so I am good until at least my 80s. I have a hard time imagining having a hip replaced in my 80s but I know people do. Hope your sister is feeling good.
Love to hear about Toys Go Out. I think I will have to ask a teacher if I can read it aloud to her class. I miss those stories and sharing them with kids. Scout will love the others!

Jul 20, 10:43pm Top

47. Venetia by Georgette Heyer, (abridged) audiobook narrated by Richard Armitage

Richard Armitage is fantastically swoony as usual, but I admit this is not my favorite Heyer (alternate title could be: When Your Beloved is So Amazingly Debauched You Must Contrive to Ruin Your Own Reputation to Marry Him). Still, Venetia is a wonderfully strong and colorful character. Good, light listening.

Edited: Jul 20, 11:03pm Top

48. Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser

I finished this hefty book today - not quite in time for my book club yesterday, but we nevertheless had a lively discussion. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, which details Laura Ingall's Wilder's life - her pioneering and homesteading parents, and their few triumphs and many misfortunes as they moved constantly, committing themselves and their savings to claim and clear land and build a house before losing everything and following a dream somewhere else. Reading this account while remembering the Little House books was fascinating. The second half of the book was far less agreeable, though I think I can hardly fault the author - she faithfully describes LIW's life, and much of it is very ugly. One reviewer here on LT likens this book to seeing how sausage is made, particularly if the reader loves the Little House Books, which I do. Apparently neither Laura Ingalls Wilder's story nor her stories can be explained without delving deeply into her relationship with her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, who is one of my least favorite people I have ever met in a book. I am mostly glad I read the book, and very glad I finished it.

Jul 21, 4:15pm Top

49. Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood

Oh wow, what a book. A middle grade novel in verse that tells the true story of a small group of survivors adrift in a lifeboat in the North Atlantic for 13 days after their ship City of Benares was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in 1940. The book is told from the perspective of Ken Sparks, who at 13 won a place via lottery on a ship that would bring British children to safety in Canada to escape the bombings in London. He has mixed feelings about going, feeling it is a way for his stepmother to get rid of him, but soon is swept up in the excitement of the sea voyage with 90 other children. Life aboard ship is pretty grand, with sumptuous meals not seen in ration-era, hungry England for a long time, as well as toys and games. They zig-zag their way with a protective convoy until it is decided they are out of range of German U-Boats, which is precisely the time that they strike. The torpedoes, the fleeing of the ship in lifeboats, the chaos in the nighttime waters, and the desperate struggle to survive aboard the lifeboat in unimaginable conditions make for a heart-pounding, breathless read. I read the book pretty much in one sitting, and sobbed with relief and joy upon rescue. The book is thoroughly researched, with pages of notes, original sources, recommended reading, interview notes, and photographs of the ship, the lifeboat, and Ken Sparks and other characters in the book. Highly recommended.

Jul 21, 4:29pm Top

>81 AMQS: Oh, OUCH, Anne! I’m sorry to hear that! I have some arthritis in my hips (diagnosed when I had a bout of bursitis a couple years ago) and I know that hip pain can be awful. And a bone chip rolling around....yikes... I’m glad to hear the supportive comments regarding replacement and hope you can go longer without having to deal with it.

So nice to get a slight break today to our heat wave. That rainstorm yesterday was something. We were in Denver and just got back to the car when it started and it was an exciting drive home.

Jul 21, 5:31pm Top

Anne - You got me again with LIfeboat 12; it sounds great.

My sister had a congenital hip problem, which is why she was so young with her first replacement.

Jul 23, 12:10am Top

>93 Copperskye: Joanne, I'm glad you came through the storm okay. It was pretty apocalyptic here! We had more rain today but nothing violent.

Sorry you're having hip trouble also. I have had a lot of encouraging words about hip replacement, so I am feeling a bit better. Hope yours isn't too bad. Do you do anything for your hip pain? I start PT next week.

>94 BLBera: Beth, it is a great one. A little-known WWII story told in a wonderfully accessible and engaging way - not something I often say about a novel in verse! Hope your sister's hip lasts a long, long time.

Jul 23, 1:19am Top

50. The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle

The beginning of a middle grade fantasy series set on the Irish island of Annanmore. Fionn and his sister Tara arrive on Arranmore to spend the summer with their grandfather. There's something about Arranmore - it seems to whisper to Fionn, and weird things happen. It turns out that his grandfather is the island's Storm Keeper, and it is time for the island to choose his successor. Meanwhile an ancient evil is also awaiting Fionn to help her awaken and resume her awful war.

I didn't enjoy this book as much as I hoped to. I felt the magic and folklore to be confusing and over-muddied. Characters were beyond nasty before the reader has a chance to understand why that might be, and I found that off-putting. The book ends with the expectation of more adventures and battles, but I don't know that I enjoyed it enough to read on, although this book was very highly praised in School Library Journal, Booklist, and more.

Jul 23, 1:35am Top

51. Mac Undercover by Mac Barnett

This is a Colorado Children's Book Award nomination for 2020, and it is precisely the kind of book kids love: fast-paced, humorous, and liberally sprinkled with goofy illustrations. Mac recounts his childhood in the 1980s, living with his mom and taking care of chores.
Since it was just the two of us, I had a lot of responsibilities: I did the dishes, packed my lunches, cooked our dinners, washed the laundry, dusted, vacuumed, and cleaned out our rabbits' litter boxes.
(I wanted a dog. We had rabbits instead.)
It was also my responsibility to answer the phone, even though it was never for me.
One afternoon the phone rang, and it was for me.
It was the Queen of England.

What follows is a silly romp through Europe in search of some missing crown jewels. These books ought to be a hit with elementary readers, and a good choice for reluctant readers.

Edited: Jul 23, 1:11pm Top

Apparently neither Laura Ingalls Wilder's story nor her stories can be explained without delving deeply into her relationship with her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, who is one of my least favorite people I have ever met in a book. I am mostly glad I read the book, and very glad I finished it.

I liked Prairie Fires, too, Anne. But I could've done with a whole lot less Rose, who's one of my least favorite people I've ever met in a book, too. Maybe it makes for a more "complete" book, but I would've been fine with Caroline Fraser and her editor X'ing out most of the Rose material. I think the book would've been better for it.

I never read the Little House books when I was young, and my wife hadn't either. So now she's reading them aloud for the two of us. We're on #8 or 9. Really good - it's been a fun shared experience.

Jul 23, 1:55pm Top

I felt the same way about Rose Wilder Lane! She was an interesting person to read about, but so completely unpleasant!

Edited: Jul 24, 2:54pm Top

>98 jnwelch: I love that, Joe! The Little House books were such a huge part of my childhood and my daughters'. I feel a little sad knowing "the inside story' - but it doesn't change the magic they brought to us when we were young.

>99 foggidawn: She was awful! I feel for her knowing she suffered from mental illness. I think it is really hard to get care in 2019, so I can't imagine how she must have suffered, but still she was extremely unpleasant.

Jul 24, 3:08pm Top

I am having a good reading month, and have made major progress through the box of books I brought home from school for summer reading.

52. Refugee by Alan Gratz

Oh wow, is this ever an important book for kids. Three refugees' stories are told in alternating, short, cliffhanging chapters: Josef, whose Jewish family was ordered to leave Germany in 1939; Isabel with her family and her neighbors fleeing Cuba in a makeshift boat in 1994; and Mahmoud and his family fleeing Syria over land and over sea in 2015. Mr. Gratz somehow finds a way to bring their stories together in the end. Nothing is sugar-coated here. This is an excellent book for readers 5th grade and up who may want to know more about refugees. The book does an excellent job of showing why desperate families may have no choice but a desperate escape, and that the refugees simply want to live, not to take anything away from anyone. The stories are based on real events, and the book includes maps and resources for kids who want to help. I am so thrilled this is a Colorado Children's Book Award nominee for 2020.

Jul 24, 3:32pm Top

53. Krista Kim-Bap by Angela Ahn

Another great read. This one is a good addition to the friendship-changing, pre-adolescent, figuring out who you are genre. Often these books focus on a child who has always had that one friend, and then that one friend starts making new friends or hanging out with the popular kids, leaving the main character hurt, left out, and more alone than ever. This one swaps the roles a bit. Krista has been best friends with Jason since they were both three years old. Now in 5th grade, she is included in the popular girls' circle, leaving Jason hurt and Krista torn. In addition to the growing up/evolving friendship story at the book's heart, Krista is also navigating her Korean-Canadian heritage, and figuring out how to balance her looks, background, and interests with both western and Korean influences at school, at home, and in popular media. When Krista has to figure out how to make things right with Jason, she has help from an unexpected source: her severe, traditional Korean grandmother. I really enjoyed this one, and only wish it included recipes!

Jul 27, 11:08am Top

>81 AMQS: Oh dear! Sorry to hear about your hip. I have my first appt with the orthopedist on Tuesday. I've been limping around with a bad hip for awhile but it has gotten to the point where I'm using a cane most of the time. I am a bit older than you (57) yet still young for a replacement. Hoping for a cortisone shot but if surgery would make it better, I may just go that way. For now, I'm struggling with the prescription NSAID they gave me. After a week, it made me dizzy so I stopped taking it yesterday and am back to my OTC ibuprofen and lots of ice. If I have to be sitting, I need to be able to read!

Jul 30, 2:22pm Top

>101 AMQS:, >102 AMQS: These sound great, Anne. I'm adding them to my list. I found a couple of chapter books for Scout, and my daughter was reading the first two chapters to her because they had to leave to get groceries. Well, after two chapters, Scout wanted to continue reading, but her mom held firm. Scout said, bitterly, "I wish I knew how to read."

I have a feeling it won't be long!

When does school start for you. A month and counting for me. :(

Jul 30, 9:05pm Top

>103 witchyrichy: Yikes, Karen, i'm sorry. Were you on Mobic/Meloxicam? My PT mentioned it, and Marina was on it for a couple of years for her RA. I'm hanging in there with ibuprofen and ice. I started physical therapy yesterday, and my therapist was very positive.

>104 BLBera: Oh no, it won't be - wanting to is the biggest part! I am proud of the girls for so many reasons, but I am really thrilled they both love to read.

Enjoy your month, Beth. I go back to school Friday :( It just doesn't seem possible. Students start August 14. Our district's calendar is weird this year. Teachers were supposed to go back to school after winter break on January 2, but the district allowed schools to vote on exchanging August 7 for January 2. My school voted for an August 7 start, and since librarians come back three days before teachers, that pushed my start to August 2. People will wonder why there are claw marks going up Highway 285 on Friday.

Jul 31, 12:35pm Top

>105 AMQS: Going back to school in August just seems wrong but I'm very used to our Canadian system which (unless there's year-round schooling going on) tends towards the September-June cycle. Maybe pack some treats in your lunch on Friday. ;)

Aug 1, 11:05pm Top

>81 AMQS: I am sorry to hear about your health issue, Anne.

I made a pact with a colleague at work yesterday that we will both attempt to lose weight and be healthier from this coming Monday.

He goes back to Ireland in October for his sister's wedding and doesn't want to quite stand out so much in the crowd!

Target for me is to lose 13kg or 2 stones/28 lbs in that period and to be able to walk up the four flights of stairs to the project office without thinking that the world is coming to an end!

Have a great weekend.

Aug 4, 9:51am Top

>105 AMQS: :( Boo to the end of summer. We need to retire.

Aug 4, 10:19pm Top

>106 MickyFine: it seems wrong to us, too, Micky, although finishing in May does not seem wrong:) When I was growing up we started in September, but as long as my kids have been in school we've been starting in August.

>107 PaulCranswick: Paul, good luck with your goal - I think it's brilliant to team up with a colleague. I need to do something similar - Stelios is already so fit and committed to exercise, etc that he's not a great partner in that regard. I would love to work with someone with similar goals and lack of experience as me:) . Paul, I hope you have a great week!

>108 BLBera: It is never getting easier to end a summer and begin a school year, is it, Beth? I fantasize a lot about retirement, but with at least 5 more years of college ahead of us it is not in the near future. Do you have plans to retire or a target year?

It seemed ridiculous to start my school year/contract on a Friday, but since we didn't have any travel plans for the weekend it was actually nice - I got to dip a toe in, so to speak, and then have a weekend. Students start this year on a Wednesday (Aug 14). In the past few years they've started on Thursdays and I have loved it - it kind of eases us into the school year. Beth, I hope you thoroughly enjoy your remaining weeks off, but I'm guessing that like most teachers you're filling your days with appointments and errands.

Aug 4, 10:27pm Top

I can't believe you are back at school already, Anne--although I think my sister has to be back in another week in Kansas. Out here, South Bay went back in mid-July (one year-round schedule) while San Diego City Schools just let out on the 19th and won't be back until after Labor Day.

Sweep was a book bullet. Our library has it but is undergoing a system change and I can't put anything on hold right now. Frustrating!

Aug 6, 8:08am Top

>105 AMQS: Boo for going back to school so early! Nonetheless, may it go as smoothly as possible

Aug 6, 2:54pm Top

Spent the morning at school and now feel virtuous. :) You start REALLY early. I will be spending a lot of time at school during the next couple of weeks.

Aug 14, 11:54am Top

I just read one that reminded me of you, Anne, Weird Little Robots - a great read about girls who are interested in science and who don't fit in. It was charming and will go on Scout's shelf. The girls in the story are eleven, but I'd say third graders would probably like it.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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