Sunday, September 23, 2012

Devil's Pass by Sigmund Brouwer

Devil's Pass is another novel from the Seven The Series set that I am currently reading and I have to say so far it is my favourite. This novel features Jim Webb, he is the troubled 17 year old grandson who left home to escape his step fathers abuse. Even though you can see flashes of anger and rage in him, deep down you know that Jim is a great kid who was raised properly. Jim's mission was to travel first to Phoenix and then to the Far North to travel the Canol Trail. Jim is full of confidence that he can do whatever is asked of him, but he is very unsure of why his grandfather has him doing this. Jim was close to his grandfather, but he never told him about what was happening at home because he was trying to protect his mother. Jim meets up with his tour guide George and the two form an instant bond. George reminds Jim very much of his grandfather and he finds himself talking to George about many things which makes him realize how much he misses his grandfather. Along the Canol Trail Jim faces dangerous wildlife, bullies and such beautiful landscape. Here, as with all the books, Jim learns more about his grandfather and himself. I have not read any books by Sigmund Brouwer, but I am going to have to find some. I really liked his writing style and how he developed his story.

Last Message by Shane Peacock

The Last Message is another of the books in the!/ that I am working my way through. Last Message features the 15 year old grandson who is from Buffalo. Adam is an average boy. He has a girlfriend, plays football and gets ok grades. He knows he can do better at everything but he's not sure how to go about getting it. He is hoping that the mission his grandfather has left him will show him how to be a better person. Adam's assignment is to go to France and right some wrongs from his grandfather's past. While there, he learns many things about both his grandfather and himself. I really liked the parallel characteristics between his grandfather's past and Adam's present. Both characters are not without fault or flaws.
I really enjoyed the historical aspects of this book. Adam travels to France and relives some of his grandfathers adventures during World War Two. The challenges he faces seem a little bit unrealistic, but that is why this book will be appealing to kids, especially boys.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ink Me by Richard Scrimger

Ink Me is the third book I've read in the Seven the Series group of books. Ink Me tells the story of "Bunny" whose real name is Bernard. After his grandfather died, Bunny's task was to get a tattoo, but this really confuses him. He doesn't really understand why he needs to get this and how it will help his grandfather, but because the rest of his cousins and his brother are completing their task, Bunny does too. After Bunny gets his tattoo, things don't become any clearer to him. He finds himself with a new friend who introduces him to a whole 'gang' of friends and suddenly Bunny finds himself with a posse. Many of the things his new friends talk about Bunny doesn't understand, but he tries to join the conversation the best way he can. As the story progresses, Bunny gets in over his head, but he really doesn't know what to do, all he can do is live by his grandfather's words "Together we Fly" and hope things work out. I enjoyed
this story, Bunny was a really likeable character. The story is told through his voice and words. The writing was challenging to read because the words weren't spelled conventionally, but phonetically. This meant it took me a little longer to read than normal because I couldn't just skim the words, I had to read each word. But it was very effective and gave the reader a real insight into how Bunny sees the world. I am really liking this series. I like how even though each story is unique there is a link between them all with the characters. It is such a neat concept. I can't wait to hear how kids like these books.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Wonder by R.J. Palacio with updates

After reading all summer about the Wonder of Wonder on Twitter, I finally got around to ordering it. I started it this morning and finished it this afternoon, it was that brilliant!
To any of my teacher friends reading this blog- you need to pick this book up RIGHT NOW! I would love to know what kids think of this book, I think it has potential as an amazing reading aloud- there are so many wonderful stopping points and places you could have really really deep discussions about many important topics and concepts throughout this novel. Wonder is the story of how August, a 10 year old boy with a severe facial deformity learns to deal with the harsh reality of middle school. But, it is also about how his peers, friends and family learn to deal with getting to know who someone really is outside of their appearances. This is Palacio's first novel and she has hit a homerun with it. Wonder is told mostly from August's perspective, but there are times when you hear from his sister, and a few of the other kids at school. It is really interesting to read how they all deal with his appearance and the pressure they feel by knowing him and even befriending him. This book teaches empathy, kindness and how to stand up for what you believe in. I just checked out Palacio's website and I really like the questions she has posted for discussion. This is an incredibly powerful story, I know August will live with me for a very long time. UPDATE- January Many classes have been reading and discussing Wonder. A friend of mine read it aloud to her class and then had her students create a blogpost about the book. She shared one amazing post with me, and I had to share it here. You can check out Mackenzie's thoughts about the book But you also need to see the Wonder video the class made- you can see that below.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jump Cut by Ted Staunton

Jump Cut is another book in the Seven in the Series that I am working through. Jump Cut is the story of another one of David McLean's grandsons who has been sent on a mission after his death. Spencer's mission is to find an old movie star named Gloria Lorraine and get a kiss from her. Spencer is also charged with the task of filming this kiss.
Yet Spencer, who wants to be a filmmaker doesn't seem to understand the art of telling a story. He only plans to set the video up just before the kiss and leave it at that. Except Gloria Lorraine has other plans for him. Suddenly Spencer finds himself on a cross country journey into areas of Ontario that seem to have no real connection. Throughout his mission, Spencer learns more about film making, his grandfather and most importantly himself.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters Updated at bottom

Seven the Series is a new book series created by Eric Walters. The premise is that a Grandfather has recently passed away and on the day of the reading of his will, his seven grandson's are each given a task to complete. Each of the seven books in the series feature a different grandson. Each book is also written by a different author. Since the stories are about seven grandchildren, the characters pop up in different books which is a neat concept. You don't need to read these books in order, although Between Heaven and Earth does a great job setting up the story in the first few chapters. Between Heaven and Earth tells the story of the oldest grandson- DJ. He is a popular, athletic accomplished young man. Things usually come easy to him and he expects his task will be no different. DJ's challenge is to travel to Tanzania and climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. DJ knows that climbing a mountain may prove to be challenging, but he has no idea of the obstacles that will be thrown in his path as he tries to fulfil his grandfathers last wish. As with all Eric Walters stories, the characters are believable and compelling. The relationship between DJ and his grandfather is obviously very deep. DJ strives to meet his grandfather's expectations in order to honour their bond. I really enjoyed many aspects of this story, but the relationship between DJ and his grandfather were my favourite parts. I am currently working my way through the rest of the books in this series. I think it is a brillant concept. You can find more information about it here . I've decided to start off my read alouds this year with Between Heaven and Earth and so I reread this book today. I am so glad I did, I think I like it even more than I did the first time. I found myself very emotional when I read the parts about DJ and his grandfather. I was lucky to have a great relationship with my grandpa as well, and I could make many connections to how DJ was feeling. One of the tasks I'm going to ask my kids to do is to share a connection they have with someone. It will be a great way to get to know them and who is important to them. I can't wait to share this book with my class in September. Even better, it means that there are six other books my kids can pick up when we finish it- and- although I can't find much information about it- Seven the Series has sequels being published on October 1st- I cannot wait to read more about these characters.