Saturday Spotlight: Marie-Louise Gay

Saturday Spotlight

Marie Louise gay Marie-Louise Gay is a Canadian children’s book author and illustrator living in Montreal, Quebec. She has written and illustrated over 20 books for children and her website (http://marielouisegay.com) includes overviews of each of her stories, videos, resources for teachers, printables, and more.

I was very fortunate to hear her speak last October at a Professional Development conference on literature; she offered wonderful insight into her process and how teachers can encourage writing in the classroom. For today’s spotlight I am going to highlight my favourite Marie-Louise Gay books to use in the classroom: Mustafa and the Stella and Sam series. I’ve been using the Stella books for the last four years, but Mustafa is a new addition to my mentor text collection.

Mustafa Mustafa is a beautiful picture book about a young boy who moves to a new country from a home very far away. The illustrations tell the story as much as the words do, and start “before” the story begins. Mustafa’s story is about loss, hope, friendship and new beginnings. This is a perfect picture book for children to connect to who speak a different language, who have moved to a new place or who are refugees. It also helps children who have not experienced these things to connect with their peers who have, and their experiences. My students and I have had fantastic conversations about what the see in the illustrations, about how everyone is different and how we should treat others, and the amazing connections they are able to make to Mustafa and his journey.

Stella There are six Stella books and three Sam books in this lovely series about a brother and sister exploring the world around them. Stella is Sam’s big sister, and she knows everything! As they explore, Sam asks Stella all the questions. Stella answers them – whether she knows the “right” answer or not. Stella is brave, outgoing and adventurous; Sam is cautious, curious and while less outgoing then Stella, he still follows her. These books are perfect to use in lessons about questioning and imaginative writing. We always have great discussions about Stella’s answers to Sam’s questions!

Review: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Winterwood Winterwood
by Shea Ernshaw

ISBN-13: 9781534439412
Publication date: November 5th, 2019 by Simon Pulse
Purchased through Owlcrate
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Be careful of the dark, dark wood…

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

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I very much enjoyed Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw. The story takes place over less then a week, in a snowed in cottage area in the mountains. There’s a spooky,aggressive forest, a bottomless lake and a camp for wayward boys. Add in our main character Nora, and we have the makings of a moody, tense, mystery with a smaaaaall love story. Just the way I like it!

If you like character driven plots with wonderfully detailed backstory teased throughout, mysteries and only the simplest of teenage romance than I think you’ll enjoy Winterwood. The writing is beautifully descriptive and I lost myself in Nora’s witchy world. Oh yes; did I mention the witches? 😉

Review: George by Alex Gino

George George
by Alex Gino

ISBN-13: 9-780545-812542
Publication: August 2015 from Scholastic Press
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it

BE WHO YOU ARE.

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

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Librarians are wonderful people. My school librarian knows my love of YA and MG lit, and a few weeks ago put this book into my hands. She had just bought it for the school and hadn’t even put it into the system yet. She just said “read it.” So I did – finally. And oh my gosh. Beautiful. George is a fantastic book, and a great character.

I’m ashamed to admit that this is my first time reading a book with a main character who is transgender so I don’t have a lot to compare to, but I think the author did a fantastic job. If I hadn’t read the back of the book, I would have immediately assumed George was a girl in both gender and sex. Alex Gino uses “her” and “she” pronouns throughout the entire book, right form the beginning – the only thing that clued me in to the fact that George was born with a male body (besides the blurb) was the language used by friends, classmates and family in reference to George. It’s easy to see right from the first chapter who George is. She is someone who knows implicitely who she is, but being only ten, is struggling to be herself outside of her own throughts and feelings. I could and would never begin to understand the struggle of trying to explain that you are not who everyone thinks you are. Especially for a ten year old! To want everyone else to accept who she is on the inside and not what they see on the outside? George has a strong heart to not give into the fear of what others will think or say. That fear is there, of course, but she has to be true to herself first and foremost.

5 heartI loved that George had loud, outgoing support in the form of her best friend Kelly, and quiet comfortable support in her brother and principal. Mom struggles a little more, but George is her baby – it’s going to take some time. But you see the glimmer of acceptance begin. It’s inspiring to experience George’s confidence grow as she gets to let parts of true self shine through the school play and a visit to the zoo. Part of the grade six sexual health curriculum in my school board revolves around sexual identity and I think after I return this to my librarian, I’ll go strongly hint that the grade six teacher seek out this book as a read aloud.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu

Waiting On Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Rules for Stealing Stars big Rules for Stealing Stars
by Corey Ann Haydu
Publication date: September 29, 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books

Silly is used to feeling left out. Her three older sisters think she’s too little for most things — especially when it comes to dealing with their mother’s unpredictable moods and outbursts. This summer, Silly feels more alone than ever when her sisters keep whispering and sneaking away to their rooms together, returning with signs that something mysterious is afoot: sporting sunburned cheeks smudged with glitter and gold hair that looks like tinsel.

When Silly is brought into her sisters’ world, the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined. The sisters have discovered a magical place that gives them what they truly need: an escape from the complications of their home life. But there are dark truths there, too. Silly hopes the magic will be the secret to saving their family, but she’s soon forced to wonder if it could tear them apart.

Review: Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire by Jillianne Hamilton

Molly Miranda Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire
by Jillianne Hamilton

ISBN-13: 9-780993-987021
Publication: February 2015 from Tomfoolery Press
Source: Editor
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Professional, experienced contract burglar.
It’s not exactly something you can put on a business card.

Molly Miranda has made a successful living from “acquiring” valuables and delivering them to clients who pay buckets of cash for her unique services.

So what if she has to lie about her lavish lifestyle in Manhattan and her frequent trips out of the country? Molly has everything under control.

Things go astray when she knocks boots with her charming roommate right before taking off to Scotland with an untrustworthy wildcard on a job assignment that doesn’t go quite as planned.

It doesn’t help that this new partner-in-crime is super annoying. And attractive…

Join Molly on her hilarious adventures as she dodges bullets, trespasses, wears disguises, and steals her way into trouble.

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It’s rare that I take a break from reading YA and MG, but I couldn’t say no when Savvy Fox offered me an e-ARC of Jillianne Hamilton’s Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire and I am SO glad I said yes! It’s a short read, at only around 150 pages, but still. I was planning to read it in bits and pieces as a break from lesson planning and correcting. Instead, I sat down to start reading and didn’t put it down until I had hit 100% read. I read through lunch and was starving, but it was so worth it.

Molly Miranda is a professional thief. She’s hired by a middle-man (or in this case, woman) to steal items for clients. Of course, or good-looking nice-guy roommate things her parents own a ski resort and pay for her gorgeous NYC apartment, but what are a few lies between roommates? Nthing, until things heat up between them! Of course, we can’t be good chick lit with the sexy, kind-of-a-dick at first professional thief she’s hired to do an assignment with. Rhys is all charm and Scottish accent, with a head for stealing and gadgets. But he’s not the nicest in the beginning. He flips attitudes pretty fast, but it fits. Thankfully, this book is not a full on crazy love-triangle or I might not have liked it as much! I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery, thieving, car chasing and gun-slinging going on in Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire. It kept me on my toes and turning pages!

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Molly is definitely the best part of this book. Boys, guns and cars aside, we send the book in Molly’s head and it’s awesome. She’s a smart (but not good at geography), sarcastic, kind narrator who loves to steal and get paid for it. She tries the 9-5 thing and it does not go well. She has boy troubles, enemies, a best friend who’s not as straight in business (or in love, which was awesome) as you’d first expect when Molly mentions her, and a dad who can order a hit. Kind of awesome! I would have loved to read another 100 pages of Molly’s thieving ways and am hoping for a sequel!

e-ARC recieved from Savvy Fox Author Services in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!