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.

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“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Waiting On Wednesday

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

The Marvels big The Marvels
by Brian Selznick
Publication date: September 15, 2015 from Scholastic Press

Two seemingly unrelated stories – one in words, the other in pictures – come together. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle’s puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Lost Track of Time by Paige Britt

Waiting On Wednesday

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

Lost Track of Time The Lost Track of Time
by Paige Britt & Lee White (Illustrator)
Publication date: March 31, 2015 from Scholastic Press

Penelope is running out of time!

She dreams of being a writer, but how can she pursue her passion when her mother schedules every minute of her life? And how will she ever prove that writing is worthwhile if her mother keeps telling her to “get busy!” and “be more productive”?

Then one day, Penelope discovers a hole in her schedule – an entire day completely unplanned! – and she mysteriously falls into it. What follows is a mesmerizing journey through the Realm of Possibility where Penelope sets out to find and free the Great Moodler, the one person who may have the answers she seeks. Along the way, she must face an army of Clockworkers, battle the evil Chronos, take a daring Flight of Fancy, and save herself from the grip of time.

Review: Pie by Sarah Weeks

Pie Pie
by Sarah Weeks

ISBN-13: 9-780545-270113
Publication: October 2011 from Scholastic Press
Source: bought
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

When Alice’s Aunt Polly, the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous pie-crust recipe. Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinarily fat, remarkably disagreeable cat, Lardo . . . and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice.

Suddenly, the whole town is wondering how you leave a recipe to a cat. Everyone wants to be the next big pie-contest winner, and it’s making them pie-crazy. It’s up to Alice and her friend Charlie to put the pieces together and discover the not-so-secret recipe for happiness: Friendship. Family. And the pleasure of doing something for the right reason.

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I initially bought Pie to read aloud to my class – no other reason, besides the idea of a book revolving around pie appealed to the baker in me. I had so far exclusively read books that had male narrators (no real reason why, and nothing wrong with that at all) and my girl students were begging for a book with a female narrator. I had been recommended Sarah Weeks, and Pie seemed like the best choice. Before I even read the book, I used the Chocolate Cream Pie recipe inside and made one for my boyfriend (he loved it). Each chapter is started with a different pie recipe and my kids made me read each one – even though the measurements meant nothing to them.

I loved Pie. And so did my students! We were enthralled with the mystery of who owned the green Chevrolet, who broke into Polly’s pie shop, and who might want to catnap Lardo. We were enamoured with Alice and Charlie, and sad about Aunt Polly. We were made hungry from all the talk of pie, and learned some new tips and tricks for making them. We felt bad for Alice (because of her mother, and Aunt Polly) but then felt better at the end. We couldn’t figure out why Aunt Polly would leave a pie crust recipe to a cat and then all said “Ohhhhh!” at the end when we figured it all out. We were angry at Alice for comments she made to Charlie, and then were happy when things worked out.

5 heart

In Pie, Sarah Weeks tells a heartwarming story about a young girl who loses her beloved Aunt, but finds that even though she’s gone, her Aunt Polly still lingers in memories and recipes. She finds unexpected friends of both the human and cat variety, and grows her relationship with her mother. Alice’s story is interwoven with flashbacks of herself and her Aunt Polly, stories of the people who also loved her Aunt Polly and her pies, a few well-done mysteries and even a jump forward in time at the end, to see how it all turns out. I will definitely be picking up more books by Sarah Weeks, and I think my students will too.

Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves The Dream Thieves
by Maggie Stiefvater

ISBN-13: 9-780545-424943
Publication: September 2013 from Scholastic Press
Source: BEA/Scholastic/bought
Rating: 4.5 &hearts/ 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

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As some of you may remember, I loved The Raven Boys by Maggie Stievfater. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Dream Thieves – which I did, at BEA 2013 and later from Scholastic Canada. I was pumped! I sat down to read it…and couldn’t. Now wait! That doesn’t mean it was because it was horrible (obviously not, I gave it 4.5 stars) but because I could only hear Will Patton’s voice in my head while I was reading! So I bought the audiobook and listened to it in my car to and from work every day.

This second book introduces the reader to a couple intriguing new characters – Kavinsky and they Greyman. I loved the fact we got more Ronan and Adam point of view, and Calla is still my favourite of the ladies from 300 Fox Way (besides Blue!). The Dream Thieves builds wonderfully on the story from the first book and takes us deeper into Ronan’s dreaming abilities, and his family history. He and Kavinsky get into some major issues that result in an epic blowout at the end of the book. Blue has some boy troubles between Adam and Gansey (Gansey all the way!) and honestly, she just needs to TELL Adam about her “prophecy”.

4.5 heart

The Dream Thieves is an awesome sequel to an awesome book! The boys are ridiculous in that “oh geez” kind of way. I love how driven Gansey is, and how protective they are of Blue (even Ronan, though he doesn’t admit or show it). The introduction of the Greyman gives an air of suspense to the in-your-face crazyness that is Kavinsky and Ronan. There’s something going on with the Greyman and Maura and he is definitely going to be around for book 3 (which I just finished this week and I loved, and the review will be up next week!). I can honestly say I think this is Maggie Stievfater at her best.

ARCs received from BEA, and Scholastic Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you! Audio purchased myself.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Woven by Michael Jensen & David Powers King

Waiting On Wednesday

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

Woven big Woven
by Michael Jensen & David Powers King
Publication date: January 27, 2015 from Scholastic Press

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.

Reviews: Memoirs of a Goldfish & Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian & Tim Bowers

Memoirs of a Goldfish Memoirs of a Goldfish
by Devin Scillian & Tim Bowers

ISBN-13: 9-781585-365074
Publication: April 2010 from Sleeping Bear Press (Scholastic)
Source: bought (Scholastic Book Fair)
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!

With his bowl to himself, Goldfish loves his life…until one day…

A personal account from a goldfish on life in his bowl as other intruders crowd him.

Memoirs of a Hamster Memoirs of a Hamster
by Devin Scillian & Tim Bowers

ISBN-13: 9-781585-368310
Publication: May 2013 from Sleeping Bear Press (Scholastic)
Source: bought
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!

Seymour the hamster has the perfect life. He has a spacious cage, a constant food supply, and a FuzzyBoy 360 exercise wheel that lets him run to his heart’s content. Life could not be better. Or could it? When Pearl the cat tells Seymour of the goodies beyond the safe confines of his cage, he starts to think he’s missing out. And out is the new in! It’s only after Seymour is out of his cage that he begins to fully appreciate his safe and cozy home.

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Double review day! Memoirs of a Goldfish and Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian and illustrated by Tim Bowers are two of the cutest picture books I have read this year. I picked up Memoirs of a Goldfish at the fall Scholastic Book Fair at one of my schools and immediately fell in love with it. Imagine my happy face when I found out that a second book, Memoirs of a Hamster had been published earlier in the year! And in the spirit of complete honesty, no matter how much I love Goldfish, I love Hamster so much more.

In Memoirs of a Goldfish, our diary-writer goldfish spends his days swimming around his bowl. Sometimes twice. But then someone new arrives. And that someone new is just the beginning. Soon, the goldfish is crowded in his bowl with a crab, guppies, an angelfish and more. He’s so crowded and frustrated that he can’t wait to have his own bowl again. But it’s when he does get his own bowl again that he realizes he misses the others – they’ve become his family. In Memoirs of a Hamster, Seymour lives a very content life in his cage with yoghurt drops, his Fuzzyboy 360 wheel and cozy bedding. But Pearl the cat tempts him with outside the cage, describing the sun room full of yoghurt drops and a staircase made of sunflower seeds. Poor Seymour doesn’t realize Pearl has ulterior motives to getting him out of his cage. Seymour quickly realizes that his cage is perfect for him, and needs to get back home!

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Both books are beautifully illustrated (Seymour is adorable!) with large text for easy reading. The stories are so funny – especially when dealing with Pearl (the big fat liar) and all the new fish and sea creatures that come to live in the goldfish bowl. When reading them out loud to my classes, I found that Memoirs of a Hamster received more laughs but that Memoirs of a Goldfish enabled more discussion on what would happen next and why. Both are perfect for a unit on journal writing and reading them together in one session is the best. Devin Scillian and Tim Bowers have written and illustrated two fantastic books that allow a humourous look at not taking what you have for granted (Seymour and his home), and that new people and situations are often good for you (the goldfish not being alone anymore). I definitely recommend picking these both up if you haven’t already!