Ms. Bixby’s Last Day

Tearjerker. And a fun, well-written tearjerker, at that. Ms. Bixby’s Day Off is exactly the kind of Cybil shortlist book that I love.

Have you ever had a teacher that you’d go out of your way to do something really special for — like create her “last day” dream? I’ve had teachers like that. I hope every kid who reads this book has had a teacher like that.

Rook

Rook should not be confused with The Rook (which I did when I first spotted it on the library bookshelf.) It also should not be confused with the first Pink Carnation book (which I didn’t really do but it sure as heck reminds me of that.)

It’s middle-grade/YA and there are a lot of similarities between the Pink Carnation and Rook, in all the good ways. It started a little slowly and I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep reading — and it took for freaking ever to read, and I’m not sure why. Yes, it’s more than 400 pages but middle-grade/YA should not have taken that long. (TW suggested Yoga and work are to be blamed, I suspect it’s Disney Emoji Blitz and work.)

Anyway, it’s totally fun and if there was a sequel, I’d read it.

Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? A Guide to Happiness for Kids.

I can’t remember where I saw Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? but I thought it might be worth checking out for JMP.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite right. Besides the illustrations that portray people of color and disabled people as those who need help rather than those being helpful… the overall premise just doesn’t quite work for me. I think talking about these concepts with kids is important but I think there’s an awful lot of dependence on other people filling your bucket and we all know that doesn’t necessarily happen. (The co-dependence aspect is also potentially troubling, depending upon your child’s overall nature.)

When the Sea Turned to Silver

We listened to When the Sea Turned to Silver on audio. It’s a Cybil finalist in the audiobook category so you’d expect it to be good, right? Well it was. It was very good. I think it was even better than Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (if you’ve read that.)

I highly recommend it on audio.

#FakeReadathon: 7 Books

Sharon and Chris joined us on Sunday for #FakeReadathon and it was fun. I also managed to finish seven books, which was also fun.

Happily Ever After: short stories about characters from The Selection series. It wasn’t bad, a lot of repeat of what happened in earlier books so the stories could be read as a stand-alone.

The Crown: The final book in the selection series. I’m glad it turned out the way I thought it would turn out.

There Is No Darkness: I finally finished this ebook that I started months (a year?) ago? I generally just read a chapter or two every time I traveled, while waiting for inflight wifi to kick in. Yesterday, I decided I was doing to finish it and I did. I don’t really love Science Fiction but I definitely enjoyed it. An interesting coming of age story. (Someone in an Amazon review said the Haldeman brothers wrote this in 1955, almost 20 years before Joe wrote The Forever War. I’m all… Wait, what!?! Goodness… Lorena wasn’t even born? Wait, what?!!! Is this true. Someone remind me to ask Lore about this.)

I checked four children’s picture books out of the library, two picture books and two board books (both Cybils), because I thought I might have a chance to read some new books to Pippin and Squshy when they were hear a couple of weeks ago. I also thought even if that didn’t happen, these might be books I would want to buy them for Christmas. Turns out… it was a mixed bag.

– Dinosaur Dance was boring. Unless your child really LOVES dinosaurs, in which case it’s still boring but your kid will still love it because dinosaurs.
– Look, Look Again was cute and interesting. It’s a fold out style book. The first page shows one… something (a mushroom, a strawberry, an apple, etc.) but when you fold out the connecting page, you see more than one something (and it’s actually a counting book.) Pretty cute. I liked it. I’d buy that.
– A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals. This book is troubling… if you buy it or check it out of the library, read it before you share it with your child. It might be fine, it might not be. Great illustrations but the “hungry lion” eats the cute animals… after the story tricks you into thinking that’s not what is going to happen, it wants you to believe the little animals have just created a surprise party for the hungry lion. Jokes on you because, yea, the hungry lion at the cute animals after all. Very troubling.
– Strictly No Elephants was a good story. Again, great illustrations and nobody gets eaten. The beginning is sad because the child with the pet elephant isn’t allowed to go to the club or party or whatever that the other kids with pets go to. But the child with the elephant meets a child with a skunk who also doesn’t have anyone to play with. They build their own club and make sure EVERYONE is welcome. Really nice story. I’d buy this.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

I can’t believe how good Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus was. I picked it up because the cover was interesting and fun but I almost didn’t read it because I have a huge stack of Cybils that I knew I’d want to get through. TW read it first and said she really liked it, I see why.

A girl with no arms. A boy with Tourette. A fat boy. And, an old wild west style amusement park. Win win win win!

Raymie Nightingale

Raymie Nightingale is on the Cybils shortlist in the audiobook category — so we listened to it on audio and I loved every single thing about it. I chuckled at the 70s southern characters. Little Miss Central Florida Tire… baton twirling… hahaha.

But it wasn’t all amusing, either. The three girls had a lot to deal with and they did it together. LOVED IT.

The Voyage to Magical North

Another middle grade fantasy Cybil, The Voyage to Magical North was ok. I wanted to really love it but didn’t particularly like any of the characters until the end of the book.

Maybe I don’t love pirates? Or maybe I don’t love pirate satire for kids? I don’t know, this one just didn’t do it for me. (If you read the next book in the series, I’d love to know why Brine sneezes(d) around magic.)

Shadow Magic and Dream Magic

Shadow Magic is the Cybil, Dream Magic is the sequel. We read them back to back and very quickly. We’d have read another if there was one.

At first, I thought this was going to be just another middle grade fantasy with female characters in the supporting role — turns out, that’s not the case at all. (Though there are more male characters than female, obviously. Because magic is against the law for women and men are the adventurers, etc.)

Good series, the giant bat is cool and so is the troll (I wonder if she’ll be in the next book or if she’s going home. I hope she sticks around.) I’m not a huge fan of the zombies but you can’t have everything, can you?

Two Middle Grade Cybils

Look at me reading all of the Cybils. (Well not all of them, obviously.) These two were good!

I started off kind of grouchy because the main characters in The Evil Wizard Smallbone are all male. All of them. Oh sure, we have a few solid female supporting characters (four, I think) but, bah humbug. Women and girls can be “evil wizards,” too. Whatever. The story was fun and I did like every single character, even if most of them were male. I loved the bookstore and the seals and wolves and the coyotes. Also loved the ending.

I loved everything about The Firefly Code except the ending — and that’s only because I am way too invested in these characters lives and I want to know what happens to them next! (The second book just came out but I can’t reserve it at my library yet and I’m grouchy about that.) This is the story of what happens when you start engineering your kids… the good, the bad, and the downright painful. Science is amazing. Technology is amazing. We can do a lot of good things with both — where you draw the line though, that’s the kicker, isn’t it?