Friday, May 31, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade May Update

Time to update my progress on the MMGM Reading Challenge hosted by Deb Marshall.

I did not get to read as much as I thought I would. Classes ended, exams happened, and I had research articles to write.

Or, as we would say in the Netherlands Smoesjes, smoesjes! (Excuses, excuses!)

Smoesjes aside, the Middle Grades I read were really superb.

Our recent family read aloud was Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules by Jeff Kinney. 
This is our second Wimpy Kid read aloud as a family. I help work the book fair at school twice a year and you would not believe how much the kids love these books. They LITERALLY fly off the shelves. I've also heard from our teachers great things like, "I've seen those books turn non-readers into readers". Can you beat an endorsement like that from an elementary teacher?

To be perfectly honest, sometimes I pick a read aloud and then struggle to get through it-- it's not a judgment on a given book, instead it's that some books lend themselves better to this format. I will read my kids ALL of these books if they let me. I enjoy them, they move quickly, are a lot of fun, and the boys ADORE them.

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

I read this with my middle-grade book club this spring. We had a great time learning about the adventures of Shady, Jinx, Abilene and all the folks in Manifest. I loved the interwoven stories, the underlying mystery, and the way Vanderpool made history come alive. We did several activities throughout the weeks we were reading, including learning how to use a compass, making maps of our neighborhood, decorating cigar boxes just like Abilene's, and (as always) making wood blocks based on the story.

The kids rocked the woodblocks out, as usual. My photos are awful and they don't do them justice.
 That's a portrait of Shady on top, and the wrought iron fence on the bottom.

 Fish hooks were a popular theme, and several of the kids made them the focus of their work.

Another fish hook and a compass. We had a great time reading the book and making the prints.

My third and final MG read of the month was Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman.

I won this from the delightful Joanne over at My Brain on Books and I'm so glad I did. Honestly, I don't think I would have found my way to it otherwise. I don't have anything against boy books or books set in the Elizabethan era, but I'm just not certain it would have made it onto my radar.

What a great book! In fact, it was one of those that I had WISHED I was reading aloud to my boys once I began it. Cushman effortlessly puts us into the world of the hapless Will Sparrow. The sights and smells of traveling fairs, the group of odd and misfit characters just leapt from the page. It reminded me a lot of my favorite Dickens, David Copperfield, in the sense that you found yourself rooting for someone who just couldn't seem to catch a break.

Joanne points out how this title makes her think of Pirates of the Carribbean! I totally agree, and it never ceases to makes me get this song stuck in my head.

I hope to finish up the Phantom Tollbooth over the weekend. :0)

Hope your weekend is delightful!


  1. I have not read the last two yet. I seriously need to get on with reading Moon Over Manifest, read and loved her latest, Navigating Early. So. Good.

    Thanks for taking part in Marvelous Middle Grade May. Just about to do the draws. Good luck!

    Next year we will taking over Jill at OWL's Middle Grade March. Hope to see you then, too. Happy reading this summer!

    1. So glad you hosted it, Deb! I will keep my ears open for Middle Grade March. :0)

  2. Just found your kind words about Will Sparrow. Thanks for the shout out.


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