I am excited to be a part of the conversation at #IMWAYR! Thank you to Sheila, Jen and Kellee for inspiring and hosting this meme.
|Recommended for everyone|
Several years ago at my school we read Dicamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane for our One Book, One School celebration. Students and staff still mention Edward to me and tell me how much they loved reading it together. I am already plotting Flora & Ulysses' One Book, One School debut at my school!
|Recommended for gr. 5-8|
|Recommended for gr. 6-8|
Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper came to me loaded with a variety of expectations. Before I started the book I read Debbie Reese's thoughtful and critical review, as well as other favorable reviews in Kirkus and Booklist. I began the book with what I hoped was an open mind, but of course I was also reading with Reese's criticisms in the back of my mind. The book takes place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and provides an up close look at the terrible clash that occurred between the colonists and the Wampanoags. While the book starts strong, the plot takes a highly unusual and unexpected twist midway through (which I won't reveal because it's a big spoiler) which, for me, really make the second half disjointed. This, combined with the issues that Reese highlights, makes this title problematic for me as a librarian (and reader). While I can envision Ghost Hawk being used successfully in a classroom setting to discuss stereotyping and the portrayal of Native Americans in literature, I can't otherwise unambiguously endorse it.
Finally, my adult reading this week was dedicated to memoir that I first heard about on NPR's All Things Considered. It took a few weeks to get to Son of a Gun by Justin St. Germain, but I'm glad that I did. After St. Germain's mother is shot, presumably by her husband, St. Germain heads back to Tombstone, Arizona to see if he can find answers about what happened and why. The memoir travels back and forward in time, showing painful childhood scenes that help explain how the story ends. Throughout the book I kept thinking that I didn't have a good handle on who Debbie St. Germain was. On the one hand, she was fierce and strong, a former member of the military who started a number of businesses while raising her two sons. On the other hand, she chose her partners badly, again and again. By the end of the book, though, I realized that this is the contradiction that the author too was trying to work through. I'm not sure that he ever entirely does, but that doesn't matter. St. Germain's exploration of his mother's life and death is painful, honest, and ultimately illuminating.