It’s Monday! What are you reading? Middle Grade fiction

Today I have a couple of short reviews – books I have been reading but not had the will to write a review with one hand. The cast is gone I am working on gaining range of motion and I can type with both hands without making faces from the pain. Yeah for a healing wrist and the amazing body that knows how to do those things. (Even if it took 4 months)

19354685Trash Mountain by Jane Yolen (due out April 2015) was quick read that fits into animal fiction and would be a book for students who liked Kate DiCamillo – Flora and Ulysses. This is a story of a young squirrel who loses his parents and if forced to flee to the trash heap across the road. There is an on going fight for trees between the red and gray squirrels. Our young squirrel is forced to seek help and learn to trust others while learning to survive on his own.

This book deals with bullying and finding a community to support you. I appreciate Yolen’s work in showing that one finds friends in unexpected places. She does include a lot of violence with the animals, which seemed to be a problem for some reviewers. I did not see it as a issue for students. I will be interested to see what students think.

All the Answers by Kate Messner ( January 2015) is also a quick read and asks an interesting question. What would you do if you find a pencil that can give you all the answers? 22313641

Ava, with the help of her friend Sophie, discover a pencil that can give you answers. This sounds like wonderful and the friends find lots of uses for this pencil. But sometimes gifts tell us more than we want to know or are ready for.

Ava finds out information about her family that she now must keep secret or share her special gift of the pencil. The pencil is also getting smaller each time they need to sharp it. This means it is best to be careful when and what questions you ask it. Ava learns some important lessons about being brave, and trusting her family.

This would be a good read aloud and perfect for students to write their own stories about what they might do with a magic pencil and what they might learn. The question of whether you would like to find this pencil – why or why not would also be a great writing prompt.

imgresAdult Reading: I also have been spending time reading adult books for the last few weeks. It was great fun to return to deep and rich characters and plots. Don’t get me wrong – I love children’s fiction but once in awhile it is good to read more complex text to push our thinking. (Remember about those students you need to keep pushing read at their level – it is important for us as well).

I re read Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. This time I was reading as a imgres-1writer. I wanted to see how each author included content about plants, and the environment while telling a story. One book of course was fiction and one a menoir. It was interesting to see how each author shared facts and how they might be used to move the story forward. I now want to read some children’s books to see how factual content about nature is shared in a fiction context.

(Can you guess what I am working on in my writing life?)


About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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2 Responses to It’s Monday! What are you reading? Middle Grade fiction

  1. I agree with you that All The Answers will make a great read aloud. I love your ideas for writing prompts using that book. I have added Trash Mountain to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and congrats on getting the cast off and the healing process. I hope your wrist continues to heal well. Have a great reading week!

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