Tag Archives: best friends

George (Alex Gino)

6 Nov

This book gets so many things right, but I’m finding it difficult to talk about all the things I liked without revealing the plot of the story because I want this story to open itself for you on its own – without me or anyone else peeling away at the layers for you.

 

George 

Squinklethoughts

1. From the very opening, the narration refers to George as “herself” and “she”, which is just brilliant. Really, the rest of the novel sensitively explores the concept of transgenderism, which is discreetly, confidently, and eloquently stated in the first paragraph.

2. We’ve discussed the concept of names, terms, and labels in class many times, and I stalwartly believe that labels are not always bad. I can’t lecture every day about the importance of using varied language, employing synonyms, and exploring nuances between words, and then spout about the wrongness of labels. In our classroom, the caveat has always been to come from a place of respect. This is something I appreciate in Gino’s storytelling because the story is, on one level, about George being a girl that’s called a boy, but it’s about much more (although, of course, for George, this is something she thinks about a lot); it’s about finding security in one’s own skin. We can’t help how others might label us, but we can absolutely choose how much power we want to give them. We don’t have to accept the labels others place on us.

3. Kelly is a wonderful person, a reliable friend, and a realistic fourth grader. She doesn’t blindly accept what George tells her, which would have been too simplistic and too convenient, but she does explain to her best friend why she reacts the way she does. If we were to read about George’s life 5 or even 10 years after this story ends, I know Kelly will still be there. Through her character, Gino reinforces my belief that one person can make a difference in the life of someone else. I hope that you all have or find your own Kellys.

4. George’s brother, Scott, reminds me of Seyton in Macbeth, who has just a handful of lines, but is the one who announces the significant news of Lady Macbeth’s death. Scott honestly highlights an important notion about how we sometimes think of transgender people when he tells George, “That’s more than being just gay.” He’s not saying it to be mean or insensitive or even ignorant. This is Scott’s way of trying to sort through his own thoughts and feelings about a reality that – if you count back to the time of australopithecus – is only now in its infancy in terms of being acknowledged and discussed. For many children and adults alike, transgenderism is hard to understand. This is why children and adults alike should read this book. Gino doesn’t shy away from this notion or skate over it as if it’s inconsequential; rather, George serves as the beginning of an important conversation.

5. George is a story that tackles a very sensitive, controversial, inherently personal but undeniably public issue. But this is exactly what we need, and Gino writes the story for exactly the right audience. There are many sources of information and assistance available to young adults in high school and beyond, but I think the conversation should begin much younger … at the moment when people start to wonder about things. If we wait until we’ve already decided to squash this important bit of ourselves out of fear or embarrassment, if we wait until we’ve already built up resentment towards people for not understanding our situation because we never let them in, if we wait until we have alienated ourselves from those who love us and who would’ve welcomed us with open arms had we given them a chance, we’ve deprived ourselves of years of happiness. Why should we deny that very essential part of ourselves, which doesn’t even hurt anyone, the chance to be happy? Or even just to exist?

6. There’s a very simple but moving line in the book where Scott looks at his brother “as if his sibling made sense to him for the first time”. This, to me, is the very essence of agape. If Charlotte had witnessed it, she would’ve smiled, too.

7. I read this book during the summer, but I haven’t had the chance to post my review of it until now. But I’m glad of the way the timing happened. A couple of days ago, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was sworn into office. When a reporter asked him why it was so important to have a gender-balanced cabinet, his pith was like the bat flip heard ‘round the world: “Because it’s 2015.”

8. Why do we need Alex Gino’s book about transgender children? Because it’s 2015.

 

4.5 Squinkles 

Alex Gino’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

Thank you, Scholastic, for sending me a copy of George in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

Advertisements

Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile (Marcia Wells)

14 Oct

I was very happy to discover the Eddie Red Undercover series last year, and after reading it with some of my Squinks this past month, I’m happy to tell you that they loved it as well.

 

Eddie Red - Mystery on Museum Mile

 

Eddie Lonnrot is in grade 6 at a private school that he loves to attend. But financial troubles are threatening his attendance for the next school year. How will he find enough money to pay for tuition? Luckily (or maybe not), a situation presents itself in the form of helping to catch a mastermind art thief and his cohorts that have the NYPD stumped. And luckily (though not for the thief), Eddie has a photographic memory, which is just what the detectives need to nail the Picasso gang. With a little bit of reluctant acceptance from his parents and a lot of support from his best friend, Jonah, Eddie Red is born.

Squinklethoughts1. When I read books like Eddie Red Undercover, I always find myself lamenting over the fact that I didn’t have these books to entertain me while I was growing up. I would have loved to have immersed myself in Mystery on Museum Mile if for nothing else but that it was really fun and easy to read.

2. Eddie’s a great character who knows his place. He celebrates his skills, but he knows his shortcomings. He handles Jonah and his sometimes-wacky ways, which I give him a lot of credit for – I definitely do not have the same kind of patience he has. I wasn’t particularly fond of that one scene where he begs his mom to let him work with the NYPD, but I could see how a sixth-grader could do it. I also like that he celebrates his love of knowledge. Eddie likes many of the things that I do, including solving puzzles, looking at maps, and learning languages, which endears me to him. And the fact that he draws so well when I draw so NOT well only makes me applaud him more.

3. I don’t know anyone (adult or child) who doesn’t want to someday visit New York City or who didn’t enjoy his or her trip there. I, for one, really love it when I get the chance to explore the Big Apple because it just doesn’t run out of things to see and do and experience. I liked learning about Fifth Avenue and the various museums on Museum Mile, including the Neue Galerie, which I hear about far less often than the Guggenheim or MOMA.

 

Eddie Red - 5th Ave

 

4. The illustrations in this book are fantastic. I’m really really terrible at drawing, so I always appreciate artists who can draw faces and people without requiring divine intervention of some sort. The only thing I wish is for there to have been more of a variation of pictures. Although there were a few other things, most of the illustrations were of people. At some point, it’d be nice to see what else Eddie sees to really enhance my appreciation of the story.  All that aside, Marcos Calo does a truly phenomenal job.  I encourage you to look at his other works.

5. Wells is funny. The one-liners that Eddie has, especially in reaction to Detective Bovano, are just chortle-chortle funny, which is my kind of humour. It wasn’t only once or twice that I heard giggles from a student reading this book because he had just read another one of Eddie’s gems about Bovano warming up to him.

6. One of my Squinks wants to know what happens to Detective Bovano at the end of the story. We’d like to think that he’ll pop up every once in a while in the other books – maybe if Eddie visits a spaghetti place or something. We had fun coming up with names of these pasta restaurants. “Sauce Boss” and “Meatballs for Mobster Nappers” were at the top of our list.

7. The next two books, Mystery in Mayan Mexico (April 2015) and Doom at Grant’s Tomb (April 2016), will definitely find a home in our school library.

 

Eddie Red - 2nd and 3rd

 

8. Eddie Red is über cool.  You should definitely check him out.

 

4 Squinkles

 

Marcia Wells’ Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

Thank you, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for sending me a copy of Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

Coming Soon: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition

14 Sep

Hello, Squinks!  I hope your first week back at school was great and that you’re settling in with your classmates and teachers nicely.  What books did you pick up over the weekend?

I’m here today to whet your appetites about a book I’m super excited for.  It really needs no introduction, except to tell you to expect a few copies in our library when it comes out on October 6!

 

Harry Potter - Illustrated Edition 

If the cover is this awesome, can you imagine how much cooler the pictures on the inside must be?  Hypable has a great article with some of the other wonderful illustrations by Jim Kay, so check it out here.

And if you want even more, Bloomsbury’s got a 15-page preview for all of us!

Once you’re done oohing and aahing over the gorgeous images that accompany J.K. Rowling’s words, head on over to Bloomsbury UK’s site for fun stuff like:

 

  Harry Potter - Name Generator      Harry Potter - Best Friend

 

I can’t wait to share this new book with you all in less than a month!  And if you haven’t gotten sorted into your houses yet, what are you waiting for?

Bookcation 2015 #7: Operation Pucker Up

24 Jul

I have three compound nouns for you to go along with today’s grammar lesson: “best friends”, “school play”, “first kiss”.

 

Operation Pucker Up 

Newly published (as in a couple of days ago), Rachel Alpine’s Operation Pucker Up is the story of Grace Shaw, who is juggling a lot of issues and tissues in her life at the moment. On the plus side, she lands the lead role in the school play; on the other hand, she’s worried about locking lips with Prince Charming in front of a theatreful of gawkers. If that weren’t enough, Grace’s dad—who upped and left the family six months back—pops back into her life, and while her mom and sister are thrilled, Grace is decidedly less so. With all these problems occupying her mind (plus school and homework, of course), what’s a girl to do? It’s a good thing she’s got two best friends who help keep her life from spinning out of control … Or do they?

I’m looking forward to reading Operation Pucker Up. If you manage to give it a go (or you’d like to preview the book) before my copy comes in the mail, let me know what you think! Should I add it to our library?

Days that End in Y (Vikki VanSickle)

27 Mar

Days that End in Y

 

If her Clarissa Delaney stories hadn’t already become some of my favourites, Vikki VanSickle would’ve sealed the deal for me with this one. Of all three books, Days that End in Y is the one that we read in the least amount of time (three days) because my Summer Squinks and I really devoured it. Even I was truly surprised at how quickly we flew through the chapters – I couldn’t assign them enough pages to read, and we had to be really careful (à la River Song) not to reveal spoilers just in case someone had not quite reached a particular scene.

What I really enjoyed about Days that End in Y was that although the wedding (Which wedding? You’ll have to read to find out!) seemingly took centre stage, the relationship between Clarissa and Benji was much more intriguing and compelling. And the ending really left me breathless. I couldn’t believe VanSickle’s audacity and brilliance in leaving me all emotionally spent, and (still) not knowing if she would tell me what happens next. Evil and completely brilliant, I tell you. I asked some of my Squinks from the summer what it was that made them read Days so quickly, but they couldn’t really put a finger on it … All they knew was that they wanted to know more.  This, my Squinks, is part of the magic of storytelling and part of the reason why VanSickle is truly on the same level as the likes of Judy Blume and Rick Riordan. You just want to read more. Even now, months later, I still wonder how the rest of Clarissa and Benji’s summer is going. Have they begun high school yet? If so, what outfits did Clarissa and Mattie wear?

I am so glad that what turned out to be a Vikki VanSickle summer worked out so well. It wasn’t planned (beyond the first book anyway), but some of the best things in life come by happenstance, as you know. If you read this series along with us, I hope you enjoyed the friends’ adventures as much as we did. More importantly, I hope these characters and their stories stay with you throughout the year. And if you’re so inclined, I encourage you to get in touch with VanSickle … Let her know how much you loved Clarissa Louise Delaney and that her stories made summer school not as horrendous as you thought it would be.

 

4.5 Squinkles

 

Vikki VanSickle’s Online Corners

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Chapters

%d bloggers like this: