Everything Sad Is Untrue

Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri is probably more of a tween read for 7-12th graders about one refugees journey and the memories of his early life.

In Oklahoma, in front of a group of his peers, Khosrou (or Daniel as everybody calls him), attempts to tell his story. It is a story that some might find hard to believe and one that no one, in fact, does believe. But all refugees suffer from a “patchwork memory” and, to Khosrou, it is the truest story he has every told because it is his life, as he remembers it.

To the kids around him, Khosrou is just a dark-skinned, smelly boy who talks about poop too much. But Khosrou’s stories stretch back years, even centuries, telling the tale of his families escape from Iran and the history leading up to it.

Author Daniel Nayeri, weaves his childhood present with history and myth creating a compelling story that is all his own and is, a truth.

What. A. Book. I listened to the audio book and now I am seriously wondering if the pace of the written story is the same as the audio version. Because all of these awful and depressing things happen, but the way the narrator reads and describes these things verges on nonchalant. I mean, the word that came to mind while reading this was “word vomit.” And yet, what is being written is so powerful and, I mean seriously, read this book with a highlighter and write down some of these passages. They are moving and have such an open truthfulness about them that the casual narrative is almost off putting.

I wonder if the author intended the narrative to be casual to offset “the heavy” in order to make it more accessible to younger readers? Either way, this book makes you think about the refugee experience and what is left behind vs. what is gained and the journey in between.

A powerful read. This one gets 5 stars from me and would be one I’d love to get some younger input on.

That’s all for now!

-M-

From the Desk of Zoe Washington

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks is a standalone juvenile fiction book about a girl who loves to bakes journey to get to know her convict father.

When Zoe Washington receives a letter from her biological father on her twelfth birthday, she isn’t sure what to write back. Her father is a convicted felon, serving a sentence for a horrible crime. She has never met him and he has never met her but he says he’s innocent and Zoe can’t help but being curious.

Secretly, Zoe begins a correspondence with Marcus and becomes all but obsessed with discovering whether he is guilty or innocent of his crime. That, and convincing her parents that she’s ready to audition for the Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge, Zoe Washington has a busy summer ahead of her. But can she do it?

This is a prime example of a misleading title. I saw a colleague recommend this book and picked it up purely from looking at the cover. So I was quite surprised when it had absolutely nothing to do with journalism or writing for a newspaper or anything. I totally missed the cookbook, cupcake and cake poster in the background, but the girl on the cover just screamed “journalist” to me. All that being said, this was a good book and a really good audio book.

I was almost lost toward the middle-end of the book, when I kept cringing knowing the “uh oh” moment was coming. And I did find Zoe a little naïve here and there but overall, I liked her as a character.

The baking elements of this story where really great. I loved Zoe’s internship at the bakery and her Fruit Loop creation. Yum! There was also a really good balance, in terms of believability, with Zoe’s relationship with Marcus.

Overall, this was a fun read and would probably appeal to both boys and girls around 4-6th grade.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Court of Silver Flames

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas is the fourth book in the ACOTAR series, but this one is narrated by Nesta and Cassian.

The War with Hybern is over and a tentative peace is in the air, but for Nesta Archeron the war within herself has reached it’s peak. Ever since she was Made, she has been a danger to herself and others. In the hopes of helping her move past the horrors of the war and her forced making into a High Fae, Nesta is forced to train with Cassian, a male she both can’t stand and can’t live without.

As Nesta attempts to take control of her life, treacherous new alliances are forming and the peace that was so hard won, is once again threatened. Can The Night Court head off the coming darkness or will it swallow even the stars?

Seriously, I’ve already read this. No really, I must have downloaded the wrong book and already read it. I swear, that is the thought that went through my brain almost every time I closed the book at night. I checked Goodreads and my downloads on at least three separate occasions.

When I first started reading, I vaguely remembered reading a sample chapter, so I kept waiting to get to what I hadn’t read yet but damn if I didn’t have deja vu the entire time. I mean, Nesta and Cassian’s story isn’t all that different from Feyre and Rhysand’s. The circumstances and the trauma behind the struggles are different but that’s really it. I mean seriously, a major turning point for Nesta happens at the House of Wind during the star ceremony thing… just like Feyre.

So let’s tell this how it is. These books are pleasure reads. Pure and simple. They are fun to get lost in, we root for the characters and, admit it, we’re in it for all the steamy bits. Other than the seriously similar plot, I guess my only complaint is that the book was almost too focused on Nesta and Cassian’s relationship and we didn’t get as much plot as we do from the other books. That’ll probably change in the next book, which I hope is written from multiple perspectives, not just N&C.

This book is what it is and I knew that going into it. It gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

George Crum: A Potato Chip STEM Challenge

In honor of Black History Month, I held a mini-virtual history lesson, paired with a fun STEM challenge. This was a challenge I’d seen from pictures in the past and I even tested it out a few months ago with my 4-6th grade book club.

The potato chip was invented in 1853 by George Crum. Or so the legend tells it. Crum was a Native American/African American chef at the Moon Lake Lodge resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, USA. When a customer complained that his fries were too thick and soggy, Crum sliced them as thin as he could, added lots of salt and fried them to a crisp! And so chips were born.

After giving the kids a mini history lesson about the potato and what we know about George Crum’s life. We discussed the various myths and then we talked about how stories can often change through the telling, like the telephone game and how history can sometimes be biased based on whose telling.

From there I introduced our challenge. The challenge: Build a ring using only Pringles potato chips. For this challenge, you need a full sized can of Pringles and a flat surface. I warned the kids NOT to eat their chips or else they might run out before they completed their ring.

We thought about three questions in getting ready to do the building:

  1. How will the base of your ring be support the top?​
  2. How will you layer your chips? Will you work off a set pattern? If so, what pattern?​
  3. What will you do if you need to reevaluate your plans?​

Then we went in to a little of the science. We talked about how as the sides of the ring get taller, gravity pushes down on the chips. This can cause them to slide down as your ring begins to curve. In order for the chips to not slide, there has to be enough frictional force on the sides of the chips so that gravity can’t push them down​.

And then the race was on!

How’d it go:
It ended up being a snow day at my house, so I had a three year old and a 6mo old “helping” me with the program but other than that it went great. We had a great turn out and some of my colleagues helped me to commentary and spotlight the kids rings as they were building.

The success of this program has me thinking up so many STEM/History possibilities. Time to get my research hat on!

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Mask Falling

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon is the fourth book in The Bone Season series.

Paige and Warden are on the run from Scion London and the Rephaim. Seeking shelter in Paris, Paige agrees to work for an underground organization, working as a spy to bring down Scion. But she did not escape London unscathed and the road to being healed will take all her mental and physical strength.

With Warden, Arcturus, at her side, Paige must heal her body and soul, traverse the catacombs of Paris and risk herself again and again for revolution. But how often can one face death and come out alive… and whole?

Man, I really do love these books, but Samantha Shannon, you are killing me! There is just sooo much time in between each book in the series. Book three came out in 2017. And although, I remember most things, I am sure I am missing those little intricacies that would make the story even better. NOW, don’t get me wrong, I know why these books are taking so long. Just looking at all the research and language injected into this book, I am sure Shannon spends a ton of time on each one. But that still doesn’t make it any easier to be left hanging so very badly for so very long. Sigh.

I sort of loved that this book revolved around Paige and Warden. Their relationship has be up and down and it is great to see them working side-by-side again. I also really like the Parisian underworld. The tunnels, the masks and the new characters all really contribute to the story. But man, that twist. I thought I saw what was coming and it turned out to be very different than what I thought.

I’m in for the long haul with this series but let’s hope this next one is out in under four years!

This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-