What If a Fish

What If a Fish by Anika Fajardo is a juvenile fiction book for 4-6th graders.

“Little” Eddie Aguado is half-Colombian but has never really connected with his Colombian side. When he was little, his Papa passed away and anything Colombian only seemed to sadden his mother. Because Eddie’s mother keeps her memories of Papa locked inside, his own memories of his father are hazy and vague. That’s why he’s determined to be just like his Papa by winning his local fishing tournament.

When Eddie’s half-brother’s Abuela gets sick, he puts his fishing plans on hold as he travels to Colombia for the summer. He thinks this is the perfect opportunity to embrace his heritage and learn more about his Papa. But becoming a true Colombiano, may be harder than it seems.

This was a nice little book. Thinking back on it now, there’s actually quite a lot to it. Themes of friendship and family, death and grief, bullying and sticking up for yourself and other, being responsible and more. Eddie is a really relatable character. He has insecurities and is trying to figure out who he is and his place in the world.

I love his relationships with both his half brother, Big Eddie, and his new friend, Cameron. Both relationships grow and go through their ups and downs. Each has a lesson and helps Eddie to grow in different ways.

A big part of this book, is dealing with grief. Eddie doesn’t remember his father, so his grief isn’t like his mother. Instead he is grieving for the lack of a father, rather than the man himself. His grief over Abuela is different from Big Eddie’s because he only just met her, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t sad.

There certainly is a lot going on in this book and this may hinder some young readers, but ultimately it was a good story with some valuable lessons. This one just sneaks in to the 3.5-4 star range.

That’s all for now

-M-

ABC Scavenger Hunt

Today, I had planned a fun, virtual scavenger hunt for my pre-K, K and early elementary school kids. I was totally inspired by a Kelly Clarkson clip I saw.

Here’s what I had planned out:

Children who are read to from birth have a larger vocabulary and have a higher success rate of being lifelong readers and learners. When we talk about early literacy tools we tend to look at these five principles: Read, Sing, Play, Write and Talk. Today we are going to be using letters of the alphabet to go on a scavenger hunt around our houses.  

Before we get started, let’s sing our alphabet. I will hold up the letters while we sing, so don’t sing too fast! A, B, C, D… 

Let’s try one more time and this time, I am going to sing and sign the alphabet in American Sign Language. A, B, C, D… 

If you are interested in learning more about sign language, you can check out the Maryland Deaf Culture Digital Library: https://www.marylanddcdl.org/  

OK. So the way this is going to work, I am going to hold up a letter. We are all going to read this letter together and when I say go, I want you to find something in your house that starts with that letter.

For example, if I hold up the letter A, I might get and hold up an APPLE. We will then spotlight a few of you to show us the items you found. So think about the letter and the object you are going to get. If I can figure out who ran back first, I will spotlight you first.  

We’ll try to fit in as many letters as we can before our time is up! Are you ready? 

How’d it go:

This worked out even better than I had hoped! We had somewhere between 15-20 kids, which was the perfect amount to give everyone a chance to be spotlighted a couple of times. We got through about half the alphabet in our 30 minutes and the kids seemed to have a really good time hunting around their houses and actually getting to interact on screen.

This program took little to no prep on my end and the switching spotlights, was probably the hardest part.  

Maybe a color themed scavenger hunt is in my future!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Ravage the Dark

Ravage the Dark by Tara Sims is the second book in the Scavenge the Stars duology.

For so long,  Amaya Chandra’s only goal was to be free of the debtor ship and it’s cruelties. But freedom is no longer enough for Amaya. She wants revenge and to reveal the truth behind the sickness sweeping across Moray.

For Cayo Mercado, revenge would be sweet, but more important is the health of his sister, which is slowly deteriorating, no thanks to his scoundrel of a father. Penniless and without hope, Cayo is lost and can see no way forward.

Though their relationship began with betrayal, can Amaya and Cayo work together for the greater good? Or will they be too caught up in their emotions and each other to help anyone at all?

This book was OK. It didn’t hold my interest even nearly as much as the first book. I missed the intrigue of book one. This one felt more like a tie up of loose ends and not a conclusion to the story.

What really soured this one for me, was the ending. All these things are happening and Amaya and Cayo just stay behind? They are hellbent on revealing the truth throughout the first and most of the second book and then it’s like they just didn’t care any more, which made me not care.

For me, this book ended up turning into background filler. It didn’t keep my attention and I found I didn’t miss, missing something when I was listening to it. For that reason, this one gets 2.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Last Musketeer

The Last Musketeer by Stuart Gibbs is the first novel in a historical fiction series for juvenile readers.

While on a trip to Paris with his parents, fourteen-year-old Greg Rich’s parents disappear. Before his eyes, they vanish through a portrait and into the 1600s. And of course Greg follows.

And so begins a tale of the Three Musketeers before they became the legendary heroes of fiction. With the help of young Athos, Porthos and Aramis, Greg must save his parents, reveal a plot to overthrow the King, and stop the bad guy from changing history forever.

History isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and saving the day, is a lot harder… and smellier than it looks.

This was an easy, fast read. It has action and adventure, boys being boys and some interesting historical facts thrown in. It’s a Stuart Gibbs novel, you really can’t go wrong.

The Last Musketeer really makes me want to go back and read The Three Musketeers. I want to compare the characters here and the characters there and see how similar they are.

I can’t say that I was wowed by the book, but I do think it would be one my 4-6th book club would be interested in and have an easy time reading. Overall, this one gets a solid three stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Piranesi

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke is a beautifully written fiction novel for adults.

The House reaches from the sea to the clouds. It has an infinite number of rooms, more hallways than can be counted and statues line the walls, each unique and telling in their own way. In this House, lives a young man the Other has named Piranesi.

Piranesi understands the tides an patterns of the house, the labyrinth he calls home and he believes his purpose is to explore the house. Alone in the house, except for the dead and the Other, Piranesi helps to assist the Other with his research for A Great and Secret Knowledge. But when evidence of another becomes apparent, Piranesi will question the only home he has ever known–the only life he knows of.

God this book was wonderful. It was magical and lyrical and just so different. Yes, I read the first few pages really not knowing what I was getting myself into and then I realized, it didn’t matter. I didn’t need the how and why, I was going to go along for the ride and see where it all ended up. And I am glad I did.

This world Clarke created was beautiful, the writing was almost poetic in areas and the characters developed in such an interesting way. I think one of the things I enjoyed most about this book was that one minute you are enjoying the halls and general scenery of Piranesi’s life and then the plot shows itself and suddenly, your invested in the outcome.

This won’t be a book for everyone, especially for those who find it hard to loose themselves in the prose. But for those who can and for those who stick with it until the middle mark where the plot really comes through, I think you will really enjoy it.

This one gets 5 stars from me!

That’s all for now!

-M-