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review 2018-01-20 23:30
My Kind of Squad
The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure - Doreen Cronin

"The Chicken Squad", by Doreen Cronin, is just hilarious. This book has 10 chapters of comedy due to a scared squirrel named, Tail. The actual chicken squad consists of four short, yellow, and fuzzy chicks that are trying to figure out what the squirrel is so scared of. Eventually, Tail convinces them that there is something lurking outside the coop and the chickens think it is after them! It is up to the squad to figure it out and save the day! If you want a book to engage your students or children and have them laughing, this is a book you want to read. I just recently read "The Chicken Squad" to a second grade class, and they loved every second. This book could be used as an end of the day read after they are packed up, or snack time read as they have a moment to recharge. This book could also be used for a narrative writing prompt about some "misadventures" they have been on and what happened in the end. This is an all around great, hilarious book that I think any elementary grade would enjoy. 

 

Lexile: 560L

ATOS Reading Level: 3.3

Guided Reading: N

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review 2018-01-17 19:52
Interesting Commentary on Wedding Culture
Sugar Lump - Megan Gaudino

Full review to come later, but I really enjoyed this book! Lots of subtle commentary on the wedding culture and emphasis on the wedding (not marriage) part. 

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review 2018-01-16 02:55
Delightful, tragic, magical -- basic Wayward Children goodness.
Beneath the Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

Children have always tumbled down rabbit holes, fallen through mirrors, been swept away by unseasonal floods or carried off by tornadoes. Children have always traveled, and because they are young and bright and full of contradictions, they haven’t always restricted their travel to the possible. Adulthood brings limitations like gravity and linear space and the idea that bedtime is a real thing, and not an artificially imposed curfew. Adults can still tumble down rabbit holes and into enchanted wardrobes, but it happens less and less with every year they live. Maybe this is a natural consequence of living in a world where being careful is a necessary survival trait, where logic wears away the potential for something bigger and better than the obvious. Childhood melts, and flights of fancy are replaced by rules. Tornados kill people: they don’t carry them off to magical worlds. Talking foxes are a sign of fever, not guides sent to start some grand adventure.

 

But children, ah, children. Children follow the foxes, and open the wardrobes, and peek beneath the bridge. Children climb the walls and fall down the wells and run the razor’s edge of possibility until sometimes, just sometimes, the possible surrenders and shows them the way to go home.

 

So begins Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third installment of McGuire's Wayward Children series. If you'd asked me why I was excited about this book before reading it, I could've given you a list of reasons -- but I'd forgotten just how magical the books are. By the time I got to "ah, children" not only did I remember the magic, I was under its spell.

 

Sometime after the events of Every Heart a Doorway, two residents of Eleanor West's Home are down at the pond (they returned from water-worlds, and this is the best they can get), when a naked girl lands in the pond (falling from apparently nowhere), demanding to see her mother, or at the very least, someone in charge. It turns out that this girl is Sumi's daughter -- the problem there is that Sumi died during Every Heart, so she didn't get to mature a bit, go back to her world, defeat the evil Queen, get married and have Rini. Now, the Timeline is catching up to her, and faster than you can say Marty McFly, Rini is starting to disappear, finger by finger, limb by limb. This doesn't sit well with her, as you can imagine.

 

I like existing. I'm not ready to unexist just because of stupid causality. I didn't invite stupid causality to my birthday party, it doesn't get to give me any presents.

 

So, four of the residents set off on a quest to bring Sumi back to life. This takes them across the U. S., into one of the worlds of the dead, and all around Sumi/Rini's nonsense world. There's heroism, mystery, sacrifice, triumph and cleverness all around, without which none of this would work, but with it all -- and a healthy dose of magic -- it's a plan so crazy that it just might work.

 

I don't want to talk too much about the characters apart from what I've already said (which is essentially nothing). In addition to Rini -- we have a nice mix of new to us and returning friends -- with one character that's new to the Home as well as to us. I absolutely enjoyed getting the bonus time with the returning characters, the new (to us) characters were exactly the kind of kids you hope to find in these books. Also, some of the revelations about some secondary characters serve to explain a lot about the way this particular multiverse came to be and it's pretty cool. So, basically, the character material in this novella is almost perfect.

 

I wasn't as taken with Down Among the Sticks and Bones as I was with Every Heart -- Every Heart was a wonderful mix of tragedy and violence with a sense of play (especially in the ideas and words) -- there was hope throughout the book, even when it was dark for everyone and there was little reason for it. Down Among was about dashed hope and tragedy in a world of tragedy, dashed hopes and violence; yes, there as a little play with the language, and some moments of triumph, but they were all overshadowed. Which was fine, it was the story that needed to be told, and I'm not complaining, but Beneath the Sugar Sky was more of a return to the tone of Every Heart, so I liked it more than Down Among -- I think it was a better book, too, but I could be wrong about it. I just know it was easier to like. There's definitely tragedy, there are hard choices to be made -- and I did say something about sacrifice -- but there's a strand of hope throughout that makes it so much easier to carry on.

 

One thing that has been on display throughout this series is a sense of play, a sense of fair tale worlds and logic reflected in the language McGuire uses -- you've seen bits of it already above, just one more and I'll call it good:

 

There was a door there, tall and imposing, the sort of door that belonged on a cathedral or a palace; the sort of door that said "keep out" far more loudly than it would ever dream of saying "come in." 

 

You know exactly what that door looks like, and you have a great sense of the environment around it, too. Just from that one sentence. McGuire has a great sense of style on display in the Toby Daye and InCryptid books, which is turned up in the Indexed serials, but is probably best seen in these books -- capturing the feel of preternatural worlds has pushed her to unleash all of her pent-up linguistic magic. Even if I disliked the characters and stories she's telling in this series, I think the language would bring me back.

 

I'm obviously a pretty big Seanan McGuire fan -- just a quick glance at the archives will tell you that. But I'm willing to bet that even if I wasn't predisposed to like her work, this series would've made me one -- Beneath the Sugar Sky is a slice of literary perfection and I can't encourage you enough to try it.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/01/15/beneath-the-sugar-sky-by-seanan-mcguire
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review 2018-01-12 15:59
McGuire's Wayward Children is my own personal door to Whimsy and Logic, Fairyland and Underword and I LOVED every minute of it!!
Beneath the Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

THIS BOOK WAS PURE NONSENSE!! It was also a dabbler...a sweet sweet dabbler that dabbled (obviously my word of the day) in areas that most authors either steer clear of or try to tackle and too often fail. Seanan McGuire presented many cases of Adversity and how 4 brave kids overcame the troubles that plagued them. This book also touched on body issues and anxieties dealing with someone's mass as opposed to their Being. She broached topics such as what a true friend is and what it means to fit in somewhere, especially when you are being the most authentic you, 100% real. Other topics arose like the (mis)handling Of people with disabilities and how they themselves, as well as those around them, cope with the truth of what they deal with and how they wish they were treated. The very fabric of Reality was examined and it was determined that Reality is real/right in different ways for different people. I loved seeing kids of Logic deal with a Nonsense world and everything that entailed. Things like Death and what it means to truly be Alive are placed under the litterary microscope and dissected in the most beautiful ways. The writing was exceptional, as always. The development of the Worlds was phenomenal! You could feel the magical air in the Land of the Dead and taste the sugary sweetness in the Land of Confection. The character's flaws, anxieties, strengths and epiphanies were so tangible that my heart skipped, raced, broke and recovered in all the right places.

 

If you are already a fan of this amazing series then you'll be richly rewarded with this new addition! If you are on the fence about whether or not to pick up this gem, I hope this review convinces you to jump off that stodgy old fence and open your own door to lands you couldn't possibly imagine without a tour guide. THIS BOOK IS SURREAL and CAPTIVATING!! I feel like McGuire's Wayward Children is my own personal door to Whimsy and Logic, Fairyland and Underword and I LOVED every minute of it!!

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text 2018-01-10 15:20
Beneath the Sugar Sky, Wayward Children #3 by Seanan McGuire
Beneath the Sugar Sky - Seanan McGuire

Beneath the Sugar Sky is the third book in the 'Wayward Children' series, but this is my first experience with Seanan McGuire's work.

Cora is a recent arrival at Eleanor West's home for Wayward Children. It is a boarding school for children who have come back through the looking glass or the wardrobe or the pond in the back garden and can't quite adjust to everyday reality. They desperately want to go back. Sometimes they do.

Cora's world was underwater, she lived as a mermaid and participated in wonderful adventures, but now she's back in a world where she's self-conscious about her body and obsesses a lot about what everyone must be thinking about her, the fat girl.

So she's self-absorbed. But, she is a teenager.

At the school Cora is beginning to settle in, despite the fact many of the other children are recovering from a horrific experience where a few of their peers murdered a girl to make their doorway reappear, and make friends. Suddenly, a girl in a gown made of cake drops from the sky and demands to see her mother. Her mother, Sumi, was the young girl who was murdered. She can't possibly have had a child so grown up.

McGuire takes us through the logic and unlogic of magical worlds and we follow five teens on a quest to bring Rini's mother back from the dead and save more than a few lives in the process.

I loved it. I read this in a single sitting and must at some point check out the previous books in the series, it has a fantastically diverse cast and settings and straddles horror and fantasy while maintaining a sense of wonder that's often missing from genre novels these days.

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