Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

In all the years of writing on this blog, in all the books I've read, and the multiple times I've read the Harry Potter Series, I have never written a review of one of the books. Although I did write an odd blog post on butterbeer cupcakes I made once.  I am not exactly sure where to start with this review.

I think the first thing I need to write is that I have been a huge huge huge fan of Harry Potter, the books, the movies etc.  I am the household champion of Harry Potter Scene it, my ringtone on my phone is the theme from Harry Potter and I have read the books and seen the movies so many times, but can never get enough of them.  So to say I was excited about this new book was an understatement.

I was away this weekend and didn't get to pick it up until last night.  When a teenage I was with this weekend mentioned it was a script I wasn't not impressed, however,  I started it last night about 8:30 and read until midnight to finish it.  IT WAS THAT GOOD!  I was a bit skeptical about reading a script, and was worried I would miss J.K. Rowling's hand in the writing of these books.  Once I got into the book, I didn't even notice the script style, although I do admit, I missed all the details that are usually found in her stories.  But the plot was just as exciting as you would expect.

This story starts out when Harry is 37 and his middle child Albus is heading off to Hogwarts.  Albus and Harry are struggling with their relationship and neither one of them knows how to fix the strain that is there.  When he goes off to school, he become an unlikely friend of Scorpius- Draco Malfoy's son.  This causes tension between Albus, his friends and his cousins (Ron and Hermione's children)
As the book progresses, Albus and Scorpius find themselves having adventures just like Harry, Ron and Hermione did when they were at school, with similar results.

What I loved about this book, besides the continuation of a story I love, is the jumps between past events- the Tri-wizard tournament plays a big role in this book.  I love reading a different version of that story. Getting a glimpse of Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all grown up is also a thrill.

It was a quick read that is for sure, but well worth it.  I know other Potter fans will love it as much as I do.  I'd love to read what others thought of it.  Leave me a comment below!

Shooter by Caroline Pignat

This book came across my Twitter feed a while ago and I put it in my virtual cart at Chapters.  Last week when I went to order another book I saw it there.  I'm not sure why I waited so long to place my order (maybe waiting for free shipping?) because I am a huge fan of Caroline Pignat.  Many years ago I read and reviewed Egghead and I have since used it many times in my classroom as a read aloud.  I picked up Shooter yesterday and finished it in one sitting, it is as powerful as Egghead was, I've already texted a friend telling her she needs to read it to her grade 8 class this year.

Shooter deals with something many teachers and students experience often in our classrooms- the idea of lockdowns to practice just in case something happens.  In Shooter, the story opens with the beginning of a lockdown.  Four grade 12 students find themselves locked in the boys bathroom on the top floor.  The story is then told from each of their different perspectives.

  • Alice, who tries to stay hidden from sight and who is charged with looking after her autistic brother.  
  • Isabelle, the popular girl at school who lives a charmed and perfect life.  
  • Hogan, the ex-football player who walks around in a cloud of anger all the time after a family tragedy
  • Xander, the nerdy boy who takes brutally honest photographs as a way to explore what is happening around him. 
As the lockdown progresses, and as they learn more and more about the events that are happening in the hallways, the four locked in the bathroom realize that they have information that could change the outcome of the lockdown.  But they need to trust each other and in themselves.  

This story is incredible. As someone who has experienced both real and practice lockdowns, the characters that Pignat describes really hit home. The fear, the excitement, the boredom...all of those are emotions students (and teachers) go through during one of these events.  While I would be careful what age I read this book with, I think grade 7's and 8's could handle it.  Grade 8's for sure.  Pignat writes in such a careful way that even with such a serious topic, she handles it beautifully and allows the readers to see the pain that hides in everyone.  I love how she peels back the layers of each of her characters until you realize they are all hiding something. If you teach intermediate grades I would highly recommend picking this book up. 

Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

Full disclosure, I picked this book up while I was in the middle of binge watching Friday Night Lights and was caught up in the whole high school football team story.  However, this book isn't much like Friday Night Lights (other than the football story), but the book is also so so good.

The main character in this story is Maggie who has just moved in with her aunt and uncle after watching her father murder her mother.  Maddie is the one who told the police what happened and the guilt she felt caused her to stop speaking to anyone.  She goes through life silently witnessing what is happening around her, but playing no role in her life.  When she moves in to her new family, her aunt and uncle ask her cousin Brady to show her around and make her feel part of the high school life.  Brady is part of the Lawton High football squad and he has told all of his friends that his cousin is off limits.   But, West Ashby, Brady's best friend is also hiding something from his friends.  The fact that his father is dying of cancer.  West hasn't let anyone in on this secret because he doesn't want to admit anything is wrong.  When Maddie and West are thrown together, West finds comfort in Maddie's silences. The fact that he can speak what is in his heart, and he knows his secrets are safe with her.  But as these two start sharing their secrets, they find what kept them apart from everyone else is what pulls them closer together.

I loved this story- so much so that I have preordered the next book in the series for my Kindle for later this month.  Both West and Maggie's pain is hard to read, but the way the support each other is beautiful.

This book has some mature bits in in, there is some talk about sex, but nothing graphic or over the top.  I would feel comfortable having this in my grade 7 classroom, but you may want to read it first.