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Friday, February 5, 2016

The Cat at the Wall - Deborah Ellis

"…If people insist on shooting other people, they should do it quietly so that a cat can have a decent nap…"

I'm not a cat fan.  I like them, but they are too stuck up and moody for my liking.  Is this why the main character Clare has been reincarnated as a cat, because they are so unlikable?  I'm sure cat lovers would strongly disagree.  I mean no disrespect, but Clare is a bit of a jerk.  Now she is in the middle of a war between 2 groups of people who believe so strongly that the other side is fundamentally in the wrong.  

It's interesting that Clare the Cat is a character that can see both sides of this conflict and really has no vested interest in either side.  She just wants to survive and find something to eat.  Is she at the wall to do a good deed in order to gain entrance into heaven?  Is she in a coma having a crazy dream?  Is she being punished for all her bad behaviour back at home?  

Maybe I'm not smart enough to figure this out!  I did enjoy this very different novel and I believe the novel could be a good starting point for a discussion on Israeli/Palestinian relations. 

I also would welcome a discussion on Clare when she was a young American girl.  Fundamentally mean, I did not enjoy her at all.  I was glad she was starving and basically running for her life.  She was beyond the typical mean girl.  Was she just a girl needing her parents attention? (insert big sigh- am I going to end up liking her and ultimately become a cat fan?)

The Desiderata poem was an piece to the puzzle.  Does its presence in both the past and present mean that Clare is still alive?  Is she dreaming about the poem?  Has she been placed here to meet the young boy who recites this poem for comfort when it had been a source of angst for her?  It is up for interpretation in my opinion. 

A muli-layered read for sure! 

We're All Made of Molecules - Susin Nielsen

"There are two sides to every story"

What a relevant and current novel.  This is an important read for those who are the age of the 2 characters - Stewart and Ashley.  Whether you are on the side of the geeks or the popular crowd OR someone in the glorious middle, you can relate to these real and likable characters.

Funny and so realistic, I laughed out loud several times.  Stewart is my favourite, but I found myself cheering for Ashley as well, especially at the end.  She has the most opportunity for growth and she doesn't disappoint.  The popular girl sees the light!  The geek prevails!  It's all good.  You will enjoy this novel.  It's easy to read and will several events will definitely generate discussion in your intermediate class.  I'd want to know what my students would feel about what happens to these characters.

- death of a parent
- a parent 'coming out' to spouse and daughter
- bullying
- homophobia
- date rape

Any of these topics could be cause for discussion and opportunity to empathize with characters.  I would recommend this book as a read aloud to to an intermediate class, but know your audience before you begin.

Innocent - Eric Walters

My love affair with Eric Walters books continues.  They never fail to entertain.  This one I was reading at the bus stop with my kids.  I was reading standing up waiting for a class to show up at the library.  I finished it as I put on my boots to come home.  I have never done this ever with a book, especially not a YA fiction!  I had to find out what happened.

It is a compelling story about a likable young lady.  The Secrets series was the brainchild of Eric Walters and Teresa Toten and this one tells the story of Lizzie/Betty/Elizabeth.  She finds that her mother was murdered, leaving her orphaned.  Her father is in Kingston Penitentiary serving time for the murder.  He claims to be innocent.  Lizzie is torn between the father she just met, the family who is supporting her and a young police officer with romantic interests.  You want her to find love and belonging.  You also feel that it's not going to be that easy.  There is a 'Clue' like mystery woven throughout.  A whodunit to introduce kids to the murder mystery!  A great novel to teach mystery.

Eric Walters fans and mystery lovers will enjoy this one!