Photo Challenge #35 / Hidden

20190822ma_2177“Peeking Through Trees” / Theme: Hidden

A little about this photo…

This is a shot from my recent cross-country train trip which included a route through Northern Ontario (north of Lake Superior). The view was gorgeous! Especially all these pockets of little lakes that we would glimpse through the trees as we zipped on by. I love how this one tree is hiding that tiny island in the background, and that there’s another island off to the right!


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2019picoftheweek

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Review: Brave

braveBook: Brave (2017)
Author: Svetlana Chmakov
Genre: MG, Graphic Novel/Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic plot: Jensen’s prepared for anything… especially a zombie apocalypse. But he’s finding middle school hard to navigate. His solution is to try to avoid the bullies at all costs. When the school newspaper wants to interview him about that very topic, he freezes up. He doesn’t think he’s being bullied. But then he starts seeing bullying around him everywhere, including from his own “friends”. That’s when he decides it’s time to be brave and do something about it.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Jensen is a very likable protagonist. Even with his little quirks about sun spots. I love seeing him grow throughout the book and seeing his thought process. For example, his hatred of math and the “evil” math teacher goes through a nice arc.

2) I thought it interesting that the bullying in this story is not just confined to the “bully” characters. Even Jensen’s own “friends” display bullying. Not that they necessarily trying to be mean, but they very thoughtless. I loved the phrase that about a true friend is somebody who will save you a seat. (*SPOILER: Peppi–from the first book in this series– does exactly that. And at the end, Jensen himself approaches one of the bullies–now without his cohort–to offer to sit with him during lunch.)

3) I really liked Jorge, the baseball dude who ends up being Jensen’s project partner. I can’t believe Jensen ended up with such an awesome partner!

4) I enjoyed the math tutoring sessions. I liked how the author brought in one of the bullies to these scenes. And I thought it was good that she showed that Jensen’s grades didn’t improve right away.

5) At the end, Chmakov gives us a little author’s notes about sun spots. I almost wished had put this into the story itself, especially giving Jensen the discovery moment that the sun spots are not as life-threatening as he suspects.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) At times, I felt like this book came across as being a little too didactic on the subject of bullying. It just felt forced at times.

2) I really didn’t like Jenny. She’s the one who does the report on bullying, but she herself is a bully! I don’t think this was really dealt with and I wanted it to be addressed. She definitely has some serious anger-management problems.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – Really enjoyed Jensen’s voice in this book. I’d recommend for middle-schoolers, especially those who like graphic novels.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #34 / Legacy

IMG_0291“Blue Skies on the Prairie” / Theme: Legacy

A little about this photo…

This is a grain elevator, an iconic symbol of the Canadian prairies. Not sure if this one is used or not. It still looks pretty good, so I’m assuming it is? I like how the red just pops out from the field of yellow (canola flowers) and that blue sky.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2019picoftheweek

Photo Challenge #33 / The Great Outdoors

IMG_0387“Salt Lake at Sunset” / Theme: The Great Outdoors

A little about this photo…

This photo was taken at Manitou Beach in Saskatchewan. Little Manitou Lake is a salt lake. We didn’t actually go swimming in it on this visit since, when we arrived, because of the winds. We practically were blown away. This photo was taken in the calm after the storm.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2019picoftheweek

Photo Challenge #32 / It’s Hot

IMG_0234“Tug-a-War” / Theme: It’s Hot

A little about this photo…

I saw these sculptures in a park. (This is just one in a series.) I absolutely loved the playful tone! I’m choosing “It’s Hot” for my prompt because, well, isn’t a game of tug-a-war perfect for a beautiful, hot summer day?


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2019picoftheweek

Review: Elephant Secret

elephant-secretBook: Elephant Secret (2018)
Author: Eric Walters
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic plot: Sam and her dad run an elephant sanctuary where they care for a herd of misfit elephants. Just as one abused elephant arrives, another is born to an elephant of the herd. But the new baby elephant has a secret… one that Sam and her father have yet to find out. A secret they won’t know about until they  meet their mysterious benefactor… Or should we call him “partner”?

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Sam (Samantha) is an elephant girl. She knows elephants better than anything. In fact, she has such as strong bond with the elephant herd that it’s fun to watch (i.e. read about) her doing her thing. I love how she ends up leaving her eighth grade dance (in full formal-dress mode) to go be with the elephants when the new baby is born.

2) I loved the elephants in this book! I thought Walters did an amazing job of letting us get to know the herd. This isn’t always an easy thing to do for authors since the elephants never talk. They act like… elephants. And yet, we as readers get to know them and their personalities. I loved the matriarch, Trixie. And the younger ones, Raja and, of course, Woolly (who is adorable). I think my favourite elephant is the rescue one: Burma.

3) Jimmy was an interesting character. He’s portrayed almost as if he were a kid who never grew up. He’s also one of those characters that you’re not sure if you like him or hate him.

4) I really liked Sam’s dad, especially with his relationship to his daughter and to the elephants. Joyce (the lawyer girlfriend) is an interesting addition to the cast of characters. It was nice to see her relationship grow with Samantha, especially toward the end when the “girls” stand together after Dad gets upset over the incident with Burma.

5) (**SPOILER) The scene where Burma gets out of the cage was probably the best scene in the book. I found this scene quite emotional. Sam is completely crazy in that scene, but it all makes sense since she’s the elephant girl. Every step she took with those apples was tense. (End Spoiler)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) We never find out what happens to Burma in the long run. I was really rooting for him so I want to know what happens!!

2) There is an element on cloning in this book. It’s actually the Elephant Secret. (**SPOILER) It all has to do with cloning animals. Think: Jurassic Park. Although, not with dinosaurs, but with woolly mammoths. I wasn’t too crazy about they concluded things. I don’t think cloning is a good thing. THAT was the lesson of Jurassic Park! (End Spoiler)

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I loved the elephants in this book. And I enjoyed reading about the inner workings of an elephant sanctuary. This book has some great discussion points. I would definitely recommend this to animal lovers.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #31 / Rule of Thirds

IMG_0528“Bridge at Dusk” / Theme: Rule of Thirds

A little about this photo…

Grabbed this shot on a photo shoot. We were walking back along a path on the river when I saw this. Loved the lights reflecting in the water. I put the bridge is in the upper thirds of the photo and… Bam! One more prompt completed. 🙂


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2019picoftheweek