Sweep

Dear Reader,

You asked for more stories about mythology. I know you are firmly attached to the Rick Riordan novels. That you would prefer to keep reading them on and on until there are no more left to read, so I’m gratified that you are willing to try some other authors. And I’m impressed that you so quickly read the four novels in Susan Cooper’s ‘The Dark is Rising’ series. Would you be willing to try a different type of mythology?

You’ve already enjoyed Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology in the Riordan stories. And you’ve explored the world of King Arthur in Cooper’s stories. Now could you try a novel about a mythological creature from Jewish folklore: a golem, a creature made from inanimate material and brought to life in order to serve as a protector?

Auxier, Jonathan. Sweep: the Story of a Girl and Her Monster. Toronto: Puffin Canada, 2018.

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster is set in 1870s London. Nan Sparrow is a chimney sweep, forced to climb up chimneys and clean out soot. Remember that this is over a hundred years ago, before the age of electricity, and houses have fireplaces. And every fireplace has to be regularly cleaned. Clambering up those narrow chimneys is the job of young children forced into labour due to poverty. The golem in this novel is – of course – a mythological creature. But the setting is real. Life really was as difficult for some children as depicted in this story. So you’ll be learning more about what it felt like to live during Victorian times, as well as enjoying more of your favourite genre right now.

One more thing. Your faith – the Sikh faith – emphasizes that one’s life is to be of service to others. Several times in Sweep, you’ll see this sentence: “We save ourselves by saving others.” I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

By the way, I’ve requested more mythology books for you from the public library. Be watching. You should get a message very soon that they’re ready for pick up. Happy reading!

Ms. R.  

P.S. Always keep your eyes open for books published by Puffin. They tend to be extremely well written. 

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Auma’s Long Run

Odhiambo, Eucabeth. Auma’s Long Run. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 2017.
Auma has dreams. She wants to leave her small Kenyan village – where people all around her are dying – and attend high school. Then maybe – someday – she can become a doctor. Auma also has determination. She works hard and she can run. If she earns high grades and wins a track scholarship, maybe her dreams can come true.
But then her father dies of AIDS and her mother becomes ill. Auma is needed at home to support her siblings. What should she do?
This 297-page novel is not difficult to read. The font is relatively large, the lines of print widely spaced, and the margins generous. But the story is not a fairy tale and there is no simplistic happy ending. Recommended for mature readers 11 years old and up. 

More books set in Africa 

More novels about children with adult responsibilities 

 

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Speaking Our Truth

Gray Smith, Monique. Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation. Victoria, BC: Orca, 2017.
A Canadian book about reconciliation with chapters focusing on honesty, love, kindness, and reciprocity. Stories of indigenous people, explanations of current political negotiations, and historical information combine to create a highly readable life-affirming book recommended for all ages. Supplemented by a glossary, online and print bibliography, list of residential schools in Canada, and an index. If you can purchase only one book, buy this one! 

More books about indigenous people of North America

 

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Some Kind of Courage

Gemeinhart, Dan. Some Kind of Courage. New York: Scholastic Press, 2016.
Joseph is alone in the world. His mother and sister have died of illness. His father has been killed in an accident. And the man who is supposed to take care of him has sold his beloved horse. So Joseph sets out – on his own – to find Sarah and buy her back again.  On the way, he teams up with a Chinese boy who speaks no English and receives help from a tribe of indigenous people. This heart-warming novel – set in 1890 in the state of Washington – will appeal to readers 11 to 15 years old who enjoy past-paced stories of adventure. 

More historical novels

More stories of runaways

 

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Wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012) is the story of August, a boy born with extreme facial abnormalities who was not expected to survive infancy. Life changes for 11-year-old Auggie when his parents stop homeschooling him and put him into a public school where he endures taunting and bullying. Now he must figure out how to be accepted. Will the bullying ever stop? Will he ever be accepted? Read this inspiring novel to find out! (by Rabia in grade 6)

More stories about bullying

More stories of individuality

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Amazing animals

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish by Steven Jenkins (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) describes animals that move in unexpected ways. Did you know that a red kangaroo cannot walk on its hind legs without the help of its tail? Did you know that a snake in India and other parts of southern Asia can fly? Did you know that some goats can climb trees, coconut crabs can climb palm trees, and black rat snakes can also climb trees? That’s a lot of climbing! I could go on for hours telling you amazing facts from this book, but I think you should read it for yourself! (Prabhdeep in grade 6)

Learn how to quickly write a short book response

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