It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 7/18/16


On the blog:

In reading:

masterminds criminal destiny

Our Gordon Korman binge comes to an end–at least temporarily–with the extra silly Masterminds: Criminal Destiny. Our twelve-year-old escapee clones (don’t ask) are on the run for basically the entire story, outwitting and outrunning the police and several others who are in hot pursuit in one implausible twist after another. I nearly had to stop reading when I realized that the kids were going to bust a criminal out of a medium-security prison with two short days to plan. The craftiest adults on the planet probably couldn’t pull this off with months to plan! I just cannot willingly suspend disbelief to this degree. I am so not the target audience for this series.

empress of mars

In the past year, I’ve discovered that I really like fantasy and sci-fi written for grown-ups. The Empress of Mars is an interesting sci-fi novel set on Mars. Most of it takes place in Mars’s only bar, run by a flinty widow and her daughters. There’s a large cast of characters, which keeps things moving quickly but also contributed to a lack of engagement at times on my part, as I had a hard time keeping them all straight. Lots of stuff happens, but there’s not a sense of a larger overarching plot until quite late in the story. The writing is strong, there’s plenty of humor, and it’s a unique world. I’d definitely read another book by Baker.

I also read quite a few picture books that I liked this week. Finding Wild was perhaps my favorite–incredibly strong sentence-level writing that would make a tremendous mentor text. I loved the art best in Marvelous Cornelius and The Night Gardener (but really struggled with the orphanage setting here. I’m not sure why children’s literature needs to rely so strongly on orphans and orphanages for symbolic, thematic development and weight.)

finding wild

big and small room for all

the night gardener

marvelous cornelius

the secret shortcut

funny bones





13 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 7/18/16”

  1. Lisa Maucione (@DrLMaucione) Avatar

    I briefly picked up Finding Wild at the bookstore, but I did not read too much of it. I’ll have to pick it up again. I love finding wonderful books to use as writing mentors.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I do too. I’m planning to use more picture books in my Freshman Comp class this fall as mentor texts, especially for sentence-level writing.

  2. Jane Whittingham Avatar

    Ha, given Gordon Korman’s almost supernatural productivity, I’m sure there will be a new series launching imminently! I agree, I’m definitely not his target audience either, but he certainly understands his audience, because these books just do not stay on the shelves.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      LOL, I’m sure there will be too! There’s a new book in the Swindle series coming out in September, so I’m sure we’ll have to read that. It’s wonderful to have so many books to give to readers who fall in love with Korman’s particular kind of story.

  3. Akilah Avatar

    Our twelve-year-old escapee clones (don’t ask) — but I have so many questions! 😂😂😂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      LOL! I really did like Book 1, but Book 2 needed to be a little more plausible for me to manage it.

  4. Linda Baie Avatar

    I loved Finding Wild, too, and The night Gardener is a favorite of my grand-girls. I think they love the mystery of it. I admire you for keeping on with the Gordon Korman books, definitely for a younger audience! Have a great week!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      We’re reading The False Prince right now, and I cannot tell you what a breath of fresh air that’s been! My son is still off picture books, but he had to look through The Night Gardener–that cover illustration is magic!

  5. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I loved The Night Gardener but never really thought about the orphanage setting in that before. I definitely think there’s an orphanage/abandoned by parents/parents are cruel theme to children’s literature that can feel overdone like we’ve heard it all before. Sometimes it does get tiresome.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      And I know for most readers and most children, the orphanage/abandoned by parents theme is purely symbolic and hypothetical, but when you’re reading these stories with a child who has actually experienced that reality, it’s quite a different reading experience. My son completely misses the fantasy and thematic elements because for him, the book takes a solid turn to reality.

  6. Michele Avatar

    Bummer, sorry you didn’t like the Masterminds series. I have found the same thing, there are books I’ve read and I know I am not the targeted audience for a book but I know many many others are. It’s hard for me to rate those books. I feel badly giving them a low rating when I know it’s just my own issue with it.
    I loved Finding Wild too!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Compared to the Swindle series, I liked Masterminds very much, LOL. I can appreciate what Korman is able to do with spinning plot, and I really don’t think a little character development would hurt either!

  7. cweichel Avatar

    I love to read your comments on Gordon Korman (bless him for keeping so many readers entertained and engaged over the years) I also thought the first Masterminds was actually good in that there was actual character development!
    I’ve put a hold on Marvelous Cornelius based on your thoughts here. I adore Duncan Tonatiuh’s illustrations!

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