Outside In

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One of my favourite ways to relax over the Winter Break is tucking in to my long list of Forest of Reading books.  After a few busy days of holiday celebrations, I found a quiet moment this morning to sift through my “to-read” pile.  After much deliberation of what title to choose, I settled on the Red Maple Fiction novel Outside In by Sarah Ellis.

Outside In is a relatively short, quirky story about a fairly typical teenage girl who encounters a very atypical girl and her family who are living off the grid.  Main characters Lynn and Blossom form an unusual friendship after a near-death experience which creates conflict with Lynn’s friends at school as well as her impulsive and sometimes unreliable mother.  Blossom is revealed to be an “Underlander”: a name for people who live unnoticed by the world.  Without a home, education, or employment that meet  contemporary societal norms, Blossom and her family teach Lynn how to make her own mark on the world and how everything has a purpose even if it’s not apparent at first glance.

Overall, Outside In offers some thought-provoking ideologies around such themes as homelessness, social inequity, friendship, and family.  The story is often compelling and the characters unique.  I am curious to see how our Grade 7 and 8 readers respond to this novel once the Red Maple reading program starts up in January.

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The Extraordinary Life of Anna Swan

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Believe it or not, I am reading a non-fiction book!

Every year I read at least one book in each of the Forest of Reading programs. And this year, I’ve decided to start with the Silver Birch Non-Fiction title The Extraordinary Life of Anna Swan.

This book tells the story of an unusual baby girl born in Nova Scotia in 1846.  Anna Swan entered the world in a big way.  Born at an astonishing weight of 13 pounds, she kept growing until she was nearly 8 feet tall. Billed as “The Nova Scotia Giant Girl” Anna spent time working for P.T. Barnum’s American Museum in New York, and other similar enterprises. She traveled, and met the queen of England. She even found love with a man her own height.

The Extraordinary Life of Anna Swan gives an interesting overview of Anna’s life, with lots of vintage photographs and entertaining anecdotes. Author Anne Renaud portrays Anna Swan as a woman playing the hand she was dealt with grace and dignity, and never losing control of her own life. The result is a fascinating peek into the life of a Canadian woman who may have been known for being a “giantess” but was clearly much, much more.

Forest of Reading 2015

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  The 2015 Forest of Reading program will be starting in January.  The Forest of Reading® is Canada’s largest recreational reading program! This initiative of the Ontario Library Association (OLA) offers reading programs to encourage a love of reading in people of all ages. The Forest® helps celebrate Canadian books, publishers, authors and illustrators. More than 250,000 readers participate annually from their School and/or Public Library.

This year, Bruce Trail is participating in six different programs:

Blue Spruce (grades K to 2): books will be read in-class and/or during library visits

Silverbirch Express (grades 3 & 4): run as an extra-curricular

SIlverbirch Fiction (grades 5 & 6): run as an extra-curricular

Silverbirch Non-Fiction (grades 5 & 6): run as an extra-curricular

Red Maple Fiction (grades 7 & 8): run as an extra-curricular

Red Maple Non-Fiction (grades 7 & 8): run as an extra-curricular

The Bruce Trail library has been busy getting prepared for our January start.  We received all books last week, a new display in the front foyer has been created to help promote the program, and class talks will begin next week as an introduction to the program and the books for students.  Additionally, we have several amazing B.T. staff members involved this year: they will read the books and moderate reading responses as part of the program requirements.  Kudos to these staff members for getting involved and sharing their love of literacy!

A heartfelt “Thank You” also goes out to Bruce Trail’s Parent Council for supporting this library and literary program.  Without their funding, we simply would not be able to run this beloved student extra-curricular event.  We plan to document the Forest of Reading journey this year as a way to show Parent Council just what this program means to our learning community.

Last but not least, some exciting news!  Our library was honoured as the winner of the #FORatINSPIRE social media contest as a result of a photo tweeted out of myself and Miss Duransky at the Toronto International Book Fair in mid-November.  As a result, we received $500 of 2015 Forest of Reading books.  This is fantastic news as more books =  happy B.T. students.  Check out our Twitter feed for details.

Time to sign off and dig in to my first Forest of Reading 2015 book,

– Miss Westbury