I Just Finished Reading... Top Picks for September
Each month I share my favourite new books for 6 – 12 year-olds that have both kid AND parent appeal. I hope you enjoy them, too!
This gentle story would be perfect as a read aloud before bed. Soft, pastel drawings accompany the tale of a lonely man who is tasked with opening bottles found at sea and delivering the messages inside. Although he enjoys his work, the Uncorker longs for a message to arrive that is intended for him. When an unaddressed note appears one day, he tries to solve the mystery of who it belongs to with no luck. Instead, he finds community and happiness: “the Uncorker’s heart was a glass vessel filled to the brim”. Readers can reflect on the story by asking each other what message they would send, and might enjoy reading about the oldest message in a bottle ever found.
Kids will be immediately inspired by this retelling of how Louis Braille came to invent the system of reading and writing for the blind that’s still used today. The description of how Braille may have experienced the world after he was accidentally blinded as a boy is especially powerful, “My world was dark and dangerous. I stumbled about the house, banging into the chairs, the walls, the door. My body ached. ‘Where is the sun?!’ I cried.” To get the full effect of this passage, and those on the few pages that follow, try reading this aloud to your child while they keep their eyes shut. Braille’s cleverness and perseverance helped him to not only adapt after he became blind, but to create something that had such a lasting impact on so many.
What if you had robots in your school? Not just to clean the washrooms or dish up cafeteria food, but as your vice-principal and new classmate? That’s what life is life for Max Zealster at Vanguard Middle School. When Fuzzy, a student robot, is introduced to the student population as part of a project, Max is tasked with helping him fit in. But it becomes obvious that vice-principal Barbara, a supercomputer, is obsessed with controlling everything and everyone, and Max and Fuzzy might be in trouble. Will the two friends get to the bottom of what’s really going on at Vanguard? This book is a fast-paced read and a great conversation starter about artificial intelligence and the role technology plays in our lives.