It’s been exceptionally cold this past week, but it’s supposed to be a bit warmer today and sunny in the afternoon, so I won’t need to bundle up quite as much for my long Sunday walk. My steaming cup of chai is still a welcome treat, along with a delicious Date Bar… Best. Breakfast. Ever.
I will tell you about two kids’ books today. The first is the book my Intermediate students’ book club read before Christmas (I only finished on Wednesday). The Iron Trial is the first in the “Magisterium” series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, and it was quite interesting and well-written. It tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy, Callum, who is called to undergo testing to be admitted into the Magisterium, but he does not want to go. Having been raised by his father, Alistair, a mage who, after the death of his wife, has spurned magic, Call has always thought that magic, and the Magisterium, was something to be avoided at all cost. When he is forced to join the group of First Years, the Iron Trial, he reluctantly goes, but rather than hating it as he expected, he finds things that he never had in his other life, friendship and loyalty and people who watch out for him. But when he finally finds out the shocking truth which his father tried to shield him from, Call must make a monumental decision about not only his future, but that of the entire Magisterium and the world beyond. Sound familiar? I thought so, too. There were so many similarities to “Harry Potter” that I almost gave up on it, but my kids are now halfway through the second book, The Copper Gauntlet, and I thought the least I could do was finish the first book. Normally I sit and read with them, but this year seems to be so much busier than past years that I just didn’t have time during my regular work day. Anyway, I’m glad I finished it because the ending was a huge surprise. I now understand why the book club members wanted to read the next book. If you are a fan of "Harry Potter", this is definitely a book you might enjoy.
And I’m nearly finished reading one of the Silver Birch nominees for this year, The Fabulous Zed Watson by Basil and Kevin Sylvester. This novel tells the story of Zed Watson, a non-binary kid who is obsessed with finding the missing manuscript of a novel written by H K Taylor called The Monster’s Castle, a tortured romance between a vampire and a werewolf who both happen to be male. Well, this was never going to be published, so the author released a few chapters along with a poem, and Zed has been searching for clues to finding this book, which they are sure exists. When they strike up an unlikely friendship with Gabe, a shy, flora-loving classmate, they head off together on a quest to find this missing manuscript, along with Gabe’s sister Sam, a geology student who is headed back to university. They encounter perils and challenges, as well as clues and successes (and plenty of ice cream!), along the way, but the best part about this book is the pure joy that is the character of Zed. Despite the challenges they face being non-binary in today’s mostly-traditional society, they always stay positive and manage to make light of any situation. They are fabulous and they aren’t afraid to show it. This book is more than a literary mystery… it’s a meditation on society’s (slowly) changing attitudes toward gender identity, the power of friendship, and the benefits of staying positive in the face of adversity. I am looking forward to finishing this novel today, but have no doubt that it will continue to be fabulous to the very last page. It is so full of joy, wit, puns and “Zed-isms” that it had me laughing to myself and appreciating every sentence. I hope this father-son team continues to write together, maybe other books featuring Zed and Gabe on more exciting adventures. I loved this book, and I’m sure you will, too!
That’s all for today. Take care, stay warm and keep reading!
Bye for now...