Sunday Subway Readings: from Fairy Tales to Angels (what the kids are reading)


This past two weeks have been a whirlwind. I didn’t post last week’s, as I was out of town (and I decided to read an adult book ). Last week’s subway reading was focused on John Sandford’s most recent Prey book (Field of Prey #24). I am proud to say I have read every book in this particular series. I don’t know why, but I’ve always considered Lucas Davenport to be my friend, so I always want to revisit and see what gruesome crime he is solving in Minnesota.

But I digress.  I have two other series, this post is all about.  One that’s popular in my junior library, and another that is popular with my former students, who are now in high school.

What my current students’ are reading:

Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell (Chris Colfer)Chris Colfer’s Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell (Book 1).  I wanted to like this book.  Yes, I’ll admit it. I love fractured fairy tales.  I love fairy tales.  Even some of the Disney versions.  But, this book did not work for me.

As a teacher-librarian, I struggle with the idea of being honest with my feelings with a book especially since I work with younger students. So, instead of listing what I don’t like about this book, I will write why I know my students would like it (and most likely, countless other students out there).

The reason why to have The Land of Stories (Colfer) series in the library is:

  •  Fairy Tales– always have and always will appeal to young audiences, whatever text form they appear in- the characters are familiar and different in ways that make the reader feel enchanted with the story
  • Series– more than one book with the same characters is a good thing for younger readers- they are return readers and students take comfort in knowing their narrators
  • Siblings (twins)- appeals to both boys and girls (Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles, The Spiderwick Chronicles, etc… Readers love when there is a family element

My former students (who have entered high school):

I have a group of students I stay in contact with from my former school, where I was a middle-school teacher-librarian.  They are avid readers and one day, I was in a thread of messages where the students were squealing (via emojis and texting abbreviations) about this series by Jessica Shirvington.  Now, that I work with younger students, I try to focus most of my reading attention on books aimed at students under the age of twelve; however, these messages made me reserve a copy from the local public library, so I could familiarize myself with their favourite angels.

Embrace (Book 1) Jessica ShirvingtonEmbrace is the first book of five in the story of Violet Eden.  A girl who doesn’t believe in a lot of things but has to come to terms that she now needs to believe in the unbelievable.  Good and bad people lurk in dark corners.  She has the outgoing best friend.  And the hottest guy around is actually her partner in angel life.  (I have to be honest and say that I am only halfway through this book.  My goal is to finish before the end of the weekend- tomorrow is Thanksgiving Monday in Canada, so no school.).  Again, this wouldn’t be a book that I would choose to read but because the students’ were reading it and declaring their love for the book, I thought I should join in their conversation.  They will most likely, try to encourage me to read more books in the series but I will politely decline and state that I have more books to read and if time permits, I will join them on their journey to complete the series.

I do have to say that I would have been a reader of both of these series, The Land of Stories as a junior school student and The Embrace Series as a young adult.  It’s easy to criticize the writing in both these series as being clichéd, repetitive, and better edited.   As much as we want students to read more literary texts, I think there’s a time and place for fun and enjoyable reading.

Just like I continue to read my Prey series by John Sandford. I know it’s not the best storytelling.  It also is clichéd, repetitive and could be better edited.  But I know I’ll be at the library next summer, reserving book number 25.  As will my students for their latest adventure in Land of Stories.  Or whatever series they are connected to- there’s a time and place for all stories.

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