Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers

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Book Review: IN THE WILD LIGHT by Jeff Zentner

I’ve waited a long time to celebrate this book — coming on Tuesday! Thank you for writing another important and heart-filled YA title, Jeff Zentner!

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner. Published by Crown Books for Young Readers.

Cash Pruitt is a hard-working 17-year-old from Sawyer, Tennessee who has a hard past. Now living with his grandparents, Cash mows lawns, attends Sawyer High School, and hangs out with his best friend, Delaney Doyle. The two share heartbreaks (Cash’s mom died of an opioid addiction and Delaney’s mom is headed down the same path) and adventures (traveling on the river and digging in caves). When Delaney’s adventures lead to an important medical discovery, Middleford Academy in Connecticut offers Delaney a scholarship to the prestigious private high school, but she won’t go unless Cash joins her.
How does a teenager pick up and leave the only home he’s ever known? Mamaw cannot possibly handle working night shifts and take care of Papaw all by herself. But new places and faces are an opportunity for Cash as much as for Delaney. When a teacher introduces poetry, Cash discovers that writing can bring home and family to whatever setting he happens to occupy at the time. 
Packed with references to recognized settings, readers will relate to Cash and Delaney and their stories. The gorgeous language of Zentner’s storytelling, especially the details of scenes and scents, makes the reader stop and appreciate nature, especially the river and how it nourishes the soul. Cash learns to navigate life through his poetry, something he can use to reveal his love. Readers will love In the Wild Light and maybe even uncover their own passion for life — the feelings will grip and hold on for a long while. “Home is where the heart is” never had truer meaning.

Recommended for ages 13 and up.

5 Stars *****

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IMWAYR: Stay-At-Home Guidelines and Reading

It’s been a rough start this week. Monday, Monday…we are still under stay-at-home orders and there’s lots of time to read, but I’ve also been stuck. Three authors have stuck with me so far, and have made reading time more comfortable in the discomfort of this COVID-19 virus outbreak.

Kwame Alexander is reading The Crossover aloud on Instagram Live each morning this week. Today we started with the first part of the book, where we meet “Filthy McNasty”, his twin brother, and his family. What an excellent book! Listening to Kwame read is making my re-read so much more fun. Kwame, we love you! Thanks for reading to us.

Jeff Zentner has generously given his time to read The Serpent King aloud every other night on Instagram Live. As a bonus, he gives insights and notes about his writing process, plus some music, and even jokes. I love laughing again. Hey! “Since we are all home anyway…why not?” Thanks for your time, Jeff!

One more author on my mind is Tomie DePaola. We lost a great literary genius and a really nice person today. RIP. We already miss you so much!

It’s Monday! What Are YOU Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Kathryn decided to give “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Celebrate reading with your loved ones this week while you’re stuck at home. Wash your hands! Stay safe and healthy.