This spring Linda DeMeulemeester, the author of the Grim Hill series, paid an author’s visit to my school. Because I didn’t want to just bring my students into an assembly without any background information about her books, I ran to the public library to see if they had her novels and do a quick read. I had just meant to read the first novel myself, then read a couple of chapters to the students, and finally have them practice their reading strategies while at the same time learning more about the book. I didn’t expect that I would get caught up in DeMeulemeester’s storytelling, or that I would average one of her books per day until I had read the entire series so far. When I introduced the book to the students as planned, they felt the same way. I ended up reading more than I had intended because the students kept asking for just one more chapter. They then started to pick up the books to read for themselves, starting before the assembly but definitely picking up after the assembly. Students and I started to have discussions about the series in our free time, which was another nice way to make a connection with the kids I teach.
DeMeulemeester has created a world where reality blends very closely with Celtic myth. In the first book, The Secret of Grim Hill, Cat and her little sister Sookie have moved to Grim Hill with their mother after their parents’ divorce. Cat has a miserable first day at her school, and would love to be able to afford the expensive tuition at the Grimoire private school. When Grimoire hosts a Halloween soccer tournament, with the winning team being able to attend the school, Cat jumps at the chance to be a part of the team. However, as game time draws closer, Sookie begins to display some otherworldly powers of her own, and Cat starts to realize that the myths of fairies and spells are very much alive in her town. As the series progresses, Sookie’s powers continue to evolve, and start to get her and Cat into trouble. Other characters are introduced, including Clive, Cat’s alternating nemesis and potential love interest. One reason I enjoy the series is because of the Celtic myths. I learned quite a bit about the legends of fairies, witches, and other mythical creatures, and I appreciated how this knowledge led to a better understanding of the plot. I also liked how DeMeulemeester keeps the suspense going in her series. As she discussed herself, each chapter ends with a small question or event, so the reader needs to keep going to find out what happened next. This, along with the engaging characters, makes for a great fantasy series for kids to explore.
A continued list for my summer reading includes:
July 16th: Meet the Group of Seven, by David Wistow
July 17th: Lucy Maud and the Cavendish Cat, by Lynn Manuel
July 18th: Grim Hill: Forest of Secrets, by Linda DeMeulemeester
July 19th: My Story: Battle of Britain: Harry Woods, England 1939-1941, by Chris Priestley
July 20th: Never Work Harder than Your Students & Other Principles of Great Teaching, by Robyn R. Jackson
July 21st: Ida B … and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World, by Katherine Hannigan
July 22nd: Conspiracy 365: Book Two: February, by Gabrielle Lord