The Inly Summer Reading List – Part 8

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Today’s section of Inly’s Summer Reading List is for Fluent Readers.

-         text has fully developed plot, often touching upon issues such as death,

            prejudice, poverty or war

-         settings are often in other time periods or unfamiliar or imaginary locations

-         texts begin to include multiple perspectives on an issue

Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond

“Told in the immediate first-person voice of 10-year-old Carrie, Zora Neale Hurston’s best childhood friend, this first novel is both thrilling and heartbreaking. Each chapter is a story that evokes the famous African American writer’s early years in turn-of-the-last-century Eatonville, Florida, and the sharp, wry vignettes build to a climax, as Carrie and Zora eavesdrop on adults and discover secrets. Family is front and center, but true to Hurston’s work, there is no reverential message: Carrie mourns for her dad, who went toOrlandofor work and never came back; Zora’s father is home, but he rejects her for being educated and “acting white,” unlike her favored sister. Racism is part of the story, with occasional use of the n-word in the colloquial narrative. Like Hurston, who celebrated her rich roots but was also a wanderer at heart, this novel of lies and revelations will reach a wide audience, and some strong readers will want to follow up with Hurston’s writings, including Their Eyes Are Watching God (1937). The novel’s back matter includes a short biography of Hurston, an annotated bibliography of her groundbreaking work, and an endorsement by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust.” (starred review, Booklist)

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

The Invisible Order: Book One by Paul Crilley

“This fantasy has all the right elements, weaving lore of the faeries, a classic quest, epic battles, a riddle, and a clever heroine into a fast-moving, suspenseful plot. Emily, 12, sells bunches of watercress to earn a penny or two to feed herself and her brother, orphaned when their parents disappeared a few years earlier. One morning, she is surprised to learn of a hidden war in the dreary streets of Victorian London. Emily is a True Seer, able to see the faeries. Corrigan, a pesky piskie left behind after the battle, involves her in the fight between the Seelie and the Unseelie, faeries in a war that began in 1666 with the Great Fire. Emily faces betrayal upon betrayal as she tries to save her kidnapped brother and figure out whom to trust and to help. Which group wants to subjugate humans, which one wants to coexist? And what are the real intentions of the members in the Invisible Order, a secret society that protects humans from the faeries? Emily must solve a riddle to find a magic stone that leads to a key to an underground London. Along the way she meets Merlin, learns she has been around for centuries, and discovers that her parents may be alive. Corrigan supplies some humor, while Emily’s friend Spring-Heeled Jack provides intimations of a budding romance. Intricate and layered, with a rapidly moving plot and an appealing and resourceful heroine, this book will have kids eagerly awaiting the next installment.” (School Library Journal)

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

“As in his previous novels, Curtis is a master at balancing the serious and the lighthearted.  He has already received a Newbery medal and an honor for two novels rooted in the experience of black Americans: The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Bud, Not Buddy.  His latest book is another natural award candidate and makes an excellent case, in a story positively brimming with both truth and sense, for the ability of historic fiction to bring history to life.  (Bruno Navasky, Children’s Storefront, an independent school based inHarlem)

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

“From inside Caitlin’s head, readers see the very personal aftermath of a middle school shooting that took the life of the older brother she adored. Caitlin is a bright fifth grader and a gifted artist. She also has Asperger’s syndrome, and her brother, Devon, was the one who helped her interpret the world. Now she has only her father, a widower who is grieving anew and whose ability to relate to his daughter is limited. A compassionate school counselor works with her, trying to teach her the social skills that are so difficult for her. Through her own efforts and her therapy sessions, she begins to come to terms with her loss and makes her first, tentative steps toward friendship. Caitlin’s thought processes, including her own brand of logic, are made remarkably clear. The longer readers spend in the child’s world, the more understandable her entirely literal and dispassionate interpretations are. Marred slightly by the portrayal of Devonas a perfect being, this is nonetheless a valuable book. After getting to know Caitlin, young people’s tendencies to label those around them as either “normal” or “weird” will seem as simplistic and inadequate a system as it truly is.” (School Library Journal)

Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher

The Midnight Tunnel by Angie Frazier

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

“In 1935, jobs are hard to come by, and Turtle’s mother is lucky to find work as a live-in housekeeper. When she learns that her employer can’t stand children, she sends her 11-year-old daughter from New Jerseyto Key Westto live with relatives. Turtle discovers a startlingly different way of life amid boisterous cousins, Nana Philly, and buried treasure. This richly detailed novel was inspired by Holm’s great-grandmother’s stories. Readers who enjoy melodic, humorous tales of the past won’t want to miss it.” (School Library Journal)

Savvy by Ingrid Law

The Batboy by Mike Lupica

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean

Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

“Communicating with ghosts, including the spirit of her mother who died giving birth to her, is a gift that Lanesha, 12, has had for as long as she can remember. The girl’s beloved caretaker, Mama Ya-Ya, a midwife and healer, has a gift that allows her to predict the future. When she begins to sense that a big storm is coming to their much-loved New Orleansneighborhood, both she and Lanesha must trust in their senses and in one another to survive. Lanesha is a wonderful character who exudes resilience and fortitude in the face of a catastrophe as well as a personal vulnerability in terms of her status as an orphan and an outsider. Words, numbers, and colors as seen through her eyes show the magic and wonder that exist in everyday things. The unique writing style even allows the unlikely combination of elderly Mama Ya-Ya’s heady scents of Vicks Vapor Rub and Evening in Parisperfume to seem wonderful and inviting. Although the outcome of Hurricane Katrina is known, the clever writing allows the unavoidable tragedy to unfold in such a haunting and suspenseful manner that the extreme sense of foreboding and ultimate destruction is personalized and unforgettable. Heartbreak and hope are reflected in Lanesha’s story, which will capture even reluctant readers due to the inventive storytelling and the author’s ability to bring history to life.” (School Library Journal)

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

The Lost Hero: The Heroes of Olympus (Book One) by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Little Prince – Graphic  Novel by Joann Sfar

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Here is a true masterpiece—an artful blending of narrative, illustration and cinematic technique, for a story as tantalizing as it is touching.Twelve-year-old orphan Hugo lives in the walls of a Paris train station at the turn of the 20th century, where he tends to the clocks and filches what he needs to survive. Hugo’s recently deceased father, a clockmaker, worked in a museum where he discovered an automaton: a human-like figure seated at a desk, pen in hand, as if ready to deliver a message. After his father showed Hugo the robot, the boy became just as obsessed with getting the automaton to function as his father had been, and the man gave his son one of the notebooks he used to record the automaton’s inner workings. The plot grows as intricate as the robot’s gears and mechanisms [...] To Selznick’s credit, the coincidences all feel carefully orchestrated; epiphany after epiphany occurs before the book comes to its sumptuous, glorious end. Selznick hints at the toymaker’s hidden identity [...] through impressive use of meticulous charcoal drawings that grow or shrink against black backdrops, in pages-long sequences. They display the same item in increasingly tight focus or pan across scenes the way a camera might. The plot ultimately has much to do with the history of the movies, and Selznick’s genius lies in his expert use of such a visual style to spotlight the role of this highly visual media. A standout achievement.”

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

“Lucy knows that sixth grade is going to be the best year ever: she finally gets her own room now that her older sister is off to college, and she and her friend Madison are ready to rule the basketball courts. But Lucy’s parents put a glitch in those plans when her father returns from a business trip toChinawith Lucy’s great-aunt, who will visit until Christmas. Lucy again has a roommate, and resents this elderly lady who does not speak English and cooks only Chinese food for a family used to pizza and burgers. To make matters worse, her parents insist that she attend Chinese school on Saturday mornings, which means forgoing basketball practice. She is busy with her suburban American life and doesn’t feel the need to converse in Chinese or to dwell on Chinese traditions. Slowly, though, she comes to appreciate all that Yi Po has lived through and the quiet ways that her great-aunt shows her love for the family. When Lucy is bullied by a popular girl, she thinks about what her brother told her about Yi Po’s life duringChina’s Cultural Revolution and determines that she will act with similar courage and conviction. Lucy is an engaging character, and Shang skillfully weaves in Chinese history and legend as she brings the relationships between Lucy and her family and friends to life. Fans of Grace Lin’s Year of the Dog (2006) and Year of the Rat (2008, both Little, Brown) will enjoy meeting this feisty protagonist as she learns to dismantle some walls she has built around herself.” (School Library Journal)

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

2010 Newbery Award winner

“Miranda has no trouble navigating her 1978 New York Cityneighborhood, but she does have trouble with sixth grade when her best friend deserts her, mysterious notes appear that seem to predict the future, and she keeps encountering a homeless man who is somehow connected to her life.  A perfectly crafted, time-wrinkling puzzle. (School Library Journa)

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson

“This volume is an adaptation of Swanson’s Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer (HarperCollins, 2006). Divided into 14 chapters and an epilogue, the sentences are shorter and chapters are condensed from the original but the rich details and suspense are ever present. Lacking are a bibliography and a notes section. Excellent black-and-white illustrations complement the text. Devoted to the South, John Wilkes Booth had planned to kidnap Lincoln and hold him hostage, but when that plan did not materialize, he hatched his assassination plot. Co-conspirators in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia helped him escape and evade capture for 12 days before being surrounded in a barn and killed. Readers will be engrossed by the almost hour-by-hour search and by the many people who encountered the killer as he tried to escape. It is a tale of intrigue and an engrossing mystery.” (starred review, School Library Journal)

Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

The Inly Summer Reading List – Part 7

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Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been posting sections of our school’s summer reading list.  Rather than listing books according to the grade the student is entering, we base our summer list on Bonnie Campbell Hill’s Reading Continuum. The ten sections of Hill’s continuum identify characteristics of children at certain stages in their growth as readers. Our students are given summaries of each title, but in the interest of space, I’ve been listing titles only – with a few exceptions. The three remaining sections will be posted during the week ahead.

Today’s list is for Fluent Readers.  The characteristics of a fluent reader are:

-         many books include a central theme

-         challenging vocabulary

-         fully developed plots and characters

Fever by Laurie Halse Anderson

Books (mysteries) by John Bellairs

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting   

 Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall

“This is a book to cherish and to hold close like a warm, cuddly blanket that you draw around yourself to keep out the cold.” (starred review, School Library Journal)

Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach

Masterpiece by Elise Broach

Powerless by Matthew Cody

Books by Sharon Creech

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleischman

The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich

The Other Half of My Heart by Sundee T. Frazier

Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

How to Scratch a Wombat by Jackie French

Scat by Carl Hiaasen

 Books by Eva Ibbotson

The Great Ghost Rescue (1975)
Which Witch? (1979)
Not Just a Witch (1989)
The Secret of Platform 13 (1994)
Dial-a-Ghost (1996)
Island of the Aunts (2000)
Journey to the River Sea (2001)
The Haunting of Granite Falls (2004)
The Star of Kazan (2004)
Dial a Ghost (2008)
The Dragonfly Pool (2008)

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers

Only Theodosia Throckmorton can see the black magic and ancient curses that emanate from the Egyptian artifacts that her parents bring back from their archeological digs.  She has secretly learned the magic spells necessary to cleanse the objects.  But this time her mother has brought back an ancient amulet so cursed that it threatens the British Empire.  First-time author LaFevers has written a humdinger of a fantasy/historical/thriller novel. (Politics and Prose, Favorite Children’s Books, 2007)

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

Five Children and It byE. Nesbit

“In a hole in the ground, a few children find an old, hideous and short-tempered sand fairy, which awards them a wish for the day that would last only until sunset  Soon enough, they might learn that magic is not just a wonderful adventure – it can sometimes be tricky.”  (National Public Radio – Adventures to Read All Through the Summer)

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel  (or any books from this series: Sunwing, Firewing

  Darkwing, etc..)

Books by Gary Paulsen

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Bill Peet: An Autobiography

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick 

“Philbrick offers rip-roaring adventure in this Civil War–era novel featuring a mistreated orphan who doesn’t let truth stand in the way of spinning a good yarn. When his guardian, Uncle Squinton—the meanest man in the entire state of Maine—sells off Homer P. Figg’s older brother, Harold, to take a rich man’s son’s place in the Union army, Homer can’t just stand around doing nothing. Determined to alert the authorities (and his brother) that Harold is too young to be a soldier, the plucky narrator traces the path of the regiment. He faces many dangers, including an abduction or two, and being robbed and thrown in with the pigs, and joining the Caravan of Miracles before landing smack in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg, where he reunites with his brother and more or less drives the Confederates away. The book wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without Homer’s tall tales, but there are serious moments, too, and the horror of war and injustice of slavery ring clearly above the din of playful exaggerations.”  (starred review, Publishers Weekly)

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Our Farm: Four Seasons with Five Kids on One Family’s Farm by Michael Rosen

Holes by Louis Sachar

Fortune’s Magic Farm by Suzanne Selfors

The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr by Judith St. George

Early on a July morning in 1804, on a patch of field overlooking theHudson River, two prominent political figures dueled. Suspenseful, alternating chapters follow the contrasting lives and characters of the men from birth to that fateful day.” (School Library Journal)

Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg: Baseball Pioneer by Shelley Sommer

What Happened on Fox Street by Tricia Springstubb

The Mysterious Benedict Society byTrenton Lee Stewart

 Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey byTrenton Lee Stewart

            The sequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society – and just as fun!

Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by C. Thimmesh

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

The Inly Summer Reading List – Part 6

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Today was the last day of school which, as every teacher knows, is both wonderful and sad. I will miss some of the students who are moving to other states or, in the case of our 8th graders, going to high school in September. I have watched many of our 8th grade students move from one end of the reading continuum to the other. I clearly remember some of these kids checking out Magic Tree House books a few short years ago, and now they are sharing their new high school reading lists with me. The highlight of the day was when a young girl gave me a flower pot on which she had painted the letter B.  My first and last name both begin with S. Our school’s name begins with an I. But B?  “B for Book,” she said proudly. Of course.

The list continues….These are the characteristics of a Bridging Reader.

-         more fully developed plots

-         more challenging content

-         more descriptive and memorable text

 Arabel’s Raven and Arabel and Mortimer by Joan Aiken

Poppy (and its sequels) by Avi

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks

Tumtum & Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn

The Unforgettable Season by Phil Bildner

Butterflies and Moths by Nic Bishop

Science meets artistry in an exquisitely designed photo-essay that describes the life cycles of these breathtakingly beautiful insects. Bishop’s crystalline close-ups and lyrical narrative engage readers with mesmerizing detail and an infectious sense of awe.” (School Library Journal)

Lizards by Nic Bishop

Books by Beverly Cleary

Frindle by Andrew Clements

No Talking by Andrew Clements

 The Boggart by Susan Cooper

How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech

The Trouble with Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery by Doreen Cronin

Books by Roald Dahl

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed the World by Allan Drummond

“In this first title in a planned series of picture books about sustainable energy, Drummond combines winsome, kinetic, ink-and-wash illustrations with a succinct, simply phrased, smoothly flowing narrative that describes how Samsø transformed itself.” (starred review, Booklist)

Books by Edward Eager

Books by Elizabeth Enright

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

The Moffats by Eleanor Estes

The Problem with the Puddles by Kate Feiffer

Amelia Rules! The Whole World’s Crazy by Jimmy Gownley

Sophie Simon Solves Them All by Lisa Graff

Whale Scientists: Solving the Mystery of Whale Strandings by Fran Hodgkins

“This entry in the Scientists in the Field series looks at how scientists are working to discover the reasons why whales beach themselves.  While they have no definitive answer, this book explores the theories, including illness or injury, hearing damage, magnetic attractions, confusing geography and more.”  (Open Wide, Look Inside: Outstanding Science Books Published in 2007)

Can We Save the Tiger? By Martin Jenkins

The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow by Tim Kehoe

John Muir: America’s First Environmentalist by Kathryn Lasky

Highway Cats by Janet Taylor Lisle

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look

Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry

“An impeccably constructed, good-humored adventure filled with master plans, near disasters, and brave rescues, all gently frightening for readers even younger than the target audience. Lowry creates a cozy church environment of lenient sextons, disheveled organists, and skittish Altar Guild ladies, from a mouse’s point-of-view. Fun and lighthearted.” (Publishers Weekly)

The Tarantula Scientist by Sy Montgomery

 Shiloh (and its sequels) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Chee-Lin: A Giraffe’s Journey by James Rumford

“Linking the Chinese mythological creature, the chee-lin, to a 1414 Chinese portrait of a giraffe, Rumford imagines how a giraffe may have journeyed to China. From his birth and capture in East Africa to a short stay in Bengal and a stay in Nanjingand finally landing in Peking, lonely Tweega (Swahili for giraffe) survives frightening voyages, cruel and tender caretakers, and cramped quarters, ending up in the emperor’s spacious grounds. Tweega inspires awe everywhere and stirs optimism among the Chinese, who believe the chee-lin to be an omen of good fortune. The narrative—moving, even tender in many places—is accompanied by handsome full-page paintings, beautifully bordered with evocative motifs. A rare work, vividly imagined and caringly executed.” (starred review, Booklist)

Sidekicks by Dan Santat

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman

Abel’s Island by William Steig

Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage by Kaye Umansky

Justin Case by Rachel Vail

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt

Looking for Seabirds: Journal from an Alaskan Voyage by Sophie Webb

I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer by Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford’s I, Matthew Henson celebrates the life of the Arctic explorer who accompanied Robert Peary on his seven journeys to reach the North Pole. Though Henson saved Peary’s life, befriended the Inuit, and was instrumental in the team’s celebrated success, he didn’t receive proper recognition for his contributions because of his race. The poetic text and Eric Velasquez’s pastel illustrations take readers to the icy, frigid frontier these men finally conquered.”  (School Library Journal)

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Stuart Little by E.B. White

Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

The Secret World of Hildegard by Jonah Winter

Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 byLawrence Yep

The Inly Summer Reading List – Part 5

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Continuing the Inly Summer Reading List…today we reach the Expanding Reader. According to the Bonnie Campbell Hill Reading Continuum, these are the characteristics of an expanding reader:

-         more challenging vocabulary

-         more developed characters

-         illustrations provide less support

-         may include multiple paragraphs per page

By the time a child is reading books from this list, they are reading more independently – although it’s certainly still recommended that parents read with and to their children. Keep reading as long as your child wants to listen!  When I distribute the entire reading list to our parents, each book is accompanied by a review from either School Library Journal or Horn Book. I don’t want the blog-version of the list to be too long, so there are only a few reviews included here.

Cam Jansen books by David Adler

A Three-Minute Speech: Lincoln’s Remarks at Gettysburg by Jennifer Armstrong

The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton

This artful blending of biography and applied science sheds light on the serendipitous invention that turned two siblings intrigued with fluorescence into successful businessmen. The black-and-white cartoon art slowly gives way to bursts of neon color.” (School Library Journal)

The Stories Julian Tells/The Stories Huey Tells by Ann Cameron

Science books by Vicki Cobb

Is My Friend at Home: Pueblo Fireside Tales by John Bierhorst

Flat Stanley/Invisible Stanley by Jeff Brown

Seal Island School and The Seal Island Seven by Susan Bartlett

Mimmie and Sophie: All Around Town by Miriam Cohen

Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley

Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies

Front Porch Tales and North Country Whoppers by Tomie dePaola

“These laugh-out-loud stories fromNew HampshireandVermontare set during the four season of the year.  In his appealing dialect, the narrator tells little-known tales, while interspersed throughout are comic-style episodes featuring an unsuspecting tourist who tries to get more information from the locals.”  (New YorkPublic Library, 100 Titles forReadingand Sharing)

Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee

Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Zoo’s Who by Douglas Florian

“Florian’s most recent book of poems with his lovely illustrations.  “As always, Florian’s work manages to be clever, witty and appealing.  It’s easy enough for children to understand, but is so inventive adults won’t tire of reading and re-reading.”  (BookPage)

Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han

“In the tradition of Judy Moody and Clementine comes Clara Lee. Clara is a typical third-grader who neatly combines her Korean and American sides. Her warm, supportive family includes a grandfather who is always there for her, especially when she decides to pursue her dream of being Little Miss Apple Pie, riding in the float in her town’s apple festival. In a plot that will resonate with kids, Clara is scared when she dreams her grandfather dies, but Grandfather tells her that in Korean tradition that means good luck is coming. And sure enough, Clara’s luck does take a turn for the better, with a newfound ability in gym class, a surprise present in her desk, and the courage (almost) to write the speech that could be her ticket to the apple festival. But luck has a habit of changing too, and when things aren’t going quite as well, Clara wonders if she should give up her dream. A realistic group of characters, both adults and children, and true-to-life situations will make this illustrated chapter book a favorite.” (Booklist)

Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building by Deborah Hopkinson

Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings

“Fifth-grader Rufus’s only wish is to get a dog, but his work-at-home dad objects. He lists numerous reasons, including that dogs lick people’s faces, chase cars, and eat dead things. Rufus’s mom brings home a guinea pig instead in an attempt to fulfill her son’s desire for a pet. To his surprise, the guinea pig, which he names Fido, acts like a dog. She obeys his commands and chews his dad’s shoes. When Rufus’s family decides to return the animal to the pet store, a classmate is willing to buy her to replace her hamster. But Rufus begins to have second thoughts about relinquishing the guinea pig. Although no explanation is given for why Fido behaves like a dog, children will have no problem accepting the absurdity of the situation. Early chapter-book readers will enjoy this humorous tale.” (School Library Journal)

The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth by Kathleen Krull

Armed with an active imagination and a pile of science magazines, a boy began tinkering with motors and gadgets; by the age of 22, he announced to the world that he had invented television. Luminous acrylic wash and colored-pencil illustrations add abundant period details to this well-told story of youthful passion and persistence.” (School Library Journal)

Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

“While many students know about the Underground Railroad, few have heard of Henry “Box” Brown, “the man who mailed himself to freedom.” Ellen Levine’s Henry’s Freedom Box is a fictional account of the true story of Brown’s inventive escape to Philadelphia in a wooden crate. Born into slavery, Brown never knew his birthday, but on March 30, 1849, he finally declared one—his first day of freedom. Kadir Nelson’s handsome illustrations inspired by antique lithographs effectively convey the drama with feeling.” (School Library Journal)

Judy Moody books by Megan McDonald

Stink books by Megan McDonald

Who Was Louis Armstrong? by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson

Zen Ties and Zen Shorts by Jon Muth

Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman by Mark Tyler Nobleman

Mokie and Bik by Wendy Orr

Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins

“Naima is a talented painter of traditional alpana patterns, which Bangladeshi women and girls paint on their houses for special celebrations.  But Naima is not satisfied just painting alpana.  She wants to help earn money for her family, like her best friend, Saleem, does for his family.  When Naima’s rash effort to help puts her family deeper in debt, she draws on her resourceful nature and her talents to bravely save the day.” (New YorkPublic Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing)

Behold the Bold Umprellaphant by Jack Prelutsky

“Prelutsky is one of the best word crafters in the business, and this collection does not disappoint. Each entry is about a creature that is part animal and part inanimate object. For instance, the Alarmadillos have alarm clocks for bodies, and the Ballpoint Penguins can write with their beaks. The poems are full of fun and wit, with wordplay and meter that never miss a beat. The whimsical illustrations use cut-print media, old-fashioned print images, and a variety of paper textures to create a rich visual treat well suited to the poetry. The detail in the mixed-media pictures makes this a good choice for individual or lap reading, but the poetry begs to be read aloud. This is definitely a do not miss poetry pick.”   (School Library Journal, starred review)

Thumb and the Bad Guys by Ken Roberts

The Owly Series by Andy Runton

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz

Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City by Janet Schulman

Zarafa: The Giraffe Who Walked to the King by Judith St. George

The Akimbo series by Alexander McCall Smith

“The author of the adult The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency mystery series originally published these delightful children’s stories in Great Britainin the early 1990s. His short, illustrated chapter-book adventures will transport American readers to the plains of Africawhere Akimbo lives with his parents on a Kenyan game reserve. His father works as a park ranger, and, on occasion, Akimbo is allowed to accompany him while he works. In Elephants, the two encounter a dead elephant, killed for its tusks. When the poachers aren’t found immediately, Akimbo devises a plan to catch them in the act. After several suspenseful moments, the boy’s simple, yet innocent plan works. In Lions, the child accompanies his father and other rangers as they investigate news of lion attacks. The plan is to trap the marauding animal and take it to another area, but by accident, they capture its cub. The African setting, dramatic full-page pencil illustrations, and the animal facts woven into the stories are sure to capture young readers. (School Library Journal)

Frankly Frannie by A.J. Stern (and sequels)

Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares

Pharaoh’s Boat by David Weitzman

History, custom, and instruction in the ancient art of shipbuilding are at the core of this account of the amazing discovery and reconstruction of a 4500-year-old funerary vessel. The book’s dynamic design incorporates elegant stylized drawings in warm hues.” (School Library Journal)

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter

“This gorgeous, accessible biography allows young readers to absorb the significance of Jane’s tireless research, her groundbreaking discoveries and important work protectingAfrica’s land and animals.” (starred review, Kirkus)

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino

Rapunzel, a German folktale, retold and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Two Fewer Opportunities to Browse


Whenever our family plans a trip, our first stop is the Globe Corner Bookstore in Harvard Square. My husband loves the store’s mix of straightforward travel guides and the best travel writing about every corner of the “globe.” He grew up going to the Globe Corner Bookstore and it was where he got ideas, was inspired about the wonders of the world and talked with experienced travelers. While he researched new adventures, my son and I would make our way down the street to Curious George Goes to Wordsworth, a wonderful children’s bookstore right in the center of Harvard Square. We loved looking at the new books, and I have fond memories of my son (as a six-year-old) showing me books he could read by himeself.  Naturally, we bought a plush Curious George during one of our visits.

In a few weeks, both bookstores will be closed. I know why and, by being a Nook owner and on-line book shopper, I contribute to the impossibility of sustaining independent bookstores. I still feel sad.  Like many supporters of independents, I would often purchase books in the stores to, in effect, vote with my wallet. But admittedly, I would look at a full price book and think that maybe there was a used copy on Amazon. This day was inevitable, but I will miss those evenings in Harvard Square that my husband, son and I spent poking around the bookstores learning about new places to see and new books to read.

Odds and Ends

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It was a beautiful weekend here – and I had time to spend reading a few books on my nightstand. More on that later, but tonight….a few odds and ends that I’ve collected:

1. You’ve probably seen the posters for Mr. Popper’s Penguins starring Jim Carrey. It opens June 17. I love the book, but have been burned in the past when I get my hopes up about movie adaptations of novels. 

2. R.L. Stine, author of the fabulously successful Goosebumps series, has a book being published on July 5. It’s the First Day of School….Forever! It sounds like a book form of the movie, Groundhog Day!

3. The Poetry Foundation has named J. Patrick Lewis the new Poet Laureate. Lewis has written more than 50 books of poetry, but my personal favorite is A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme. Beautifully illustrated by Alison Jay, A World of Wonders encourages readers to “travel by poem,” and by the time they read the poems about exotic places around the world, they’ll be ready to get a passport.

McCloskey’s Ducklings are Bruins Fans!


How cute is this!  The bronze sculptures of the stars of Robert McCloskey’s classic, Make Way for Ducklings, are wearing Boston Bruins capes in honor of the Stanley Cup Finals. According to what I read on, the fan who put capes on the ducklings has remained a mystery. I think McCloskey, an Ohio native who moved to Massachusetts as a young man, would approve.

The puck drops in two hours!

The Author of Little Women Slept Here…


When my friend asked me to step into the room where Louisa May Alcott stayed during her childhood visits to Norwell, Massachusetts, I felt like I was entering a sacred space. I wanted to stand where Alcott woke up, looked out the window, and thought about the day in front of her. Stepping into the old attic room, I wondered what stories may have been in Alcott’s mind as she looked out on the beautiful pasture below. 

May Elms in Norwell, Massachusetts was the home of Rev. Samuel May, the minister of First Parish Church from 1835 to 1842. May was an abolitionist, ardent crusader for the temperance movement and an uncle of Louisa May Alcott.  I can only imagine how happy Rev. May would be to know the attention and care his house receives 225 years later.  Built in 1786, the house has the feel of a place you visit to restore your spirits. Just knowing Louisa slept there, restored mine.

Newsweek’s 10 Must-Read Summer Books

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I was just flipping through June 6 issue of Newsweek and came across their 10 suggestions for summer reading.  I tried to post the link, but no go…so here’s the list:

Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden – This one’s been in my metaphorical shopping cart since I first heard about it a few weeks ago - can’t wait to read it!

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal – The story of the guy who pretended to be someone named Clark Rockefeller. Remember him?

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett – Patchett’s novel received a mixed review in today’s New York Times, but sounds like one to add to the list.

Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver – James Bond lives on!

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson – Story of William Dodd, America’s Ambassador to Germany during Hitler’s early years in power. After hearing Larson’s riveting interview with Terry Gross, my husband bought this one.

Bloodmoney by David Ignatius – CIA thriller set in Pakistan. May be good, but not my idea of summer reading. A few action-loving friends, however, will put this on hold at the library as soon as it’s available!

Cocktail Hours Under the Trees of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller – A new memoir by the author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight.

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell – It sounds like a lot happens in this novel, including a rape, a murder and a missing mother.

Tigerlily’s Orchids by Ruth Rendell – Rendell has written, according to Newsweek, over 60 novels. I’ve missed them all.

The President and the Assassin by Scott Miller – The President the title refers to is William McKinley

The Inly Summer Reading List – Part Four

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Here we go!  This section of the list is for children beginning to read on their own.  As you could see from the past few days, many of the books in the first three categories of the continuum were selected because they are good read alouds. When writing book lists for very young children my first priority is that the stories are engaging. Summer is the best season to read for pleasure!

Today’s list is for the Beginning Reader. You know these kids – once the light switch has been turned on, there’s no stopping them!  Generally, the kids who will most enjoy these books are between five and seven years old.

According to Bonnie Campbell Hill’s Reading Continuum, the characteristics of the Beginning Reader are:

-         developed storyline with little or no use of patterns

-         texts include simple plots and only a few characters

-         illustrations often represent sequence of events

-         vocabulary primarily consists of familiar words

Again, I have a mix of books for independent reading and stories that would be fun to hear after a day at the beach/lake/pool/sprinkler!

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jim Aylesworth

Slow Down for Manatees by Jim Arnosky

 Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

The Golly Sisters series by Betsy Byars

 Little Rat Rides and Little Rat Sets Sail by Monika-Bang Campbell

Luke on the Loose by Harry Bliss

The Tub People by Pam Conrad

Red Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley

Dodsworth in New York by Tim Egan

“Dodsworth is convinced to live life to its fullest and have an adventure inNew York City.  But a crazy duck stows away in Dodsworth’s luggage, and Dodsworth spends his time in hot pursuit of the wily creature.  Young readers will laugh out loud at this easy-to-read chapter book.”   (Politics and Prose, Favorite Children’s Books, 2007)

Dodsworth in London by Tim Egan

Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming

Poetrees by Douglas Florian

Benny and Penny: Just Pretend by Geoffrey Hayes“Sammy the Seal by Syd Hoff

City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Houndsley and Catina by James Howe

Construction Zone by Cheryl Willis Hudson

My Father’s Shop by Satomi Ichikawa

The Ugly Ducking retold and illustrated by Rachel Isadora

Dogs and Cats by Steve Jenkins

“Jenkins introduces trustworthy human companions, touching on evolution, domestication, behavior and physical characteristics.  Filled with fascinating facts and lovely, lifelike cut-paper collages, this vivid volume will captivate pet enthusiasts, who can read about one species and then flip it over to read about the other.”  (School Library Journal, Best Books of 2007)

Moon, Have You Met My Mother? The Collected Poems of Karla Kuskin

Bats at the Beach by Brien Liesin this grand adventure. (School Library Journal)

Bats at the Library by Brien Lies

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin

Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel

Cinderella, retold by Barbara McClintock

Trickster tales from Gerald McDermott

            Coyote: A Trickster Tale from the American Southwest

            Jabuti the Tortoise: A Trickster Tale from the Amazon

            Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest

            Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa

Kate and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osborne

Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

 Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein

Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons by Agnes Rosenstiehl

Poppleton books by Cynthia Rylant

Mr. Putter and Tabby books by Cynthia Rylant

Henry and Mudge books by Cynthia Rylant

Bug Are Insects by Anne Rockwell

Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust by April Pulley Sayre

Dog and Bear: Two’s Company by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw

All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel by Dan Yaccarino

“Yaccarino’s family is proudly Italian, but their immigration story is universal. Readers of varied backgrounds will be able to identify with the search for a better life in a new country, the passing along of values and heirlooms, and the addition of new family members. The story will make an excellent family-history discussion starter.” (starred review, School Library Journal)