Celebrating Dad and the Stanley Cup!

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Over the last few weeks as I’ve been loading Inly’s Summer Reading list onto my blog, I’ve also been watching Bruins games (only the third periods) and buying Father’s Day gifts for my husband and my dad. I’m always with my dad on Father’s Day since he makes his annual two-week visit in June.  Of course, he gets books. He doesn’t even bother shaking the packages anymore. This year I bought him the new Jeff Shaara novel, The Final Storm. My dad has read all of Shaara’s WWII novels so I think he was expecting this one. My husband received The Ancient Guide to Modern Life by Natalie Haynes.  He is fascinated with the parallels between our 21st century lives and those of the ancient Romans and Greeks.

My husband and my father were watching lots of hockey last week and, although we didn’t go to the big parade in Boston, I noticed a few Bruins caps around the house over the weekend. I’m not a big hockey fan, but one of my favorite picture books is The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier.  Here’s how important The Hockey Sweater is to Canadiens: an excerpt of it appears on the back of the five dollar bill!  Really. I’m looking at it right now.  It’s a beautiful story about the importance of hockey to Canadians, but it’s bigger than that. I always use Carrier’s story when I’m teaching The Outsiders to middle school students. The themes are the same. 

The Hockey Sweater is about a boy who idolizes French-Canadian hockey star, Maurice Richard.  Just like his friends, he wants to wear a Montreal Canadiens jersey with the number 9 on the back.  When his mother orders it for him from the Eatons catalog, a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey arrives instead.  The story is about more than hockey. It’s about national identity and how we define ourselves by identifying with well known people. It’s a perfect book to start a conversation about belonging.

The Inly Summer Reading List – Part 10

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This is as far as it goes – the reading list for Independent Readers.  This is always a tricky one in a school because not every student is an Independent Reader (as defined by the Bonnie Campbell Hill Reading Continuum) by the time they reach the 8th grade. Some students don’t become sophisticated readers until later, or for all sorts of of reasons, never experience this level of success.

But, there are Independent Readers in Middle School, and for them…this is their list. One other note: Students who select their reading from the Proficient and Connecting lists sometimes like to choose books from this one as well. That’s great. The only way to stretch is to pull a bit higher than we can reach.

The characterisitics of an Independent Reader are:

            –     all of the characteristics of a proficient and connecting reader, but issues may

                   be more controversial

-         text may have adults as central characters

-         text requires deeper levels of thinking

-         text may employ flashbacks or changes in sequence

Borrowed Names: Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie and Their Daughters by Jeannine Atkins

In 1867, three women who achieved great success were born: writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, entrepreneur Madam C. J. Walker, and scientist Marie Curie. All three had complicated relationships with their daughters, relationships that Atkins explores in this unusual volume of poetry. Each section follows one daughter from young childhood to adulthood, sketching out the facts of her life, but creating impressions of the emotional lives beyond the facts. Rose Wilder Lanegrows up in rural poverty. Constricted by her mother’s expectations, she leaves the Wilder farm to work, marry, and travel, but returns and helps to shape her mother’s books. As a child, A’Lelia Walker watches her mother wash clothes for a meager living, but after her mother’s hair products make them wealthy, A’Lelia grows up to become a patron of the Harlem Renaissance. Curie’s elder daughter, Irène, knows early on that her mother’s focus is on her work with radium. As an adult, Irène continues that work, earning her own Nobel Prize. In vivid scenes written with keen insight and subtle imagery, the poems offer a strong sense of each daughter’s personality as well as the tensions and ties they shared with their notable mothers. Writing with understated drama and quiet power, Atkins enables readers to understand these six women and their mother-daughter relationships in a nuanced and memorable way.” (starred review, Booklist)

Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos

Code Orange by Caroline Cooney

War Games by Audrey Couloumbis

The Brooklyn Nine by Alex Gratz

“Gratz builds this novel upon a clever enough conceit—nine stories (or innings), each following the successive generations in a single family, linked by baseball and Brooklyn—and executes it with polish and precision. In the opening stories, there is something Scorsese-like (albeit with the focus on players, not gangsters)  in Gratz’s treatment of early New York: a fleet-footed German immigrant helps Alexander Cartwright (credited with creating modern baseball) during a massive 1845 factory fire; a young boy meets his hero, the great King Kelly, who by age 30 is a washed-up alcoholic scraping by as a vaudeville act. The pace lags a bit in the middle innings, where a talented young girl stars in the WW II–era All-American Girls Baseball League and a card-collecting boy lives in fear of the Russians, Sputnik, and the atomic bomb. But the final two stories provide a flurry of late-inning heroics: a Little League pitcher’s shot at a perfect game told with breathtaking verve; and a neat stitching-together effort to close the book. Each of the stories are outfitted with wide-ranging themes and characters that easily warrant more spacious confines, but taken together they present a sweeping diaspora of Americana, tracking the changes in a family through the generations, in society at large for more than a century and a half, and, not least, in that quintessential American pastime. (starred review, Booklist)

New Boy by Julian Houston

“Rob Garrett, 15, leaves Virginiafor a prestigious Connecticutboarding school. His dentist father and schoolteacher mother are proud of their sons academic record and potential but anxious because he is the first African American to attend Draper. Rob quickly learns that bigotry takes many forms. He befriends Vinnie, whose acne, New York-Italian background, and vulnerability make him a target among the elitist students. On a weekend visit to a cousin who lives in Harlem, Rob unwittingly encounters Malcolm X and his followers and discovers a hostile, separatist attitude that disparages association with whites and Jews. When Rob learns that a lunch counter sit-in is planned in his hometown, he joins the protest, but then returns to Draper to pursue his dream of success. Although he is not in the activist trenches of the Civil Rights movement, his story sheds light on the social dilemmas that confronted privileged African Americans at the time. Wary but remarkably focused, Rob espouses the need to represent his race well and to make a difference. He is a well-spoken, reflective observer who empathizes with the pain of others but remains relatively unscathed. While maintaining honor-roll status, he contemplates the rise and fall of Joe Louis, is intrigued by the Harlemculture, and ponders the explosive rage of Minister Malcolm. The strong cast of characters, steady progression of events, realistic dialogue, historical facts, touch of romance, and coming-of-age awareness and reflection will appeal to readers.”  (starred review, School Library Journal)

Journey into the Deep: Discovering New Ocean Creatures by Rebecca Johnson

Death Cloud: Young Sherlock Holmes byAndrew Lane

Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle

Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy edited by Leonard Marcus

Out of Bounds: Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope by Beverly Naidoo

“This powerful collection takes readers on a sometimes harrowing journey through the nightmare that was apartheid South Africa. The stories take place at various times between 1948, the year that marks the beginning of apartheid, through 2000. The main characters, who come from different ethnic and economic groups, are all children, and Naidoo’s reliance on a child’s perspective ensures that the material remains emotionally manageable. The author’s touch is deft and sure, as she captures the ordinary details of life, along with the racism displayed in the speech and attitudes of white South Africans. In one of the most wrenching stories, “The Noose,” a boy of mixed race relates how on his birthday his father was reclassified “African,” thus imperiling not only his job, but even his ability to live with his family. Other stories tell of the white daughter of politically progressive parents who is trying to negotiate the racist world of her friend’s parents, and a black African girl whose grandmother is drawn into helping her activist granddaughter during the Sowetouprising of 1976. The final story, about a middle-class boy of Indian descent who comes to feel a connection to a child living in a neighboring squatter settlement, leaves readers with the hope that human kindness will eventually triumph over the divisions among people. A time line of apartheid laws linked to the stories helps to establish the social and political context. As well as enriching any study of Southern Africa or human rights, Out of Bounds will be embraced by children seeking to expand their understanding of the world and other people.” (School Library Journal)

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Trouble by Gary Schmidt

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt 

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

The Good, the Bad and the Barbie: A Doll’s History and Her Impact on Us by Tanya Lee Stone  

“In the prologue, Meg Cabot describes her desire for a Barbie and her mother’s reluctance to purchase one, basically summing up the conflict surrounding the doll since its introduction in 1959. Readers learn about Mattel Toys and the background behind Barbie’s concept and development, how it was a solution for girls who wanted to imagine adult roles rather than just play mother, and details about inventor Ruth Handler. But more than that, Stone reveals the pathos behind so many relationships of girls with Barbie: those who cherished her and those who were negatively influenced. Was she a destructive role model or just a toy? Experts disagree. In this balanced overview, both sides of the quandary are addressed. Barbie’s different roles, graduating from nurse to surgeon, stewardess to pilot, and always a woman of her own means, reflect societal changes over the past 50 years as well. Numerous black-and-white photos feature the doll in her various incarnations, while eight center pages deliver color versions as well as images of Barbie-inspired art. Inset quotes appear on a Barbie handbag icon. The author maintains her signature research style and accessible informational voice and includes extensive source notes and bibliographical information.”(School Library Journal)

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman

“In 1941, 15-year-old Vidya’s life in Bombay stands in direct contrast to that of her relatives in Madras for whom the traditional path of an arranged marriage, babies, and a life of serving a husband is not only expected but is also considered a girl’s only proper option. Alternately, the goal of attending college like her brother is encouraged by her physician father. Turmoil is raging within Colonial India’s borders as many view their British occupation negatively, holding protest rallies. Nonviolence, one of Vidya’s father’s principles, motivates him to secretly attend to the injured and beaten protestors. The teen’s idyllic life changes in an instant when he is beaten by the British police and suffers extensive brain damage. Unable to earn a living and lead a productive life, this highly respected man and his family move in with his relatives. Vidya’s dreams are shattered as her father’s stature is immediately lowered to that of “an idiot” and she is forced to withstand her aunt’s sharp-tongued, abusive taunts. Vidya’s bright, bold, independent character remains determined to achieve her goals with the help and support of her grandfather, who first allows her access to his private library and later agrees to her formal university education. This is a poignant look at a young woman’s vigilance to break from expectations and create her own destiny amid a country’s struggle for independence.” (School Library Journal)

Frozen Secrets: Antarctica Revealed by Sally Walker

“All of Walker’s impressive writing talents are on display in this book on the frozen continent. The author’s clear and lively narrative begins with a brief history of the first explorers, including some grisly deaths, and then describes in detail the work of current researchers. Walkerpaints a vivid picture of the hardships and special considerations required of those who work in Antarctica. Children will almost shiver as they read the description of the scuba diver’s preparations to enter an icy lake. Additionally, the author does a great job of explaining some really complex scientific activities, such as mapping the ground using ice-penetrating radar, so that readers without great knowledge of advanced science can grasp how this work is done. She also shows how Antarctic research can help them understand global climate change and other types of earth-science research. Nearly every page has sharp color photos of the continent and researchers in action or explanatory diagrams. With its superb design and Walker’s gripping prose, this book will draw readers in and keep them involved.” (School Library Journal)

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

“Tally Youngblood lives in a futuristic society that acculturates its citizens to believe that they are ugly until age 16 when they’ll undergo an operation that will change them into pleasure-seeking “pretties.” Anticipating this happy transformation, Tally meets Shay, another female ugly, who shares her enjoyment of hoverboarding and risky pranks. But Shay also disdains the false values and programmed conformity of the society and urges Tally to defect with her to the Smoke, a distant settlement of simple-living conscientious objectors. Tally declines, yet when Shay is found missing by the authorities, Tally is coerced by the cruel Dr. Cable to find her and her compatriots–or remain forever “ugly.” Tally’s adventuresome spirit helps her locate Shay and the Smoke. It also attracts the eye of David, the aptly named youthful rebel leader to whose attentions Tally warms. However, she knows she is living a lie, for she is a spy who wears an eye-activated locator pendant that threatens to blow the rebels’ cover. Ethical concerns will provide a good source of discussion as honesty, justice, and free will are all oppressed in this well-conceived dystopia. Characterization, which flirts so openly with the importance of teen self-concept, is strong, and although lengthy, the novel is highly readable with a convincing plot that incorporates futuristic technologies and a disturbing commentary on our current public policies.” (starred review, School Library Journal)

Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan

“While her British Army major father has been away in WWI, 15-year-old Rosalind has enjoyed freedom in her southeast Indian town, roaming the bazaar with her Indian friends rather than chatting with other Brits at the local club. Then her father returns, and she chafes against his strict colonial views. After she is caught listening to Gandhi at a rally, Rosalind’s furious father ships her off to her English aunts, where her free-thinking spirit once again shakes up the status quo. The historical and cultural details occasionally veer into docu-novel territory, but Whelan balances the facts with distinctive, sometimes comical characterizations and vibrant, original sensory descriptions, whether Rosalind is describing an aunt’s suit as the color of burnt bacon or the feeling, as ashes drift from the funeral pyres, that the dead had become part of me. Set during a pivotal moment in Indian history, Whelan’s vivid, episodic story explores the tension between doing what’s right, rather than what’s expected, and the infinite complexities of colonialism” (Booklist)

Into the Volcano by Don Wood

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

The Inly Summer Reading List – Part 9

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Two categories remaining….today’s list is for the Connecting Reader. This list, and the one I will post tomorrow for Independent Readers, are the lists from which many 6th through 8th grade students choose their summer reading.  This is where it all starts to come together. All of the elements that combine to make a mature reader developed as a young person made their way through the first eight lists. Now, as they select books from the connecting and independent categories, the characters and the issues become more complex and the language more sophisticated. 

These are the books I recommended to our connecting readers this summer:

Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams

Sky Sailors: True Stories of the Balloon Era by David Bristow

“In the beginning of human flight, those daring young men—and women—of song and story were not to be found in flying machines but, instead, in baskets hanging beneath hot-air and helium-filled balloons. The results were sometimes heroic, sometimes comic, but always fraught with danger. Bristow gives readers the spirited stories of nine of these pioneers of flight. Together they trace the evolution of ballooning from pleasure craft to occasion for adventure to scientific observation to use in wartime. The period covered is 1783 to 1912, the end of the balloon era. This historical setting is enlivened through the use of period photographs, drawings, advertisements, and visual records presented here in full color. The result is a quick but never uninteresting journey through a little-covered subject that is sure to inspire readers to search for more stories like these.” (Booklist)

Mission Control, This is Apollo by Andrew Chaikin

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming

“Black-and-white photographs and elegant typography give this gorgeously produced book an appropriate period feel, while alternating ashes – one set following Earhart from childhood, the other tracking her final flight – provide historical context as well as vivid pacing. But though Fleming allows Earhart her glamorous due, she also strips her of myth, giving readers the accuracy they deseve.” (New York Times Book Review)

Homefront by Doris Gwaltney

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

“A charming and inventive story of a child struggling to find her identity at the turn of the 20th century. As the only girl in an uppercrust Texasfamily of seven children, Calpurnia, 11, is expected to enter young womanhood with all its trappings of tight corsets, cookery, and handiwork. Unlike other girls her age, Callie is most content when observing and collecting scientific specimens with her grandfather. Bemoaning her lack of formal knowledge, he surreptitiously gives her a copy of The Origin of Species and Callie begins her exploration of the scientific method and evolution, eventually happening upon the possible discovery of a new plant species. Callie’s mother, believing that a diet of Darwin, Dickens, and her grandfather’s influence will make Callie dissatisfied with life, sets her on a path of cooking lessons, handiwork improvement, and an eventual debut into society. Callie’s confusion and despair over her changing life will resonate with girls who feel different or are outsiders in their own society. Callie is a charming, inquisitive protagonist; a joyous, bright, and thoughtful creation. The conclusion encompasses bewilderment, excitement, and humor as the dawn of a new century approaches. Several scenes, including a younger brother’s despair over his turkeys intended for the Thanksgiving table and Callie’s heartache over receiving The Science of Housewifery as a Christmas gift, mix gentle humor and pathos to great effect. The book ends with uncertainty over Callie’s future, but there’s no uncertainty over the achievement of Kelly’s debut novel.” (starred review, School Library Journal)

The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby

“In his ambitious novel, Kirby weaves together a good amount of reliably alluring elements. Initially distinct plotlines follow three children in an unspecified Victorian-era-ish American city: Giuseppe plays the fiddle on street corners for spare change, hoping to have enough left over after paying his wicked padrone for a ticket back to Italy; Hannah works as a hotel maid where she learns of a hidden treasure that may save her ailing father; and Frederick, an apprentice clockmaker, figures that the automaton he is crafting in secret will allow him to become a journeyman. The trio of strands coheres nicely as Kirby twists wisps of mysticism into the clockwork elements, clear-eyed environmentalism into the dour urban grittiness, and a timeless sense of family and friendship into the bold, can-do adventuring. Though he sometimes spells things out a little too bluntly and can’t escape a bit of contrivance to wrap everything up in the end, this remains a strong debut effort with memorable characters, hearty action, and palpable atmospherics.” (Booklist)

Whaling Season: A Year in the Life of an Arctic Whale Scientist by Peter Lourie

Years of Dust: The Story of the Dust Bowl by Albert Marrin

Wolf Brother (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, Book One) by Michelle Paver

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

“Steven Alper is a typical eighth-grader–smarter than some, a better drummer than most, but with the usual girl problems and family trials. Then, on October 7, his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, falls, has a nosebleed that doesn’t stop, and is diagnosed with leukemia. All hell breaks loose. Mrs. Alper’s days and nights revolve around getting Jeffrey to his chemotherapy treatments, and Mr. Alper retreats into a shell, coming out only occasionally to weep over the mounting medical bills. Steven becomes the forgotten son, who throws himself into drumming, even as he quits doing his homework and tries to keep his friends from finding out about Jeffrey’s illness. A story that could have morphed into melodrama is saved by reality, rawness, and the wit Sonnenblick infuses into Steven’s first-person voice. The recriminations, cares, and nightmares that come with a cancer diagnosis are all here, underscored by vomiting, white blood cell counts, and chemotherapy ports. Yet, this is also about regrouping, solidarity, love, and hope. Most important for a middle-grade audience, Sonneblick shows that even in the midst of tragedy, life goes on, love can flower, and the one thing you can always change is yourself.”  (Booklist, starred review)

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

“With a timeless writing style that invokes thoughts of children’s fantasy classics such as Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, author John Stephens weaves a gripping tale of mystery and magic into The Emerald Atlas. His enchanting prose and spot-on wit can only be described as both hip (Stephens was previously the executive producer of Gossip Girls) and Dickensian, a delightful combination that will both engage young readers with its relatable nature and fascinate them with its aberrant charm. If Stephens’s comic finesse and archetypal writing style aren’t enough to engage young readers, they will no doubt be captivated by the plot. Stephens’s complex formula for time travel and fascinating explanation for the disappearance of the magical realm is so convincing that readers might begin to believe that there is, in fact, far more to the world than meets the eye. Thought-provoking and enchanting, The Emerald Atlas has the makings of a children’s classic.” (Amazon)

The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

“The dental case that Telgemeier documents in this graphic memoir was extreme: a random accident led to front tooth loss when she was 12, and over the next several years, she suffered through surgery, implants, headgear, false teeth, and a rearrangement of her remaining incisors. Accompanying the physical treatment came social rough spots with friends, while puberty delivered another set of curveballs with crushes, maturing bodies, and changing family expectations and judgments. Both adults and kids—including various dental professionals and younger siblings—are vividly and rapidly portrayed, giving quick access to the memoirist’s world. Telgemeier’s storytelling and full-color cartoony images form a story that will cheer and inspire any middle-schooler dealing with orthodontia. At the same time, she shows how her early career choice as an animator took root during this difficult period—offering yet another gentle reminder that things have turned out fine for the author and can for her reader as well.”(Booklist)

The Doom Machine by Mark Teague

A Faraway Island by Annika Thor

“In this gripping story, Stephie and Nellie, two Austrian Jewish sisters, are evacuated in 1938 from Vienna to a Swedish island and placed in separate foster homes. Twelve-year-old Stephie has promised her parents that she will try to ease her younger sister’s way, a burdensome promise to keep. Auntie Alma, Nellie’s Swedish mother, is warmer and more welcoming than Auntie Märta, Stephie’s more austere foster parent. At first it seems that Nellie will have a more difficult time adjusting, but the opposite happens. Loneliness and a sense of isolation engulf Stephie. The shunning and taunting of cliquish, bigoted girls intensify her longing for home and the familiar, but Stephie bravely perseveres, bolstered by the hope that she will only be separated from her parents for a short time. Unfortunately this does not happen, and the girls must remain on this faraway island. Children will readily empathize with Stephie’s courage. Both sisters are well-drawn, likable characters. This is the first of four books Thor has written about the two girls.” (School Library Journal)

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

“Fantasy is a field crowded with gifted newcomers. What happens when a veteran strides to the plate and takes another swing? If the veteran is Diana Wynne Jones, get your scorecards ready. She hits this irresistible new book out of the ballpark. Magician Jocelyn Brandon had always intended to pass his strange home, Melton House, and his trade secrets on to his grandson, Andrew. Unfortunately,Brandondied before he could complete his careful instructions, and Andrew, now grown, has forgotten much of what his grandfather tried to teach him as a child. The arrival of 12-year-old Aiden, who is seeking protection from dangerous magical beings, reawakens Andrew’s memories. Surrounded by a fabulous cast of eccentric allies, including a parsnip-loving giant, Andrew finds himself in the middle of a mystery surrounding an enchanted glass. With a gleeful nod to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jones hits all the bases, combining fluid storytelling, sly humor, and exquisitely drawn characters. The magical chaos culminates in a hilarious summer fete and a delightfully tidy resolution. This enthralling book proves that Jones is still at the top of her game.” (starred review, Booklist)

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