Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder

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Quick read. Amazing, heartfelt, tender, and beautifully written. About a girl, Marin, who has been tossed around from foster family to foster family since she was four. Marin finally lands with someone who wants to adopt her. But Marin has always felt a longing to reunite with her birth mother. If she could just find her birth mother, Miran thinks maybe they could be a family again. I adored how the author, Melanie Crowder, wrote chapters from the perspective of Marin, the uneasy earth beneath, and the owl who watches over them. THREE PENNIES is the perfect addition to any classroom, school, or family library. Perfect for ages eight and up.

For a kid bouncing from foster home to foster home, The Book of Changes is the perfect companion. That’s why Marin carries three pennies and a pocket-sized I Ching with her everywhere she goes. Yet when everything in her life suddenly starts changing—when Marin lands in a foster home that feels like somewhere she could stay, maybe forever—the pennies don’t have any answers for her.

Marin is positive that all the wrongs in her life will be made right if only she can find her birth mother and convince her that they belong together. Marin is close, oh so close—until she gets some unwelcome news and her resolve, like the uneasy Earth far beneath the city of San Francisco, is shaken. -goodreads.com

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Skeleton Tree by Kim Ventrella

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SKELETON TREE has been on my radar for a long time. I finally bought it when I knew author Kim Ventrella was visiting our school. This book turned out even better than I thought. The pacing of the events is perfect to keep the reader interested, mystified, and pulled in. With such a tough life-event at the center of the characters’ lives, the skeleton, nick-named Princy by little sister Mirem, brings happiness, mystery, and fun when she is very ill. I highly recommend this book for grades three and up. It is a must-have for school and classroom libraries. Below is the synopsis from amazon.com.

Twelve-year-old Stanly knows the bone growing in his yard is a little weird, but that’s okay because now he’ll have the perfect photo to submit to the Young Discoverer’s Competition. With such a unique find, he’s sure to win the grand prize.

But, oddly, the bone doesn’t appear in any photos. Even stranger, it seems to be growing into a full skeleton . . . one that only children can see.

There’s just one person who doesn’t find any of this weird–Stanly’s little sister. Mischievous Miren adopts the skeleton as a friend, and soon, the two become inseparable playmates.

When Miren starts to grow sick, Stanly suspects that the skeleton is responsible and does everything in his power to drive the creature away. However, Miren is desperate not to lose her friend, forcing Stanly to question everything he’s ever believed about life, love, and the mysterious forces that connect us.

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson: A Book Review

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Thank you to Scholastic Books for providing me with an advanced-readers copy of THE PARKER INHERITANCE for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Twelve-year-old Candice moved from Georgia to her Grandmothers house. Her grandmother passed away two years ago. Candice had no desire to be in Lambert, North Carolina for the summer. Leaving her friends behind was not fun. After Candice finds a letter addressed to her grandmother in the attic, she follows clues which send her on an adventure of a lifetime. Candice and her new friend Brandon, follow the clues and find out there is an unjust history in the town of Lambert and a fortune waiting to be found.
Author, Varian Johnson, weaves the present and past of Lambert masterfully. This is a book you will want to read in one sitting. It’s a perfect book for those who love deciphering clues as adventure awaits. The reader will not be disappointed. This book lends itself as an excellent read aloud, leading to deep discussions in the classroom. I definitely plan on using it for in my fifth-grade classroom. Perfect for grades four and up. THE PARKER INHERITANCE will be released March 27th. Pre-order it now!

Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart: A Book Review

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*I requested and received an advanced-readers copy from Scholastic. All opinions are my own.

Told from the perspective of Brodie, a dog that just passed on. This is a touching tale about a dog who cannot move on in the after-life until he knows his boy, Aiden, is safe. Brodie returns to the “alive” world with his friend, Tuck. Together they encounter many trials and tribulations as they search for Aiden. Will Brody make it to Aiden before his soul is gone forever?

Wow. Author Dan Gemeinhart does it again. Dog-lovers will devour this gripping, heart-wrenching story. Brodie is a dog who sacrifices EVERYTHING for his boy. Even when Brodie encounters dogs that are just plain evil, he stops at nothing to save his boy Aiden. Beautifully written, Brodies’ love for Aiden will stay with you long after you finish the book. This is my ten-year-olds second favorite book of all time. I recommend it for grades three and up. GOOD DOG will be released on March 27th.

The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish: Book Review

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Ethan’s best friend Kasey was in a tragic accident and it was all Ethan’s fault. In that moment, Ethan was changed forever. Can Ethan move on? Can Ethan ever get his care-free life back?

Wow. Words cannot describe how much I enjoyed this book. I could not put it down. The characters were real, flawed, and struggling to deal with their own demons. When Ethan meets the many colorful characters in his new town, I love how Ethan learns from them and learns how to forgive himself. This is a must-read book for grades four and up. Do not let this one sit on your TBR pile for long!

14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop: A Book Review

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*Thank you @kidlitexchange for a copy of this book for review purposes.

Maddie is finishing sixth grade with a night that is supposed to be perfect. Her long-time friend and crush, Avery, will be at the school dance. Just when Maddie thinks Avery will ask her to dance, he asks the new girl instead. As things seem to unravel right before her eyes, Maddie could never imagine what would happen next that would change her life forever.

I love the realistic take on middle-school life. Author Jenn Bishop portrays the transition from pre-teen to teen almost perfectly. Everything from first crushes going terribly wrong, best friends drifting apart, family tragedy, and more. I felt like I was reliving my middle school years. Anyone who is currently in or survived middle school can appreciate what Maddie goes through.

It All Comes Down To This by Karen English

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*Thanks to the @kidlitexchange for a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

It is 1965 in Los Angeles California. Twelve-year-old Sophie has never been good at making friends. Instead, she’s always kept to herself. Ever since her family moved into a new neighborhood, Sophie has had to deal with change. First off, they are the first black family to live in the neighborhood. Her new housekeeper doesn’t seem to like Sophie very much. And even though her neighbor, Jennifer, seems to be a promising friend, others in the neighborhood refuse to accept Sophie. And this is only the beginning.

Wow, this book blew me away. Not at all what I was expecting (even though I do not know what I was expecting). It is the kind of book that wraps around you and will not let you go until you finish. Only to wish it wasn’t done. I picked it up and finished it in one sitting despite its 300+ pages. I appreciated the honest, raw take on family life. No fairy tale, perfect family here! Viewing life through Sophie’s eyes was vivid and real. She will stay with me. Thank you, Karen English! I recommend this book for grades five and up.

Lint Boy by Aileen Leijten

Lint Boy by Aileen Leijten

*I received a copy of this graphic novel for review purposes via the @kidlitexchange network. All opinions are my own.

This is such an adorable graphic novel about a “boy” created out of different pieces of lint in a dryer. Lint Boy and his friend Lint Bear spend happy days in their dryer until an evil old woman takes them away. Apparently, she does not like dolls and traps them in cages. Lint Boy must muster up his courage to save Lint Bear and the others trapped by this horrible woman.

I loved the illustrations in this graphic novel. It was sweet but with a twist that reminded me of the movie Coraline. This is the perfect addition to any school library or classrooms grade three and up.

Book Review: The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw

The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw

Thank you to the @kidlitexchange network for providing this book for review.

Yuriko is a twelve-year-old girl living in Hiroshima. She lives with her Papa and has a happy, well-to-do, life. But things begin to change for Yuriko. Not only does Yuriko notice those who leave to fight in WWII stop coming home, her family has change coming too. Her Papa and Aunt Kimiko are getting married. All of who will live with Yuriko and Papa. Just as Yuriko starts to get used to the daily air raids and the family changes, she learns of a shocking family secret.

I love that, as a reader, I got to learn about the Japanese culture and life as an adolescent during WWII. Experiencing the Hiroshima bombing through Yuriko’s eyes was heart-wrenching, but important. Author, Kathleen Burkinshaw, draws you into Yuriko’s world, keeping you there long after you put the book down. This book is a must-have for every school/classroom library.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie: A Book Review

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*I received an ebook copy of this book via the @kidlitexchange for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Tessa’s family is moving from Florida to Chicago. Her parents are excited about the old 1800s house they purchased, but right away Tessa can sense something is not right. Weird, creepy, and downright scary things start to happen to Tessa in her home. Is her home haunted? What does this ghost want? Can Tessa’s new friends help her discover what is happening in Tessa’s home?

I absolutely loved THE PECULIAR INCIDENT ON SHADY STREET! This is the perfect ghost mystery for any middle-grade reader. Creepy, but not too creepy. Although the mystery of Inez Clark is at the heart of the story, the main character Tessa, also learns a lot about friendship and dealing with change. This just might be my favorite ghost mystery book of all time! I recommend it for grades four and up.