Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes

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Thank you to #partner @kidlitexchange for a review copy of this book.
As a teacher, I adore students who are unique and not afraid to be themselves. Beatrice is the fictional representation of these students. Because Beatrice does not fit the mold of the typical student, this can get her into trouble even when her intention is sincere. Many children can relate to Beatrice and the fun story told by author Shelley Johannes. A perfect transitional chapter book which includes illustrations children will adore. A must-have for all elementary school and classroom libraries.

Hanging from trees by her knees, doing handstands . . . for Beatrice Zinker, upside down works every time. She was definitely upside down when she and her best friend, Lenny, agreed to wear matching ninja suits on the first day of third grade. But when Beatrice shows up at school dressed in black, Lenny arrives with a cool new outfit and a cool new friend. Even worse, she seems to have forgotten all about the top-secret operation they planned!

Can Beatrice use her topsy-turvy way of thinking to save the mission, mend their friendship, and flip things sunny-side up? -goodreads.com

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Grilled Cheese and Dragons (Princess Pulverizer #1) by Nancy Krulik

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Thank you to #partner @kidlitexchange for a review copy of this book.

A super cute beginning chapter book about a princess who does not want to be a princess. Instead, she wants to go to knight school and become a night. On her journey, she meets others who are not the stereotypical characters you would meet in a kingdom. The first book even includes grilled cheese!

My daughter, who is seven, absolutely loved this book. It fits her spunky personality and outside-of-the-box thinking. We are looking forward to the next books in the series. I plan on buying them for our home and my classroom library. A must-have series to include in elementary libraries. They will be read over and over again.

Princess Serena (or as she prefers, Princess Pulverizer) doesn’t want to be a princess–she wants to be a knight! But her father, King Alexander of Empiria, thinks she still has a lot to learn when it comes to exhibiting valiant behavior. So he presents a challenge: the princess must first go on a Quest of Kindness and perform good deeds to prove that she truly deserves to go to knight school. With help from a friendly dragon named Dribble and a perpetually terrified knight-in-training named Lucas, can she complete her quest and discover what it really takes to be a hero? -goodreads.com

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

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 Snitch, The Witch, and The One Who Was Rich by Joe Spraga: Book Review

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*I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes.

Author Joe Spraga writes an engaging rhyming tale teaching a wonderful lesson about how we choose to spend our time on this earth. Children will appreciate the simplicity of the tale and the lesson it teaches.

I read this book to my two daughters ages seven and ten. My seven-year-old adored the book and loved how the characters changed for good because of Father Time. The illustrations are bright and bold. This book would be great for primary classroom teachers who want to introduce to their students the concept of character change. It would be easy for young students to grasp with this story because it is presented in such a simplistic and straight-forward way. I recommend this book for elementary-aged children and classroom/school libraries.

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.