I have been going through a reading slump lately with school starting back up. Fortunately, with traveling to Stanford for health reasons, I had a lot of time to read. Here are two books I highly recommend.
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
I cannot explain how much I loved this book. Kids who come from different walks of life get to know each other and realize they have more in common than different. It is what every teacher wishes to see in their classrooms. Acceptance and understanding. This book would be a PERFECT read aloud for ages 10 and up. Everyone should read it. I can just imagine the deep classroom discussions this book could lead to.
Synopsis from Penguin Random House:
It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.
Resistance by Jennifer Nielsen
This book was action-packed. Jennifer Nielsen is one of my favorite middle-grade authors. You know you are getting a book that will keep you wanting to read well past your bedtime. Kids love her books because they can learn about history in a way that relates to them. You will not regret purchasing any of her books!
Synopsis from Google Books:
Chaya Lindner is a teenager living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Simply being Jewish places her in danger of being killed or sent to the camps. After her little sister is taken away, her younger brother disappears, and her parents all but give up hope, Chaya is determined to make a difference.
I received an ebook copy of THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS via netgalley. Boy am I glad I read this book. It is a must have in the middle-grade classroom and school libraries. The main character, Zoey, allows children who live in poverty to see themselves in a book. Something they may have never experienced before. It is well-written. The characters are likable. All the praise this book has received so far is right on. You must pre-order this book. I am getting a copy for our elementary school library and recommending it to our intermediate-grade teachers.
Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they’ve got to do.
Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend―they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.
At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they’re in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them.
Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.
Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?
This moving debut novel explores the cultural divides around class and the gun debate through the eyes of one girl, living on the edges of society, trying to find her way forward.
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
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
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 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.
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!
*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.
*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.
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!