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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt

Fish in a TreeNo, this book was not written by a teacher. However, this realistic fiction is based on the true experience of the author. Her personal reading difficulty as well as a wonderful teacher is the basis of this book. Ally's daily pain and headaches due to her learning differences really come to life. She has always felt dumb because of bullying and being different. She actually is very smart. She sees the smartness in other people. Her father is deployed in the Middle East, but that is just one of her problems. This contemporary book is not just about reading difficulties or bullying. It's about being the best you can be and growing in character. (Shh- she becomes class president)

I was humbled to be able to read this book. You can sense what a struggling reader is going through. This is one of those books that has a wide range of audience. The boys and girls in this book are so real that you might wish they would be at your school. Isn't it amazing how one person can make a difference. Isn't it interesting how small changes can make a big difference.

       * 2017 Rebecca Caudill Award Nominee*

Friday, April 22, 2016

Summerlost by Ally Condie

SummerlostIt has been an entire year since the fatal accident that took Cedar's brother Ben and her father too. What's left is spending the summer in the town of Iron Creek.  No stranger to this town, a town that her mom grew up in, they must try to mend the broken pieces of their life.

One day Leo, a boy in costume, rides by Cedar's house and everything changes. soon Cedar is working with Leo at the Summerlost Theater Festival.  Their friendship grows as they piece together clue about a famous actress, whose short and tragic live is a mystery.

Must read it yourself to find out if they solve the mystery.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Stick Dog Dreams of Ice Cream by Tom Watson

Stick Dog Dreams of Ice CreamI was totally stoked when I saw that Stick Dog had not one but two new adventures.  The first one is all about ice cream.  Stick Dog, Mutt, Stripes, Karen and Poo-Poo are all back again but this time they aren't as much hungry as they are thirsty.  It is super hot outside and they are trying to find a way to cool down.  The gang discovers a sprinkler and that gives them a small cool down and some valuable water to drink but it's not enough.  The weather conditions are down right arid!  All of a sudden, Stick Dog hears music and they go and investigate the source.  They discover some foreign substance that is both a liquid and a solid (see parents - the book is education.  It talks about states of matter).  Anyways, the dogs lick up the puddles of ice cream that has dripped from peoples cones and have discovered they adore ice cream.  The gang (all right, Stick Dog) comes up with a plan to get some ice cream for the group.  Will Stick Dog and the others succeed in their mission?  You'll have to read this delicious adventure to find out.  It may leave you with a insatiable desire for ice cream.

The next adventure is entitled Stick Dog Tries to Take the Donuts.  This time the gang discovers the sugary sweet taste of donuts.  Plus Karen drinks some coffee to go along with the donuts and well, you'll just have to read what happens when she does.

I am amazed of the iron stomachs these dogs have!  They seem to be able to eat anything, including chocolate (which I had always heard was bad for dogs) and never get sick.  I just gobble these books up when they come in and the children I've shared them with do too.  So if your hungry for a good book, Chicago's own Tom Watson's Stick Dog  series is a delicious one you can sink your teeth into! Mangia!  Mangia!

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

How to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

How to Swallow a PigHow do you like the title? They don't mean for you to swallow a pig. The full title is How to Swallow a Pig: Step-By-Step Advice From the Animal Kingdom. I am proud to announce that I called this book an award winner long before awards started coming out. I disagree with the audience range.  One source mentions that it is only for First and Second Graders. I don't think so. The lexile score is 940. There is something in this book for all ages. Every page is amazing with the appropriate size illustrations:
whales eating thousands of fish at a time
tailorbird actually sewing its nest
paper wasps building intricate nests

Every animal is incredible, but I am totally amazed with the mimic octopus. It was recently discovered in 1998. Researchers have actually seen it turn colors and mimic fifteen different animals (snake, fish, jellyfish ...). This humorous take on animal behavior has additional information at the back of the book. It was updated in January of 2016. A round of applause please for creativity and non-fiction!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Named Eel by Deborah Hopkinson

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of LondonAs if his name is not bad enough, Eel is an orphan and a "mudlark," which means he searches in the nasty Thames River in England for bits of anything to sell for money.  He is also being hunted by his awful stepfather, Fisheye Bill Tyler who mistreated him and is trying to find Eel's little brother to make he work as a beggar.  Eel has Henry hidden away and he works hard to earn money to keep his brother safe, fed and be able to get an education.  Henry has lots of odd jobs, one of them being for Dr. John Snow, a famous doctor to the queen who is working on making anesthesia safe for medical procedures.  An outbreak of cholera occurs and Eel alerts Dr. Snow to the epidemic.  It all seems to be coming from one area of the city.  Many people believe it is the bad air people are breathing, but Dr. Snow believes otherwise.  Will Dr. Snow and Eel be able to find out what is making people sick before more people die?

I wasn't sure if I was going to like the book as I started to read the first few pages.  But the book starts to draw you in with unforgettable characters such as Eel, Florrie, Thumbless Jake, Fisheye Bill Tyler and others.  The reader begins to care what happens to Eel and the others in his community that are coming down with cholera and dying in great numbers.  It's a great piece of historical writing about the cholera that was once known as the Blue Death and how Dr. John Snow found out the source which was causing the spread of the outbreak.  At the end of the book are some great author's notes on the real-life characters portrayed in the book and about the deadly cholera disease.  Highly recommend for 5th grade and up.

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Friday, April 01, 2016

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L.Holm

The Fourteenth GoldfishThis book is all about possibilities. I really don't know how a book can be so humorous yet introspective at the same time. Eleven year-old Ellie isn't interested in her parents' theatrical passion/occupation. She is not interested in her friends' sports or activities.

She is completely surprised when her mother brings a home a "relative" who appears to be about thirteen. She finds out that it is her grandfather who has done a science experiment about anti-aging on himself. The two show how important it is to stop, observe and analyze impact and consequences.
Ellie analyzes her divorced parents (who respect each other), her mother's boyfriend and even school with her grandfather. This is one meaningful book that you will appreciate and you will notice how few characters are included. It oozes science and you don't even know it. There are even web sites and resources at the end of the book to "continue the conversation".

Formulated with elements of excellence

                                    *2017 Rebecca Caudill Award Nominee*

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey

The Dragonsitter"Dear Uncle Morton,

You'd better get on a plane right now and come back here. Your dragon has eaten Jemima." This is the way The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey starts out. What could go wrong with watching a dragon for a week while Uncle Morton goes on vacation? A lot! Eddie emails his uncle everyday with the shenanigans of his dragon. So far he has burned the living room curtains, put a hole through the refrigerator and take several poops in Mom's bedroom. Yikes! But Uncle Morton isn't responding to Eddie's emails and Eddie's mom is threatening to send the dragon to the zoo. What is Eddie going to do?

This is a fun, quick read from the new series by author Josh Lacey. The story is told through a series of emails and great illustrations. It even gives you a preview to the next book in the series. If you are a fan of My Weird School, Bailey School Kids and The Imaginary Veterinarian, you need to check this series out!

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