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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

PaxPeter and Pax
Pax and Peter
We get to know their different perspectives with alternating chapters. Pax is a fox that Peter found on the day of his mother's funeral. Pax was an orphaned kit and Peter's father allowed him to "keep it for now". This is five years later and Pax has never known the wilderness. Before going off to war, the father stops the car and makes Peter leave the fox in the wood to fend for itself. Consumed by guilt and responsibility, Peter starts a journey of hundreds of miles from his grandfathers house in order to find Pax. In his heart, he knows that Pax is searching for him. The only assistance he gets is from Vola. Vola has a war story of her own. In the little time that they are together, Vola makes Peter deal with reality and responsibility.
You will notice that this is yet another book that has a library in the story. The library is crucial and serves as a beacon of hope. This book is not just about war - also wilderness, loss and friendship. Sara Pennypacker was very smart not to give any clues as to the place of the war or the year. It's just one more thing to ponder about in this thought-provoking book. Jon Klassen's striking illustrations are unforgettable. This book was just published this year. Pax means peace. "Pax" to all that read this book.

Monday, August 15, 2016

To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson

To Catch a Cheat The Plan:  Jackson Greene (renowned middle school con artist) and his friends find themselves framed:  someone has created a fake video showing them breaking into the school over the weekend and flooding the bathrooms.  The "someone"  gets in contact with Jackson and makes a deal - the fake video in exchange for a stolen exam.

The Sting:  Jackson Greene is not going to get his reputation tarnished again after he has been working so hard at keeping it clean.  He comes up with a way keep his reputation clear and bring the others to justice. 

The story is concerned with stealing an exam and pulling various tricks in order to accomplish it.  While the story is a bit over the top (I don't know a single middle schooler who could pull this off), it is really a fun read.  The characters are diverse and the relationship issues that happen in this story are true to life.  Both guys and girls will enjoy this story as it is fast paced and is the sequel to the first book entitled, The Great Greene Heist.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Chloe in India by Kate Dornton

Chloe in IndiaThough they’re divided by class, language, appearance—you name it—Chloe and Lakshmi have a lot in common. Both girls are new to Class Five at Premium Academy in New Delhi, India. Neither seems to fit in. Overtime, they discover how an ordinary friendship can be extraordinary. Chloe at last figures out what makes India feel like home.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Save Me a SeatFirst day of school

It's a new school year and Joe knows the drill. Ravi has just moved from India and he is hoping everyone would notice that he has always been number one at everything. He wants to make friends with the other boy who he thought was from India. It turns outs that the boy was a ABCD - American Born Confused Desi. Ravi sits in front of Joe but Ravi assumes that Joe is not smart. Joe has to deal with APD - Auditory Processing Disorder.  The bully and the fifth grade situation are too much for Ravi and Joe. They get to show their own perspectives with alternating chapters. The school year is just starting and they have to get the courage to quickly improve things.

Sarah Weeks has written several books, but I don't think that she has co-authored before doing this book. The other author is Gita Varadarajan. Now they both teach, but neither of them teach fifth grade. Would you want to go to a school where every class sits in alphabetical order by last name? You might notice that ultimately, it is not the parents or the relatives that can fix the boys' problems. I really don't know how I lucked out finding this book. I looked on the new book shelf and there it was - a book about a new school year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The title reminds me of something. Isn't saving a seat during the crazy times of school lunches one of the biggest ways to show friendship and to show just how nice you really are?

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Bubble Wrap Boy by Phil Earle

The Bubble Wrap BoyCharlie Han has got a problem. Make that two problems. Undersized for his age and coming from an ethnic background (in his case, Chinese) Charlie already has to put up with a certain amount of teasing, bullying, and ostracism. Add to that a helicopter mother who carries protecting him to lunatic proportions. But he makes a friend and learns he's got a talent that might give him a way out and a way up,... if only he can get around his mother.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcherfour children          
all boys        
all adopted

When two men adopt them, misadventures don't occur. It's just the normal stuff boys go through day after day. They are now in grades ranging from Kindergarten through Sixth Grade. Sam wants to be the best at soccer. He is of African-American heritage and plays the role of big brother quite well. Max and Eli are the same age. Frog (what a name - you'll find out) is the youngest and he was born in India. They really love and respect each other. The holidays and school year show what they experience. It is the neighbor that they have a hard time connecting and communicating with for a long time. The "grumpy" neighbor is actually a hero of the Vietnam War.

This is one of those fictions that take place in modern times. Yes, screen time is actually limited. All characters get a chance to show their perspective. What a chance to show how children literally have to run from one activity to another. That's where many of the misadventures occur in this amusing yet meaningful fiction.

      * 2017 Bluestem Award Nominee*

Friday, July 08, 2016

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M Draper

Stella by StarlightStella and her younger brother, Jojo, witness firsthand a burning at a Klan rally very close to their home. There is more burning to follow. This historical fiction takes place in 1932 in segregated North Carolina. Stella is undaunted almost to the point of being fearless. She even goes with her father when he registers to vote and when he actually votes. She wants to be a writer. She does her best writing at night. Stella notices injustices. Everyone helps each other and their resilient spirit shines. Stella, herself, is a hero more that once.

Imagine having no shoes. Imagine having to pay money for registering to vote. Imagine having to walk past the library and a school just for white people. Sharon M. Draper does a most excellent job in giving authentic voices to so many characters. Sharon M. Draper even did her homework. It wasn't too long ago the the words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance. She even noticed that detail. I know Sharon M. Draper must be tired of all the awards that have been bestowed upon her and her literary work. May I add one more thing? Thank you, Sharon M. Draper, for giving Stella a heart that shines.

                  * Rebecca Caudill 2017 Award Nominee*

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