24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling, author of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (a 2020 Bluestem nominee), takes place exactly as the title states - over 24 hours in the very small rural town of Nowhere, Arizona. In Nowhere, our hero and narrator is Gus, a 12 year old who looks more like a third grader and is often bullied for his size. He is smart and funny though and determined to get out of Nowhere some day using his brain. In the meantime, his story begins as the major bully in his grade, Bo, has threatened to make him eat a jumping Cholla cactus. Enter Rossi, the new girl, a Tohono O'odham Indian American and also a champion dirt biker who has beaten Bo on the local track. She deals her prized dirt bike to Bo to get him to release Gus. To get back her bike will cost a nugget of gold from the local abandoned gold mine. Crazy! But Gus is determined to get Rossi her bike back and so begins their odyssey in an abandoned gold mine, and its underground network of caves that is the stuff of local legends, dead cowboys and an assortment of bats, snakes and scorpions. Accompanying Gus and Rossi is Matthew, one of Bo's minions and Jessie, Gus former best friend. Together the four navigate the unknown, learning much about friendship, cooperation and themselves. Grade 4-5 Adventure.
Sisterland by Salla Simukka, is an epic modern fairly tale. Like in Alice in Wonderland, or The Wizard of Oz, Alice falls into another world, and has a great adventure trying to get back home and save her homeland. In the world Alice has left, snow and cold are threatening to drown her town and everyone is so cold that a dark depression is taking over. When Alice falls into a deep snow drift and lands in Sisterland she finds fantastical creatures, beauty, warm sunny days, and no troubles. And at first she loves being there, especially when she meets Marissa a girl her own age who has also fallen into Sisterland and is like her soul sister and perfect best friend. But both girls worry when their memories of their families begin to fade. Then they discover they are in Sisterland to complete a mission that will allow them to save their home from forever being cold. They must defeat Queen Lilli who has taken all the warmth for her own, and to do so Alice and Marissa face unusual oceans, disappearing islands, abandoned amusement parks and even dragons. Can they succeed? And if they do, will they still be friends in their regular world? Fantasy grades 3-5.
The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown is a unique mix of realistic fiction, historical fiction and ghost story. The story takes place in Eesaw, North Carolina where Iris, her younger sister and parents live across the street from Daniel, her best friend and his mother and grandmother. Iris and Daniel, are African American in a predominately white middle school and while potential leaders in their grade, they feel they are often ignored. When Iris and Daniel sneak out to play during the first snowy evening they discover an abandoned grown over grave in the forest clearing near their houses. They can only read the name Avery Brown and the years which show she was about their age when she died. They research to learn this grave may have been part of an abandoned African American graveyard from the time that cemeteries in the South were segregated. When they are allowed to partner on a historical project for Social Studies, Iris and Daniel decide to focus on this type of segregation and bring light to these sadly abandoned and often unmarked graves. But when Iris begins to see a ghostlike Avery, the story turns darker. What could this ghostly Avery want from Iris? Or is Iris just imagining this "forgotten girl"? Fantasy grades 3-6.
COG by Greg Van Eekhout. COG is a robot who looks like an average 12 year old boy. But since COG is short for "cognitive development" which is the process of learning how to think and understand, COG is a very smart robot. When the story unfolds, he is living happily with his creator, Gina, who treats him like her buddy, in a bedroom of her house, decorated with the books and astronomy posters he has chosen. His days are full of educational activities and learning and that is what COG is programmed to do - learn, and then he loves to share what he has learned. Until one day when COG has an accident outside of the house and is taken away. He wakes up in the building of UniMind, a company that makes robots, full of many robots who are all treated like unfeeling machines. COG knows he must get out of UniMind and find Gina and with the help of three other robots he escapes! Join COG, ADA (his sister), a "Trash"bot and an "Arf"bot on an incredible journey. Grade 3-5 Science Fiction.
Shine by J.J. and Chris Grabenstein is an inspiring school story told by Piper, who has to start a new school in the middle of her 7th grade year. And not just any new school, but the best and most expensive private school in the area, Chumley Prep. Her father, a choir director at the local public school is hired by Chumley Prep after his acapella group wins the state competition. Chumley gives Piper a scholarship to attend and so begins a lot of new experiences for Piper. She believes the students will all be snobby and there is no way she can fit in but soon finds a great group of friends. Then when the school offers a new special prize, everyone is interested in trying to win, even Piper, though she considers herself not particularly talented at anything except science which she loves. But with kindness and an understanding of what friendship truly means, could this be a great year after all? Realistic fiction, grades 3-5.
Here's an overview of our busy LMC:
Kindergarten spend some time examining the difference between fiction and nonfiction. We discussed and compared books that provide you true information (facts) and those that tell you a story from the author's imagination. Students paired a nonfiction information book with a fiction story about the same subject.
In both Kindergarten and First Grade we have been reading our Monarch nominated books including Alfie: (The Turtle that Disappeared), A Big Mooncake for Little Star, We Don't Eat our Classmates and The Truth About Bears. We compared these books to information books about dinosaurs, turtles or the moon.
We also read information books and stories about the first Thanksgiving feast long ago and compared it to our holiday today.
In Second Grade we read a few Who Would Win? books to examine how the author proved that one animal would prevail over the other with evidence from the animal's physical features and how it hunts and get its prey. Then students chose an animal to research using two resources, Pebblego and Facts4Me or World Book. After they wrote facts about the animal's body, habitat and prey, they drew it and wrote their notes into a script for a battle. We paired the animals and partner students used the Explain Everything app on the iPad to choose a habitat photo, put their animal drawings on it and record their battle, with two good reasons (evidence) why one animal wins. Watch their "battles" on the 2nd Grade Student Projects page.
In 3rd grade students researched one weather disaster: Hurricane, Tornado, Drought, Wildfire, Blizzard or Flood in connection with their science unit on weather. They used an Epic book and the World Book to take notes on how, when and where the disaster occurs, a disaster in history and how you prepare or stay safe. Pairs of students then created a Brainpop video about their disaster using Moby and images from Brainpop. You can view and learn from their awesome videos on the 3rd Grade Student Projects page.
In 4th grade classes read two nonfiction texts What if There Were No Gray Wolves by Suzanne Slade and The Wolves are Back by Jean Craighead George to examine and compare "reference nonfiction" and "literary nonfiction", two different ways of reading true information.
In 4th grade, students also studied the geology of a National Park in connection with their science unit on earth's changing surface. In pairs, students took notes on the processes that formed the land in one National park: volcanic eruption, tectonic plate movement, deposition, erosion and/or glaciation. Then each pair wrote a script for a "geology show" and in front of the green screen, with the National Park behind them, students recorded their explanation of the landforms in the Park. Watch and learn from the student videos on the 4th grade Student Projects page.
A National Park Ranger skyped with each class and students asked geology questions to try to figure out what National Park the ranger was located in. Students found her in Yellowstone National Park! Great "landform" detective work by our students.
In 5th grade, classes joined a SDG Sustainable Develpment Goals project on Sea Turtles with a focus on the problem of plastics in the ocean. First students read about the United Nations goals for 2030 and then focused on different aspects of the plastics problem including how plastic garbage gets to the ocean, the problems it causes, the single use issue and microplastics. Finally we brainstormed actions we can take to help this problem in our school, community and the state of Illinois. Students are writing letters and creating petitions and slideshows to educate our student body, district administration and support bills in the Illinois Senate. Stay tuned for more!
November also brought two authors to Patton. Deb Skog visited K, first and second graders with her super fun The Pumpkin Eating Dinosaur.
The Arlington Heights Memorial Library brought Laurie Wallmark to Patton to present to 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classes on Women in Computing in connection with her book about Grace Hopper, Queen of Computer Code, a Bluestem nominated title this year.
At the beginning of October, families and students began their journey with BOB, when one of the author's, Wendy Mass, sent Patton a special video unveiling our One Book, One School choice for 2019. We all fell in love with Bob and Livy reading eagerly to discover if Livy could help Bob find his own home and family and if Bob would help Livy gain confidence in herself and appreciate her family. (View the LMC BOB page for more details about the book)
In LMC, classes discussed the book weekly and completed many grade level activities relating to the book:
Kindergarten coded the Beebots to take Bob and Livy around Gran's house and the well.
First grade created a timeline of BOB's daily routine in the closet, and wrote about and drew the setting and plot.
Second grade mapped Livy's journey to BOB, and compared where Livy lives in the US to gran's house in Australia,
1st, 2nd and 3rd grades all drew BOB with Mrs. Maloney's demo video.
3rd grade learned about the two authors and their writing process, and coded the Ozobots to take Livy from her home to Gran's home in Australia.
and 3rd, 4th and 5th grades completed a BOB escape room with many clues about the characters, the vocabulary and the plot.
Finally the entire school skyped with Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead together and asked many questions, completing our 2019 One Book, One School adventure.
Lone Stars by Mike Lupica tackles the difficult topic of the dangers of concussions in football, particularly for middle school students. 12 year old Clay, and his best friend David truly love the game of football, watching their favorite pro and college teams but especially playing together on their Pop Warner team in San Antonio, Texas. Clay the wide receiver and David the quarterback have a great ability to communicate on the field and truly know the game well. But their parent's have begun to worry about every hit they take to their heads and the future problems concussions might mean for them. At the same time, they see their beloved coach, a former Dallas Cowboy, has been having strange memory loss episodes that seems to be getting more frequent. While these tough issues are tackled in the story, there is plenty of game action and play by play excitement! Sports fiction, grades 4-6.
KATT VS. DOGG by James Patterson. Meet Oscar, a happy-go-lucky dogg, and Mollie, a drama queen katt, and their families, as they enter Western Frontier Park for a vacation. These families, enemies, of course, want nothing to do with each other. Then first Mollie and then Oscar get lost in the woods, and run into each other while trying to escape from a mountain lion. Gradually they realize they must work together to survive and begin to appreciate each other's strengths and support. Could they actually be becoming friends? If so, what will happen when they get back home where their families are busy arguing and insulting each other? Humor, grades 2-5.
In Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly, the reader meets Iris, a lonely deaf girl whose parent's and brother are not deaf. She is in 6th grade at a school where there are no other deaf students and struggles to communicate well with the other kids, sometimes though her interpreter, which is awkward. When Iris learns about a whale called Blue 55 whose frequency is lower than all other whales, so he is unable to communicate with any other whales, she feels great affinity with him. Her grandmother, who is deaf, is the only one who seems to understand her connection to Blue 55, and together they decide to travel to his sanctuary near Alaska without telling anyone. Read to find out if Iris can help Blue and what she learns in this special adventure. Realistic Fiction, grades 4-6.
In Squirm by Carl Hiaasen, meet Billy, a 12 year old, who loves the outdoors, camping, and all animals but particularly snakes. He also cannot stand bullies and often finds himself defending others who need help, even if he himself gets into trouble. Billy lives with only his mom and older sister, since his Dad left many years ago. Billy's dad does send checks each month and when Billy discovers they come from Montana, he decides to find his dad. In Montana, Billy meets Lil, his stepmother, and Summer, his stepsister, both members of the Crow Nation. But his dad is out on a mysterious "job", in Yellowstone. When Summer and Billy try to find him, they are afraid he may be in trouble. When they do find him, Billy and Summer begin an adventure helping their father to stop poachers from harming endangered animals. Adventure, grades 4-6.
Dragon in a Bag by Elliott Zetta. 9 year old Jaxon has always lived with just his mother in New York City. Then one day when she has to go to court, she leaves him with a grouchy older woman she calls Ma. At Ma's Jaxon discovers a mysterious package that has a trio of dragon hatchlings and soon after realizes that Ma is a witch. Ma tells Jaxon she must return the dragons to their home so they will be safe and reluctantly takes Jaxon with him on her mission. In a special transporter, they return to the Mesozoic era and so begins a unique magical adventure story introducing Jaxon to many strange characters and wondering how and when he will return to his home. Fantasy, grades 2-4.
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling. Meet Aven Green, a smart optimistic, soccer loving 13 year old who happened to have been born without arms. But that has never stopped Aven. She simply finds her own way, and works hard to do what she wants and needs to do, including using her feet in amazing ways. She is happy in Kansas where she has lived since her parents adopted her at age two. But when her father gets a new job as the manager of Stagecoach Pass, a rundown Western theme park out in Arizona, the family moves. In her new school, students have never seen anyone like Aven and mostly avoid, ignore her or ask rude questions. Although intrigued by Stagecoach Pass and Arizona, she is lonely for the friends she had in Kansas until she meets two students who have their own challenges, challenges that Aven finds she can help with and support. Her new friends also help Aven with the mystery surrounding Stagecoach Pass. Realistic fiction, grades 4-6.
Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown. In this first book of a new series, we meet 4th grader Sarai, the oldest of three girls in a close Latinx family (her mom was born in Peru, and her dad was born in Costa Rica). Sarai is an awesome positive thinker with a lot of energy and ambition. When her beloved grandfather might lose his nearby house, Sarai immediately goes into action. She hatches a plan to use her cupcake business to raise the money needed to buy the house. Of course that is a lot of money but Sarai is determined and enlists the help of her whole extended family. Full of fun, Spanish words and lots of love. Realistic fiction, grades 2-3.
Ban this Book by Alan Gratz. Fourth grader Amy Anne is a good rule follower and quiet student, who is used to being overlooked in her noisy family, and not saying what she's really thinking. But when her favorite book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, is one of the titles banned from the school library, she can't do nothing. When she is too scared to speak up at the school board meeting, she decides she can at least find and read all of the banned books. She begins collecting and putting them in her locker at school and soon other students are requesting to borrow them until she and two friends find they are running a Banned Books Locker Library! What will happen when the school finds out? Realistic fiction, grades 3-6.
Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya. Marcus is a very large 8th grader who has created a business helping smaller and younger students, who are being bulllied and pay Marcus for protection. He is especially devoted to his younger brother, Charlie, who has Downs Syndrome but is tough, spunky and brave and his mother who works several jobs to make ends meet. When the school finds out about Marcus' "business" and suspends him, and his mom decides to take a week off and travel back to Puerto Rico where his father, who abandoned his family is from. His father's family welcomes Marcus and Charlie and their mother with open arms, introducing them to the beautiful country and culture. But Marcus decides this is his chance to find and confront his father. Realistic fiction, grades 4-6.
The Last Grand Adventure by Rebecca Behrens. In this historical fiction story set in the 1970's, 12 year-old Bea is unhappy living with her divorced father, his new wife and young stepsister Sally who annoyingly insists on touching everything Bea owns. Bea also misses her reporter mother who is traveling all summer. So she accepts the offer to spend several weeks with Pidge, the grandmother she hardly knows. Soon after Bea arrives Bea discovers that Pidge's sister, her own great aunt, was actually Amelia Earhart! While sharing stories of growing up with Amelia, Pidge takes Bea on a secret journey from California to her childhood home in Kansas hoping to be reunited with Amelia. Pidge believes Ameila is still alive because she has been receiving mysterious letters from her for decades. And so begins Bea's adventure across the country, getting to know and love her grandmother, while traveling in trains, busses, with kind strangers, all in the hope to meet the incredible Amelia! Historical fiction, grades 4-6.
The Remarkable Adventures of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart. When we meet 12 year old Coyote Sunrise, she has been living with her father, Rodeo, in a converted school bus traveling all over the U.S. for five years. Once upon a time, they lived in Washington State, in a regular house with regular school, but when her mother and two sisters died in an automobile accident, her father bought the bus, changed their names, and took off, trying to keep all the painful memories away. But when Coyote learns that her former neighborhood park, where she buried a memory box, is about to be demolished, she is determined to get back there as soon as possible. Coyote plots a way to get there without telling her father why, and along the way, they pick up an assortment of special passengers who become involved with Coyote's quest. An action packed remarkable journey. Realistic fiction, grades 4-6.
Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney. This is Rowley Jefferson's journal! We get the thoughts, and perspectives of Greg Heffley 's (Wimpy Kid) best friend. Did you ever wonder how they met, what Rowley thinks of Greg and his idea? Well here's your answer. Except Rowley decides he is actually writing a biography of Greg because that is what Greg wants. Read this new Diary entry and find out for yourself! Humor, grades 2-5.
Josh Baxter Levels Up by Gavin Brown. Josh loves video games, all kinds, from Mario to Zelda to the sports games, like Madden he used to play with his dad. But since his father died, his mother has moved Josh and his older sister several times, resulting in Josh being the new kids over and over. This school year it is to Howard Taft Middle School where Josh is struggling, both to fit in and to keep up academically. But when his mother takes away all his games until his grades improves, Josh decides he needs to follow the lead of his favorite game characters and find a way to "level up". He begins to do his homework, concentrate in school and realize there are potential friends around, who even like video games like he does. This story is full of game references, game characters and drawings and lots of fun!
Grades 3-5. Realistic fiction.
Loot by Jude Watson, is sub-titled How to Steal a Fortune, and that is what March, his twin sister Julia, and two friends are attempting to do. But that is getting ahead. First the reader meets March, the lonely son of a jewel thief, Alfie. Alfie is not a bad father and keeps March away from his "business" but also leaves him out of school, traveling all around the world from job to job, and often left alone. Then while on a job, Alfie dies, after first leaving March some puzzling clues that March thinks will lead to famous jewels. But then he is picked up by police and finds himself on the way to a group home in the United States with a twin sister he has never met or know existed. Desperate to leave the depressing group home, they take two friends with them and begin to figure out Alfie's message. Grade 5 and up. Adventure fiction.
Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord is the story of Emma who is about to start school for the first time in 5th grade. She has been happily home-schooled with her older brother Owen, learning hands on science from her father a Maine Game Warden and mom who teachers all else. But last year Owen went off to regular High School and thrived, so now Emma is trying it too, with plenty of nerves. But the night before school starts, Emma helps her dad rescue a rabbit who turns out to be a domestic not wild, and Emma wants desperately to keep it. If not one claims her, Emma will keep her but school still needs to start. It is an adjustment though Emma likes some students, finds other's more difficult and in the end, could the rabbit be the thing that helps her through? Grades 2-4. Realistic fiction.
Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu is a unique story told by Elodee, twin to Naomi, beginning when the girls and their parents are about to move to the new wonderful Eventown. All the reader knows is that the family had vacationed in that town and everything had been perfect. Now they are moving there, away from the boring town of Juniper where Elodee felt the other girls in school did not like her differences, and only gravitated to Naomi who loves to fit in. Their parents are excited to have interesting jobs in Eventown and as they begin their new life there, all seems beautiful. At first Elodee loves that the kids are friendly and happy, the school is fun and suddenly even the things she cooks and bakes come out perfectly as long as she follows the Eventown recipes. But Elodee remembers sadness in their lives, and wants to hold on to some of her old memories. She also loves to strike out and do things differently from others. These things are all looked down upon in Eventown and Elodee is beginning to wonder why. Then her mother promises her that everything will make sense after the girls have their special mysterious ceremony at the Welcoming Center. Read to find out the what is really going on in Eventown! Grades 4-6 Fantasy/Sci-fic.
Key Hunters, The Mysterious Moonstone by Eric Luper.
In this new series opener, Cleo and Evan begin to investigate the odd behavior of their new school librarian, Ms. Crowley, and in the process discover a secret underground library. There they find a note from their previous librarian, the beloved Ms. Hilliard, telling them, "If you have found this note, I am trapped somewhere between the covers of these enchanted books." And on the table is an old book with a key sticking out of its lock. Opening the book, they suddenly find themselves in 19th-century London, where they realize they help the a young detective solve the case of a stolen diamond. Then they need to get back to the underground library and their school again! Mystery, grades 2-4.
Greystone Secrets #1: The Strangers by Margaret Petersen Haddix begins a new series from the author of several beloved science fiction series. Meet the Greystone kids, Chess (12), Emma (10), and Finn (8) living fairly ordinary lives with their mother, their father having died years before. But then one day after school they find their mother desperately upset over a news story about a bizarre kidnapping—bizarre because the three children who were taken share the names, ages, and birthdays of the Greystone kids. Then Mrs. Greystone is suddenly leaves on a business trip out of town, leaving her kids in the care of a virtual stranger. Knowing something is not right, the kids uncover a coded letter
Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond by Sam Hearn. Join the Baker Street Academy students on a fun mystery in London. John Watson joins the class, meeting Sherlock, Martha, and the dog Baskerville, just as a famous diamond is stolen from the British History Museum while the students are on a field trip there! Everyone gets involved in trying to figure out who took the diamond, but Sherlock is of course leading the way. This fun mystery series is full of drawings, cartoons and clues! Grade 2-4. Mystery.
In A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese the reader first meets 11 year old Ernest, as he honors his dying grandfather's wish that he clean out his attic. There Ernest finds a group of interesting items, mostly classic toys, but he is not sure what he is supposed to do with them or what they mean. But then he learns of the town's wishing well and its legend and then seemingly by accident the attic items seem to be instrumental in fulfilling wishes. While Ernest is part of the richest family in their struggling town and has been a loner, some new friends join him in this strange mystery. Brooding but generous Ryan and insightful Lizzy, bond with Ernest as they try to figure out if the wishes being fulfilled are just coincidence or magic. Could their good intentions really help the struggling town? Magical Realism, grades 4 and up.
Max & the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce is the start of a new series by the author of the Big Nate series. Fans of Big Nate will recognize the fun cartoon drawings but otherwise the story is very different. Max lives in the middle ages (14th century) and when we meet him he is traveling with his uncle a "troubadour" (entertainer that goes from village to village), though this is not a life that Max loves. Max longs to become a knight. When Max suddenly finds an old and magical sword, his life changes. They enter the town where his uncle grew up and find that the good and kind King of the town has been replaced by his greedy and evil brother. And an evil witch has put a spell on the people of the town who are now almost all mean and unfriendly. But Max finds three new friends and together they form the MidKnights and go on an adventure to save the town, meeting dragons, entering castles and learning magic. Told with a mix of text and cartoons. Grade 3-5
The Adventures of a Girl Called BICYCLE by Christina Uss. In this very unusual story, a 3 year old orphan wearing a shirt with a bicycle on it is adopted by a nun and raised in a Mostly Silent Monastery, where the monks only say eight words. They name the girl, Bicycle and when she is old enough to ride give her an old but sturdy bike she names Clunk, which becomes her most prized possession. Bicycle is happy with her rather solitary life but when she turns twelve, her guardian Sister Wanda sends her to the Friendship Factory summer camp to meet more girl friends. Bicycle finds most girls silly and wants to spend summer on her bike and meeting her hero, a famous professional bicyclist who is visiting California. So she escapes the camp and begins a bike journey from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. On this cross country bike trip, she meets and is helped by many different people and even a famous inventor. Will she make it? A fantastical adventure. Grades 4 and up.
The Doughnut King by Jessie Jankowitz is the sequel to The Doughnut Fix in which we meet Tris, a budding chef, as he tries to adjust to his family's move from New York City to a very small town. He and a friend get the recipe for an amazing doughnut and eventually start The Doughnut Stop, a doughnut stand for the town. In this new installment, Tris' business has thrived and he is now having trouble keeping up with the orders. His mother's new restaurant seems to be doing well also, until the family learns the town's population has been dropping and its businessess including their's could be in danger of disappearing. Then Tris' sister enters him in a cut throat kids cooking television competition. If he wins, he could advertise for the town, and afford a doughnut robot that would help him make more doughnuts. But Tris does not really like competitions! Realistic fiction with lots of food! Grade 3-5.
Mac B. Kid Spy, The Impossible Crime by Mac Barnett is the second book in the Mac B. "kid spy" series and just as much fun as the first! Mac is again summoned by the Queen of England, given money and a plane ticket and hired as an international spy. This time he needs to find out how a thief stole the crown jewels right in front of a guard and Mac when they were in a locked cell with the jewels. They are off to a castle in Ireland where they know the thief lives. Great illustrations and lots of corgi dogs too! Can Mac solve this "locked room" crime? Grades 2-4 or more!
Confusion is Nothing New by Paul Acampora, was my first read of summer break. I immediately liked the narrator and heroine Ellie and her best friend Daniel. Both fourteen, both in their school's marching band, and both have always lived in the same town. But Ellie has been without a mother since she was a baby when her mother left to follow her dream to be a rock star. Ellie lives with her loving and dedicated father who would not answer questions about her mother. Then suddenly, Ellie gets a package of cassette tapes from her mother who dies of cancer right after sending the package. Ellie and a group of bright, and interesting friends and music lovers set out to help Ellie find out who her mother was and all about the music she loved and dedicated her life to. Funny, meaningful, a great read. Realistic fiction 5th grade and up.
The Friendship War by Andrew Clements. Grace loves math, data and collecting unusual artifacts. She is thrilled when her grandfather lets her keep many boxes of buttons, potentially antique, that they find when exploring an old clothing mill he is going to renovate. After showing some of the unique buttons in her social studies class, she unwittingly starts a new fad in school, and suddenly everyone is finding, trading and collecting all kinds of buttons. Grace herself feels drawn into this fad and worse, realizes her best friend Ellie is now a source of competition. Or has Ellie always treated their friendship that way? As Grace navigates the school year, she begins to reexamine a friendship she thought was good and compare it to newer friendships. Grace begins to question if the old one is worth saving? Read this very real portrait of 5th grade relationships and fads! Realistic fiction, grades 3-5.
The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris. Carter has had a very hard life, losing his parents when he was very young, he is raised by an uncle who does not really care for him but uses him as an assistant when he steals from and cons people. But his uncle and his parents were magicians and Carter is pretty magically talented too. That helps him escape from his uncle and try to survive on his own. He finds himself in a little town with a magic shop where he meets a generous magician, Mr. Vernon and his budding escape artist daughter. As Carter gets to know them and meet their friends he finds a special bond. Together, these "magical misfits" they solve a mystery and a big crime involving a special and rare diamond. Magic tricks included in the book too! Magical Realism, Grades 3-5.
Supergifted by Gordon Korman. In this sequel to Gifted, Donovan is back! This time the story centers around his true genius friend Noah, when they are both enrolled in an ordinary middle school, though they still visit the Academy to work on their robot competition. But at school, Noah is tired of being the best at everything so he is determined and trying hard to be very ordinary and fit in. He fails miserably until Donovan performs a heroic and very impulsive act and in a strange set of circumstances it is Noah who takes the credit. Suddenly Noah goes from superdweeb to Superkid in everyones eyes. Will it change him forever? Will Donovan every get credit he deserves and get his friend back? And how will the robot compete? Read this funny fast paced story to find out! Realistic fiction, grades 3-5.
In LMC, students spent the last month of school, learning about animal homes and building a model for one (kindergarten), writing original Gerald and Piggie stories (first grade), studying another country (2nd grade), researching and then designing posters about Chicago history (3rd grade), learning how to be good digital citizens (4th grade) and creating a book trailer for a favorite book (5th grade). Take a look:
In second grade, students chose a country to study including: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Egypt, Australia or India. They learned the continent and its capital city and then concentrated on what life is like for a student in that country by finding out about school, favorite foods and sports and a special place to visit. Finally students created an avatar using the app "School Avatar", to represent a student in the country they studied and recorded a video sharing what they had learned. Enjoy all their videos here:
2nd grade project page-Country Friends
3rd graders study Chicago history in social studies. In LMC we read primary source accounts of children who survived the Chicago Fire from the Chicago History Museum website. Then students chose one important event or topic in Chicago history that had lasting impact on the city today. These topics included DuSable, the Columbian Exposition and Century of Progress world fairs, the Illinois and Michigan Canal, Union Stockyards, Navy Pier, Marshall Fields, Chicago railroads and Burnham's Plan for Chicago. After researching the event or topic, they created a poster about it and its impact using Adobe Spark Post. Here are a few examples:
In fourth grade, LMC was digital citizenship central! First, we used a Nearpod with activities and videos from Brainpop and Common Sense Media to help students review, learn and share how to be a good citizen online, including protecting oneself with good and private passwords, what to do if you encounter a cyberbully, the meaning of your "digital footprint" and most of all how and when to post - with respect, thought and care, in an appropriate and helpful manner. Next, each student chose one aspect of digital citizenship: Cyberbullying, Internet Security, Netiquette or Digital Footprint and created a "Web Warrior" with Captain Marvel - to share the guidelines and responsibilities for that area of online behavior. Some students also created a 3 panel comic strip that illuminates one potential online situation and how to handle it.
Check out all the Web Warrior's here!
5th graders were hard at work in LMC creating a “book trailer” about a book they read during the past year. Book trailers (similar to movie trailers) are aimed at convincing the viewer to read the book, using images and text as a pictorial digital persuasive essay. Students are enjoying the process and creating beautiful, exciting or interesting trailers. To provide more excitement and an authentic audience for these trailers we are holding the 3rd annual District 25 Book Trailer Festival, in which 5th grade student's across the District create, view and rate each other’s trailers. A District committee then chose “school winners”. Check out the Book Trailer Festival website to view all the trailers including the winners of each class and the Patton winner!.
The votes on the Elite 8 books have been tallied and voting on the Final Four will begin on April 1! Check out the Tournament of Books page for all the results
My Reading List!
I am the Library Media Center director at Patton School in Arlington Heights where I help students from kindergarten through 5th grade find terrific independent reading for enjoyment and information, and teach students the skills to use information and technology safely and productively and to connect, communicate and share with others. I have four grown children, a large black dog, (flat coat retriever) and a small striped cat. I am an obessive Chicago Cubs fan and I love to run.