The Explorer by Katherine Rundell is a survival story of epic proportions! Four children, Fred and Con who are British and Brazilian Lila and her young brother Max are flying alone in a small airplane when the pilot suffers a heart attack and they crash in the Amazon jungle. Using their limited knowledge of plants and hunting and their stubborn strong will to live, they are only barely surviving when they discover a hidden map which seems to lead them up the river to a city. What follows is an even more amazing story of rafts, ruins, explorers and cooperation, as they learn to truly appreciate and respect the remote, dangerous and beautiful terrain. Adventure fiction, grades 4-6.
The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff. Meet sad and disappointed Brian, whose summer has been totally ruined. While his father is off on an incredible job expedition in the South Pole, Brian needs to live with his very boring Aunt, Uncle and cousin Nora in Boring, Illinois! No friends, no soccer, and to make matters worse, Uncle Gary has a new summer school computer program he insists Brian work on every single day. Just when Brian thinks he will go crazy, he explores the area just outside of the town and discovers a wild forest and a crazy, falling down, but amazing old castle. And inside the castle, a boy his age, Cosmo, living almost without rules, with four uncles who explore the world each with pretty weird and wild talents. When Brian finds out the town of Boring wants to condemn and take down the Matchstick Castle, he and Cosmo, the uncles and even Nora, need to figure out a way to save their home. Realistic fiction (though kind of crazy), grades 3-5.
This Would Make a Good Story Someday by Dana Alison Levy is really Sara's journal of her family's incredible train journey across the U.S. It all happens the summer before Sara enters Middle School when Sara's mom, a professional blogger is offered a trip on four Amtrak liners from New York to California, with city stops in between, if she writes up all the events, stories and reactions of her family into a book to be published after the trip. Besides Sara, the trip includes her other mom, her college age "activist and naturalist" sister Laurel, her six year old sister, "Ladybug" and Root, Laurel's boyfriend. Although to the others, the trip sounds amazing, Sara is not so sure. For one, she and her best friends had great plans for their summer at home, and two, she really does not want her feelings publicized across the pages of a book and three, they will be traveling with another family of strangers from Texas, a son Sara's age, his dad and two older aunts. But despite her worries, she is on the trip, soon discovering not just the history, beauty and uniqueness of cities as diverse as Greensboro, New Orleans, Chicago and Santa Fe, but how special is her family and their time together. A funny family adventure full of memorable characters. Grades 4-6. Realistic Fiction.
The Courageous Princess, Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms, Volume 1, by Rod Espinosa is a fantasy adventure graphic novel starring Princess Mablerose. Mablerose is the darling daughter of the King and Queen of New Tinsley, a small Kingdom, who raise their daughter to be happy, unspoiled and spunky. When Mablerose is old enough to go to her first ball, she is kidnapped by an evil dragon and must use her intelligence and bravery to outwit him, escape and find her way home. Along the way, she befriends a porcupine, named Spikey, who helps her through many magical adventures, some of which will feel familiar to fairy tales we know, and some of which will be completely new and unique. And there are two more installments of Princess Mabelrose on the way! Graphic/Fantasy, grades 2-5.
In The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea, meet five students beginning sixth grade with a new "old" teacher. The regular and awesome teacher sixth grade teacher the kids are expecting is replaced by an older retired teacher, Ms. Woods, and the rumor is she tolerates no funny business. And so begins the story of their year, told in five diverse voices: Randi, the gymnast whose mother makes sure she stays ultra focused on her sport, Randi's best friend Gavin, who loves football but struggles with reading, Scott who means well but is always a mess and rarely taken seriously, Trevor, a bully and Natalie the serious lawyer to be and rule follower. As their year progresses, the students learn there might be a lot to appreciate in Ms. Woods after all, and as in Because of Mr. Terupt, the author gives us the back story of each character so the reader begins to understand more deeply their motivations and actions. As the year heads toward the state tests the school believes are uber important, can the students work together to keep their class learning what is truly more important? Realistic fiction, grades 4-6.
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.