While we all huddle inside, here's a few books to help you stay warm!
In Sidetracked by Diana Harmon Asher, the reader meets Joseph as he begins 7th grade, feeling like he is loaded with problems. He has ADD, attention deficit disorder, or as he explains, "though he can focus fine, he often gets distracted and focuses on the wrong things." This can make schoolwork difficult so he gets help in the Resource Room with Mrs. T. But this also means he is teased and actually bullied by a few students who call it the "retard room". Though Joseph believes this year will be more of the same, a few things are making a difference. First, Mrs. T turns out to be the coach, of the new Cross Country team that Joseph reluctantly agreed to join. He also meets Heather, a new girl, who is a fearlessly fast runner, but also does not seem to care what others think and seems to want to be Joseph's friend. Finally his ornery but lively and very funny Grandpa has moved back into his house, and is great company with good advice. Join Joseph as he learns about "personal bests" and how important they can be both in running and in life. Grades 4, 5.
The Unteachables by Gordon Korman, are a small class of 7 students who the school has labeled "unteachable" and decided to put together in one class, plus one new girl who finds herself in the class by mistake. Their teacher is Mr. Kermit, who the school has lost faith in as a teacher, and he has lost faith in his ability to teach. Though he once loved teaching and was good at it, a scandal involving one of his student's cheating on a state test, years ago, changed all that. Now Mr. Kermit cannot wait until the end of the year when he will retire. But the year does not go according to either the students' or Mr. Kermit's original plan. As we get to know each of the student's through their own perspective, Mr. Kermit begins to also learn and understand them. And slowly feels a reawakening of his love of teaching and a belief in these students emerges. The year holds many turns and twists and surprises for the students, the school and the reader! Grades 4,5.
Invisible Emmie is a clever graphic novel that deals very realistically with middle school friendships, activities and other school issues. Emmie basically prefers to stay unnoticed and be allowed to draw, which she loves, or be with best friend Brianna (a.k.a. “The Brain”). But when one of her drawings is picked up by a boy, the events that follow are unplanned, The story is told through expressive and funny panel drawings and a sideline written by Kate, a student who seems to be popular and perfect. Then comes the sequel Invisible Izzy Invisible Izzy follows Emmie's best friend Brianna who is tired of being thought of as only a "brain" and artsy dreamer Izzy. Again the drawings and text parallel two stories and fill the story with characters and situations full of humor and meaning. Grades 4-6.
Wild Rescuers: Guardians fo the Taiga. The first in a fantasy series in which Stacy is the caretaker and protector of the taiga forest in which she lives and all the animals within. Though she does know English and has vague feelings about a previous life with humans all she knows for sure is that she has been raised by a pack of six wolves who communicate with her both telepathically and through body language. Together they guard the forest from environmental disasters and changes. The mystery of her upbringing will certainly be the subject of future stories in the series. For animal and environment lovers! Grades 3-5.
A Long Line of Cakes by Deborah Wiles brings the reader back to the small town of Halleluia, Mississippi, at least if you have read the previous Wiles books that take place here, including Aurora County All-Stars, and Love, Ruby Lavender. This time our story is told by Emma Alabama Lane Cake, the only girl in the cake family of five brothers. The Cake's are itinerant bakers meaning they move from place to place opening a bakery to bring their luscious and special cakes, muffins and breads to a new town. Then when Leo Meyer Lemon Cake, their father declares it is time to move, off they go again. Emma, who has lived in too many places and said good bye to too many friends immediately falls in love with Halleluia and the friends she and her brothers make there. These friends include Ruby, and House the stars of the other Aurora County books. Emma believes this town is special for the Cakes and the place they should finally call home. Read to find out if she is right and meet all the unique, quirky and compassionate characters that live in Deborah Wile's books! Realistic Fiction, grades 3-5.
In The Secret of Goldenrod by Jane O'Reilly, we meet Trina, about to enter 5th grade, and her father, a handy man/construction worker. He has followed jobs all around the U.S., and Trina with him, as her mother has been off following her dreams alone for many years. The two are now moving to New Royal, Iowa to rehab Goldenrod, a very old, very large house, that will take about a year to complete. Trina is looking forward to being in one place for a whole year though is disappointed in the small, quiet and rundown town. Goldenrod however she begins to love and finds that despite its poor state, it was clearly once a beautiful, unique and specially built home. Trina also discovers that the entire town not only despise Goldenrod they are afraid of it, believe it is haunted, and attribute the town's bad luck to the sad things that happened to the family that built the grand home many years ago. Trina is determined to prove the town is wrong and though she believes there is magic in Goldenrod, it is not to be feared but celebrated. Can she convince everyone else? Magical Realism, grades 4-5.
The Real McCoys by Matthew Swanson is a fun mystery story told both by its many cartoon pictures and its words. Moxie McCoy, our heroine and narrator is serious about being a detective. She has read the full series of Annabelle Adams, girl detective books and solved many mysteries with her best friend Maude. But Maude has just moved away and Moxie is facing 4th grade without her friend and detective partner. And of course, the biggest mystery happens - the school mascot, a stuffed owl named Eddie disappears on the very day the student Owl Awards are to be presented. Moxie is sure she can solve the mystery and find Eddie. And though she is determined and funny, Moxie can also be impulsive and that often leads her to trouble. That is why Moxie is also intent on finding a new best friend that has all or most of the great and special qualities that Maude had. In the mean time could her younger, very smart brother Milton stand in and help? Follow Moxie and her brother and all the 4th graders, through this school year, and see if Moxie can find Eddie and a true friend (while she is not in the principal's office!) Realistic fiction/graphic novel, grades 2-4.
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson- This special novel is part historical fiction, part realistic fiction and part mystery. It has two stories is one both taking place in the small Southern town of Lambert, South Carolina. In present day, Candice is a 6th grader on summer break in Atlanta when her mother announces they will spend the summer at her grandmother's former home in Lambert. Candice's parents are splitting up, she misses her grandmother who recently died and is not looking forward to this summer in Lambert. Then she finds a friend across the street, who is a real book lover as she is, and a mysterious letter in the attic. The letter originally written to her grandmother claims that the writer, a wealthy businessman in Colorado has hidden a fortune somewhere in the town and anyone who solves the clues gets the fortune. The writer does not explain his connection to Lambert. It turns out Candice's grandmother tried to solve the mystery years before when Candice was very young and failed . Candice and Brandon decide to unravel the mystery and find the fortune. They begin deciphering the clues in the letter which all relate to a group of students, teachers and coaches that lived in Lambert in the 1950's. Using library, historical papers saved by the once all negro high school, and interviewing old residents, they begin an amazing journey into the civil rights history of the town that even relates to current events. Read this one if you love mysteries, or history or just a great page turner! Grades 4-6.
Naomis Too by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich & Audrey Vernick is the sequel to Two Naomis. Naomi E's father has recently married Naomi Marie's mother and the girls now live with the newly married parents and Naomi Marie's younger sister, Brianna. Naomi E sees her mother on some weekends as her mother's work hours are difficult. The Naomi's are about to enter Middle School, together for the first time, and in a new school for both. The story follows the girls' adjustment to school, more homework, new friends and activities which all students go through. But in addition, the two Naomi's are getting used to their new blended family, to less privacy, to the reactions from strangers to their family, and missing old friends and neighborhood as well. Go along for this realistic ride, that tackles some of the issues between races today and attitudes that blended families need to face and correct. Realistic Fiction, grades 4-5.
The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell is a graphic novel that takes the reader into the imaginations of a neighborhood of kids on summer break. In each chapter a boy or girl uses their imagination, cardboard and creativity to create a fantasy character. Each chapter also gives the reader a little about their home life, struggles and their likes and preferences for fantasy. Some are sorcerer's, some are princes, others are robots, or flying dinosaurs, gargoyles or mad scientists and together they play out many fantastic adventures that bring them together and take the reader on a fun wild ride. Graphic Novel, Grades 3-5
Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. Max (Maxine) Einstein is a homeless very smart 12 year old orphan who never knew her parents. Suddenly she is taken by two mysterious agents and offered a chance to participate in a global organization to help change the World for the better. They have recognized her talents and together with seven other children about her age (but with College degrees) they are taken to headquarters in Jerusalem to begin their projects and inventions. But wait, there is also an evil billionaire who wants Max's help and his agents are watching for their chance to get her to their side. This fast paced adventure is full of Einstein quotes, travel across the World, high tech inventions and science! Read to find out where Max ends up and the impact she makes on problems on our Earth. First in a series. Adventure, grades 3-5.
December in the LMC = Monarch and Bluestem Award books, Illinois Bicentennial research, and how to pass a law
In Kindergarten, students have graduated to checking books out from the many shelves that have great fit books. In order to learn what shelves hold what books such as where are the books about sports, animals, Superpets, Star Wars, dinosaurs, dogs etc, students completed two "shelf scavenger hunts". In pairs they found the place a type of book is located, chose one, and gave it to a teacher. Later they could check out one of those books or find a different one.
In First and Second Grade, we delved into several Monarch Award books. We read and discussed After the Fall by Dan Santat which tells a different and more complete version of Humpty Dumpty, and then students completed a related activity. First graders used pictures from the story to retell it and compared After the Fall to the original Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme, while second graders watched another version of Humpty Dumpty in a "Fixed Fairytale" video and compared and contrasted it with the After the Fall version.
Next we read Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari with first grade, who loved the beautiful and action packed pictures of a mother coyote searching for food for her pups who are sleeping and playing. Students drew pictures comparing the coyote family activities to their own family.
Second graders read and discussed a non fiction Monarch Award selection, John Deere, that's who by Tracy Nelson Maurer and we examined real photos of John Deeres' first plow and an 1820's blacksmith shop like Deere's when he created the new plow. Next students chose another picture biography about an invention to read in groups. Students learned and laughed with the Whole Story of the Donut, Balloons Over Broadway, Pop! the Invention of Bubblegum, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Earmuffs for Everyone or Miracle Mud, and then compared the inventor and invention they read about with John Deere and his plow.
Third graders are celebrating Illinois' bicentennial with research on what has been Born, Built or Grown in Illinois, contributing to its rich history. Students chose their topic - people who have contributed to Illinois (Born), important buildings or inventions (Built) or beautiful natural sites and agriculture (Grown) to study and then will create individual Google Tours to share their learning.
Fourth graders read two Bluestem Award nominees, both literary non fiction, I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes her Mark by Debbie Levy and Game Changer: John Mclendon and the Secret Game by John Coy. Students discussed, compared and contrasted the characteristics, goals and methods of Justice Ginsburg and John Mclendon in helping to right wrongs in our country and bring about more equality.
Fifth graders study the three branches of government, learning the responsibilities of each branch and the checks and balances on all of them. In LMC, students researched how a law is passed in the Legislative branch, and once they understood the steps, created an infographic to show that process.
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.