Peiling, born in Taiwan, has lived in America most of her life and she feels completely American though her family insists on maintaining Taiwanese customs and food at home. In school she tries hard to fit in while still maintaining a strong identity. But Peiling yearns desperately to experience a real American Christmas with stockings, cookies and carols. It seems to her, every December, that she is alone in a world where everyone else is celebrating and everything is about Christmas. With her favorite Uncle's support, she finally asks her parents if they could have a Christmas holiday at home and to her surprise they agree to support her in this effort. Read Peiling and the Chicken-Fried Christmas by Pauline Chen, to find out how the holiday turns out and what Peiling learns in the process. A funny, real, and sensitive look at how we balance our traditional culture with new customs. Grade 3-5.
Zach McGee can barely believe his eyes when a small smurf-like but alien creature crashes into his bedroom window. Although "Amp" insists on joining Zach at school, causing all kinds of trouble, it is all for a good cause. Amp wants Zach to help him stop his planet from invading Earth. Zach enlists his friend, Olivia and together they try to design a way to get Amp and his spaceship back home. Readers will love the funny but smart Amp who knows English but does not understand much of Zach's slang and Zach, who has been to interested in science, until now! A real recipe for a bottle rocket is included and more adventures to follow this Alien In My Pocket by Nate Ball. Grades 2-4.
The Dreamer is the story of the childhood of a famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, as told by author Pam Munoz Ryan and illustrator Peter Sis. The poet grew up as Neftali Reyes, a young boy who sees amazing beauty and rhythm in the world he observes around him. From insects, to trees, to lost shoes in the gutter, Neftali examines and imagines stories and poems that he must keep secret. His father demands that Neftali stop the "daydreaming" and work to become a businessman or doctor, just as he also stops Neftali's brother who yearns to sing. But through his supportive stepmother, younger sister, and an Uncle who edits a local newspaper that champions the rights of the native people of Chile, Neftali gains the courage to keep observing and creating. Eventually he is able to go to college where he first begins to publish his poetry as Pablo Neruda. Each chapter of this interesting and special story begins with three unique drawings that provide hints to the events to come and the reader is also exposed to Chilean food, history, and customs and many Spanish phrases. Grade 4-6.
Meet Arnie the Doughnut, by Laurie Keller, a doughnut who refused to be eaten when he is purchased by Mr. Bing at the bakery. Kindly Mr. Bing instead tries out several other roles for Arnie, finally making Arnie his pet "doughnut dog". Arnie learns tricks, goes to obedience school and becomes Mr. Bing's sweet best friend. In the second book, Invasion of the UFOnuts, the town is overtaken by alien invader doughnuts and suddenly everyone thinks Arnie is an alien too. If you want some laughs, lots of sugary dessert puns and adventure with pastry's pick out this series! Grade 2-4.
"I did a mean thing.
A very mean thing.
I HATE that I did it.
But I did.
This is worse than
carrot juice on a cupcake
or a wasp on my pillow
or a dress that’s too tight at the neck."
Eleanor is very jealous of the new girl in her class who seems to be taking over her best friend, Pearl's, place in her heart and her time in and out of school. Her worry is making her act in ways she is not too proud of, and on top of that, she is terrified to sing the solo in the class play her teacher wants her to, and her puppy is being sent away for training. Will Eleanor make it through 4th grade? Read Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg, for a very funny yet realistic story with characters and situations you will feel like you know well! And watch for other books in this series next fall. Grades 3 - 4.
Ever since her father died Oona has helped her mother out with her younger brother Max and their adopted beloved alley cat, Zook. Oona teaches Max to read through rebuses and wonderful inventive storytelling, just as her father did for her, while also pitching in with odd jobs around their diverse Oakland neighborhood. But when Zook gets sick and their mother begins to date Dylan, her world is shaken. Read The Five Lives of our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin, to find out if Oona is wrong about Dylan, if Zook gets better, and how a neighborhood of good friends can make a difference. Grades 3 - 5.
In Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big, Fat Quitter by Carmella Van Vleet, Eliza is determined to show her parents that she is not a quitter though her track record might lead one to believe otherwise. Eliza has ADHD which makes school difficult as her mind tends to jump around a lot and outside of school she has pursued many interests but finished none. This summer she is determined to take an expensive cake decorating class but instead ends up with Tae Kwon Do which she promises to complete before she can take the other class. Although the master is tough, and a mean girl from school is also in the class, Eliza finds the martial art messages of spirit, courage, perseverance and integrity appealing and in spite of herself becomes highly determined to prove everyone wrong and get her yellow belt before the summer is over. Told with humor and compassion, Eliza is easy to relate to and a fun girl to get to know. Grade 3-5.
The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata introduces the reader to 12 year-old Summer and her younger brother Jaz during the wheat crop's harvest season in Kansas. The siblings are spending this summer with their strict Japanese grandparents, Obaachan and Jiichan, who work the harvest as a combine driver and a cook. Summer navigates helping her grandmother cook for the crew, learning the harvesting process, getting to know the farmers and their families and trying to control her brother's tempers, until she needs true determination and courage when her grandparent's need her help. As a bonus, the reader learns how the bread we eat gets to our table, plus Japanese sayings and stories. (4th and up)
Carley does not want to like the Murphy's, the foster family she is sent to when her mother's boyfriend sends her edgy, rather selfish, but fun loving mother to the hospital. Even with all her faults, Carley just wants her own mother back. But at the Murphy's, Carley sees and feels everything that has been missing from her life. Unconditional love and caring, and appreciation for each of the children's personalities, interests, and goals is on constant display and as the weeks go by, Carley's steel reserve is cracked. She begins to let them love and care for her and in return, Carley smart and funny personality wins over the boys, as she becomes their friend and helper, even providing guidance and basketball skills know how. Read One for the Murphy's by Linda Mullaly Hunt to find out if Carley still prefers to back to her former life when her mother's rehab is over. (5th grade and up)
In Max Finder Mystery by Liam O'Donnell and Michael Cho, seventh-graders Max Finder and Alison Santos live in the town of Whispering Meadows, where they investigate mysteries in their school and in their neighborhood. Told in comic book format, this graphic novel series encourages readers to solve the mysteries from the action and the visual clues, before looking in the back of the book for the solutions. Each book has 10 mysteries as well as extra puzzles. More Max Finder Mysteries will be at Patton next year! Grade 3-5.
Ready, Set, Dogs! by Stephanie Calmenson and Joanna Cole (Magic School Bus author) introduces readers to Kate and Lucie, best friends, dog lovers, and next door neighbors in an apartment building that does not allow dogs. In this first adventure, Kate and Lucie discover a special necklace that can turn them into dogs! Luckily they figure out how to easily turn back again and find terrific ways to use this incredible and fun talent. Grade 2-3.
In Saving Kabul Corner, by N. H. Senzai, the reader is taken into a familiar and a foreign world at the same time. Ariana is entering a new middle school, dealing with familiar pressures and worries about old friends changing and new groups forming. And she has the added stress of her just about "perfect" cousin, newly arrived from Afghanistan living in her house and sharing her room. But the story also lets the reader share in and learn about the strong and proud Afghan culture, customs, language and food, while the family navigates new competition for their family business an Afgani grocery store called Kabul Corner. Is the competition using dirty tactics to bring down their store or is there another sinister angle trying to hurt both of these families? And can Ariana and her friends help? Grades 4-6.
Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts is a story of the hardships endured by the students who join the first integrated school near Lynchburg, Virginia in 1963. Kizzy Ann is not at all sure she wants the hassles, the dirty looks and worse that go with integration but through a patient teacher, with whom Kizzy corresponds the summer before school starts, some good and surprising friends, and the pure love of an extraordinary border collie, Shag, she learns to trust herself and others. The reader learns the unfortunate ideas and attitudes that plagued these times and how one person at a time, people learned to let go of the old and embrace a new fairness. 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.