Mystery. Grade 3-5.
Classy Crooks Club by Alison Cherry is the story of A.J. (Annemarie) who loves soccer, her dog Snickers, skateboarding and her best friend Maddie. Nothing is unusual at all until her parents leave for four weeks on a work trip and she has to stay with her grandmother. Unfortunately A.J.'s grandmother is no fun. She insists on quiet and "proper" behavior, no skateboarding, no television and her big house is empty and boring. That is until A.J. hears strange noises and finds a secret back room full of exotic birds and other animals. When she confronts her grandmother, A.J. is allowed to join and even help out her grandmother's group of retired elderly ladies in a surprising, special and dangerous society!
Mystery. Grade 3-5.
Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes, author of Out of My Mind, is a very contemporary story that takes place this year, during the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. Ten year old Deja lives in Brooklyn in a homeless shelter with her out of work and sickly father, hard working exhausted mother and two younger siblings. She has just started a new good school, with caring teachers who understand her families' story and want to help. Deja finds new friends as well but is then shocked to find out about the 9/11 attack (that she had never learned about) when the school decides to teach a new curriculum about it in honor of the anniversary. Follow Deja as she and her classmates journey toward an understanding of the event and its impact on her family. Realistic Fiction. Grade 4-6.
Apocalypse Meow Meow by James Proimos III is a sequel to the equally bizarre and funny Apocalypse Bow Wow, both graphic novels. The returning characters, Brownie and Apollo, and some new friends are trying to find food, after unsuccessfully trying out leaves and sticks. When rat finds a "Twonkies" factory (full of sugary gooey pastries), they think they have it made until they discover the cat guarding the factory is actually a lion. The lion challenges Apollo to a duel, in which if they win, they get the twonkies, but if the lion wins, he will eat the animals. To add to the strangeness, an ape-like human appears here and there talking about a time machine, but the animals can't catch him. Great fun illustrations. Grade 2-5.
Byrd & Igloo, A Polar Adventure by Samantha Seiple stars Igloo, a scrappy fox terrier who became the constant companion of Admiral Richard E. Byrd who was the first person to fly a plane over both the North and South Poles. Follow Igloo as he tells the story of the determined hero, navigating ice cutters in Antarctica, small cargo planes and large, adventures with penguins and glaciers, always at Admiral Byrd's side. The book is full of real photos and true facts and the reader learns about the airplanes that first crossed oceans and how these brave pilots pioneered the way for our airline industry today. Historical Fiction. Grade 3-5
Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe by Tricia Springstubb is the continuing story of fun loving, impatient, unpredictable, nature loving, Cody, who often speaks before she thinks, and her friend Spencer, who is patient, careful, and different from Cody in many ways. But the two strike up a supportive friendship when Spencer moves in down the block. Cody's mother works full time and her father, a long distance trucker, is often gone for weeks at a time, so Cody spends a lot of time with Spencer's family. She loves ants, adventure, and mysteries and the reader will love getting to know these characters and their families. In this story, Spencer's new neighbors are two girls who at first seem to be mean bullies. Read to find out how Cody and Spencer solve this problem. Realistic fiction. Grade 2-4.
In Middle School Rules by Brian Urlacher we meet the former Chicago Bear in middle school, where he plays both basketball, his current favorite sport and also football, works hard in school, sometimes competes with his younger brother Casey and is teased by his older sister, a high school basketball star. The story follows Brian, his family and friends, through school and sports, as he learns to listen to coaches, juggle after-school jobs, and practice, practice, practice. Enjoy the many play by play descriptions of basketball and football games through his high school years and learn a lot about football strategy! Grade 3-5.
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom, my story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Linda Blackmon Lowery is the diary of an African American girl growing up in Selma who participated in many protest marches to help change the unfair voting registration laws in the South. Although only 15, she and other fellow students leave school for days to march, often in danger, often spending a night in jail, as the white community, including the police fight to maintain status quo and keep the laws from becoming more just and fair. Eventually Linda is asked to join the march to Montgomery with Dr. King. Linda's experiences bring the 1960s struggle for equal rights to life for the reader, and while it is so difficult for us to understand these times, reading the words in a real student's voice helps immensely. Grade 4-8.
The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer is the story of Grace, who in her 12 years has been to many different schools living with her mother, who liked to make a fresh start very often. Grace knows her only other relative is her grandmother, who her mother is not in contact with. Then her world changes radically when her mother dies in an accident and she is sent to live with the grandmother. Although she believes her grandmother is evil, slowly she learns more about her relatives, her mother, the town she grew up in and the people who loved her mother. In the process, meet the boy next door and his sister, the sheriff, and the quirky shopkeeper, who all want Grace to become one of them and love her new home. Grade 3-6.
In Crossover by Kwame Alexander meet twin boys Josh and Jordan Bell in middle school. The twins are basketball stars and close in every way. Their mother is the assistant principal at their school and is the strict one in the family, while their father, a former pro basketball player, makes sure they understand the game of basketball, are good teammates and practice well. Enter a new girl in school and everything changes. Jordan is smitten and Josh is frustrated with his brother's lack of interest in anything but the girlfriend. Read to find out how Josh handles his frustration, how their team does in the playoffs while the family deals with their father's possibly declining health. This story is told in short but meaningful verse by Josh. Grades 4-6
The Haunted Library is the beginning chapter book in a new series by Dori Hillestad Butler, author of The Buddy Files. The central character in this series is not a dog, but a ghost named Kaz! Kaz is a young boy ghost who is separated from his family when the house they are haunting is torn down. He finds himself in a library building where he meets, Claire, a human girl who can see ghosts! Together these unlikely friends try to solve the mystery of who is haunting the library, and begin looking for Kaz's missing ghost family. Grade 2-3
In Eddie Red Undercover, Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells, we meet 6th grader, Edmund, who loves to draw, especially in the art classes at the private school he is attending in Manhattan with his best friend, Jonah. So when his dad loses his job, and his parents tell him he will have to go to the local school instead, Edmund is devastated. But just then he witnesses a crime that gives him a chance to return to his school. The police ask Edmund to describe the culprit he saw to a sketch artist but when they see Edmund's own sketch, they are so impressed they hire him to do undercover work! The police want Edmund to hang around museums pretending to draw the art masterpieces, while actually watching for a gang of art thieves and sketching them. If he succeeds, he may get enough money to pay for his school. Read to find out how Edmund and his friend Jonah, figure out the thieves next heist, even though he is only supposed to be sketching! This book is on the Bluestem list this year. Grade 3-5
The Great Trouble, A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a boy called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson, takes the reader back to the year 1854 in London, England. We meet Eel, a thirteen year old orphan, who has been surviving on the streets doing odd jobs, scavenging what he can from the filthy River Thames, and hiding out from nasty Fisheye Bill Tyler. But when Eel finds steadier and cleaner work, first in a Brewery and then with the famous Dr. Snow, his life begins to change and his story turns into one of scientific inquiry and medicine. It is in that year that the worst outbreak of Cholera hit London, centered right in Eel's Broad Street neighborhood. Although at the time, everyone believed Cholera, or the "Blue Death", came from bad air, Dr. Snow had another theory. Together with Eel, who becomes Dr. Snow's assistant, they begin to prove that the Cholera was passed through bacteria filled water, coming out of the Broad Street pump used by the whole crowded neighborhood. Based in fact, this story teaches us about history and medicine, while engaging the reader with great characters and their adventures. Grade 4-8. On the Rebecca Caudill list this year.
The Turn of the Tide by Rosanne Parry tell the story of two cousins living separate lives an ocean apart until a tsunami brings them together. Bridget, always called "Jet" lives in Oregon with her little brother, her father a Columbia River pilot, and her mother, a comic artist. Jet loves the water and secretly plans to follow her father into his dangerous profession guiding the huge container ships through the most dangerous Columbia River gorge strait. Kai, is living in Japan with his parents, scientists who work with nuclear reactors and grandparents, who fish and take care of boats when the tsumani hits their home, Kai is sent to live with his father's brother's family until his home is repaired. In Oregon with Jet's family, Kai is homesick and finds everything foreign to him until Jet and Kai discover a mutual love of sailing. They begin training for the town's end of the summer sailing race but Jet's risks on the water and Kai's fears from the Tsunami trauma, make their friendship and support for each other, both complicated and necessary. Grade 4-6.
In Nancy Clancy Soccer Mania by Jane O'Connor, we meet Fancy Nancy in 3rd grade, but she still loves words and now stars in her own chapter book series. In this book, Nancy is trying to like soccer, playing with the Green Goblins team and her best friend Bree. But unlike Bree, who is a soccer star, Nancy's goal is to be "mediocre" which means average. In addition to the other girls on the team, we meet Lionel, another good friend, who loves jokes but is an even worse soccer player than Nancy, as well as Nancy's little sister Jo Jo. Readers who like stories that are fun and authentic, and learning interesting words that are not "boring", will love this book and want more! Grade 2-4. Realistic Fiction.
Unidentified Suburban Object by Mike Jung stars Chloe, as she is about to enter seventh grade in the small town of Primrose Heights that she believes is the most boring town in the world. But there are some good things to look forward to this year. First there is a new teacher, Ms. Lee, who could be the only other Asian and Korean person in the whole school. Chloe hopes this will help dispel some of the ignorant comments about Asians that have always come her way. Plus Chloe expects to be the first chair for violins in the school orchestra again, and her best friend Shelley is in three of her classes. Now, Ms. Lee, who is Korean, and also a good teacher, has assigned a special United Nations project and made Chloe the representative from Korea! So even though Chloe's parents have always been mysteriously silent or evasive about their heritage, now Chloe has to learn more about both her family and the country of Korea. Read to find out what Chloe discovers about her heritage and how it changes her life. This book is funny, warm and surprising. Grade 4 and up. Magical Realism
In Best Friend Next Door by Carolyn Mackler, Hannah (which is a palindrome), who also loves palindromes, has just lost her best friend and next door neighbor Sophie when she moved to Canada. And in addition to missing her best friend, Hannah's adopted mother and her father suddenly announce they are having a baby! Although Hannah wants to be happy, she has been an only child for ten years and feels worry and anxiety that the baby will change everything about their family. Then the house next door sells and Emme moves in. Emme, which is also a palindrome, also loves palindromes, has the same exact birthday as Hannah and also swims on the swim team and hates pizza! At first their similarities seems too overwhelming for Hannah, but Emme and Hannah begin a new friendship that gets stronger as the year goes on. The chapters alternate between Emme's voice and Hannah's voice so the reader gets to know Emme and her parents as well as Hannah's. Read to find out how the girls' change over the year and how that effects their friendship and their families. A great absorbing read with two real voices! Grade 4 and up. Realistic Fiction
In Weekends with Max and Dad by Linda Urban, the reader meets Max right after his parents get divorced and Max's dad gets a new apartment, where Max will now live on weekends. Together Max and his father figure out how to make the apartment a home, finding hiding places, ordering pizza and even having a friend sleepover. But the real fun is investigating the new neighborhood. Cool breakfast places with singing waiters, hobby shops, bookstores and a park become familiar, with Max as a detective, Agent Pepperoni, and his dad, his assistant, Agent Cheese or as dog walk helpers for Barkis and Peggoty, the dogs that live upstairs. This story is for every kid who has more than one place to call home and all readers who like boys with great imaginations! Grade 2-3. Realistic Fiction.
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.