Explorer The Mystery Boxes edited by Kazu Kibuishi. This new collection from the author of the Amulet series, is seven different comic graphic short stories all involving a box. Some of the stories are funny, some a little creepy, some thoughtful, some more real, and some really fantastical. Each of these diverse adventures has its own characters and settings but all have great comic drawings that are fun to examine and uncover. Graphic, grades 3-6.
Fortune Falls by Jenny Goebel. Do you think you are lucky? Well Sadie knows she is not. And in Fortune Falls where she and her mother and little brother live, everyone learns if they are one of the "Luckies" or "Unluckies" on their 13th birthday when they take the Lucky Test. The test will determine if they go to a great school where students flourish, or a sad, neglected boarding school where students fall behind. We meet Sadie two weeks before the Lucky Test which she is sure she will fail. Luck has never been with her. She feels it is her fault her father died in a strange accident and her mother struggles at a bad job. Although Sadie tries desperately to avoid cracked sidewalks, mirrors, black cats, etc, she mostly fails. Sadie has one good friend in the Luckies who seems determined to stick with her, a brother she loves who is pretty lucky and Wink, a one-eyed dog the family adopted that nobody else wanted. But when Wink goes missing, a black cat appears to be following her and the test is right around the corner, Sadie is plenty worried. Grades 3-5. Fantasy
Ruby Lee & Me by Shannon Hitchcock takes the reader back to 1969 in North Carolina where 12 year old Sarah, her 6 year old sister Robin, and their parents live, with loving grandparents on a farm close by. Their lives are changed drastically when Robin runs into the street and is hit by a car, suffering severe injuries to her legs and lungs. While Robin fights to survive in the hospital Sarah goes to live with her grandparents on the farm. There she tries to hide the guilt she has for not watching Robin more carefully, while her grandparents try to help her repair, teaching her to cook and help out around the farm. When Robin finally comes home in a cast, there are more hurdles, both with Robin and with Sarah's friends because her school is going to be integrated, welcoming African American students for the first time, and not everyone is happy about it. Read this great family drama and learn about an important time in our history too. Grade 3-6. Historical fiction.
Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard is for anyone who loves mystery, science and insects! When Darkus' father, Dr. Cuttle, disappears from the National HIstory Museum where he was Director of Science, the police seems to give up on the case quickly when they find no clues. So Darkus, his two good friends and his uncle, an archealogist decide they must find him themselves. In his dad's office at the museum the only clue seems to be a strange and unusual beetle. Then more beetles with unusual capabilities show up in the apartment next door to Darkus' Uncle, including some that want to be Darkus friend and pet! Could the beetles also be connected to research Darkus' father was doing before he vanished, or to a far more evil scientist who is trying to capture these special beetles? Grade 3-5. Science Fiction and Mystery.
Secret of the Mountain Dog by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel is both a mystery and a realistic family story with...a very special dog. When a beautiful, friendly and perfectly behaved Tibetan Mastiff shows up on the trail near Jax's secluded mountain home, she falls immediately in love, sure that this dog was meant for her. Her mother, however, is not so sure. Jax's mother has been over protective and fearful since Jax's younger sister wandered into a nearby creek and almost drowned. Now she barely let's Jax walk up the mountain path near their home where a house that has sat empty for years is suddenly full of new neighbors. There Jax befriends Yeshi, a young Tibetan boy her age, and his teacher, an elderly monk who are creating a monastery. Yeshi also tells Jax his secret plan to find a very valuable Tibetan artifact, perhaps buried in the basement. The statue has a legend attached to it and there may be others who want the statue for evil reasons. Read to find out if Jax and Yeshi find the statue, where Mo-Mo came from and if Jax can convince her mother he is the perfect dog for their family, while also learning about Tibetan culture and Buddhism. Grade 4-6. Mystery.
The Bicycle Spy by Yona Zeldis McDonough is set in World War II France. In a small village in France, Marcel loves biking, playing chess, working in his parent's bakery and dreams of riding in the Tour de France some day. But life has not been normal since part of France agreed to work with the Germans and the townspeople are split, with some fearful of the soldiers surrounding the town, while others support the Germans. Suddenly his parents are sending him on his bike to bring bread to different towns, with instructions for what to say to the soldiers who stand guard everywhere. His life becomes a daring adventure when he realizes his parents are in the French resistance, helping those the Germans want to harm, including his new friend Delphine. Clever Delphine also loves biking and teaches Marcel some tricks while also hiding a secret. Travel back in time with this historical adventure based on true events. Grades 4-6 Historical Fiction.
In Zoe in Wonderland by Brenda Woods the reader meets eleven year old "just Zoe" as she thinks of herself. Shy and full of day dreams, Zoe loves best to spend time in her family's greenhouse, Doc Reindeer's Exotic Plant Wonderland. Though Zoe feels inadequate sandwiched between her beautiful popular older sister and annoying genius younger brother, it is Zoe that knows more about horticulture. She is happiest when helping out her father and it is only in her imagination that Zoe is able to be brave and special. Then a mysterious stranger from Madagascar stops by the greenhouse and interests Zoe in a rare tree and in astronomy. When her father's business is not doing well, could Zoe's rare tree help save the greenhouse? Grades 4-6, Realistic Fiction.
Liberty by Kirby Larson is the newest book by Larson who specializes in great dog stories. As in Dash, this story takes place during World War II, with two different stories. One is in New Orleans, Louisiana where Michael "Fish" and his older sister Mo are living when their father is sent to help the war effort as an engineer. Mo works for the Higgins company who makes amphibious vehicles to help the military and Fish, like his father, loves to tinker and invent with any materials he can get his hands on. Fish's leg was damaged by polio causing him to be bullied as is his new African American friend Olympia. Together they bond over the stray dog they find and nurse to health, and the ways they find to help in the war effort. The other story involves a seventeen year old German soldier, captured by Americans and sent to a prisoner of war camp in New Orleans. Read to find out how the stories connect while learning what life was life like for many different people during this War. Based on true events. Historical Fiction, Grades 4-6.
My Pet Human by Yasmine Surovec introduces Mr. Independent, a small black and white cat who lives on his own, finding food from neighborhood stores, with many animal friends on the street and plenty of places to hide from the dog catcher. But some of his animal friends have trusted "pet humans" to live with and take care of. At first, Mr. Independent is sure that his life is better without a human. But when a new family moves in and the girl immediately falls in love with Mr. Independent, he begins to wonder... Can he train this human and her family to be a worthwhile "pet human" to stay with permanently? Grade 2-3. Fantasy.
Real Friends by Shannon Hale and Leuyen Pham is a realistic graphic novel based on the author's elementary school life. In different chapters we meet Adrienne and her friends. Adrienne is creative, friendly and imaginative and only wants that special someone to create stories with and be a best friend. With Adrienne, the reader goes through good times and hard times as her friends and siblings change and grow. What are the right clothes to wear, who should she sit with at lunch, who is loyal, who are bullies, and what is the meaning of true friendship? In Real Friends, Adrienne learns real lessons through her experiences, bringing the reader along through the terrific, realistic, colorful illustrations. Grade 3-5 Graphic Novel/Realistic Fiction.
In Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Victoria Holt, Stevie Grace is on her way from her parents organic farm in Taos, New Mexico which has always been her home, to the Texas Sunrise Motel in Little Esther, Texas to meet her grandfather for the first time. Stevie's parent's have died in a terrible car accident, bringing to an end the life she has always known. Her imposing grandfather has run the quiet almost run down motel the same way for years. But once there Stevie finds a surprising group of people to support her, a quirky town, and friends, many who knew her mother when she was Stevie's age. Though her grandfather first seems gruff and distant, Stevie begins to uncover his story and the story of her family helping her to repair.
Grade 4-6 Realistic Fiction.
Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe (Moldylocks and the Three Beards) by Noah Z. Jones. Meet Princess Pink who likes dirty sneakers, giant bugs, mud puddles, monster trucks, and cheesy pizza. When she falls through a refrigerator into the Land of Fake-Believe this crazy fairy tale begins. First she meets Mother Moose (who rides a Tunacorn), and then Moldy Locks at the home of the Three Beards. Through cartoon drawings, crooked speech bubbles and fun illustrations, a new kind of wild and silly fairy tale unfolds. Watch for more installments to come! Grade 2-3. Fantasy.
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.