Team Players by Mike Lupica is for baseball and softball lovers as it treats the reader to plenty of game action. Cassie, a gifted athlete, tells the story of the summer after 8th grade as she pitches for her girls softball team and coaches third base for her best friend's boys baseball team. But all is not smooth for her team when a new girl, Sarah, joins with some specific special needs. Sarah has amazing softball skills but is on the Autism spectrum and struggles with relationships and some of the compromises that come with a team game. When Sarah and another teammate come to odds about a play, the team seems to split up, with most of the girls siding against Sarah and only a few with Cassie and Sarah. And on the boys team, there are problems with a new coach. Enjoy this sports story with real game situations, and real friendships and problems as well. Sports fiction, grades 4-6
Dragons and Marshmallows by Asia Citro. This is the first in a new series starring Zoey, a curious and resourceful girl who loves nature and science and her cat Sassafras. Zoey has just discovered that her mother, a veterinarian, has secretly been rehabilitating magical animals in their backyard when a sick baby dragon appears. Since Zoey's mother is away on a business trip Zoey decided it is up to her to save him. She uses the scientific method of question, hypothesis, action and findings with her knowledge of reptiles, some research and some medical tools available to help the dragon survive. Join Zoey and Sassafras on this first adventure and look forward to more of this unique fantasy and science combination. Fantasy, grades 2-3.
The Elephant Thief by Jane Kerr is an amazing adventure set in the year 1872 in Edinbergh, Scotland. Danny is an orphan living on the streets and controlled by a thief who makes Danny pick-pocket for him. But when a local circus holds an auction to sell off some of its animals, including a beautiful Asian elephant, Danny's life changes forever. He helps a circus owner, Mr. Jameson, buy the elephant, Maharajah, and Mr Jameson offers Danny a job riding the elephant two hundred miles across Scotland into England in order to get a lot of publicity and win a bet. But if Danny and Maharajah can't make it in seven days, the elephant will be taken by another owner, who does not intend to treat the elephant well. Danny discovers a great affinity for the intelligent and courageous elephant as he is trained to care for him and is determined to make the difficult journey full of challenges, some dangerous, and some funny. Based on true events, this story keeps the reader turning pages eager to know if they succeed and what will happen to Danny. History and Adventure, grades 4-6.
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani bring us back to the year 1947 when India becomes independent from England and forms the new country of Pakistan in part of India. Nisha and Amil are 12 year old twins living comfortably with their father, a respected doctor, Kashi their beloved cook, and their grandmother, when the independence changes everything. Their mother, who has died, was Muslim and their father is Hindu and suddenly the Muslims living in India are told to go to Pakistan while the Hindu's in Nisha and Amil's area have to journey to another part of India. Fighting breaks out among the different groups, and the twin's father has to take the family, leaving behind Kashi who is Muslim, on a long and difficult journey, partly on foot, to try to find safety and a new life in another part of the country. The reader learns the story as Nisha writes to her mother in her diary late at night, documenting the changes in her life, her hopes and dreams and the events happening to her country.
The Trail by Meika Hashimoto. Though only 12, Toby is hiking a difficult portion of the Appalachian Trail, through Maine, on his own. The plan was that he and his best friend Lucas hike the trail together, but when Lucas dies, Toby sets out determinedly, in his friends honor, and without telling his Gran. Although he has some gear and knows how to camp, he is not prepared for the difficulty of the hiking, the loneliness, nor the bad weather that he soon encounters. But when he helps a starving stray dog, he finds a true companion, and along the way two potential friends in some older teens, also hiking, for their own hidden reasons. Toby's adventure teaches him both how and when to trust others and as he gains confidence, to trust himself as a leader too. Adventure fiction, grades 4-6.
Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages. The year is 1957, and Katy Gordon loves baseball more than anything, but especially pitching, and she's got a few pitches that can strike out just about anybody. But after she is recruited by the local little league team as "KC" Gordon, they find out she's a girl and won't let her on the team. Katy can't believe Little League says that girls will get hurt playing ball and can't handle the exertion! So she sets out to change their minds and to back up her argument she begins to research the history of women playing baseball. Through her local library and UC Berkley where her mother is a professor Kay discovers the many women who have played baseball, the many women leagues that existed over many years, and even a few women that made it to the pros. When Katy incorporates all of these forgotten women into a school project, her evidence begins to be noticed. Will it help her make the team? If you love baseball and history, read to find out! Historical fiction/sports, grades 3-5.
The Infinity Year of Avalon James by Dana Middleton. Avalon and her best friend Atticus are entering fifth grade and turning 12. Though Avalon has a temper she struggles to control, especially around her arch enemy Elena, and a father she is desperately missing, she enters the new year knowing she can always count on Atticus. They are both also waiting for their "infinity powers" to arrive, very special powers that Atticus' grandpa told them will come to them when they turn 12, if they keep it a secret and they stay true friends. Though no magical powers seem to come to her, Avalon discovers a talent for spelling that may lead her to fame in the school's bee, if she can keep her temper. But the year also tests her friendship with Atticus as they both discover the meaning and power of true friendship. Realistic fiction, grades 3-5.
Code Word Courage by Kirby Larson. As in her books, Dash, Duke and Liberty, Larson takes us back to a part of World War II and creates a story with special characters and of course, a dog. In this story we meet 11 year old Billie struggling to adjust to life on her Aunt's ranch without her brother Leo who has joined the Marines, while her best friend, Hazel, rejects her for more popular girls and she befriends Tito, the young Mexican boy whose father manages her aunt’s ranch, who is used to be put down or ignored. When her brother Leo comes to visit before shipping out, he brings his friend and fellow recruit, Denny, a member of the Navajo Nation, and Bear, a special abandoned dog who Billie cares for and adopts. The story then alternates between following Denny, who becomes a Navajo Code Talker into the war in the Pacific, and Billie, Tito's and Bear's struggles to find true friendship among bullies and prejudice. Historical fiction, grades 3-5.
Sprinkle Sundaes by Coco Simon brings the first book in a series with lots of yummy desserts, and the story of Allie and her family. Allie comes home from overnight camp at the end of the summer to discover her parents, who used to fight a lot, have decided to divorce. Although her father will live near by, and Allie and her brother get a new house, Allie is sad and the transition to living with one parent at a time is difficult. Plus Allie finds herself in a new school without her three best friends. But when Allie's mother follows a dream to open an ice cream shop with her awesome homemade flavors, things begin to look up. Allie must find her way to meet new friends and try new activities, while helping her mother with the store and still find a way to see her old friends. All realistic issues and characters that seem like real kids we all know. Realistic fiction, grades 3-5.
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.