Lulu's Mysterious Mission by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Keven Cornell continues the adventures of tantrum loving, demanding and resourceful Lulu, who has now settled down and is busy with trombone, homework, swim team and walking neighborhood dogs. But when her parents inform Lulu they are going on vacation without her and leaving her with a babysitter, even "the best babysitter in the World", Lulu is mad! And when she meets the babysitter, Sonia Sofia Solinsky with her medals, combat boots and deep commanding voice, she becomes determined to get rid of her! And so begins Lulu's mysterious mission, full of clever traps from both Lulu and the equally sneaky sitter. Who will win? Realistic Fiction. Grade 2 -3.
In Class Dismissed by Allan Woodrow, a 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Bryce suddenly walks out on her class, disgusted with their disobedience. Although she tells the office she is quitting, there is an emergency at the same time and a student takes the call. When the class realizes that nobody officially knows their teacher has left, they decide to keep it that way. At first it is all games and silliness in school for this teacherless class, but they begin to wonder how long can they keep up the pretense that they have a teacher? Aren't their parents going to wonder where is their homework? And what about field trips and the upcoming 5th grade play? The story is told in alternating voices by many of the boys and girls of the classroom. Read to find out how the year turns out and the surprising lessons that are learned! Realistic Fiction. Grade 3-5.
Red's Planet by Eddie Pittman is a science fiction graphic novel with a great adventurous heroine, Red, and terrific lively drawings that seemed to jump off the page. Red is tired of being a foster child and runs away one night hoping to find a better place. Instead she is abducted by an alien ship that is collecting rare specimens from all over the galaxy. When pirates crash the ship onto a deserted planet, Red has to work with a very interesting and somewhat bizarre group of aliens to find shelter and food and a way off the planet, unless, this is the home she always wanted? Science fiction graphic novel. Especially for fans of Amulet. Grade 3-5.
Finally, a fitting book to end this summer break Reading Blog, a baseball biography! Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares, brings us a very young George Ruth, before he became the Babe. George was a troublemaker and often ran away from school. Then his parents enroll him in Saint Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a tough place that George does not like. But it is here that he meets Brother Matthias who changes his life. Through Brother Matthias, George falls in love with baseball and the rest is history. In this biography we learn not just how the Babe got started in baseball but also how he gave back to his beginnings after he was a star. Biography. Grade 2-4.
In the graphic novel Thunder Boy, Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales a young American Indian boy is not happy with his name. He is named for his father, Big Thunder, who he loves and admires but he really wants his name to be about him. So he tries out different names, based on what he likes and is good at. He climbs mountains and loves to bike ride. What will it be, and will his dad understand? Read to find out, enjoy the fun illustrations and learn about a different way to find a name! Graphic novel. All grades.
Tru & Nelle by Greg Neri is based on the real life friendship of two famous authors who spent time in a small Southern town in the 1930's when they were kids. Author, Truman Capote (Tru) and Harper Lee (Nelle) who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird as an adult, meet in Monroesville, Alabama where Tru comes to stay with his cousins and Nelle lives with her lawyer father and frail mother. Nelle is a confirmed tomboy, dressed in overalls, always outside and often taken for a boy, while Tru, from New Orleans, is book smart, dresses in suits, not athletic, and is neglected by his parents. They are as different as can be except for their love of reading and mysteries, and in their disregard of the color of someones skin, all of which draws them together. Through several summers they trade books, have many bizarre adventures, find and solve a great mystery, and even defy the Klu Klux Klan. Historical fiction. Grades 4-6.
Gone Fishing by Tamera Will Wissinger, illustrated by Matthew Cordell is called a "novel in verse" which is exactly what it is. Not just a story, not just a poem, this unique book is both. The story is told in a series of poems, mostly by Sam with some help from his younger sister Lucy. Sam and his father love fishing and Sam looks forward to the sport, the lake, and his special time with his Dad. But then Lucy wants to join and changes everything. Through all sorts of poetry including free verse, list poems, quatrains, concrete poems, couplets and more, the reader is treated to the ups and downs of going fishing, family and fun, all punctuated by drawings that also tell the tale. A 2017 Bluestem nominee. Grades 2-5
In The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley the war is World War II and the setting is London. In this absorbing historical fiction we meet three memorable characters under difficult circumstances. Afraid of the bombing the city will receive, families in the countryside have offered to care for children of the city. Eleven year old Ada's mother has decided to send Ada's younger brother Jamie to safety but not Ada. Ada was born with a club foot and has been raised as a virtual prisoner, hidden by her ignorant mother who is very ashamed of Ada's disability. But this time, Ada refuses to be left behind, teaching herself how to walk in secret and then escaping with Jamie. In the countryside, it looks like nobody will take these siblings in, until the woman in charge leaves them with a reluctant recluse, Susan Smith. This odd trio finds they can help and heal each other, especially Ada, as Susan recognizes Ada is a smart, incredibly determined and special girl. But what will happen when the war is over? Historical fiction. Grades 4-7.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, parts one and two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne is not a book but a new play whose script begins about 20 years after we leave Harry and friends in the last book of the famous series. So here is the most important thing to know about this "sequel" - read it only after reading the full Harry Potter series. It is necessary that the reader understand the characters, their stories, their relationships, adventures, struggles and the magical creatures and locations that make up the original books. Only then will this story make sense and be enjoyable. In this script Harry and Ginny and Ron and Hermione are grown up and married with children. The story centers on one of Harry's sons, Albus and the friend he meets on his first day at Hogwarts, Scorpious, the son of Harry's old nemesis Draco Malfoy. Both boys have struggled with being the son of a famous or infamous father and both are not happy at school. Desperate to do something special they stumble upon an old wrong they want to fix and a time-changer device that might help them do so. But going back in time is always fraught with danger and problems, and that is what the boys find. Their tinkering could change the wizardry world as they know it today, and not for the better! Fantasy fiction. Grades 4 and up (who have read the Harry Potter series).
In Ellray Jakes Stands Tall! the reader meets Ellray a new character starring in a new series that is full of genuine situations and characters you feel like you could meet or have met in real life. Ellray is in third grade and desperate to get taller as the boys in his class have become obsessed with basketball and some enjoy teasing Ellray. To add to his angst, he is afraid his younger sister is becoming a bully like the ones he is facing. But as the year progresses, a new coach starts actually teaching the skills of the game, and Ellray learns how to stand up for himself, discovering he already stands pretty tall, even without growing an inch. Realistic/sports fiction. Grades 2-4.
The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill- is an older book that is definitely worth a second look! Rufus Mayflower is only in sixth grade but as his new friend Kate is learning, his mind and skills are way older. He is curious, resourceful and questions everything, including why toothpaste costs so much when you can actually make it yourself for pennies? So he sets out to do just that, and with Kate's help, and eventually many other students, he creates a toothpaste empire, becoming a millionaire before moving on to his next interest. In the process we learn with Rufus, the ins and outs of product invention, from testing and refining, to packaging to distribution. These kids handle it all! Realistic fiction, grade 3-5.
The Gold-Threaded Dress by Carolyn Marsden, is an older story that is still relevant and fresh. Oy and her family have moved from Thailand to America where she is now called Olivia in school. Although her parents want Oy to only focus on her homework and grades, she cares about friends too and what the other students think of her. And she longs to be accepted by the popular girls and their exclusive "club". They shun her and her differences until they find out about her beautiful traditional Thai dress with its gold threads and pink silk. Will sharing this treasure help Oy be accepted and is it the right thing to do? Realistic-multicultural fiction. Grade 2-3.
Tooth by Tooth, comparing fangs, tusks, and chompers by Sara Levine answers many fun interesting toothy questions like, What animal would you be if a few of your teeth grew so long that they stuck out of your mouth even when it was closed? In this clever and informative book about animal teeth learn all about how animals use their different type of teeth, why they have different type of teeth, including us humans, and how you can tell what type of food they eat by the sizes and shapes of their teeth. Nonfiction, all grades.
To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space by Carmella Van Vleet, is a story of Kathy Sullivan who grew up to be the first American woman to walk in space. This is not a full biography but it tells us of the vision and goals, the likes and wishes of a girl growing up in the 1950's when girls were not encouraged to study flying or science. But Kathy loved airplanes, travel, to swim, and longed for adventure. And each new adventure, from swimming underwater, to reading blueprints and studying helped her find her way to NASA to become an astronaut. Literary nonfiction. All grades.
Their Great Gift; Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in New Land by John Coy chronicles with mostly family photographs, many immigrants who traveled to America to find a better life. After difficult journeys, life is hard in a strange country with different customs and a new language to learn. But these proud brave immigrants worked hard and long to provide for their children and the next generations. In the process they helped shape America. Read the beautiful spare words and genuine photos and you will feel and understand their journey, their sacrifice, and their gifts. Nonfiction. All grades.
Ranger in Time, Long Road to Freedom by Kate Messner, is another episode in the adventures of the time traveling dog, Ranger. This golden retriever has search and rescue training and lives happily with Luke and Sadie unless he is called away to help out kids in another time period of history. With an old and magical First Aid kit that attaches to his collar, Ranger is beamed where needed! This time he is sent to Maryland in the 1850's to help Sarah and Jesse, two slaves who need to run away before they are sent to a southern plantation for harsh work. With Ranger at their side, the story follows the kids across the type of underground railroad that slaves traveled on in history, seeking freedom in the north. Along the way they meet brave men and women abolitionists who tried to help these fugitive slaves. Read to find out if Sarah and Jesse make it to freedom with the clever and brave Ranger, as you learn about the real underground railroad. Historical fiction. Grades 2-4.
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones is the exceptionally fun and unusual story of twelve year old Sophie Brown, who has just moved with her parents to their Uncle's farm which he left to the family when he died. Sophie's father has lost his job so the farm seems the perfect answer. But the farm is in bad shape with uncared for land and no animals. That is except for one white chicken which Sophie finds and is determined to take care of. Sophie soon discovers that great Uncle Jim actually had seven very unusual chickens and there is a thief in the area that wants them. Sophie's adventures with poultry are told through letters to her beloved Abuelita, notes from mom and dad, and a correspondence with the owner of the Redwood farms who gives advice on raising chickens (especially unusual ones with special powers). Sophie may turn out to be the best farmer in her family...if she and some helpful new friends can keep the chickens away from the chicken thief! Magical Realism. Grades 3-5.
In James to the Rescue by Elise Broach, we meet Marvin the beetle and his family who live in the kitchen cupboard of James' apartment. Marvin has a special connection with James and he and the boy have learned to communicate. This story begins when Marvin, his father, uncle and cousin go on a "collecting" hunt to find odds and ends they can use. It is Marvin's first time "collecting" and he is very excited and hopeful he can find something special and useful. But when his uncle is hurt, it is Marvin's friend James who is needed to help. Get a bugs-eye view of life and its bug dangers! Fantasy. Grade 2-3
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.