Grades 3-5. Realistic fiction.
Lone Stars by Mike Lupica tackles the difficult topic of the dangers of concussions in football, particularly for middle school students. 12 year old Clay, and his best friend David truly love the game of football, watching their favorite pro and college teams but especially playing together on their Pop Warner team in San Antonio, Texas. Clay the wide receiver and David the quarterback have a great ability to communicate on the field and truly know the game well. But their parent's have begun to worry about every hit they take to their heads and the future problems concussions might mean for them. At the same time, they see their beloved coach, a former Dallas Cowboy, has been having strange memory loss episodes that seems to be getting more frequent. While these tough issues are tackled in the story, there is plenty of game action and play by play excitement! Sports fiction, grades 4-6.
KATT VS. DOGG by James Patterson. Meet Oscar, a happy-go-lucky dogg, and Mollie, a drama queen katt, and their families, as they enter Western Frontier Park for a vacation. These families, enemies, of course, want nothing to do with each other. Then first Mollie and then Oscar get lost in the woods, and run into each other while trying to escape from a mountain lion. Gradually they realize they must work together to survive and begin to appreciate each other's strengths and support. Could they actually be becoming friends? If so, what will happen when they get back home where their families are busy arguing and insulting each other? Humor, grades 2-5.
In Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly, the reader meets Iris, a lonely deaf girl whose parent's and brother are not deaf. She is in 6th grade at a school where there are no other deaf students and struggles to communicate well with the other kids, sometimes though her interpreter, which is awkward. When Iris learns about a whale called Blue 55 whose frequency is lower than all other whales, so he is unable to communicate with any other whales, she feels great affinity with him. Her grandmother, who is deaf, is the only one who seems to understand her connection to Blue 55, and together they decide to travel to his sanctuary near Alaska without telling anyone. Read to find out if Iris can help Blue and what she learns in this special adventure. Realistic Fiction, grades 4-6.
In Squirm by Carl Hiaasen, meet Billy, a 12 year old, who loves the outdoors, camping, and all animals but particularly snakes. He also cannot stand bullies and often finds himself defending others who need help, even if he himself gets into trouble. Billy lives with only his mom and older sister, since his Dad left many years ago. Billy's dad does send checks each month and when Billy discovers they come from Montana, he decides to find his dad. In Montana, Billy meets Lil, his stepmother, and Summer, his stepsister, both members of the Crow Nation. But his dad is out on a mysterious "job", in Yellowstone. When Summer and Billy try to find him, they are afraid he may be in trouble. When they do find him, Billy and Summer begin an adventure helping their father to stop poachers from harming endangered animals. Adventure, grades 4-6.
Dragon in a Bag by Elliott Zetta. 9 year old Jaxon has always lived with just his mother in New York City. Then one day when she has to go to court, she leaves him with a grouchy older woman she calls Ma. At Ma's Jaxon discovers a mysterious package that has a trio of dragon hatchlings and soon after realizes that Ma is a witch. Ma tells Jaxon she must return the dragons to their home so they will be safe and reluctantly takes Jaxon with him on her mission. In a special transporter, they return to the Mesozoic era and so begins a unique magical adventure story introducing Jaxon to many strange characters and wondering how and when he will return to his home. Fantasy, grades 2-4.
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling. Meet Aven Green, a smart optimistic, soccer loving 13 year old who happened to have been born without arms. But that has never stopped Aven. She simply finds her own way, and works hard to do what she wants and needs to do, including using her feet in amazing ways. She is happy in Kansas where she has lived since her parents adopted her at age two. But when her father gets a new job as the manager of Stagecoach Pass, a rundown Western theme park out in Arizona, the family moves. In her new school, students have never seen anyone like Aven and mostly avoid, ignore her or ask rude questions. Although intrigued by Stagecoach Pass and Arizona, she is lonely for the friends she had in Kansas until she meets two students who have their own challenges, challenges that Aven finds she can help with and support. Her new friends also help Aven with the mystery surrounding Stagecoach Pass. Realistic fiction, grades 4-6.
Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown. In this first book of a new series, we meet 4th grader Sarai, the oldest of three girls in a close Latinx family (her mom was born in Peru, and her dad was born in Costa Rica). Sarai is an awesome positive thinker with a lot of energy and ambition. When her beloved grandfather might lose his nearby house, Sarai immediately goes into action. She hatches a plan to use her cupcake business to raise the money needed to buy the house. Of course that is a lot of money but Sarai is determined and enlists the help of her whole extended family. Full of fun, Spanish words and lots of love. Realistic fiction, grades 2-3.
Ban this Book by Alan Gratz. Fourth grader Amy Anne is a good rule follower and quiet student, who is used to being overlooked in her noisy family, and not saying what she's really thinking. But when her favorite book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, is one of the titles banned from the school library, she can't do nothing. When she is too scared to speak up at the school board meeting, she decides she can at least find and read all of the banned books. She begins collecting and putting them in her locker at school and soon other students are requesting to borrow them until she and two friends find they are running a Banned Books Locker Library! What will happen when the school finds out? Realistic fiction, grades 3-6.
Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya. Marcus is a very large 8th grader who has created a business helping smaller and younger students, who are being bulllied and pay Marcus for protection. He is especially devoted to his younger brother, Charlie, who has Downs Syndrome but is tough, spunky and brave and his mother who works several jobs to make ends meet. When the school finds out about Marcus' "business" and suspends him, and his mom decides to take a week off and travel back to Puerto Rico where his father, who abandoned his family is from. His father's family welcomes Marcus and Charlie and their mother with open arms, introducing them to the beautiful country and culture. But Marcus decides this is his chance to find and confront his father. Realistic fiction, grades 4-6.
The Last Grand Adventure by Rebecca Behrens. In this historical fiction story set in the 1970's, 12 year-old Bea is unhappy living with her divorced father, his new wife and young stepsister Sally who annoyingly insists on touching everything Bea owns. Bea also misses her reporter mother who is traveling all summer. So she accepts the offer to spend several weeks with Pidge, the grandmother she hardly knows. Soon after Bea arrives Bea discovers that Pidge's sister, her own great aunt, was actually Amelia Earhart! While sharing stories of growing up with Amelia, Pidge takes Bea on a secret journey from California to her childhood home in Kansas hoping to be reunited with Amelia. Pidge believes Ameila is still alive because she has been receiving mysterious letters from her for decades. And so begins Bea's adventure across the country, getting to know and love her grandmother, while traveling in trains, busses, with kind strangers, all in the hope to meet the incredible Amelia! Historical fiction, grades 4-6.
The Remarkable Adventures of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart. When we meet 12 year old Coyote Sunrise, she has been living with her father, Rodeo, in a converted school bus traveling all over the U.S. for five years. Once upon a time, they lived in Washington State, in a regular house with regular school, but when her mother and two sisters died in an automobile accident, her father bought the bus, changed their names, and took off, trying to keep all the painful memories away. But when Coyote learns that her former neighborhood park, where she buried a memory box, is about to be demolished, she is determined to get back there as soon as possible. Coyote plots a way to get there without telling her father why, and along the way, they pick up an assortment of special passengers who become involved with Coyote's quest. An action packed remarkable journey. Realistic fiction, grades 4-6.
Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney. This is Rowley Jefferson's journal! We get the thoughts, and perspectives of Greg Heffley 's (Wimpy Kid) best friend. Did you ever wonder how they met, what Rowley thinks of Greg and his idea? Well here's your answer. Except Rowley decides he is actually writing a biography of Greg because that is what Greg wants. Read this new Diary entry and find out for yourself! Humor, grades 2-5.
Josh Baxter Levels Up by Gavin Brown. Josh loves video games, all kinds, from Mario to Zelda to the sports games, like Madden he used to play with his dad. But since his father died, his mother has moved Josh and his older sister several times, resulting in Josh being the new kids over and over. This school year it is to Howard Taft Middle School where Josh is struggling, both to fit in and to keep up academically. But when his mother takes away all his games until his grades improves, Josh decides he needs to follow the lead of his favorite game characters and find a way to "level up". He begins to do his homework, concentrate in school and realize there are potential friends around, who even like video games like he does. This story is full of game references, game characters and drawings and lots of fun!
Grades 3-5. Realistic fiction.
Loot by Jude Watson, is sub-titled How to Steal a Fortune, and that is what March, his twin sister Julia, and two friends are attempting to do. But that is getting ahead. First the reader meets March, the lonely son of a jewel thief, Alfie. Alfie is not a bad father and keeps March away from his "business" but also leaves him out of school, traveling all around the world from job to job, and often left alone. Then while on a job, Alfie dies, after first leaving March some puzzling clues that March thinks will lead to famous jewels. But then he is picked up by police and finds himself on the way to a group home in the United States with a twin sister he has never met or know existed. Desperate to leave the depressing group home, they take two friends with them and begin to figure out Alfie's message. Grade 5 and up. Adventure fiction.
Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord is the story of Emma who is about to start school for the first time in 5th grade. She has been happily home-schooled with her older brother Owen, learning hands on science from her father a Maine Game Warden and mom who teachers all else. But last year Owen went off to regular High School and thrived, so now Emma is trying it too, with plenty of nerves. But the night before school starts, Emma helps her dad rescue a rabbit who turns out to be a domestic not wild, and Emma wants desperately to keep it. If not one claims her, Emma will keep her but school still needs to start. It is an adjustment though Emma likes some students, finds other's more difficult and in the end, could the rabbit be the thing that helps her through? Grades 2-4. Realistic fiction.
Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu is a unique story told by Elodee, twin to Naomi, beginning when the girls and their parents are about to move to the new wonderful Eventown. All the reader knows is that the family had vacationed in that town and everything had been perfect. Now they are moving there, away from the boring town of Juniper where Elodee felt the other girls in school did not like her differences, and only gravitated to Naomi who loves to fit in. Their parents are excited to have interesting jobs in Eventown and as they begin their new life there, all seems beautiful. At first Elodee loves that the kids are friendly and happy, the school is fun and suddenly even the things she cooks and bakes come out perfectly as long as she follows the Eventown recipes. But Elodee remembers sadness in their lives, and wants to hold on to some of her old memories. She also loves to strike out and do things differently from others. These things are all looked down upon in Eventown and Elodee is beginning to wonder why. Then her mother promises her that everything will make sense after the girls have their special mysterious ceremony at the Welcoming Center. Read to find out the what is really going on in Eventown! Grades 4-6 Fantasy/Sci-fic.
Key Hunters, The Mysterious Moonstone by Eric Luper.
In this new series opener, Cleo and Evan begin to investigate the odd behavior of their new school librarian, Ms. Crowley, and in the process discover a secret underground library. There they find a note from their previous librarian, the beloved Ms. Hilliard, telling them, "If you have found this note, I am trapped somewhere between the covers of these enchanted books." And on the table is an old book with a key sticking out of its lock. Opening the book, they suddenly find themselves in 19th-century London, where they realize they help the a young detective solve the case of a stolen diamond. Then they need to get back to the underground library and their school again! Mystery, grades 2-4.
Greystone Secrets #1: The Strangers by Margaret Petersen Haddix begins a new series from the author of several beloved science fiction series. Meet the Greystone kids, Chess (12), Emma (10), and Finn (8) living fairly ordinary lives with their mother, their father having died years before. But then one day after school they find their mother desperately upset over a news story about a bizarre kidnapping—bizarre because the three children who were taken share the names, ages, and birthdays of the Greystone kids. Then Mrs. Greystone is suddenly leaves on a business trip out of town, leaving her kids in the care of a virtual stranger. Knowing something is not right, the kids uncover a coded letter
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.