The Third Mushroom by Jennifer Holm brings back Ellie, her scientist grandfather, and her friend Raj, in a new adventure with middle school issues, friends, pets and more science! Ellie and "Melvin" pair up for a science fair project which is really testing an unusual specimen secretly sent to Ellie's grandfather without explanation. They test it first with fruit flies and then Melvin tests it on his self! Read to find out what they learn about the specimen, and each other, friendship, Ellie's grandmother and how hard change can be. Through it all the reader is treated to great characters and lots of humor. Science Fiction, grades 3-5.
Mac B. Kid Spy, Mac Undercover by Mac Barnett is the first in a series. The author, Mac Barnett, writes as if he is telling the reader about his own childhood in which he was a normal 5th grade boy until he became a spy! He is called by the Queen of England to find the crown jewels that have disappeared. He takes on the case when the Queens sends him a plane ticket, disguises and money and he even gets a Corgi when he gets to England. This fun story, which takes Mac to England, France and Russia, is full of great illustrations and lots of silly plot twists and turns, until Mac solves the case and gets home eagerly waiting for his next case. Humor, grades 3-5.
In Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech, Louie's uncle brings Louie an infant donkey who is an orphan. Louie desperately wants to try to raise and keep the young donkey he names "Winslow". But the donkey is frail and nobody believes Winslow can survive. But with some support from his parents and a strange new girl in the neighborhood, Nora, Louie helps Winslow who begins to thrive, and eventually helps Louie through the loss of his older brother who has enlisted and is in the army far away. A sweet and interesting story about raising young animals and friendship. Realistic fiction, grade 3-5.
Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older, is a very unique mix of historical fiction and fantasy that keeps the reader turning pages anxious to know what happens next! Set during the Civil War in New York City, we meet six young residents of the Colored Orphan Asylum during the night the New York Draft Riots begin, true events in which mobs attacked black businesses in response to unfair draft laws. The orphanage is burned but one group of boys and girls led by 12 year old Magdalys who are away when it was set afire, decide to find and save the other orphans. They are fighting against the Kidnapping Club who kidnaps and sends blacks to the South and slavery. Most of this is true historical events but then comes the twist - dinosaurs are alive and well in this story and used by humans for a variety of tasks, including in battles, as transportation, and business. And Magdalys discovers a special talent to communicate with the dinos! More adventures to come! History, Adventure and Fantasy, grades 4-6!
Front Desk by Kelly Yang is based on the author's own story of coming to California from China when she was about 9 years old and growing up in the motel that her parent's managed. LIke Mia in the story, she often manned the front desk, meeting and checking in guests and getting to know the regular guests as her extended family. Their life is hard, with racist attitudes in many forms and from many people, including fellow students at school, surrounding business owners and even the police. But Mia's strong will to do right, and to correct wrongs, carries her though hard times, especially when she learns her love of writing letters could be used as a force to change people's minds and hearts. Realistic fiction, grades 4-6.
In Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl by Debbi Michiko Florence we meet third grader Jasmine as her school is announcing a Talent Show starring all the students. But everyone seems to have a talent except Jasmine. One of her best friends dances, others play the piano or juggle, and the class bully plays the violin "perfectly". But then Jasmine's mother introduces her to taiko drumming, a Japanese art form. She has less than a week to learn the basics of taiko and how to play a short song but she is determined. This is part of a realistic new series that makes the reader feel they know every character and understand their joy and worries! Great illustrations in every book, and in this one there are instructions how to make a hachi-maki headband too! Realistic fiction, grades 2-3.
Blended by Sharon Draper is Isabella's story... or is it Izzy's? She is the daughter of a white mother who calls her Izzy, and an African American father, who calls her Isabella and when they divorce, Izzy is shuttled between her parents weekly. One week with her dad, a wealthy corporate lawyer living with his black girlfriend and her son, and the next week, with her mother, a waitress, living with her boyfriend, who is white. That weekly split in her life is hard and Izzy struggles to keep her life in order and please everyone. However both parents love and care for her deeply and Izzy likes and respect their new "friends" and her "kind of" step brother very much as well. But as in current events today, there are racial tensions in her city and even in her middle school. All this combines to make it quite a challenge for Izzy to understand who she is and even if she identifies more as an African American or as white. Read to understand the challenges of being biracial in today's world and more simply, how it feels to be the child of a family that has split up. Realistic fiction, grades 4-6.
Charlie Collier Snoop for Hire, The Copycat Caper by John Madormo. Charlie Collier loves to solve mysteries and brain teasers too, and he is really good at it. He knows that some day he will be a real detective but in the mean time, while in Middle School he is doing his best to get ready. He has opened a detective agency headquartered in his garage, and his best friend Henry and popular girl Scarlett have joined. They are open for business to any student who brings in a mystery and have even solved some real crimes in the town where they live. But now a school play is taking up more of his time because he has taken the part of a detective opposite Scarlett. His parents are happy he is involved in something other than solving crimes but Charlie misses his agency. When there is a rash of mysterious thefts at various town businesses, Charlie thinks he has an idea and a lead on who and why is behind the crime. Read along and see if you can solve the mystery with Charlie and his friends, or at least a brain teaser or two! Mystery, grades 4-6.
Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins. Meet almost 5th grader Nory Horace who lives in a world where everyone has some magic, and some people have very special powers. Your might be a Fuzzy who has talents with animals, or a Flare who has fire talents or a Flyer who can fly or a Fluxer who can turn into an animal! That is what Nory believes she is and desperately wants to pass the test to go to the best magic school, Sage School, just like her older brother and sister. But in 5th grade you have to pass a test to enter it and Nory's magic is kind of "wonky". She often does not become just one animal but instead she changes to a combination of two animals - like a skunk and an elephant or a beaver and a kitten! And then she sort of loses control. Follow Nory as she learns to understand herself and even meets friends with similar wonky magic. A fun, fresh and unique fantasy and beginning of a new series! Grades 3-5.
Much is going on in the LMC these past few weeks,
Here's just a taste:
In Kindergarten - we started reading the Monarch Award nominated books for 2019. We began with the Gerald and Piggie approved We are Growing, about individual blades of grass, all growing, and then each student created their own blade of grass and told their "somethingest". Next we read A Creepy Pair of Underwear and each student drew their own pair with googly eyes added.
In First Grade we read Scaredy Squirrel and then students created their own daily routine just like Scaredy did! Next we began our first research project - about animals. Students practiced taking notes with an information book about squirrels, recording a fact about their body, what they eat and habitat and then finding a super special fact! Next students selected an animal to research on their own.
In Second Grade, classes are learning about Arlington Heights history. With Nearpod, we learned about how the Potawatomi were in this area first, and then William Dunton started the village by donating land and letting the railroad come through his land. We learned how the library was started and what were some of the first businesses. Next students chose one person or group that was important to the Arlington Heights community in history and reflected, using Seesaw, on what that person or group did for Arlington Heights.
In Third Grade, classes are studying many aspects of weather in science. With LMC we studied the weather instruments-anemometer, rain gauge, barometer and weather vane to learn what each one measures and how that helps us know what weather is coming. Then students followed step by step directions to build one of the instruments in groups. Now classes will put the instruments outside and take some measurements and keep weather data!
In Fourth Grade, students wrapped up their geology science unit by Skyping with a National Park ranger to determine what park she was at - by asking questions about how the land in the park was formed. One by one pairs of students asked about tectonic plate movement, deposition, erosion and volcanic activity and then determined the ranger was in Yellowstone National Park! The ranger than shared interesting insights about the Park and being a National Park Ranger.
In Fifth Grade, students have been studying space issues in science. In LMC students first researched the positive results of our space exploration to date and then some of the dangers and the costs of further exploration to Mars. Then we assigned groups of students one side of the issue and held debates with the question Is Space Exploration Worth the Cost?
Here is a look at more of the action and learning!
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.