I, Funny by James Patterson introduces Jamie Grimm, who not only loves to tell jokes, he has studied them, and aspires to be a real stand up comedian. He happens to be in a wheelchair, but that does not stop him though it does mean he is often treated differently and nothing makes him madder. With two best friends who do treat him like a regular guy and an Uncle who believes in him, Jamie perseveres through bullies, and a adoptive family that does not understand or support him. But will he become the funniest kid on Long Island? Grade 4/5.
Here's Hank in "Bookmarks are People too" by Henry Winkler is the first chapter book in a new series about Hank Zipzer when he was in second grade. The author's original series follows Hank in fourth grade and now we learn how Hank, Frankie and Ashley became best friends in a story of their second grade class play. The reader meets the kids in Hank's class and his family, all memorable characters that will make you laugh and understand how a funny, clever boy who struggles in reading still knows how to be a friend and make everyone smile! Grade2/3.
The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern is the fictional "memoir" of Maggie's 11th year, a year that changes everything. Her beloved father, always funny, clever and entertaining, is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, becomes confined to a wheelchair and her mother goes to work full time. But even through these difficult challenges, the reader laughs and cries along with Maggie's eternal optimism, intelligence, goal to be President, and descriptions of her older sister's obsession with makeup and boys. As the year progresses, Maggie begins to understand how her parents are teaching her to live life to the fullest every day and the whole family is truly working together to help her father. Grade 4/5
All the Answers (magical realism) by Kate Messner does not give us "all the answers" but does make the reader think while engaging us in the life of Ava, a 6th grade girl full of fears, but also surrounded by a loving fun family and good friends. Afraid of taking chances, Ava often misses out on life's adventures until a magic pencil enters her life. The pencil answers any straight factual question correctly, which works great for math tests but doesn't help the deeper dilemmas we all face. When Ava feels guilty using the pencil in school, she shares the secret with a best friend who has other ideas for its use! What can the right questions teach Ava about herself, friends, taking chances and helping others? Or is there a "right" way to use the pencil at all? The Magic Pencil is creative, thought provoking and fun all rolled into one story! Grade 4/5.
In The Spotted Dog Last Seen (mystery) by Jessica Scott Kerrin, Derek gets stuck with the least desired mandatory community service project offered to 6th graders because he is ill the day the choices are made. "Cemetery duty" is supposed to be light cleaning of the old town cemetery but Derek, Mereliee, and Pascal soon discover that it is far more. The Cemetery Brigade, three elderly men who oversee the upkeep of the cemetery give the students lessons on reading the eroded epitaphs in order to map them, what the symbols on the stones mean and how to care for the different stone materials. Despite their first impression of the old, dark, somewhat spooky surroundings, Derek, Mereliee and Pascal are intrigued and engaged and although each student has different interests, a special bond is formed between them including solving a mystery Mereliee discovers as they work. For Derek, who holds a deep secret that haunts him, the experience may be exactly what he needs to release it. Grade 4/5.
Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon introduces Dory, a relentlessly imaginative six year old who wants more than anything to be included in her older siblings's fun. But they have no patience for her or her imaginary friend Mary, endless questions or make-believe monsters. But when Violet and Luke tell Dory a bedtime story about the evil Mrs. Gobble Grackle, trying to scare her away, Dory may turn the tables on her siblings, proving her bravery. Can Mrs. Gobble Grackle possibly be real? Grade 2/3
The Boy Who Harnessed Wind by William Kamkwamba is a picture biography based on Kamkwamba, a 14 year old boy growing up in Malawi where droughts continually threaten the family's ability to farm and eat, and his ability to go to school. So Kamkwamba spends time reading at the American built library and learns about windmills that can power electricity. He has always loved to build and take apart things and now is inspired to build a windmill that powers a light using scraps he has collected from the trash, like a tractor fan, shock absorber and other rusted and old pipes. He goes on to build a windmill to bring water to his mother's garden and eventually windmill driven wells to water the land in his community. An amazing story of how drive and imagination can solve problems.
In Marvelous Mattie : how Margaret E. Knight became an inventor by Emily Arnold McCully, we meet Mattie, growing up in 1838, who must work in the mills from a young age but who loves to study mechanical parts, and sketch inventions. Her first invention is a part to help the safety of the cloth mills where her family works but her first patent, the first for any women, is for a machine that makes paper bags, which is still used today! That design is almost stolen but Mattie proves in court that it was hers exhibiting her many drawings and failed attempts as she worked to perfect the invention. The author's note explains that Mattie goes on to create many more inventions and receive patents all through her life.
Dare the Wind by Tracy Fern takes place during the gold rush in the 1800's when prospectors were making the dangerous long journey over land to California. But in 1851, Ellen Prentiss Creesy made the journey over water on the clipper the Flying Cloud, navigating from New York City to San Francisco in a record-breaking 89 days and 21 hours. With brilliant navigation skill's and a love of the sea she triumphed over the dangerous seas and many setbacks along the way. The true story begins when Ellen is young, learning the difficult technical skills of navigation and sailing from her father a schooner captain. She marries a captain and soon becomes his navigator, excepting the famous challenge in 1851 together. But it is Ellen and her aggressive sailing, knowledge of the routes, and experience that is given the credit for the successful voyage.
Ice Wreck by Lucille Penner is based on the voyage of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, captain of the Endurance, who sailed to Antarctica in August, 1914 hoping to be the first person to cross Antarctica from one side to the other. Trapped by ice, the 27 men and 69 sled dogs on board spent months at sea and on the ice. Read the story of their perilous journey and the heroism of Captain Shackleton. Grade 2 and up.
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.