Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond by Sam Hearn. Join the Baker Street Academy students on a fun mystery in London. John Watson joins the class, meeting Sherlock, Martha, and the dog Baskerville, just as a famous diamond is stolen from the British History Museum while the students are on a field trip there! Everyone gets involved in trying to figure out who took the diamond, but Sherlock is of course leading the way. This fun mystery series is full of drawings, cartoons and clues! Grade 2-4. Mystery.
In A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese the reader first meets 11 year old Ernest, as he honors his dying grandfather's wish that he clean out his attic. There Ernest finds a group of interesting items, mostly classic toys, but he is not sure what he is supposed to do with them or what they mean. But then he learns of the town's wishing well and its legend and then seemingly by accident the attic items seem to be instrumental in fulfilling wishes. While Ernest is part of the richest family in their struggling town and has been a loner, some new friends join him in this strange mystery. Brooding but generous Ryan and insightful Lizzy, bond with Ernest as they try to figure out if the wishes being fulfilled are just coincidence or magic. Could their good intentions really help the struggling town? Magical Realism, grades 4 and up.
Max & the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce is the start of a new series by the author of the Big Nate series. Fans of Big Nate will recognize the fun cartoon drawings but otherwise the story is very different. Max lives in the middle ages (14th century) and when we meet him he is traveling with his uncle a "troubadour" (entertainer that goes from village to village), though this is not a life that Max loves. Max longs to become a knight. When Max suddenly finds an old and magical sword, his life changes. They enter the town where his uncle grew up and find that the good and kind King of the town has been replaced by his greedy and evil brother. And an evil witch has put a spell on the people of the town who are now almost all mean and unfriendly. But Max finds three new friends and together they form the MidKnights and go on an adventure to save the town, meeting dragons, entering castles and learning magic. Told with a mix of text and cartoons. Grade 3-5
The Adventures of a Girl Called BICYCLE by Christina Uss. In this very unusual story, a 3 year old orphan wearing a shirt with a bicycle on it is adopted by a nun and raised in a Mostly Silent Monastery, where the monks only say eight words. They name the girl, Bicycle and when she is old enough to ride give her an old but sturdy bike she names Clunk, which becomes her most prized possession. Bicycle is happy with her rather solitary life but when she turns twelve, her guardian Sister Wanda sends her to the Friendship Factory summer camp to meet more girl friends. Bicycle finds most girls silly and wants to spend summer on her bike and meeting her hero, a famous professional bicyclist who is visiting California. So she escapes the camp and begins a bike journey from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. On this cross country bike trip, she meets and is helped by many different people and even a famous inventor. Will she make it? A fantastical adventure. Grades 4 and up.
The Doughnut King by Jessie Jankowitz is the sequel to The Doughnut Fix in which we meet Tris, a budding chef, as he tries to adjust to his family's move from New York City to a very small town. He and a friend get the recipe for an amazing doughnut and eventually start The Doughnut Stop, a doughnut stand for the town. In this new installment, Tris' business has thrived and he is now having trouble keeping up with the orders. His mother's new restaurant seems to be doing well also, until the family learns the town's population has been dropping and its businessess including their's could be in danger of disappearing. Then Tris' sister enters him in a cut throat kids cooking television competition. If he wins, he could advertise for the town, and afford a doughnut robot that would help him make more doughnuts. But Tris does not really like competitions! Realistic fiction with lots of food! Grade 3-5.
Mac B. Kid Spy, The Impossible Crime by Mac Barnett is the second book in the Mac B. "kid spy" series and just as much fun as the first! Mac is again summoned by the Queen of England, given money and a plane ticket and hired as an international spy. This time he needs to find out how a thief stole the crown jewels right in front of a guard and Mac when they were in a locked cell with the jewels. They are off to a castle in Ireland where they know the thief lives. Great illustrations and lots of corgi dogs too! Can Mac solve this "locked room" crime? Grades 2-4 or more!
Confusion is Nothing New by Paul Acampora, was my first read of summer break. I immediately liked the narrator and heroine Ellie and her best friend Daniel. Both fourteen, both in their school's marching band, and both have always lived in the same town. But Ellie has been without a mother since she was a baby when her mother left to follow her dream to be a rock star. Ellie lives with her loving and dedicated father who would not answer questions about her mother. Then suddenly, Ellie gets a package of cassette tapes from her mother who dies of cancer right after sending the package. Ellie and a group of bright, and interesting friends and music lovers set out to help Ellie find out who her mother was and all about the music she loved and dedicated her life to. Funny, meaningful, a great read. Realistic fiction 5th grade and up.
The Friendship War by Andrew Clements. Grace loves math, data and collecting unusual artifacts. She is thrilled when her grandfather lets her keep many boxes of buttons, potentially antique, that they find when exploring an old clothing mill he is going to renovate. After showing some of the unique buttons in her social studies class, she unwittingly starts a new fad in school, and suddenly everyone is finding, trading and collecting all kinds of buttons. Grace herself feels drawn into this fad and worse, realizes her best friend Ellie is now a source of competition. Or has Ellie always treated their friendship that way? As Grace navigates the school year, she begins to reexamine a friendship she thought was good and compare it to newer friendships. Grace begins to question if the old one is worth saving? Read this very real portrait of 5th grade relationships and fads! Realistic fiction, grades 3-5.
The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris. Carter has had a very hard life, losing his parents when he was very young, he is raised by an uncle who does not really care for him but uses him as an assistant when he steals from and cons people. But his uncle and his parents were magicians and Carter is pretty magically talented too. That helps him escape from his uncle and try to survive on his own. He finds himself in a little town with a magic shop where he meets a generous magician, Mr. Vernon and his budding escape artist daughter. As Carter gets to know them and meet their friends he finds a special bond. Together, these "magical misfits" they solve a mystery and a big crime involving a special and rare diamond. Magic tricks included in the book too! Magical Realism, Grades 3-5.
Supergifted by Gordon Korman. In this sequel to Gifted, Donovan is back! This time the story centers around his true genius friend Noah, when they are both enrolled in an ordinary middle school, though they still visit the Academy to work on their robot competition. But at school, Noah is tired of being the best at everything so he is determined and trying hard to be very ordinary and fit in. He fails miserably until Donovan performs a heroic and very impulsive act and in a strange set of circumstances it is Noah who takes the credit. Suddenly Noah goes from superdweeb to Superkid in everyones eyes. Will it change him forever? Will Donovan every get credit he deserves and get his friend back? And how will the robot compete? Read this funny fast paced story to find out! Realistic fiction, grades 3-5.
In LMC, students spent the last month of school, learning about animal homes and building a model for one (kindergarten), writing original Gerald and Piggie stories (first grade), studying another country (2nd grade), researching and then designing posters about Chicago history (3rd grade), learning how to be good digital citizens (4th grade) and creating a book trailer for a favorite book (5th grade). Take a look:
In second grade, students chose a country to study including: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Egypt, Australia or India. They learned the continent and its capital city and then concentrated on what life is like for a student in that country by finding out about school, favorite foods and sports and a special place to visit. Finally students created an avatar using the app "School Avatar", to represent a student in the country they studied and recorded a video sharing what they had learned. Enjoy all their videos here:
2nd grade project page-Country Friends
3rd graders study Chicago history in social studies. In LMC we read primary source accounts of children who survived the Chicago Fire from the Chicago History Museum website. Then students chose one important event or topic in Chicago history that had lasting impact on the city today. These topics included DuSable, the Columbian Exposition and Century of Progress world fairs, the Illinois and Michigan Canal, Union Stockyards, Navy Pier, Marshall Fields, Chicago railroads and Burnham's Plan for Chicago. After researching the event or topic, they created a poster about it and its impact using Adobe Spark Post. Here are a few examples:
In fourth grade, LMC was digital citizenship central! First, we used a Nearpod with activities and videos from Brainpop and Common Sense Media to help students review, learn and share how to be a good citizen online, including protecting oneself with good and private passwords, what to do if you encounter a cyberbully, the meaning of your "digital footprint" and most of all how and when to post - with respect, thought and care, in an appropriate and helpful manner. Next, each student chose one aspect of digital citizenship: Cyberbullying, Internet Security, Netiquette or Digital Footprint and created a "Web Warrior" with Captain Marvel - to share the guidelines and responsibilities for that area of online behavior. Some students also created a 3 panel comic strip that illuminates one potential online situation and how to handle it.
Check out all the Web Warrior's here!
5th graders were hard at work in LMC creating a “book trailer” about a book they read during the past year. Book trailers (similar to movie trailers) are aimed at convincing the viewer to read the book, using images and text as a pictorial digital persuasive essay. Students are enjoying the process and creating beautiful, exciting or interesting trailers. To provide more excitement and an authentic audience for these trailers we are holding the 3rd annual District 25 Book Trailer Festival, in which 5th grade student's across the District create, view and rate each other’s trailers. A District committee then chose “school winners”. Check out the Book Trailer Festival website to view all the trailers including the winners of each class and the Patton winner!.
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.