May 20, 2018

I cannot believe this week is already here. It is the last week of the year that students will check out books from the Hampden Meadows Library. When students take books out, they get to keep them for two weeks. That means books will be coming back in by June 8th. We will be sending out reminders and gathering books back to do inventory. But the fun will not end in June. You can be sure I have lots of excitement in store for the students!

Our first book of the week is the first in a mystery series. It will be part of our summer reading book tasting.

Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls, (2017)

by Beth McMullen


Goodreads summary: A girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut.

After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…

Watch a book review of Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls.


Here is a new fantasy book we have just acquired. How cute is this cover?

His Royal Whiskers, (2017)

words by Sam Gayton and pictures by Sydney Hanson


Goodreads summary: A young alchemist and a giant cat stage a meow-tiny to take down an evil czar in this charming middle grade adventure.

Something bad has happened to Prince Alexander, the only heir to the mighty Petrossian Empire.

Something worse than kidnapping.

Something worse than murder.

Somehow, the Prince has been miraculously transformed into a fluffy kitten—and a large one, at that. Giant, in fact. Dinosaur-sized.

Why has this terrible catastrophe happened? Who are the boy and girl brewing secret potions down in the palace kitchens? And how are they possibly going to avoid getting their heads chopped off?


This is a brand new picture book by my talented pal Josh Funk. I am sure so many of our coding fans and readers will enjoy it!

How to Code a Sandcastle, (2018)

words by Josh Funk and pictures by Sara Palacios


Goodreads summary: From the computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code comes this lively and funny story introducing kids to computer coding concepts.

Pearl and her trusty rust-proof robot, Pascal, need to build a sandcastle before summer vacation is over, and they’re going to do it using code. Pearl breaks the big we-need-a-sandcastle problem into smaller steps, then uses conditionals, loops, and other basic coding concepts to tell Pascal exactly what to do. But building a sandcastle isn’t as easy as it sounds when surfboards, mischievous dogs, and coding mishaps get in the way! Just when it looks like the sandcastle might never work, Pearl uses her coding skills to save the day and create something even better: a gorgeous sandcastle kingdom!

Watch a book trailer for How to Code a Sandcastle.


This next book is an inspiring biography picture book about a very talented and very determined golfer.

Charlie Takes His Shot: How Charlie Sifford Broke the Color Barrier in Golf, (2018)

words by Nancy Churnin and pictures by John Joven


Goodreads summary: Charlie Sifford loved golf, but in the 1930’s only white people were allowed to play in the Professional Golf Association. Sifford had won plenty of black tournaments, but he was determined to break the color barrier in the PGA. In 1960 he did, only to face discrimination from hotels that wouldn’t rent him rooms and clubs that wouldn’t let him use the same locker as the white players. But Sifford kept playing, becoming the first black golfer to win a PGA tournament and eventually ranking among the greats in golf.

Watch a video about Charlie Sifford.


The last book of the week is a graphic novel we are getting soon. Just in time with kids who are already thinking about summer camp!

Be Prepared, (2018)

by Vera Brosgol


Goodreads summary: A gripping and hilarious middle-grade summer camp memoir from the author of Anya’s Ghost.

All Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.

Vera is sure she’s found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Cece Bell, and Victoria Jamieson, Vera Brosgol’s Be Prepared is a funny and relatable middle-grade graphic novel about navigating your own culture, struggling to belong, and the value of true friendship.

Watch the book trailer for Be Prepared.


May 13, 2018

This Thursday is our first district-wide “Device Free Evening.” We hope your family chooses to participate!



Our students DEVOUR the Who Was? biography series. (You can see a previous post here). Well, here’s some good news: there is now a Who Was? TV show on Netflix!


image courtesy of Francesco Sedita, May 11th Nerdy Book Club post

See the trailer for the Who Was? show.


Here is a hybrid series we just acquired for our library. I think kids will really enjoy it!

Jack and the Geniuses, (2017)

by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone


Goodreads summary: New York Times bestselling authors Bill Nye the Science Guy and Gregory Mone take middle-grade readers on a scientific adventure in the launch of an exciting new chapter book series, Jack and the Geniuses. The perfect combination to engage and entertain readers, the series features real-world science along with action and a mystery that will leave kids guessing until the end, making these books ideal for STEM education.

In the series opener, Jack and the Geniuses: At The Bottom of The World, readers meet Jack and his foster siblings, Ava and Matt, who are orphans. But they’re not your typical kind of orphans—they’re geniuses. Well, Ava and Matt are, which sometimes makes life difficult for 1twelve-year-old Jack. Ava speaks multiple languages and builds robots for fun, and Matt is into astronomy and a whiz at math. As for Jack, it’s hard to stand out when he’s surrounded by geniuses all the time.

When the kids try to spy on Dr. Hank Witherspoon, one of the world’s leading scientists, they end up working for him in his incredible laboratory. Soon, Hank and the kids travel to Antarctica for a prestigious science competition, but they find that all is not as it seems: A fellow scientist has gone missing, and so has any trace of her research. Could someone be trying to use her findings to win the contest? It’s up to Jack, Ava, and Matt to find the missing scientist and discover who’s behind it all—before it’s too late.

Integrating real science facts with humor and suspense, and featuring an ensemble cast of loveable boy and girl characters, this uniquely engaging series is an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade readers. With easy-to-read language presented in a fun, motivating, and accessible way, this series opener is a great book for both inquisitive kids and reluctant readers. The book also includes information about the science discussed and used to solve the mystery, as well as a cool science project about density that kids can do at home or in the classroom.

Bill Nye’s brand new talk show series for Netflix, “Bill Nye Saves the World” is set to launch in Spring 2017.

Watch the Jack and the Geniuses book trailer.


I have heard such great things about this new title. I’m looking forward to reading it soon myself!

The Parker Inheritance, (2018)

by Varian Johnson


Goodreads summary: The letter waits in a book, in a box, in an attic, in an old house in Lambert, South Carolina. It’s waiting for Candice Miller.

When Candice finds the letter, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, after all, who left Lambert in a cloud of shame. But the letter describes a young woman named Siobhan Washington. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. Grandma tried and failed. But now Candice has another chance.

So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues in the letter. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the summer ends?

Watch the book trailer for The Parker Inheritance.


Last year we got the biography Rising Above. It is usually checked out which tells me that it is very popular with our students. I’m thinking this latest title will be just as popular.

Rising Above: Inspiring Women in Sports, (2018)

by Gregory Zuckerman



Goodreads summary: Behold the power of women! These are the inspirational real-life stories of female superstar athletes Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Carli Lloyd, and more — role models all. For sports fans, aspiring athletes and readers of sports biographies.

Growing up in a crime-plagued, gang-infested neighborhood, Venus and Serena Williams were led to believe their environment was not a place where dreams could come true. It took a relentless determination, a burning desire to be the best, and a willingness to conquer racial barriers for them to emerge as tennis legends. Simone Biles was raised by a single mother with addiction issues, forcing her grandparents to intervene. But Simone soon discovered balance beams and gymnastics mats, setting her on a path toward Olympic greatness. Carli Lloyd, meanwhile, believed her youth soccer career was really starting to take off, only to be cut from her team. Instead of quitting the sport she loved, Carli rebuilt her confidence from the ground up, ultimately becoming one of the leaders on the World Cup Champion US Women’s Soccer team.

The athletes featured in this book met earth-shaking challenges head on, and through hard work and perseverance, went on to conquer the sports world. This collection of mini biographies, complete with first-hand content drawn from interviews, is a source of inspiration and self-empowerment for kids and sports fans of all ages.

Also included in the book: Wilma Rudolph (track and field), Mo’ne Davis (Little League baseball), Swin Cash (basketball), Elena Delle Donne (basketball), Bethany Hamilton (surfing), Ronda Rousey (mixed martial arts), and Kerri Strug (gymnastics).


My nerdy pals have been raving about this new fantasy title. It will definitely be part of our summer reading book tasting!

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, (2018)

Diane Magras


Goodreads summary: A Scottish medieval adventure about the youngest in a war-band who must free her family from a castle prison after knights attack her home.

One dark night, Drest’s sheltered life on a remote Scottish headland is shattered when invading knights capture her family, but leave Drest behind. Her father, the Mad Wolf of the North, and her beloved brothers are a fearsome war-band, but now Drest is the only one who can save them. So she starts off on a wild rescue attempt, taking a wounded invader along as a hostage.

Hunted by a bandit with a dark link to her family’s past, aided by a witch whom she rescues from the stake, Drest travels through unwelcoming villages, desolate forests, and haunted towns. Every time she faces a challenge, her five brothers speak to her in her mind about courage and her role in the war-band. But on her journey, Drest learns that the war-band is legendary for terrorizing the land. If she frees them, they’ll not hesitate to hurt the gentle knight who’s become her friend.

Drest thought that all she wanted was her family back; now she has to wonder what their freedom would really mean. Is she her father’s daughter or is it time to become her own legend?

Watch the book trailer for The Mad Wolf’s Daughter.


Readers may want to digest this graphic novel and then see the movie version the book is based on.

The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel, (2018)

by Deborah Ellis


Goodreads summary: This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.

Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed — works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for having forbidden books, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food.

As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner.

Readers will want to linger over this powerful graphic novel with its striking art and inspiring story.

Watch a movie trailer for The Breadwinner.

May 6, 2018


Today is the day! I hope to see you all at this really fun family event! The mud pit is right outside of the library, and it has been exciting to see it there all week!


Notices came home with your children on Friday about our next HMS Family Book Club which will take place on Thursday, May 17th from 7:45-8:30am. We are reading the Kids Read Across Rhode Island title The First Rule of Punk by Celia Perez. We have 12 copies on hand for you to borrow. You can also get a copy through your local library or bookstore.

I love using the KRARI title for a book club because after reading the title, you can go meet the author at the State House on Saturday, May 19th from 2-4pm. There will be games, you can get a free book signed by Celia Perez, and you can see a play based on the book.

The First Rule of Punk, (2017)

by Celia Perez


Goodreads summary: From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Perez, The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching.

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school–you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malu (Maria Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malu loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malu finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.

Watch a book trailer for The First Rule of Punk.


Here’s a new hybrid title I was introduced to by my fifth grade teacher friend Scott Fillner. I think we will have readers who will really enjoy it! I’ve ordered books 1 and 2 for the library.

Way of the Warrior: From Wimpy to Warrior the Navy SEAL Way, (2017)

words by Jocko Willink and pictures by Jon Bozak


Goodreads summary: Fifth grade was the worst year of Marc’s life. He stunk at gym class, math was too hard for him, the school lunch was horrible, and his class field trip was ruined because he couldn’t swim. But what was most awful thing about fifth grade? Kenny Williamson, the class bully, who calls himself the “King of the Jungle.”

When Marc’s mother tells him that his Uncle Jake is coming to stay for the whole summer, Marc can’t wait. Uncle Jake is a for real, super-cool Navy SEAL. And Uncle Jake has a plan.

He’s going to turn Marc into a warrior.

Becoming a warrior isn’t easy. It means a lot of pull ups, sit ups, pushups, squats, swimming, eating right, and studying harder than ever before! Can Marc transform himself into a warrior before school starts in the fall – and finally stand up to the King of the Jungle himself?

The Way of the Warrior Kid is a new illustrated chapter book by #1 New York Times-bestselling author and retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink.

Watch the book trailer for The Way of the Warrior Kid.


This is a mystery/adventure book we are adding to our library. I cannot wait to read it. I’ve heard so many good things from reader friends!

Greetings from Witness Protection, (2017)

by Jake Burt


Goodreads summary: A funny and poignant debut middle-grade novel about a foster-care girl who is placed with a family in the witness protection program, and finds that hiding in plain sight is complicated and dangerous.
Nicki Demere is an orphan and a pickpocket. She also happens to be the U.S. Marshals’ best bet to keep a family alive. . . .

The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.

Nicki swears she can keep the Trevor family safe, but to do so she’ll have to dodge hitmen, cyberbullies, and the specter of standardized testing, all while maintaining her marshal-mandated B-minus average. As she barely balances the responsibilities of her new identity, Nicki learns that the biggest threats to her family’s security might not lurk on the road from New York to North Carolina, but rather in her own past.

Watch a book trailer for Greetings from Witness Protection.


I read this next book with my son a few weeks ago and I think it’s perfect for introducing service learning to our school community.

On Our Street: Our First Talk About Poverty, (2018)

words by Jillian Roberts and Jaimeand pictures by Jane Heinrichs


Goodreads summary: A gentle introduction to the issue of poverty, On Our Street explores the realities of people living with inadequate resources. Using age-appropriate language, this book addresses mental illness, homelessness and refugee status as they are connected to this issue. Quotes from individuals and organizations such as UNICEF are included throughout to add further perspective on the issue.


I was talking to Ms. Tracy at the Barrington Public Library circulation desk and she told me about this graphic novel I was not aware of. I think fans of Real Friends by Shannon Hale might be intrigued.

According to Aggie, (2017)

by Mary Richards Beaumont and Genevieve Kote


Goodreads summary: As far as 11-year-old Aggie knows, everything is great. Friends, school, family…all are fine and fun and predictable. But one random day, Aggie’s longtime friend Fiona starts to pull away, canceling plans and acting, well, kind of different. It’s not like anything happened–or did it? There aren’t any good answers, and Aggie is left wondering how she’s supposed to act now that her friend seems to have moved on without her. It turns out, though, that a new friendship can turn up just when you need it most.

Watch a book trailer for According to Aggie.


April 29, 2018

How is it that we are entering the month of May this week? Where did this school year go? I am feverishly sifting through new titles to order so that we can do an EPIC book tasting at the end of the school year to create individualized summer reading lists based on books that get us excited!

Here is a new series by Newbery winner Adam Gidwitz. I have a feeling it will not be on the shelf very often!

The Creature of the Pines (The Unicorn Rescue Society #1), (2018)

words by Adam Gidwitz and pictures by Hatem Aly


Goodreads summary: Elliot Eisner isn’t exactly excited about starting at a brand-new school in a brand-new town; he’d much rather stay at home and read a book. But things take an unexpected turn when he finds out his weird new teacher, Professor Fauna, has planned a field trip for Elliot’s very first day. Along with a new friend–brave, outspoken Uchenna Devereaux–Elliot gets caught up in a secret group of adventurers, The Unicorn Rescue Society, whose goal is to protect and defend the world’s mythical creatures. Together with Professor Fauna, Elliot and Uchenna must help rescue a Jersey Devil from a duo of conniving, greedy billionaires, the Schmoke Brothers.

Watch the Unicorn Rescue Society book trailer.


Here’s a graphic novel everyone has been waiting for. I’m sorry it took me this long to bring it to your attention!

Waking the Monsters (HiLo #4), (2018)

by Judd Winick


Goodreads summary: DJ and Gina are TOTALLY ordinary kids. But Hilo isn’t! Has Hilo finally met his match? Not if D.J. and Gina can help it! ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! Mega Robot Monsters are suddenly waking up all over and they’re TOO BIG and TOO STRONG for Hilo to fight on his own! Luckily, he doesn’t have to! He has GINA and some brand new SUPER POWERS on his side! Being heroes can be super fun – but it can also be SUPER dangerous! And the closer Hilo and Gina get to saving their world from the monsters –
the closer Hilo gets to the dark secret of his past. Does he really want to know? Do WE?!

I couldn’t find a book trailer for his latest graphic novel, but here is the HiLo intro book trailer.


I was at the Barrington Public Library and this gem was on display. I’m eagerly reading it now. Last year I had the chance to hear Katherine Paterson talk about writing this book and I’ve been intrigued by the nationwide literacy campaign this story is about ever since.

My Brigadista Year, (2017)

By Katherine Paterson


Goodreads summary: When thirteen-year-old Lora tells her parents that she wants to join Premier Castro’s army of young literacy teachers, her mother screeches to high heaven, and her father roars like a lion. Lora has barely been outside of Havana — why would she throw away her life in a remote shack with no electricity, sleeping on a hammock in somebody’s kitchen? But Lora is stubborn: didn’t her parents teach her to share what she has with someone in need? Surprisingly, Lora’s abuela takes her side, even as she makes Lora promise to come home if things get too hard. But how will Lora know for sure when that time has come? Shining light on a little-known moment in history, Katherine Paterson traces a young teen’s coming-of-age journey from a sheltered life to a singular mission: teaching fellow Cubans of all ages to read and write, while helping with the work of their daily lives and sharing the dangers posed by counterrevolutionaries hiding in the hills nearby. Inspired by true accounts, the novel includes an author’s note and a timeline of Cuban history.

Watch Katherine Paterson discuss My Brigadista Year.


I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover but there is something really inviting about this one, isn’t there? I cannot wait to crack this one open.

Just Like Jackie, (2018)

by Katherine Paterson


Goodreads summary: For as long as Robinson Hart can remember, it’s just been her and Grandpa. Robbie knows they look like an odd pair, because her blond hair and pale skin don’t match his dark complexion—but those differences don’t mean anything to her. And though she wishes Grandpa would tell her more about the rest of her family, she’s learned over the years that he doesn’t like to talk about the past.

But Grandpa’s memory is starting to get bad, and Robbie’s worried that soon he won’t remember their family—including her—at all. She’s sure that he would get better if she could stay out of trouble, but it’s hard to keep her fists to herself when bullies like Alex Carter make fun of her for not having a mom or for looking so different from Grandpa. It’s up to Robbie to learn how to deal with her anger and to keep her family together—no matter what.


If you are around on Saturday, April 28 (Independent Bookstore Day) you can stop by Barrington Books from 10:30am to noon to meet the really fun author (and good friend of Sarah Albee) of this new realistic fiction book.

Lights Camera Disaster, (2018)

by Erin Dionne


Goodreads summary: Hester Greene loves making movies. With her camera in hand, she can focus, make decisions, and have the control she lacks in life, where her executive function disorder (think extreme ADHD plus anxiety) sabotages her every move.
But middle school is not a movie, and if her last-ditch attempt to save her language-arts grade–and her chance to pass eighth grade, period–doesn’t work, Hess could lose her friends, her year, even her camera. It will take more than a cool training montage to get her life together, but by thinking outside the frame, she just might craft a whole new ending.
Written partially in script form, with STOP/PAUSE/PLAY/REWIND moments throughout, this laugh-out-loud story will speak to any budding filmmaker, or unintentional troublemaker, in every act of their lives.


April 22, 2018


It’s an exciting week at HMS! If you have completed your GENRE CHALLENGE with at least 8 DIFFERENT genres you don’t typically read, bring it to the library on Monday. So far we have 31 entries including students and adults! We have really great prizes thanks to the generous families who donated, and names will be picked every day this week!


Melissa Stewart is our first nonfiction visiting author of the week. She will be here on Monday and Tuesday. As I walk by the plants growing in the portable greenhouse in the foyer, I think of Melissa’s new book.

A Seed is the Start, (2018)

by Melissa Stewart


Goodreads summary: Beautiful photography and lyrical text pair with comprehensive picture captions in award-winning author Melissa Stewart’s story about the surprisingly diverse world of seeds. Learn all about the plant cycle, from how seeds grow, the fascinating ways they travel, and what it takes for a seed to become a plant.

Meet seeds that pop, hop, creep, and explode in this vividly illustrated introduction to the simplest concepts of botany. The story, which is perfect for elementary school Common Core learning, carefully highlights the many ways that seeds get from here to there, engaging children’s curiosity with strong action verbs. Stunning photographs with fact-packed captions provide supporting details, explaining the role of seed features and functions in creating new generations of plants. Complete with an illustrated glossary and back matter featuring more resources, this book inspires wonder as it encourages budding botanists of all ages to look with new eyes at plants and their seeds.

In honor of Melissa’s new book, we added this mug to Melissa’s welcome basket:


Watch Melissa talk about why nonfiction is so important for teachers to have accessible to students. Oh, and remember that Nerd Camp I told you I’ve been to in the summer. Colby Sharp, the teacher who introduces Melissa is the guy who runs Nerd Camp Michigan.


GREAT NEWS! Sarah Albee will be at Barrington Books doing a book signing for this next book on Thursday, April 26th from 4:00 – 5:30pm. Come by to see her! She’s so much fun, and this next book is amazing! I know we’ve already talked about it but kids go crazy for this book trailer!

Dog Days of History: The Incredible Story of Our Best Friends, (2018)

by Sarah Albee


Goodreads summary: What is it we love about dogs so much? From ancient times to the present, dogs have guarded us, worked with us, marched off to war with us, and of course, just sat on the couch with us for a cuddle. Throughout the course of human history, this partnership deepened from dogs doing a service into friendship. Dogs have been by our side through it all, and this book tracks our common story from wild wolves in ancient civilizations to modern-day breeds, highlighting famous pooches of the past and present along the way.

In honor of Sarah’s new book, we added this mug to Sarah’s welcome basket:


Watch the Dog Days of History book trailer.


My students know that my reading life could use some more fantasy titles. I tend to go for realistic fiction and historical fiction if given the chance. But I find myself completely enamored of this next book. I’m almost finished with it and can’t wait to talk it up to everyone I know! I’m thrilled to discover it’s the first in a series to come!!! A blurb on the back cover says it’s for fans of Percy Jackson and I agree.

The Serpent’s Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1), (2018)

by Sayantani Dasgupta



(But she doesn’t know it yet.)

On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish later that day and a rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories—like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess—and a wealth of secrets about her origin they’ve kept hidden.

To complicate matters, two crushworthy Indian princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’re here to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and slay demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld (who may or may not want to kill her) and the rakkhosh queen (who definitely does) in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…

Watch the book trailer for The Serpent’s Secret.


Now that we are on the subject of strong girls who can take on tough situations, let’s look at a recommendation from fourth grader Violet. I will be purchasing this series for our library based on her suggestion.

Moving Target (Moving Target #1), (2015)

by Christina Diaz Gonzalez


Goodreads summary: Cassie Arroyo, an American studying in Rome, has her world ripped apart when someone tries to kill her father, an art history professor at an Italian university. Is she their next target?

Cassie sets out to uncover what is happening, only to learn that she is a member of an ancient bloodline that enables her to use the Spear of Destiny—a legendary object that can alter the future. Now running from a secret organization intent on killing those from her bloodline, Cassie must—with the help of some friends—decipher the clues that will lead her to the Spear.

Christina Diaz Gonzalez has created a fast-paced thrill-ride of a book, rich with riddles and myth, that young readers will not want to put down.

Watch Violet’s impressive book trailer for Moving Target.


This week I’m taking my show on the road and bringing a cart to classrooms since our authors will be visiting with students in the library. During part of the lesson I’ll be reading a book to the students as a way to foster discussion about being responsible online citizens and what it means to be a good friend. This is the book I’ll be using.

Nerdy Birdy Tweets, (2017)

words by Aaron Reynolds and pictures by Matt Davies


Goodreads summary: Nerdy Birdy and his best friend, Vulture, are very different. Nerdy Birdy loves video games, but Vulture finds them BORING. Vulture loves snacking on dead things, but Nerdy Birdy finds that GROSS. Luckily, you don’t have to agree on everything to still be friends.

One day, Nerdy Birdy joins Tweetster, and the friend requests start flying in. Vulture watches as Nerdy Birdy gets swept up in his new friendships, but when she finally gets angry, Nerdy Birdy knows just what to do to make things right.




April 8, 2018

On Monday, April 2, Kwame Alexander’s bus stopped at An Unlikely Story in Plainville, MA for the first stop on his Rebound tour on the day his book came out into the world.  It was incredible to be in the audience as he chatted and read from his new book. He even had a very talented musician named Randy who accompanied him with music! After about an hour Jeff Kinney interviewed him a bit with some friendly banter. Jeff showed Kwame his Nickelodeon award which prompted Kwame to get someone to retrieve his Newbery medal from the bus! Look for the blue case in the third picture to see it for yourself!




I should remind you to read 2015 Newbery winner The Crossover first and then dive into the prequel which will give you a glimpse into the childhood of Josh and Jordan Bell’s dad. I promise you that you will NOT be disappointed!

Rebound, (2018)

by Kwame Alexander


Goodreads summary: Before Josh and Jordan Bell were streaking up and down the court, their father was learning his own moves. In this prequel to Newbery Medal winner The Crossover, Chuck Bell takes center stage, as readers get a glimpse of his childhood and how he became the jazz music worshipping, basketball star his sons look up to.


I do love a new take on a fairy tale. This new picture book just arrived at our library.

Jack and the Beanstalk and the French Fries, (2017)

by Mark Teague


Goodreads summary: Jack and the townsfolk are tired of eating beans–bean salad, refried beans, bean ice cream, and more!

So Jack climbs up the magic beanstalk to find something else to eat. Jack meets a giant who is also sick of eating beans and would rather devour Jack instead.


Readers and bean lovers of all ages will be laughing out loud as Jack cooks up a plan with a delicious twist in this fun-filled fractured fairy tale.


I haven’t read this one yet but this just arrived at our library. It’s a fantasy book with an interesting concept. Would you steal time if you could?

How Oscar Indigo Broke the Universe (And Put It Back Together Again), 2017

by David Teague


Goodreads summary: From David Teague, the coauthor of the critically acclaimed Saving Lucas Biggs, comes a funny and sweet story about learning to have courage even when it feels like the world is ending.

Oscar Indigo has never been good at baseball, so naturally he’s nervous when he has to fill in for his team’s injured All-Star, Lourdes. Luckily, Oscar has a mysterious gold watch that can stop time, which he uses to fake a game-winning home run. Now Oscar’s the underdog hero of his town and even Lourdes wants to be his friend.

But the universe is a precarious place, and you can’t just steal time without any consequences. If Oscar doesn’t find a way to return the time he stole, the universe will unwind completely.

Oscar wants nothing more than to ask Lourdes for help, but what would a baseball star like her think of a guy whose fake home run actually destroyed the universe? But as he and Lourdes grow closer, Oscar understands that it isn’t always what you do that makes you special—but who you are. And that confidence just might be the key to fixing the universe.


April is poetry month. Here’s a poetry book you want to know about.

One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance, (2017)

by Nikki Grimes


Goodreads summary: In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking.

This special book also includes original artwork in full-color from some of today’s most exciting African American illustrators, who have created pieces of art based on Nikki’s original poems. Featuring art by: Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, Nikki Grimes, E. B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.

A foreword, an introduction to the history of the Harlem Renaissance, author’s note, poet biographies, and index makes this not only a book to cherish, but a wonderful resource and reference as well.


A fifth grader named Caleb created a book trailer for a wildly popular comic strip (turned into graphic novel collections) beloved by students and I’m sure their parents too. Here is just one book from our Peanuts collection.

Peanuts: Friends Forever, (2015)

by Charles Schultz


Goodreads summary: “It’s good to have a friend.”—Snoopy

Everyone loves Peanuts! And now to celebrate the sixty-fifth anniversary of characters known around the world comes Peanuts: Friends Forever, an original collection of full-color comic strips featuring the whole gang. Charlie Brown ponders Life. Linus waits up all night for the Great Pumpkin. Peppermint Patty tries (and fails) to whip the baseball team into shape. Lucy proves time and again that she cannot be trusted with a football. Through ups and down, these beloved friends remind us why Charles M. Schulz’s cherished creation remains the most popular comic series of all time.

Watch Caleb’s Peanuts book trailer.

April 1, 2018

We are about 3 weeks away from Reading Week and our author visits from Melissa Stewart and Sarah Albee! Students have been reading their books after book check-out time in the library to prepare for the visit!

Sarah Albee had a brand new book come out last week. I’m working on getting her to do a book signing at Barrington Books after school on Wednesday, April 25th. Fingers crossed it works out because kids of all ages will love this one!

Dog Days of History: The Incredible Story of Our Best Friends, (2018)

by Sarah Albee


Goodreads summary: What is it we love about dogs so much? From ancient times to the present, dogs have guarded us, worked with us, marched off to war with us, and of course, just sat on the couch with us for a cuddle. Throughout the course of human history, this partnership deepened from dogs doing a service into friendship. Dogs have been by our side through it all, and this book tracks our common story from wild wolves in ancient civilizations to modern-day breeds, highlighting famous pooches of the past and present along the way.

Watch the Dog Days of History book trailer.


Speaking of dogs, here is a new book by Dan Gemeinhart. I loved The Honest Truth and Some Kind of Courage, and can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

Good Dog, (2018)

by Dan Gemeinhart


Goodreads summary: Brodie didn’t remember the exact moment that he died. But he did remember the exact moment that he woke up afterward. When he woke up he was already running.

In his awe-inspiring new novel, acclaimed author Dan Gemeinhart brings his signature blend of action, heart, and beautiful, deliberate prose to the story of a good dog who can’t move on to the afterlife until the boy he loves is safe.

Watch the book trailer for Good Dog.


Thanks to Netflix, the Series of Unfortunate Events series is making a comeback in library circulation stats. A student politely asked me to PLEASE include this series in the next Book Bites post since Season 2 begins this weekend. I am partial to book five, The Austere Academy, so this trailer made me chuckle. And where does the time go? This book came out in 2000? Eek!

The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events #5), (2000)

by Lemony Snicket


Goodreads summary: 

Dear Reader,

If you are looking for a story about cheerful youngsters spending a jolly time at boarding school, look elsewhere. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent and resourceful children, and you might expect that they would do very well at school. Don’t. For the Baudelaires, school turns out to be another miserable episode in their unlucky lives.

Truth be told, within the chapters that make up this dreadful story, the children will face snapping crabs, strict punishments, dripping fungus, comprehensive exams, violin recitals, S.O.R.E., and the metric system.

It is my solemn duty to stay up all night researching and writing the history of these three hapless youngsters, but you may be more comfortable getting a good night’s sleep. In that case, you should probably choose some other book.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Watch the trailer for Season 2 of A Series of Unfortunate Events.


A Boy Called Bat is a terrific 2017 book that is now on the 2019 RI Children’s Book Award list. My hope is that you will read that first and then read this next book about Bat.

Bat and the Waiting Game, (2018)

words by Elana K. Arnold and pictures by Charles Santoso


Goodreads summary: In the tradition of Clementine and Ramona Quimby, meet Bat. Author Elana K. Arnold returns with another irresistible story of friendship in this widely acclaimed series starring an unforgettable boy on the autism spectrum.

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life is pretty great. He’s the caretaker of the best baby skunk in the world—even Janie, his older sister, is warming up to Thor.

When Janie gets a part in the school play and can’t watch Bat after school, it means some pretty big changes. Someone else has to take care of the skunk kit in the afternoons, Janie is having sleepovers with her new friends, and Bat wants everything to go back to normal.

He just has to make it to the night of Janie’s performance. . . .


This last featured book cannot arrive soon enough. My fourth grade teacher heart is slightly obsessed. It’s an amazing mentor text for writing Haiku but it also incorporates so many science concepts and features of national parks that fourth graders study!

Earth Verse: Haiku from the Ground Up, (2018)

words by Sally M. Walker and pictures by William Grill


Goodreads summary: 

Rocks, fossils, earthquakes.
Seventeen short syllables?
Earth Science haiku!

In a stunning combination of haiku and impressionistic (but accurate) art, this one-of-a-kind book encourages readers to think playfully about our planet and its wondrous processes. Sibert Medal-winning author Sally M. Walker covers Earth’s many marvels — fossilized skeletons of plants and animals, terrific volcanic eruptions, the never-ending hydrologic cycle — in sometimes straightforward, sometimes metaphoric three-line haikus. Expertly drawn art by William Grill, author-illustrator of Shackleton’s Journey, provides a visual reference for each poem. In clear and creative back matter, Walker and Grill further use their skills to provide additional detailed explanations for the science behind each concept. A unique, artistic intersection of poetry and science, Earth Verse is sure to enthrall any and all readers interested in the world around them.