October 30, 2016

The first book I’d like to highlight this week is a 2017 RI Children’s Book Award nominee.  Told in verse, it is a historical fiction novel.  It is pretty amazing.


Full Cicada Moon, (2015)

by Marilyn Hilton

Goodreads summary: Inside Out and Back Again meets One Crazy Summer and Brown Girl Dreaming in this novel-in-verse about fitting in and standing up for what’s right.

It’s 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi’s appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers and neighbors balk at her mixed-race family and her refusals to conform, Mimi’s dreams of becoming an astronaut never fade—no matter how many times she’s told no.

This historical middle-grade novel is told in poems from Mimi’s perspective over the course of one year in her new town, and shows readers that positive change can start with just one person speaking up.

Read Mr. Schu’s interview with Marilyn Hilton here.

The next book is on the Mock Newbery list.  This talented author has two books on the list this year! I’m only featuring one this week.


As Brave as You, (2016)

by Jason Reynolds

Goodreads summary: When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally.

Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck and—being a curious kid—Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he covers it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans).

How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house—as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into—a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out—he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all.

Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his fourteenth birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder—is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?

Listen to an audio clip of Jason Reynolds talking about As Brave as You here.

This next book is part of a great series to recommend to students who love a graphic novel or a picture book. Ursula Vernon has also written the Dragonbreath hybrid series which a lot of our readers devour.  Full of pictures yet still a chapter book, this series is also sure to win over many readers.


Hamster Princess: Ratpunzel, (2016)

by Ursula Vernon

Goodreads summary: Rapunzel gets a rodent twist in book three of the critically acclaimed and uproariously funny series that’s perfect for fans of Princess in Black and Babymouse.

Princess Harriet Hamsterbone does not like sitting around at home. How’s a princess supposed to have any fun when her parents are constantly reminding her to be careful and act princessly? So when her pal Prince Wilbur needs help finding a stolen hydra egg, Harriet happily takes up the quest.  The thief’s trail leads them to a wicked witch and a tall tower, occupied by a rat whose tail has more to it than meets the eye!

Read an interview with Ursula Vernon here.

The third book in the award-winning comic hybrid Hamster Princess series will make you look at rodents, royalty, and fairy tales in a whole new light.

This next series is new to our library.  During the book tastings this week I actually heard students gasp and squeal.  I even saw a couple students kiss their fingers and then put their fingers to the books.  One reader told me, “I don’t even play soccer and I love this series.” Wow, now that is a loving response! These six books are a score! I’m including the summary for book one.


The Kicks series

by Alex Morgan

Goodreads summary: From star soccer player and Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan comes the New York Times bestselling first book in an empowering, fun-filled middle grade series about believing in yourself and working as a team.

Twelve-year-old Devin loves to play soccer. If she hadn’t just left Connecticut to move across the country, she would have been named seventh-grade captain on her school soccer team.

But now that Devin is starting seventh grade in Kentville, California, all bets are off. After all, some of the best players on the US national team come from California. She’s sure to have stiff competition. Or so she thinks.

When Devin shows up for tryouts, she discovers that the Kentville Kangaroos—otherwise known as the Kicks—are an absolute mess. Their coach couldn’t care less whether the girls win or lose. And Devin is easily one of the most talented players.

The good news is, Devin quickly makes friends with funny, outgoing Jessi; shy but sweet Zoe; and klutzy Emma. Can Devin and her newfound friends pull together and save the team from itself?

Watch an interview with Alex Morgan talking about one of her Kicks book here.

I have been actively searching for picture book biographies that showcase inventors.  It is important for students to see that growth mindset in action and how it eventually pays off.  I’ve heard glowing reviews about this next book so I’m excited to add it to our collection.


Ada Lovelace: The Poet of Science, (2016)

words by Diane Stanley, pictures by Jessie Hartland

Kirkus Review:  Stanley surveys the brief life of Byron’s daughter, whose scientific education and inquiring mind shaped her foundational contributions to computer science.

Raised by the hyperrational Lady Byron, Ada’s creative ingenuity is shaped by the study of math and science. Touring newly industrialized factories, Ada’s fascinated by Jacquard’s mechanical loom, which uses encoded, hole-punched paper cards to weave fabrics from plaids to brocades. Introduced to London society at 17, Ada is flummoxed by fashion and gossip, but she’s entranced once introduced to mathematician Charles Babbage and his circle of scientists and writers. Encountering Babbage’s “Difference Engine”—a prototypical calculating machine—Ada forms a pivotal connection with the inventor. Marriage and children follow for Lovelace, but her later translation of an article about Babbage’s proposed “Analytical Engine” secures their partnership’s significance within the incremental timeline of machine science. Ada’s extensive Notes explain how to encode complex calculations, marking her own unique contribution. Stanley efficiently takes readers through Ada’s childhood and career, choosing details that develop her subject as both a human being and a landmark scientist. Complementing the clear prose, Hartland’s whimsical gouache pictures portray white figures with coral lips and in period dress. Gestural brushstrokes loosely evoke landscapes and interiors, yet scores of objects—from book titles and period toys to an omnipresent cat—provide plentiful visual interest.

Pithy narrative plus charming pictures equals an admiring, admirable portrait of a STEM pioneer. (author’s note, important dates, bibliography of adult sources, glossary)

Watch an Ada Lovelace: Poet of Science book trailer here.

October 23, 2016

We just got our first big shipment of books last week which means this week we will do a “book tasting” to preview and make a “to be read” list for books we want to read and put on hold.  Lifelong readers make a reading plan so we will practice the routine to form a habit.

The first book I’d like to highlight came out on October 18th and I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release. It’s on my radar for the literary award season.


Finding Perfect, (2016)

by Elly Swartz

Goodreads summary: To Molly Nathans, perfect is:

• The number four
• The tip of a newly sharpened number two pencil
• A crisp, white pad of paper
• Her neatly aligned glass animal figurines

What’s not perfect is Molly’s mother leaving the family to take a faraway job with the promise to return in one year. Molly knows that promises are often broken, so she hatches a plan to bring her mother home: Win the Lakeville Middle School Slam Poetry Contest. The winner is honored at a fancy banquet with table cloths. Molly’s sure her mother would never miss that. Right…?

But as time goes on, writing and reciting slam poetry become harder. Actually, everything becomes harder as new habits appear, and counting, cleaning, and organizing are not enough to keep Molly’s world from spinning out of control.

Read an interview with author Elly Swartz about Finding Perfect here.

Read a Washington Post article about what obsessive-compulsive disorder in children looks like in school here.

This next book is a 2017 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award nominee. As a kid I could not read scary books and that hasn’t changed as an adult! However, I know lots of students who really enjoy this genre.  With Halloween almost here this seemed like the perfect time to highlight it.


Took: A Ghost Story, (2015)

by Mary Downing Hahn

Goodreads summary: “Folks say Old Auntie takes a girl and keeps her fifty years—then lets her go and takes another one.”     Thirteen-year-old Daniel Anderson doesn’t believe Brody Mason’s crazy stories about the ghost witch who lives up on Brewster’s Hill with Bloody Bones, her man-eating razorback hog. He figures Brody’s probably just trying to scare him since he’s the new kid . . . a “stuck-up snot” from Connecticut. But Daniel’s seven-year-old sister Erica has become more and more withdrawn, talking to her lookalike doll. When she disappears into the woods one day, he knows something is terribly wrong. Did the witch strike? Has Erica been “took”?

Watch a Took: A Ghost Story book trailer here.

This next book is on our radar for a Newbery.  It is a poetry book and it’s brand new to our library.


When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons, (2016)

By Julie Fogliano

Goodreads summary: 

december 29
and i woke to a morning
that was quiet and white
the first snow
(just like magic) came on tip toes

Flowers blooming in sheets of snow make way for happy frogs dancing in the rain. Summer swims move over for autumn sweaters until the snow comes back again. In Julie Fogliano’s skilled hand and illustrated by Julie Morstad’s charming pictures, the seasons come to life in this gorgeous and comprehensive book of poetry.

Read an interview with Julie Fogliano to see which popular author/illustrator helped her become a children’s writer here.

This next book is new to our library. Written by the husband/wife team of Cece Bell and Tom Angleberger, this mystery series is sure to be a hit with our readers!


Inspector Flytrap in The President’s Mane is Missing, (2016)

by Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell

Goodreads summary: Welcome to Inspector Flytrap’s Detective Agency, home to the world-renowned solver of BIG DEAL mysteries. Inspector Flytrap, a Venus flytrap, works tirelessly with his assistant Nina the Goat, a goat, on his community’s unsolved cases. There’s no case too big, but there are definitely cases too small for this endearingly self-important plant detective. In book two, Inspector Flytrap and Nina the Goat return in a set of mysteries involving the president of the United States and a very large horse statue that mysteriously attracts a threat from outer space. This wacky, illustrated early-chapter-book series combines the masterful humor of Tom Angleberger with the critically acclaimed art of his wife, author-illustrator Cece Bell.

This next book is a highly anticipated picture book. When you read Mother Bruce you’ll realize Ryan Higgins writes it for both childen and adults to enjoy.  In fact, Ryan Higgins won the 2016 Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor for Mother Bruce. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, be sure to get your hands on it. Thankfully, now Bruce is back!


Hotel Bruce, (2016)

by Ryan T. Higgins

Goodreads summary: When Bruce gets home from a southern migration trip with his goslings, he is tired. He is grumpy. And he is definitely not in the mood to share his home with the trio of mice who have turned his den into a hotel.

There’s a possum pillow fight wreaking havoc in one room, a fox luring guests into a stew in the kitchen, and a snuggly crew of critters hogging the bed. Bruce growls and grumbles and tries to throw them all out, but the entrepreneurial mice just can’t take a hint. Bruce is in a little over his head, especially once the goslings join the staff. Will this grumpy bear ever get his quiet, peaceful den back to himself?

***Halloween Bonus***

I cannot help myself. It’s almost Halloween and there is a book you need to know about.  When you watch the trailer you won’t be able to shake the catchy tune!


Halloween Hustle, (2013)

words by Charlotte Gunnufson, pictures by Kevan Atteberry

Goodreads summary: In the dark, a funky beat. / Something white with bony feet. / Skeleton dancing up the street, / Doing the Halloween Hustle. Skeleton is dancing his way to a Halloween party but as he grooves across town, he keeps stumbling, tumbling, and falling apart! Can Skeleton stay in one piece long enough to make it to the party?

Watch the Halloween Hustle book trailer here.

October 16, 2016

It was incredibly inspiring to hear Cece Bell speak at the Rhode Island Festival of Books and Authors this weekend.  She was a guest of honor because her graphic novel, El Deafo, was last year’s Rhode Island Children’s Book Award winner. She was delighted to accept this award four years after her husband, Tom Angleberger, won it for Origami Yoda.

El Deafo is the first graphic novel to win a Newbery Honor.  A rabbit portrays Cece Bell’s life story.  If you’ve never read a graphic novel, I highly suggest you start with this one.  As Cece Bell says, when you read a graphic novel you develop empathy because it brings you directly into what the character is thinking and feeling.  For instance, Cece said it was far more powerful to show the words fading away for readers to understand the scene where she begins to lose her hearing rather than explain it in prose.


El Deafo, (2014)

by Cece Bell

Goodreads summary: Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school–in the hallway…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.

Watch an El Deafo book trailer.

This next book is a 2017 RI Children’s Book Award nominee.  If you are a fantasy fan, this one’s for you.


Upside-Down Magic, (2015)

by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins

Goodreads summary: From New York Times bestselling authors Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins comes the hilarious and heartfelt story of a group of magical misfits.

Nory Horace is nine years old. She’s resourceful, she’s brave, she likes peanut butter cookies. Also, she’s able to transform into many different animals. Unfortunately, Nory’s shape-shifting talent is a bit wonky. And when she flunks out of her own father’s magic academy, Nory’s forced to enter public school, where she meets a group of kids whose magic is, well, different.

This new, offbeat series from hit authors Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins chronicles the misadventures of Nory and her oddball friends, who prove that upside-down magic definitely beats right side up.

Watch an Upside-Down Magic book trailer.

Our next featured book is a new graphic novel addition to our collection. For those students who are wondering what Jeffrey Brown is doing since he stopped creating the Jedi Academy series, they will wonder no more. And hopefully they’ll be happy to have this new graphic novel series to look forward to!


Lucy and Andy Neanderthal, (2016)

by Jeffrey Brown

Goodreads summary: For fans of the New York Times bestselling Jedi Academy books comes a hilarious new graphic novel series about two young cave kids living 40,000 years ago.

The laugh-out-loud adventure features Lucy and her goofball brother Andy, as the duo take on a wandering baby sibling, bossy teens, cave paintings, and a mammoth hunt. But what will happen when they encounter a group of humans?

Humorous and entertaining, Jeffrey Brown’s signature comical touch enlivens the scientific and historical content, including a special paleontologist section that helps to dispel common Neanderthal myths.

This next book is on my radar for a Newbery medal.  It’s also the book that made me wish I was a classroom teacher again to have the experience of reading it aloud and sharing it with a group of students.  It is an old fashioned Western that will make your heart full.


Some Kind of Courage, (2016)

by Dan Gemeinhart

Goodreads summary: Saddle up for a life-defining, death-defying adventure.

Joseph Johnson has lost just about everyone he’s ever loved. He lost his pa in an accident. He lost his ma and his little sister to sickness. And now, he’s lost his pony–fast, fierce, beautiful Sarah, taken away by a man who had no right to take her.

Joseph can sure enough get her back, though. The odds are stacked against him, but he isn’t about to give up. He will face down deadly animals, dangerous men, and the fury of nature itself on his quest to be reunited with the only family he has left.

Because Joseph Johnson may have lost just about everything; but he hasn’t lost hope. And he hasn’t lost the fire in his belly that says he’s getting his Sarah back–no matter what.

Anita Silvey was an author who spoke at the Rhode Island Festival of Books and Authors yesterday.  She has written an incredible biography about Jane Goodall. She worked closely with Jane Goodall and her foundation to be sure to accurately portray her life.  Ms. Safran, a fourth grade teacher in our school, generously bought and donated a copy to our library.


Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, (2015)

by Anita Silvey

Horn Book review: Jane Goodall has spent a lifetime dedicated to understanding and protecting chimpanzees. This accessible account of her life (with a foreword by Goodall herself) emphasizes the qualities that will likely resonate with young readers: her intelligence, sense of adventure, curiosity, and love of animals. Detailed coverage of her early years explores her nontraditional entry to scientific field-work and the attention from the National Geographic Society that made her famous, but without losing focus on her work ethic and innovative scientific methods. The second half of the book focuses on Goodall’s efforts to bring attention to and reform the use of chimpanzees in research laboratories, and the technological advances in primate research that are currently in place. Silvey accompanies her main narrative with informative text boxes and vivid photographs that are integral to understanding the places, people, and animals in Goodall’s life — including the chimpanzees she spent years observing. Along with an index and source notes, copious additional resources are gathered in a “Field Notes” section at the back of the book, including a bibliography of Goodall’s own writings, a timeline, a map of Gombe (in Tanzania where she worked), and a link to Roots and Shoots, the environmental advocacy group for children that Goodall founded.

October 9, 2016

It has been such an incredibly busy start to the school year that it feels like I’ve blinked and we’re already at Columbus Day weekend.  How can this be?

The first book I’m excited to share with you is illustrated by Tim Miller, the illustrator of one of my favorite picture books of the year: Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book).  This new release is a “hybrid” book – a chapter book with pictures throughout.  It is sure to be a hit so I secured us three copies. And the best part is it is the first in the series!


Hamster-saurus Rex, (2016)

words by Tom O’Donnell, pictures by Tim Miller

Goodreads summary: BEWARE: Rampaging Mutant Dino-Hamster! Fans of My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish and The Terrible Two will be scrambling to get their hands on this hilarious classroom comedy.

When a mysterious growling hamster appears at the back of his class, Sam knows just what to call him: Hamstersaurus Rex. Sam tries to protect Hammie from an overzealous Hamster Monitor, and from the meanest bully in the history of Horace Hotwater Middle School. The bully isn’t afraid of some weird little class pet. But maybe he should be. Hamstersaurus Rex is no ordinary hamster.

Watch the Hamster-saurus Rex book trailer.

Learn more about illustrator Tim Miller (have I mentioned how much I love Snappsy the Alligator)? 🙂

This next book is a 2017 RICBA nominee. For those of you who love action, adventure, and historical fiction, this may be the book for you.


Into the Killing Seas, (2015)

by Michael P. Spradlin

Goodreads summary: When the ship goes down, the sharks come out….

Stranded in the war torn Pacific, Patrick and his younger brother Teddy are finally homeward-bound. They’ve stowed away on one of the US Navy’s finest ships, and now they just need to stay hidden. But Japanese torpedoes rip their dream apart.

And the sinking ship isn’t the worst of it. Patrick and Teddy can handle hunger and dehydration as they float in the water and wait to be rescued. If they’re smart, they can even deal with the madness that seems to plague their fellow survivors. No, the real danger circles beneath the surface. And it has teeth….

Based on the true events of the 1945 sinking of the USS Indianapolis, author Michael P. Spradlin tells a harrowing story of World War II.

Watch the Into the Killing Seas book trailer.

I’ve been pulling all of our spooky books to display for Halloween this month and came across a book series I LOVED at your age.  Sometimes we forget about the good ones waiting patiently on the shelf for us so I’d like to highlight it this week.  If you enjoy this one, you can read all 7 books in the series!


Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery, (1979)

by Deborah and James Howe, pictures by Alan Daniel

Goodreads summary:  Before it’s too late, Harold the dog and Chester the cat must find out the truth about the newest pet in the Monroe household — a suspicious-looking bunny with unusual habits…and fangs!

Watch this spooky Bunnicula book trailer.

I really enjoyed Kate Milford’s Greenglass House (I swear you cannot read it without getting hungry with all the delicious foods and hot drinks being served). So I was excited to see a new Kate Milford book come out this past August. If you are not afraid of a thick book (this one is a whopping 384 pages) you are in luck.


The Left-Handed Fate, (2016)

by Kate Milford

Goodreads summary: Lucy Bluecrowne and Maxwell Ault are on a mission: find the three pieces of a strange and arcane engine. They’re not exactlysure what this machine does, but they have it on good authority that it will stop the war that’s raging between their home country of England and Napoleon Bonaparte’s France. Despite being followed by mysterious men dressed all in black, they’re well on their way to finding everything they need when their ship, the famous Left-Handed Fate, is taken by the Americans.

And not just any Americans. The Fate (and with it, Lucy and Max) are put under the command of Oliver Dexter, who’s only just turned twelve.

But Lucy and Max aren’t the only ones trying to put the engine together, and if the pieces fall into the wrong hands, it could prove disastrous. Oliver is faced with a choice: help Lucy and Max and become a traitor to his country? Or follow orders and risk endangering that same country and many others at the same time–not to mention his friends?

Read what Kate Milford has to say about writing The Left-Handed Fate.

In the spirit of the holiday, I’d like to highlight a book about Christopher Columbus. Who doesn’t like to laugh while they learn? Although we don’t currently have a copy in our library, I will be ordering it. In the meantime, we can place holds through the RICAT network of libraries.


You Wouldn’t Want to Sail with Christopher Columbus!: Unchartered Waters You’d Rather Not Cross, (2014)

by Fiona Macdonald and David Salariya, pictures by David Antram

Goodreads summary: – High interest topic for children of all ages.
– Draws in even the most reluctant reader with a lighthearted tone and hilarious illustrations.
– Includes glossary and index.
National Social Studies Education Standards: Grades K-4
II. Time, Continuity, and Change
– Accounts of past events, people, places, and situations contribute to our understanding of the past
I. Culture
– People, societies, and cultures address needs and concerns in ways that are both similar and different

Featured Author/Illustrator of the Week


Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg is a three-time Caldecott award and honor recipient who has had his picture books made into motion pictures. He is also the founder of the Rhode Island Festival of Children’s Books and Authors at Lincoln School in Providence. You can meet him on Saturday, October 15th. He will be speaking about his craft and signing books at the festival.  We will be raffling off free admission tickets the week before the event. Click on his name to learn more about him.

Check out the line-up of authors and illustrators you can meet.


October 2, 2016

Adam Gidwitz is best known for his A Tale Dark and Grimm trilogy (covers just redone by 2015 Caldecott winner Dan Santat).  Read Adam’s reaction to the redone book covers here. His new book released on September 27th is incredible and like nothing I’ve ever read in kid lit.  I had the opportunity to read an advanced reader copy this summer and was absolutely blown away.  It really makes a book set in the Middle Ages accessible and relevant to our world today. Keep it on your Newbery “watch list.”


The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, (2016)

by Adam Gidwitz

Goodreads summary: 1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children: William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead.
As the narrator collects their tales, the story of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

Their adventures take them on a chase through France to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned. They’re taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. And as their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

There is no book trailer for The Inquisitor’s Tale (yet) but you can watch A Tale Dark and Grimm book trailer.

This next book had me laughing and learning the whole way through.


It Ain’t So Awful, Falafal, (2016)

By Firoozeh Dumas

Goodreads summary: Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even mood rings and puka shell necklaces can’t distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home. A poignant yet lighthearted middle grade debut from the author of the best-selling Funny in Farsi.

Watch an interview with author Firoozeh Dumas.

As a former fourth grade teacher, the National Parks research project is near and dear to my heart. This next book will be a great addition to students’ understanding of our parks’ history.


Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook Up the National Park Service, (2016)

words by Annette Bay Pimentel, pictures by Rich Lo

Goodreads summary: The true story of a Chinese American mountain man who fed thirty people for ten days in the wilderness–and helped inspire the creation of the National Park Service.

Tie Sing was born in the mountains. The mountains were in his blood. But because he was of Chinese descent at a time in America when to be Chinese meant working in restaurants or laundries, Tie Sing’s prospects were limited. But he had bigger plans. He began cooking for mapmakers and soon built a reputation as the best trail cook in California.

When millionaire Stephen Mather began his quest to create a national park service in 1915, he invited a group of influential men—writers, tycoons, members of Congress, and even a movie star—to go camping in the Sierras. Tie Sing was hired to cook.

Tie Sing planned diligently. He understood the importance of this trip. But when disaster struck—twice!—and Tie Sing’s supplies were lost, it was his creative spirit and quick mind that saved the day. His sumptuous menus had to be struck and Tie Sing had to start over in order to feed the thirty people in the group for ten whole days. His skills were tested and Tie Sing rose to the challenge.

On the last night, he fed not just the campers’ bodies, but also their minds, reminding them to remember and protect the mountains.

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, created by Congress on August 25, 1916.

Today, you can hike to Sing Peak, named for Tie Sing, in Yosemite National Park.

Check out Annette Bay Pimentel’s website.

Check out Rich Lo’s website.

This next book is a 2017 RI Children’s Book Award nominee.  It is by a famous author/illustrator couple who have collaborated on many titles.


How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom, (2015)

words by Steve Jenkins, pictures by Robin Page

Goodreads summary: In the latest eye-catching escape into the kingdom of Animalia, Steve Jenkins and Robin Page reveal the skills animals use to survive in the wild in an imaginative and humorous how-to format. With step-by-step instructions, readers learn about specific behaviors; how to catch thousands of fish like a humpback whale or how to sew up a nest like a tailorbird. This fascinating and fun illustrated nonfiction melds science, art, biology, and the environment together in a detailed and well-researched book about animals who live and survive in our world today.

Check out Steve Jenkins’s website.

Check out Robin Page’s website.

This next book is an important one as it sensitively and appropriately handles a situation that is very prominent in our world today: drug addiction.  Kate Messner is an amazing writer.  This is one of the titles we are considering for the 2017 Newbery.


The Seventh Wish, (2016)

by Kate Messner

Goodreads summary: Charlie feels like she’s always coming in last. From her Mom’s new job to her sister’s life at college, everything seems more important than Charlie. Then one day while ice fishing, Charlie makes a discovery that will change everything . . . in the form of a floppy fish offering to grant a wish in exchange for freedom. Charlie can’t believe her luck but soon realizes that this fish has a very odd way of granting wishes as even her best intentions go awry. But when her family faces a challenge bigger than any they’ve ever experienced, Charlie wonders if some things might be too important to risk on a wish fish.

Check out Kate Messner’s website.

Featured Author/Illustrator of the Week


Cece Bell

Cece Bell, author of the 2015 Newbery honor book El Deafo, is reading royalty at our school.  And a fun fact: she is married to Tom Angleberger, the author/illustrator of the Origami Yoda series! They’ve just collaborated on a new mystery series called Inspector Flytrap. So it will be great news to our families that Cece Bell will be attending the Rhode Island Festival of Children’s Books and Authors at Lincoln School in Providence on Saturday, October 15th. She will be speaking about her craft and signing books at the festival.  We will be raffling off free admission tickets the week before the event. Click on her name to learn more about her.