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.


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