November 27, 2016

This first book is one many students have enjoyed. It is a 2017 RI Children’s Book Award nominee.


Ellie’s Story: A Dog’s Purpose Novel, (2015)

by W. Bruce Cameron

Goodreads summary: Ellie’s Story is a heartwarming illustrated novel adapted for young readers from the beloved and New York Times bestselling A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron.

Ellie is a very special dog with a very important purpose. From puppyhood, Ellie has been trained as a search-and-rescue dog. She can track down a lost child in a forest or an injured victim under a fallen building. She finds people. She saves them. It’s what she was meant to do.

But Ellie must do more. Her handlers–widowed Jakob, lonely Maya–need her too. People can be lost in many ways, and to do the job she was born to do, Ellie needs to find a way to save the people she loves best.

Ellie’s Story is an inspiring tale for young animal lovers. Adorable black-and-white illustrations by Richard Cowdrey bring Ellie and her world to life. A discussion and activity guide at the end of the book will help promote family and classroom discussions about Ellie’s Story and the insights it provides about humankind’s best friends.

Watch the Ellie’s Story book trailer here.

This next book is very near and dear to my heart.  It is on our HMS Mock Newbery list and I am absolutely smitten.


Maybe a Fox, (2016)

by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee

Goodreads summary: Sylvie and Jules.

Jules and Sylvie.

Jules adores her older-by-one-year sister, Sylvie.

Sylvie: beautiful like their mother.
Sylvie: supreme maker of tiny snow families.
Sylvie: faster than fast.

Sylvie: gone.

Into thin air, Sylvie goes missing, and as Jules stumbles in grief, a fox cub is born. A shadow fox, spirit and animal in one. From the minute the cub opens her eyes, she senses something very wrong. Someone—Jules.

Jules: steadfast like their father.
Jules: supreme maker of tiny snow foxes.
Jules: collector of rocks.

Jules: heartbroken.

Who is this Jules? Who is this Sylvie she cries out for? And why does the air still prickle with something unsettled? As that dark unknown grows, the fates of the girl Jules and the fox cub, laced together with wishes and shadowy ties, are about to collide.

Watch the Maybe a Fox book trailer here.

I have not had a chance to read this one yet but I’m looking forward to it.   We have so many animal lovers at HMS that I thought our students would enjoy this as well.


Mercy: The Incredible Story of Henry Bergh, Founder of the ASPCA and Friend to Animals, (2016)

words by Nancy Furstinger, pictures by Vincent Desjardins

Goodreads summary: Only 150 years ago, most animals in America were subject to horrific treatment. They needed a champion to protect them from abject cruelty, and that person was Henry Bergh. After witnessing the beating of a horse in the streets of New York and attending a bullfight in Spain, Bergh found his calling. He became an enforcer of animal rights and founded the ASPCA, as well as created many animal cruelty laws. He even expanded his advocacy to children. When Bergh died in 1888, the idea that children and animals should be protected from cruelty was widely accepted: “Mercy to animals means mercy to mankind.”

Read more about author Nancy Furstinger here.

It seems we can never have enough dog books for our students.  This new purchase has already been consistently checked out since it went out on display.


Saving Audie: A Pit Bull Puppy Gets a Second Chance, (2011)

words by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, photos by William Munoz

Goodreads summary: When Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring was discovered, more than forty dogs were rescued. But their struggle was far from over. Most animal advocates believed the former fighting dogs were too damaged to save, but Audie and his kennel mates would prove them wrong when public outcry and the publicity surrounding Michael Vick’s punishment won them a chance at a happy life. Teaming up once again with William Muñoz, photo-essay veteran Dorothy Hinshaw Patent gives an emotional account of one dog’s heartwarming story, showing how Audie, who was only a puppy when he was rescued, was rehabilitated, adopted, and now enjoys the love he deserves.

Watch the Saving Audie book trailer here.

Read more about author Dorothy Hinshaw Patent here.

This next series was a good suggestion from a fifth grade teacher whose fourth grade daughter was looking for a not so sad book to.  (I admit, I have a tendency to promote a lot of tearjerkers).  She has inspired her classmates to start reading the series as well.  It’s such a good series for this age group! I’m so glad they reminded me of it!


The Boys Start the War (Boy/Girl Battle #1), (2002)

by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Goodreads summary: The first book in the hilarious trilogy featuring the feuding Hatford and Malloy families. When a new family–with three daughters–moves into the neighborhood, the Hatford brothers decide to make Caroline and her sisters so miserable that they’ll want to go back to Ohio.

*This says a trilogy but we have 12 in the series in our library.  Students at this age love to get involved in a series.

Check out the website of author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor here.

November 20, 2016

This first book is on the 2017 RI Children’s Book Award list. Written by the author of Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story, it is a realistic fiction book about living with a parent who is incarcerated.


Ruby on the Outside, (2015)

by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Goodreads summary: Ruby’s mom is in prison, and to tell anyone the truth is to risk true friendship in this novel that accurately and sensitively addresses a subject too often overlooked.

Eleven-year-old Ruby Danes is about to start middle school, and only her aunt knows her deepest, darkest, most secret secret: her mother is in prison.

Then Margalit Tipps moves into Ruby’s condo complex, and the two immediately hit it off. Ruby thinks she’s found her first true-blue friend—but can she tell Margalit the truth about her mom? Maybe not. Because it turns out that Margalit’s family history seems closely connected to the very event that put her mother in prison, and if Ruby comes clean, she could lose everything she cares about most.


Watch the Ruby on the Outside book trailer here.

This next book is a 2017 HMS Mock Newbery contender.


The Wild Robot, (2016)

by Peter Brown

Goodreads summary: When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her….

Watch a book trailer for The Wild Robot here.

The next book is the first one in a very popular series for our grade level.  Jacqueline Davies, the author of this series, just came out with a new middle grade book we will debut very soon!


The Lemonade War, (2007)

by Jacqueline Davies

Goodreads summary: For a full hour, he poured lemonade. The world is a thirsty place, he thought as he nearly emptied his fourth pitcher of the day. And I am the Lemonade King.

Fourth-grader Evan Treski is people-smart. He’s good at talking with people, even grownups. His younger sister, Jessie, on the other hand, is math-smart, but not especially good with people. So when the siblings’ lemonade stand war begins, there really is no telling who will win—or even if their fight will ever end. Brimming with savvy marketing tips for making money at any business, definitions of business terms, charts, diagrams, and even math problems, this fresh, funny, emotionally charged novel subtly explores how arguments can escalate beyond anyone’s intent.

Watch a book trailer for The Lemonade War here.

This next book is for all the animal lovers out there.


Fur, Fins, and Feathers: Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo, (2015)

by Cassandra Maxwell

Kirkus review:  Maxwell presents a brief biography of Abraham Dee Bartlett, the self-taught animal expert who became superintendent of the London Zoo in 1859 and subsequently made significant improvements in the understanding, care, and treatment of animals in captivity.

The combination of interesting details, attractive illustrations, and direct narration make this introduction to a (most likely) little-known historical figure accessible and appealing. Beginning with Bartlett’s childhood fascination with animals, the text travels briskly through the events of his long life, picking out those most germane to the topic (his recognition of the importance of good nutrition and comfortable and stimulating environments for the animals and of the value of providing educational information for visitors) as well as those most likely to pique young listeners’ interest (his treatment of animals who needed medical care, the zoo’s purchase of Jumbo the elephant). Complex ideas are presented clearly, and personal details add depth despite the brevity of the text. The pictures feature pleasing textures and rich colors. Executed in cut-paper collage and mixed media, they range from cozy interiors, like Abraham’s book-strewn childhood bedroom, to expansive outdoor vistas. Animals of all sorts decorate the pages, offering children the chance to identify familiar species and wonder over unusual specimens.

Sure to spark the interest of animal-loving children, this engaging portrait will also please history buffs and Anglophiles. (timeline, author’s note, bibliography)

Watch the Fur, Fins, and Feathers book trailer here.

This last book is one of the latest additions to our graphic novel collection.


The Nameless City, (2016)

by Faith Erin Hicks

Goodreads summary: Every nation that invades the City gives it a new name. But before long, new invaders arrive and the City changes hands once again. The natives don’t let themselves get caught up in the unending wars. To them, their home is the Nameless City, and those who try to name it are forever outsiders.

Kaidu is one such outsider. He’s a Dao born and bred–a member of the latest occupying nation. Rat is a native of the Nameless City. At first, she hates Kai for everything he stands for, but his love of his new home may be the one thing that can bring these two unlikely friends together. Let’s hope so, because the fate of the Nameless City rests in their hands.

Watch a review for The Nameless City here.


November 13, 2016

This week is all about possible award winners and blob fish!

Speaking of awards, if there was an award for the most loyal dog in kid lit, this 2017 RICBA nominee would probably win.


The Honest Truth, (2015)

by Dan Gemeinhart

Goodreads summary: In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He’s got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.

But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier–even if it’s the last thing he ever does.

The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.

Watch a book trailer for The Honest Truth here.

Read an interview with Dan Gemeinhart here.

A friend handed me the advanced reader copy of this book over the summer and I devoured it in 24 hours.  As a lifelong worrier, I could identify with the main character. It is a Mock Newbery title for our school.


The World From Up Here, (2016)

by Cecilia Galante

Goodreads summary: From the award-winning author of The Patron Saint of Butterflies comes a story about the courage it takes to face your biggest fears.

Wren Baker has never felt brave a day in her life. She doesn’t even know what she’s afraid of, really. Only that if she raises her voice or leaves her mark or ventures too far from home, she’ll risk falling flat on her face.

But that all changes when Wren’s cousin Silver walks into her life. Silver is totally fearless. Maybe that’s why she’s the most popular girl in the sixth grade. She dares Wren to take risks, to live out loud, to finally spread her wings. So when Silver decides to break all the rules, Wren is forced to make a choice: Is she in or is she out?

There’s only one way Wren will ever learn to fly. It’s time for her to stand at the edge of the unknown . . . and jump.

Full of heartache and hope, The World From Up Here is a tender, moving story about old secrets, new friendships, and what it means to face the things that scare us most.

Read an interview with Cecilia Galante here.

This next book is also on our HMS Mock Newbery list.  I haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet but the reviews have intrigued me.


The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, (2016)

by Janet Fox

Goodreads summary: Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boarding school begin disappearing one by one, it’s a race against the clock for twelve-year-old Kat Bateson, her two younger siblings, and their new best friend.

Watch the book trailer here.

Check out the Rookskill Castle website here.

Read an interview with agent Erin Murphy about The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle here.

A lot of our students prefer to read nonfiction. This one’s for them.


Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals, (2016)

by Jess Keating

Goodreads summary: Pinkalicious meets National Geographic in this nonfiction picture book introducing the weirdest, wildest, pinkest critters in the animal kingdom!

Some people think pink is a pretty color. A fluffy, sparkly, princess-y color. But it’s so much more.
Sure, pink is the color of princesses and bubblegum, but it’s also the color of monster slugs and poisonous insects. Not to mention ultra-intelligent dolphins, naked mole rats and bizarre, bloated blobfish.

Isn’t it about time to rethink pink?

Slip on your rose-colored glasses and take a walk on the wild side with zoologist Jess Keating, author of How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied, and cartoonist David DeGrand.

Watch the Pink is for Blobfish book trailer here.

Read an interview with Jess Keating here.

And here is one more nonfiction read about blobfish.


The Blobfish Book, (2016)

by Jessica Olien

Goodreads summary: Perfect for fans of Battle Bunny and Z Is for Moose, this irresistible book within a book introduces us to Blobfish, known as the “ugliest fish in the sea”…or is he actually the fish who will steal our hearts?

Did you know that the deepest parts of the ocean are over one mile deep—too far down for any sunlight to reach? That’s where Blobfish lives. But this book isn’t about Blobfish…or is it?

This true (clever) story about the (misunderstood) Blobfish is sure to make you smile. Full of fun facts about sea creatures in the deepest reaches of the ocean, this book is perfect for any science lover. From Jessica Olien, the author/illustrator of Shark Detective.

Check out Jessica Olien’s website here.

November 6, 2016

We are two days away from the election. The first book I’m featuring does a great job of explaining the electoral voting process to children in a tangible way they can understand.


Grace for President, (2008)

words by Kelly DiPucchio, pictures by LeUyen Pham

Goodreads summary: Where are the girls? When Grace’s teacher reveals that the United States has never had a female president, Grace decides to be the first. And she immediately starts off her political career as a candidate the school’s mock election. But soon, she realizes that she has entered a tough race. Her popular opponent claims to be the best man for the job–and seems to have captured all the male votes–while Grace concentrates on being the best person. In this timely story, author Kelly DiPucchio not only gives readers a fun introduction to the American electoral system, but also teaches them the value of hard work, courage, and independent thought–and offers an inspiring example of how to choose our leaders.

Watch a Grace for President book trailer here.

This next book is a 2017 RI Children’s Book Award nominee.


Ratscalibur, (2015)

by Josh Lieb

Goodreads summary: The New York Times bestselling author of I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President reinvents the Excalibur legend—with rats!

When Joey is bitten by an elderly rat, he goes from aspiring seventh-grader to three-inch tall rodent.

At first, Joey is amazed by his new rat self. The city streets call to him at night. Smells that would have repelled him before are suddenly tantalizing. (A chicken bone? Yes! A squashed cockroach? Like perfume!) And wow, the freedom! But when a bout of hunger leads Joey to pull the spork from the scone, he finds himself at the center of a longtime rat prophecy.

Joey has unwittingly unlocked the sword Ratscalibur; and now, it is up to him to protect his new rat friends from the evil crows who seek to destroy their peaceful kingdom. But what does an eleven-year-old know about actual swordplay? And what happens when Joey no longer wants to be a rat?

Watch a Ratscalibur book trailer here.

This next book is a 2017 Mock Newbery nominee. Attention, all dog lovers!


Maxi’s Secrets: (or what you can learn from a dog),  (2016)

by Lynn Plourde

Goodreads summary: When a BIG, lovable, does-it-her-way dog wiggles her way into the heart of a loudmouth pipsqueak of a boy, wonderful things happen that help him become a bigger, better person.

Timminy knows that moving to a new town just in time to start middle school when you are perfect bully bait is less than ideal. But he gets a great consolation prize in Maxi—a gentle giant of a dog who the family quickly discovers is deaf. Timminy is determined to do all he can to help Maxi—after all, his parents didn’t return him because he was a runt. But when the going gets rough for Timminy, who spends a little too much time getting shoved into lockers at school, Maxi ends up being the one to help him—along with their neighbor, Abby, who doesn’t let her blindness define her and bristles at Timminy’s “poor-me” attitude. It turns out there’s more to everyone than what’s on the surface, whether it comes to Abby, Maxi, or even Timminy himself.

Read an interview with Lynn Plourde here.

Over the summer I had the opportunity to attend Nerd Camp in Michigan.  It was an incredible experience because I’ve been able to bring so many things I’ve learned back to the library this year.  Ruth Barshaw has a terrific hybrid series for our readers who love picture books in their chapter books.  I’m excited to introduce them to our HMS readers this year!


The Show Must Go On, (2013)

by Ruth McNally Barshaw

Goodreads summary: When Ellie McDoodle signs up to help with her school’s production of The Wizard of Oz, she never expected it to be so much work! There are sets to help paint, costumes to plan, and then there’s casting. When her best friend Mo gets cast as Wicked Witch–and not the coveted Dorothy–Mo and Ellie have their first big fight. As the student director, Ellie should have helped her get the starring role, right? Mo thinks so.

Ruth McNally Barshaw’s creative doodles take Ellie through her first big drama production at school. And just like the main characters in Oz, Ellie and her friends will find courage, heart, brains, and that there’s no place like home!

Read an interview with Ruth McNally Barshaw here.

The last book I’d like to feature this week is by the very talented New Englander who brought us Growing Up Pedro. Those of you who took part in our first family book club featuring The Man Who Walked Between the Towers will enjoy this one.


Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin, (2016)

by Matt Tavares

Goodreads summary: Applaud Matt Tavares’s latest feat — a gripping tale of real-life daredevilry perfectly balanced by stunning illustrations.

“Monsieur Blondin is to cross Niagara Falls this afternoon, or perish in the attempt.” — Troy Daily Times, June 30, 1859

When the Great Blondin announced that he was going to walk from America to Canada across the Niagara River on a rope that was more than 1,100 feet long and just 3 inches wide, hanging 160 feet above the raging river, people came from everywhere. Some came to watch him cross. Some came to watch him fall. Some thought he wouldn’t show up at all. But he did show up. And he did walk across the river. And then he did something else amazing. He crossed the river on that tightrope again and again, adding another death-defying flourish each time. Matt Tavares’s gorgeous, riveting account of the daredevil of Niagara Falls is sure to hold readers in its grip, just as Blondin’s feats enthralled those spectators on the cliffs more than one hundred and fifty years ago.

Read an interview with Matt Tavares here.

Watch the Charles Blondin Wheelbarrow Story here.