The first book is by beloved author Cynthia Lord. It is a realistic fiction option on our 2017 RI Children’s Book Award list. Remember, you must read at least three to be eligible to vote in February. Here is a link to the 2017 RICBA list. You might want to check out a title or two from the public library over vacation!
A Handful of Stars, (2015)
by Cynthia Lord
Goodreads summary: This powerful middle-grade novel from the Newbery Honor author of Rules explores a friendship between a small-town girl and the daughter of migrant workers. When Lily’s blind dog, Lucky, slips his collar and runs away across the wide-open blueberry barrens of eastern Maine, it’s Salma Santiago who manages to catch him. Salma, the daughter of migrant workers, is in the small town with her family for the blueberry-picking season. After their initial chance meeting, Salma and Lily bond over painting bee boxes for Lily’s grandfather, and Salma’s friendship transforms Lily’s summer. But when Salma decides to run in the upcoming Blueberry Queen pageant, they’ll have to face some tough truths about friendship and belonging. Should an outsider like Salma really participate in the pageant—and possibly win? Set amongst the blueberry barrens and by the sea, this is a gorgeous new novel by Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord that tackles themes of prejudice and friendship, loss and love.
Watch a book trailer for A Handful of Stars here.
Visit author Cynthia Lord’s website.
This next book is on many Mock Newbery lists. Some claim it will be a classic like To Kill a Mockingbird. I had a really hard time with it because of Betty, a character who is just so mean. Other librarians have argued that I felt it strongly because the writing is so good. I’ll let you decide. Interesting side note: the author is a Brown University graduate.
Wolf Hollow, (2016)
by Lauren Wolk
Goodreads summary: Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.
Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.
Watch a Wolf Hollow book trailer here.
Visit author Lauren Wolk’s website.
This next book is on our HMS Mock Newbery list. A book with a female main character who is a great baseball player? Count us in! Yes, it is sad (I’ve been accused of being partial to the sad ones). But it is also hopeful.
The Distance to Home, (2016)
by Jenn Bishop
Goodreads summary: Last summer, Quinnen was the star pitcher of her baseball team, the Panthers. They’re headed for the championship, and her loudest supporter at every game was her best friend and older sister, Haley.
This summer, everything is different. Haley’s death, at the end of last summer, has left Quinnen and her parents reeling. Without Haley in the stands, Quinnen doesn’t want to play baseball. It seems like nothing can fill the Haley-sized hole in her world. The one glimmer of happiness comes from the Bandits, the local minor-league baseball team. For the first time, Quinnen and her family are hosting one of the players for the season. Without Haley, Quinnen’s not sure it will be any fun, but soon she befriends a few players. With their help, can she make peace with the past and return to the pitcher’s mound?
Visit author Jenn Bishop’s website.
Read an interview with Jenn Bishop about The Distance to Home here.
I do love picture book biographies. They are a great way to learn about someone and how they’ve contributed to our world. This week I read aloud Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton and Don Tate – one of our Mock Caldecott nominees. A student was so inspired he came back during indoor recess to research Lonnie Johnson and write up a report. This is the power of a good picture book biography!
Our budding artists will enjoy this new addition to our library.
The Iridescence of Birds, (2014)
words by Patricia MacLachlan, pictures by Hadley Hooper
Goodreads summary: If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France, what would your life be like? Would it be full of color and art? Full of lines and dancing figures?
Find out in this beautiful, unusual picture book about one of the world’s most famous and influential artists by acclaimed author and Newbery Medal-winning Patricia MacLachlan and innovative illustrator Hadley Hooper.
I’ve been trying to end the list with a book or series we have in our library that our students should know about. Many students who enjoy Harry Potter or Percy Jackson are looking for another fantasy series to sink their teeth into. This may be just the one for them! And if you enjoy Ranger’s Apprentice, John Flanagan also wrote the Brotherband Chronicles series!
The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice #1), (2006)
by John Flanagan
Goodreads summary: They have always scared him in the past — the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied….
Watch a book trailer for the Ranger’s Apprentice series here.
Visit author John Flanagan’s website.