January 29, 2017

This week was the American Library Association Youth Media Award announcements.  I’d like to provide you with a few book lists to peruse in the hopes that you will find some books to add to your “to-be-read” list!

2017 ALA YMAs slideshow

ALA YMA announcement

2016 Notables Book List

35 Picture Books for Young Activists

Books to Help Kids Understand What It’s Like to Be a Refugee

January 22, 2017

It is the eve of the Youth Media Awards and there are so many of us excited to find out which kid lit books will be getting shiny new stickers. I admit to feeling the pressure of hoping the books that win are titles I’ve bought and book talked to our students.

I’m going to highlight some books that have been ordered for our library and will be in soon.


Children of Exile (Children of Exile #1), (2016)

Margaret Peterson Haddix

Goodreads summary: Rosi must decide what she’s willing to risk to save her family—and maybe even all of humanity—in the thrilling first novel of a brand-new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author, Margaret Peterson Haddix.

For the past twelve years, adults called “Freds” have raised Rosi, her younger brother Bobo, and the other children of their town, saying it is too dangerous for them to stay with their parents, but now they are all being sent back. Since Rosi is the oldest, all the younger kids are looking to her with questions she doesn’t have the answers to. She’d always trusted the Freds completely, but now she’s not so sure.

And their home is nothing like she’d expected, like nothing the Freds had prepared them for. Will Rosi and the other kids be able to adjust to their new reality?


The Nerdy Dozen  (The Nerdy Dozen series #1) (2014)

by Jeff Miller

Goodreads summary: When Neil Andertol and eleven other video-gaming whizzes download classified military training software, they are recruited by the Air Force to complete a mission gone wrong. Suddenly the nerdy dozen aren’t playing for points-they’re playing to save the world!

Neil Andertol is a hero.

…Just not in real life. He’s always left the princess freeing, monster fighting, and village saving up to the characters he plays online, under the name ManofNeil. In his favorite flying game, Chameleon, he pilots a super-stealth fighter jet-that can supposedly go invisible at the highest level. Yet while ManofNeil can take out a whole squadron of enemy planes, regular Neil still gets picked on by the class bully. But that’s all about to change.


Dog Man Unleashed (Dog Man #2),  (2016)

by Dav Pilkey

Goodreads summary: Dog Man, the newest hero from the creator of Captain Underpants, is still learning a few tricks of the trade. Petey the cat is out of the bag, and his criminal curiosity is taking the city by storm. Something fishy is going on! Can Dog Man unleash justice on this ruffian in time to save the city, or will Petey get away with the purr-fect crime?

Watch the Dog Man Unleashed book trailer.


Flying Lessons and Other Stories, (2017)

Edited by Ellen Oh

Goodreads summary: Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

This last book is particularly exciting to announce because our students LOVE Victoria Coe’s first book titled Fenway and Hattie.  This is the next book in the series and it is sure to thrill our readers.  Please join me at her book launch party this upcoming Saturday, January 28 from 2-3:30pm at the Blue Bunny bookstore in Dedham, MA.

Here’s a blurb describing the event:

Join author Victoria Coe in her celebration of the second book in her Fenway and Hattie series: Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang! Fenway is an excitable and endlessly energetic Jack Russell terrier. He lives in the city with Food Lady, Fetch Man, and—of course—his beloved short human and best-friend-in-the-world, Hattie. In this new book, evil bunnies invade the Dog Park, and Fenway’s hot on their trail.

All elementary and middle school students who attend this event will be entered into a raffle. Five lucky winners will receive free books or gift cards! You just need to show up, & you must be present to win. How cool is that?

So please join us at the Blue Bunny on January 28th!
Both Fenway and Hattie books will be available for purchase and signing. Come snag a book, munch on snacks, & maybe win a prize. It’s going to be a BLAST, even if the Evil Bunny Gang tries to ruin it! Hope to see you there!

Here is the invitation if you would like to RSVP.


Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang, (2017)

by Victoria J. Coe

Goodreads summary: When evil bunnies invade the Dog Park, Fenway’s hot on their trail. Hattie seems understandably alarmed, though she clearly doesn’t appreciate his efforts. She shoos him out of the garden and fills in holes as fast as he can dig them!

Fenway wonders if his beloved Hattie could be working against him, until she brings home a cage with a bunny inside. He can hardly control his excitement – she captured one of the intruders! But when Fenway realizes Hattie actually likes the bunny, he’s crushed. Is his heart big enough to accept that Hattie can love another pet, too?

In this sequel to Fenway and Hattie, these two best buddies learn that making the right choice can be tough, but being a real friend is the greatest choice of all.

Watch the Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang book trailer.

January 15, 2017

Wow, we have about a month or so left before the RI Children’s Book Award voting.  There are three more books on the list I’d like to highlight for you.


Trombone Shorty

words by Troy Andrews and pictures by Bryan Collier

Goodreads summary: A 2016 Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Award Winner
Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.
Along with esteemed illustrator Bryan Collier, Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician, despite the odds, until he reached international stardom. Trombone Shorty is a celebration of the rich cultural history of New Orleans and the power of music.

Watch the Trombone Shorty book trailer.


Stella By Starlight

by Sharon M. Draper

Goodreads summary: When the Ku Klux Klan’s unwelcome reappearance rattles Stella’s segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper, the New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind.

Stella lives in the segregated South; in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s community – her world – is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end.

Watch the Stella By Starlight book trailer.



by Raina Telgemeier

Goodreads summary: Three weeks. Two sisters. One car. A True Story

Raina can’t wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren’t quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she’s also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn’t improve much over the years. But when a baby brother enters the picture, and later, when something doesn’t seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.

Watch the Sisters book trailer.

This next title is a potential Newbery winner.  The ALA media awards will be announced from the midwinter conference on Monday, January 23 at 8am.  I’ll be livestreaming it from the library and welcome any students who would like to join me to watch!


Ghost (Track, #1)

by Jason Reynolds

A National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature

Kirkus Review: 

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds’ promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

I’m ending this post with our next family book club title.  I am completely smitten with this clever, funny book!  Thank goodness is it is the first in a trilogy because I did not want to say goodbye to the Bland sisters when I reached the end. Mr. Sangiuliano and I are excited to announce that the next HMS Family Book Club will be Friday, March 3 from 7:45-8:30am.  In fact, I’m sending out this Book Bites post early because author Kara LaReau will be signing her new book at Barrington Books this Saturday from 11am-1pm.  I hope to see you there! Believe me, this title is one you do not want to miss! Scoop up a copy and start reading it for the book club!


The Jolly Regina (The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters #1)

words by Kara LaReau and pictures by Jen Hill

Goodreads summary: This new series features the blandest sisters who ever embarked on a rollicking, swashbuckling, and entirely unintentional adventure

In the spirit of A Series of Unfortunate Events and the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters will captivate middle-grade readers looking for humor, hijinks, and a swashbuckling good time. Meet Jaundice and Kale Bland, two sisters who avoid excitement at any cost. Together, they patiently await the return of their parents, who left on an errand years ago and have never returned.

One day, the Bland sisters are kidnapped by an all-female band of pirates. They’re unwillingly swept into a high-seas romp that might just lead to solving the mystery of what happened to their parents. With whimsical illustrations and Roald Dahl–esque wit, The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters is the visually stunning, laugh-out-loud funny start to a new series for readers who are looking for an anything-but-bland adventure.



January 8, 2017

End-of-Year Wrap Up of Books Published in 2016

I love seeing all the lists at this time of year.  Lists of books people predict may win awards, books that people have loved, categories of books that are never ending.  I have decided to create a list of my favorites from 2016.  They are the titles that have stuck with me for various reasons.  I may have read them to my own child and/or read or book talked them to my students and they’ve been enamored. The titles may have burrowed their way into my heart all on their own. I’m keeping my choices to four categories: nonfiction picture books, picture books, middle grade books, and young adult books.  I hope you are inspired to create your own list of 2016 favorites as well. I’d love to see your picks!



Prairie Dog Song: The Key to Saving North America’s Grasslands

 by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore


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

words by Annette Bay Pimental and pictures by Rich Lo


The Secret Subway

words by Shana Corey and pictures by Red Nose Studio


Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille

words by Jen Bryant and pictures by Boris Kulikov


Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions

words by Chris Barton and pictures by Don Tate


Animals By the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics

by Steve Jenkins


Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White

by Melissa Sweet



How This Book Was Made

words by Mac Barnett and pictures by Adam Rex


School’s First Day of School

words by Adam Rex and pictures by Christian Robinson


Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)!

words by Julie Falatko and pictures by Tim Miller


Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus

by John Hendrix


Monster Trucks

words by Anika Denise and pictures by Nate Wragg


The Friend Ship

words by Kat Yeh and pictures by Chuck Groenink


Always Remember

words by Cece Meng and pictures by Jago


A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story about Knitting and Love

words by Michelle Edwards and pictures by G. Brian Karas


They All Saw a Cat

by Brendan Wenzel


Dear Dragon

words by Josh Funk and pictures by Rodolfo Montalvo



Maybe a Fox

by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee



by Barbara O’Connor


It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel

by Firoozeh Dumas


The World from Up Here

by Cecilia Galante


Some Kind of Courage

by Dan Gemeinhart


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

words by Adam Gidwitz and pictures by Hatem Aly



words by Sara Pennypacker and pictures by Jon Klassen


words by Kara LaReau and pictures by Jen Hill


Fenway and Hattie

by Victoria J. Coe




by Karen Harrington


Lucky Strikes

by Louis Bayard


Salt to the Sea

by Ruta Sepetys


The Memory of Things

by Gae Polisner


First & Then

by Emma Mills


The Gallery

by Laura Marx Fitzgerald


A Storm Too Soon: A Remarkable True Survival Story in 80 Foot Seas

by Michael J. Tougias


Be Light Like a Bird

by Monika Schroder

January 1, 2017

Happy new year! I have taken two weeks off from book bites to be totally present with my family.  However, I cannot resist sharing some “best of” lists from the Nerdy Book Club.  The Nerdy Book Club is for anyone who loves children’s literature.  I have met amazing people -educators, librarians, authors and illustrators – and count my blessings each day to learn from all of them.  In December they opened the nomination ballot for the “Nerdies” – the Nerdy Book Club’s annual people’s choice awards. In the words of Donalyn Miller, “the Nerdies honor the new children’s and young adults’ titles that teachers, librarians, authors, booksellers, caretakers, and most of all, young people, have loved reading this year.”

The ballot included the following categories.  Click on each to see the winners (two categories have not been announced as I send this post to you. I will add the links as they are announced).  And open a tab for the public library to start placing holds!

Picture Books: Fiction

Picture Books: Nonfiction

Early Readers/ Chapter Books

Graphic Novels

Poetry and Novels in Verse

MG/YA Nonfiction

Middle Grade Fiction

Young Adult Fiction part 1

Young Adult Fiction part 2

On December 27 the first category was announced and each day since I’ve been anxiously awaiting the results.  A lot of my favorites made it on the lists and some did not.

It is a thrill to see books celebrated in this way! I hope you enjoy the results as much as I did. You will see that 2016 was an incredible year for books.  Here’s looking forward to what new amazing titles 2017 has in store for us!

Happy reading,

Mrs. Melanie Roy