April 30, 2017

Breaking news: This Tuesday afternoon, May 2, author/illustrator Mark Parisi will do a whole-school author visit to introduce his new hybrid book series. He is on a book tour and Barrington Books (knowing about our voracious readers) is sending him over to meet us. As soon as I get a pre-order form from the bookstore, I’ll email it to you.

Marty Pants: Do Not Open! (Marty Pants #1), (2017)

by Mark Parisi


Goodreads summary: Move over, Wimpy Kid. Here comes the imaginative, the inquisitive, the unstoppable Marty Pants! Meet Marty in the side-splitting first book of a new series written by Mark Parisi, the award-winning cartoonist of the Off the Mark comic.

Marty Pants is different from your typical middle schooler. He has the soul of an artist, and as an artist, he notices things—the kinds of things other kids don’t seem to see.
So when Marty discovers a plot on his teacher’s computer to take over the world, Marty knows this is a danger he can’t just ignore. But no one, not his best friends Parker and Roongrat or his mother, father, sister, arch-enemy, Simon, or Chief of Police Pickels, believes him.

So, it’s up to Marty to save the world—his way.

This hilarious new series follows the endearing, frazzled, embarrassed, and, ultimately, fearless footsteps of literature’s most unlikely hero—Marty Pants.

One of my favorite moments from last week was a fifth grader discovering that A Series of Unfortunate Events (recently gaining popularity through the Netflix series) was actually based on books.  A classmate and I animatedly explained that every book has 13 chapters and there are 13 books in the series because 13 is traditionally considered an unlucky number. That student happily took out The Bad Beginning to read the series for herself. This got me thinking that there may be other students who need to be introduced to this book series as well.

The Bad Beginning, (1999)

by Lemony Snicket


Goodreads summary:

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Watch the Netflix trailer for A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 1.

This well done new picture book will have all our Wonder fans very excited. We just purchased it for our library so it will be ready to check out soon!

We’re All Wonders, (2017)

 by R.J. Palacio


Goodreads summary: Over 5 million people have fallen in love with Wonder and have joined the movement to Choose Kind. Now younger readers can meet Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, and his beloved dog, Daisy.

Countless fans have asked R. J. Palacio to write a book for younger readers. With We’re All Wonders, she makes her picture-book debut as both author and artist, with a spare, powerful text and striking, richly imagined illustrations. Palacio shows readers what it’s like to live in Auggie’s world—a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he’s not always seen that way.

We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children.

Watch the book trailer for Wonder.

This next book is going on the Mock Newbery list for the fall.

Hello, Universe, (2017)

by Erin Entrada Kelly


Goodreads summary: In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends — at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.

Watch the Hello, Universe book trailer.

Attention, dancer readers: this biography is a recent Junior Library Guild pick added to our library collection.

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina Young Readers Edition, (2016)

by Misty Copeland and Brandy Colbert


Goodreads summary: Determination meets dance in this middle grade adaptation of the New York Times bestselling book. “Picture a ballerina in a tutu and toe shoes. What does she look like?”

As the only African American soloist dancing with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has made history. But when she first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, anxious thirteen-year-old to become a ground-breaking ballerina.

When she discovered ballet, Misty was living in a shabby motel room, struggling with her five siblings for a place to sleep on the floor. A true prodigy, she was dancing en pointe within three months of taking her first dance class and performing professionally in just over a year: a feat unheard of for any classical dancer. But when Misty became caught between the control and comfort she found in the world of ballet and the harsh realities of her own life (culminating in a highly publicized custody battle), she had to choose to embrace both her identity and her dreams, and find the courage to be one of a kind.

With an insider’s unique point of view, Misty opens a window into the life of a professional ballerina who lives life center stage: from behind the scenes at her first auditions to her triumphant roles in some of the most iconic ballets. But in this beautifully written memoir, she also delves deeper to reveal the desire and drive that made her dreams reality.

Life in Motion is a story of passion and grace for anyone who has dared to dream of a different life.

Watch a Life in Motion book trailer.

Check out the cover reveal for Jeff Kinney’s next Diary of a Wimpy Kid book.

April 23, 2017


We cannot end the month of April without celebrating Poetry Month in the library. This week we will focus on different forms and structural elements of poetry. In this Book Bites post I would like to highlight a genre close to my heart – novels in verse.

This 2015 Newbery and Coretta Scott King Award winner has been added to our fifth grade Battle of the Books list. One fifth grader told me he thought the book was “So good!”


The Crossover, (2014)

by Kwame Alexander


Goodreads summary: “With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood.

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

Watch Kwame Alexander read an excerpt from The Crossover.

Some other books to read by the amazing Kwame Alexander:

Booked, (2016)
The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life, (2017)
Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures, (2017)

As a former fourth grade teacher, I read this book aloud to kick off our poetry writing unit. I would make copies of all the famous poems referenced in the book and read them with the students before starting this read aloud to give students a deeper understanding and appreciation of Jack’s school experience.


Love That Dog, (2001)

by Sharon Creech


Goodreads summary: 

“I guess it does
look like a poem
when you see it
typed up
like that.”

Jack hates poetry. Only girls write it and every time he tries to, his brain feels empty. But his teacher, Ms. Stretchberry, won’t stop giving her class poetry assignments — and Jack can’t avoid them. But then something amazing happens. The more he writes, the more he learns he does have something to say.

Watch a book trailer for Love That Dog.

Some other novels in verse by my beloved Sharon Creech:

Hate That Cat, (2008) The follow-up to Love That Dog
Heartbeat, (2004)


Moo, (2016)

This next book won a National Book Award, Newbery Honor, and Coretta Scott King Award in 2015. When you read it, you’ll understand why. It is an incredible memoir written in verse.


Brown Girl Dreaming, (2014)

by Jacqueline Woodson


Goodreads summary: Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Hear Jacqueline Woodson read from Brown Girl Dreaming.

Some other books by the incredible Jacqueline Woodson:

Locomotion, (2004)
Each Kindness, (2012)
Show Way, (2005)

This next book is the first in a series that our readers will enjoy.


Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, (2011)


likepicklejuicewords by Julie Sternberg and pictures by Matthew Cordell


Goodreads summary: 

I had a bad August.

A very bad August.

As bad as pickle juice on a cookie.

As bad as a spider web on your leg.

As bad as the black parts on a banana.
I hope your August was better.

I really do.

When Eleanor’s beloved babysitter, Bibi, has to move away to take care of her ailing father, Eleanor must try to bear the summer without Bibi and prepare for the upcoming school year. Her new, less-than-perfect babysitter just isn’t up to snuff, and she doesn’t take care of things like Bibi used to. But as the school year looms, it’s time for new beginnings. Eleanor soon realizes that she will always have Bibi, no matter how far away she is.

Written in a lyrical style with thoughtful and charming illustrations throughout, this remarkable debut novel tells a poignant story of friendship and the bittersweet feelings of growing up.

Watch a book trailer for Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie.

Other books in this delightful series:

Like Bug Juice on a Burger, (2013)
Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake, (2014)

This last novel in verse is one I hope everyone gets the chance to read. You gain empathy for an immigrant’s experience and remember to savor the small things in life which are really the big things.


Home of the Brave, (2007)

by Katherine Applegate


Goodreads summary: Kek comes from Africa. In America he sees snow for the first time, and feels its sting. He’s never walked on ice, and he falls. He wonders if the people in this new place will be like the winter – cold and unkind.

In Africa, Kek lived with his mother, father, and brother. But only he and his mother have survived, and now she’s missing. Kek is on his own. Slowly, he makes friends: a girl who is in foster care; an old woman who owns a rundown farm, and a cow whose name means “family” in Kek’s native language. As Kek awaits word of his mother’s fate, he weathers the tough Minnesota winter by finding warmth in his new friendships, strength in his memories, and belief in his new country.

Bestselling author Katherine Applegate presents a beautifully wrought novel about an immigrant’s journey from hardship to hope.

Hear Katherine Applegate talk about Home of the Brave.

Two other chapter books you may enjoy by the talented Katherine Applegate:

The One and Only Ivan, (2012)
Crenshaw, (2015)

And a sneak peek at Katherine Applegate’s next book due out in September, 2017:

Wishtree, (expected publication date September 26, 2017)

Read Katherine Applegate’s cover reveal here.

Although I’m only highlighting five novels in verse in this post, there are so many more to discover. Come take a peek at our Novels in Verse display in the library this week!


April 9, 2017

This upcoming week is Reading Week and we are hosting our incredible nonfiction authors all four days in the library.

I will take my show on the road and do library classes in your children’s classrooms. We will rotate through stations to work on blackout poetry (in honor of Poetry Month), Mad Libs (because it’s a fun way to review parts of speech), and create our own page corner monster bookmarks. I will also share a new favorite read aloud. Here it is…


The Legend of Rock Paper,Scissors, (2017)

words by Drew Daywalt and pictures by Adam Rex


Goodreads summary: From New York Times bestselling creators Drew Daywalt, author of The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home, and Adam Rex, author-illustrator of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, comes a laugh-out-loud hilarious picture book about the epic tale of the classic game Rock, Paper, Scissors.

You’ve played the game. Now read the legend of how it all began . . .

Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard, there lived a warrior named ROCK.

Meanwhile in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office, a second great warrior sought the glory of battle. And his name was PAPER.

At the same time, in the Kitchen Realm, in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, lived a third warrior. They called her SCISSORS.

These three were the strongest, smartest, and fastest in all the land. Time and again they beat the most fearsome opponents they could find: an apricot, a computer printer—even frozen, breaded, dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets! But when the warriors finally meet each other, the most epic round of battles begins . . . and never ends. That is why, to this day, children around the world honor these worthy adversaries by playing ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS!

Watch The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors book trailer.

There’s a book on the fifth grade’s Battle of the Books list I want you to be aware of. I really, really enjoyed reading this one!

Mayday, (2016)

by Karen Harrington


Goodreads summary: A powerful coming-of-age story about the importance of finding your voice.

Wayne Kovok lives in a world of After. After his uncle in the army was killed overseas. After Wayne and his mother survived a plane crash while coming back from the funeral. After he lost his voice.

Wayne has always used his love of facts to communicate (“Did you know more people die each year from shaking a vending machine than from shark attacks?”). Without his voice, how will he wow the prettiest girl in school? How will he stand up to his drill-sergeant grandfather? And how will he share his hopes with his deadbeat dad? It’s not until Wayne loses his voice completely that he realizes how much he doesn’t say.

Filled with Karen Harrington’s signature heart and humor, Mayday tackles an unforgettable journey of family and friendship.

This next suggestion is a hybrid series that students are enjoying. We have the first two but I will order the two most recent.

The Tapper Twins go to War (With Each Other), (Tapper Twins #1), 2015

by Geoff Rodkey


Goodreads summary: This brand-new series by a popular screenwriter is a pitch-perfect, contemporary comedy featuring twelve-year-old fraternal twins, Claudia and Reese, who couldn’t be more different… except in their determination to come out on top in a vicious prank war! But when the competition escalates into an all-out battle that’s fought from the cafeteria of their New York City private school all the way to the fictional universe of an online video game, the twins have to decide if their efforts to destroy each other are worth the price.

Told as a colorful “oral history” by the twins and their friends, and including photos, screenshots, chat logs, online gaming digital art, and text messages between their clueless parents, The Tapper Twins is a hilariously authentic showcase of what it’s like to be in middle school in our digitally-saturated world.

Watch The Tapper Twins go to War (With Each Other) book trailer.

This next book comes out in June. It’s a sneak peek at our fourth grade author Melissa Stewart’s next book to be published.

Can an Aardvark Bark? , (2017)

Words by Melissa Stewart and pictures by Steve Jenkins


Goodreads summary: From award-winning author Melissa Stewart and Caldecott honoree Steve Jenkins comes a noisy nonfiction exploration of the many sounds animals make.

Can an aardvark bark? No, but it can grunt. Lots of other animals grunt too…

Barks, grunts, squeals—animals make all kinds of sounds to communicate and express themselves. With a growling salamander and a whining porcupine, bellowing giraffes and laughing gorillas, this boisterous book is chock-full of fun and interesting facts and is sure to be a favorite of even the youngest animal enthusiasts.

This next book is expected to come out in September. It’s a sneak peek at our fifth grade author Sarah Albee’s next book to be published.

Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines, (2017)

by Sarah Albee


Goodreads summary: For centuries, people have been poisoning one another–changing personal lives and the course of empires alike.
From spurned spouses and rivals, to condemned prisoners like Socrates, to endangered emperors like Alexander the Great, to modern-day leaders like Joseph Stalin and Yasser Arafat, poison has played a starring role in the demise of countless individuals. And those are just the deliberate poisonings. Medical mishaps, greedy “snake oil” salesmen and food contaminants, poisonous Prohibition, and industrial toxins also impacted millions.
Part history, part chemistry, part whodunit, Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines traces the role poisons have played in history from antiquity to the present and shines a ghoulish light on the deadly intersection of human nature . . . and Mother Nature.