June 18, 2017


As you’re thinking about your family’s summer reading and vacation plans, please consider audiobooks for trips and for any old day of the year. Think of audiobooks as “reading with your ears.” Here’s an infographic to support audiobooks:

SoundLearningInfographicAudiobooks can be downloaded using riezone.overdrive.com or requested in different audio formats through the https://catalog.oslri.net as long as you have a public library card. Library cards are free and easy to acquire by going into the library with your driver’s license. Your child is in the habit of searching for and placing holds on books he/she wants through our http://www.ricat.net catalog, so it makes sense that your child has his/his own public library card as well. You will need to help your child set up his/her online account by creating a pin number and deciding how your family wants to receive notifications (through phone messages or emails).

The American Library Association gives out the Odyssey award for outstanding audiobooks each year. Some may be for an older audience so be sure to investigate further. Your child will be familiar with popular titles when you look through the list of past winners link you find on the left-hand column of the page.

Mr. Sangiuliano and I will be hosting a Family Book Club at Hampden Meadows Library this summer on Wednesday, August 2nd at 5pm. We hope you will join us!  The book we chose is readily available at the public library. A local bookstore has ordered a bunch of copies as well.

The Rising Star of Rusty Nail, (2007)

by Lesley M.M. Blume


Goodreads summary: Franny Hansen is a 10-year-old piano prodigy living in Rusty Nail, Minnesota. Once the Coot Capitol of the world, in 1953 it’s just a run-of-the-mill town with one traffic light and a bizarre cast of characters. She’s long exhausted the talents of the town’s only piano teacher and seems destined to perform at church events and school assemblies, until a mysterious Russian woman arrives in Rusty Nail. Franny’s neighbors are convinced the “Commie” is a threat to their American way of life, but Franny’s not so sure. Could this stranger be her ticket out of Rusty Nail?

Lesley M. M. Blume returns with the poignant and laugh-out-loud funny story of one girl’s attempt to pursue the American dream in small town America.

Visit author Lesley M.M. Blume’s website.

Fifth grader Annabel brought me a book to read many, many months ago. She patiently asked several times if I had started it and I always replied that I had too many others I was reading and hadn’t gotten to it yet. Well, I finally took it home last week and am really excited to share it with you. It’s a fantasy book and it is terrific! If you enjoyed  the Jinx series by Sage Blackwell, you will enjoy this one. Our Series of Unfortunate Events fans will recognize the illustrator’s style right away.

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, (2010)

words by Jennifer Trafton and pictures by Brett Helquist


Goodreads summary: Ten-year-old Persimmony Smudge leads (much to her chagrin) a very dull life on the Island at the Center of Everything . . . until the night she overhears a life-changing secret. It seems that Mount Majestic, the rising and falling mountain in the center of the island, is not a mountain at all-it’s the belly of a sleeping giant, moving as the giant breathes. Now Persimmony and her new friend Worvil the Worrier have to convince all the island’s other quarreling inhabitants-including the silly Rumblebumps, the impeccably mannered Leafeaters, and the stubborn young king-that a giant is sleeping in their midst, and must not be woken. Enhanced with Brett Helquist’s dazzling illustrations, Jennifer Trafton’s rollicking debut tells the story of one brave girl’s efforts to make an entire island believe the impossible.

Visit author Jennifer Trafton’s website.

For our readers who enjoy man vs. nature stories, this one is right up their alley.

Terror at Bottle Creek, (2016)

By Watt Key


Goodreads summary: In this gritty, realistic wilderness adventure, thirteen-year-old Cort is caught in a battle against a Gulf Coast hurricane. Cort’s father is a local expert on hunting and swamp lore in lower Alabama who has been teaching his son everything he knows. But when a deadly Category 3 storm makes landfall, Cort must unexpectedly put his all skills-and bravery-to the test. One catastrophe seems to lead to another, leaving Cort and two neighbor girls to face the storm as best they can. Amid miles of storm-thrashed wetlands filled with dangerous, desperate wild animals, it’s up to Cort to win-or lose-the fight for their lives.

Watch a Terror at Bottle Creek book trailer.

I am looking forward to reading this one over the summer and thought many of our readers might enjoy it as well. It is also intriguing because our beloved author friend Barbara O’Connor lives in Asheville, NC!

Ashes to Asheville, (2017)

by Sarah Dooley


Goodreads summary: Two sisters take off on a wild road trip in this poignant tale for fans of Counting by 7s and Fish in a Tree.

After Mama Lacy’s death, Fella was forced to move in with her grandmother, Mrs. Madison. The move brought Fella all sorts of comforts she wasn’t used to at home, but it also meant saying goodbye to her sister Zoey (a.k.a. Zany) and her other mother, Mama Shannon. Though Mama Shannon fought hard to keep Fella, it was no use. The marriage act is still a few years away and the courts thought Fella would be better off with a blood relation. Already heartbroken, Fella soon finds herself alone in Mrs. Madison’s house, grieving both the death of her mother and the loss of her entire family.
Then one night, Zany shows up at Mrs. Madison’s house determined to fulfill Mama Lacy’s dying wish: to have her ashes spread over the lawn of the last place they were all happy as a family. Of course, this means stealing Mama Lacy’s ashes and driving hundreds of miles in the middle of night to Asheville, North Carolina. Their adventure takes one disastrous turn after another, but their impulsive journey helps them rediscover the bonds that truly make them sisters.
A heartrending story of family torn apart and put back together again, Ashes to Asheville is an important, timely tale.

Visit author Sarah Dooley’s website.

We’ve been doing a book tasting to create our own personalized summer reading lists during our last two library classes of the school year. I wanted to feature the first in a hybrid series (six so far) that a lot of students seem interested in.

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading (Charlie Joe Jackson #1), (2011)

words by Tommy Greenwald and pictures by J.P. Coovert


Goodreads summary: Charlie Joe Jackson may be the most reluctant reader ever born. And so far, he’s managed to get through life without ever reading an entire book from cover to cover. But now that he’s in middle school, avoiding reading isn’t as easy as it used to be. And when his friend Timmy McGibney decides that he’s tired of covering for him, Charlie Joe finds himself resorting to desperate measures to keep his perfect record intact.

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald is the hilarious story of an avid non-reader and the extreme lengths to which he’ll go to get out of reading a book.

Watch the Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading book trailer.

This summer I wish you lots of time for fun, friends, family, and reading. I hope you read what interests you and makes you happy. I ask that you try the Reading Without Walls Challenge.


Anything you need to know about summer learning can be found on the district’s summer learning website.

If you’re moving on to another school, I hope you continue seeking out books you enjoy in the libraries of your future. Feel free to send me an email update about what you’re reading and enjoying at roym@barringtonschools.org.

And if you’re coming back to Hampden Meadows in August, please remember to take a “shelfie” with a book you really enjoyed reading over the summer. Bring your photo in the first week of school.  I cannot wait to paper the walls with your reading recommendations!

Happy summer!


June 11, 2017

For the next two weeks we will be creating our own summer reading plans while we get the chance to explore popular titles as well as brand new titles from our very last book order of the year and the Barrington Public Library.

Here are a few great books that students will come across this week.

Fish Girl, (2017)

by David Weisner and Donna Jo Napoli


Goodreads summary: The triple Caldecott winner David Wiesner brings his rich visual imagination and trademark artistry to the graphic novel format in a unique coming-of-age tale that begins underwater. A young mermaid, called Fish Girl, in a boardwalk aquarium has a chance encounter with an ordinary girl. Their growing friendship inspires Fish Girl’s longing for freedom, independence, and a life beyond the aquarium tank. Sparkling with humor and brilliantly visualized, Fish Girl’s story will resonate with every young person facing the challenges and rewards of growing up.

Watch a Fish Girl book trailer.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist, (2017)

words by Jess Keating and pictures by Marta Alvarez Miguens


Goodreads summary: At 9 years old, Eugenie Clark developed an unexpected passion for sharks after a visit to the Battery Park Aquarium in New York City. At the time, sharks were seen as mindless killing machines, but Eugenie knew better and set out to prove it. Despite many obstacles in her path, Eugenie was able to study the creatures she loved so much. From her many discoveries to the shark-related myths she dispelled, Eugenie’s wide scientific contributions led to the well-earned nickname “Shark Lady.”

Watch the Shark Lady book trailer.

Jess Keating just launched an online magazine for families who enjoy science and creativity. Watch this video to find out more about it and how to subscribe.

Jake the Fake Keeps it Real, (2017)

words by Craig Robinson and Adam Mansbach and pictures by Keith Knight


Goodreads summary: For fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate comes the first book in a side-splitting illustrated series from comedian and film star Craig Robinson, #1 New York Times bestselling author Adam Mansbach, and NAACP History Maker recipient and cartoonist Keith Knight.
Jake can barely play an instrument, not even a kazoo. And his art? It’s better suited for Pictionary than Picasso. Which is a real problem because Jake just faked his way into the Music and Art Academy for the gifted and talented (and Jake is pretty sure he is neither). More jokester than composer, Jake will have to think of something quick before the last laugh is on him.
Featuring more than 160 illustrations, Jake the Fake is sure to bring the laughs with his hilarious high jinks!

Watch the Jake the Fake Keeps it Real book trailer/interview.

Georgia Rules, (2017)

by Nanci Turner Steveson


Goodreads summary: Perfect for fans of One for the Murphys and The Penderwicks, this poignant and moving middle grade novel tells the story of a girl who moves to a new town and meets an unforgettable family—one that will change her and her mother’s lives forever.

Magnolia Grace never wanted to leave Georgia. She never wanted to move with her mama to the farm her daddy owned before he died. But now here she is, in a tiny Vermont town where everybody sings the praises of the father Maggie never knew.

Then Maggie meets the Parker family—two moms, six kids, plus a pony. The Parkers are loud and wild, ask lots of questions, and don’t follow any of the rules Maggie grew up with in Georgia. Suddenly Maggie has questions too—questions about her father, and why Mama kept him away for so long. In her search for answers, Maggie will learn that families are like patchwork quilts, sewn together by love, and all the more beautiful for their different colors.

Check out Nanci Turner Steveson’s website.

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains, (2017)

edited by Jon Scieszka


Goodreads summary: Heroes and Villains, the seventh volume in Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read Library of Great Reading, is chock-full of adventure featuring an array of characters—with and without capes.

Featuring ten all-new, original stories that run the gamut from fantasy to comics to contemporary adventure to nonfiction, and featuring eleven of the most acclaimed, exciting writers for kids working today, this collection is the perfect book for you, whether you use your powers for good—or evil.

Authors include Laurie Halse Anderson, Cathy Camper and Raúl Gonzalez, Sharon Creech, Jack Gantos, Christopher Healy, Deborah Hopkinson, Ingrid Law, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Lemony Snicket, and Eugene Yelchin, with illustrations by Jeff Stokely.

Check out the Guys Read website.

June 4, 2017


Let’s start with the fact that the Captain Underpants movie came out this weekend. How many of you got to the theater? Here’s the movie trailer.


This will be our first week of not checking out books at HMS as I begin gathering books back for end-of-year inventory. However, I’m teaching the students how to access the Ocean State Libraries online catalog to place holds and access eBooks. If your child does not have a library card, please consider taking him/her to the library to get one. The library cards are free, and all you need is photo identification including your address to get one. This will open up your child’s world in so many incredible ways!

Here are some new titles you can reserve from your local library.

Eye of the Storm: NASA, Drones, and the Race to Crack the Hurricane Code (Scientists in the Field), (2017)

by Amy Cherrix


Goodreads summary: Ten million Americans live in hurricane danger zones, but how do we know if or when to evacuate? We must predict both when a storm will strike and how strong it will be. A daring NASA earth science mission may have finally found a way to crack this hurricane code.

Dr. Scott Braun is the principal investigator for the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel mission (HS3), which flies repurposed military drone over hurricanes so that scientists can gather data. But the stakes are high and time is running out.

In the first Scientists in the Field book entirely about weather, meet the NASA team on the cutting edge of meteorological field science.

Watch a video about NASA’s hurricane project.

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere, (2017)

by Elise Gravel


Goodreads summary: Meet Olga, the amazing child scientist who LOVES animals (because they are super-cute)!

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere is jam-packed with fun: vibrant illustrations, word bubbles, quirky humor, olgamus facts, and plenty of excitement for readers who love making discoveries and meeting new friends. Olga is a charming combination of independent, curious, and smart—making her the coolest girl scientist around—perfect for fans of Dork Diaries and Captain Underpants.

When Olga crosses paths with a weird creature and becomes the first kid to discover the species olgamus ridiculus, she is ecstatic! What does an olgamus eat? How does it poop? Why does its burp sound like the word rubber? With her trusty observation notebook and the help of a librarian, a shopkeeper, and some friends, Olga sets out to do science—learning the facts about her smelly, almost-furry pal and searching for him when he goes missing. The scientific method is the best way to discover anything!

Watch the Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere book trailer.

Point Guard (Home Team #3), (2017)

by Mike Lupica


Goodreads summary: Gus and Cassie have always been on the same team off the field, but in this third novel in New York Times bestselling author Mike Lupica’s Home Team series can they stay friends when they’re on the same court?

Everyone assumes that Gus, whose family is from the Dominican Republic, is a baseball guy. But this year Gus is even more excited about basketball than any other sport he’s ever played. He’s been practicing some new moves and lately he’s more surprised when he misses his shot than when he scores. Plus now that he’s convinced his friend Teddy to try out for the team and Jack’s shoulder is healed, it looks like Walton’s home team will be unstoppable.

But this isn’t going to be the season Gus expected, because their team is getting a new player—and she just happens to be one of his best friends. Gus knows Cassie is more than good enough to compete on the boys’ team, and besides they really do need a point guard, so why isn’t he able to shake the feeling that she belongs on their bleachers rather than their bench? And to make matters worse, with their center Steve Kerrigan constantly making comments about his Dominican heritage, and Steve’s dad voicing his views on immigration as he runs for office, Gus is starting to wonder if he really belongs in Walton after all.

Can Gus find a way to bring the home team together both on and off the court, or will all these prejudices block their shot at a winning season?

Watch a Today show interview with Mike Lupica about his latest book.

The Lincoln Project (Flashback Four #1), (2016)

by Dan Gutman


Goodreads summary: Congratulations! You are invited to participate in a very special once-in-a-lifetime experience. Please do not share this invitation or discuss it with anyone.

In New York Times bestselling author Dan Gutman’s all-new series, which blends fascinating real history with an action-packed and hilarious adventure, four very different kids are picked by a mysterious billionaire to travel through time and photograph some of history’s most important events. This time, the four friends are headed to 1863 to catch Abraham Lincoln delivering his famous Gettysburg Address. They’ll have to work together to ask the right questions, meet the right people, and capture the right moment. And most important—not get caught! Back matter separating fact from fiction and real black-and-white photographs make Flashback Four the perfect mix of true history and uproarious fun.

Watch The Lincoln Project book trailer.

One Hundred Spaghetti Strings, (2017)

by Jen Nails


Goodreads summary: When life hands Steffany Sandolini lemons, she makes…pasta sauce! This brave and heartwarming middle grade novel will leave your belly rumbling and your heart full.

Since Steffy was little, she and her older sister Nina have lived with their Auntie Gina. But when their dad comes home to live with them, everything changes.

When Steffy feels like there are pieces of her all over the place, she does what she does best: she cooks her way through the hardest year of her life. But sometimes her life feels like a kitchen-sink meal, with too many ingredients that don’t quite work together. Can the recipes put her—and her family—back together again?

Start with 1 cup of authentic voice, add a tablespoon of coming-of-age and 2 teaspoons of delicious culinary concoctions, mix together, and serve up to fans of Rebecca Stead and Sarah Weeks.

Check out the website of author and school librarian Jen Nails.