October 29, 2017

I started reading this first featured book last week. It seems like a perfect title to read at Halloween because it involves a haunted house. I’ll be honest. I’m a real scaredy cat.  But I wanted to push myself to read outside of my comfort zone – especially because we have so many students who love spooky books!

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, (2017)

by Lindsay Currie


Goodreads summary: A girl unravels a centuries-old mystery after moving into a haunted house in this deliciously suspenseful mystery.

Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones.

When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. A secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years.

With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her!

Watch The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street book trailer.

This week’s Mock Newbery is by an author who won the 2016 Newbery Honor for the powerful and touching The War That Saved My Life. I ordered two copies for our library but they are on back order. I hope we get them soon because I’m dying to catch up with Ada! Hampden Meadows is a reading community and I invite the adults and students to participate in our HMS Mock Newbery by reading titles and commenting on what you think by going to this link.

The War I Finally Won, (2017)

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


Goodreads summary: When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. What is she?

World War II continues, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, are living with their loving legal guardian, Susan, in a borrowed cottage on the estate of the formidable Lady Thorton—along with Lady Thorton herself and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded cottage is tense enough, and then, quite suddenly, Ruth, a Jewish girl from Germany, moves in. A German? The occupants of the house are horrified. But other impacts of the war become far more frightening. As death creeps closer to their door, life and morality during wartime grow more complex. Who is Ada now? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?

Watch Kimberly Brubaker Bradley talk about The War I Finally Won.

This wordless picture book is on our Mock Caldecott list. It has my heart. When you get it into your hands, the message will have your heart as well.

Wolf in the Snow, (2017)

by Matthew Cordell


Goodreads summary: A girl is lost in a snowstorm. A wolf cub is lost, too. How will they find their way home?

Paintings rich with feeling tell this satisfying story of friendship and trust. Here is a book set on a wintry night that will spark imaginations and warm hearts, from Matthew Cordell, author of Trouble Gum and Another Brother.

Watch the Wolf in the Snow book trailer.

I just got a chance to read this book last week and immediately ordered it for our library. It would probably have been a great addition to the family math club titles you explored last Wednesday! That first ever family math club seemed like a lot of fun. I hope you’ll consider joining Mrs. Burrows and Mr. Sangiuliano the next time they host one. We all have questions we want answered. This might be the book for you!

How Many Guinea Pigs Can Fit on a Plane?: Answers to Your Most Clever Math Questions, (2017)

by Laura Overdeck


Goodreads summary: How many bees does it take to make one jar of honey?

How many soccer balls would fit inside a hollow Earth?

How many pieces of gum would it take to stick you to a wall and keep you there?

Believe it or not, you can find out the answers to these questions yourself using math! Combining questions from real readers like you with surprising answers, How Many Guinea Pigs Can Fit on a Plane? proves that numbers can be fun and that math is power.

My librarian friend Mrs. DiBella made me aware of this amazing new graphic novel so I purchased a copy for our library.  We all need books that provide windows and mirrors. Windows books let readers get a chance to experience a life different from their own. Mirrors books give readers a chance to see themselves in the media they consume.

Pashmina, (2017)

by Nidhi Chanani


Goodreads summary: Pashmina tells the story of an Indian-American girl who struggles to fit in at high school, then discovers more about her family’s history with the help of her mother’s magical pashmina.

BONUS: I’m ending with one more new ghost story just in time for Halloween. Ellen Oh, founder of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, wrote this.

Spirit Hunters, (1017)

by Ellen Oh


Goodreads summary: We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh returns with Spirit Hunters, a high-stakes middle grade mystery series about Harper Raine, the new seventh grader in town who must face down the dangerous ghosts haunting her younger brother. A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn!

Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?

Watch the Spirit Hunters book trailer.


October 22, 2017

This title is on our Mock Newbery list and I’ve just started it myself this weekend. It is the first middle-grade chapter book written by Doreen Cronin, author of the well-known picture book Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. Hampden Meadows is a reading community and I invite the adults and students to participate in our HMS Mock Newbery by reading titles and commenting on what you think by going to this link.

Cyclone, (2017)

by Doreen Cronin


Kirkus Review: 

Cronin, famous for solving cow communication problems with a typewriter in Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (2000) and sequels, offers her debut middle-grade novel illuminating human communication problems.

Nora, 12, blackmails her cousin Riley, 13, into riding with her on the Cyclone, the Coney Island amusement park’s legendary roller coaster—and as soon as Riley steps off, she collapses from a stroke and is hospitalized, partially paralyzed and nearly unable to speak. In the waiting room, Nora meets Jack, a caring young teen, who says his younger brother is in the ICU with leukemia—although, sadly, he’s not telling the full story. Riley’s hospital stay drags on, including ample medical detail, and Nora’s and Riley’s mothers’ other sister arrives, ballooning the already-substantial tension. As Riley begins to talk a bit, most of her words are, astonishingly, in Spanish, dredged up from her middle school language lessons; only her Latina roommate, Sophia, is able to understand her. (Sophia and some hospital staff aside, the characters all appear to be white.) It’s only time, learning to listen, and a bit of emerging maturity that help Nora resolve these many communication problems, discovering poignant, hidden-in-plain-sight truths along the way. Her honest first-person (and thoroughly footnoted) voice believably moves from defensive and guilt-ridden to perceptive and empathetic as her understanding grows.

A sensitive exploration of the high costs of failing to really connect with those around us. (Fiction. 10-14)

Watch a Cyclone book trailer.

The next book featured this week is a title from the RI Children’s Book Award list, an award chosen strictly by children for children. There are 20 nominees. Children in grades 3-5 who read at least 3 books from the list are eligible to vote in February.  Librarian Michelle Steever created a handy sheet to track which titles you read. This book is also the Global Read Aloud title. The HMS PTO generously purchased a book for each homeroom teacher to read aloud to their students and take the opportunity to connect with another classroom in the U.S. or globally.

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.

This book is on our Mock Caldecott list. We are big fans of Dan Santat. He visited our school and gave our students and staff a sneak peek of Beekle before it won the Caldecott. This is a beautiful book with an even more beautiful message.

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again), (2017)

by Dan Santat



Goodreads summary: From the New York Times–bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend comes the inspiring epilogue to the beloved classic nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty.

Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat’s poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.

Will he summon the courage to face his fear?

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.

Watch the After the Fall book trailer.

Sarah Albee is our fifth grade author visit in the Spring. She is smart and funny, and makes knowledge very accessible to students. Her latest book just came out and I’m excited for students to get the chance to read it.

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.

Watch the Poison book trailer.

Just in time for Halloween, Aaron Reynolds has written another creepy picture book that just might make you giggle.

Creepy Pair of Underwear! (2017)

words by Aaron Reynolds and pictures by Peter Brown


Goodreads summary: Jasper Rabbit is NOT a little bunny anymore. He’s not afraid of the dark, and he’s definitely not afraid of something as silly as underwear. But when the lights go out, suddenly his new big rabbit underwear glows in the dark. A ghoulish, greenish glow. If Jasper didn’t know any better he’d say his undies were a little, well, creepy. Jasper’s not scared obviously, he’s just done with creepy underwear. But after trying everything to get rid of them, they keep coming back!

Watch the Creepy Pair of Underwear book trailer.



October 8, 2017

Book Tasting Time! Woot! Woot!

Our first big shipment of books has arrived at HMS library. This means every student gets the opportunity to pick up and flip through these new books, read the inside and back covers, and write down titles that interest them on their “To Be Read” list before the books go into circulation. This is how our students develop a reading plan and place future holds.

Children will have the opportunity to rotate through three tables with four large piles of books at each table. It is an awesome week filled with lots of excitement and reading anticipation! We do book tastings three times a year – usually around October, around February, and then in June to create our own personalized summer reading lists.

Many students are not interested in reading a story. These analytical thinkers want their questions answered and generally read nonfiction texts. Our grade 4 visiting author Melissa Stewart has been taking some time to examine how popular expository nonfiction text really is for children. She is making a case for providing our “future global innovation leaders” access to a variety of quality nonfiction text. Check out her celebratescience posts to learn even more. She will definitely stretch your thinking!

Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators Who Saved an Ecosystem, (2017)

by Patricia Newman


Goodreads summary: Marine biologist Brent Hughes didn’t think sea otters and sea grass had much in common. But his research at Elkhorn Slough, an estuary on Monterey Bay in northern California, revealed a new and surprising connection between the two. The scientist expected this estuary to be overrun with algae due to the fertilizer runoff from surrounding fields. But it wasn’t. Why?

Watch the Sea Otter Heroes book trailer.

Last year we had our first ever HMS Mock Caldecott list. Our school chose Snappsy The Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be In This Book) by Julie Falatko and Tim Miller. We LOVE this book which is why we are thrilled that a new Snappsy book was released last week. We will finally learn the narrator’s name!

Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever, (2017)

words by Julie Falatko and pictures by Tim Miller


Goodreads summary: Snappsy the alligator wants nothing more than a quiet evening alone, but a pesky chicken who insists he’s Snappsy’s best friend won’t leave him alone. Friendship bracelets? Matching shirts? The sleepover of the century? Snappsy did not ask for any of the activities this chicken – his best friend forever? – is planning.

Watch the Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever book trailer.

Make your own Snappsy cootie catcher/fortune teller (scroll down to find where it says August 28).

Julie Falatko’s awesome daughter teaching Mrs. Roy how to make a fortune teller.

This next book is on our Mock Newbery list. Hampden Meadows is a reading community and I invite the adults and students to participate in our HMS Mock Newbery by reading titles and commenting on what you think by going to this link.  Here is a title from the list I cannot wait to read.

Refugee, (2017)

by Alan Gratz


Goodreads summary: JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .

ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .

MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers — from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, their stories will tie together in the end.

Watch the Refugee book trailer.

Bonus: *Can pair Refugee with another excellent new title to our library.

Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees, (2017)

words by Mary Beth Leatherdale and pictures by Eleanor Shakespeare


Goodreads summary: The phenomenon of desperate refugees risking their lives to reach safety is not new. For hundreds of years, people have left behind family, friends, and all they know in hope of a better life. This book presents five true stories about young people who lived through the harrowing experience of setting sail in search of asylum: Ruth and her family board the St. Louis to escape Nazism; Phu sets out alone from war-torn Vietnam; José tries to reach the U.S. from Cuba; Najeeba flees Afghanistan and the Taliban; Mohamed, an orphan, runs from his village on the Ivory Coast. Aimed at middle grade students, Stormy Seas combines a contemporary collage-based design, sidebars, fact boxes, timeline and further reading to produce a book that is ideal for both reading and research. Readers will gain new insights into a situation that has constantly been making the headlines.

Watch the Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees book trailer.

The next book featured this week is a title from the RI Children’s Book Award list, an award chosen strictly by children for children. There are 20 nominees. Children in grades 3-5 who read at least 3 books from the list are eligible to vote in February.  Librarian Michelle Steever created a handy sheet to track which titles you read.

The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo, (2016)

by Drew Weing


Goodreads summary: Charles just moved to Echo City, and some of his new neighbors give him the creeps. They sneak into his room, steal his toys, and occasionally, they try to eat him.

The place is teeming with monsters!

Lucky for Charles, Echo City has Margo Maloo, monster mediator. No matter who’s causing trouble, Margo knows exactly what to do—the neighborhood kids say monsters are afraid of her. It’s a good thing, because Echo City’s trolls, ogres, and ghosts all have one thing in common: they don’t like Charles very much.

Watch a Margo Maloo book trailer.

This last book is written by award-winning author Sarah Weeks who will be at the RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors being held at Lincoln School in Providence this upcoming Saturday, October 14th from 9:00am to 5:30pm.

Pie, (2011)

by Sarah Weeks


Goodreads summary: From the award-winning author of SO B. IT, a story about family, friendship, and…pie!

When Alice’s Aunt Polly, the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous pie-crust recipe. Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinarily fat, remarkably disagreeable cat, Lardo . . . and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice.

Suddenly, the whole town is wondering how you leave a recipe to a cat. Everyone wants to be the next big pie-contest winner, and it’s making them pie-crazy. It’s up to Alice and her friend Charlie to put the pieces together and discover the not-so-secret recipe for happiness: Friendship. Family. And the pleasure of doing something for the right reason.

With Pie, acclaimed author Sarah Weeks has baked up a sweet and satisfying delight, as inviting as warm pie on a cold day. You’ll enjoy every last bite.

Watch a Pie book trailer.

Other Books by Sarah Weeks (1).png

Sarah Weeks is doing a very special So B. It movie premiere based on her popular book this Friday, October 13th at Lincoln School in Providence.  The movie is rated PG-13.

October 1, 2017


Each week I’ve been highlighting Mock Newbery titles. I’d like to introduce our first ever HMS Mock Newbery book club. Some members may be able to meet at lunch. Other members have the opportunity to meet virtually. This book club is open to everyone in our reading community – students, staff and parents. If you like to read books and would like to weigh in on books you’ve read, you are welcome to join! Here is the link to the virtual book club. If you are interested in taking part in lunch discussion, please fill out this form. You can access the list of our HMS Mock Newbery nominees. here. It includes the Newbery criteria to help guide your virtual discussion.

This week’s Mock Newbery title really wormed its way into my heart. I read it at the beginning of the summer and I’m still thinking about it.

Georgia Rules, (2017)

by Nanci Turner Steveson


Goodreads: 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.

This incredible book is on our Mock Caldecott list.  A few classrooms read it at the beginning of the school year. My hope is that everyone gets a chance to read it aloud this school year.

Claymates, (2017)

words by Dav Petty and art by Lauren Eldridge


Goodreads: Meet the claymates: two balls of clay that can become anything–even best friends! 

What can you do with two blobs of clay? Create something amazing! But don’t leave them alone for too long. Things might get a little crazy.

In this photographic friendship adventure, the claymates squish, smash, and sculpt themselves into the funniest shapes imaginable. But can they fix a giant mess before they’re caught in the act?

Watch the Claymates book trailer.

This next book is written by a talented husband and wife author-illustrator team who will be at the RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors being held at Lincoln School in Providence on Saturday, October 14th from 9:00am to 5:30pm.

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage, (2016)

words by Selina Alko and pictures by Sean Qualls


Goodreads: For most children these days it would come as a great shock to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own. That was the year that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia.

This is the story of one brave family: Mildred Loving, Richard Perry Loving, and their three children. It is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love, and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested (in dramatic fashion) for violating that state’s laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to get the message that their parents’ love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court – and won!

Watch a book trailer for The Case for Loving.

The next book featured this week is a title from the RI Children’s Book Award list, an award chosen strictly by children for children. There are 20 nominees. Children in grades 3-5 who read at least 3 books from the list are eligible to vote in February.  Librarian Michelle Steever created a handy sheet to track which titles you read.

Sadie’s Story (Backyard Witch #1), (2015)

by Christine Heppermann


Goodreads summary: A must-have for newly independent readers and fans of Ivy + Bean and Clementine! The first of a new series starring three young girls and a mysterious visitor who appears exactly when you need her—with just the right amount of magic.

Sadie has two best friends: Jess and Maya. But Jess can only take one friend on vacation with her, and Sadie is the one who gets left behind. How will Sadie ever survive the days of loneliness and boredom? But wait . . . what is that in her old playhouse in the backyard? A witch has moved in! A kind and funny witch, who’s looking for her own two lost friends. Together, Sadie and the witch have a curious adventure, one that makes Sadie see her neighborhood—and herself—with new eyes. Acclaimed authors Ron Koertge and Christine Heppermann—writing together and for younger readers for the first time—have created a heroine to rival Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Ms. Frizzle. Short chapters, a satisfying mystery, gentle humor, magical dazzle, and adorable black-and-white illustrations throughout by debut artist Deborah Marcero make this an ideal pick for readers of Ivy + Bean, Just Grace, and Kate DiCamillo’s young novels.

The last book of the week is by our visiting author Melissa Stewart. It is jam-packed with interesting information where animals are categorized in unexpected ways!

Can An Aardvark Bark? (2017)

words by Melissa Stewart and pictures by Steve Jenkins


Kirkus review:  Barks, grunts, squeals, whines, bellows, growls, and laughs—all kinds of animals use all kinds of sounds to communicate.

This collection of animal vocalizations will delight readers and listeners. Prolific science writer Stewart always chooses appealing facts, but what makes this collection work so well is the skillful presentation by both author and illustrator. There’s a question: “Can an aardvark bark?” And an answer: “No, but it can grunt.” A short paragraph tells when and why it makes that sound. The next spread reveals some different grunting species and what their grunts might mean. The next two spreads introduce barks and squeals. Just when listeners or readers begin to see a pattern of question and answer, it’s disrupted: “Can a porcupine whine? Why yes, it can!” The surprise adds just enough tension to keep the audience going through growls, bellows, and laughs. A final page asks listeners and readers if they can make the same noises. Jenkins’ characteristic cut-and–torn-paper collages are a perfect accompaniment. These sharp-edged, accurate images, set on plain white backgrounds, show beautifully. The highlighted animals—aardvark, New Zealand fur seal, wild boar, porcupine, dingo, giraffe, and kangaroo—are shown on double-page spreads, each followed by four other, equally interesting species. The final page includes portraits, an invitation for identification.

Don’t share this engaging read-aloud in a quiet library.

Watch the book trailer for Can An Aardvark Bark?