January 28, 2018

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Author Elly Swartz visiting some of our fifth graders earlier this year

I’d like to start this week with a book I’m really excited to get into the hands of our readers on Tuesday. Elly Swartz was invited by Ms. Safran to come visit her class this year, and while she was here she also visited with some of her super fans. Elly is bubbly, kind, and knowledgeable. You can tell she loves the opportunity to connect with her readers. Many of our students have loved Finding Perfect and have been eagerly anticipating Elly’s latest middle grade novel.

Smart Cookie, (2018)

by Elly Swartz


Goodreads summary: Sometimes you need to keep a few secrets.

Frankie knows she’ll be in big trouble if Dad discovers she secretly posted a dating profile for him online. But she’s determined to find him a wife, even if she ends up grounded for life. Frankie wants what she had before Mom died. A family of three. Two is a pair of socks or the wheels on a bicycle or a busy weekend at the B&B where Frankie and Dad live. Three is a family. And Frankie’s is missing a piece.

But Operation Mom is harder to pull off than Frankie expects. None of the Possibles are very momish, the B&B’s guests keep canceling, Frankie’s getting the silent treatment from her once best friend, and there’s a maybe-ghost hanging around. Worst of all, Gram and Dad are definitely hiding secrets of their own.

If a smart cookie like Frankie wants to save the B&B and find her missing piece, she’s going to have to figure out what secrets are worth keeping and when it’s time to let go.

Author Wendy Mass says, “Smart Cookie has all the right ingredients: humor, mystery, friendship, ghosts, and an extra helping of heart.”

Visit author Elly Swartz’s website.

This fantasy book is a nominee on the RI Children’s Book Award list. Although I haven’t gotten the chance to read this one yet, it comes highly recommended by my librarian friend Mrs. Walsh and fifth grader Emma. In fact, Emma loved it so much she created a book trailer. Wait until you watch it. It is so professional!

Ollie’s Odyssey, (2016)

words by William Joyce and pictures by Moonbot


Goodreads summary: Can a beloved but lost stuffed rabbit save himself and other Losts from becoming the most feared designation of all: The Forgotten? Find out in this epic quest from the author of The Guardians series and the creative force behind The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Oswald is a favorite. Of all the toys in Billy’s home, the stuffed rabbit takes top rank: everywhere Billy goes, so goes Oz. But being a favorite is more than a privilege—it’s also fraught with danger. Because of Zozo.

Zozo has never been a favorite. An amusement park prize who was never chosen, Zozo has grown so bitter that, when the amusement park closes, he seeks revenge on every toy lucky enough to be a favorite. He wants them all to become The Lost, and even better, Forgotten.

When Billy accidentally leaves Oz under the table at a wedding, Oz finds himself on an unplanned adventure, kidnapped by the nefarious Zozo and his gang of creeps and faced with the momentous task of saving not only himself, but all the other stuffies who are “lost” as well…

With nods to Toy Story and Knuffle Bunny, but with that insoucient joie de vivre that is all William Joyce’s and Moonbot’s own, here’s a look at what REALLY goes on with your stuffed animals when the lights are out.

Watch Emma’s book trailer for Ollie’s Odyssey.

This next book is oh so good! It is a great contender for the Sibert medal, which is given for most distinguished informational text. Check out Melissa Stewart’s blog for Sibert lists around the country (including ours).

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist, (2017)

words by Cynthia Levinson and pictures by Vanessa Brantley Newton


Goodreads summary: Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.

Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else.

So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il!

Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Watch The Youngest Marcher book trailer.

Do you ever read a book where you find yourself laughing out loud? When I read this series my husband checks on me to see what I’m laughing about all by myself.

The Terrible Two Go Wild, (2018)

words by Mac Barnett and Jory John and pictures by Kevin Cornell


Goodreads summary: Everyone’s favorite pranksters are at it again! School’s out, and Miles and Niles are running wild in the woods outside town: climbing trees, exploring caves, and, yes, pranking. But these leafy, lazy days of mischief darken when bully Josh Barkin and his cadets from a nearby kids’ boot camp discover the merrymakers—and vow to destroy them. Are our heroes’ sharp minds any match for these hooligans’ hard fists? The latest installment of the witty, on-target illustrated series is another “fast paced, laugh-out-loud novel” (School Library Journal) that proves once again that, in the hands of the powerless, pranks can be tools of justice—plus, they’re funny.

Watch the book trailer for the original The Terrible Two.

Do you like history? We have students who are obsessed with this clever graphic novel series that centers around historical events. Here is Nathan Hale’s latest and seventh in the series.

Raid of No Return: A World War II Tale of the Doolittle Raid, (2017)

by Nathan Hale


Goodreads summary: Nathan Hale tackles a topic fans have been asking about for years: World War II.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, officially bringing the United States into World War II. A new generation of pilots were recruited to fly bombing missions for the United States, and from that group, volunteers were requested for a dangerous secret assignment. For the first time in American history, Army bombers would be launched from an aircraft carrier. Once at sea, they were told their mission was a retaliation strike against targets in Tokyo. But on the day of the raid, a Japanese patrol boat spotted them and they had to launch early, with barely enough fuel to get them past their target.

After the bombing, some pilots crashed, some were captured, and many ended up in mainland China and were carried to safety by Chinese villagers, being hunted by Japanese forces all the while. With tales of high-flying action and bravery, Raid of No Return is a story of heartbreak and survival during wartime.

Watch the Raid of No Return book trailer.

January 21, 2018

Family Book Club Announcement

Mr. Sangiuliano and I will be hosting the next family book club on Thursday, March 1st from 7:45am to 8:30am. This is a great opportunity for you and your child to be exposed to literature and open a wonderful dialogue. We have decided to read the book with the most holds this school year. We hope you can join us! If you are interested in ordering your own paperback copy you can go to Scholastic Book Clubs and use my class code: GTZ84 for Item #61T4. Please place your order by January 26 so that we can get the books and start reading!

Restart, (2017)

by Gordon Korman


Goodreads summary: Chase’s memory just went out the window.

Chase doesn’t remember falling off the roof. He doesn’t remember hitting his head. He doesn’t, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again . . . starting with his own name.

He knows he’s Chase. But who is Chase? When he gets back to school, he sees that different kids have very different reactions to his return.

Some kids treat him like a hero. Some kids are clearly afraid of him.

One girl in particular is so angry with him that she pours her frozen yogurt on his head the first chance she gets.

Pretty soon, it’s not only a question of who Chase is–it’s a question of who he was . . . and who he’s going to be.

Watch a Restart book trailer.

This poetry book is on the list of RI Children’s Book Award nominees. If you are trying to be sure you read at least three titles to qualify to vote, this book would be a great choice!

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems, (2016)

by Bob Raczka


Goodreads summary: Who says words need to be concrete? This collection shapes poems in surprising and delightful ways.

Concrete poetry is a perennially popular poetic form because they are fun to look at. But by using the arrangement of the words on the page to convey the meaning of the poem, concrete or shape poems are also easy to write! From the author of the incredibly inventive Lemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word comes another clever collection that shows kids how to look at words and poetry in a whole new way.

Check out author Bob Raczka’s website.

This is next series is beloved by so many of our readers. Fans of fantasy will really enjoy this. And now they are turning the series into graphic novel form which is equally exciting. I’m hoping the graphic novels may nudge some of our students to give this amazing series a try for themselves. Our talented fourth grader Eilidh (pronounced “Ay-lee”) created the fantastic book trailer below.

Wings of Fire Graphic Novel #1: The Dragonet Prophecy, (2018)

words by Tui T. Sutherland and pictures by Mike Holmes


Goodreads summary: Not every dragonet wants a destiny …
Clay has grown up under the mountain, chosen along with four other dragonets to fulfill a mysterious prophecy and end the war between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. He’s not so sure about the prophecy part, but Clay can’t imagine not living with the other dragonets; they’re his best friends.
So when one of the dragonets is threatened, all five spring into action. Together, they will choose freedom over fate, leave the mountain, and fulfill their destiny — on their own terms.
The New York Times bestselling Wings of Fire series takes flight in this first graphic novel edition, adapted by the author with art by Mike Holmes.

Watch the Wings of Fire book trailer by Eilidh.

This next book is on our HMS Mock Caldecott list. However, the other night a group of librarians and teachers chose it as the RI Mock Newbery winner for 2018. It’s on a lot of people’s radar and you probably want to check it out for yourself.

Her Right Foot, (2017)

words by Dave Eggers and pictures by Shawn Harris


Goodreads summary: “I want to hold this book in one hand and a torch in the other and stand on an island someplace so everyone can see.” —Lemony Snicket

If you had to name a statue, any statue, odds are good you’d mention the Statue of Liberty. Have you seen her?

She’s in New York.
She’s holding a torch.
And she’s in mid-stride, moving forward.
But why?
In this fascinating, fun take on nonfiction, Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris investigate a seemingly small trait of America’s most emblematic statue. What they find is about more than history, more than art. What they find in the Statue of Liberty’s right foot is the powerful message of acceptance that is essential to an entire country’s creation.

Watch the Her Right Foot book trailer.

Our readers are crazy about the Dog Man books so we are prepared with 5 copies of his latest graphic novel!

Dog Man and Cat Kid (Dog Man #4), (2017)

by Dav Pilkey


Goodreads summary: Hot diggity dog! Dog Man, the newest hero from Dav Pilkey, the creator of Captain Underpants, is back — and this time he’s not alone. The heroic hound with a real nose for justice now has a furry feline sidekick, and together they have a mystery to sniff out! When a new kitty sitter arrives and a glamorous movie starlet goes missing, it’s up to Dog Man and Cat Kid to save the day! Will these heroes stay hot on the trail, or will Petey, the World’s Most Evil Cat, send them barking up the wrong tree?

Watch the Dog Man and Cat Kid book trailer.


January 14, 2017


I am downright bursting with things to share with you this week!


Mark Parisi has a book birthday (book publishing date) for Marty Pants 2: Keep Your Paws Off! on February 6th. And guess how he wants to celebrate it? That’s right…by coming to our school for an author visit! Mark Parisi has spent his career creating hilarious newspaper comics. Last year he debuted the first in his Marty Pants hybrid series much like Big Nate or Diary of a Wimpy Kid. We were his very first school visit and I know he felt the love. One of our students, Emma, now a fifth grader, was so inspired that she created a Marty Pants book trailer for him! I will send a separate email with a form if you would like to pre-order either of his books.

Marty Pants 2: Keep Your Paws Off!, (2018)

by Mark Parisi


Goodreads summary: Marty Pants is back! And in an unexpectedly hairy situation, Marty must put his deduction skills to the test as this new mystery might be leading to monstrous consequences.

When Marty finds a ripped page from his sister’s diary, the most crucial piece—revealing Marty’s true identity—is still locked inside his sister’s room. Undaunted, Marty pieces the clues together and comes to the most logical conclusion: he’s on a one-way trip to werewolfville!

Superhuman speed. Howling. Hairiness. The evidence is mounting against him, and with his werewolf powers growing stronger, Marty is determined to protect his classmates from himself before it’s too late—no matter what the cost!

The second book in the Marty Pants series from the award-winning cartoonist behind the “Off the Mark” strip, Mark Parisi, is perfect for fans of Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and laughing a lot.

Watch Emma’s book trailer for the original Marty Pants to get a feel for this awesome series!


I’m so proud to report that we had a total of 20 entries for the Library of Congress Letters About Literature contest. That got me thinking of other outlets our students could use to channel their passions and talents. This weekend I spent time at the Blue Bunny Bookstore in Dedham, MA celebrating the book launch of Victoria J. Coe’s delightful Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks.  This bookstore is owned by Peter H. Reynolds, author of The Dot and so many other beloved books.  He dedicates time and energy into helping children unleash their creativity. In fact, he cares so deeply about this cause that he has a magazine called HUTCH written by children that is published twice a year.


The deadline for the Spring issue is March 1. Here are the submission guidelines.  Last year one of our spectacular writers, Caroline, now a fifth grader, wrote a beautiful poem for the magazine. I hope this year we have even more students submit their amazing writing!

This book is a nonfiction title from the RI Children’s Book Award nominee list. It is truly amazing to read how this group of people recycled and re purposed materials to create a better life.

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, (2016)

words by Susan Hood and pictures by Sally Wern Comport


Goodreads summary: From award-winning author Susan Hood and illustrator Sally Wern Comport comes the extraordinary true tale of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, an orchestra made up of children playing instruments built from recycled trash.

Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option…until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.

Watch a book trailer for Ada’s Violin.

We have a lot of students who devour Mike Lupica’s books. I’m excited for those readers to get their hands on his latest book.

Lone Stars, (2017)

by Mike Lupica


Goodreads summary: An uplifting story about role models, football, and tackling fear set in the heart of Friday Night Lights country–from the bestselling author of HeatTravel Team, and Fantasy League.

Clay is a quarterback’s dream. When he zips across the field, arms outstretched, waiting for the ball to sail into his hands, there’s no denying him the catch. Like most Texans, Clay is never more at home than when playing football. And his coach, a former star player for the Dallas Cowboys, is just like a second father.

But as the football season kicks off, Clay begins to notice some odd behavior from his coach–lapses in his memory and strange mood swings. The conclusion is painful, but obvious: Coach Cooper is showing side effects of the many concussions he sustained during his playing days. As Clay’s season wears on, it becomes clear that the real victory will be to help his coach walk onto that famous star logo in the middle of Cowboys Field one last time–during a Thanksgiving day ceremony honoring him and his former Super Bowl-winning teammates.

In Lone Stars, #1 New York Times bestseller Mike Lupica demonstrates once again that there is no children’s sports novelist today who can match his ability to weave a story of vivid sports action and heartfelt emotion. A touching story that proves life is bigger than a game. 

Watch a Today show clip of an interview with Mike Lupica discussing Lone Stars.

Sometimes the answers to our questions can be found in picture books. We truly never are too old for picture books. They can lead to very rich discussion. In fact, this month we are doing a Mock Caldecott unit and I’m so impressed with the thoughtful conversations I am listening in on.

Come With Me, (2017)

words by Holly M. McGhee and pictures by Pascal Lemaitre


Goodreads summary: When the news reports are flooded with tales of hatred and fear, a girl asks her papa what she can do to make the world a better place. “Come with me,” he says. Hand-in-hand, they walk to the subway, tipping their hats to those they meet. The next day, the girl asks her mama what she can do–her mama says, “Come with me,” and together they set out for the grocery, because one person doesn’t represent an entire race or the people of a land. After dinner that night, the little girl asks if she can do something of her own–walk the dog . . . and her parents let her go. “Come with me,” the girl tells the boy across the hall. Walking together, one step at a time, the girl and the boy begin to see that as small and insignificant as their part may seem, it matters to the world.

Watch the Come With Me book trailer.

Remember Emma of the Marty Pants book trailer fame? Well, she was so moved by this next book that her family donated a copy to the library. She also created an incredible book trailer for it!  Way to go, Emma, and thank you! I’m sure this memoir will be extremely interesting to readers who enjoyed Wonder.

Ugly, (2013)

by Robert Hoge


Goodreads summary: Robert Hoge was born with a giant tumour on his forehead, severely distorted facial features and legs that were twisted and useless. His mother refused to look at her son, let alone bring him home. But home he went, to a life that, against the odds, was filled with joy, optimism and boyhood naughtiness.

Home for the Hoges was a bayside suburb of Brisbane. Robert’s parents, Mary and Vince, knew that his life would be difficult, but they were determined to give him a typical Australian childhood. So along with the regular, gruelling and often dangerous operations that made medical history and gradually improved Robert’s life, there were bad haircuts, visits to the local pool, school camps and dreams of summer sports.

Ugly is Robert’s account of his life, from the time of his birth to the arrival of his own daughter. It is a story of how the love and support of his family helped him to overcome incredible hardships. It is also the story of an extraordinary person living an ordinary life, which is perhaps his greatest achievement of all.

Watch Emma’s book trailer for Ugly.


January 7, 2018

Happy New Year!



This first title is from the RI Children’s Book Award nominee list. Remember that you need to read at least 3 titles to vote in February (which is only a month away). My goal is for every student in our school to qualify to vote! Here’s a list of nominees created by librarian Michele Steever.

A Long Pitch Home, (2016)

by Natalie Dias Lorenzi


Goodreads summary: Ten-year-old Bilal liked his life back home in Pakistan. He was a star on his cricket team. But when his father suddenly sends the family to live with their aunt and uncle in America, nothing is familiar. While Bilal tries to keep up with his cousin Jalaal by joining a baseball league and practicing his English, he wonders when his father will join the family in Virginia. Maybe if Bilal can prove himself on the pitcher’s mound, his father will make it to see him play. But playing baseball means navigating relationships with the guys, and with Jordan, the only girl on the team—the player no one but Bilal wants to be friends with.

Watch a book trailer for A Long Pitch Home.

This next title is on our HMS Mock Newbery list. However, I would not be surprised to see it win a Schneider Family Book Award. I really liked Annabelle and felt that she had a good sense of humor through a tough time in her family.

Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes, (2017)

by Mary E. Lambert


Goodreads summary: Annabelle has a secret . . . a secret so big she won’t allow friends within five miles of her home. Her mom collects things. Their house is overflowing with stuff. It gives Annabelle’s sister nightmares, her brother spends as much time as he can at friends’ houses, and her dad buries himself in his work.

So when a stack of newspapers falls on Annabelle’s sister, it sparks a catastrophic fight between their parents–one that might tear them all apart–and Annabelle starts to think that things at home finally need to change.

Is it possible for her to clean up the family’s mess? Or are they really, truly broken?

Mary E. Lambert’s moving and heart-breakingly funny debut novel about the things we hold dear–and the things we let go–will resonate with anyone whose life has ever felt just a little too messy.

This next book is on our HMS Mock Caldecott nominee list. I’m reading it to every class to kick off our Mock Caldecott unit. I’m sure we will see awards on this beautiful book in February.

Hey, Black Child, (2017)

words by Useni Eugene Perkins and pictures by Bryan Collier


Goodreads summary: Six-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and four-time Caldecott Honor recipient Bryan Collier brings this classic, inspirational poem to life, written by poet Useni Eugene Perkins.

Hey black child,
Do you know who you are?
Who really are?
Do you know you can be
What you want to be
If you try to be
What you can be?

This lyrical, empowering poem celebrates black children and seeks to inspire all young people to dream big and achieve their goals.

This nonfiction book is perfect for our animal lovers. Kids love learning more about the animals they care about.

Feathers and Hair, What Animals Wear, (2017)

words by Jennifer Ward and pictures by Jing Jing Tsong


Goodreads summary: Some animals wear feathers.
Some animals wear hair.
Some animals wear prickly spines
and roam without a care!

At first glance, a wild animal’s appearance may seem simple. But there is fascinating science behind every part of an animal’s physique—from its nose to its toes! Author Jennifer Ward explores different kinds of fur, feathers, skin, and scales in this nonfiction picture book.

The last book of the week is the third in a terrific series by Victoria J. Coe. If your child likes dogs, he/she will love getting in the mind of a dog. Fenway is extremely loyal and has lots of energy!

Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks, (2018)

by Victoria J. Coe


Goodreads summary: Fenway’s dog’s-eye-view of the world is as enthusiastic as ever, but his favorite short human is not acting the way he expects–and he doesn’t like it one bit!

Fenway’s life is pretty great, except for the strange stripey chipmunks that have suddenly appeared in the Dog Park behind his house. He’s determined to catch them, but one of their hiding places contains some stinging insects. Ouch! Fenway thinks he can take care of this injury himself, but his humans don’t let him. They take him to the Place of Fear and then Hattie doesn’t even help him take off the Cone of Doom!

Fenway never would have expected Hattie to do these things to him. Doesn’t she love him anymore? But even though his family is acting weird, Fenway is determined do whatever it takes to make them all happy again.

Watch the Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks book trailer.