May 27, 2018

Great news! This week we will begin our EPIC summer reading book tasting! I’ve teamed up with the public library to order a TON of recent titles your children will enjoy. They will spend the next few weeks getting a chance to hold these books in their hands, take a peek at them, and keep track of the ones they want to read for themselves. They will have a paper and electronic copy of their list (housed in Google Classroom) so that there is no way to completely lose the list.

For those students who are going away for the summer, I’m offering an option of ordering books through Scholastic Book Club so you won’t have the worry of losing library books. I’ve attached a flyer in my email home to families.

The reason behind what we are doing these next few weeks is two-fold: continuing our love of reading and preventing “summer slide.” I am including information from the Colorado Department of Education to explain further…

“Summer slide” is the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gaps they made during the previous school year.

Ways to prevent “summer slide”:

  1. Access to books is critical.
  2. When children select reading material themselves and read for enjoyment, they receive the most gains in reading achievement. Also, the longer this free voluntary reading is practiced, the more consistent and positive the results.
  3. Children and teens tend to read more when adults in their lives encourage them to read, and also when they see those adults reading often themselves.

I will be encouraging students to read a minimum of 6 books this summer.


Here are five of the books students will get a chance to peruse in our summer reading book tasting.


How Could We Harness a Hurricane?, (2017)

words by Vicki Cobb and pictures by Theo Cobb


Goodreads summary: How can we prevent destruction and danger when a hurricane hits?

Have you ever wondered how hurricanes become powerful enough to lift cars and level cities? In How Could We Harness a Hurricane?, Vicki Cobb describes this natural phenomenon and the three things it’s made of: air, water, and energy. Read about traveling to the eye of the storm, modifying weather, and other interesting work that meteorologists, scientists, and engineers do to solve the big problems posed by hurricanes. How can we prevent destruction and danger when a hurricane visits our cities? From fortifying buildings to weakening or moving the hurricane itself, How Could We Harness a Hurricane? explores what engineers are trying to do to diminish the wrath of a hurricane. How Could We Harness a Hurricane? also includes simple, hands-on experiments that reinforce these fascinating hurricane facts and concepts.

Watch the book trailer for How Could We Harness a Hurricane?


Bob, (2018)

by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead


Goodreads summary: A classic middle-grade tale of magic and friendship, about a girl who helps an old friend find home, by two New York Times–bestselling authors Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead.

It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that she’s back, Livy has the feeling she’s forgotten something really, really important about Gran’s house.

It turns out she’s right.

Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn’t forget Livy, or her promise. He’s been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can’t remember who—or what—he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But five years ago Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it’s time to keep that promise.

Clue by clue, Livy and Bob will unravel the mystery of where Bob comes from, and discover the kind of magic that lasts forever.

Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, two masterminds of classic, middle-grade fiction come together to craft this magical story about the enduring power of friendship.

Watch a book talk about Bob.


The Sky at Our Feet, (2018)

by Nadia Hashimi


Goodreads summary: This #ownvoices novel by bestselling author Nadia Hashimi tells the affecting story of an Afghan-American boy who believes his mother has been deported. For fans of Inside Out and Back Again and Counting by 7s. 

Jason has just learned that his Afghan mother has been living illegally in the United States since his father was killed in Afghanistan. Although Jason was born in the US, it’s hard to feel American now when he’s terrified that his mother will be discovered—and that they will be separated.

When he sees his mother being escorted from her workplace by two officers, Jason feels completely alone. He boards a train with the hope of finding his aunt in New York City, but as soon as he arrives in Penn Station, the bustling city makes him wonder if he’s overestimated what he can do.

After an accident lands him in the hospital, Jason finds an unlikely ally in a fellow patient. Max, a whip-smart girl who wants nothing more than to explore the world on her own terms, joins Jason in planning a daring escape out of the hospital and into the skyscraper jungle—even though they both know that no matter how big New York City is, they won’t be able to run forever.

Watch the book trailer for The Sky at Our Feet.


Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, (2018)

words by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes and pictures by Scott Magoon

rescue and jessica.jpg

Goodreads summary: Based on a real-life partnership, the heartening story of the love and teamwork between a girl and her service dog will illuminate and inspire.

Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog — it’s the family business, after all. When he gets the news that he’s better suited to being a service dog, he’s worried that he’s not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she’d imagined it, too. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. And it turns out that Rescue can help Jessica see after all: a way forward, together, one step at a time. An endnote from the authors tells more about the training and extraordinary abilities of service dogs, particularly their real-life best friend and black lab, Rescue.

Watch the Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship book trailer.


Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter, (2018)

words by Marcus Sedgwick and pictures by Thomas Taylor


Goodreads summary: Scarlett Hart, orphaned daughter of two legendary monster hunters, is determined to carry on in her parents’ footsteps—even if the Royal Academy for the Pursuit and Eradication of Zoological Eccentricities says she’s too young to fight perilous horrors. But whether it’s creepy mummies or a horrid hound, Scarlett won’t back down, and with the help of her loyal butler and a lot of monster-mashing gadgets, she’s on the case.

With her parent’s archrival, Count Stankovic, ratting her out to T.R.A.P.E.Z.E. and taking all the monster-catching rewards for himself, it’s getting hard for Scarlett to do what she was born to do. And when more monsters start mysteriously manifesting than ever before, Scarlett knows she has to get to the bottom of it and save the city… whatever the danger!

May 20, 2018

I cannot believe this week is already here. It is the last week of the year that students will check out books from the Hampden Meadows Library. When students take books out, they get to keep them for two weeks. That means books will be coming back in by June 8th. We will be sending out reminders and gathering books back to do inventory. But the fun will not end in June. You can be sure I have lots of excitement in store for the students!

Our first book of the week is the first in a mystery series. It will be part of our summer reading book tasting.

Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls, (2017)

by Beth McMullen


Goodreads summary: A girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut.

After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…

Watch a book review of Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls.


Here is a new fantasy book we have just acquired. How cute is this cover?

His Royal Whiskers, (2017)

words by Sam Gayton and pictures by Sydney Hanson


Goodreads summary: A young alchemist and a giant cat stage a meow-tiny to take down an evil czar in this charming middle grade adventure.

Something bad has happened to Prince Alexander, the only heir to the mighty Petrossian Empire.

Something worse than kidnapping.

Something worse than murder.

Somehow, the Prince has been miraculously transformed into a fluffy kitten—and a large one, at that. Giant, in fact. Dinosaur-sized.

Why has this terrible catastrophe happened? Who are the boy and girl brewing secret potions down in the palace kitchens? And how are they possibly going to avoid getting their heads chopped off?


This is a brand new picture book by my talented pal Josh Funk. I am sure so many of our coding fans and readers will enjoy it!

How to Code a Sandcastle, (2018)

words by Josh Funk and pictures by Sara Palacios


Goodreads summary: From the computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code comes this lively and funny story introducing kids to computer coding concepts.

Pearl and her trusty rust-proof robot, Pascal, need to build a sandcastle before summer vacation is over, and they’re going to do it using code. Pearl breaks the big we-need-a-sandcastle problem into smaller steps, then uses conditionals, loops, and other basic coding concepts to tell Pascal exactly what to do. But building a sandcastle isn’t as easy as it sounds when surfboards, mischievous dogs, and coding mishaps get in the way! Just when it looks like the sandcastle might never work, Pearl uses her coding skills to save the day and create something even better: a gorgeous sandcastle kingdom!

Watch a book trailer for How to Code a Sandcastle.


This next book is an inspiring biography picture book about a very talented and very determined golfer.

Charlie Takes His Shot: How Charlie Sifford Broke the Color Barrier in Golf, (2018)

words by Nancy Churnin and pictures by John Joven


Goodreads summary: Charlie Sifford loved golf, but in the 1930’s only white people were allowed to play in the Professional Golf Association. Sifford had won plenty of black tournaments, but he was determined to break the color barrier in the PGA. In 1960 he did, only to face discrimination from hotels that wouldn’t rent him rooms and clubs that wouldn’t let him use the same locker as the white players. But Sifford kept playing, becoming the first black golfer to win a PGA tournament and eventually ranking among the greats in golf.

Watch a video about Charlie Sifford.


The last book of the week is a graphic novel we are getting soon. Just in time with kids who are already thinking about summer camp!

Be Prepared, (2018)

by Vera Brosgol


Goodreads summary: A gripping and hilarious middle-grade summer camp memoir from the author of Anya’s Ghost.

All Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.

Vera is sure she’s found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Cece Bell, and Victoria Jamieson, Vera Brosgol’s Be Prepared is a funny and relatable middle-grade graphic novel about navigating your own culture, struggling to belong, and the value of true friendship.

Watch the book trailer for Be Prepared.

May 13, 2018

This Thursday is our first district-wide “Device Free Evening.” We hope your family chooses to participate!



Our students DEVOUR the Who Was? biography series. (You can see a previous post here). Well, here’s some good news: there is now a Who Was? TV show on Netflix!


image courtesy of Francesco Sedita, May 11th Nerdy Book Club post

See the trailer for the Who Was? show.


Here is a hybrid series we just acquired for our library. I think kids will really enjoy it!

Jack and the Geniuses, (2017)

by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone


Goodreads summary: New York Times bestselling authors Bill Nye the Science Guy and Gregory Mone take middle-grade readers on a scientific adventure in the launch of an exciting new chapter book series, Jack and the Geniuses. The perfect combination to engage and entertain readers, the series features real-world science along with action and a mystery that will leave kids guessing until the end, making these books ideal for STEM education.

In the series opener, Jack and the Geniuses: At The Bottom of The World, readers meet Jack and his foster siblings, Ava and Matt, who are orphans. But they’re not your typical kind of orphans—they’re geniuses. Well, Ava and Matt are, which sometimes makes life difficult for 1twelve-year-old Jack. Ava speaks multiple languages and builds robots for fun, and Matt is into astronomy and a whiz at math. As for Jack, it’s hard to stand out when he’s surrounded by geniuses all the time.

When the kids try to spy on Dr. Hank Witherspoon, one of the world’s leading scientists, they end up working for him in his incredible laboratory. Soon, Hank and the kids travel to Antarctica for a prestigious science competition, but they find that all is not as it seems: A fellow scientist has gone missing, and so has any trace of her research. Could someone be trying to use her findings to win the contest? It’s up to Jack, Ava, and Matt to find the missing scientist and discover who’s behind it all—before it’s too late.

Integrating real science facts with humor and suspense, and featuring an ensemble cast of loveable boy and girl characters, this uniquely engaging series is an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade readers. With easy-to-read language presented in a fun, motivating, and accessible way, this series opener is a great book for both inquisitive kids and reluctant readers. The book also includes information about the science discussed and used to solve the mystery, as well as a cool science project about density that kids can do at home or in the classroom.

Bill Nye’s brand new talk show series for Netflix, “Bill Nye Saves the World” is set to launch in Spring 2017.

Watch the Jack and the Geniuses book trailer.


I have heard such great things about this new title. I’m looking forward to reading it soon myself!

The Parker Inheritance, (2018)

by Varian Johnson


Goodreads summary: The letter waits in a book, in a box, in an attic, in an old house in Lambert, South Carolina. It’s waiting for Candice Miller.

When Candice finds the letter, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, after all, who left Lambert in a cloud of shame. But the letter describes a young woman named Siobhan Washington. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. Grandma tried and failed. But now Candice has another chance.

So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues in the letter. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the summer ends?

Watch the book trailer for The Parker Inheritance.


Last year we got the biography Rising Above. It is usually checked out which tells me that it is very popular with our students. I’m thinking this latest title will be just as popular.

Rising Above: Inspiring Women in Sports, (2018)

by Gregory Zuckerman



Goodreads summary: Behold the power of women! These are the inspirational real-life stories of female superstar athletes Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Carli Lloyd, and more — role models all. For sports fans, aspiring athletes and readers of sports biographies.

Growing up in a crime-plagued, gang-infested neighborhood, Venus and Serena Williams were led to believe their environment was not a place where dreams could come true. It took a relentless determination, a burning desire to be the best, and a willingness to conquer racial barriers for them to emerge as tennis legends. Simone Biles was raised by a single mother with addiction issues, forcing her grandparents to intervene. But Simone soon discovered balance beams and gymnastics mats, setting her on a path toward Olympic greatness. Carli Lloyd, meanwhile, believed her youth soccer career was really starting to take off, only to be cut from her team. Instead of quitting the sport she loved, Carli rebuilt her confidence from the ground up, ultimately becoming one of the leaders on the World Cup Champion US Women’s Soccer team.

The athletes featured in this book met earth-shaking challenges head on, and through hard work and perseverance, went on to conquer the sports world. This collection of mini biographies, complete with first-hand content drawn from interviews, is a source of inspiration and self-empowerment for kids and sports fans of all ages.

Also included in the book: Wilma Rudolph (track and field), Mo’ne Davis (Little League baseball), Swin Cash (basketball), Elena Delle Donne (basketball), Bethany Hamilton (surfing), Ronda Rousey (mixed martial arts), and Kerri Strug (gymnastics).


My nerdy pals have been raving about this new fantasy title. It will definitely be part of our summer reading book tasting!

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, (2018)

Diane Magras


Goodreads summary: A Scottish medieval adventure about the youngest in a war-band who must free her family from a castle prison after knights attack her home.

One dark night, Drest’s sheltered life on a remote Scottish headland is shattered when invading knights capture her family, but leave Drest behind. Her father, the Mad Wolf of the North, and her beloved brothers are a fearsome war-band, but now Drest is the only one who can save them. So she starts off on a wild rescue attempt, taking a wounded invader along as a hostage.

Hunted by a bandit with a dark link to her family’s past, aided by a witch whom she rescues from the stake, Drest travels through unwelcoming villages, desolate forests, and haunted towns. Every time she faces a challenge, her five brothers speak to her in her mind about courage and her role in the war-band. But on her journey, Drest learns that the war-band is legendary for terrorizing the land. If she frees them, they’ll not hesitate to hurt the gentle knight who’s become her friend.

Drest thought that all she wanted was her family back; now she has to wonder what their freedom would really mean. Is she her father’s daughter or is it time to become her own legend?

Watch the book trailer for The Mad Wolf’s Daughter.


Readers may want to digest this graphic novel and then see the movie version the book is based on.

The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel, (2018)

by Deborah Ellis


Goodreads summary: This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.

Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed — works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for having forbidden books, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food.

As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner.

Readers will want to linger over this powerful graphic novel with its striking art and inspiring story.

Watch a movie trailer for The Breadwinner.

May 6, 2018


Today is the day! I hope to see you all at this really fun family event! The mud pit is right outside of the library, and it has been exciting to see it there all week!


Notices came home with your children on Friday about our next HMS Family Book Club which will take place on Thursday, May 17th from 7:45-8:30am. We are reading the Kids Read Across Rhode Island title The First Rule of Punk by Celia Perez. We have 12 copies on hand for you to borrow. You can also get a copy through your local library or bookstore.

I love using the KRARI title for a book club because after reading the title, you can go meet the author at the State House on Saturday, May 19th from 2-4pm. There will be games, you can get a free book signed by Celia Perez, and you can see a play based on the book.

The First Rule of Punk, (2017)

by Celia Perez


Goodreads summary: From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Perez, The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching.

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school–you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malu (Maria Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malu loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malu finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.

Watch a book trailer for The First Rule of Punk.


Here’s a new hybrid title I was introduced to by my fifth grade teacher friend Scott Fillner. I think we will have readers who will really enjoy it! I’ve ordered books 1 and 2 for the library.

Way of the Warrior: From Wimpy to Warrior the Navy SEAL Way, (2017)

words by Jocko Willink and pictures by Jon Bozak


Goodreads summary: Fifth grade was the worst year of Marc’s life. He stunk at gym class, math was too hard for him, the school lunch was horrible, and his class field trip was ruined because he couldn’t swim. But what was most awful thing about fifth grade? Kenny Williamson, the class bully, who calls himself the “King of the Jungle.”

When Marc’s mother tells him that his Uncle Jake is coming to stay for the whole summer, Marc can’t wait. Uncle Jake is a for real, super-cool Navy SEAL. And Uncle Jake has a plan.

He’s going to turn Marc into a warrior.

Becoming a warrior isn’t easy. It means a lot of pull ups, sit ups, pushups, squats, swimming, eating right, and studying harder than ever before! Can Marc transform himself into a warrior before school starts in the fall – and finally stand up to the King of the Jungle himself?

The Way of the Warrior Kid is a new illustrated chapter book by #1 New York Times-bestselling author and retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink.

Watch the book trailer for The Way of the Warrior Kid.


This is a mystery/adventure book we are adding to our library. I cannot wait to read it. I’ve heard so many good things from reader friends!

Greetings from Witness Protection, (2017)

by Jake Burt


Goodreads summary: A funny and poignant debut middle-grade novel about a foster-care girl who is placed with a family in the witness protection program, and finds that hiding in plain sight is complicated and dangerous.
Nicki Demere is an orphan and a pickpocket. She also happens to be the U.S. Marshals’ best bet to keep a family alive. . . .

The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.

Nicki swears she can keep the Trevor family safe, but to do so she’ll have to dodge hitmen, cyberbullies, and the specter of standardized testing, all while maintaining her marshal-mandated B-minus average. As she barely balances the responsibilities of her new identity, Nicki learns that the biggest threats to her family’s security might not lurk on the road from New York to North Carolina, but rather in her own past.

Watch a book trailer for Greetings from Witness Protection.


I read this next book with my son a few weeks ago and I think it’s perfect for introducing service learning to our school community.

On Our Street: Our First Talk About Poverty, (2018)

words by Jillian Roberts and Jaimeand pictures by Jane Heinrichs


Goodreads summary: A gentle introduction to the issue of poverty, On Our Street explores the realities of people living with inadequate resources. Using age-appropriate language, this book addresses mental illness, homelessness and refugee status as they are connected to this issue. Quotes from individuals and organizations such as UNICEF are included throughout to add further perspective on the issue.


I was talking to Ms. Tracy at the Barrington Public Library circulation desk and she told me about this graphic novel I was not aware of. I think fans of Real Friends by Shannon Hale might be intrigued.

According to Aggie, (2017)

by Mary Richards Beaumont and Genevieve Kote


Goodreads summary: As far as 11-year-old Aggie knows, everything is great. Friends, school, family…all are fine and fun and predictable. But one random day, Aggie’s longtime friend Fiona starts to pull away, canceling plans and acting, well, kind of different. It’s not like anything happened–or did it? There aren’t any good answers, and Aggie is left wondering how she’s supposed to act now that her friend seems to have moved on without her. It turns out, though, that a new friendship can turn up just when you need it most.

Watch a book trailer for According to Aggie.