December 10, 2017


During your child’s next library class I will be talking up a national writing contest sponsored by the Library of Congress. I hope your child will consider writing a letter to a favorite author (dead or alive) about how a book has changed their thinking and/or positively impacted them in some way. The details of the contest are here. I will also provide a paper copy for any students who are interested. We have some very thoughtful readers at our school and it would be great to get lots of entries!

This first featured book of the week is from the RI Children’s Book Award nominee list. It is an amazing picture book biography that we actually had on our HMS Mock Caldecott nominee list last year.

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, (2016)

words by Chris Barton and pictures by Don Tate


Goodreads summary: A cool idea with a big splash.

You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.

A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

Watch a Whoosh! book trailer.

If anyone has read Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, you know it’s one of those books that is just so good it will stay with you for a very long time. Well, she has done it again with this next book. I love how Holly Goldberg Sloan captures real life – you do a lot of laughing but you also do some crying. You will become smitten with Julia who truly is a character. This title is on our Mock Newbery list.

Short, (2017)

by Holly Goldberg Sloan


Goodreads summary: Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn’t ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive – one of the adults with dwarfism who’ve joined the production’s motley crew of Munchkins – and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia’s own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn’t want to fade into the background and it’s a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!

Watch a Short book trailer.

This next book is so beautiful it may just become the book you buy for every future baby shower. You’ll recognize the gorgeous illustration style of Caldecott-winner Brendan Wenzel. This book is one of our HMS Mock Caldecott nominees.

Life, (2017)

words by Cynthia Rylant and pictures by Brendan Wenzel


Goodreads summary: Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel explore the beauty and tenacity of life.

Life begins small, then grows…

There are so many wonderful things about life, both in good times and in times of struggle. Through the eyes of the world’s animals—including elephants, monkeys, whales, and more—Cynthia Rylant offers a moving meditation on finding beauty around us every day and finding strength in adversity. Brendan Wenzel’s stunning landscapes and engaging creatures make this an inspiring and intriguing gift for readers of all ages.

Speaking of gorgeous books, here is a nonfiction picture book I wish I could gift every teacher who has his/her students research national parks.  Beautiful and informative, Jason Chin’s book is on our “Sibert Smackdown” list! See this post for details.

Grand Canyon, (2017)

by Jason Chin


Goodreads summary: Rivers wind through earth, cutting down and eroding the soil for millions of years, creating a cavity in the ground 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and more than a mile deep known as the Grand Canyon.

Home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals that have lived and evolved within its walls for millennia, the Grand Canyon is much more than just a hole in the ground. Follow a father and daughter as they make their way through the cavernous wonder, discovering life both present and past.

Weave in and out of time as perfectly placed die cuts show you that a fossil today was a creature much long ago, perhaps in a completely different environment. Complete with a spectacular double gatefold, an intricate map and extensive back matter.

There is no book trailer but you can check out Jason Chin’s website.

I’d like to end by featuring an incredible series that is not getting enough love and attention.  For students who love fantasy and humor this could be the next series for them!

A Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes #1), (2012)

words by Christopher Healey and pictures by Todd Harris


Goodreads summary: Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.

Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

Christopher Healy’s Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a completely original take on the world of fairy tales, the truth about what happens after “happily ever after.” It’s a must-have for middle grade readers who enjoy their fantasy adventures mixed with the humor of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Witty black-and-white drawings by Todd Harris add to the fun.

Watch the book trailer for A Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.


December 3, 2017

Shelli Paroline
Braden Lamb

We have an exciting week ahead at HMS! We will welcome graphic novelists Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb on Friday morning for an interactive assembly. It is a perfect fit for us because graphic novels are always dominating the monthly top circulation statistics.

The first featured book is on the Rhode Island Children’s Book Award list. It is a perfect pick for students who enjoy realistic fiction. If your child is looking for recommendations this is the perfect place to start. This list of 20 nominees was carefully chosen by a committee of librarians and teachers.

Weekends with Max and His Dad, (2016)

words by Linda Urban and pictures by Katie Kath


Goodreads summary: Max and his dad love their weekends together. Weekends mean pancakes, pizza, spy games, dog-walking, school projects, and surprising neighbors! Every weekend presents a small adventure as Max gets to know his dad’s new neighborhood—and learns some new ways of thinking about home.        Acclaimed author Linda Urban deftly portrays a third-grader’s inner world during a time of transition in this sweet and funny illustrated story that bridges the early reader and middle grade novel.

There is no book trailer, but here is the link to author Linda Urban’s website.

This next title is on our Mock Newbery list. It is a great story told from a unique perspective.

Wishtree, (2017)

words by Katherine Applegate and pictures by Charles Santoso


Goodreads summary: Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this “wishtree” watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.

Watch the Wishtree book trailer.

This title is on our Mock Caldecott list. I can’t wait to read this with students and hear their thoughts on it.

Flashlight Night, (2017)

words by Matt Forrest Esenwine and pictures by Fred Koehler


Goodreads summary: Flashlight Night is an ode to the power of imagination and the wonder of books. Three children use a flashlight to light a path around their backyard at night; in the flashlight’s beam another world looms. Our heroes encounter spooky woods, a fearsome tiger, a time-forgotten tomb, an Egyptian god, a sword-fighting pirate, and a giant squid. With ingenuity, they vanquish all, then return to their tree house–braver, closer, and wiser than before–to read the books that inspired their adventure.

This biography is worth a read. You’ll learn about a brilliant mind and also about the origin of a coding word we use today.

There is no book trailer, but you can visit the websites of Matt Forrest Esenwine and Fred Koehler.

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, (2017)

words by Laurie Wallmark and pictures by Katy Wu


Goodreads summary: If you’ve got a good idea, and you know it’s going to work, go ahead and do it.” The picture book biography of Grace Hopper—the boundary-breaking woman who revolutionized computer science.

Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English,” and throughout her life succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly is “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys.

Watch a Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code book trailer.

I really enjoyed this last featured story about a veterinarian who takes care of all animals, but specializes in magical animals. Ooh, it’s a good one!

The Unicorn in the Barn, (2017)

words by Jacqueline K. Ogburn and pictures by Rebecca Green


Goodreads summary: For years people have claimed to see a mysterious white deer in the woods around Chinaberry Creek. It always gets away.
One evening, Eric Harper thinks he spots it. But a deer doesn’t have a coat that shimmers like a pearl. And a deer certainly isn’t born with an ivory horn curling from its forehead.
When Eric discovers the unicorn is hurt and being taken care of by the vet next door and her daughter, Allegra, his life is transformed.
A tender tale of love, loss, and the connections we make, The Unicorn in the Barn shows us that sometimes ordinary life takes extraordinary turns.

Watch a book trailer for The Unicorn in the Barn.

November 26, 2017


This week is an exciting week for literacy in Rhode Island. During the week of November 27 we will show our love for reading by posting pictures of our favorite books using the hashtag #RIReads and #HMSReads. We have a photo booth prop available in the library if you would like to use it. However, you really don’t need a prop other than a beloved book in your hand.  I’m hoping to get students, parents, and staff involved in this one week activity from home or at school! Just take a picture of you and a book or just your book and post on social media using the hashtags above. Can’t wait to see what our school community comes up with!

Our students came up with a holiday wish list of book and magazine titles. You’ll enjoy seeing what our students recommend!

The first featured book of the week is on the Rhode Island Children’s Book Award list. Students must read at least three books to be eligible to vote in February. For those who enjoy historical fiction, this might be of interest to you.

Brave Like My Brother, (2016)

by Marc Tyler Nobleman


Goodreads summary: The story of an American soldier in WWII England who shares his war experiences (including a historic, dangerous secret mission) with his 10-year-old brother via letters.

Watch a Brave Like My Brother book trailer.

This next title is on our HMS Mock Newbery list. I adored this book because I had the opportunity to learn about another culture and religion. Yet the book was truly focused on the universal topics of friendship and fitting in. It is a must read!

Amina’s Voice, (2017)

by Hena Khan


Goodreads summary: A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this sweet and moving middle grade novel from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

There is no book trailer, but check out author Hena Khan’s website.

This next picture book was ordered months ago and finally delivered to our library last week. Any time Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen team up, I am at attention. If you haven’t read their Caldecott honor Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, you’re missing quite a treat sure to elicit groans and laughs. I “test drove” this new one with a fifth grade class and they really enjoyed it. This title is on our HMS Mock Caldecott list.

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, (2017)

words by Mac Barnett and pictures by Jon Klassen


Goodreads summary: This is a story about a mouse and a duck who get swallowed by a wolf.

Early one morning a mouse met a wolf
and was quickly gobbled up.

When a woeful mouse is swallowed by a wolf, he quickly learns he is not alone: a duck has already set up digs, and, boy, has that duck got it figured out! Turns out it’s pretty nice in there, with delicious food and elegant table settings, courtesy of the wolf’s unchecked gluttony. And there’s something even better: no more fear of being eaten by a wolf! In fact, life is pretty good, until a hunter shows up. . . . With a nod to traditional fables and a wink to the reader, the award-winning Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen offer a tale of cooperation and creative cuisine that is sure to go down easy.

Watch the book trailer for The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse.

The Sibert Award is presented to award the most distinguished informational books for children. Fifth grade teacher Ms. Reynolds and I are piloting a “Sibert Smackdown” with her class this year. They will read and become familiar with 12 nonfiction titles and vote for the one they think should receive the Sibert medal in February. They will use these titles as mentor texts for their own informational writing. This nominee is a fun one because you read and guess which makes it very interactive.

Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! (2017)

by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson


Goodreads summary: Two Truths and a Lie is the first book in a new series that presents some of the most crazy-but-true stories about the living world as well as a handful of stories that are too crazy to be true—and asks readers to separate facts from fakes! Did you know that there is a fungus that can control the mind of an ant and make it do its bidding? Would you believe there is such a thing as a corpse flower—a ten-foot-tall plant with a blossom that smells like a zombie? How about a species of octopus that doesn’t live in water but rather lurks in trees in the Pacific Northwest?

Every story in this book is strange and astounding. But not all of them are real. Just like the old game in this book’s title, two out of every three stories are completely true and one is an outright lie. Can you guess which? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable. And they’re all accompanied by dozens of photos, maps, and illustrations. Amaze yourself and trick your friends as you sort out the fakes from the facts!

There is no book trailer, but check out author Ammi-Joan Paquette’s website.

I was not introduced to Anne with an “e” until college. My friend would reread one of the Anne books during the summer when she didn’t have school work, and encouraged me to try. Well, I did read and I was hooked. We convinced my mom to take us on a bus trip to Prince Edward Island to see all that Anne described. It was an amazingly beautiful place! When I found out Anne of Green Gables was now in graphic novel form I had to get it for our library. My hope is that our students read it and feel inspired to read Lucy Maude Montgomery’s classic series for themselves.

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel, (2017)

pictures by Mariah Marsden and Brenna Thummler


Goodreads summary: Schoolyard rivalries. Baking disasters. Puffed sleeves. Explore the violet vales and glorious green of Avonlea in this spirited adaptation.

The magic of L.M. Montgomery’s treasured classic is reimagined in a whimsically-illustrated graphic novel adaptation perfect for newcomers and kindred spirits alike. When Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide to adopt an orphan who can help manage their family farm, they have no idea what delightful trouble awaits them. With flame-red hair and an unstoppable imagination, 11-year-old Anne Shirley takes Green Gables by storm.

Anne’s misadventures bring a little romance to the lives of everyone she meets: her bosom friend, Diana Barry; the town gossip, Mrs. Lynde; and that infuriating tease, Gilbert Blythe. From triumphs and thrills to the depths of despair, Anne turns each everyday moment into something extraordinary.

There’s no book trailer but here is the movie trailer for the 1985 Anne of Green Gables movie starring Megan Follows as Anne. You can still borrow this movie version through the public library. I highly recommend it!

November 19, 2017


As we get ready for Thanksgiving, I want to share a suggested holiday wish list of book titles and magazine subscriptions. Many thanks to the students of Hampden Meadows who made suggestions of books and magazines they love and/or would enjoy receiving.

The first 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.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, (2016)

words by Debbie Levy and pictures by Elizabeth Baddeley


Goodreads summary: Get to know celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—in the first picture book about her life—as she proves that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable!

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what’s right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG, tells the justice’s story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements.

Watch a book trailer for I Dissent.

This next book is a title on our Mock Newbery list. I have not gotten a chance to read it just yet but look forward to getting my hands on it.  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.

Tumble & Blue, (2017)

by Cassie Beasley


Goodreads summary: The magic-infused story of a golden gator, two cursed kids, and how they take their destinies into their own hands.

When the red moon rises over the heart of the Okefenokee swamp, legend says that the mysterious golden gator Munch will grant good luck to the poor soul foolish enough to face him.

But in 1817, when TWO fools reach him at the same time, the night’s fate is split. With disastrous consequences for both . . . and their descendants. Half of the descendants have great fates, and the other half have terrible ones.

Now, Tumble Wilson and Blue Montgomery are determined to fix their ancestors’ mistakes and banish the bad luck that’s followed them around for all of their lives. They’re going to face Munch the gator themselves, and they’re going to reclaim their destinies.

But what if the legend of Munch is nothing but a legend, after all?

Watch the Tumble & Blue book trailer.

Our Mock Caldecott list is chock full of amazing picture books. You will want to read this one. It is simply amazing.

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!, (2017)

words by Carmen Agra Deedy and pictures by Eugene Yelchin


Goodreads summary: La Paz is a happy, but noisy village. A little peace and quiet would make it just right.
So the villagers elect the bossy Don Pepe as their mayor. Before long, singing of any kind is outlawed. Even the teakettle is afraid to whistle!

But there is one noisy rooster who doesn’t give two mangos about this mayor’s silly rules. Instead, he does what roosters were born to do.

He sings:

Carmen Deedy’s masterfully crafted allegory and Eugene Yelchin’s bright, whimsical mixed-media paintings celebrate the spirit of freedom — and the courage of those who are born to sing at any cost.

There is no book trailer for this title but you can hear a page read in both Spanish and English here.

This year I have more and more students asking for scary books. When I came across this graphic novel recently I was sure to order two for our library. As soon as they went on display both copies were checked out!

Graveyard Shakes, (2017)

by Laura Terry


Goodreads summary: Katia and Victoria are sisters and scholarship students at a private boarding school. While Victoria tries to fit in, Katia is unapologetic about her quirks, even though their classmates tease her. After a big fight, Katia runs away from school. And when Victoria goes looking for her, she accidentally tumbles into the underworld of a nearby graveyard. It is inhabited by ghosts, ghouls, and a man named Nikola, who is preparing a sinister spell that’s missing one key ingredient.

Victoria teams up with adorable Little Ghost and Nikola’s kindhearted son, and together they search for Katia. They must find her before she becomes Nikola’s next victim!

There is no book trailer for this brand new book. Perhaps one of our students will create one! Here is a link to Laura Terry’s website so you can learn more about her work.

Serena Williams: Legends in Sports, (2017)

by Matt Christopher


Goodreads summary: Discover the amazing achievements of sports legend Serena Williams–on and off the tennis court–in this exciting new biography. 

Serena Williams has been ranked number one in the world for tennis singles, won twenty-two Grand Slam singles titles, and won four Olympic gold medals. She is a powerful player and a fierce competitor. Learn more about the record-breaking athlete in this comprehensive and action-packed biography, complete with stats and photographs.

There is no book trailer for this title but this is a quick intro video to Serena Williams.

Here’s a bonus book this week. We have two different Chromebook informational books now that our school has gone one-to-one. They’re pretty popular so be sure to place a hold if you’re interested in becoming an expert on your Chromebook!

Chromebook for Dummies, (2015)

by Mark Lafay


Goodreads summary: Get the most out of your Google Chromebook. Are you the proud new owner of a Google Chromebook and a little–or a lot–intimidated by the technology? You’ve come to the right place! “Chromebook For Dummies” walks you through setting up the device, transitioning from traditional computers and working in the cloud, customizing Chromebook to suit your needs, navigating the apps and their uses, and applying advanced settings and features. Fear not: with the step-by-step guidance and helpful information inside, there’s no reason to break a sweat.

Chromebooks are affordable, fast, and sleek–and with Google driving the initiative, they’re impossible to ignore. So it’s no wonder they’re gaining popularity and enticing people from all walks of life to make the switch from a traditional PC or laptop. If you’re one of those people and want to make the most of your experience, this book is a practical user’s guide to all things Chromebook.Covers all Chromebooks on the market. Provides coverage of all Chromebook features in an easy-to-follow manner. Serves as the go-to reference for successfully using a Chromebook.Includes step-by-step coverage of everything you’ll encounter with your Chromebook

If you’re a new or inexperienced user who wants to maximize the performance of your Google Chromebook, you’ll turn to this friendly guide time and again.

November 12, 2017

The first 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 Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, (2016)

by Laura Shovan


Goodreads summary: Laura Shovan’s engaging, big-hearted debut is a time capsule of one class’s poems during a transformative school year. Families change and new friendships form as these terrific kids grow up and move on in this whimsical novel-in-verse about finding your voice and making sure others hear it.

Eighteen kids,
one year of poems,
one school set to close.
Two yellow bulldozers
crouched outside,
ready to eat the building
in one greedy gulp.

But look out, bulldozers.
Ms. Hill’s fifth-grade class
has plans for you.
They’re going to speak up
and work together
to save their school.

Watch a book trailer for The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary.

This next book is on our Mock Newbery list. I adored Alex and could understand why people want to help him in this touching novel. 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.

See You in the Cosmos, (2017)

by Jack Cheng


Goodreads summary: 11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like.

But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

Watch a See You in the Cosmos book trailer.

This next book is a biography in graphic novel form that I think many of our students will enjoy.

Pele: The King of Soccer, (2017)

words by Eddy Simon and pictures by Vincent Brascaglia


Goodreads summary: Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known to his schoolmates as Pele, grew up in poverty in the Sao Paulo region of Brazil. He was too poor to afford a real soccer ball, so he played with a ball of newspaper tied together with string. Yet he dominated the youth leagues and signed his first professional soccer contract at the age of fifteen. Within two years he was celebrated internationally, when he led Brazil to victory at the world cup. Known by his fans as -O Rei- (The King), Pele is widely regarded as the greatest soccer player of all time. But he’s more than just an athlete: he also traveled the world as goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Pele is the living symbol of a sport he dubbed -the beautiful game—a game that brings people together regardless of race or nationality.

Watch a Pele movie trailer.

Raina Telgemeier has stepped away from her work on remaking Ann M. Martin’s Baby-sitters Club books into graphic novel form. I think readers will be pleased with Gail Galligan’s work which is very similar to Raina’s.

Dawn and the Impossible Three (Baby-sitters Club Graphic Novels #5), (2017)

by Gail Galligan and Ann M. Martin


Goodreads summary: Dawn Schafer is the newest member of The Baby-sitters Club. While she’s still adjusting to life in Stoneybrook after moving from sunny California, she’s eager to accept her first big job. But taking care of the three Barrett kids would be too much for anybaby-sitter. The house is always a mess, the kids are out of control, and Mrs. Barrett never does any of the things she promises. On top of all that, Dawn wants to fit in with the other members of the BSC, but she can’t figure out how to get along with Kristy. Was joining The Baby-sitters Club a mistake?

A graphic novel adaptation of the original story.

This last title is on our Mock Caldecott list. It is perfect for growth mindset and creativity.

The Book of Mistakes, (2017)

by Corinna Luyken


Goodreads summary: Zoom meets Beautiful Oops! in this memorable picture book debut about the creative process, and the way in which “mistakes” can blossom into inspiration.

One eye was bigger than the other. That was a mistake.
The weird frog-cat-cow thing? It made an excellent bush.
And the inky smudges… they look as if they were always meant to be leaves floating gently across the sky. 

November 5, 2017

The first two books featured this week are titles 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.

Cinnamon Moon, (2016)

by Tess Hilmo


Goodreads summary: On the same day as the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, 250 miles away in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, there was an even more devastating fire. Twelve-year-old Ailis and her younger brother, Quinn, survive, but their family does not. Ailis and Quinn are taken by a family acquaintance to live in a boarding house in Chicago, where they meet six-year-old Nettie, an orphan displaced by Chicago’s fire. But the woman who runs the boarding house makes their lives miserable, and Ailis vows to find a way for the three of them to leave. Ailis finds a job at a millinery shop and Quinn plays his fiddle on the streets so they can save money. Then Nettie disappears, and Ailis and Quinn discover she’s been kidnapped by a group that forces children to work in the sewers killing rats. Can they find a way to rescue her?

Framed! (T.O.A.S.T. Mystery #1), (2016)

by James Ponti


Goodreads summary: Get to know the only kid on the FBI Director’s speed dial and several international criminals’ most wanted lists all because of his Theory of All Small Things in this hilarious start to a brand-new middle grade mystery series.

So you’re only halfway through your homework and the Director of the FBI keeps texting you for help…What do you do? Save your grade? Or save the country?

If you’re Florian Bates, you figure out a way to do both.

Florian is twelve years old and has just moved to Washington. He’s learning his way around using TOAST, which stands for the Theory of All Small Things. It’s a technique he invented to solve life’s little mysteries such as: where to sit on the on the first day of school, or which Chinese restaurant has the best eggrolls.

But when he teaches it to his new friend Margaret, they uncover a mystery that isn’t little. In fact, it’s HUGE, and it involves the National Gallery, the FBI, and a notorious crime syndicate known as EEL.

Can Florian decipher the clues and finish his homework in time to help the FBI solve the case?

Watch a Framed book trailer.

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.

The Gauntlet, (2017)

by Karuna Riazi


Goodreads summary: A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.

Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?

This book is on our Mock Caldecott list. I read it to classes during Reading Week last April and it quickly became a fan favorite.

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, (2017)

words by Drew Daywalt and pictures by Adam Rex


Goodreads summary: You’ve played the game. Now read the legend of how it all began…
Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard, there lived a warrior named ROCK.
Meanwhile in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office, a second great warrior sought the glory of battle. And his name was PAPER.

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

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

Watch The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors book trailer.

Don Brown packs lots of information into his graphic novels. Our students who are interested in geology will want to place a hold on this new title in our library.

Older than Dirt: A Wild But True History of Earth, (2017)

by Don Brown and Michael R. Perfit


Goodreads summary: Almost 14.5 billion years ago, it all started with a BIG BANG and what began as a cloud of gas, dust, and rock eventually took shape and bloomed into a molten sphere. Battered by asteroid collisions, ice ages, and shifting tectonic plates, our fledgling planet finally pushed forth continents. But if you think the earth has calmed down since then—think again! Geological activity continues to sculpt the earth’s landscape, sometimes with terrible consequences for its inhabitants: earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis.     In this one-of-a-kind, wild, but true history of Earth, the Sibert Honor medalist Don Brown takes on big concepts with humor and ease.

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.