October 8, 2017

Book Tasting Time! Woot! Woot!

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

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

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

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

by Patricia Newman


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

Watch the Sea Otter Heroes book trailer.

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

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

words by Julie Falatko and pictures by Tim Miller


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

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

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

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

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

Refugee, (2017)

by Alan Gratz


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

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

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

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

Watch the Refugee book trailer.

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

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

words by Mary Beth Leatherdale and pictures by Eleanor Shakespeare


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

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

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

The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo, (2016)

by Drew Weing


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

The place is teeming with monsters!

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

Watch a Margo Maloo book trailer.

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

Pie, (2011)

by Sarah Weeks


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

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

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

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

Watch a Pie book trailer.

Other Books by Sarah Weeks (1).png

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


October 1, 2017


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

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

Georgia Rules, (2017)

by Nanci Turner Steveson


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

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

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

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

Claymates, (2017)

words by Dav Petty and art by Lauren Eldridge


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

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

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

Watch the Claymates book trailer.

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

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

words by Selina Alko and pictures by Sean Qualls


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

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

Watch a book trailer for The Case for Loving.

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

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

by Christine Heppermann


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

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

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

Can An Aardvark Bark? (2017)

words by Melissa Stewart and pictures by Steve Jenkins


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

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

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

Watch the book trailer for Can An Aardvark Bark?

September 24, 2017

Our first family book club of the school year will be Friday, October 27 from 7:45-8:30am. This is a great opportunity to read a book with your child and come ready to discuss it with others! The family book club title is a RI Children’s Book Award nominee by an author who is really special to the students and staff of Hampden Meadows. A paper invitation is coming home with your child this week. Please fill out the RSVP and return it to school if you would like to join us.  You can secure this book through your public library, Scholastic book orders, or your local bookstore. If you let the bookstore know it’s for an HMS family book club, you will get a 20% discount

Wish, (2016)

by Barbara O’Connor


Goodreads summary: Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets
Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.

Watch the Wish book trailer.

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


Author Sarah L. Thomson at Nerd Camp NNE

The Eureka Key (Secrets of the Seven #1), (2016)

by Sarah L. Thomson


Goodreads summary: When middle school puzzle master Sam and history wiz Martina win a contest for a summer trip across the US, they discover they’ve been drafted into something vastly more extraordinary. Joining another kid on the trip, Theo, a descendant of George Washington himself, they must follow clues to find seven keys left behind by the Founding Fathers. Together the keys unlock Benjamin Franklin’s greatest invention–a secret weapon intended to defend the country. Each key is hidden in a unique location around the U.S., protected with puzzles, riddles, and traps. This has kept the weapon safe . . . until now! Gideon Arnold, a dangerous descendant of the infamous Benedict Arnold, is on the chase.

In competition with Arnold and his thugs to reach the artifacts first, Sam, Martina, Theo, and readers must use their wits to solve ingenious puzzles, escape death-by-booby-trap, and, by the end of the series, save our nation by uncovering many of its greatest secrets.

Watch a book trailer for The Eureka Key.

We will be rolling out a virtual Mock Newbery book club next week. It is open to our entire HMS reading community: students, staff, and parents. If you like reading kid lit, you may want to join the fun! The title I’m featuring this week has an AMAZING premise. I think it will create some really good discussion!

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 book Restart book trailer.

We just added two copies of this graphic novel title to our library catalog. It is the follow up to the popular Sunny Side Up.

Swing It, Sunny, (2017)

By Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

swing it sunny

Goodreads summary: Summer’s over and it’s time for Sunny Lewin to enter the strange and unfriendly hallways of . . . middle school. When her Gramps calls her from Florida to ask how she’s doing, she always tells him she’s fine. But the truth? Sunny is NOT having the best time.
Not only is the whole middle school thing confusing . . . but life at home is confusing, too. Sunny misses her brother Dale, who’s been sent to boarding school. But when Dale comes back, she STILL misses him . . . because he’s changed.
Luckily Sunny’s got her best friend and a mysterious new neighbor on her side . . . because she is NOT going let all this confusion get her down. Instead, she’s going to remain Sunny-side up!

Watch the Swing It, Sunny book trailer.

The RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors is being held at Lincoln School in Providence on Saturday, October 14 from 9:00am- 5:30pm. It really is a unique opportunity to hear authors and illustrators from near and far talk about their craft, and meet them in person while getting books signed.  I am highlighting books of the authors and illustrators who will be attending from now until the event. This week I am featuring a talented author/illustrator team from Barrington.

There’s a Wolf at the Door, (2008)

words by Zoe B. Alley and pictures by R.W. Alley



in an oversized gift-ready package Wolf, a rather fine dresser and intelligent creature, just can’t catch a break. All he wants to do is eat some pig, lamb, a gosling or two, a loud sheperd…or that little girl wearing a red hood, but for some reason none of them will cooperate. Five classic tales morph into one ongoing yarn as Wolf bumbles his way through each of them. Told in graphic novel style in an oversized picture book package, this is the gift for kids of all ages for happily-ever-after holidays.

They also have a very talented son. Max Alley, a Sowams graduate, created the new logo for the Sowams Octoberfest happening on Saturday, October 14th. Colorful tie-dye T-shirts are now on sale with Max’s fun logo on the front!



September 17, 2017

Jarrett Lerner is a newly published author with a book called EngiNerds that came out on Tuesday, September 12th. We have two copies in our library. I think a lot of our readers are going to go crazy for it!

EngiNerds, (2017)

by Jarrett Lerner


Goodreads summary: The battle between boys and bots is on in this funny, fast-paced novel.

Ken is an EngiNerd: one of a super-smart group of friends—all nerds—who have been close since kindergarten.

They may be brainiacs, but they’re just like everyone else: they fight with one another, watch too much TV, eat Chinese food, and hate walking their dogs. Well, maybe not just like everyone because Ken’s best friend Dan has been building robots. He then secretly sent one to each of the EngiNerds, never letting them know he’s the mastermind.

At first Ken is awed and delighted: what kid hasn’t dreamed of having a robot all their own? Someone who can be their friend, clean their room, walk the dog, answer homework questions…how amazing is that?

But be careful what you wish for: Dan’s robot, Greeeg, may look innocent, but his ravenous consumption of food—comestibles—turns him into a butt-blasting bot. And once the other robots ‘come alive’ it’s up to the motley crew of EngiNerds to not only save the day, but save the planet!

I asked Jarrett to answer a few questions for the readers of HMS.

Three Questions for Jarrett Lerner


How did you come up with the idea for this book?
It’s impossible to say exactly where ideas come from. If I knew, I’d be there right now, scooping up as many as I could! What I do know, however, is that all my best ideas come when I’m doing three things: (1) reading, (2) exploring, and (3) dreaming.
I read books CONSTANTLY. New ones. Old ones. Ones that have to do with the things I write about and ones that have absolutely NOTHING to do with the things I write about. Learning about other people’s ideas is, perhaps, the surest way to get your brain hunting around for some ideas of your own.
By exploring, I just mean being out in the world. Trying new things. Having interesting experiences. Or even just doing something plain old and regular, like sitting around with friends. So long as you are living IN THE MOMENT — being observant, taking things in, noticing, feeling, reacting, being.
And last of all: dreaming. That’s letting your ideas and experiences dance, and then waltz together into unknown territory. It’s asking “What if?” over and over again. Following your questions and curiosities, then coming up with answers and explanations, until you’ve built a whole new world around yourself.
In terms of EngiNerds — I’ve got a lot of friends who are, at times, too smart for their own good. And when they get into a sticky situation, the rest of us all band together to help them out of it — even if we’re really, really ticked off at them. That’s what friendship is. And for me, that’s a big part of what EngiNerds is about. Besides farting robots, I mean. Did you know there were farting robots?
Did the interests of Jarrett in fourth and fifth grade prepare you for the career you have today?
I always loved reading, and I had an interest in and passion for writing fairly early on. But I was also always doing tons of other things — for a while, I tried hard to be a sponsored skateboarder, and later on, I nearly went to school to study guitar. But I also loved cooking, playing games, and just sitting around doing “nothing” with friends. And those experiences were just as important as the reading and writing I did. Everything you do, every experience you have — it clues you in a little more to the world and people in it, and I find that all I soaked up as a kid helps my writing in surprising, exciting, mysterious ways every single day.
Do what you love. Surround yourself with fun, positive people. If you do that, you can’t NOT end up in a place you want to be.
What advice would you give to students about writing/drawing?
Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Draw, draw, draw. Do what you want and love to do as much as you can do it. And never, ever be afraid to make mistakes, mess up, and fail. 99% percent of a writer’s or illustrator’s life is making mistakes, messing up, and failing. Only once you’ve done things wrong can you clearly see how to do it right. Every sentence in every book you read, every line in every drawing — each little bit was labored over, and attempted again and again and again before it was gotten “perfect.” What might look easy is, I promise, NOT.
And as scary as it may be, share your work. Some people might love it, some might not be all that into it. But every reaction will cause you to have a new reaction to your own work — one you couldn’t have had all alone. Perhaps it’ll cause you to change something, or maybe it’ll leave you feeling more confident in the decisions you originally made. Either way, you’ve become a better, stronger, more confident artist.

Thank you, Jarrett, for these amazing answers! We can all learn from you.

Kids absolutely love Victoria Jamieson’s graphic novel Roller Girl. It was a RI Children’s Book Award winner. So I know our students will be excited to get their hands on her new graphic novel. We now have two copies in our library.
All’s Faire in Middle School, (2017)
by Victoria Jamieson
Goodreads summary: The author of Roller Girl is back with a graphic novel about starting middle school, surviving your embarrassing family, and the Renaissance Faire.

Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire, and she’s eager to begin her own training as a squire. First, though, she’ll need to prove her bravery. Luckily Impy has just the quest in mind–she’ll go to public school after a life of being homeschooled! But it’s not easy to act like a noble knight-in-training in middle school. Impy falls in with a group of girls who seem really nice (until they don’t) and starts to be embarrassed of her thrift shop apparel, her family’s unusual lifestyle, and their small, messy apartment. Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.
Watch the All’s Faire in Middle School book trailer.
This gem is on our Mock Newbery list. I loved this one. The author made the younger twin brothers so authentic I’d want to bet she grew up with twin brothers herself (like me). I was rooting for Charlie and I think you will too.
The Someday Birds, (2017)
by Sally J. Pla

Goodreads summary: Charlie wishes his life could be as predictable and simple as chicken nuggets.

And it usually is. He has his clean room, his carefully organized bird books and art supplies, his favorite foods, and comfortable routines.

But life has been unraveling since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan. And when Dad gets sent across country for medical treatment, Charlie must reluctantly travel to meet him. With his boy-crazy sister, unruly twin brothers, and a mysterious new family friend at the wheel, the journey looks anything but smooth.

So Charlie decides to try and spot all the birds that he and his dad had been hoping to see together in the wild. If he can complete the Someday Birds list for Dad, then maybe, just maybe, things will turn out okay…

Equal parts madcap road trip, coming-of-age story for an unusual boy, and portrait of a family overcoming a crisis.

Watch the book trailer for The Someday Birds.
This next book came out last week. It is written by RI’s own Kara LaReau who will be a featured author at the RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors at Lincoln School in Providence on Saturday, October 14th. Kara LaReau won a Geisel award for The Infamous Ratsos last year. This is the follow-up to that incredible book. Seriously, if you haven’t read it, make sure that you do. You are invited to attend her book launch party at Barrington Books on Saturday, September 23rd from 11:00AM – 12:30PM. It should be a lot of fun!
The Infamous Ratsos Are Not Afraid, (2017)
words by Kara LaReau and pictures by Matt Myers

Goodreads summary: When Louie and Ralphie Ratso set out to transform a cluttered lot into an arcade, they end up conquering a few surprising fears along the way in this follow-up to the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book The Infamous Ratsos.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso have a genius idea: if they clear out the lot down the street, they can use all the junk lying around to build makeshift games for a Big City FunTime Arcade! With their friends to help, they’ll be able to recycle all the old abandoned stuff into whack-a-mouse, a high-striker, a fortune-telling booth, and more. Everyone says the house next to the lot is haunted, but if Louie just pretends it’s not there, maybe he can ignore the goose bumps he gets every time he looks at it. Ralphie’s head’s not exactly in the game, either, because of some rumors that have been swirling around school. But they’re Ratsos, and like their dad, Big Lou, Ratsos aren’t afraid of anything — right? Kara LaReau and Matt Myers team up for a second surprisingly touching chapter book proving that sometimes the things you fear the most aren’t at all what you thought — and might be exactly what you need to feel better.

Watch The Infamous Ratsos Are Not Afraid book trailer.
Cook out!
The last 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.
Watch a mini biography of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

September 10, 2017

Quick Tip: It’s okay to abandon books.

Have you ever started a book and just couldn’t get into it? You gave it a good try and it was not working for you? It happens to me every once in a while. And when it happens I think to myself, “Life is so short and there are too many good books out there to suffer through one that is not working for me.” Yes, I abandon books. I’m sure you have too. I’ve been talking to classes about their reading identity (see post here) and part of the conversation is about having permission to abandon books. I’m hoping with the work we are doing around our reading identities students will better know themselves and how to advocate for their reading preferences.


  • Job applications for Library Council are due to Mrs. Roy by Tuesday, September 12th.
  • Pre-orders for our Chris Tebbetts author visit are due Tuesday, September 12th.
  • Paper copies of both are available at the HMS Library circulation desk.

This week there is a fun author event on Saturday, September 16th from 4:30-6:00pm at Barrington Books. Anika Denise and Jamie Michalak are beloved local authors who are releasing brand new picture books. Come join us for the book launch party!

Starring Carmen, (2017)

words by Anika Denise and pictures by Lorena Alvarez Gomez


Goodreads summary: Meet Carmen! She LOVES the spotlight and applause. She’s an actress, a singer, a dancer—a one-girl sensación! She exhausts her parents with her nightly performances and completely overshadows Eduardo, her adoring little brother. But when Eduardo shows his big sister how much he loves her in a way even Carmen can’t ignore, will Carmen realize that the stage is big enough for two?

Exuberant illustrations by Lorena Alvarez Gómez offer the perfect complement to Anika Denise’s warm, Spanish-sprinkled text in this celebration of theater, family, and imagination.

Joe and Sparky: Party Animals! (2017)

words by Jamie Michalak and pictures by Frank Remkiewicz


Goodreads summary: The endearingly mismatched duo has their hands full when a party for a friend goes comically awry.
One day Joe, an exuberant giraffe, hears a commotion coming from another part of the famous cageless zoo he calls home. Joined by his small, green, slightly more serious turtle friend, Sparky, Joe discovers the source of the hullabaloo: a group of children or noisy short people, as Joe and Sparky call them having a party. Inspired, Joe decides to throw a party for his pet worm, Wiggy. There s just one problem: Sparky is not entirely sure if Wiggy even exists! What will happen when every animal in the zoo shows up to Wiggy s party with presents and cake? Worm or no worm, this silly, satisfying tale is sure to leave new readers smiling.”

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

Mo’ne Davis: Remember My Name: My Story from First Pitch to Game Changer, (2015)

by Mo’ne Davis


Goodreads summary: Be inspired to reach for your dreams!

At the age of thirteen, Mo’ne Davis became the first female pitcher to win a game in the Little League World Series and the first Little Leaguer to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. A month later she earned a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

This inspiring memoir from a girl who learned to play baseball with the boys and rose to national stardom before beginning eighth grade will encourage young readers to reach for their dreams no matter the odds. Mo’ne’s story is one of determination, hard work, and an incredible fastball.

Mo’ne Davis is a multisport athlete who also plays basketball and soccer, and is an honor roll student at her school in Philadelphia.

With an 8-page full-color photo insert, this memoir celebrates our fascination with baseball in a story of triumph to be shared with generations of young athletes to come.

Watch an interview with Mo’ne Davis.

Here’s a title on our Mock Newbery list. I happen to adore this one for its exquisite writing. We own one copy. You may want to order it from the public library so that you don’t have a long wait.

Beyond the Bright Sea, (2017)

by Lauren Wolk


Goodreads summary: From the author of the critically acclaimed Wolf Hollow comes a moving story of identity and belonging.

Twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the starkly beautiful Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Abandoned and set adrift on a small boat when she was just hours old, Crow’s only companions are Osh, the man who rescued and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbor across the sandbar.

Crow has always been curious about the world around her, but it isn’t until the night a mysterious fire appears across the water that the unspoken question of her own history forms in her heart. Soon, an unstoppable chain of events is triggered, leading Crow down a path of discovery and danger.

Vivid and heart wrenching, Lauren Wolk’s Beyond the Bright Sea is a gorgeously crafted and tensely paced tale that explores questions of identity, belonging, and the true meaning of family.

We just processed four new copies of this popular graphic novel series. Every single one was checked out within forty minutes of hitting the display shelves.

A Tale of Two Kitties (Dog Man #3), (2017)

by Dav Pilkey


Goodreads summary: He was the best of dogs… He was the worst of dogs… It was the age of invention… It was the season of surprise… It was the eve of supa sadness… It was the dawn of hope… Dog Man, the newest hero from the creator of Captain Underpants, hasn’t always been a paws-itive addition to the police force. While he can muzzle miscreants, he tends to leave a slick of slobber in his wake! This time, Petey the cat’s dragged in a tiny bit of trouble — a double in the form of a super-cute kitten. Dog Man will have to work twice as hard to bust these furballs and remain top dog!

Watch the Dog Man 3 book trailer.

The RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors is held annually at Lincoln School in Providence on the Saturday after Columbus Day weekend. It really is a unique opportunity to hear authors and illustrators from near and far talk about their craft, and meet them in person while getting books signed.  I will highlight books of the authors and illustrators who will be attending from now until the event.

Guys Read: Heroes and Villains (Guys Read #7), (2017)

by Jon Scieszka


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

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

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

Other books you know by Jon Scieszka:


from left to right: Battle Bunny, Time Warp Trio series,  The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Math Curse, Knucklehead, Baloney, Spaceheaz series, Squids Will Be Squids, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Science Verse






September 3, 2017

Dapper (2)

I think the absolute best way to kick off the school year is with an author visit. Thanks to the generosity of the HMS PTO, we are pleased to announce that best-selling author Chris Tebbetts will be visiting our school the morning of Friday, September 22nd! I will send out a separate order form email this week if you would like to pre-order a book for Mr. Tebbetts to sign. He is happy to sign new and used copies of his books.

“The difference between a reader and a non-reader is a plan.” -Penny Kittle

Children have a reading plan when they find a series that interests them. Good news: both the series we will focus on to prepare for our visit with Chris Tebbetts have many books within them!

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (Middle School #1), 2011

by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts


Goodreads summary: Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix. Luckily, he’s got an ace plan for the best year ever, if only he can pull it off: With his best friend Leonardo the Silent awarding him points, Rafe tries to break every rule in his school’s oppressive Code of Conduct. Chewing gum in class-5,000 points! Running in the hallway-10,000 points! Pulling the fire alarm-50,000 points! But when Rafe’s game starts to catch up with him, he’ll have to decide if winning is all that matters, or if he’s finally ready to face the rules, bullies, and truths he’s been avoiding.

Watch the Middle School book trailer.

Watch the Middle School movie trailer.

Stranded (Stranded #1), 2013

by Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts


Goodreads summary: A family vacation becomes a Test of Survival!

It was supposed to be a vacation – and a chance to get to know each other better. But when a massive storm sets in without warning, four kids are shipwrecked alone on a rocky jungle island in the middle of the South Pacific. No adults. No instructions. Nobody to rely on but themselves. Can they make it home alive?

A week ago, the biggest challenge Vanessa, Buzz, Carter, and Jane had was learning to live as a new blended family. Now the four siblings must find a way to work together if they’re going to make it off the island. But first they’ve got to learn to survive one another.

Watch the Stranded book trailer.


One of the best-kept secrets in Rhode Island is the RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors held annually at Lincoln School in Providence on the Saturday after Columbus Day weekend. They bring in big names from near and far. It’s a unique opportunity to hear authors and illustrators talk about their craft, and meet them in person while getting books signed.  I will highlight books of the authors and illustrators who will be attending from now until the event.

A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray, (2007)

by Ann M. Martin


Goodreads summary: Newbery Honor author Ann Martin’s “heartwrenching and heartwarming” (Kirkus) dog story, now in paperback, with After Words bonus material.

Squirrel and her brother Bone begin their lives in a toolshed behind someone’s summer house. Their mother nurtures them and teaches them the many skills they will need to survive as stray dogs. But when their mother is taken from them suddenly and too soon, the puppies are forced to make their own way in the world, facing humans both gentle and brutal, busy highways, other animals, and the changing seasons. When Bone and Squirrel become separated, Squirrel must fend for herself, and in the process makes two friends who in very different ways define her fate.

Watch a book trailer for A Dog’s Life.

Other Books by Ann M. Martin.png




We will have two different offerings of book clubs each month. Students who sign up will come to the library to eat a nut-free lunch and have lively discussion around great titles. If you cannot get a copy of the book through our library, remember that the public library can usually provide you any title you request within days. More details to come…


This book is the first of our Mock Newbery titles. Author Shannon Hale told a story about a parent who complained to her, “My kid won’t stop reading graphic novels! What do I do about it?” She replied, “Repeat back the first five words you just said to me – my kid won’t stop reading.” Pretty good way to put it in perspective, right?

Real Friends, (2017)

words by Shannon Hale and pictures by LeUyen Pham


Goodreads summary: When best friends are not forever . . .

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?
Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.

Watch the Real Friends book trailer.


The last 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. We will be doing a lunch book club for some of the nominees. The book featured below is our first book club title. More details to come, but you might want to secure your own copy from the public library ASAP!

Towers Falling, (2016)

by Jewell Parker Rhodes


Goodreads summary: From award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes, a powerful novel set fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks.

When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Deja can’t help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means, and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers?

Award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes tells a powerful story about young people who weren’t alive to witness this defining moment in history, but begin to realize how much it colors their every day.

Watch the Towers Falling book trailer.




Welcome to Hampden Meadows Library!

Welcome! My name is Melanie Roy, the library teacher at HMS. If you are new to our school this year, you can expect to receive a weekly blog post with 5 book recommendations from me. I try to vary the offerings and include book trailers whenever possible (kids LOVE book trailers).  I will send you posts so that you know about books your child and family may want to read, and give you a heads-up when there are exciting kid lit events your family might enjoy attending.

Want your child to be a lifelong reader? Here are 5 ways to ensure this happens:

  1. Secure a public library card. If I do my job well this year, there will be books your child wants to read and the waiting list through our school library will be long. Your child will get frustrated due to the wait. With your public library card you can reserve the title online and get a notification within days to pick it up. You’ll be your child’s hero. Trust me on this.
  2. Honor your child’s reading identity. Let your child decide what he/she wants to read. Even if it’s not a book you would choose or a genre you would choose, and even if your child reads a book multiple times, let your child decide. Would you want to be told what you have to read? I like this research tidbit by Regie Routman so much that I made it part of my email signature: “Reading comprehension test scores are more influenced by students’ amount of engaged reading than any other single factor.”
  3. Offer audiobooks as an option. Audiobooks are not cheating! Audiobooks are “reading with your ears.” There is a lot of research to support the use of listening to books. You can get free audiobooks through your public library’s  eZone Overdrive platform.
  4. Read aloud to your child. Don’t stop reading aloud just because your child can read him/herself. It’s a powerful connection and a safe way to talk about topics through a character’s experience.
  5. Read books your child is reading. Reading your child’s book choices is another great way to stay connected and have discussions with your child. Mr. Sangiuliano and I offer about four family book clubs per year. They are scheduled before school so that parents can leave for work as students are preparing to start their day. It’s a powerful experience to come together as families and discuss literature.

If you are on Facebook, you can follow the Hampden Meadows Library page.

If you are on Twitter, you can follow the @hms_library.

Be sure to take a picture of your child holding a book he/she loved reading this summer. Please print it out and send it in for the first week of school. Adults and students will be papering the halls with these pictures to establish we are a reading community and to provide recommendations to others.

I will leave you with one book this week. This is a title on our Mock Caldecott list and a great way to discuss the learning community we hope to achieve this school year.

Super Manny Stands Up! (2017)

words by Kelly DiPucchio and pictures by Stephanie Graegin


Goodreads summary: New York Times bestselling author Kelly DiPucchio and illustrator Stephanie Graegin bring a lionhearted new hero to life in this tender, sparkling story about standing up for what’s right—and finding your inner superpowers.

Every day after school, Manny saves the world from formidable foes.

Zombie bears, evil cloud monsters, and alien robots with laser beam eyes are no match for Super Manny. But when Manny encounters a real-life nemesis in the school cafeteria, will he be able to summon his superhero strength to save the day?

Watch the Super Manny Stands Up! book trailer.