June 18, 2017

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As you’re thinking about your family’s summer reading and vacation plans, please consider audiobooks for trips and for any old day of the year. Think of audiobooks as “reading with your ears.” Here’s an infographic to support audiobooks:

SoundLearningInfographicAudiobooks can be downloaded using riezone.overdrive.com or requested in different audio formats through the https://catalog.oslri.net as long as you have a public library card. Library cards are free and easy to acquire by going into the library with your driver’s license. Your child is in the habit of searching for and placing holds on books he/she wants through our http://www.ricat.net catalog, so it makes sense that your child has his/his own public library card as well. You will need to help your child set up his/her online account by creating a pin number and deciding how your family wants to receive notifications (through phone messages or emails).

The American Library Association gives out the Odyssey award for outstanding audiobooks each year. Some may be for an older audience so be sure to investigate further. Your child will be familiar with popular titles when you look through the list of past winners link you find on the left-hand column of the page.

Mr. Sangiuliano and I will be hosting a Family Book Club at Hampden Meadows Library this summer on Wednesday, August 2nd at 5pm. We hope you will join us!  The book we chose is readily available at the public library. A local bookstore has ordered a bunch of copies as well.

The Rising Star of Rusty Nail, (2007)

by Lesley M.M. Blume

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Goodreads summary: Franny Hansen is a 10-year-old piano prodigy living in Rusty Nail, Minnesota. Once the Coot Capitol of the world, in 1953 it’s just a run-of-the-mill town with one traffic light and a bizarre cast of characters. She’s long exhausted the talents of the town’s only piano teacher and seems destined to perform at church events and school assemblies, until a mysterious Russian woman arrives in Rusty Nail. Franny’s neighbors are convinced the “Commie” is a threat to their American way of life, but Franny’s not so sure. Could this stranger be her ticket out of Rusty Nail?

Lesley M. M. Blume returns with the poignant and laugh-out-loud funny story of one girl’s attempt to pursue the American dream in small town America.

Visit author Lesley M.M. Blume’s website.

Fifth grader Annabel brought me a book to read many, many months ago. She patiently asked several times if I had started it and I always replied that I had too many others I was reading and hadn’t gotten to it yet. Well, I finally took it home last week and am really excited to share it with you. It’s a fantasy book and it is terrific! If you enjoyed  the Jinx series by Sage Blackwell, you will enjoy this one. Our Series of Unfortunate Events fans will recognize the illustrator’s style right away.

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, (2010)

words by Jennifer Trafton and pictures by Brett Helquist

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Goodreads summary: Ten-year-old Persimmony Smudge leads (much to her chagrin) a very dull life on the Island at the Center of Everything . . . until the night she overhears a life-changing secret. It seems that Mount Majestic, the rising and falling mountain in the center of the island, is not a mountain at all-it’s the belly of a sleeping giant, moving as the giant breathes. Now Persimmony and her new friend Worvil the Worrier have to convince all the island’s other quarreling inhabitants-including the silly Rumblebumps, the impeccably mannered Leafeaters, and the stubborn young king-that a giant is sleeping in their midst, and must not be woken. Enhanced with Brett Helquist’s dazzling illustrations, Jennifer Trafton’s rollicking debut tells the story of one brave girl’s efforts to make an entire island believe the impossible.

Visit author Jennifer Trafton’s website.

For our readers who enjoy man vs. nature stories, this one is right up their alley.

Terror at Bottle Creek, (2016)

By Watt Key

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Goodreads summary: In this gritty, realistic wilderness adventure, thirteen-year-old Cort is caught in a battle against a Gulf Coast hurricane. Cort’s father is a local expert on hunting and swamp lore in lower Alabama who has been teaching his son everything he knows. But when a deadly Category 3 storm makes landfall, Cort must unexpectedly put his all skills-and bravery-to the test. One catastrophe seems to lead to another, leaving Cort and two neighbor girls to face the storm as best they can. Amid miles of storm-thrashed wetlands filled with dangerous, desperate wild animals, it’s up to Cort to win-or lose-the fight for their lives.

Watch a Terror at Bottle Creek book trailer.

I am looking forward to reading this one over the summer and thought many of our readers might enjoy it as well. It is also intriguing because our beloved author friend Barbara O’Connor lives in Asheville, NC!

Ashes to Asheville, (2017)

by Sarah Dooley

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Goodreads summary: Two sisters take off on a wild road trip in this poignant tale for fans of Counting by 7s and Fish in a Tree.

After Mama Lacy’s death, Fella was forced to move in with her grandmother, Mrs. Madison. The move brought Fella all sorts of comforts she wasn’t used to at home, but it also meant saying goodbye to her sister Zoey (a.k.a. Zany) and her other mother, Mama Shannon. Though Mama Shannon fought hard to keep Fella, it was no use. The marriage act is still a few years away and the courts thought Fella would be better off with a blood relation. Already heartbroken, Fella soon finds herself alone in Mrs. Madison’s house, grieving both the death of her mother and the loss of her entire family.
Then one night, Zany shows up at Mrs. Madison’s house determined to fulfill Mama Lacy’s dying wish: to have her ashes spread over the lawn of the last place they were all happy as a family. Of course, this means stealing Mama Lacy’s ashes and driving hundreds of miles in the middle of night to Asheville, North Carolina. Their adventure takes one disastrous turn after another, but their impulsive journey helps them rediscover the bonds that truly make them sisters.
A heartrending story of family torn apart and put back together again, Ashes to Asheville is an important, timely tale.

Visit author Sarah Dooley’s website.

We’ve been doing a book tasting to create our own personalized summer reading lists during our last two library classes of the school year. I wanted to feature the first in a hybrid series (six so far) that a lot of students seem interested in.

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading (Charlie Joe Jackson #1), (2011)

words by Tommy Greenwald and pictures by J.P. Coovert

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Goodreads summary: Charlie Joe Jackson may be the most reluctant reader ever born. And so far, he’s managed to get through life without ever reading an entire book from cover to cover. But now that he’s in middle school, avoiding reading isn’t as easy as it used to be. And when his friend Timmy McGibney decides that he’s tired of covering for him, Charlie Joe finds himself resorting to desperate measures to keep his perfect record intact.

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald is the hilarious story of an avid non-reader and the extreme lengths to which he’ll go to get out of reading a book.

Watch the Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading book trailer.

This summer I wish you lots of time for fun, friends, family, and reading. I hope you read what interests you and makes you happy. I ask that you try the Reading Without Walls Challenge.

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Anything you need to know about summer learning can be found on the district’s summer learning website.

If you’re moving on to another school, I hope you continue seeking out books you enjoy in the libraries of your future. Feel free to send me an email update about what you’re reading and enjoying at roym@barringtonschools.org.

And if you’re coming back to Hampden Meadows in August, please remember to take a “shelfie” with a book you really enjoyed reading over the summer. Bring your photo in the first week of school.  I cannot wait to paper the walls with your reading recommendations!

Happy summer!

 

June 11, 2017

For the next two weeks we will be creating our own summer reading plans while we get the chance to explore popular titles as well as brand new titles from our very last book order of the year and the Barrington Public Library.

Here are a few great books that students will come across this week.

Fish Girl, (2017)

by David Weisner and Donna Jo Napoli

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Goodreads summary: The triple Caldecott winner David Wiesner brings his rich visual imagination and trademark artistry to the graphic novel format in a unique coming-of-age tale that begins underwater. A young mermaid, called Fish Girl, in a boardwalk aquarium has a chance encounter with an ordinary girl. Their growing friendship inspires Fish Girl’s longing for freedom, independence, and a life beyond the aquarium tank. Sparkling with humor and brilliantly visualized, Fish Girl’s story will resonate with every young person facing the challenges and rewards of growing up.

Watch a Fish Girl book trailer.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist, (2017)

words by Jess Keating and pictures by Marta Alvarez Miguens

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Goodreads summary: At 9 years old, Eugenie Clark developed an unexpected passion for sharks after a visit to the Battery Park Aquarium in New York City. At the time, sharks were seen as mindless killing machines, but Eugenie knew better and set out to prove it. Despite many obstacles in her path, Eugenie was able to study the creatures she loved so much. From her many discoveries to the shark-related myths she dispelled, Eugenie’s wide scientific contributions led to the well-earned nickname “Shark Lady.”

Watch the Shark Lady book trailer.

Jess Keating just launched an online magazine for families who enjoy science and creativity. Watch this video to find out more about it and how to subscribe.

Jake the Fake Keeps it Real, (2017)

words by Craig Robinson and Adam Mansbach and pictures by Keith Knight

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Goodreads summary: For fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate comes the first book in a side-splitting illustrated series from comedian and film star Craig Robinson, #1 New York Times bestselling author Adam Mansbach, and NAACP History Maker recipient and cartoonist Keith Knight.
Jake can barely play an instrument, not even a kazoo. And his art? It’s better suited for Pictionary than Picasso. Which is a real problem because Jake just faked his way into the Music and Art Academy for the gifted and talented (and Jake is pretty sure he is neither). More jokester than composer, Jake will have to think of something quick before the last laugh is on him.
Featuring more than 160 illustrations, Jake the Fake is sure to bring the laughs with his hilarious high jinks!

Watch the Jake the Fake Keeps it Real book trailer/interview.

Georgia Rules, (2017)

by Nanci Turner Steveson

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Goodreads summary: 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.

Check out Nanci Turner Steveson’s website.

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains, (2017)

edited by Jon Scieszka

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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.

Check out the Guys Read website.

June 4, 2017

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Let’s start with the fact that the Captain Underpants movie came out this weekend. How many of you got to the theater? Here’s the movie trailer.

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This will be our first week of not checking out books at HMS as I begin gathering books back for end-of-year inventory. However, I’m teaching the students how to access the Ocean State Libraries online catalog to place holds and access eBooks. If your child does not have a library card, please consider taking him/her to the library to get one. The library cards are free, and all you need is photo identification including your address to get one. This will open up your child’s world in so many incredible ways!

Here are some new titles you can reserve from your local library.

Eye of the Storm: NASA, Drones, and the Race to Crack the Hurricane Code (Scientists in the Field), (2017)

by Amy Cherrix

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Goodreads summary: Ten million Americans live in hurricane danger zones, but how do we know if or when to evacuate? We must predict both when a storm will strike and how strong it will be. A daring NASA earth science mission may have finally found a way to crack this hurricane code.

Dr. Scott Braun is the principal investigator for the Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel mission (HS3), which flies repurposed military drone over hurricanes so that scientists can gather data. But the stakes are high and time is running out.

In the first Scientists in the Field book entirely about weather, meet the NASA team on the cutting edge of meteorological field science.

Watch a video about NASA’s hurricane project.

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere, (2017)

by Elise Gravel

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Goodreads summary: Meet Olga, the amazing child scientist who LOVES animals (because they are super-cute)!

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere is jam-packed with fun: vibrant illustrations, word bubbles, quirky humor, olgamus facts, and plenty of excitement for readers who love making discoveries and meeting new friends. Olga is a charming combination of independent, curious, and smart—making her the coolest girl scientist around—perfect for fans of Dork Diaries and Captain Underpants.

When Olga crosses paths with a weird creature and becomes the first kid to discover the species olgamus ridiculus, she is ecstatic! What does an olgamus eat? How does it poop? Why does its burp sound like the word rubber? With her trusty observation notebook and the help of a librarian, a shopkeeper, and some friends, Olga sets out to do science—learning the facts about her smelly, almost-furry pal and searching for him when he goes missing. The scientific method is the best way to discover anything!

Watch the Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere book trailer.

Point Guard (Home Team #3), (2017)

by Mike Lupica

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Goodreads summary: Gus and Cassie have always been on the same team off the field, but in this third novel in New York Times bestselling author Mike Lupica’s Home Team series can they stay friends when they’re on the same court?

Everyone assumes that Gus, whose family is from the Dominican Republic, is a baseball guy. But this year Gus is even more excited about basketball than any other sport he’s ever played. He’s been practicing some new moves and lately he’s more surprised when he misses his shot than when he scores. Plus now that he’s convinced his friend Teddy to try out for the team and Jack’s shoulder is healed, it looks like Walton’s home team will be unstoppable.

But this isn’t going to be the season Gus expected, because their team is getting a new player—and she just happens to be one of his best friends. Gus knows Cassie is more than good enough to compete on the boys’ team, and besides they really do need a point guard, so why isn’t he able to shake the feeling that she belongs on their bleachers rather than their bench? And to make matters worse, with their center Steve Kerrigan constantly making comments about his Dominican heritage, and Steve’s dad voicing his views on immigration as he runs for office, Gus is starting to wonder if he really belongs in Walton after all.

Can Gus find a way to bring the home team together both on and off the court, or will all these prejudices block their shot at a winning season?

Watch a Today show interview with Mike Lupica about his latest book.

The Lincoln Project (Flashback Four #1), (2016)

by Dan Gutman

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Goodreads summary: Congratulations! You are invited to participate in a very special once-in-a-lifetime experience. Please do not share this invitation or discuss it with anyone.

In New York Times bestselling author Dan Gutman’s all-new series, which blends fascinating real history with an action-packed and hilarious adventure, four very different kids are picked by a mysterious billionaire to travel through time and photograph some of history’s most important events. This time, the four friends are headed to 1863 to catch Abraham Lincoln delivering his famous Gettysburg Address. They’ll have to work together to ask the right questions, meet the right people, and capture the right moment. And most important—not get caught! Back matter separating fact from fiction and real black-and-white photographs make Flashback Four the perfect mix of true history and uproarious fun.

Watch The Lincoln Project book trailer.

One Hundred Spaghetti Strings, (2017)

by Jen Nails

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Goodreads summary: When life hands Steffany Sandolini lemons, she makes…pasta sauce! This brave and heartwarming middle grade novel will leave your belly rumbling and your heart full.

Since Steffy was little, she and her older sister Nina have lived with their Auntie Gina. But when their dad comes home to live with them, everything changes.

When Steffy feels like there are pieces of her all over the place, she does what she does best: she cooks her way through the hardest year of her life. But sometimes her life feels like a kitchen-sink meal, with too many ingredients that don’t quite work together. Can the recipes put her—and her family—back together again?

Start with 1 cup of authentic voice, add a tablespoon of coming-of-age and 2 teaspoons of delicious culinary concoctions, mix together, and serve up to fans of Rebecca Stead and Sarah Weeks.

Check out the website of author and school librarian Jen Nails.

May 28, 2017

It’s a bittersweet week in the library…the last week of book check-outs this school year. I’d much rather be putting books into children’s hands. However, I also have a professional responsibility to maintain our collection. I’ll need the last three weeks of school to do inventory and attempt to get back all those books! I’ll spend these weeks showing students how to access the public library online catalog and how to access eBooks.

Here are a few titles you might enjoy.  But before that, I need to share the Wonder official movie trailer because our students have been waiting for it.

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Wonder official movie trailer coming to theaters in November 2017. #choosekind

In honor of Memorial Day, here is a delightful new picture book.

Rolling Thunder, (2017)

words by Kate Messner and pictures by Greg Ruth

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Goodreads summary: 

Lines of bikes are miles long,
shining, half a million strong.
Rumbling, grumbling, engines roar.
Peace signs. High fives. Spirits soar.

Every Memorial Day in Washington, DC, more than a million veterans and their supporters gather for the Rolling Thunder® Ride for Freedom, a demonstration that pays tribute to the men and women of the US armed forces. This lyrical story honors the bravery and sacrifice of those American heroes — the ones who have returned home, and the ones who haven’t.

Check out author Kate Messner’s website.

A library volunteer shared with me that her family has recently discovered the Templeton Twins which gave me the nudge to let everyone else know about these two hybrids by Ellis Weiner.

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea (Templeton Twins #1), (2012)

words by Ellis Weiner and words by Jeremy Holmes

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Goodreads summary: Suppose there were 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl named John and Abigail Templeton. Let’s say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins-adults-named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of) inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn’t it be fun to read about that? Oh please. It would so. Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins), and enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn’t? ).

Watch the The Templeton Twins Have an Idea book trailer.

The next two books are for our action/adventure readers.

The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1), (2017)

by Adrienne Kress

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Goodreads summary: Featuring a mysterious society, a secretive past, and a pig in a teeny hat, The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a new series for fans of The Name of This Book Is a Secret and The Mysterious Benedict Society. Knock once if you can find it—but only members are allowed inside.

This is one of those stories that start with a pig in a teeny hat. It’s not the one you’re thinking about. (This story is way better than that one.)

This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and also a girl on a rescue mission.

The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a series that is sure to hit young readers right in the funny bone.

Watch an interview with author Adrienne Kress talk about The Explorers: The Door in the Alley.

I haven’t read this first book in the upcoming trilogy yet but I’m hearing rave reviews. My pal Melissa Guerrette created the educator’s guide for this book. Check out her blog.

The Shadow Cipher (York #1), (2017)

by Laura Ruby

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Goodreads summary: It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment house—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long-held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.

From National Book Award Finalist Laura Ruby comes a visionary epic set in a New York City at once familiar and wholly unexpected.

Check out author Laura Ruby’s website.

I’m almost finished reading this next book. I am enjoying learning about Amina and her family and their Muslim religion.

Amina’s Voice, (2017)

by Hena Khan

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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.

Check out author Hena Khan’s website.

May 21, 2017

It’s hard to believe that the school year is coming to an end. Here are two important dates for you to remember:

Friday, May 26th – All ILL books must be returned so I can get them back to the libraries we borrowed them from

Friday, June 2nd – Last day of the year for book check-outs. I’ll need to spend the next few weeks wrangling all the books back to do a proper inventory of our materials

Although the school year is winding down, I will still be recommending titles that students can borrow from the public library. It’s never too early to start making a summer reading list!

The Great Big Boom (HiLo 3), (2017)

by Judd Winick

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Goodreads summary: HILO s BA-ACK in this funny “New York Times “bestselling full-color middle-grade graphic novel series that Bone creator Jeff Smith calls delightful and Big Nate author Lincoln Peirce says every kid will love!
HiLo may look like an ordinary kid, but he’s DEFINITELY not! When we last saw HiLo, DJ, and Gina, Gina had been sucked into a mysterious portal to who knows where! But friends don’t let friends disappear into NOWHERE! It’s up to D.J. and HiLo to follow her. Will there be danger? YES! Will there be amazing surprises? OF COURSE! Will Gina end up being the one to save them? DEFINITELY! With the help of Polly, the magical warrior cat, the friends will have to battle bad guys and face disgusting food, an angry mom, powerful magic, and more! Will they survive . . . and make it back to Earth before the portal closes again?! Find out in the third HiLo adventure!”

Watch the original HiLo book trailer with author/illustrator Judd Winick.

Giant Trouble (Hamster Princess 4), (2017)

by Ursula Vernon

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Goodreads summary: A magical beanstalk leads to a GIANT surprise in book four of the series that s chock-full of girl power and perfect for fans of Princess in Black and Babymouse.

Princess Harriet Hamsterbone doesn’t go looking for trouble. She prefers to think of it as looking for adventure. But when she climbs to the top of an enormous beanstalk and sneaks into the castle at the top, Harriet finds plenty of both. The castle is home to one very poetically challenged giant rabbit with two unusual prisoners a girl who is half harp, half hamster, and an extremely large goose. This calls for a heroic rescue, and Harriet is just the hamster for the job.
The fourth installment of the critically acclaimed Hamster Princess series turns the story of Jack and the Beanstalk upside down, with plenty of laughs along the way.”

Watch a book trailer for the Hamster Princess series.

Strong Inside (Young Readers Edition): The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line, (2016)

by Andrew Maraniss

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Goodreads summary: The inspirational true story of the first African American to play college basketball in the deeply segregated Southeastern Conference–a powerful moment in Black history.
Perry Wallace was born at an historic crossroads in U.S. history. He entered kindergarten the year that the Brown v. Board of Education decision led to integrated schools, allowing blacks and whites to learn side by side. A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s -I Have a Dream- speech, Wallace enrolled in high school and his sensational jumping, dunking, and rebounding abilities quickly earned him the attention of college basketball recruiters from top schools across the nation. In his senior year his Pearl High School basketball team won Tennessee’s first racially-integrated state tournament.
The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt University recruited Wallace to play basketball, he courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the Southeastern Conference. The hateful experiences he would endure on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Yet Wallace persisted, endured, and met this unthinkable challenge head on. This insightful biography digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a complicated, profound, and inspiring story of an athlete turned civil rights trailblazer.

Watch the Strong Inside book trailer.

I loved Orphan Train. This week I read Orphan Train Girl to ensure it was appropriate for our students. I’m happy to say they did a really nice job turning it into a young readers edition.

Orphan Train Girl, (2017)

by Christina Baker Kline

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Goodreads summary: 

This young readers’ edition of Christina Baker Kline’s #1 New York Times bestselling novel Orphan Train follows a young foster girl who forms an unlikely bond with a ninety-one-year-old woman. Adapted and condensed for a young audience, Orphan Train Girl includes an author’s note and archival photos from the orphan train era.

Molly Ayer has been in foster care since she was eight years old. Most of the time, Molly knows it’s her attitude that’s the problem, but after being shipped from one family to another, she’s had her fair share of adults treating her like an inconvenience. So when Molly’s forced to help an elderly woman clean out her attic for community service, Molly is wary. Just another adult to treat her like a troublemaker.

But from the very moment they meet, Molly realizes that Vivian, a well-off ninety-one-year-old, isn’t like any of the adults she’s encountered before. Vivian asks Molly questions about her life and actually listens when Molly responds. Molly soon sees they have more in common than she thought. Vivian was once an orphan, too—an Irish immigrant to New York City who was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children—and she can understand, better than anyone else, the emotional binds that have been making Molly’s life so hard. Together, they not only clear boxes of past mementos from Vivian’s attic, but forge a path of friendship, forgiveness, and new beginnings for their future.

Watch the book trailer for Orphan Train.

Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World, (2017)

by Allan Drummond

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Goodreads summary: Bikes rule the road in Amsterdam today, but that wasn’t always the case. In the 1970’s, Amsterdam was so crowded with vehicles that bicyclists could hardly move, but moms and kids relied on their bikes to get around the city. PEDAL POWER is the story of the people who led protests against the unsafe streets and took over a vehicles-only tunnel on their bikes, showing what a little pedal power could do! Author and illustrator Allan Drummond returns with the story of the people that paved the way for safe biking around the world.

Check out Allan Drummond’s website.

May 14, 2017

I’m sending this a day early to remind you that today you have two very fun kid lit options in store for you.  You can head over to the State House from 2-4pm to meet the authors and get a free copy of this year’s Kids Read Across RI title. It is a fun-filled event with lots of book-related activities to experience. I had the chance to hear Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan speak about their collaborative writing process last night, and I was very moved by their joy and respect for one another. I wish your family that same opportunity this afternoon!

Save Me a Seat, (2016)

by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

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Goodreads summary: Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they’re both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL.

Joe’s lived in the same town all his life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own.

Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in.

Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common — but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.

Watch a Save Me a Seat book trailer.

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You also have the opportunity to meet author Mark Parisi  on his Marty Pants book tour at Jeff Kinney’s bookstore, An Unlikely Story, today at 4pm. Follow this link to secure your free tickets to this event.

Watch our own Emma’s book trailer for Marty Pants.

This is a brand new graphic novel we have added to our library.  I know it will make its way into our readers’ hearts.

Invisible Emmie, (2017)

by Terri Libenson

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Goodreads summary: Debut graphic novel that tells the story of two totally different girls—

quiet, shy, artistic Emmie

popular, outgoing, athletic Katie

—and how their lives unexpectedly intersect one day, when an embarrassing note falls into the wrong hands.

Meet Terri Libenson and learn how to draw Emmie.

We have also recently added a new hybrid to our collection.  This silly cover alone will capture our readers.

Gnome-a-geddon, (2017)

by K.A. Holt

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Goodreads summary: Buck discovers that his favorite book series might be less fictional than he thought in this delightful middle grade adventure.

Harry Potter. Percy Jackson. Custard the Gnome.

Buck is a super fan of the book series, The Triumphant Gnome Syndicate. He knows all the trivia. The properties of the Troll Vanquishing Mace, and even what kind of snack Custard, the Gnome of the West, prefers. But when the book’s author disappears in a cloud of smoke at the release party for book three, and Buck’s little sister disappears into a bottomless dumpster, Buck realizes that the world of gnomes and trolls might really exist. What the heck?

As it turns out, the real Custard (don’t call him that) needs Buck’s help to find the Troll Vanquishing Mace. And Buck needs to find his sister. So Buck and his best friend Lizzie set off on an adventure that would make any fan’s head spin. But not everything is as Buck expected—it seems the books did not tell the whole truth about this not-so-make-believe world. Buck soon discovers that real life doesn’t work like a story, and the heroes and villains might not be who they seem. Holy trolls! What’s a super fan to do?

Buck is about to fulfill the ultimate fantasy: going on adventures with his favorite characters, and getting the chance to save the world. Assuming he can figure out whose side he’s really on.

Check out author K.A. Holt’s website.

I am chomping at the bit to get my hands on this title. I just won a Barrington Books gift certificate in a Barrington Little League raffle so this will be on our library shelves soon!

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, (2017)

by Rita Williams-Garcia

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Goodreads summary: From beloved Newbery Honor winner and three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Rita Williams-Garcia comes a powerful and heartfelt novel about loss, family, and love that will appeal to fans of Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander.

Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that’s no way to live.

Armed with his grandfather’s brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him.

Watch the Clayton Byrd Goes Underground book trailer.

Our Next Generation Science Standards include studying how humans impact the environment. I thought this next title would be perfect to support our science curriculum.

Birds vs. Blades: Offshore Wind Power and the Race to Protect Seabirds, (2016)

by Rebecca Hirsch

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Goodreads summary: Find out how scientists are working to ensure that the promise of clean, renewable offshore wind power won’t spell disaster for the millions of seabirds that play a critical role in the ocean food web.

Learn more about the world’s first wind farm.

This last one is for your pure reading pleasure.

Bob, Not Bob!: *to be read as if you have the worst cold ever,  (2017)

words by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick and pictures by Matthew Cordell

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Goodreads summary: Little Louie is stuck in bed with a bad cold. His nose is clogged, his ears are crackling, and his brain feels full. All he wants is his mom to take care of him, but whenever he calls out for her, his stuffed-up nose summons slobbery dog Bob instead! As Louie tries and tries to make himself understood in this funny picturebook, kids will love calling out with him, “Bob, not Bob!”

Watch the Bob, Not Bob! book trailer.

Finally, I want to congratulate four of our fourth graders who were recognized this week by Kate Lenz, director of the RI Center for the Book, for their outstanding Letters About Literature, a contest through the Library of Congress. Three of our students were Level 1 Semi-Finalists and one of our students was the Level 1 Winner for the state! I should add that the Level 1 category is for students in grades 4-6. We are all so proud of these amazing writers!

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May 7, 2017

Andrew Luck

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I love when a person uses their fame for good. Andrew Luck, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, has started a book club and podcast to promote reading. This month’s pick is a 1963 Newbery award-winning classic. It is also on our 5th grade Battle of the Books list.

A Wrinkle in Time, (1962)

by Madeleine L’Engle

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Goodreads summary: It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

Read more about Andrew Luck’s book club and podcasts here.

Check out Andrew Luck’s book club website.

If you enjoyed reading A Wrinkle in Time, a similar book you could read is this 2010 Newbery winner.

When You Reach Me(2009)

by Rebecca Stead

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Goodreads summary: Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

Watch a When You Reach Me book trailer.

Check out author Rebecca Stead’s website. I’m excited about the upcoming project she’s got cooking with her author pal Wendy Mass.

For our children who love anything sports-related, I’ve recently discovered books by Howard Bryant. We’ll be adding these to our library.

Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball, (2016)

by Howard Bryant

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Goodreads summary: From Magic Johnson to Michael Jordan to LeBron James to Steph Curry, ESPN’s Howard Bryant presents the best from the hardwood–a collection of NBA champions and superstars for young sports fans!
Fast-paced, adrenaline-filled, and brimming with out-of-this-world athleticism, basketball has won the hearts of fans all across America–yet it is particularly popular among kids and teens. Giants of the game like Steph Curry, LeBron, and Michael Jordan have transcended the sport to become cultural icons and role models to young fans. From the cornfields of Indiana and the hills of North Carolina, to the urban sprawl of New York City, Chicago and L.A., love of the game stretches from coast to coast.
Featuring Top Ten Lists to chew on and debate, and a Top 40-style Timeline of Key Moments in Basektball History, this comprehensive collection includes the greatest dynasties, from the Bill Russell-era Celtics, to the Magic Jonson-led Lakers, to the Jordan-led Bulls, right up to the Tim Duncan-led Spurs. All the greats take flight toward the hoop in this perfect book for young fans who dream about stepping on an NBA court.

Howard Bryant has also written these two Legends books:

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This new graphic novel is sure to be a HUGE hit with our students. Shannon Hale has done it again! She had me at the dedication.

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Real Friends, (2017)

by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

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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.

Last week author Mark Parisi visited our school to talk about his brand new hybrid Marty Pants. What I didn’t realize was that Hampden Meadows was the first kid audience he ever spoke in front of. We were the very first stop on his book tour. Not surprisingly, our students were very well-behaved and everyone commented on how funny his presentation was.

Emma, Grade 4

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Last week in library class we started working on creating book summary recommendations and I mentioned that students may want to take it a step further by creating their own book trailers at home using iMovie. Emma, the fourth grader pictured above, went home Thursday night and created an absolutely amazing book trailer for Marty Pants.  With permission from her parents, I shared it with Mark Parisi.

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His people got in touch with Emma’s people and now Emma’s book trailer is being shared to promote his new book. How cool is that?! Way to go, Emma! You’ve made us so proud!

Marty Pants, (2017)

by Mark Parisi

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Watch Emma’s amazing Marty Pants book trailer.  And be sure to congratulate her when you see her!

If your child hasn’t stopped talking about Mark Parisi and this book, you have a chance to meet him and check out Jeff Kinney’s book store in Plainville, MA on Saturday, May 13th at 4pm. It’s less than an hour away and a worthwhile road trip. You haven’t experienced an author book signing until you’ve done it at An Unlikely Story. Leave it to a best-selling author to create the most incredible space for author and illustrator events!

Speaking of Jeff Kinney, his 12th Diary of a Wimpy Kid book comes out in November. Here is the cover reveal:

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The countdown is on!

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