January 14, 2017


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


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

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

by Mark Parisi


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

words by Susan Hood and pictures by Sally Wern Comport


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

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

Watch a book trailer for Ada’s Violin.

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

Lone Stars, (2017)

by Mike Lupica


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

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

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

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

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

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

Come With Me, (2017)

words by Holly M. McGhee and pictures by Pascal Lemaitre


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

Watch the Come With Me book trailer.

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

Ugly, (2013)

by Robert Hoge


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

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

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

Watch Emma’s book trailer for Ugly.



January 7, 2018

Happy New Year!



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

A Long Pitch Home, (2016)

by Natalie Dias Lorenzi


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

Watch a book trailer for A Long Pitch Home.

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

Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes, (2017)

by Mary E. Lambert


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

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

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

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

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

Hey, Black Child, (2017)

words by Useni Eugene Perkins and pictures by Bryan Collier


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

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

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

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

Feathers and Hair, What Animals Wear, (2017)

words by Jennifer Ward and pictures by Jing Jing Tsong


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

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

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

Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks, (2018)

by Victoria J. Coe


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

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

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

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


December 17, 2017

Holiday Card Request


It’s an exciting time of year when holiday cards from near and far arrive in the mail. When the holidays are over, instead of recycling please consider sending in your cards to the library (this excludes family photo cards please). Our library council would like to re-purpose the front covers of the cards into bookmarks for next year.

The first book of the week is from the 2018 RI Children’s Book Award nominee list.

The Prizewinners of Piedmont Place, (2016)

words by Bill Doyle and pictures by Colin Jack


Goodreads summary: Modern Family meets Supermarket Sweep in this laugh-out-loud, winner-takes-all adventure for young middle grade readers!

One lucky family is about to win BIG!

The prize? Twenty minutes to grab anything, maybe even everything, from Mr. King Kashman’s world-famous megastore. It’s eleven-year-old Cal’s chance to score the haul of a lifetime! But before he can get to the Final Round, he’ll have to trick—er, that is, convince—his precocious nine-year-old sister, Imo, and mischievous little brother, Bug, to compete in a series of crazy challenges. Cal’s family may be smart and funny, kind and loyal, always brave and they never quit—but do they really have what it takes to be PRIZE WINNERS? There’s only one way to find out…Let the contest begin!

Watch a book trailer for The Prizewinners of Piedmont Place.

This next book is on our HMS Mock Newbery list. I really enjoyed it and think kids will enjoy it too. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it win a Schneider Family Book Award.

Forget Me Not, (2017)

By Ellie Terry


Goodreads summary: A girl with Tourette syndrome starts a new school and tries to hide her quirks in this debut middle-grade novel in verse.

Calliope June has Tourette syndrome. Sometimes she can’t control the noises that come out of her mouth, or even her body language. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But soon the kids in her class realize she’s different. Only her neighbor, who is also the class president, sees her as she truly is—a quirky kid, and a good friend. But is he brave enough to take their friendship public?

As Callie navigates school, she must also face her mother’s new relationship and the fact that she might be moving again—just as she’s starting to make friends and finally accept her differences. This story of being true to yourself will speak to a wide audience.

Watch the Forget Me Not book trailer.

The next featured book is near and dear to our students’ hearts because Matt Tavares visited third graders last spring and gave them a sneak peek. This gorgeous HMS Mock Caldecott nominee is sure to warm your heart and become part of your holiday book collection.

Red and Lulu, (2017)

by Matt Tavares


Goodreads summary: Separation and miles cannot keep a determined cardinal from his loved one in an ode to serendipity and belief that is destined to be a new Christmas classic.
Red and Lulu make their nest in a particularly beautiful evergreen tree. It shades them in the hot months and keeps them cozy in the cold months, and once a year the people who live nearby string lights on their tree and sing a special song: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree. But one day, something unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. It will take a miracle for them to find each another again. Luckily, it’s just the season for miracles. . . . From Matt Tavares comes a heart-tugging story combining the cheer of Christmas, the magic of New York City, and the real meaning of the holiday season: how important it is to be surrounded by love.

Watch the Red and Lulu book trailer.

Fans of Charlotte’s Web will delight in this picture book biography beautifully illustrated by the talented Lauren Castillo.

A Boy, A Mouse and a Spider: The Story of E.B. White, (2017)

words by Barbara Herkert and pictures by Lauren Castillo


Goodreads summary: A lyrical biography of E. B. White, beloved author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, written by Barbara Herkert and illustrated by Caldecott honoree Lauren Castillo.

When young Elwyn White lay in bed as a sickly child, a bold house mouse befriended him. When the time came for kindergarten, an anxious Elwyn longed for the farm, where animal friends awaited him at the end of each day. Propelled by his fascination with the outside world, he began to jot down his reflections in a journal. Writing filled him with joy, and words became his world.

Today, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web are beloved classics of children’s literature, and E. B. White is recognized as one of the finest American writers of all time.

A Special Dedication

Kevin Robinson

Our community is mourning the loss of Kevin Robinson, a bright light that was extinguished far too soon. Although K-Rob was famous for his unbelievable work ethic and outstanding accomplishments, he always had a way of reflecting his light onto others to encourage everyone to be their best selves. His genuine love for his family,  career, giving back to others, and life were contagious. When he came to our school for an assembly, his message was so inspiring and motivating that everyone left better for being in his presence.

Kevin Robinson earned a place in the 2018 Guinness World Records Book.

We have Guinness World Records books in our library although you’ll rarely find them on our shelves. They are well-loved, always checked out, and don’t hold up over time. Therefore, we will be purchasing a few 2018 Guinness World Records books. However, one will be dedicated to Kevin Robinson’s memory and will be shelved in the reference section for all to access without fear of wear and tear. As the cover below says, we did meet a real-life superhero. May he rest in peace.

Guinness World Records 2018, (2017)

By Guinness World Records


Watch a Kevin Robinson video tribute.



December 10, 2017


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

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

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

words by Chris Barton and pictures by Don Tate


Goodreads summary: A cool idea with a big splash.

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

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

Watch a Whoosh! book trailer.

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

Short, (2017)

by Holly Goldberg Sloan


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

Watch a Short book trailer.

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

Life, (2017)

words by Cynthia Rylant and pictures by Brendan Wenzel


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

Life begins small, then grows…

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

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

Grand Canyon, (2017)

by Jason Chin


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

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

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

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

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

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

words by Christopher Healey and pictures by Todd Harris


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

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

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

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

December 3, 2017

Shelli Paroline
Braden Lamb

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

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

Weekends with Max and His Dad, (2016)

words by Linda Urban and pictures by Katie Kath


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

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

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

Wishtree, (2017)

words by Katherine Applegate and pictures by Charles Santoso


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

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

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

Watch the Wishtree book trailer.

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

Flashlight Night, (2017)

words by Matt Forrest Esenwine and pictures by Fred Koehler


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

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

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

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, (2017)

words by Laurie Wallmark and pictures by Katy Wu


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

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

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

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

The Unicorn in the Barn, (2017)

words by Jacqueline K. Ogburn and pictures by Rebecca Green


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

Watch a book trailer for The Unicorn in the Barn.

November 26, 2017


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

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

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

Brave Like My Brother, (2016)

by Marc Tyler Nobleman


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

Watch a Brave Like My Brother book trailer.

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

Amina’s Voice, (2017)

by Hena Khan


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

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

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

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

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

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

words by Mac Barnett and pictures by Jon Klassen


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

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

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

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

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

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

by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson


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

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

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

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

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

pictures by Mariah Marsden and Brenna Thummler


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

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

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

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

November 19, 2017


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

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

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

words by Debbie Levy and pictures by Elizabeth Baddeley


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

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

Watch a book trailer for I Dissent.

This next book is a title on our Mock Newbery list. I have not gotten a chance to read it just yet but look forward to getting my hands on it.  Hampden Meadows is a reading community and I invite the adults and students to participate in our HMS Mock Newbery by reading titles and commenting on what you think by going to this link.  Here is a title from the list I cannot wait to read.

Tumble & Blue, (2017)

by Cassie Beasley


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

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

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

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

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

Watch the Tumble & Blue book trailer.

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

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

words by Carmen Agra Deedy and pictures by Eugene Yelchin


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

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

He sings:

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

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

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

Graveyard Shakes, (2017)

by Laura Terry


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

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

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

Serena Williams: Legends in Sports, (2017)

by Matt Christopher


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

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

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

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

Chromebook for Dummies, (2015)

by Mark Lafay


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

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

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