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Icon_HighSchoolboys in the boat

The Boys in the Boat:  The True Story of an American Team’s Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown. Adapted for young readers by Gregory Mone. Viking, 2015

The personal story of Joe Rantz and the collective story of the University of Washington rowers who became the U.S. gold-medal winning team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics are interwoven in this captivating work. Rantz grew up in a family hit hard by the Depression and by tragedy. On his own at age 15, he worked his way to Seattle, was admitted to the University of Washington, and tried out for the rowing program as it was beginning to excel. Unlike members of elite rowing teams from the east coast, Rantz and his fellow rowers were primarily working class young men and some, like Rantz, could take nothing for granted. The contrast when they traveled east for big races was obvious and undeniable, but their hard work, and developing teamwork under coaches committed to making them the best, eventually earned them the right to represent the country. This fine adaptation of a book originally published for adults will be satisfying on numerous levels for middle and high school readers, not the least of which is as a sports story with riveting accounts of numerous races.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for The Boys in the Boat at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What was the biggest challenge that Joe and/or his team mates faced? Financial, family, academic, athletic?
  2. If this story were to happen today, what do you think would be different?
  3. This book is the story of an underdog coming out on top. What is it about these kinds of stories that readers find so appealing?

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roller girlRoller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. Dial, 2015

Astrid Vasquez and her best friend Nicole can barely tolerate her mother’s regular Evenings of Cultural Enrichment until she surprises them with a roller derby match. For Astrid, it’s a life-changing experience: she’s hooked on roller derby, and is especially struck by the star player of the Rose City Rollers, Rainbow Brite. When she learns that there is going to be a roller derby summer camp for girls 12-17, she immediately signs up and assumes Nicole will, too. But Nicole has other plans for the summer. She wants to attend dance camp with Astrid’s long-time nemesis and Astrid feels betrayed. As Astrid go through hard weeks of training, leading up to a junior bout during the half-time of a pro roller derby game, she makes a new friend but still feels the sting of losing Nicole. Roller derby gives her an outlet for her anger as she discovers she has a fierce competitive streak. And when Astrid unintentionally hurts her new friend it’s an opportunity for self-reflection, but there’s plenty of roller derby action here, too, as novice skater Astrid gains skills and confidence but, realistically, never gets to be really good. Along the way, she gets some tips about finding her own inner strength through an on-going secret correspondence with her hero, Rainbow Brite, through notes she leaves and receives the Rose City Rollers locker room. This witty, original, and action-packed graphic novel was written and illustrated by a skater for the Rose City Rollers who is known by the name Winnie the Pow. As a result of her inside expertise, readers will get a good sense of the game and how it’s played, as well as unique aspects of derby culture.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Astrid and Nicole’s friendship changes throughout the book. Why is the change of a friendship not necessarily a bad thing?
  2. Why is being perseverant an important trait? How does Astrid demonstrate perseverance?
  3. What would you want to do for an “Evening of Cultural Enlightenment” activity? How would this compare to what your parents would suggest?

march book 2March: Book Two by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. Illustrated by Nate Powell. Top Shelf, 2015

The second volume of this graphic novel memoir trilogy follows U.S. Congressman John Lewis’s activism and leadership in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s. Beaten, jailed, but steadfast and further politicized and energized during the Freedom Rides, he emerged into a leadership role in the Student Nonviolent Coordinator Committee (SNCC) as protests heated up in Birmingham early in 1963. It was in his SNCC role that he was involved in planning the March on Washington that year and to speak at the event, only to be asked to make last-minute changes to lines in his speech questioned as too divisive and critical. The direct, powerful conversational narrative is paired with dramatic black-and-white panel art and occasional full-page illustrations, and includes Lewis’s account of other key figures and their role in the sweeping social change taking place. Like March: Book One , President Obama’s 2008 inauguration provides a framing device in a volume that ends, tragically and poignantly, with the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham that killed four girls in September, 1963. The original draft of Lewis’s March on Washington speech is included in the end matter.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why was President Obama’s inauguration an important element of this story?
  2. How are civil rights struggles still relevant in our society today?
  3. What issues are important enough for you to risk everything?
  4. How did the illustrations add to the story? Why do you think the illustrator choose not to use color in his illustrations?

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one plastic bag smallOne Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. Millbrook Press, 2015

When Isatou Ceesay first noticed a piece of silky fabric on the ground in her Gambian community, she wasn’t sure what it was. “Plastic,” her Grandmother explains with a frown. Soon there is more. The bags are convenient but people discard them when they break. The litter is unsightly, and a hazard to livestock that eat it. It’s a problem that grows as Isatou reaches adulthood. Watching her sister crochet gives Isatou the idea to turn the worn bags into something useful again, and soon a group of women are transforming old plastic bags into purses after washing and cutting them into strips to crochet. The new bags are not only a solution to the litter problem but become a means of economic development in their community. Debut Wisconsin author Miranda Paul brings a storyteller’s gift for language and pacing to this picture book account based on real events and set against Elizabeth Zunon’s illustrations full of texture and color. An author’s note with more about Isatou and the ongoing initiative, pronunciation guide for the Wolof words incorporated into the narrative, timeline, bibliography, and color photographs are included in the end matter.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-reading: What does your family do with plastic bags?
  2. Isatou show’s great persistence. Think of examples of other people whose perseverance impacted a broad group.
  3. How do you help your community? Does that also touch the global community?

tiger boyTiger Boy by Mitali Perkins. Illustrated by Jamie Hogan. Charlesbridge, 2015

Neel lives on one of the Sundarban islands off the coast of Bangladesh. Neel’s father has always said it’s important to protect the land and the tigers, so Neel is dismayed when Baba agrees to work for wealthy Mr. Gupta hunting a tiger cub that escaped from a nearby refuge. Everyone knows Mr. Gupta wants to sell the cub on the black market. But hardworking Baba needs extra money to hire a tutor to help Neel prepare for an upcoming scholarship exam. Neel doesn’t care about the scholarship; he has no desire to leave the island for further schooling. He does care about the little cub, however, so he and his older sister, Rupa, who wishes she could go to school, are determined to find the cub before anyone else, even Baba, and return it to the refuge. The sense of urgency that propels Neel and Rupa’s hunt for the cub creates the perfect amount of tension in an engaging story wonderfully grounded in Neel’s point of view and his experiences in his family and community. Their effort to save the cub helps Neel understand how furthering his education is one means of helping protect the place he lives. Just the right amount of information about the complexities of economic and environmental issues is seamlessly incorporated into this warm, lively chapter book featuring occasional illustrations and a satisfying and believable ending. An author’s note tells more about the islands and their environmental and economic struggles. (MS)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-reading: What does school mean to you?
  2. How does Neel feel about school? Why? How does his opinion of or feelings toward education change from the beginning of the story to the end of the story?
  3. How does the desperate situation in the story affect people’s decisions? How can one person’s actions have a profound impact on the world? Give examples from at least two characters from the book.
  4. What role does the setting play in this story?

Find a complete discussion guide from the publisher here! Find more resources for Tiger Boy at TeachingBooks.net

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Drum Dream Girl:  How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle. Illustrated by Rafael López.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015drum deam girl

Millo Castro Zaldarriaga was born in Cuba in the 1920s and grew up attuned to the rhythms in the world around her, and inside her. She dreamed of drumming, but only boys and men learned how to play at that time. She dared to drum anyway, “tall conga drums / small bongo drums / and big, round, silvery / moon-bright timbales … Her hands seemed to fly / as they rippled / rapped / and pounded / all the rhythms / of her drum dreams.” Her father said no when her sisters asked ten-year-old Millo to join their band. Only boys should play drums, he said. But Millo couldn’t silence the sounds. Eventually her father found her a teacher who listened to her, and taught her, and gave her the chance to change the way people thought about girls and drumming. Margarita Engle’s poem makes a striking picture book narrative and is set against the vibrating tropical colors of Rafael López’s lush illustrations. A note tells how Afro-Chinese-Cuban Millo went on to a world-famous musician who played alongside jazz greats, in addition to changing hearts and minds with her beats. Winner, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What words does the author use that make you think of drumbeats? How does the author create rhythm with words?
  2. How do the illustrations show us when Milo (the protagonist) dreams of drumming and when she is actually drumming?
  3. Why do you think Papa decided to provide a drum teacher for Milo?

Emmanuel’s Dream:  The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Schwartz & Wade, 2015

Born with only one functioning leg, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah grew up with a mother who focused on his abilities. “He learned to crawl and hop, to fetch water and climb coconut trees.” When he grew too heavy for her to carry, he hopped two miles to school and two miles home again. “Emmanuel had a sharp mind, a bold heart, and one strong leg.” At 13, he left home for the city of Accra in Ghana to earn money to help support his family. Time and again he encountered people who assumed he couldn’t do much because of his disability. After his mother’s death, he decided to honor her last words by showing that being disabled doesn’t mean being unable, and, after much organization and planning, embarked on a bike ride across Ghana: 400 miles in 10 days, with one strong leg. An understated narrative emphasizes Emmanuel’s spirit and persistence in addition to his physical abilities, while the stylized illustrations are full of emotion. An author’s note tells of Emmanuel’s continued disability rights activism.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How is Emmanuel physically different? What challenges does he face because of his difference?
  2. How do you think Mama Comfort supports and inspires Emmanuel?
  3. How does Emmanuel show that being disabled doesn’t mean being unabled?
  4. Looking back at the book, what information do you learn from the illustrations that the text does not provide?

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RagweedRagweed’s Farm Dog Handbook by Anne Vittur Kennedy.  Candlewick Press, 2015

A how-to handbook offering sage advice from an experienced farm dog begins, “Here’s the first thing you need to know: The rooster wakes the farmer early in the morning. That’s his job. That’s not your job. Don’t wake the farmer. You will really, really want to wake the farmer … If you DO wake the farmer, you can get a biscuit just to go away.” Each lesson proves to be a slight variation on this theme as Ragweed, one of the most entertaining and authentic canine narrator’s ever to speak from the pages of a picture book, lays out who does what on the farm, what not to do as a farm dog, and how doing it anyway will generally result in a biscuit (or three!). Ragweed’s enthusiasm and almost single-minded focus on biscuits is consistent and convincingly doglike, while the occasional variation on the pattern only adds to the humor. (“If the farmer is away, chase the sheep! No biscuit. It’s just worth it.”). Anne Vittur Kennedy’s pairs her terrific narrative with illustrations full of color and movement. Ragweed’s joy in the life he lives is irresistible. Highly Commended, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
The Babies and Doggies Book by John Schindel and Molly Woodward. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

  • Talk: Ragweed is proud to be an excellent farm dog. Talk about what you do well.
  • Sing: Old MacDonald Had a Farm
  • Write: Draw a picture or make a small book about the things you do well.
  • Play: Pretend to be a dog or another farm animal
  • Math or Science: Visit a farm or petting zoo.

babies and doggies bookThe Babies and Doggies Book by John Schindel and Molly Woodward. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

Babies and puppies feature in this adorable board book that looks at how many things babies and puppies have in common. Both hide and peek, for example, and both like to eat, and both like to be silly. A simple series of rhyming and almost rhyming statements is paired with smile-inducing color photographs sure to charm both babies and toddlers and their adult caregivers.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Try reading the story with the word “puppies” instead of doggies.
  • Sing: “BINGO”
  • Write: Make a collage with pictures of dogs and puppies. Look for pictures in magazines or online.
  • Play: Practice the downward facing dog yoga pose.
  • Math or Science: How are puppies and babies different? How are they alike?

why do I singWhy Do I Sing?  Animal Songs of the Pacific Northwest by Jennifer Blomgren. Illustrated by Andrea Gabriel. Little Bigfoot / Sasquatch Books, 2015

Realistically rendered illustrations of ten animals with habitats in the Pacific Northwest are each paired with a four-line rhyme describing their vocalizations. From honeybees to fin whales to marmots, a wide-ranging lineup of species is showcased in a board book to be shared with the youngest of naturalists. Even amphibians are accounted for, as “the Pacific tree frogs / lead a big twilight chorus / that fills up the wetlands / and pastures and forests.” © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Look at a map. Where do these animals live? Where do you live?
  • Sing: Can you sing like the animals? What sounds do they make?
  • Write: Practice forming the letter “S” for sing out of string. What other materials can you use to create the letter S
  • Play: Can you move like the animals? Try them all!
  • Math or Science: Talk a walk in the park. What animals do you see? What animals do you hear?

Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection: “A Dog”, page 28

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Just a few words to describe the Read On Wisconsin 2016-2017 Book Selections!

Find the 2016-2017 school year Read On Wisconsin titles here! Just click on the Books tab above or here for the complete list!

Get a preview some of the upcoming September ROW books by clicking on the images below!

Or, get a sneak peek at all of the ROW September titles on Pinterest Pinterest_Badge_Red[1]

babies and doggies book

drum deam girlroller girltiger boymarch book 2boys in the boat

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ROW Summer Reading Kick Off with Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table Author

June 27th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Primary (Grades K-2) | Summer - (Comments Off on ROW Summer Reading Kick Off with Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table Author)
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A Beautiful, Big Welcome from Gaenslen School!

Jacqueline Briggs Martin, the author of Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table, one of ROW’s summer reading suggestions for elementary age kiddos, and her editor and publisher at Readers to Eaters, Philip Lee, made inspired visits to Orchard Ridge Elementary School in Madison and Gaenslen School in Milwaukee! With the help of super school media specialist, Sam Skar at Orchard Ridge, and Susan Plewa at Gaenslen, we had a enthralled audience and an uplifting time! We also had the amazing opportunity to meet Will Allen and visit his urban farm, Growing Power, in Milwaukee!

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Farmer Will Allen, Philip Lee of Readers to Eaters, and Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Jackie talked to 3rd and 4th graders at each school about food, family stories around food and the writing process. Her visit was a welcome treat at the end of the school year. Several young writers were thrilled to meet a published author (Jackie) and an editor (Philip Lee).

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3rd Graders at Gaenslen with Excellent Questions!

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Orchard Ridge 4th Grade Students Engrossed in Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s Snowflake Images

Some burgeoning foodies loved learning more about urban farming and growing food. All of the kids loved hearing about Jackie’s experiences growing up on a farm surrounded by fresh fruits and vegetables and sharing their own food favorites and experiences with Jackie.

Both schools, like many in Wisconsin, have a focus on community agriculture with school vegetable gardens and a special hydroponics lab at Gaenslen.

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Susan Plewa, Jackie Briggs Martin and Philip Lee

A huge thank you to Jackie Briggs Martin and Philip Lee for visiting Wisconsin and sharing their talents and experiences with students, schools and librarians! And, another huge thank you to school media specialists, Susan Plewa and Sam Skar, who provided welcoming venues for the visit and wonderfully engaged students!

Hear about writing Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table from the author, Jackie Briggs Martin, on TeachingBooks.net.

 

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Wow! Two New Booktrailers from Jack Young Middle School Students!

June 21st, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Book trailer | January | Middle School | October - (Comments Off on Wow! Two New Booktrailers from Jack Young Middle School Students!)

Enjoy and share these student-made promotional videos for Read On Wisconsin titles below. Booktrailers are a great way to share your thoughts with others on books that you’ve read and enjoyed. Maybe you and your kiddos would like to make one for another ROW title. Have fun and let us know so we can post your video, too!

Thanks for the super booktrailers, Jack Young Middle School!

Middle School Books

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers  (Jack Young Middle School) January 2016 Title

The Screaming Staircase (Jack Young Middle School) October 2015 Title

 

So Many Stories! So Many Ideas! So Many Books!

May 27th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | High School | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | Primary (Grades K-2) | Summer - (Comments Off on So Many Stories! So Many Ideas! So Many Books!)

Find some Wisconsin teacher and librarian approved summer reading titles here! Grab a book and head outdoors to enjoy the summer sunshine and super stories! Check out the books below by clicking on the image to read the CCBC annotation for the title!

Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

night soundsbuilding our housewho's that baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Primary (grades K-2)

farmer will allenxander's panda partymy cold plum lemon pie bluesy mood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intermediate (grades 3-5)

problem with being slightly heroicemerald atlasloon summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middle School

mira in the present tenselittle blog on the prairiehoudinithehandcuffking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High School

100 sideways mileslove is the drugsilhouette of a sparrowvanishing point

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Variety of the Spice of Life: Try These Summer 2016 High School Titles

May 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | Summer - (Comments Off on Variety of the Spice of Life: Try These Summer 2016 High School Titles)

love is the drugLove is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson. Arthur Icon_HighSchoolA. Levine Books, 2014.

Icon to identify Summer Reading BooksTeenager Emily Bird feels pressure to be perfect — a credit to her family and all African Americans. But inside, she’s far more Bird than Emily, longing to fly away from rigid expectations that have nothing to do with her desires. Bird meets private government security contractor Roosevelt David at a party in Washington, D.C. — her boyfriend Paul is angling for an internship with the man’s company. She wakes up in the hospital eight days later. Bird has hazy memories of leaving the party. The most vivid one is of Coffee, a known drug dealer and son of a Brazilian diplomat, chasing the car as Paul drove her away. Coffee, whom she’s always found intriguing. Did he drug her? She doesn’t believe it despite what Roosevelt and Paul suggest. Bird senses something far more sinister in her lost memories, and begins to realize Roosevelt is afraid of something she might know but doesn’t remember, and that it’s related to her scientist parents’ work and the flu pandemic spreading across the globe and nation. As the death toll begins to mount in D.C., and as Bird tries to piece together what’s going on, she feels the menace of Roosevelt everywhere she turns. Staying with her Uncle Nicky — underachiever in her mother’s eyes, free man in Bird’s — because her parents can’t return to the city, and not sure whom to trust, she puts her faith in new friend Marella, and in Coffee, with whom she is falling in love. Alaya Dawn Johnson’s compelling thriller is marked by thickly woven storytelling that features complex plotting, rich language, and a cast of multidimensional characters.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith. Simon & Schuster, 100 sideways miles2014.

When high school senior Finn Easton was seven, a dead horse fell off of an overpass into the canyon where he and his mom were walking. She was killed when it landed on them. He was left with epileptic seizures and a distinctive scar from back surgery to repair his broken vertebrae. Finn’s dad is the author of a science fiction book with a cult-like following in which a boy named Finn with a distinctive scar is an alien trying to pass as human. Now sixteen, Finn feels like his dad stole his life. Finn’s best friend Cade Hernandez is charismatic, sex-obsessed, and crass. Cade is a terrific friend to Finn. But Finn doesn’t even tell Cade how unhappy and overwhelmed he sometimes is — about the novel, his seizures (which he also sees as a gift), the overprotectiveness of his dad and stepmom. When Julia Bishop, wry, insightful, and another survivor of trauma, comes to their small California desert town, she is the first person Finn is honest with about everything. He falls in love and is devastated when she eventually returns home. Andrew Smith’s story is tender and outrageous and improbable and, somehow, both true and funny every step of the way. Richly woven into the landscape and history of one specific area of Southern California canyon country, and with details of Finn’s father’s novel, The Lazarus Door, slowly revealed, it culminates in a road trip in which Finn, who measures time by distance, is given the extraordinary opportunity to be someone else. In the process, he gains a sense of perspective on, and possibility for, his own life.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

silhouette of a sparrowSilhouette of a Sparrow by Mary Beth Griffin. Milkweed Editions, 2012.

Sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson is staying with relatives in the Minnesota resort town of Excelsior in the summer of 1926. Both her aunt and slightly younger cousin are far too proper for Garnet, who longs to visit the dance hall and explore the amusement park; she settles for a job working in a hat shop. Bird-lover Garnet immediately thinks of a scarlet tanager when she meets lively Isabella, a dance-hall girl who comes into the shop. The two girls feel an immediate connection that deepens as they spend time together. Talking to Isabella, and kissing her, feel absolutely right to Garnet, even though she knows the end of summer will bring a return to Minneapolis and a proposal from Teddy, the boy she’s been dating but doesn’t love. Garnet’s developing relationship with Isabella, who knows the costs of independence but also understands its rewards, helps her resolve to apply to college to study birds. Then everything unravels, first when she hears from her mother at home, and then in Excelsior when Garnet and Isabella’s relationship is discovered. Molly Beth Griffin’s quiet, compelling, beautifully written novel features lyrical descriptions, numerous bird metaphors, and a young woman poised to take flight.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Vanishing Point. (Tune: Book 1) by Derek Kirk Kim. First vanishing pointSecond, 2012.

Andy Go is a dropout. He exits school after his third year in the Illustration Department at the College of Visual Arts in San Francisco, sure that his career is about to take off and further education is unnecessary. Andy gets a rude awakening: No one wants to hire him. His Korean American parents are dismayed by his failure to finish school or stay employed, and his father finally issues an ultimatum: Get a job, any job, or don’t come home. His last-gasp job interview comes after responding to a vague ad for a position at a zoo. He assumes it’s for an animal caretaker, but he couldn’t be more wrong. It turns out he’s up for the position of human exhibit at an alien zoo, and the father-daughter extraterrestrials conducting the interview are desperate. In fact, they keep sweetening the benefit pot (Medical coverage! Retirement package! Three weeks paid vacation!) until the offer is too good to pass up—at least that’s what Andy’s mother says. Derek Kirk Kim’s hilarious graphic novel ends with Andy traveling by spaceship to start his new job in a story to be continued, and featuring a subplot about Andy’s sweet, somewhat lust-filled crush on a fellow art school student.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Thrills and Spills; Tears and Laughter: Summer 2016 Middle School Titles

May 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | Summer - (Comments Off on Thrills and Spills; Tears and Laughter: Summer 2016 Middle School Titles)

mira in the present tenseMira in the Present Tense by Sita Brahmachari. Books for Middle School AgeU.S. edition: Albert Whitman, 2013.

Icon to identify Summer Reading Books

Mira’s twelfth birthday is bittersweet. It’s the day she starts her period. And it’s the day her beloved grandmother’s coffin arrives. Nana Josie hasn’t died, but she’s terminally ill with cancer and has ordered the plain coffin so she and Mira can paint it with images of things she loves. It’s one of the ways Nana Josie is very open about dying. Sometimes too open, as far as Mira is concerned—it can be a little overwhelming. At school, Mira, who is very quiet, begins to find her voice—literally and on the page—through a writing workshop led by a local author. One of the other participants is a boy named Jide, and the two of them discover they like each other, a lot. The excitement of these new feelings are something Mira enjoys even as she struggles with Nana Josie’s illness. When Nana Josie goes into hospice, though, it all begins to feel like too much. Sita Brahmachari’s novel about a biracial (East Indian/white) girl in Britain is a deeply moving look at an entire family moving through the experience of loss and grieving. But the author deftly balances this with moments of lightness, and skillfully handles the sorrow, including a subplot about Jide, who has a profound understanding of loss as a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. Richly developed characters full of individuality, including some charming quirks, deeply ground this fine story.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell. little blog on the prairieBloomsbury, 2010.

Teenage Gen is spending the summer with her family at Camp Frontier. Participants agree to live off the grid and on the land like pioneers. But Gen has snuck a cell phone in and is texting her friends back home about the absurdity of the experience. (“Help. I’m dressed up like an American Girl doll minus the fashion sense.”) Camp was supposed to be a bonding experience for Gen’s family, but the struggle of even simple tasks and the competition among camp families is causing more stress than togetherness. Even Gen’s crush on Caleb, a boy from another family, is complicated: the teenage daughter of the camp’s owners seems to like him too. Then Gen discovers the owners’ secret shack. The history purists have a computer with Internet access and a fridge stocked with soda. Now Gen can recharge her phone and text even more scathing perspectives on Camp Frontier. But one of Gen’s friends has been posting her texts on a blog, and readership is about to skyrocket. Cathleen Davitt Bell starts with a hilarious premise and develops it into a story that offers astute observations about human behavior at the best and worst of times. A subplot involving a reality TV show is over the top but ultimately doesn’t detract from the genuine humor, as well as the insightful story about family at the novel’s core.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

houdinithehandcuffkingHoudini: The Handcuff King by Jason Lutes. Illustrated by Nick Bertozzi. Hyperion, 2007.

On May 1, 1908, Harry Houdini, locked into handcuffs and leg irons, leapt from the Harvard Bridge in Cambridge, Massachusetts, into the frigid water of the Charles River. This book’s graphic novel format is perfectly suited to capture the tension of Houdini’s escape, as a series of panels visually draw out the suspense as the seconds tick by. Apprehension, doubt, and anticipation on the spectators’ faces contrast with scenes of the magician working alone in inky water to unlock the handcuffs before his breath gives out. For those who speculate about Houdini’s methods, the authors suggest a possibility: a lock pick passed to Houdini in a kiss from his wife, Bess. A thoughtful closing discussion offers additional information about Houdini and Bess, and relates fascinating details under headings such as “Locks of the Day and How Houdini Prepared to Pick Them” and “In the Early Part of the Twentieth Century Everybody Wore Hats.” Glen David Gold’s Introduction places the magician within the framework of the early 1900s and outlines the character traits that carried him to fame: obsession, energy, loyalty, and the inability to refuse a challenge. With few words and many images, readers will be caught up in a dramatic moment of magical showmanship. (MVL) ©2007 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

New Experiences and Adventures in the Summer 2016 Intermediate Titles

May 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Summer - (Comments Off on New Experiences and Adventures in the Summer 2016 Intermediate Titles)

problem with being slightly heroicThe Problem with Being Slightly Heroic by UmaIcon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readers Krishnaswami. Illustrated by Abigail Halpin. Atheneum, 2013.Icon to identify Summer Reading Books

After meeting her idol, Bollywood star Dolly Singh, in The Grand Plan to Fix Everything (Atheneum, 2011), young Dini is now caught up in the whirlwind that is life whenever Dolly is around. Dolly has come to the United States for a premier of her latest film as part of an international festival at the Smithsonian. Dini, visiting Baltimore and her best friend, Maddie, with her father while her medical mom remains in the Indian village of Swampnagiri, is determined to help Dolly have everything she needs to make the premier perfect. So she’s working with Maddie on a special dance, trying to get a baker to make the rose petal cake (what would the premier be without one?), and then there’s the matter of finding an elephant (ditto), not to mention worrying over the mystery of Dolly’s missing passport. Uma Krishnaswami’s second breezy, buoyant novel about Dini and Dolly and friends and family has no shortage of coincidences, which means, of course, everything will work out in the end. But getting there is such a pleasure. Krishnaswami’s fresh, lively writing is full of rich language and word play and an irresistible sense of fun. A great read-aloud choice, this novel will delight listeners and independent readers alike. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. Knopf, 2011.emerald atlas

From the publisher:

A snowy winter’s night. Three small children are chased from their home by the forces of a merciless darkness. Ten years later, Kate, Michael and Emma are no closer to the truth about what separated their family.

The answer lies with an enchanted atlas.

Brimming with action, humor, and emotion, The Emerald Atlas is the first stage of a journey that will take Kate, Michael, and Emma to strange, dangerous lands and deep within themselves. It is the story of three children who set out to save their family, and end up having to save the world.

Also, watch the trailer, read an excerpt from the book or just find out more about the books and author at the imaginative Emerald Atlas website.

loon summerLoon Summer by Sandy Gillum. Field Notes Press, 2008.

Five individuals contributed the extraordinary photographs that accompany ecologist Sandy Gillum’s captivating account of a loon family on a small Wisconsin lake. A few days after the male loon appears, his mate arrives. The pair is soon taking turns sitting on two eggs in their artificial island nest (the island was built by nearby residents especially for loon nesting). Not long after, two fluffy black chicks are accompanying the loon parents on the water, or sometimes hitching a ride on their backs. Scientists band the babies and check on the already-banded adults. All is well . . . until a rogue loon appears on the scene. When the family disappears not long after the rogue loon’s arrival and increasing threats, an observer who has been watching the drama unfold since spring fears the worst for the chicks, who cannot fly. To her amazement, she finds both the adults and chicks over the course of the next two days. The ungainly-on-land birds have portaged over rough, unfamiliar terrain, waddling with the young loons across dry land to a safe new home one-quarter mile away. (MS) ©2008 Cooperative Children’s Book Center