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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 Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | 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

Food, Feelings and Friends: Summer 2016 Primary Titles

May 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2015-2016 | Summer - (Comments Off on Food, Feelings and Friends: Summer 2016 Primary Titles)

xander's panda partyXander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park. Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerIllustrated by Matt Phelan. Clarion, 2013.

Icon to identify Summer Reading BooksXander wants to have a Panda Party at the zoo where he lives. But he’s the only panda there so he invites all the bears to a “bear affair” instead. Then Koala informs him that she’s actually a marsupial. “Marsupials—we’re rather rare. Will I not be welcome there?” Xander tries again, this time promising a “hearty party” for all the mammals at the zoo. But Rhinoceros refuses to come without his oxpecker bird. So Xander invites mammals and birds. Crocodile chimes in: “Birds and reptiles—long ago, we were related, don’t you know? If you didn’t, now you do. Can’t the reptiles join in too?” Finally, Xander’s friend Amanda Salamander comes up with the perfect solution in this playful picture book that cleverly integrates a little bit of science into its masterful rhyming text. Whimsical illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the narrative, while the author’s note provides additional information about the various animals in the story.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood by Tameka Fryer my cold plum lemon pie bluesy moodBrown.  Illustrated by Shane W. Evans. Viking, 2013.

Jamie describes his moods throughout the day in terms of colors associated with what’s he doing. First he’s in a purple mood, eating a cold plum and drinking grape juice. Then he’s in a “gray kind of place / Storm brewing inside / That I hide / ’Cause I don’t want any trouble space” after his big brothers kick him off the couch. Green is all pleasure after his little sister asks him to draw a dragon. Black is brooding anger when his brothers tease him. Orange is energetic and upbeat, like the basketball he’s playing. Red is urgent, like a fire-engine, as he races home after the game. Dinner is yellow, is lively, is good food (corn pudding, chicken curry) and family. Blue is cool time alone as he washes dishes. The lively narrative is emotionally vivid, with word choice and line length skillfully changing the pacing to suit each mood Jamie describes. Realistic family dynamics (teasing, arguing, playing together, jostling for the biggest piece) play out in brief bits of dialogue and in the illustrations showing Jamie and the other members of his African American family. Honor Book, 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

farmer will allenFarmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.  Illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin.  With an afterword by Will Allen.  Readers to Eaters, 2013.

As a child, Will Allen hated working in his family’s garden. “He planned to quit on planting, picking, pulling weeds, leave those Maryland fields for basketball or white-shirt work.” It turns out he did both, playing professional basketball in Belgium, then getting “white-shirt” work in Wisconsin. But while helping a Belgian friend dig potatoes during his basketball days, he made a life-changing discovery: he “loved digging in the dirt.” Living in Milwaukee after playing ball, Will noticed how few people, especially in poor neighborhoods, had access to fresh vegetables. He bought an inner city lot that included six greenhouses, got friends to donate fruit and vegetable waste to create compost, added red wiggler worms and figured out—through trial and error, and with hands-on help from neighborhood kids–how to gradually transform the polluted soil to grow healthy food. Will devised ways to use every inch of space, growing food in the ground, and also in pots and baskets and buckets and boxes. He added hoophouses for more growing room, and vats of water to raise fish. He named his venture “Growing Power,” and not only began feeding people in the city, but teaching people in his neighborhood, around the country, and around the world how to be urban farmers. This lively introduction to Will Allen’s groundbreaking work (for which he’s received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant) features a buoyant narrative by Jacqueline Briggs Martin set against Eric-Shabazz Larkin’s energetic illustrations. It’s impossible not to be inspired by their account of the creativity of Will’s venture and the hope inherent in its success. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Bedtime to Building: Summer 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles

May 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2015-2016 | Summer - (Comments Off on Bedtime to Building: Summer 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles)

night soundsNight Sounds by Javier Sobrino. Translated Icon_PreSchoolfrom the Spanish by Elisa Amada. Illustrated by Emilio Urberuaga. Icon to identify Summer Reading BooksU.S. edition: Groundwood, 2013.

When the sleeping animals of the rain forest are awoken by loud cries issuing from a box, their first instinct is to pacify the crier by providing whatever it needs. Cold? An orangutan fetches a warm blanket. Thirsty? A tapir provides a bowl of fresh water. Scared? A rhinoceros brings a doll for company. Momentarily placated each time, the crying quickly resumes with a new request. Finally a tiger delivers the little one’s Mummy—an elephant!—and it appears that all will be able to sleep again at last. Imagine their frustration when “wuu wuu wuuuuu” echoes through the forest yet again. These wails are coming from the village, and it’s the baby elephant who shouts advice, “It wants a kiss! That child must have a kiss! Then we can all go back to sleep.” Featuring creatures of southern and southeast Asia, this bedtime tale sports intense of colors, varied emotions, and droll comedy, including the incongruity of an elephant (no matter how young) fitting inside a small wooden box.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Building Our House by Jonathan Bean. Farrar Straus building our houseGiroux, 2013.

A young girl describes her family’s effort over the course of eighteen months to build the house in which they will live. A trailer placed on the land they’ve purchased provides shelter, while the dad, mom, two kids, and extended family and friends provide the labor and lots of love. Seasons change and change and change again as a hole is dug, the foundation is poured, and beams are hewn (by hand) and fitted together before a roof and sides go on. Then work begins inside. “We plumb while the wind howls. And wire while the drifts pile up.” Jonathan Bean’s warm, , well-crafted story is both playful and informative, full of intriguing details described in a narrative in which every thoughtfully chosen word and carefully placed comma shapes the wonderful flow. There are also whimsical details and elements of the story told only through the art, whether it’s the kids playing under the wheelbarrow, the antics of the cats, or the progression of the mom’s pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby by the time they move out of the trailer and into the finished house. An already captivating picture book includes a note in which Bean writes about his parents and the five years they spent building a house by hand. He includes photographs of himself and his sisters, all young children, engaged in the process. Honor Book, 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

who's that babyWho’s That Baby? New Baby Songs by Sharon Creech. Illustrated by David Diaz. Joanna Cotler / HarperCollins, 2005.

Who are you, baby / newly born / who’s this little babe?” The opening, title poem of this picture book collection asks this and many other questions. In response, Sharon Creech offers fifteen perspectives on what much-loved babies may see and hear and think and feel as the adults in their lives cuddle them and coo at them, play with them and read to them, sing to them and sway with them, and, above all, surround them with love. Creech’s poems, playful and tender, have been illustrated with great warmth and touches of whimsy by David Diaz in this lovely volume.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Summer Titles: Enjoy the Outdoors with These Books

June 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2014-2015 | Summer - (Comments Off on Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Summer Titles: Enjoy the Outdoors with These Books)

oscarshalfbirthdayOscar’s Half Birthday by Bob Graham. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2005.

Oscar’s family celebrates his six-month birthday with a walk to their neighborhood park, a rather lopsided cake, and a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday,” sung by family members and the strangers who have gathered around to admire baby Oscar. Although the birthday boy is the center of attention, the real star of the show is his three-year-old sister, Millie, who wears coat-hanger fairy wings on her back and a dinosaur puppet on her left hand, symbolic of her dual nature. “A little more fairy and a little less dinosaur,” her mother chides her gently when Millie’s play is a bit too vigorous for little Oscar. Bob Graham’s depiction of a slightly offbeat, interracial family is right on target: Millie, in her behavior and dialogue, is the quintessential three year old, commanding the attention of both her parents and the book’s readers, while Oscar remains, for the most part, completely oblivious to the fuss being made over him. The parents, young and hip, are everything good parents should be: caring, attentive, firm, and, above all, they seem to truly enjoy both of their children. Graham’s trademark pen-and-ink and watercolor paintings show a diverse cast of characters living in a working class neighborhood. Highly Commended, 2006 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

globalbabiesGlobal Babies by Global Fund for Children. Charlesbridge, 2007.

“Wherever they live, wherever they go, whatever they wear, whatever they feel, babies everywhere are beautiful, special, and loved.” These sentiments are spectacularly captured with sweet and stunning photographs of babies from around the world. Babies from Mali and Spain, the United States and Thailand, Iraq, Guatemala, and beyond are included in this board book. Swaddled in colorful cloth, wrapped in warm fur, or tucked into cradling arms, these babies are an affirmation of love.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

beach tailA Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Boyds Mills Press, 2010.

Swish-swoosh.” The sound of waves washing the shore repeats throughout an engaging picture book in which a young African American boy is the architect of his own adventure. After Gregory draws “a Sandy lion” in the sand at the beach, his dad cautions, “Don’t go in the water, and don’t leave Sandy.” And Gregory doesn’t, but as the tail he draws on Sandy gets longer and longer, it takes him farther and farther away from his dad: over an old sand castle, around a horseshoe and a ghost crab, all the way to a jetty. “But Gregory did not go in the water, and he did not leave Sandy.” It’s only when he finally looks up that Gregory realizes how far he’s gone. He turns a moment of worry—which one of those distant figures sitting on towels is his dad?–into masterful problem solving when he follows Sandy’s tail over and around all the objects, back to his dad’s welcome smile. Floyd Cooper’s sun-washed, sandy illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to this terrific picture book narrative. Highly Commended, 2011 Charlotte Zolotow Award (MS) ©2010 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

summer days and nightsSummer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee. Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, 2012.

“Summer days, so warm and bright, / Paint my room in morning light.” A small Asian girl describes her activities over the course of a single summer day in a quietly engaging narrative that sees her butterfly-chasing in the morning followed by a dip in the wading pool, then on an afternoon picnic with her parents. Nighttime finds the hot, restless child looking out the window and then heading out for a discovery-rich walk in the moonlight with her dad. “Across the field, on past the gate … My eyelids droop, it’s getting late.” Wong Herbert Yee’s story is perfectly sized for the hands of toddlers and preschoolers, with a gentle ambience that is both playful and reassuring. The illustrations have a softness and warmth that add to the comforting feel, as does this realistic family, which includes a pregnant mom and a dad clad in chinos, undershirt, and fedora.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

owlbabiesOwl Babies by Martin Icon to identify Summer Reading BooksWaddell.Icon_PreSchool Illustrated by Patrick Benson. Candlewick Press, 1992, 1996.

Listen: Podcast featuring Owl Babies from the CCBC.

Primary (Grades K-2) Summer Titles: Colorful and Diverse

June 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2014-2015 | Summer - (Comments Off on Primary (Grades K-2) Summer Titles: Colorful and Diverse)

water in the park

Water in the Park: A Book about Water & the Times of Day by Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. Schwartz & Wade, 2013.
Over the course of a summer day in a city park, time is measured by the hour as dramas and pleasures small and large unfold. “Just before six o’clock, turtles settle on rocks. They warm their turtle shells in the light. Good morning park!” Dogs and their humans show up between six and seven, when the first babies appear. By ten, the playground is packed with children and caregivers. At eleven, park volunteers water the flowerbeds. At noon, “it’s time for lunch. Maybe a nap.” And so it goes, hour by hour, on through the afternoon and into the evening. A few children (and dogs) show up several times throughout the day, but the park itself, with its ever-changing cast of characters and myriad, constantly varied activities, is the focus, as is the steady advance of an unseen but ever-present clock toward day’s end, marked by darkness. “Good night, park.” Emily Jenkins’s engagingly detailed and perfectly paced narrative is set against Stepahanie Graegin’s equally wonderful illustrations. There’s so much to look at and discover across the pages of the story, and the hours of the day.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

chicken-chasingqueen

Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice Harrington. Illustrated by Shelley Jackson. Melanie Kroupa Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

“Pruck! Pruck! . . . Squawkkk!” Despite Bigmama’s admonishment, a young African American girl can’t resist the chase when it comes to the family’s chickens. “I don’t want just any chicken. I want my favorite. Her feathers are shiny as a rained-on roof. She has high yellow stockings and long-fingered feet, and when she talks—‘Pruck! Pruck! Pruck!’—it sounds like pennies falling on a dinner plate.” Janice Harrington’s animated story pits the girl’s determination to embrace that standoffish chicken against the chicken’s own determination to evade capture. Harrington’s narrative flows with fresh, descriptive language and engaging use of hyperbole and onomatopoeia. Artist Shelley Jackson used materials suggestive of a rural or farm environment to create the chickens and other elements of her dynamic, richly textured illustrations. Her art is full of action and extends both the humor and overall appeal of this entertaining picture book. Highly Commended, 2008 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

ling and ting share a birthday

Ling & Ting Share a Birthday by Grace Lin.  Little, Brown, 2013.

Ling and Ting are back, and getting ready to celebrate their birthdays. The not-quite-identical twins (they have slightly different haircuts) each get birthday shoes in the opening chapter of this beginning chapter book. But one pair is red and one pair is green, prompting them to wear one from each pair so they match. Perfect! In the five chapters that follow, birthday plans continue, highlighting how even though the girls like dressing the same, they have differentinterests (Ling, who likes to read, buys Ting a book; Ting, who likes to play with Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerIcon to identify Summer Reading Bookstoys, buys Ling a yo-yo), and different ways of approaching a task (cake-baking success and failure), but their love for one another guarantees harmony in the end. Grace Lin’s follow-up to Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! (Little, Brown, 2010) features lively, colorful illustrations.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Intermediate (Grades 3-5) Summer Titles: Something for Everyone

June 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2014-2015 | Summer - (Comments Off on Intermediate (Grades 3-5) Summer Titles: Something for Everyone)

Wolf and Dog by Sylvia Vanden Heede. Illustrated by Marije Tolman. Translated from the Dutch by Bill A. Nagelkerke. U.S. edition: Gecko Press, 2013.

“Dog is Wolf’s Cousin. Wolf is Dog’s cousin. That’s strange because: Wolf is wild. And Dog is tame.” The differences and similarities between these canine relatives provide ample material for this funny and charming easy novel in short verse lines. Wolf has bad table manners while Dog is a tidy chef, but both are familiar with the nuisance of flea bites. And although only Dog can read, Wolf enjoys nothing more than a good rhyme; in fact, he believes “rhyme’s sublime.” While each tries to outwit the other, both are nearly undone by a feisty forest cat. The social dynamics are a gem—wolflike, doglike, and childlike. Small illustrations help strike just the right note of warmth and whimsy.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Illustrated by Jim Madsen. HarperCollins, 2002.

An excellent collection of interrelated short stories will appeal to newly independent young readers ready to tackle one or more of these acessible stories. Young Ray Halfmoon lives with his grandpa in Chicago. In each chapter author Cynthia Leitich Smith places Ray and Grandpa into a believable adventure with a manageable challenge: summer fishing, baseball team, lonely holiday situation, contest, etc. Because her main characters have a Seminole-Cherokee heritage, the author has woven important Native cultural details into her narrative. Her adroit uses of colloquial language also earmark this fine collection of brief contemporary fiction. Smith herself lives in Texas, and is a mixed blood, enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. CCBC Categories: Books for Beginning Readers and Newly Independent Readers.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Odessa Again by Dana Reinhardt. Illustrated by Susan Reagan. Wendy Lamb Books, 2013.

Odessa Green-Light still has a hyphenated last name, but her family has been de-hyphenated since her parents’ divorce. Determined to stop her dad’s pending remarriage, Odessa discovers that if she jumps on a certain spot in the bedroom of the house she’s just moved to with her mom and brother, time turns back. The first time she goes back twenty-four hours. The next time she goes back twenty-three. Odessa figures this means she has twenty-two chances left, but that’s plenty of opportunities to undo a bad grade on a quiz, erase an embarrassing moment, or be nicer to her little brother. Plenty of opportunities to make things better or to make them worse: to create some good luck (is it luck of you know in advance what will happen?), or to make her future stepmother angryIcon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readershttp://readon.education.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Summer.png in hopes she’ll call off the wedding. As Odessa’s chances to change things dwindle, she begins to think more carefully about what she can change, what she wants to change, and what really matters to her in Dana Reinhardt’s breezy novel.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Middle School Summer Titles: Masterful Storytelling

June 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Middle School | 2014-2015 | Summer - (Comments Off on Middle School Summer Titles: Masterful Storytelling)

Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow, 2008.

When 12-year-old Mitch’s parents divorce, he and his mother go to spend the summer with his grandparents in their cottage on Bird Lake. Mitch feels angry, sad, and lonely, and he retreats into his imagination where he pretends the long-vacant cottage next door belongs to him. He sweeps the front porch, cleans out the bird bath, and carves his initials into the porch’s wooden railing. He even resolves to keep the splinter he gets from the railing so the house will be a part of him. Mitch’s future plans are disturbed, however, when another family shows up to spend a week at the cottage. From his position in the crawl space underneath the front porch, he learns that they own the house and he decides he will try to scare them away by making them think the house is haunted. What Mitch doesn’t know is that 10-year-old Spencer and his family haven’t been to the lake for years because it was the site of his older brother’s drowning when he was four and Spencer was just two. And every small thing Mitch does to make them think the house is haunted, Spencer reads as a sign from his dead brother. Masterfully told with alternating points of view, Henkes shows the developing friendship between two boys who are both withholding information from each other. Only the reader knows the full story, and the dramatic tension builds as each boy gets closer to finding out the truth. (KTH) ©2008 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

 

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia. Amistad / HarperCollins, 2013.

Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are back in Brooklyn after spending the summer of 1968 with their mother Cecile in Oakland (One Crazy Summer, Amistad / HarperCollins, 2010), and dramatic changes are in store. First, Pa has a girlfriend, Miss Marva Hendrix. Then Delphine starts sixth grade expecting to have Miss Honeywell, the most mod of teachers. Instead, she gets Mr. Mwila, on an exchange program from Zambia. And a new group—five singing and dancing brothers named Jackson—have the sisters and the nation mesmerized. When Miss Marva Hendrix offers to take them to see the Jackson 5 at Madison Square Garden, Pa insists they earn half the money for tickets, and Delphine assumes she’ll be in charge, like always. Miss Marva Hendrix appoints Vonetta to manage their earnings. Delphine predicts disaster. Vonetta doesn’t fail. Uncle Darrell comes home from Vietnam, but elation turns to worry when he struggles with drugs. It’s so disturbing that Big Ma, always dependable if demanding, begins to falter. “Be eleven,” Cecile writes Delphine at the end of each letter. But she is eleven. What does her mother mean? What matters is that Delphine knows Cecile’s message is rooted in love, just like Big Ma’s home training. And now there is Miss Marva Hendrix, who thinks a woman could run for president someday, further expanding Delphine’s understanding of being young and Black and female. The modeling and mothering provided by all three of these women buoy Delphine and her sisters in ways they don’t always understand but surely feel. Rita Williams-Garcia once again captures time and place with sparkling clarity in an inspired look at childhood and growth and change. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

 

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz. Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2010.

Katey attends school in the Game, a converted mall designed by corporations, which have become the major funders of education. The companies constantly monitor students on camera and online in hopes of finding teens they can “brand” to help promote and sell their products. Everything in the Game is about being connected, being cool, and staying on top of the latest trend. Unlike most of her peers, Katey isn’t eager to be branded and does the bare minimum to remain a player; as a result, she’s intrigued by a group called the Unidentified who seem to be inviting the students to break out of the controlled and controlling system based on popularity and consumerism. But her very interest in the Unidentified—she’s the first to pay attention to what they are doing, and curious about who they are—attracts sponsor attention. Katey and her mom are struggling financially, and she accepts the sponsorship only because it comes with economic benefits. Suddenly the Unidentified are being exploited by sponsors as the nexthttp://readon.education.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Icon_MiddleSchool1.png big fad, http://readon.education.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Summer.pngeven as Katey discovers they may not be as radical as they originally appeared. This timely novel combines a mystery (who is behind the Unidentified?) with exploration of provocative issues of privacy and consumerism in a story set in a believably not-too-distant future.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

High School Summer Titles: A Mix of Romance, Mystery, and Adventure

June 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2014-2015 | High School | Summer - (Comments Off on High School Summer Titles: A Mix of Romance, Mystery, and Adventure)

Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub. Delacorte Press, 2013.

Three weeks after the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, the Capulets and Montagues’ unstable truce has Verona on edge. A masked swordsman is attacking Montagues and Capulets alike, while the statue of Juliet erected at her grave site has been scrawled with the word “Harlot.” Juliet’s cousin Rosaline feels no loyalty to either side, since the Capulets have shown her little kindness since the death of her father and its accompanying financial ruin years before. When her Uncle Capulet agrees to Prince Escalus’s peace plan to unite Rosaline and the Montague Benvolio in marriage, Rosaline refuses to cooperate. Not only does she find Benvolio arrogant, her heart has secretly belonged to Escalus since she was a child. But Escalus blackmails Rosaline, giving her no choice but to agree. Rosaline then conspires with her betrothed: If the two of them can figure out who is stirring up trouble between the families, they won’t have to marry. To Rosaline’s surprise, she finds unexpected pleasure in Benvolio’s company as they investigate. And then it turns out Escalus’s heart is not as cold and calculating as she feared. Author Melinda Taub has spun a delightful new story on the foundations of Shakespeare’s tragedy. Her narrative sparkles with rich language, dialogue, plotting and wit. There is mystery, romance, treachery, and murder, not to mention a ferocious race against time. And there is Rosaline: smart, strong, feisty, and certain to follow her heart. A terrific authors’s note outlines where Taub took liberties with characters whose backgrounds and fates were left unexplored (or presumed differently) in Romeo & Juliet. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Liar by Justine Larbalestier. U.S. edition: Bloomsbury, 2009.

Seventeen-year-old Micah has always felt her identity is ambiguous: she is mixed race (Black/white), she is a girl who can pass for a boy, she is a scholarship kid in a wealthy private school, she is a city girl who spends summers running free in the country. She even has a secret boyfriend, Zach—they never acknowledge one another during the school day. Justine Larbalestier’s structurally and psychologically complex story is told through vignettes “Before” and “After” Zach’s mysterious death in which Micah reveals more about their relationship, and about her personal and family history. But Micah also makes it clear she is a liar, so everything she says is suspect. As Micah’s narrative progresses, she exposes more and more of her lies but also—perhaps—more of her truth. Micah’s becomes a story of the fantastic when she explains the “family illness” she inherited. But is Micah really what she claims to be, or is the family illness really insanity? Micah is appealing and sympathetic and the desire to believe her is strong even as her story constantly changes in this astonishing novel in which the ground is forever shifting beneath readers’ feet. As the implications of Micah’s lying become increasingly disturbing, the richness of Larbalestier’s storytelling is more fully revealed in a story that demands discussion once the final page has been turned. CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2009.

Seventeen-year-old Marcelo Sandoval is looking forward to a summer tending the ponies in his private school’s stables. But Marcelo’s dad wants him to spend the summer working at his law firm, and to attend public school in the fall. For autistic Marcelo, the idea of moving beyond the safety and security of familiarity and routine is scary, but he and his dad work out a compromise: Marcelo will work at the law firm and then decide for himself where he’ll go to school in the fall. “Marcelo is afraid,” he tells his mother. “I know,” she tells him. “That’s the point.” Francisco X. Stork’s debut novel is an astonishing look inside the mind of a teen with autism. Marcelo is a blend of acute awareness and naïveté, stating truths with frankness even as he struggles to understand the motivations behind much of what he sees. As he navigates new relationships and routines, Marcelo discovers that good and bad, right and wrong, can get muddied and complicated. Nothing illustrates this more than when he discovers his father’s firm is defending a companyIcon_HighSchoolhttp://readon.education.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Summer.png that was negligent, leading to the serious injury of a young girl. Marcelo’s growth is marked by his ability to move more assuredly through a world that is complicated for everyone, all the while remaining true to the voice inside himself. CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Barnum’s Bones / Knucklehead / My Name Is María Isabel

June 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2013-2014 | Summer - (Comments Off on Barnum’s Bones / Knucklehead / My Name Is María Isabel)

barnum's bones cover

Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World by Tracey Fern. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Margaret Ferguson Books / Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012

 

 

knucklehead cover

Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories about Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka. Viking, 2008

 

 

 

 

my name is maria isabel cover

My Name Is María Isabel by Alma Flor Ada. Atheneum, 1993

 

 

 

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I Lost My Tooth in Africa / Jingle Dancer / The Rumor

June 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2013-2014 | Summer - (Comments Off on I Lost My Tooth in Africa / Jingle Dancer / The Rumor)

i lost my tooth in africa cover

I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakité. Illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité. Scholastic Press, 2006

 

 

jingle dancer cover

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. Morrow / HarperCollins, 2000

 

 

 

rumor cover

The Rumor by Anushka Ravishankar. Illustrated by Kanyika Kini. U.S. edition: Tundra Books, 2012

 

 

 

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The First Part Last / The Fortunes of Indigo Skye / The Name of the Wind

June 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in High School | 2013-2014 | Summer - (Comments Off on The First Part Last / The Fortunes of Indigo Skye / The Name of the Wind)

first part last cover

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson. Simon & Schuster, 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

fortunes of indigo skye cover

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti. Simon & Schuster, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

name of the wind cover

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1). DAW, 2007

 

 

 

 

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