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For another great middle school read — Claudia Mills’ Zero Tolerance (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013). Thanks for the promo, JYMS!
Shout out of thanks to JYMS for sending us this book trailer for the ROW 2014 October title, The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata. Illustrated by Julia Kuo. Atheneum, 2013. Just in time for summer reading suggestions!
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
“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
“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, 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
Listen: Podcast featuring Owl Babies from the CCBC.
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-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 & 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 toys, 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
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 angry 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
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 next big fad, even 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
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 company 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
Hello Middle School Educators!
Read On Wisconsin is looking for ways to support Wisconsin middle school educators in working with students to create book trailers. Please help us out by completing our survey.
Before you start this survey, you may want to know more about book trailers.
What is a book trailer? A multi-media book advertisement (Think movie trailer for a book!)
Why create a book trailer?
Here are just a few reasons teachers and librarians have shared with us:
- Book trailers are a great way for students to analyze and synthesize what they have read and then make new meanings of the those texts through sounds, images, and technology.
- Book trailers allow students to share their enthusiasm for a book with other students in their schools as well as the larger community, making reading personal, social and communal.
Here are a few examples of book trailers from Read On Wisconsin projects:
Complete the Survey and Win!
For completing this survey by June 5, 2015, you will be entered in a drawing for a complete set of the Read On Wisconsin 2015-2016 Middle School titles!
Please follow this link to the survey: http://goo.gl/forms/Ca4eoAwCPS!
Thank you for taking the time to complete our survey!
Our May ROW Ambassador, Arlene Mabie, the library director at Hawkins Area Library, shared May 2015 title, Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper in a moon-themed story time.
From book displays for the Early Literacy and Preschool programs to read alouds to make it and take it activities, Arlene found clever ways to share this lovely and loving story about Max and his grandfather with her little library patrons. After enjoying the story, the kids made their own tag-along moon mobiles, complete with glow in the dark paint and glitter.
Thanks, again, to Arlene Mabie, her preschool storytime kiddos, and the Hawkins Area Library.
Are you using Read On Wisconsin books in engaging and educational ways at your library, in your child care environment or at home? We’d love to hear about you, your kiddos and literacy activities with Read On Wisconsin books! Contact Read On Wisconsin and share your ideas! You could be one of the next ROW Ambassadors!
The already tense atmosphere in Matt Foster’s house only tightened after his older brother, T. J., was killed in Iraq. Matt moves through the world like a clenched fist, ready to explode. His dad often does explode, with words, and sometimes physically. He also refuses to talk about T. J. or let Matt see any of T. J.’s things. Then T. J.’s footlockers arrive, and immediately disappear behind the closed door of T. J.’s old room. Matt secretly begins looking for his brother among the items inside. T. J. had made a real effort to connect with Matt on his last visit, and the brother Matt glimpsed then is echoed in some of what he finds. But there’s a surprise, too—a huge one. Correspondence and photos hint at T. J. having been in love with Celia, a fellow soldier, and the two of them having a child together. Celia’s letters are postmarked from Madison, Wisconsin, and Matt heads off on an illicit road trip—Pennsylvania to Madison—in hopes of meeting her and discovering more about T. J. What he finds when he arrives is wholly unexpected, and at first unsettling. But T. J. is there after all, in the memories of people who loved him deeply and understand how much Matt, too, loves and misses the older brother he was just starting to know as a man. E. M. Kokie’s intense and deeply moving debut novel is set in 2007 and rooted in wonderfully developed characters and the relationships among them. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center.
Connect with Wisconsin author, E.M. Kokie on Twitter: @EMKokie!
Generate conversation with these discussion questions:
1. Identify points of acceptance for different characters in the book. What factors contribute to these changes?
2. What makes it difficult for Matt to trust people? How does he work through these issues? How do pressures from others along with a sense of urgency contribute to Matt’s challenges?
3. What are the multiple meanings of this title? How do these meanings relate to the plot?
Bluffton was an actors’ colony just outside Muskegon, Michigan, established in 1908 by Joe Keaton to give Vaudeville performers a place to relax during the summer months when theaters were too hot to draw an audience. For Joe’s son, Buster, Bluffton was a place where he could be a kid, pursuing his love of baseball and hanging out with kids his own age instead of starring in his parents’ act. A graphic novel spanning three summers is told from the point of view of Henry Harrison, a fictional boy who lives in Muskegon. He becomes Buster’s summer friend and dreams of being a performer himself. Life in Muskegon is anything but glamorous, but to be on the stage! Everything is wonderfully understated in Matt Phelan’s storytelling, from the color palette to the dialogue to the way he fills in Henry’s life between each of the summers with several brief, elegant, wordless page spreads. A handful of years can bring maturity and new depth of understanding, and just how Henry changes, and how his relationship with Buster affects and reveals that change, is gracefully told. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Discussion Questions for Bluffton:
1. How does the author use pictures to convey Buster’s family and life situations? How does the use of text add to that?
2. What do you think Henry is trying to achieve by telling Sally that Buster has only been to school once in his life?
3. Buster Keaton was a real person who eventually went on to act in movies before they had sound and actors had to rely more on actions rather than words. Have you ever seen a silent movie? Explain how Buster Keaton’s physical talent of learning how to fall, flip, and roll would be important in silent movies.
Poison by Bridget Zinn. Hyperion, 2013.
Potions master Kyra is on the run after a failed attempt to assassinate Princess Ariana, heir to the throne. The fact that the princess is also her best friend doesn’t deter Kyra from wanting to succeed at her self-imposed mission. Krya’s had dire visions in which Ariana causes the complete destruction of the kingdom. With the princess now in hiding, Kyra ends up in possession of a pig with special hunting abilities to track her down. The small creature has an endearing disposition that Kyra tries to resist, not to mention a soft spot for dog biscuits. And then there’s Fred. Handsome and friendly, this wanderer Kyra meets in the woods is really the last thing she needs. But he did provide the dog biscuits, along with a name for the pig (Rosie), and a helping hand at a desperate moment. So when Fred is later accosted, Kyra comes to his aid, although she risks revealing her own considerable fighting skills, making it hard to maintain her disguise as nothing more than another wayfarer. She doesn’t want a traveling companion but seems fated to have found one in Fred—a proposition she finds both vexing and pleasing. Bridget Zinn’s buoyant novel brims with adventure, mayhem, intrigue, humor, and romance, along with surprising twists and revelations right up to the end. (Bridget Zinn, a former CCBC student employee and Friends of the CCBC board member, died at the age of 33 in 2011. Anyone who knew Bridget will sense her spirit on every page of a novel that is full of charm, exuberance, optimism, and plenty of pastry.) (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Discussion Questions for Poison:
2. What reason does each character have for concealing their identity? What does Kyra learn about herself from having two identities?
3. Throughout the story, Kyra resists an emotional attachment to Rosie the pig? What do you
think Rosie symbolizes in the story?