Let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with a sweet jFIC love story:
Dream Within a Dream by Patricia MacLachlan
Louisa is not looking forward to spending another summer with her grandparents on the tiny island where they live. Her brother doesn’t mind, but she’s a writer, so even though she enjoys her grandparents’ company, she would rather be off having adventures with her ornithologist parents. This year, however, she discovers that the island has a lot to offer, and she meets George, a very special boy with whom she forms a very special friendship.
And for Black History Month, here are a few of my favorite historical novels by African American authors:
Finding Langston Trilogy (Finding Langston, Leaving Lymon, and Being Clem (coming in August, 2021) by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Elijah of Buxton and other awesome novels by Christopher Paul Curtis
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and other installments of The Logan Family Series by Mildred Taylor
Some Places More than Others by Renée Watson
One Crazy Summer Trilogy by Rita Williams-Garcia
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson
“Words cannot espresso how much you bean to me!” –unknown
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Whatever happened to April and May? Proof we’re living in sad and stressful times. Let me catch June before it whizzes by too!
Here are a few titles I’ve read recently along with my ratings. Most should be available as ebooks and/or audio ebooks.
The World’s Greatest Detective, Caroline Carlson 2017 ****
Mystery, 4th-6th grades
A whodunit story with an endearing main character, quirky secondary characters, and high stakes. The mystery itself is a bit simplistic (from an adult perspective), but interesting and entertaining, and will appeal to kids starting to become familiarized with the genre. (Early 20th century white community.)
“A quirky sci-fi adventure with a surprising layer of political irony.” (Kirkus) A group of humans are granted refuge on another planet, but while making the trip there, the planet’s government changes, and their request is denied. Highly entertaining and thought-provoking. Loved the aliens, especially the highly intelligent, marshmallow-like Ororos. (Diversity is implied.)
The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley, April Stevens 2018 ****
Fiction, 4th-6th grades
A moving, coming-of-age story about acceptance (of oneself and others), empathy, kindness, forgiveness, friendship, grieving, and growth. Loved the main character’s interest in nature and the impact that the wise and kind aging bus driver has on all the children. Great for gifted kids who feel misunderstood and isolated. (Universal messages, but minimal diversity.)
Fantasy (I question this classification), 4-6th grades *****
From the book’s blurb: “When eleven-year-old Max uncovers a buried family secret–involving an underground network of guardians who lead people fleeing a neighboring country to safety–he decides it’s time to find out more about his mother, who disappeared when he was a baby.” A poignant commentary on the struggles of refugee immigrants and those who bravely choose to protect them. (Hispanic characters and Own Voices author.)
Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano by Marthe Jocelyn 2020 ****
Mystery/Historical Fiction, 5th-7th grades
Twelve-year-old amateur detective and aspiring writer Aggie Morton investigates a murder by poison with the help of her Belgian friend Hector Perot. A well-crafted mystery inspired by the imagined life of Agatha Christie as a child. The book’s one disappointment is Perot’s poorly-developed character and insubstantial role. (Also, no diversity.) Hopefully Perot’s characterization will improve as the series progresses. For fans of The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency.
A story about a 14-year-old girl uncovering a painful family secret. The pacing is a bit slow, but the lovely seaside setting, the endearing secondary characters, and the main character’s emotional journey hold your interest, plus the climax and resolution make the wait worthwhile. (White main character/family. Indian and biracial secondary characters.)
Some Places More than Others by Renee Watson 2019 *****
Realistic Fiction, 4-6th grades
A lovely story about an 11-year-old girl’s longing to connect with her father’s side of the family and their history. It reads like a travel journal, but that’s the beauty of it: it takes the reader on a fascinating historical tour of New York. (Own Voices: African American main characters/family.)
The Guggenheim Mystery: Sequel to The London Eye Mystery by Robin Stevens 2018 *****
Mystery, 4-7th grades
“Twelve-year-old Ted Stark, his sister, and cousin investigate the theft of a priceless work of art.” Robin Stevens captures the voices of the characters from the first installment of the series (The London Eye Mystery by the late Siobhan Dowd). The stakes are not as high as in the first book, but the plot and the setting hold your interest, and the writing—especially the characterization— is very good. (Diverse main and secondary characters. Main character/narrator has ASD.)
And last but not least, an important book for the times we’re living in:
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi *****
Nonfiction, YA (Grade 7+)
“The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.
“Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas–and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.”
Winter break is just around the corner. I love that so many of you have come to take a look at the Holiday Books and New Books displays and have checked out awesome books to read during the break. 🙂
This holiday season consider reading a Christmas-related classic or two such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis or Little Women by Louisa May Alcott or A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. You could read the books and then watch the movies. Happiness!
“Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?”~fromThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
4- Make a list of all the cool adventures you want to have this summer. 🙂 (I plan to take nature walks, write, make art, and read, read, read!)
We will celebrate our library makeover on May 28, 2015 (photos forthcoming). The library will be open to the community after 4:00 p.m. Also, our annual Talent Show will take place that evening. See you there!
“Congratulations on the new library, because it isn’t just a library. It’s a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you — and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.” –Isaac Asimov
“Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?” from Peter Pan
It’s exciting to see eighth graders reading outstanding, high-level books such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (my favorite author), and 1984 by George Orwell. Reading is cool at our school, and all of you should be proud of that. You guys are awesome!
February is African American History month, so here are a few notable books by African American authors that you’ll find in our library:
Christopher Paul Curtis: Bud, Not Buddy, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, Elijah of Buxton
Sharon Draper: Tears of a Tiger, Out of My Mind,and several others
Nikki Grimes: Bronx Masquerade and others
Virginia Hamilton: M.C. Higgins the Great and others
Angela Johnson: The First Part Last and others
Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye
Walter Dean Myers: Fallen Angels and many others
Mildred Taylor: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Rita Williams-Garcia: One Crazy Summer, P.S. Be Eleven
Jacqueline Woodson: After Tupac and D. Foster and several others
And coming soon to our library:
On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers: A futuristic, action-packed YA novel where a computer whiz, an ex-rocker, an ex-con, a chess prodigy, an ex-athlete, and a soldier wannabe join forces against the powers controlling their troubled world.
And Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson: A memoir of the author’s childhood and the experiences that inspired her to become a writer. (Winner of this year’s National Book Award.)
Lastly, here’s a great blog with several more lists of books written by African American authors:
I’m loving working at the school library! This month I’m sharing book lists from several outstanding websites:
First, from the Denver Public Library (http://denverlibrary.org/), here’s a list of books for National American Indian Heritage Month:
“November is National American Indian Heritage Month, a perfect time to explore the history and heritage of Native American peoples…right here in Colorado. Three of the native peoples in Colorado are the Ute, Arapaho and Cheyenne.
“Read about Chipeta: Ute Peacemaker, a respected leader as well as wife, confidante and advisor to Chief Ouray of the Tabeguache band of Ute Indians in the mountain regions of Colorado.
“Bearstone and Beardance, by Colorado author Will Hobbs, take place in the San Juan Mountains and tell the story of a Ute Indian boy.
“Little Raven: Chief of the Southern Arapaho is a biography of the warrior, orator, and diplomat who in his lifetime saw the end of a way of life for thousands of Arapaho who once camped near the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River.
“Hard Face Moon tells the story of a Cheyenne boy who wants to be taken seriously as a hunter and warrior, but after witnessing the Sand Creek Massacre he must choose between fighting or working toward peace.”
Second, here’s a list for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: