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JFIC Novels in Verse

Hello, jFIC fans,

April is National Poetry Month, so here’s a list of outstanding novels written in verse. All have received starred reviews, and several have also won awards.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (award winner)

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The Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling (starred reviews)

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Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg (award winner)

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Love That Dog (award winner), Moo, and Saving Winslow (starred reviews) by Sharon Creech

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The Wild Book by Margarita Engle (starred reviews)

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Starfish by Lisa Fipps 2021 (starred reviews)

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Garvey’s Choice (starred reviews) and Words with Wings (award winner) by Nikki Grimes

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Catching a Storyfish by Janice N. Harrington (starred reviews)

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Out of the Dust (award winner) and Witness (starred reviews) by Karen Hesse

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Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton (starred reviews)

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Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (award winner)

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The One Thing You’d Save by Linda Sue Park 2021 (starred reviews)

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The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkey (starred reviews)

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May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (award winner)

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Land of the Cranes and The Moon Within by Aida Salazar (starred reviews)

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Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen (starred reviews)

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The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan (award winner)

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Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (award winner)

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Brown Girl Dreaming (award winner memoir) and Before the Ever After (award winner) by Jacqueline Woodson

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For a more extensive list of middle grade novels in verse, visit this excellent website:

Happy reading!

Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of toast and tea
~T.S. Eliot

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Celebrating Valentine’s Day and Black History Month

Hello, jFIC fans,

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

P.S. Be Eleven

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson

Happy reading!

“Words cannot espresso how much you bean to me!” –unknown

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Recent Reads

Hello, jFIC fans,

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.)

We’re Not from Here, Geoff Rodkey 2019 *****

Science Fiction, 5th-7th grades

“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.)

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan 2020

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.

August Isle by Ali Standish 2019 ****

Realistic Fiction, 5-8th grades

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.”

Stay safe and happy reading!

“Tea should be taken in solitude.” –C. S. Lewis

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JFIC and Love of Nature

Hello, jFIC fans,

From beloved classics like Heidi by Johanna Spyri to contemporary gems like The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, there are many jFIC books that inspire love and respect for nature. Here are a few: 

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

The Ancient One by T.A. Barron

Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty

The Wild Robot and sequel by Peter Brown

The Earth Is My Mother by  Bev Doolittle and Elise Maclay

The Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher

Julie of the Wolves and sequels by Jean Craighead George

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Hoot and others by Carl Hiaasen

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and sequel by Jacqueline Kelly

Wild Wings and others by Gill Lewis

Wild Wings by [Lewis, Gill]

Hatchet and sequels by Gary Paulsen

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Song of the Trees by Mildred Taylor

The Last Wild and sequels by Piers Torday

Happy reading!

“Where there’s tea there’s hope.” ~Arthur Wing Pinero

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National Poetry Month Book Recommendations

Hello, Sweeteas,

A few recommendations (upper elementary and middle school) for National Poetry Month:

When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano

The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart

When the Sun Shines on Antarctica by Irene Latham

The Death of a Hat – Selected by Paul B. Janeczko

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry – Edited by J. Patrick Lewis (great for Earth Day – April 22)

A Child’s Anthology of Poetry – Edited by Elizabeth Hague Sword

Out of Wonder by Kuame Alexander

And a great list:

Happy reading!

“Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Holiday Reads

Hello, Sweeteas,

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!

Here are more suggestions:

Happy holidays!

“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?” ~from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

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Adventure Awaits!

Hi, Sweeteas,

Two more weeks left of school! 😀

No more GBMS Library check-outs allowed at this time, sorry. So what to do?

1- Explore the ebooks on GBMS’s Follett Shelf:

2- Visit your local Denver Public Library branch and sign up for the Summer of Reading program.

3- Here’s a great summer reading list of stories that take place during the summer. (Go to AR Book Finder for a short description of each book.) Create your own list of books you’d like to read.

50 Books about Summer Adventures

My top three favorites from the list:

Read the blurb:

Read the blurb:

Read the blurb:

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!

Happy reading!

“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

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Reading Is Cool at Our School

Dear Sweeteas,

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:

You can search for these books in your local library.

Happy reading!

“Arthur blinked at the screens and felt he was missing something important. Suddenly he realized what it was.

“Is there any tea on this spaceship?” he asked.”

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Lists of Awesome Books

Hello, sweateas,

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 (, 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.

“The historical novel Bear Dancer: The Story of a Ute Girl is based on the real life of Elk Girl.

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:

Third, a list of awesome middle school books:

Fourth, a list of adventure books for middle school boys (girls will  love them too):

Fifth, another list of awesome middle school books:

And a few personal favorites:

The Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer

The Tiffany Aching Series and anything else by Terry Pratchet

Howl’s Moving Castle and anything else by Diana Wynne Jones

Skellig and anything else by David Almond

and the Harry Potter books, duh!

So many great books, so little time! Happy reading, everyone!

“Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?” from Peter Pan

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Summer Reading 2013

Hi, sweeteas,

I’ll add more book recommendations during the summer months. Meanwhile, here are two great summer reading lists from Scholastic:

A few favorites from this list:

Freak the Mighty by Rod Philbrick

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Holes by Louis Sachar

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

and, of course:

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

A few favorites from this list:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Also, check out the Denver Public Library’s teen book lists/reviews:

Happy end of the school year!

Enjoy life sip by sip, not gulp by gulp. ~ The Minister of Leaves

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