Monday, February 20, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Shackles from the Deep

Shackles From the Deep 
by Michael Cottman
National Geographic, 2017


A pile of lime-encrusted shackles discovered on the seafloor in the remains of a ship called the Henrietta Marie, lands Michael Cottman, a Washington, D.C.-based journalist and avid scuba diver, in the middle of an amazing journey that stretches across three continents, from foundries and tombs in England, to slave ports on the shores of West Africa, to present-day Caribbean plantations. This is more than just the story of one ship – it's the untold story of millions of people taken as captives to the New World. Told from the author's perspective, this book introduces young readers to the wonders of diving, detective work, and discovery, while shedding light on the history of slavery.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Every bit of this concise, detailed book feels personal, and Cottman’s exploration and investigation of the wreck is rich with intrigue and poignant, thought-provoking questions.
  • Cottman weaves his personal story of discovery with history of the slave trade, helping readers understand why a sunken slave ship from the 1700s still matters.
  • Color photographs show artifacts from the Henrietta Marie, and end material includes references and additional reading. It's part mystery, part history, and part self-discovery.
Who Should Read It:

Great for 6th-9th graders.

What Else You Should Read:

Friday, February 17, 2017

What they're (really) reading: February 2017

By keeping a pulse on what our students are checking out at our middle school library and keeping a close eye on which books are circulating heavily, I feel that I can spend the small budget I have more wisely by choosing books I know will have a greater likelihood of circulating widely.

Each month I'll feature some books that are on the "heavy rotation" list at our middle school library. They're not necessarily new, shiny, or covered with awards -- they're just what the kids want.

This Month's Selections:

Cupcakes, Cookies, and Pie, Oh, My!
by Karen Tack

Get ready for another whimsical decorating book from Tack and Richardson (Hello, Cupcake!; What's New, Cupcake?), best-selling authors and culinary MacGyvers who transform store-bought candies, frosting, and baking mixes into stunning cupcake creations. Here, they've expanded their repertoire to include other types of desserts (e.g., a lemon cheesecake that masquerades as nachos). With just one trip to the grocery store, aspiring decorators of all ages can easily re-create treats from this fun book.

Soccer Star Cristiano Ronaldo
by John Albert Torres

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the biggest names in all of sports and one of the most iconic figures in international soccer. This biography covers the hardships that Ronaldo faced as a child, and how he overcame them to become the face of the powerhouse soccer club Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team.

Best Foot Forward
by Joan Bauer
Fiction (Realistic)

Taller-than-average shoe salesperson Jenna Boller is back in this gentle, stand-alone sequel to Joan Bauer's lauded Rules of the Road (1998). It's the start of junior year, and new challenges await Jenna, both on the job and at home. Professionally, she is helping Mrs. Gladstone with the merger between Gladstone Shoes and Shoe Warehouse, while training smooth-talking, former juvenile delinquent Tanner Cobb in the fine art of shoe retail. Privately, she is working through her feelings about her father's alcoholism by attending Al-Anon meetings; she's also trying to score a date with cute Charlie Duran, who knows donuts the way she knows shoes. Jenna is so busy that she nearly fails to notice clues leading to Mrs. G's unscrupulous son Elden's embezzlement. But it doesn't take long for sole-ful Jenna to catch on, and, with Mrs. G's support, restore the good name of Gladstone.

The Bully (Bluford High series)
by Paul Langan
Fiction (Realistic/urban)

A new life. An new school. A new bully. That's what Darrell Mercer faces when he and his mother move from Philadelphia to California. After spending months living in fear, Darrell is faced with a big decision. He can either keep running from this bully--or find some way to fight back.
Haunted Houses
by Robert San Souci
Fiction (Short stories/horror)

These 10 spooky stories include a classic Halloween scare: visitors get their admission fee of $25 back if they make it to the top floor of a haunted house-but can they? In another, the primary occupant of a dollhouse is a ghost of a child who needs help moving from one consciousness to another. San Souci also writes about an abandoned teahouse with ghosts, a Ouija board that foretells a confusing yet doomed future, and a mother's spirit who is searching for her missing son. The stories are well paced and satisfyingly startling. While some are better written than others, this book won't stay on the shelves for long. Murphy and Revoy's black-and-white illustrations heighten the fright factor, making San Souci's collection even more riveting.

Monday, February 13, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Ghost by Jason Reynolds

by Jason Reynolds
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (August 2016)
Realistic Fiction


Running. That's all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race -- and wins -- the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. 

Why You'll Love It:

  • One of my most important author discoveries upon my move to middle school has to be Jason Reynolds. He is AMAZING, people, and a boon to reluctant reader advisory.
  • Reynolds perfectly captures both the pain and earnest longing of a young boy.
  • Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. 
Who Should Read It:

Perfect for 5th-9th graders.

What Else You Should Read:

Friday, February 10, 2017

Books By Theme: You Think YOUR Family Has Problems??

Touch & Go: A Novel
by Lisa Gardner

Suspense Fiction. No matter how much they love their teenage daughter, it won't help Libby and Justin save their once happy, now crumbling marriage. When all three are kidnapped, held in an abandoned prison, and tormented into revealing long-held secrets, everything changes. Meanwhile, corporate investigator Tessa Leone (last seen in Love You More) thinks it's fishy that all three were taken -- and no ransom demanded -- and races to discover what it is about the seemingly picture-perfect family that would expose them to kidnapping. Narrated by both Libby and Tessa, the "irresistible momentum" (Kirkus Reviews) of this pulse-pounding novel will keep you turning the pages. 
Missing Pieces
by Heather Gudenkauf

Suspense Fiction. Sarah Quinlan's husband Jack was orphaned as a teenager by a car accident that took the lives of his parents -- or at least that's what he told Sarah more than 20 years ago. When the aunt that cared for him has a serious fall, they immediately go for a visit, where Sarah learns that it wasn't a car accident that killed Jack's parents: his mother was murdered and his father disappeared. And those aren't the only facts he's been hiding from her. If you've ever wondered how well you really know your spouse, this novel might have you up at night. 
Defending Jacob: A Novel
by William Landay

Legal Thriller. For 20 years, prosecutor Andy Berber has been happy with his law career and his home life in suburban Massachusetts. All that changes, however, when his son is accused of murdering a fellow middle-schooler. Putting everything he's got into the investigation and -- for the first time -- into a criminal defense, Andy must make wrenching decisions as he considers the possibility that his son may in fact be guilty. Compared to the best work of Scott Turow and John Grisham, Defending Jacob is a suspenseful, character-driven thriller from an award-winning author. 

The Stranger 
by Harlan Coben

The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world.

Adam Price has a lot to lose: a comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life.

Then he runs into the Stranger. When he learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, he confronts her, and the mirage of perfection disappears as if it never existed at all. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne's deception, and realizes that if he doesn't make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy he's stumbled into will not only ruin lives--it will end them..

Thursday, February 2, 2017

I Tried It: Blind Date With a Book

I've been at my new position as a middle school librarian for about a month now, and I was ready to do something fun to promote reading with my kiddos.

I've seen Blind Date With a Book all over Pinterest and fellow librarian's blogs, so I gave it a whirl!

Here are some pics from our first day:

If you want a how-to on how to do Blind Date with your students, visit 21st Century Librarian's blog here for the deets.

Monday, January 30, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Word of Mouse

Word of Mouse
illustrated by Joe Sutphin
Fantasy Chapter Book


What makes Isaiah so unique? First, his fur is as blue as the sky--which until recently was something he'd never seen, but had read all about. That's right--Isaiah can read, and write. He can also talk to humans...if any of them are willing to listen! After a dramatic escape from a mysterious laboratory, Isaiah is separated from his "mischief" (which is the word for a mouse family), and has to use his special skills to survive in the dangerous outdoors, and hopefully find his missing family. But in a world of cruel cats, hungry owls, and terrified people, it's hard for a young, lone mouse to make it alone. When he meets an equally unusual and lonely human girl named Hailey, the two soon learn that true friendship can transcend all barriers.

Why You'll Love It:
  • A book by best-selling Patterson or Grabenstein is pretty much a done deal.
  • Sutphin provides black-and-white spot illustrations that recall the great mouse protagonists of the mid-20th century.
  • The authors manage to seamlessly integrate clever wordplay (including Isaiah’s snarky perspective), advanced vocabulary, and basic science information into the story without becoming didactic.
Who Should Read It:

Great for 3rd-6th graders.

What Else You Should Read:
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