Friday, April 28, 2017

What They're (Really) Reading: April 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 in our middle school library. They're not necessarily new, shiny, or covered with awards -- they're just what the kids want.
 


A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel
adapted by Hope Larson

I love that this graphic novel exists! So many students are introduced to a great book they might never pick up otherwise. I always lead them to the original novel when they turn the graphic novel in.

Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher

Netflix is to thank for bringing this book back into high circulation. There's definitely been some controversy over the series' treatment of the novel, but students are clamoring for it.

Prisoner B-3087
by Alan Gratz

Gratz is wildly popular with our middle schoolers, especially after I did a WWII-themed book talk with one of my classes in February.

Carve the Mark
by Veronica Roth

I just grabbed this one off our book fair in March and it's already moving! Not surprising considering the popularity of the Divergent series.

Series of Unfortunate Events
by Lemony Snicket

Once again, Netflix has come into play and reawakened the love of an "older" book! Series of Unfortunate Events also almost won our March Book Madness school wide tournament in March. I love seeing this series fly off the shelves again thanks to Netflix's new adaptation.

Monday, April 24, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Unbound

Unbound
by Ann E. Burg
Scholastic (2017)
Novel in Verse/Historical Fiction

What It's All About:

The day nine-year-old Grace is called to work in the kitchen in the Big House, everyone warns her to to keep her head down and her thoughts to herself, but the more she sees of the oppressive Master and his hateful wife, the more she questions things until one day her thoughts escape--and to avoid being separated she and her family flee into the Dismal Swamp, to join the other escaped slaves who live there.

Why You'll Love It:
  • I've discovered that there's a big niche for novels in verse at my school. Kids love the format and the quick pace of the writing. 
  • The cadences offer excellent choral reading possibilities and a glimpse into the little-known existence of covert slave communities in the Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina during slavery years.
  • Providing strong suspense and vivid imagery, the survival tale conveys the terror and dehumanization of slavery, a girl’s courage and growing sense of self amid terrible odds, and a family’s binding love and unyielding spirit. 
Who Should Read It:

Great for 4th-8th graders.

What Else You Should Read:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Books by Theme: If You Like Wonder...


Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard all about Wonder. If you've been under said rock, learn more about this excellent book and the "Choose Kind" movement here. Then read these other books that also showcase empathy, kindness, and accepting differences.


El Deafo
by Cece Bell

Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece's class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends. Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school--in the hallway...in the teacher's lounge...in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower!

Out of My Mind
by Sharon Draper

Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom - the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged because she cannot tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she's determined to let everyone know it - somehow.

Loser
by Jerry Spinelli

Just like other kids, Zinkoff rides his bike, hopes for snow days, and wants to be like his dad when he grows up. But Zinkoff also raises his hand with all the wrong answers, trips over his own feet, and falls down with laughter over a word like "Jabip." Other kids have their own word to describe him, but Zinkoff is too busy to hear it. He doesn't know he's not like everyone else. And one winter night, Zinkoff's differences show that any name can someday become "hero."

Paperboy
by Vince Vawter

An 11-year-old boy living in Memphis in 1959 throws the meanest fastball in town, but talking is a whole different ball game. He can barely say a word without stuttering, not even his own name. So when he takes over his best friend's paper route for the month of July, he knows he'll be forced to communicate with the different customers, including a housewife who drinks too much and a retired merchant marine who seems to know just about everything. The paper route poses challenges, but it's a run-in with the neighborhood junkman, a bully and thief, that stirs up real trouble--and puts the boy's life, as well as that of his family's devoted housekeeper, in danger.

Counting by 7s
by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life...until now.

Stargirl
by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’ s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first. Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal.


Monday, April 17, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Legends by Howard Bryant

Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball
by Howard Bryant 
Philomel Books (2017)
Sports Nonfiction

What It's All About:

Giants of the game like Steph Curry, LeBron, and Michael Jordan have transcended the sport to become cultural icons and role models to young fans. From the cornfields of Indiana and the hills of North Carolina, to the urban sprawl of New York City, Chicago and L.A., love of the game stretches from coast to coast. Featuring Top Ten Lists to chew on and debate, and a Top 40-style Timeline of Key Moments in Basektball History, this comprehensive collection includes the greatest dynasties, from the Bill Russell-era Celtics, to the Magic Jonson-led Lakers, to the Jordan-led Bulls, right up to the Tim Duncan-led Spurs.

Why You'll Love It:
  • This is an easy hook for serious sports fans seeking an exploration of the history of basketball.
  • Alternates among overviews of each decade since the 1960s, profiles of particular players or accounts of high-profile matches, themed “Top 10” lists, and lends itself well to browsing.
  • Rather than present a rigidly systematic chronicle or an indigestible barrage of names and statistics, he begins chapters with highlight reels of each era’s leading players and teams.
Who Should Read It:

Great for 5th grade and up.

What Else You Should Read:

Friday, April 14, 2017

Books By Theme: You're In Luck...


Luck Uglies 
by Paul Durham

Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has Rye O'Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned. 
Now Rye's only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can't be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning's maze of secrets, rules, and lies, she'll discover the truth behind the village's legends of outlaws and beasts...and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.


A Whole Lot of Lucky
by Danette Haworth

Hailee Richardson never realized how much she hated her Salvation Army life and Goodwill accessories until the night her family wins the lottery. All of a sudden she's no longer the only girl at school without a cell phone or a brand-new bike! And the newfound popularity that comes with being a lottery winner is just what she's always dreamed of. But the glow of her smartphone and fancy new clothes wears off when Hailee is transferred to Magnolia Academy, a private school. All of a sudden, her best friend and parents seem shabby compared to the beautiful Magnolia moms and the popular bad-girl Nikki, who seems to want to be her friend.

Lucky Strike
by Bobbie Pyron

Nate Harlow would love to be lucky, just once! He'd like to win a prize, get picked first, call a coin toss right, even! But his best friend, Genesis Beam (aka Gen), believes in science and logic, and she doesn't think for one second that there's such a thing as luck, good or bad. She doesn't care what names the other kids call them. She cares about being right, about saving the turtles of Paradise Beach, and she cares about Nate.

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky
by Holly Schindler

August “Auggie” Jones lives with her Grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” Auggie is determined to prove that she is not as run-down as the outside of her house might suggest. Using the kind of items Gus usually hauls to the scrap heap, a broken toaster becomes a flower; church windows turn into a rainbow walkway; and an old car gets new life as spinning whirligigs. What starts out as a home renovation project becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time.

Three Times Lucky
by Sheila Turnage

Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

Monday, April 10, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Overturned

Overturned
by Lamar Giles
Scholastic (2017)
Mystery Fiction

What It's All About:

Nikki Tate's father has been on death row for killing his best friend in a gambling dispute, but he has always maintained his innocence, and now his conviction has been overturned and he is back at the casino, where high school junior Nikki has been operating illegal poker games in the hopes of saving enough money to get out of Vegas after graduation--and now he is determined to find the real killer, and Nikki is inevitably drawn into his dangerous search for the truth.

Why You'll Love It:
  • A fast-paced, compelling mystery and memorable characters and relationships make this selection a first choice.
  • The mystery never feels forced and seems to flow naturally, gaining momentum as Nikki peels away each layer until everything is ultimately revealed.
  • Racial elements at play - the Tates are black while their rivals, the Carlinos, are white - hover in the background, adding another layer to Giles's murder mystery.
Who Should Read It:

Perfect for 7th grade and up.



What Else You Should Read:
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