Wednesday, November 22, 2017

My Top 10 books of 2017

It's been a great year of reading for me! I can't believe it's already time to wrap it up, but here we go. 

My top 10 in no particular order...

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Running. That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all started with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who sees something in Ghost: crazy natural talent. If Ghost can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed, or will his past finally catch up to him?

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. 
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman and the Butterfly Girl. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs' joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan

Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same. 

After the Parade by Lori Ostend

Sensitive, bighearted, and achingly self-conscious, forty-year-old Aaron Englund long ago escaped the confinements of his Midwestern hometown, but he still feels like an outcast. After twenty years under the Pygmalion-like care of his older partner, Walter, Aaron at last decides it is time to take control of his own fate. But soon after establishing himself in San Francisco, Aaron sees that real freedom will not come until he has made peace with his memories of Mortonville, Minnesota: a cramped town whose four hundred souls form a constellation of Aaron’s childhood heartbreaks and hopes.

Refugee by Alan Gratz (ok, I cheated with 11-but I can't leave this one off!!!)

Three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers -- from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What they're (really) reading: October 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 library. They're not necessarily new, shiny, or covered with awards -- they're just what the kids want.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not 2018

A collection of bizarre facts, stories, and photographs featuring unusual creatures, people, places, and adventures from around the world. Can't go wrong with Ripley's...

Fullmetal Alchemist

by Hiromu Arakawa

Manga and anime are white hot in our library! I'm building a collection as quickly as possible. 

Edward Elric, having lost his arm and leg in a botched alchemical ritual that left his brother Alphonse a soul in a suit of armor, continues his quest for the Philosopher's Stone which will restore their bodies, but the mission is jeopardized when Elric and Prince Lin of Xing are swallowed by the homunculus Gluttony.

Star Wars: Incredible Cross Sections

by David West Reynolds

Uses cross-section illustrations to reveal the interior layouts of fourteen vehicles and spacecraft featured in the "Star Wars" series of movies. We've seen a slight increase in Star Wars interest due to the upcoming movie release.

The Gathering 

by Dan Poblocki
Horror Fiction

Poppy Caldwell is an orphan who keeps seeing a figure standing behind her in the mirror at the group home where she lives, but she does not associate this ghost with the letter that mysteriously appears in her file, claiming to be from a long-lost aunt, and inviting her to Larkspur House--and she is just one of five children who find themselves gathered in this strange house with a deadly past, and apparently no intention of letting the children escape.

Roller Girl
by Victoria Jamieson
Graphic Novel

When Astrid, about to begin junior high, heads to summer roller derby camp while best friend Nicole opts for ballet camp, their relationship is jeopardized by opposing interests.

Monday, October 16, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: All's Faire in Middle School

All's Faire in Middle School
by Victoria Jamieson
Dial Books (2017)
Graphic Novel

What It's All About:

Homeschooled by Renaissance Fair enthusiasts, eleven-year-old Imogene has a hard time fitting in when her wish to enroll in public school is granted.

Why You'll Love It:

  • Jamieson masterfully taps into the voice and concerns of middle-schoolers, and the offbeat setting of the Renaissance faire adds some lively texture.
  • Jamieson’s appealing, naturalistic artwork, full of warm tones, realistic-looking characters, and saturated colors, playfully incorporates medieval imagery along with Imogene’s more mundane homelife, particularly when Imogene fears that her misbehavior at home, thanks to frustrations at school, makes her more of a dragon than a knight.
  • Jamieson portrays a diverse cast of expressive, naturally posed figures occupying two equally immersive worlds.

Who Should Read It:

Perfect for 4th-8th graders...and here's the book trailer!

What Else You Should Read:

  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  • Chiggers by Hope Larson
  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: The Stars Beneath Our Feet

The Stars Beneath Our Feet
by David Barclay Moore
Knopf (2017)
Realistic Fiction

What It's About:

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier.

Why You'll Love It:

  • These characters are vibrantly alive, reconstituting the realness that is needed to bring diverse, complicated stories to the forefront of our shelves.
  • Moore delivers a realistic and at times brutal portrait of life for young people of color who are living on the edge of poverty, while at the same time infuses the story with hope and aspiration, giving Lolly the chance to find salvation through creativity.
  • The cover art. Seriously.

Who Should Read It:

Great for 6th-8th graders. Also, here's an interview with author Moore.

What Else You Should Read:

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Into the Dangerous World by Julie Chibbaro
  • Finding Mighty by Sheela Chari

Saturday, September 30, 2017

What they're (really) reading: September 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 library. They're not necessarily new, shiny, or covered with awards -- they're just what the kids want.

Secret Coders 
by Gene Luen Yang
Graphic Novel

Welcome to Stately Academy, a school which is just crawling with mysteries to be solved! The founder of the school left many clues and puzzles to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni are going to solve the mystery of Stately Academy no matter what it takes.

A Bad Case of Stripes
by David Shannon
Picture Book

In order to ensure her popularity, Camilla Cream always does what is expected, until the day arrives when she no longer recognizes herself. (We recently visited an elementary school and our middle school students read a picture book to an elementary classroom. This was one of their picks!)

Kristy's Great Idea
by Ann M. Martin/Raina Telegemeier
Graphic Novel

Follows the adventures of Kristy and the other members of the Baby-sitters Club as they deal with crank calls, uncontrollable two-year-olds, wild pets, and parents who do not always tell the truth.

Homework Machine
by Dan Gutman
Humor Fiction

Four fifth-grade students--a geek, a class clown, a teacher's pet, and a slacker--as well as their teacher and mothers, each relate events surrounding a computer programmed to complethomework assignments

There's a Fungus Among Us: True Stories of Killer Molds
by John DiConsiglio

Explains how fungi can help and harm people; discusses cases of deadly fungi found in Utah, Ohio, and British Columbia; and includes an interview with a mycologist.

by Lisa McMann
Mystery/Fantasy Fiction

Ever since she was eight years old, high school student Janie Hannagan has been uncontrollably drawn into other people's dreams, but it is not until she befriends an elderly nursing home patient and becomes involved with an enigmatic fellow-student that she discovers her true power.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Posted by John David Anderson

by John David Anderson
Walden Pond, 2017
Realistic Fiction

What It's All About:

In middle school, words aren't just words. They can be weapons. They can be gifts. The right words can win you friends, or make you enemies. 

Why You'll Love It:
  • Acute observations about social media and school life and a smart, engaging narrator make this a journey well worth taking.
  •  Anderson reminds us that bullying takes place in many forms: when cellphones are banned from Branton Middle School, the student population is thrown into a frenzy, which only increases when kids find a new way of communicating throughout the day—Post-it notes.
  • The characters, both adult and teen, are vivid, flawed, and approachable. Anderson dives into the world of middle school with a clear sense of how it works and what it needs.
Who Should Read It:

Great for grades 5-8...and here's the teaching guide!

What Else You Should Read:
  • Mr. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson
  • The Best Man by Richard Peck
  • Restart by Gordon Korman

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What They're Really Reading : August 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.

Just Listen
by Sarah Dessen
Realistic Fiction

Sixteen-year-old Annabel finds an ally in classmate Owen, whose honestly and passion for music help her to face and share what really happened at the end-of-the-year party that changed her life.

Allegiant (Bk. 3)
by Victoria Roth
Dystopian Fiction

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered--fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's known, Tris is ready.

by Brandon Mull
Fantasy Fiction

When Kendra and Seth go to stay at their grandparents' estate, they discover that it is a sanctuary for magical creatures and that a battle between good and evil is looming.

Rey Mysterio: High Flying Luchador 
by Raatma

Describes the life and career of pro wrestler Rey Mysterio.

Project Princess 
by Meg Cabot
Humor/Realistic Fiction

Presents an episode between volumes four and five of The Princess Diaries in which Mia, a New York City teen who is becoming accustomed to being heir to the small European principality of Genovia, sets off with her friends from school to build homes for the less fortunate.

Monday, June 12, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: The Sand Warrior (5 Worlds)

The Sand Warrior
by Mark Siegel
illustrated by Ianthe Boume
Random House (2017)
Graphic Novel

What It's All About:

The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there's more to themselves--and more to their worlds--than meets the eye...

Why You'll Love It:

  • The three illustrators work seamlessly together to place Oona, a thick-bodied but graceful, pale-skinned strawberry blonde, in exotic, elaborately envisioned settings and surround her with a notably variegated cast of green-, blue-, brown-, black-, and pink-skinned allies and adversaries. 
  • Adorable, cartoonish illustrations bring color and life to this action-packed story that's reminiscent of the animated TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • With sensitive writing, gorgeous artwork, and a riveting plot, this is a series to keep an eye on.

Who Should Read It:

Perfect for 4th-7th graders.

What Else You Should Read:

Monday, May 15, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Armstrong & Charlie

Armstrong & Charlie
by Steven B. Frank
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2017)
Historical Fiction

What It's All About:

Charlie isn't looking forward to sixth grade. If he starts sixth grade, chances are he'll finish it. And when he does, he'll grow older than the brother he recently lost. Armstrong isn't looking forward to sixth grade, either. When his parents sign him up for Opportunity Busing to a white school in the Hollywood Hills, all he wants to know is "What time in the morning will my alarm clock have the opportunity to ring?" When these two land at the same desk, it's the Rules Boy next to the Rebel, a boy who lost a brother elbow-to-elbow with a boy who longs for one.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Period details from the ’70s and hilarious dialogue will draw readers in from the very first pages.
  • Armstrong and Charlie is a must read for middle grade students who are trying to figure out their own place in the world, since that's exactly what these characters are trying to do. 
Who Should Read It:

Great for 5th-8th graders...also check out this activity kit from the publisher.

What Else You Should Read:

Friday, May 12, 2017

I Tried It: Kicking Off Research With Costumes!

Seventh grade writing teachers at my middle school recruited me to dress up in order to kick off their research projects -- all about the 1960s! Students were able to pick a topic they were interested in and also pick the ways in which they presented the information. I love projects that support student choice.

I also snuck in some handy tips about navigating our state's amazing online database resource, Tennessee Electronic Library.

I showed them how to find primary sources on the databases as well as the nifty feature that automatically generates their citations for them. They were pretty pumped about that one.

It's been so interesting to check in with the students as they discover more about their topics as they research.

Happy teaching!

Monday, May 8, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Strong Inside

Strong Inside
by Andrew Maraniss
Philomel (2017)

What It's All About:

Perry Wallace was born at an historic crossroads in U.S. history. He entered kindergarten the year that the Brown v. Board of Education decision led to integrated schools, allowing blacks and whites to learn side by side. A week after Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, Wallace enrolled in high school and his sensational jumping, dunking, and rebounding abilities quickly earned him the attention of college basketball recruiters from top schools across the nation.

The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt University recruited Wallace to play basketball, he courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the Southeastern Conference. The hateful experiences he would endure on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Yet Wallace persisted, endured, and met this unthinkable challenge head on.

Why You'll Love It:

  • Author Maraniss doesn’t shy away from the difficulties, not wanting to whitewash history by editing away the ugly epithets that plagued Wallace throughout his career.
  • The bibliography is packed with primary sources, offering ample research opportunities for those compelled to dig deeper into the civil rights struggle of Wallace and other black athletes.
  • Maraniss writes in a way that would draw in reluctant readers. His writing is smooth and vivid. The smoothness makes the book fly by, while the vividness make the encounters Wallace face that much more damning.

Who Should Read It:

Perfect for 7th grade and up.

What Else You Should Read:

  • Legends by Howard Bryant
  • On the Court with LeBron James by Matt Christopher
  • Hoop Dreams by Ben Joravsky

Friday, May 5, 2017

Books By Theme: Positively Presidential

With presidents and politics garnering lots of media attention (in the U.S. and elsewhere), children may be curious. No matter where you live, these presidential-themed picture books -- some funny, some serious -- can serve as discussion starters.

One Today
by Richard Blanco
illustrated by Dav Pilkey

From dawn till dusk, the rays of the sun touch all kinds of people as they go about their daily lives. Amid this bustling crowd, young readers can track one family and their cat across the pages of luminous, jewel-toned illustrations. (Older kids may be interested to note that the art is by Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame.) Originally written for the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama, this graceful poem-turned-picture book features American points of reference, but its message of inclusiveness and hope will resonate with readers worldwide.

Looking at Lincoln 
by Maira Kalman

Fearlessly quirky author and illustrator Maira Kalman has made a book about Abraham Lincoln that is probably not like any others you may have read. Instead of presenting a specific story from Lincoln's life or providing a textbook-style biography, she creates a character (a girl) who becomes fascinated with the 16th U.S. president and learns everything she can about him. The girl isn't bashful about her emotions, either -- she really loves Lincoln and asks herself all kinds of questions about him. With bright, fun illustrations and a casual feel, Looking at Lincoln is a sweet story about making personal connections with historical figures.

President Squid
by Aaron Reynolds
illustrated by Sara Varon

With many-armed abandon, a hot pink squid throws himself into a presidential campaign. He's sure he's right for the job: he's famous, he lives in a big house, he's loud and bossy ("Hey Jellyfish! Comb your tentacles! You look terrible!"), and he even wears a necktie! It takes one of the smallest voters under the sea to point out that perhaps Squid might add "helping people" to the list of presidential qualities. Though Squid utterly fails to learn a valuable lesson, his over-the-top antics may prompt giggling kids to chime in with their own ideas about leadership. 

Madam President
by Lane Smith

In this witty book, a little girl imagines that she is President of the United States. After making an executive order for "more waffles, please," Madam President dons a smart pantsuit and makes her way through a busy day of photo ops, treaty negotiation (between a baffled cat and dog), vigorous veto-ing, and a "press conference" (her oral report). This chief executive's cabinet is populated with toy box residents -- Ms. Piggy Bank is Secretary of the Treasury, for example -- in just one of the many visual gags that complement the book's tongue-in-cheek formal text.

Monday, May 1, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Real Friends

Real Friends
by Shannon Hale
Illustrations by LeUyen Pham
First Second Books (2017)
Graphic Novel (Memoir)

What It's All About:

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.
Why You'll Love It:
  • Pham’s brightly colored panels are the perfect complement to Hale’s nuanced story, particularly when she zooms in on reactions, subtle gestures, and facial expressions that add captivating emotional depth.
  • It's bound to resonate with most readers, especially kids struggling with the often turbulent waters of friendships and cliques.
Who Should Read It:

Perfect for 3rd-6th graders...and here's the book trailer!

What Else You Should Read:

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

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 the teacher's 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.

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."

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.

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

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:

Friday, April 7, 2017

Books by Theme: If You Like Dork Diaries

I don't know about you, but I find that Dork Diaries is even more popular than Wimpy Kid at our middle school! I'm constantly directing readers to other great books to read after they've finished Russell's series. Here are the books and series I point to over and over again to whet readers' appetites.

Popularity Papers (series)
by Amy Ignatow

Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang are best friends with one goal: to crack the code of popularity. Lydia’s the bold one: aspiring theater star, stick-fighting enthusiast, human guinea pig. Julie’s the shy one: observer and artist, accidental field hockey star, faithful recorder. In this notebook they write down their observations and carry out experiments to try to determine what makes the popular girls tick. But somehow, when Lydia and Julie try to imitate the popular girls, their efforts don’t translate into instant popularity.

Dear Dumb Diary (series)
by Jim Benton

School was okay today. Actually, it was better than okay. Angeline got her long, beautiful hair tangled in one of the jillion things she has dangling from her backpack, and the school nurse -- who is now one of my main heroes -- took a pair of scissors and snipped two feet of silky blond hair from the left side of her head, so now Angeline only looks like The Prettiest Girl in the World if you're standing on her right. (Although personally, I think she would look better if I was standing on her neck.)

Amelia's Notebooks (series)
by Marissa Moss

 Moss may have her name on the title page, but this is really Amelia's book. The feisty, make-believe nine-year-old takes on a life of her own as she writes and draws her feelings about moving, starting a new school, and making new friends (some antagonism toward her older sister, Cleo, who "picks her nose with her little finger," sneaks in as well). A colorful riot of childlike drawings and lots of hand-printed text spill every which way across the pages. Both the language and the art style are on target for the age group--Amelia is droll and funny and not too sophisticated for her years; she's also poignant and real as she longs for her "far-away" friend and takes tentative steps to find one close by.

Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting

by Tommy Greenwald

Here are a few things you need to know about Katie Friedman:
1. Katie is swearing off phones for life! (No, seriously. She just sent the wrong text to the wrong person!)
2. She wants to break up with her boyfriend. (Until, that is, he surprises her with front row tickets to her favorite band, Plain Jane. Now what!?)
3. She wants to be a rock star (It's true. She has a band and everything.)
4. Her best friend is Charlie Joe Jackson. (Yeah, you know the guy.)
5. And most importantly, Katie's been offered the deal of a lifetime—get ten of her friends to give up their phones for one week and everyone can have backstage passes to Plain Jane. (A whole week!? Is that even possible?)

Ten Rules For Living With My Sister (series)
by Ann M. Martin

Pearl's older sister Lexie is in eighth grade and has a boyfriend. Pearl's only boyfriend is the family's crabby cat, Bitey. Lexie is popular. Pearl is not, mostly because of the embarrassing Three Bad Things that happened in school and which no one has forgotten. Everything Pearl does seems to drive Lexie crazy. On top of that, their grandfather is moving into their family's apartment and taking over Pearl's room. How will these sisters share without driving one another crazy?

11 Birthdays (series)
by Wendy Mass

GROUNDHOG DAY meets FLIPPED in this tale of a girl stuck in her birthday.
It's Amanda's 11th birthday and she is super excited -- after all, 11 is so different from 10. But from the start, everything goes wrong. The worst part of it all is that she and her best friend, Leo, with whom she's shared every birthday, are on the outs and this will be the first birthday they haven't shared together. When Amanda turns in for the night, glad to have her birthday behind her, she wakes up happy for a new day. Or is it? Her birthday seems to be repeating iself. What is going on?! And how can she fix it?

Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf (series)

by Jennifer Holm

Ginny has ten items on her big to-do list for seventh grade. None of them, however, include accidentally turning her hair pink. Or getting sent to detention for throwing frogs in class. Or losing the lead role in the ballet recital to her ex-best friend. Or the thousand other things that can go wrong between September and June. But it looks like it's shaping up to be that kind of a year! Here's the story of one girl's worst school year ever -- told completely through her stuff.

Gossip From the Girls' Room (series)

by Rose Cooper

Gossip from the Girls’ Room fills readers in on all there is to learn about middle school life at Middlebrooke, where Sofia has her very own blog and discusses all the juicy gossip that comes out of the Girls’ room; read along to find out just what happens when class is not in session.
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