Hello! I am a middle-high school librarian in New York. This is an informal reading log rather than an active blog although I welcome comments. I often use it as a quick reference when connecting kids with books. They are not necessarily new titles, but ones I see my students reading or ones that catch my attention on the shelf. Please check out the sidebar for more lists. Book summaries and images are from Follett's Titlewave.com. Comments, of course, are my own! Eleanor Funk Schuster
Historical Fiction, 1960's, Cuban Missile Crisis 2010 Grades 5-8 ALA Notable Book 2011; Starred Reviews
"The narrator of this first-rate novel is eleven-year-old Air Force brat (and middle child) Franny Chapman. With JFK facing down Communists and a father on active duty, Franny has cause to feel on edge. Eye-grabbing graphic spreads of Cold War-era images, lyrics, speeches, and headlines are shrewdly interspersed throughout the book, providing most of the social commentary and historical explication." -Hornbook Fall 2010
This would be a fabulous book for classes studying U.S. History during the early 1960's. The primary resources interspersed bring this era to life. Very engaging and informative.
"Grades 4-7. Here’s an instantly engaging and wildly creative mystery that is sure to have readers looking at their humble local library in a new light. Mr. Lemoncello is an eccentric game designer who has just funded a very special new library in his hometown. In honor of the grand opening, Lemoncello has selected a dozen 12-year-olds to participate in an overnight lock-in event at the library. But when the kids wake up, they discover a new and unexpected game is afoot: whoever can find a way out of Mr. Lemoncello’s library will win the grand prize. Avid readers will get a kick out of the references to classic and current children’s literature as the kids solve clues to escape and win the game. Main character Kyle Keeley works hard to beat his nemesis, the conniving bully Charles Chilington, who constantly reminds everyone that he is always successful. As Lemoncello says, knowledge not shared remains unknown, and the group learns that working together just might be the key to solving the mystery. An ode to libraries and literature that is a worthy successor to the original madman riddle master himself, Willy Wonka." -Booklist starred (June 1, 2013 (Vol. 109, No. 19)) This is fantastic! I am in the middle of it, but can't wait to put the book into a student's hands....or maybe do a bit of a read aloud. A real winner!!!
"Zibby Thorne doesn't know what possessed her to buy an antique dollhouse--she doesn't even like dolls. But when her friends and family start having bizarre accidents clearly connected to the dollhouse, she can't ignore the menacing structure any longer.
Zibby is sure that one particularly creepy doll in a gray dress is somehow responsible for the trouble. She discovers the doll is controlled by the spirit of "sweet" Miss Honeywell, a vengeful governess who seeks to control Zibby and her friends from beyond the grave. They must find a way to stop Miss Honeywell before her wrath becomes deadly."
A 'fun-scary' book that encompasses the difficulty of divorce and family love. A little long in the middle, but picks up and finishes with a satisfying ending.
Fiction, World War I, Horses, Friendship
"We'll be friends, you and I. I'll call you Joey,' Albert said. 'I'll look after you. We'll always be friends, I promise.' Albert Narracott, a farmer's boy, makes this promise to his horse, Joey, in Devon, England. But this is before the First World War, and before Joey leaves for France to become a war horse. What happens to Joey in the British army? What will the Germans and the French do to him when they find him? And how will Albert find Joey again? Read this story and find out." - The Publisher
GREAT book! Full disclosure I love horses, but this story about friendship, loyalty, and forgiveness will touch the heart of anyone.
"Percy is confused. When he awoke after his long sleep, he didn't know much more than his name. His brain-fuzz is lingering, even after the wolf Lupa told him he is a demigod and trained him to fight. Somehow Percy managed to make it to the camp for half-bloods, despite the fact that he had to continually kill monsters that, annoyingly, would not stay dead. But the camp doesn't ring any bells with him.
Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn't do a very good job of it. When the Voice took over her mother and commanded Hazel to use her "gift" for an evil purpose, Hazel couldn't say no. Now, because of her mistake, the future of the world is at risk.
Frank is a klutz. His grandmother claims he is descended from ancient heroes and can be anything he wants to be, but he doesn't see it. He doesn't even know who his father is. He keeps hoping Apollo will claim him, because the only thing he is good at is archery-although not good enough to help the Fifth Cohort win at war games. His big and bulky physique makes him feel like a clumsy ox, especially in front of Hazel, his closest friend at camp. He trusts her completely-enough, even, to share the secret he holds close to his heart.
Beginning at the "other" camp for half-bloods and extending as far north as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment in the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and features other remarkable creatures, all of whom are destined to play a part in the most important quest of all: the Prophecy of Seven." ---from the publisher Riordan reaches the level of J.K. Rowling. He is fantastic. Read this series.
ALA Notable and starred reviews "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" "When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending texts. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all? Welcome to the Mysterious Benedict Society." From the Publisher This is an absolutely engaging adventure that involves problem-solving, loyalty, and bravery. I was so sorry when it ended, but good news...there are sequels!
"The humor of Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets a Godfather-like tale of crime and betrayal in this first book in Chris Rylander's The Fourth Stall Saga.
you need something? Mac can get it for you. He and his best friend and
business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the
law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem,
if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side.
His office is located in the East Wing boy's bathroom, fourth stall from
the high window. And business is booming. Or at least it was, until
this particular Monday. Because this Monday is when Mac and Vince find
out that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is there's no
one left to solve yours.
The school setting; fast-paced, cinematic, and funny story; and engaging voice make The Fourth Stall a perfect classroom read." From the Publisher
This is a real favorite with my sixth graders. It's a page turner! Mac's business operation is outrageous and breaks a lot of rules....and the law at times, but the story works just because it is so outrageous - believable, but not really. What saves Mac in the reader's eyes is that he really is a nice kid and wants to look out for others...while making money.
This could be a good match for both reluctant and avid readers.