Sunday, October 16, 2016

COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles

Historical Fiction, 1960's, Cuban Missile Crisis
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.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Humor, Mystery, Games, Libraries


"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!!! 

Friday, October 07, 2016


Ghosts Fiction, Dollhouses Fiction, Families, Divorce, Friendship
435 pages
Grades 5-8

"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."
---The Publisher

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.

WAR HORSE by Michael Morpurgo

Fiction, World War I, Horses, Friendship
Grades 5-8
67 pages

"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.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

THE SON OF NEPTUNE by Rick Riordan

Fantasy, Mythology

"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.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Fabulous Fantasy Books

a duplicate posting from the Eastchester Summer Reading Blog

Harry Potter series - J.K Rowling
Inkheart - Cornelia Funke
Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman
The Mortal Instrument series - Cassandra Clare
The Divergent series - Veronica Roth
Twilight series - Stephenie Meyer
Rick Riordan's series - Greek Gods and demigods!
The Abhorsen Trilogy - Garth Nix
The Keys to the Kingdom - Garth Nix
The Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan
Song of the Lioness series - Tamora Pierce
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libby Bray - The Gemma Doyle Series
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
The Bartimaeus Trilogy - Jonathan Stroud
The Land of Stories - Chris Colfer
The Maze Runner - series (beware horror page-turner!) -James Dashner
Kingdom Keepers - Ridley Pearson
The Wee Free Men Maurice and His Educated Rodents and the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett...The Sir Terry Pratchett himself

Some great classics!
The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings - J.R. Tolkien
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald (Gave me nightmares, but unforgettable!)
A Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L'Engle

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Science Fiction, Adventure, Schools
2008, 485 pages

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!

Friday, May 13, 2016

THE FOURTH STALL by Chris Rylander

Realistic Fiction, School, Friends, Bullying, Mystery, Humor

"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.

Do 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.