Thursday, October 22, 2015


Animal Fantasy, Opossums; Adventure

"Fans of E.B. White and Dick King-Smith will adore this heartwarming and funny animal adventure by the award-winning author of Counting by 7s

Mama has trained up her baby possums in the ways of their breed, and now it's time for all of them—even little Appleblossom—to make their way in the world. Appleblossom knows the rules: she must never be seen during the day, and she must avoid cars, humans, and the dreaded hairies (sometimes known as dogs). Even so, Appleblossom decides to spy on a human family—and accidentally falls down their chimney! The curious Appleblossom, her faithful brothers—who launch a hilarious rescue mission—and even the little girl in the house have no idea how fascinating the big world can be. But they're about to find out!

With dynamic illustrations, a tight-knit family, and a glimpse at the world from a charming little marsupial's point of view, this cozy animal story is a perfect read-aloud and a classic in the making." (From the publisher)

My Comments
Adorable! Sloan shows the world from a possum's point of view with humor and hair-raising adventures. Kids can probably relate to some of the possum personalities and learn a little animal science a long the way. Very well done. This may be more on the elementary level, but I would recommend it to some sixth graders too.


Illustrated by K.G. Campbell

Animal Fantasy; Superheroes; Squirrels; Humor; Divorce
Newbery Winner 2014

"It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry -- and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format -- a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K. G. Campbell." (From the publisher)

My Comments
A fun and incredibly creative book. I kept thinking, "How did DiCamillo ever come up with this story?" But it works! The reader sees the world from the perspective of the squirrel and Flora in a way that makes total sense.
That said, it's not for every reader. I would give it to kids who want to laugh and be surprised. There is a dark, almost Roald Dahl shadow to this story, however, in the relationship of Flora with her mother who has distanced herself from Flora. But there is resolution, love, and understanding at the end.

THE CAPTURE by Katherine Lasky

Guardians of Ga'hoole series. Book One.
Animal Fantasy; Owls; Good and Evil; Survival

"Soren, a barn owl that is captured and taken to a special school for orphaned owls, is befriended by elf owl Gylfie and together the two set out to discover what is really going on at St. Aegolius Academy." (Publisher's description)

My Comments
This has been a standing favorite for years with my students. It is easy enough for many readers, but the theme of good versus evil may be interpreted on different levels, thus extending the recommended reading level of this story and providing excellent discussion questions for classroom reading. For example, the consequences of standing up to evil are often fatal, and a malevolent leader may not want the owls - the people - to think for themselves.

This is a pretty solid winner for most middle school students.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Old Favorite. Love, love, love this one!
animal fantasy; courage

"With nowhere else to turn, a field mouse asks the clever escaped lab rats living under the rosebush to help save her son, who lies in the path of the farmer's tractor, too ill to be moved." (Follett Description)

My Comments
'This story pulls you in with the gentle, but oh so brave and loyal little mouse, Mrs. Frisby. Old fashioned courage and family love. It's a tearjerker at the end. Beautiful descriptive writing.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Graphic Novel.
Collects the adventures of Superhero Girl, a young woman trying to make a living as a superhero, but things like poor finances, an overshadowing superhero brother, a desire to be her own person, and the lack of an archnemesis keep getting in her way. 
Entertaining and fast-paced. Perfect for grade 6-8.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

SOUL SURFER by Bethany Hamilton

A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board

Narrative Nonfiction; Survival; Courage

"Bethany Hamilton shares the story of her lifelong love of surfing, and tells how she was able to recover and return to competition with the help of her family, friends, and faith after losing her arm in a shark attack at the age of thirteen." (
This was published in 2004, but is still a popular book with my middle school students. I finally read it. Now I know why it's a keeper. Bethany's wisdom, faith, and love are remarkable. Her persistence and perspective on life are an example for all ages. Highly inspiring.

"What about sharks?" That question is asked countless times to surfers, especially by those whose sports rarely take them near the ocean....I'd usually just shrug and try not to think about it.....Life is full of what-ifs. You can't let it hold you back. If you do, you're not really living at all...just kind of going through the motions with no meaning." (page 122-123)