Summer Break Reading: 2014 Book-a-Day Wrap Up

This year, I again participated in Donalyn Miller’s Book-A-Day challenge. My goal was pretty simple, I aimed to read at least a book per day over my kids’ summer vacation. I love summer reading as the less structured schedule allows lots of here-and-there time to enjoy a book. This year, their break was 75 days long and today is their first day back, so it seemed a great time to look back at what I read. Keep in mind that well over half of my books were picture books, but all books count–fiction, nonfiction, adult, picture books, graphic novels. Below, I’ve highlighted some of my favorites. 

My goal: 75 books

Actually read: 85 books

Hopefully summer time meant plenty of reading time for you, too! I’d love to hear what you enjoyed this summer!

_________________________________________

  picturebooks

My favorite picture books of the bunch . . .

Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly and illustrated by Lisa Brown >> This is a touching look at divorce and the many worries that young kids have around the technical parts of divorce. I loved the Picasso facts sprinkled throughout the story, which is divided into smaller chapters.

Little Elliott, Big City by Mike Curato >> Adorable Elliott is feeling quite incompetent but soon finds a friend who needs his help. Together they make quite a pair. I’m certain Elliott and Ella the Elegant Elephant from Carmela and Steve D’amico.

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd>>A wordless look at nighttime with one boy’s flashlight. I loved it, though wonder if the cutouts really are necessary.

The Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo>> I adore Castillo’s illustration style and look forward to more of her work. One young boy causing trouble encounters another creature making mischief of his own.

Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson >> Sometimes we feel out of sorts, even in our own family. Gaston wonders if there has been some sort of mix up. His attempts to find out, just might prove him wrong. Funny with a heartfelt message at the same time.

The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara >> I probably loved the art more than the story on this one, but it is fun to think that animals need books, too!

Dog Days of School by Kelly DiPucchio and Brian Biggs >> I loved this funny “Freaky Friday” style mix up with a boy and his dog. I predict younger kids will find this hysterical.

A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham >> Sweet tale of friendship with darling illustrations.

_________________________________________

nonfiction

My favorite non-fiction titles . . .

The Pilot and the Little Prince by Peter Sis >> A super interesting look at the life of author (and adventurer) Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I did a have a few qualms about the book design that made the flow of reading choppy or difficult when you had to read very tiny text presented in a circular format.

Goal by Sean Taylor and Caio Vilela >> A marvelous photographic look at soccer (or football!) as it is enjoyed around the world. Each page spread is focuses on a different country and some soccer related facts on that sport in that country.

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Catia Chen >> An autobiographical look at the author’s own struggles to overcome stuttering  in tandem with developing a career devoted to animal conservation. Great illustrations!

Edward Hopper by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor >> I’ve always been a fan of Hopper’s work, so I found this to be a fascinating look at his creative process and influences. The notes in the back on some of his famous works provide some thought provoking prompts.

How to Make a Planet by Scott Forbes and illustrated by Jean Camden>> A thorough look at the creation of planets and our galaxy. Pretty complex stuff, but it is presented in an accessible way with some great illustrations and analogies. It’s longer format makes it best suited for upper elementary or even middle school readers.

 _________________________________________

mgbookaday

My Favorite Novels and Graphic Novels for Middle Grades . . .

Aside from . . . And Now Miguel, these titles were all really great reads! Here I will focus on the novels I read. It seems I’ve been drawn to a number stories with deeply sad plotlines. Hmm . . .

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko >> I loved this, the second book in this historical fiction series, almost as much as the first one. Lots of suspense will keep the readers turning the pages.

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson >> A fun buddy-caper story that might appeal to fans of Kim Baker’s Pickle or Chris Rylander’s The Fourth Stall series.

Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner >> The well crafted story of Circa’s challenges after her beloved father’s death. I loved her for determined hopefulness through even her darkest moments. I too wanted to believe. It reminded me in many ways of Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles >> I’m fascinated by the social-political-economic firestorm of the 1960s, so I was just riveted by this book. Wiles masterfully combines primary source material with an engaging, page turning story.

Manhunt by Kate Messner >> A highly entertaining mystery in the Silver Jaguar Society series with likable tween characters. Messner has such a great touch for research that really shows in the Paris setting for this book.

A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean >> In this Schneider Award winning story, Cally tries to carry on after the death of her mother. Her own dad is emotionally absent and struggling with his role as a single parent. Cally finds comfort and insight in the friendship she forms with a blind/deaf neighbor boy and the sudden appearance of stray dog with a story of his own.

Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin >> A haunting tale of loss and love infused with a touch of magic. The plot has undertones of urgency but is slow to crescendo to a heartfelt ending. I think it would make for a thoughtful read aloud and I’m curious to hear how kids might respond to this one.

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary >> (Newbery Medal 1984) A quick but heartfelt read aloud with my fifth grader. Beverly Cleary perfectly captures the tumultuous emotions of Leigh, a sixth grade boy, dealing with a new divorce and a move. The mix of his letters to his favorite author and diary entries are the perfect insight to his feelings. Despite it’s age, it holds up well with only a few dated references.

How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied by Jess Keating >> This is a great book from debut novelist Jess Keating that will be a hit with upper grade school and middle school readers. Ana, a seventh grader, deals with many relatable issues around changing dynamics with friends, crushes, and being true to yourself. I love Ana’s honest sounding voice and the humor that fills the pages along with these heartfelt issues. I’m glad there will more Ana stories coming!

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech >> (Newbery Medal 1995) Ack, Ms. Creech! You broke my heart a plenty with this marvelous story. Great characters that you find yourself rooting for immensely.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin >> (Newbery Honor 2010) I am not normally drawn to fantasy stories, but this is a lovely blend of fantasy and Chinese folktales wrapped up in a wonderful story of friendship. It was lovely to share as a read aloud with my 10-year old.

_________________________________________

 yabooks

Young Adult titles . . . 

None of these titles were horrible, but there were several I just didn’t seem to enjoy as much as other bloggers and reviewers I know. Just goes to show every book is not for every body!

My favorites from the pile:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart >> A title who’s plot is best not discussed, but it did indeed left me with my jaw hanging wide open. Probably a book that readers will love or hate.

Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer >> A great read aloud with my now seventh grader. Jenna hasn’t ever really fit in and in many ways has been forced to grow up quickly. Great characters emerge as Jenna decides to take a cross-country road trip with her boss in a last ditch effort to save a family business.

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles >> A emotionally powerful look at how a teenage pregnancy affects four friends.

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner >> An enjoyable young adult title, with a likable main character in Nick. With another mutual friend, Nick goes on a quest to fulfill a dying friend’s last wish. I wish I could have gone deeper into the motivations of some of the characters like Nick’s friend Scooter and Nick’s dad, but those gaps would make for good discussions. Light romance between the characters stays along the lines of first kisses. I loved all the references to Of Mice and Men.

Must Read in 2014 – Update #2

With July upon us, we are now halfway through 2014 and it is the perfect opportunity to check in with where I am on my 2014 reading challenge, known fondly on Twitter as the #MustReadIn2014 Challenge. Carrie got us all organized to do this, so be sure to head over to her blog for the official link up. I’ve been on a pretty good pace with these books and am about half way through the list. Below is the list of books I initially posted about in January that I wanted to read during 2014. It is mix of older titles, 2013 titles, and new 2014 titles. I’ve crossed out the books I have read to date. I’m still reading plenty of other books too, but this is a sort of check list to books I really want to read. Books I’ve finished in the last three months are marked in red; previous titles are denoted in blue. Ones that I especially adored and recommend are marked with **. My Caldecott Challenge is still sorely lagging, but I’m hoping to remedy that a bit during July and August. 

If you’ve done an update for this challenge, please share the link in the comments. I’d love to come check out what you’ve enjoyed, too! Happy Reading and happy summer reading!

 

Must Read Books in 2014

Read to date 19/38

Books for Adults

adultbooks

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson Read April 2014
Delancey by Molly Wizenberg Read in June 2014**
 

Middle Grade Novels

mg2013_1

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Runaway King (Ascendance Trilogy #2) by Jennifer Nielsen (2013)
Hold Fast by Blue Balliett (2013) 
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (2013) Read January 2014 **
The Year of Shadows by Claire LeGrand (2013)

mg2013_2

The Apprentices (The Apothecary #2) by Maile Meloy (2013)
Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton (2013)
Rump by Liesl Shurtliff (2013) | Read January 2014 **
Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz (2013) Read January 2014

oldermg1

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (2012) Read in May 2014**
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (2012)
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2011) Read in May 2014**
 
oldermg2
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean (2012)
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (2010)
The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (2011) Read January 2014
 
oldermg3
 
Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko (2009)
Al Capone Does My Homework  by Gennifer Choldenko (2013)
Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery (2012)
 

Young Adult Titles

ya2013

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (2013)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2013) Read January 2014 **
The Living by Matt de la Pena (2013) Read January 2014 **
 
olderya1
 
The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (2011)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007) Read in May 2014**
Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Saenz (2012)

olderya2

Me Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Graphic Novels

GN

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (2012) Read in May 2014**
The Great American Dust Bowl by Dan Brown (2013) Read January 2014 **

2014 Titles I’m most looking forward to reading:

2014_1

2014_2

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger Read in May 2014**
The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore Read in June 2014**
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee Read in February 2014 **
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle Read in February 2014 **
The 26-Story Tree House by Andy Griffiths Read in April 2014 **
Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets!by Kate Messner Read in March 2014 **
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
 

 

_____________________

Newbery Challenge Goal

Read to date: 5/12

King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, Newbery Medal 1949 Read in February 2014

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli, Newbery Medal 1950 Read in March 2014

Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates, Newbery Medal 1951 Read in May 2014

Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes, Newbery Medal 1952 Read in May 2014

Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark, Newbery Medal 1953 Read in June 2014

I’m shooting for 12 books, or an average of one per month. I’m grateful to have fellow blogger, Elisabeth, from The Dirigible Plum along for the ride as we slowly plug through the challenging middle years of the Newbery Challenge.

 

 

_____________________

Caldecott Challenge Goal

Progress to date : Meh

I’m aiming to get through all Caldecott Medal and Honor winners through 1979. I found I really got weighed down in the 1950s, but I’m hoping to get back some steam for the Caldecott Challenge.

 

_____________________

Cheers and may your 2014 be filled with many wonderful reading memories!

Look for the Rainbow

“How was Tall’s first year of middle school?”

“Horrible,” is often my standard reply.

Like many parents, I had hoped the move from elementary to middle school would be a smooth one. An infusion of new people. A new academic experience. She was so excited for middle school. This year was anything but great for a variety of complicated social and physical reasons, some out of her control. I have no professed expertise in the life of middle schoolers beyond surviving it myself, but below, I reflect on the year’s experiences. I realize I cannot take away the pain, but maybe my letter will give her some perspective on the year and give her some thoughts to consider, or even ignore (she is almost 13, after all).

Dear Tall,
Sixth grade is done. Not the year you were dreaming of back in early September but you made it. I am very proud of you. I know it hasn’t been easy. It seems a cloud hovers above you, but like all storms, these clouds will blow through.

While it may not be much comfort now, it will get better. Friendships, while never free of bumps, will get easier to navigate and many will require much less hand-wringing than they do now. Don’t get me wrong, even as a grown up, being left out from social events or feeling once solid friends slip away, often without explanation, is painful.

Try not to spend much time or energy on those who work to bring you down with their hurtful words or actions. Flock to the people who make you feel good about being you.

Take a chance and reach out to someone, even it is a repeated effort. It’s awkward sometimes. Wave at them again. Maybe they didn’t see you the first time. Ask again if they want to hang out. Maybe they really were busy. Some people may be feeling quiet and unsure of themselves and your friendly action may be just what they need.

Try to give people the benefit of the doubt when they behave in an unexpected way. Sometimes there is an explanation (a distraction, a bad day) for a behavior. Resist the temptation to go to a negative conclusion. Gather the facts. Talk to people involved directly. In person. So much is lost in texts and on social media like Instagram. And yes, sometimes, you just need to let it go. Everybody after all is working out the best way to navigate the social world that is middle school. Mistakes will be made. Words misspoken.

Try new things; this is the time to explore new interests which will open your world to new people and maybe new passions. It might mean pursuing different activities than your friends, but that might be just what you need.

I am a broken record on this one, but it’s not what you say, it is how you say it. Your voice is one that deserves to be heard. Share how you’re feeling. Ask those questions you have. Be confident, yet kind.

While it is tempting, and many have inquired, we will not be putting you in a protective bubble. Admittedly, you’ve been through a lot physically. Continue to pursue your loves of soccer and skiing as long as they bring you joy. Make your body strong to lessen the likelihood of injury but be not afraid. There is an impressive collection of braces, slings, corrective boots and crutches in our basement. And beyond that, we know some amazing doctors.

I wish I could say heartbreak is done. Emotional and physical challenges most certainly are again in your future. You will learn a lot from all of these experiences, especially as you rise back up. But remember that this year doesn’t define you. You are stronger than you realize. And most importantly know that you are loved by many. Some storms bring rainbows. Always look for that rainbow.

With much love,

Mom

Graphic Novel Favorites: Lunch Lady and Babymouse

Graphic Novel Favorites

Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle

by Jarrett Krosoczka

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2014

 

In this latest, and reportedly final, book of the series, the Lunch Lady and her sidekick Betty have been cut from the school budget. But back at Thompson Brook Elementary things are in a bad, bad way. All of the villains from past Lunch Lady stories are worming their way back into the school and the Breakfast Bunch must rally the Lunch Lady to return to her super hero ways. Will she be able to help the kids in time? You better read it to find out and enjoy lots of action and kitchen tool-gadgets along the way!

______________________

Happy Birthday, Babymouse

by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Published by Random House, 2014

It will be the birthday celebration of all celebrations, declares Babymouse as she plans her birthday party. It is going to be HUGE! Well, in typical Babymouse fashion that dream gets dumped upside down. Thanks, Felicity Furrypaws! How will Babymouse salvage it? Will any of her birthday party dreams come true? Check it out in this book, number 18 in the series. Lots of giggles await you!

 

Other Books to check out:

There are now three books in the awesome series, Zita Spacegirl series.

______________________

The companion book, Sisters, will be coming out in late summer!

______________________

  

Must Read in 2014 – Update #1

With April upon us, we are now 1/4 of the way through 2014 and it is the perfect opportunity to check in with where I am on my 2014 reading challenge, known fondly on Twitter as the #MustReadIn2014 Challenge. Below is the list of books I initially posted about in January that I wanted to read during 2014. It is mix of older titles, 2013 titles, and new 2014 titles. I’ve crossed out the books I have read to date. Ones that I especially adored are marked with **. Other than my Caldecott Challenge I feel like, due in part to a good reading month in January, I’m on track to get these titles read. If you’ve done an update for this challenge, please share the link in the comments. I’d love to come check out what you’ve enjoyed, too! Happy Reading and happy spring!

 

Must Read Books in 2014

Read to date 10/38

Books for Adults

adultbooks

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson Currently reading
Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
 

Middle Grade Novels

mg2013_1

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Runaway King (Ascendance Trilogy #2) by Jennifer Nielsen (2013)
Hold Fast by Blue Balliett (2013) 
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (2013) Read January 2014 **
The Year of Shadows by Claire LeGrand (2013)

mg2013_2

The Apprentices (The Apothecary #2) by Maile Meloy (2013)
Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton (2013)
Rump by Liesl Shurtliff (2013) | Read January 2014 **
Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz (2013) Read January 2014

oldermg1

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (2012)
Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (2012)
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2011)
 
oldermg2
 
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean (2012)
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (2010)
The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths (2011) Read January 2014
oldermg3
 
Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko (2009)
Al Capone Does My Homework  by Gennifer Choldenko (2013)
Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery (2012)
 

Young Adult Titles

ya2013

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (2013)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2013) Read January 2014 **
The Living by Matt de la Pena (2013) Read January 2014 **
 
olderya1
 
The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (2011)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)
Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Saenz (2012)

olderya2

Me Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Graphic Novels

GN

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (2012)
The Great American Dust Bowl by Dan Brown (2013) Read January 2014 **

2014 Titles I’m most looking forward to reading:

2014_1

2014_2

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger
The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee Read in February 2014 **
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle Read in February 2014 **
The 26-Story Tree House by Andy Griffiths
Marty McGuire Has Too Many Pets! by Kate Messner Read in March 2014 **
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
 

 

_____________________

Newbery Challenge Goal

Read to date: 2/12

King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, Newbery Medal 1949 Read in February 2014

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli, Newbery Medal 1950 Read in March 2014

I’m shooting for 12 books, or an average of one per month. I’m grateful to have fellow blogger, Elisabeth, from The Dirigible Plum along for the ride as we slowly plug through the challenging middle years of the Newbery Challenge.

 

 

_____________________

Caldecott Challenge Goal

Progress to date : Meh

I’m aiming to get through all Caldecott Medal and Honor winners through 1979. I found I really got weighed down in the 1950s, but I’m hoping to get back some steam for the Caldecott Challenge.

 

_____________________

Cheers and may your 2014 be filled with many wonderful reading memories!

01.27.14 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Head to the It’s Monday post here to link up or see a list of the all the other readers participating in this great meme. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #IMWAYR!

_________________________________________

Click the book covers to go to Goodreads for the full summaries . . .

My favorite picture book . . .

I read a bunch of picture books, many of them “meh”, but this was clear and away my favorite.

_________________________________________

Finished Middle Grade Novels . . .

I absolutely adored this. Even my 12-year old daughter, who rarely reads my recommendations, grabbed it and loved it. For the dreamers, theater lovers, and fans of big cities alike. There are mentions of his emerging sexuality (he’s “undecided”, which is just perfect), but aside from some homophobic insults, it is all broached in a non-outlandish and gentle manner. I’m so happy to have this title celebrated at the ALA Youth Media awards with honor nods for The Stonewall Award and The Odyessey (audiobook). Bravo!

_________________________________________

I know many who loved this, but maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for its bizareness?

_________________________________________

Finished this as a fun read aloud with my 12-year old daughter, Tall.

_________________________________________

Continuing

 

Last week I started these as read alouds with my kids. Penny is with the nine year old and The Running Dream is with the twelve year old.

_________________________________________

Wish I could drop everything to finish this. So different than Eleanor & Park, but so terrific.

_________________________________________

Next up . . .

1949 Newbery Medal Winner for my Newbery Challenge.

Do share what you are reading! Have a great week!

01.20.14 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Head to the It’s Monday post here to link up or see a list of the all the other readers participating in this great meme. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #IMWAYR!

_________________________________________

Click the book covers to go to Goodreads for the full summaries . . .

Last week’s picture books . . .

A nice message about taking risks. Would be great paired with Deborah Freeman’s Fish and Snail. Some young kids might become anxious in some of George’s precarious situations. (2011/Candlewick Press)

_________________________________________

Part multigenerational story telling, part civil rights mini lesson. All lovingly told and illustrated. Great for grades 1 and up. (2011/HMH Books for Young Readers)

_________________________________________

This cute book has a great message about being true to yourself and following your passions. I love Hector’s style and his animals are especially expressive. It would be great to pair with Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Great for Kindergarten and up. (2008/Hyperion)

_________________________________________

A good intro to Goodall and her work in Africa and her conservation efforts. I liked the artistic style and little hidden details Winters included in her illustrations. (2011/Schwartz and Wade)

_________________________________________

A Little Red Writing Hood fractured fairy tale with some writing tips creatively thrown in. I’m not sure I’d read this again after using it in a writing lesson, as the story didn’t wow me. As always, Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are terrific. Good for grades 2 and up. (2013/Chronicle Books)

_________________________________________

I adored Yoon’s other penguin books, but this one felt too forced to me. On a few page turns I even felt confused about the story line. But the penguins are so cute! (2013/Walker Children’s)

_________________________________________

I adored the art for this more than the story about team work. I want to frame some of these pages for my “someday” cabin! (2013/Kids Can Press)

_________________________________________

Finished Graphic Novels . . .

This is a well-researched telling of China’s Boxer Rebellion with amazing illustrations. I learned a lot about the time period in China and would certainly recommend it to those interested in the time or culture, but I just wasn’t in love with this one. The uprising was extremely violent and is portrayed as such in the books, so I’d recommend this for grades 7 and up. (2013/First Second)

_________________________________________

Finished Middle Grade Novels . . .

I finished this as a read aloud with Small, my fourth grader. She LOVED it. I enjoyed this interesting story about Dewey and her friend Suze who are both children of scientists working on the secretive Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, NM during World War II. I loved the portrayal of smart and creative girls and the challenges they needed to overcome to build and maintain their friendship. The only real complaint I had was on the amount of time it took for the girls’ paths to really cross in the story. Readers should have some background knowledge in the atomic bomb project before diving into this one. I’d recommend as a read aloud in grades 4 and up, or alone for fifth grade and up. (2006/Viking Juvenile)

_________________________________________

I am to blame for a not giving this more stars. I listened to it as an audiobook over many months rather than in concentrated blocks of time. As a result I had a hard time connecting with the story and it’s humor about life on Earth after it has been invaded by aliens. I must say, though, Bonnie Turpin is a fantastic audiobook narrator. (2007/Disney Hyperion)

_________________________________________

A fractured fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin filled with lots of magic and a likable main character. Fantasy fans will enjoy this story and the doses of middle grade humor laced throughout. While I read it alone, I’ve heard from many that it makes a great read aloud, and I can see why. Recommend for grades 3 – 7. (2013/Knopf Books for Young Readers)

_________________________________________

This week’s reading . . .

 

Do share what you are reading! Have a great week!