Archive for the ‘New books 2010 school year’ category

ELVIS AND OLIVE by Stephanie Watson

June 22, 2011

I sat in the backyard yesterday and read this fun tale of an unusual friendship. Natalie is “perfect” and has  a nice, loving family, while Annie is the new “tough” girl who just moved in with her rather uncaring uncle. The girls meet in the first days of summer vacation and give each other secret names, Elvis and Olive, and begin to spy on the neighborhood. At first Annie (Elvis) reminded me a bit of Pippi Longstocking, with her outlandish stories (lies) and absent parents, but she lacks Pippi’s sweet and funny essence. In fact, there were a few times at the beginning of this book where I almost stopped reading, because I wasn’t sure I liked Elvis and what she was getting Olive to do. I’m glad I kept reading, though,  because their neighborhood spy mission ended in a very satisfying way, and I thought the author did a very good job of describing a street full of people that I would love to know. For older elementary school girls, this book will make you think about family, friendship, and how to treat people. There’s even a tiny bit of romance!

THE FAST AND THE FURRIEST by Andy Behrens

June 11, 2011

Here’s a winner for all you dog lovers out there. Kevin Pugh is a 12-year-old  couch potato: his favorite things are eating, watching tv, and playing video games. Kevin’s father used to be a star player for the Chicago Bears, and he would really like his son to do something more athletic than play video games.  To please his father, Kevin agrees to go to  football summer camp with humorous and disastrous results.    When Kevin’s pudgy, lazy dog Cromwell sees a dog agility contest on tv one day, everything changes for the Pugh family. Cromwell suddenly wants to go for walks all the time, leap over hurdles, and run and jump through tire swings:  maybe Kevin has finally found the motivation to get off the couch.  Can Cromwell become the athlete?  Will Kevin’s father ever lighten up? Read this humorous, suspenseful book about a boy’s summer of change.

TUNNELS!

May 31, 2011

As I was finishing up PENNY DREADFUL by Laurel Snyder last night, I realized it was the fourth book I’ve read this spring that features a tunnel  as an important part of the story.   That got me thinking about a blog post, so here we go:

PENNY DREADFUL by Laurel Snyder is about a ten-year-old girl whose life changes in very big ways when her father quits his job and the family  leaves their mansion and their wealthy lifestyle in the city for the little town of Thrush Junction, Tennessee.  She has never had a friend before, or an adventure;  and suddenly she is surrounded by unusual characters and situations.  At the end of the book she finds herself in a TUNNEL, searching for the legendary hidden treasure….will she find it?  Will she stay in Tennessee or return to New York?  This is a great summer read with a slightly “old fashioned” feel.

THE TUNNEL OF HUGSY GOODE by Eleanor Estes

This book is set in New York in the 1970’s and features a neighborhood full of kids of all ages who have fun without video games (not invented yet!) or television.  If you are wondering how that is possible, check it out and read all about the boys who discover a TUNNEL running under their street.  What do they do there? And what on earth does the RACCOON have to do with it all?!

F IS FOR FREEDOM BY Roni Schotter

This one is more serious and historical.  Set in Vermont in the late 1800’s, it deals with a family who helps aother family of runaway slaves reach freedom in Canada.   The ending is very suspenseful, as  Amanda, the imaginative young daughter, has the opportunity to save the day because she knows of a TUNNEL that may keep the runaways safe from the slave catchers.  Find out if she is successful by reading this enjoyable, exciting historical fiction book.

THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLINS by George MacDonald

A fantasy classic that has been loved for 150 years,  this book tells the story of Irene, a princess, and her friend Curdie who works in the mines.  There is a lot of exploration of the TUNNELS in the nearby mountain, tunnels where Curdie and his fellow miners make their living and which just happen to be populated by some pretty gruesome goblins with a plan that involves Irene.  This book has one of the most interesting grandmothers that I have ever had the pleasure to read about in a children’s book.  Check it out and see what an important role  Irene’s lovely, magical grandmother plays in this exciting adventure.

A LONG WALK TO WATER by Linda Sue Park

May 11, 2011

Here is a true story for children old enough to handle an intense  situation.  There are two stories that alternate:   Nya, a girl living in Sudan, Africa, must walk 8 hours every day to bring water back to her dry village.  Salva is one of Sudan’s “lost boys”:  separated from his family by war in the 1990’s, he was forced to travel on foot through hundreds of miles of hostile territory.  He survived the desert, animal attacks, a crocodile-filled river, and spent years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.  His life, which was so full of tragedy,  took a hopeful turn when he relocated to New York, attended college, and returned to his home country to establish wells in remote villages that are in desperate need of clean water.  And that is where his life intersects with Nya’s.  As you are reading the two interwoven stories, you know that they are going to come together, and that is what keeps you reading despite the sadness.   This is a powerful book that will touch your heart and inspire you to reach out to others in need.

New chapter books added recently

March 15, 2011

Here are some new chapter books recently added to the CPS library collection that I have read and highly recommend:

Nature Girl by Jane Kelley

A 12-year-old New York City  girl is reluctantly spending the summer in Vermont with her nature-loving family.   After an argument with her friend, she decides to hike 30 miles of the Appalachian Trail with her dog.  Her journey is both physical and emotional, as she has plenty of time to think about her life along the way.

Out of my mind by Sharon Draper

Born with cerebral palsy, 10-year-old Melody has never said a word.  She is a brilliant fifth grader trapped in an uncontrollable body.  What happens when she starts to be included in “normal” classes – will the other fifth graders accept her?  Will they understand she is actually the smartest student in the school?  Read this moving novel to find out how Melody finds her “voice”. 

The year money grew on trees by Aaron R. Hawkins

A young teenage boy and his siblings spend the summer running an apple orchard with no adult assistance, because an elderly neighbor has promised to GIVE it to them if they can make a success of it.  An interesting look at family, hard work, determination, and the pride that kids feel when they are working toward a goal.  Suspenseful and inspiring!

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

Seven fifth graders in Vermont learn a variety of life lessons, not necessarily from their textbooks, with an inspiring new teacher who really understands them and is always on their side.  Short chapters told in the different students’ distinct voices give the reader many perspectives on the events of the school year, including the accident that teaches them the most important lesson of all.

Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh

Set in England in the winter of 1347, this suspenseful and spooky story  is about fourteen-year-old William, whose family perished in a fire 18 months earlier, and who now works as a servant at the local monastery in exchange for his room and board.  While gathering firewood  in the forest,  he discovers a creature – a hobgoblin – caught in a trap and saves its life.  As the hob recovers from his wounds, Will encounters a mystery that shakes him to his core.  This book’s fascinating attention to detail draws the reader deeply into the story, and you get a real sense of life in medieval times.

Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

March 6, 2011

Wow.  I just finished reading this year’s Newbery Award Winner and I LOVED it.  Set in Kansas in 1936, the story contains flashbacks to 1918 as 12-year-old Abilene tries to piece together the story of her father’s life.  The reader of this beautifully written novel will learn about some interesting aspects of American history:  the Depression, immigration, Prohibition, orphan trains, the KKK, and World War I.  All of these topics are woven expertly into the story of Abilene’s “summer of discovery”.  This book has humor, sorrow, mystery, and excitement. If you’re up for a challenging but extremely satisfying and unusual story, check out this new addition to the CPS Library.

Blake’s “Secret” poster

February 18, 2011

Blake, a fourth grader in Mrs. Jerome’s class,  made this picture about a book he’s reading, THE NAME OF THIS BOOK IS SECRET by Pseudonymous Bosch.  “I think the whole school should read this book!  It’s really a good book!  It has a lot of mystery and it is very interesting,” reports Blake.  You can find this book and its sequels in the CPS library.