Archive for the ‘New Books 2011 school year’ category

Two CPS Teachers are now authors!

February 10, 2012

Heidi Bullen, Grade Five teacher, and Norma Salway, a Kindergarten and Grade One teacher who recently retired after many years at CPS, have each recently published books for children.  They presented a copy of their books to the CPS Library, along with an accompanying “toy”!

Heidi Bullen wrote EDDY THE YETI which tells the story of Sunday River’s mascot.  Eddy reportedly lives on Speck Mountain and often joins the skiers at Sunday River in search of fun and friendship.

Norma Salway’s book, TOUCHED BY A HUMMINGBIRD, which she also illustrated, tells the true story of her encounter with a hummingbird on the day of a special friend’s funeral.



The students and I are VERY excited to have these two special books in the CPS library.


January 30, 2012

I tell my classes that there has to be a conflict to have an interesting story.  I lied.  A HOUSE IN THE WOODS has no conflict, and it just became one of my favorite books.  True, not much happens.  Two pigs’ houses get broken accidentally by a moose and a bear, and together with some excellent beaver builders, they all build a new house that they can live in together.  Why do I like it so much?  The illustrations are beautiful;  it’s one of those books you just want to jump into so you can live there.  The expressions on the animals’ faces are humorous and expressive.  The fall scenery is gorgeous.  Everyone gets along. So, once in awhile it’s okay for a book to have no conflict, only cooperation and friendship, if it’s packaged this beautifully.  Everyone needs a cozy, feel-good story on their list of favorites.

2012 Newbery and Caldecott Awards

January 27, 2012

The big awards in children’s literature were announced this week by the American Library Association.  I immediately ordered both titles, as sadly I didn’t already have them on the shelves.  I can’t wait to read both, but I wanted to share the news even if I couldn’t give you a personal review.

The Newbery Award, given to the year’s most outstanding contribution to children’s literature,  was given to Jack Gantos for DEAD END IN NORVELT. (Jack Gantos is also the author of the “Joey Pigza” books, two of which were Newbery Honor books.)   Based partly on Gantos’s childhood experiences growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, the reviews I have read describe it as full of humor, history, and charm.

The Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children was given to Chris Raschka for A BALL FOR DAISY, a wordless picture book about an excitable dog who loses her special red ball at the park.  This book was also inspired by  real life, as the author remembered his own son’s reaction to losing a ball when he was young and wanted to write a book about how the young deal with loss.   I was interested to read that Raschka wanted to tell his story in a wordless format so that all children could “read” the book.  The first grade teachers and I recently talked about this very concept, and I have added many wordless books to the CPS library to give our students more opportunities to tell stories using pictures.  This book will be added to the “wordless book shelf” next week, so look for it!

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

December 2, 2011

Before winter and the Christmas season really set in, I want to tell you about the greatest book I read last month, Wildwood.  Set in the real city of Seattle and the fictional “wildwood” that is located across the river from Seattle, it is full of adventure, danger, colorful characters, and nail-biting suspense.  There are echoes of the “Narnia” books, but the author has put his own personal stamp on it and made it original.  There are beautiful pictures throughout the book, drawn by the author’s very talented wife.

The main character is Pru, a young girl who loses her nearly one-year-old brother one day when she’s babysitting.  One minute he’s sleeping in the little red wagon, and the next he gets carried away by crows! Very disturbing, but of course she sets out to find him, and of course the crows have taken him to Wildwood, which is the mysterious forbidden area across the river from Pru’s city. Children have been taught that it is a dangerous, uncivilized land, but Pru is a daring and loyal sister who will stop at nothing to get her brother back. What will she find when she gets there? Will she succeed in finding her brother, and why would crows carry him away in the first place? Read this beautifully descriptive fantasy if you are looking for a challenging and rewarding reading experience.

OKAY FOR NOW by Gary D. Schmidt

November 13, 2011

It’s 1968, and Doug’s family has just moved to a small town in upstate New York because his father lost his job. It’s not your typical happy family: one older brother is in Viet Nam, the other is a bully, and the father keeps the whole family on edge with his outbursts. Doug must learn to navigate both his difficult family and the new town he has landed in. There is so much in this book: colorful town characters, a little romance, hard family situations, the sad reality of war, the importance of art and creativity…check it out if you want a beautifully written story about a real boy’s growth and survival.

WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick

November 5, 2011

I just finished reading WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick. Like his last book, THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET (which won the Caldecott Award), it is a huge book  (600+ pages) that is half gorgeous pencil drawings (not a graphic novel: rather, an illustrated novel). The book tells two different intertwined stories – one in words and the other in pictures –  that the reader just knows are going to come together somehow. Ben’s story is in 1977 and Rose’s is in 1927. Both Ben and Rose are unhappy children who make a daring decision to change their lives, and the way their two stories come together is something I wouldn’t want to spoil for you. Let me just say that it is a beautiful book, both the story and the illustrations, and the ending, which celebrates friendship and family,  will leave you WONDERSTRUCK.

Milo: sticky notes and brain freeze by Alan Silberberg

October 4, 2011

Here’s a book review by a fifth grade student in Mrs. Conrad’s class, Emily:

This is the fifth time Milo has moved!  Milo doesn’t think it will be the last time, though.  After all, it seems to Milo that moving is part of his life.

Milo’s family is a little, well, strange.  Sure, he has a Dad.  And a sister, of course.  But….they’re probably not like yours.  But what about the mom? Well, she had cancer and she died.  The main part of this book is about Milo figuring out how to deal with the fact that his Mom is gone.  Milo feels lost without a full family.

There are three people who make him feel better:  his best bud, Marshall, makes him laugh.  Hillary, his next door neighbor, knows how he feels and makes him feel safe.  A neighbor lady who has lost her husband teaches him that even if somebody close to you is gone, there are ways to keep them “alive”.

It sounds like this is a really sad book, but it is also very funny.  For instance, Milo is “in love” with Summer Goodman, and one of the first times he sees her he is buying SUPER SOFT TOILET PAPER!  How embarassing!  He and Marshall have a nice, funny friendship that reminds me of the way boys really do fool around.

This isn’t a graphic novel, but it does have a lot of sketches that are fun to look at.   I recommend this book to anyone who likes realistic stories about love, life, and family.

TRUE (…sort of) by Katherine Hannigan

September 16, 2011

Delly Pattison is always looking for adventure.  She has  a fun, loving family and the most colorful, invented vocabulary ever.  But she also gets into trouble.  A LOT.  When even her mother is about to give up on her, Delly gets some help from her very mature younger brother and a newcomer to town, Ferris Boyd.  Ferris doesn’t talk, and Delly is fascinated enough to stop her troublemaking and befriend Ferris.  Can a troublemaker find the good in herself?  What is Ferris’s secret?  This book is full of believable characters, warm family moments,  and lessons about friendship that make the difficult secret, when it comes out, easier to bear.


September 12, 2011

School is well underway, and it’s about time I shared some of the new books in the library collection that I read this summer.  I’m really excited about a lot of them, but I will start with my favorite.

How would you like to be the only girl in town?!  In THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA by Jennifer Holm, May Amelia is THE ONLY GIRL in her small farming community in Washington State.   And she has seven brothers!  Holm continues the story of this spunky, strong-willed girl and her family whom we first met in OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA (a 2002 Newbery Honor book).  The year is 1900 and life is hard for these  pioneers, who are mainly Finnish immigrants struggling to make it in their new country.  You will get a strong sense of what life was like in this time period: the hardships of farming, the danger of working in the lumber mill, the desperation of leaving home to start over in a new country.  If you think historical fiction is boring, this book is NOT:  May Amelia’s personality jumps off the page and she has a humorous way of dealing with almost everything.


July 11, 2011

Here are two stacks of brand new books for the Crescent Park School library that arrived last week…talk about excitement! I could barely decide what to read first. If you have very sharp eyes, you might be able to pick out some of the titles. I am very excited to read THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA, the sequel to the Newbery Honor book OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA. Also in the stack: books three and four of the “Ember” series, a series called “Roscoe Riley Rules” about a 1st grade boy who gets in a lot of trouble, the sequel to THE LEMONADE WAR, another “Baby-sitters Club” graphic novel, the sequel to THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN, two more “Just Grace” books, Wendy Mass’s new book THE CANDYMAKERS, two more “Stink” books…I’ll be working my way through the two stacks so that I can let YOU read them in September.