Monday, August 12, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/12

I am excited to be a part of the conversation at #IMWAYR!  Thank you to SheilaJen and Kellee for inspiring and hosting this meme.

As the end of summer rapidly approaches, I am reading all that I can!  I always tell my students that my favorite thing about summer vacation is uninterrupted reading time... so I'm relishing every second of it these days!

Recommended for grades 5-8
As a librarian, how could I not love Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein?  Rollicking and clever, this mystery tells the story of the eccentric Mr. Lemoncello and the challenge that he and a brilliant librarian create for a group of middle school kids. Invited to spend the night in the new public library, the kids are then challenged to get out of the library, using a myriad of clues and information that can be found in the stacks and databases of the library.  This will be a hit not just with librarians, but with young readers as well, who will appreciate the realistic dialogue and dynamics amongst the kids in the library as well as the creative mystery of figuring out how to get out.  

Recommended for grades 3-6

Richard Peck's latest offering, The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail, is an animal fantasy that can stand alone or be read with the companion novel, Secrets at Sea.  The sweetness of the story and the intrigue of a "mouse underworld" will appeal to many.  I think this would make for a great read aloud as Peck's writing, as always, is so vivid and paints such wonderful pictures of royal and regular mice.  

Recommended for grades 4-6

Jewell Parker Rhodes' Sugar is set during Reconstruction on a Louisiana sugar plantation.  This historical fiction offering tells the story of a fascinating time in American history through the eyes of ten year old Sugar.   Orphaned and being collectively raised by a community of former slaves, Sugar longs for a different life.  Through very different friendships (with both the former master’s son and new laborers from China), Sugar expands her understanding of herself and the world.  I was unaware that plantation owners brought workers from China to their southern fields in the 1870s and Rhodes beautifully illuminates this surprising meshing of cultures.  If I taught history, this would definitely become a read aloud in my classroom! 

Recommended for grades K-5

Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino strikes the perfect tone as a modern day fable. The design of the book (which is in itself tall) compliments the story of rabbit and owl, two friends who live side by side. Rabbit likes to garden and Owl likes to gaze at the forest, so when Rabbit's rooftop garden gets too tall for owl to see over, Owl must retaliate by making his house taller. Then, of course, Rabbit's garden doesn't get any sun, so he has to make his house taller. You can see where this is going. The bright illustrations perfectly capture the back and forth and the resolution is just right. I can't wait to share this one with my students!

For adults

Finally, The Last Summer of the Camperdowns by Elizabeth Kelly is a book that I was eagerly anticipating. I read a number of reviews which described it as "hilarious," but having read it, I must say that it is hilarious with a serious dose of heartbreaking. Riddle Camperdown is twelve in 1972. Her charming dad is running for political office and her beautiful, cynical and sharp mother is a former actress for whom motherhood is foreign. Riddle accidentally witnesses something horrific - something life-altering, mind-blowingly horrific - and she must decide what to do with the knowledge of what she saw. Family dysfunction, first love, the spiraling nature of history - The Last Summer of the Camperdowns covers it all. I loved it!

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