Monday, December 10, 2018

Yule Book Flood - Library Style - Days 1-15

Jolabokaflod: Your Favorite New Holiday Tradition
Get behind Iceland's “Yule Book Flood” this holiday season and read books on Christmas Eve or just over the school break.  What a great tradition!
Iceland has a Christmas Eve book tradition of jólabókaflóð or Yule Book Flood. Everyone in Iceland gets a catalog of all the new published books in their mailbox at the start of the holiday season and they start buying books. They exchange books on Christmas Eve and then spend the evening reading them!

The Yule Book Flood started during WWII when imports were limited but paper was cheap and available. The country was too small to support year round book publishing so they flooded the market with books at the end of the year. Books became the traditional Christmas gift.
For the next 15 school days, I will be flooding you with book recommendations. Maybe one of these titles will be your perfect Holiday read over the break.   You don’t have to buy these books...just get them from your school library!
Here is the Link to my Google Slides for the first 6 days of my Book Flood!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Sheri Green

If you love books, read a great many books. 
If you love to sing, sing loudly and often.
Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. 

Deaf sixth grader Macy McMillan is facing big changes in her life as her mother gets ready to get married and put their home up for sale. Macy will be gaining a stepfather and six-year-old twins for stepsisters and she is not sure this will be so great.   In the meantime, Macy’s mother sends her to help an elderly lady in the neighborhood pack up as she plans to move to assisted living.  The relationship that blossoms between Macy and Iris is delightful. Through Iris baking cookies, telling stories, and giving much wisdom Macy begins to accept her future. 

The book is written in free verse and is a quick read. It is amazing at how well Iris and Macy communicate even though Macy is deaf.  It is a feel-good story that I enjoyed reading. There is a recipe for Sugar and Spice cookies at the end of the book.  I actually made them, and they were delicious!

I loved the book and rate it a 4 out of 4.  

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 6
  • Reading Level:  5.2
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Pajama Press (May 15, 2017)

Monday, September 3, 2018

Mission Mumbai by Mahtab Narsimhan

The cover of this book just drew me in right away because these boys looked like they were having a great time! And boy do they have funny and dramatic adventures when they go to India for a wedding. Rohit's family is from India but they live in New York city. Dylan is an only child from a wealthy family who live in New York as well.  Dylan becomes best friends with Rohit and talks the families into letting him go with Rohit's family for a three week Indian trip. The culture sometimes confuses Dylan but he falls in love with the food, new experiences, and the loving family. 
There are a lot of slapstick humorous parts in this plot that involved gross things related to toilets, vomit, spitting, sweat, and poop. This should hook kid readers! 
As you adventure with Dylan and Rohit it is like going along on their trip. The descriptions of India are very interesting and it is definitely a character in the book. Dylan gets into plenty of cultural scrapes as he mistakenly does things that are not acceptable in the Indian culture. 

Dylan is dealing with parents with marriage troubles and feels alone with plenty of things but not enough of a loving family. He is attracted to Rohit's family who struggles with finances but has a caring and warm home life. This is one reason he wants to go to India. He also wants to win a photography contest to prove to his father that even though he isn't athletic, he can be successful at something.  I kept thinking about the poor little rich boy or The Prince and the Pauper when I thought of Dylan (rich and unhappy) and Rohit (poor and happy).

Dylan loves food and the author describes lots of Indian dishes in this book. I looked up most of them on my ipad.  It made me hungry!  This is a book where I would encourage the reader to look things up for more information about India. Dylan for the most part takes in stride the poverty and cultural differences he encounters without complaint.  I was impressed with his positive outlook.  As a reader, I was reminded of how blessed we are in the United States.  This is a terrific book and I give it a 4 out of 4 rating!
This is a book where I would encourage the reader to look things up for more information about India.

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Reading Level:  5.0
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (March 29, 2016)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

I have been in a reading slump and I blame this book! I loved it so much and read it quickly, enjoying the experience. I can't seem to find another book as good and therefore, I have been abandoning books all over the house.  Read this book!

Front Desk is a about a girl named Mia Tang who is the 5th grade daughter of Chinese immigrants from the 1990's who manage a hotel in California. The owner of the hotel pays them poorly and has unreasonable demands. They keep the job because of few work options for them. This is how the owner keeps them threatening that they can be replaced. Mia volunteers to work at the front desk so her parents can clean rooms. Although guests are surprised at her young age, she quickly shows that she is capable of tending to all their needs. 

Throughout the story, you find out that many Chinese immigrants find their way to the Tang's hotel and they give them a few days of recovery after escaping some situations of danger or hardship.  Mia helps one of the long term guests who gets into a police situation by using her writing skills and persuades others to do the right thing. The ending might be improbable but I loved it. Stranger things do happen when you are determined.  

Front Desk is loosely based on the life story of Kelly Yang.  She wrote this book for her children to let them know about her childhood experiences. 

This book reminded me of It Ain't So Awful Falafel by Dumas.   Both are about the author''s childhood immigrant experiences in California in the last part of the 20th century.  They are funny and heartwarming, featuring a strong female character.  

The TV comedy series, Fresh Off the Boat is another comparison which features a Chinese family assimilating into a Florida community. 

I give this book a 5 out of 4 rating.  It is great for grades 4-6.  

Check out this book trailer!

  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc. (May 29, 2018)
  • Publication Date: May 29, 2018
  • Sold by: Scholastic Trade Publisher

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky

It has been a while since I have posted. I have been reading lots of adult books and listening to audio books on my car trips this summer. I now have a long list of  book titles for personal reading because looking for books to read always leads you on a trail of even more titles to read.  But now that the August will start tomorrow, it is time to start reading from my pile of school library books.  

This book, The Countdown Conspiracy looked like a winner when I selected it and it turned out to be a super book.  I really liked learning about Astronaut Scott Kelly and his year adventure in outer space. Scott Kelly's Website  (I gave  the book he wrote about this experience to my brother in law.  I wonder if he is finished and is willing to let me read it!) So this title was in my wheelhouse. 

The Countdown Conspiracy is set in the future and plans are being made for six students who have been selected from around the world to go to Mars. Except they have nine years of training before it is a reality.  The trip will take 9 months to get to Mars, then they spend a year there and then come back.   There are three boys and three girls selected from a rigorous application process and all of them are geniuses on their own in engineering, technology, science, robotics and mathematics. They are just middle school kids. The world has just suffered from a devastating world war and so this Mars mission is hopefully a key to promoting peace and confidence in society again. 

Except, the main character, Miranda, from the USA, gets a warning that lives are at risk. She and other members of the six are attacked and the warnings keep coming.  Miranda and the other five team members try and figure out what is going on but, on a simulation test, the trip to Mars doesn't turn out to be practice but reality. They have to rely on their skills and intelligence when no one else is available to help them get back to Earth. 

I am not a sciencey type of person, however, this kind of book fascinates me and I don't worry if I don't understand what they are talking about all the time.  I am not sure I need to get everything.  The adventure kept me turning pages and wondering what they could possibly do to get out of the trouble they were in. The characters were interesting and fun to get to know.  I felt like a great snoop onboard a space mission!

There are a few swear words in the book and some deaths and violence. I would give this book to a fifth grader and older to read.  There is a great glossary at the end of the book and an author's note talking about how she learned about space missions in order to make this book to be more science than fantasy.  The reading level is 5th grade and it is 309 pages long. I rate it a 4 out of 4.  I look forward to reading more from this author. 

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 700 
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (August 1, 2017)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Nevermoor - The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Morrigan Crow was born on the eve of eventide which is something like the turn of a new decade. If you are born on eventide you are doomed to die on your 11th birthday. You are also an unlucky child and are responsible for all of the poor luck and misery that surrounds you because you are the ultimate scapegoat. Morrigan is marked for sadness and her family, for the most part, ignores her. 

Morrigan's family solemnly prepares for her death on the eve of her birthday, but she is ultimately rescued from the Hunters of Death by a mysterious man named Jupiter North. He whisks her to the magical land of Nevermoor where he introduces her to a whole new world. She discovers friendships, family, freedom and acceptance. She is also enrolled in a series of tests for the Wundrous Society. She has to prove her talents and abilities to the society but she has no idea what they are. Her mentor, Jupiter, assures her that she has nothing to worry about. However, the trials she has to face leaves her in much doubt. Some sinister characters are sabotaging her efforts along the way. She has also been warned that she doesn't belong and will be sent back home if she can't prove herself. 

The world Morrigan lives in is fantastical but you will recognize many elements of her life which parallel a realistic world. There are lots of delightful customs and details that are fun to learn about in the Nevermoor society. From dragon flying to ever changing decor to match your mood, there are many whimsical descriptions of Nevermoor life. 

The author plans on writing 7 books in this series and I found that it is the closest to being Harry Potter like without exactly mirroring that series. Movie rights have already been purchased and publishers are talking about this book being the next popular series.  As I read this book, I also thought it was perfect for Harry Potter fans.  I look forward to seeing if this title becomes popular. I know I will be promoting this series. 

The author is from Australia and now lives in London. This title won't be eligible for a Maud Hart Lovelace nominee since the author is outside the United States. But I still highly recommend this book. The reading level is 5.6 and has 481 pages. Both boys and girls will like this book. I give it a 4 out of 4. 

  • Print Length: 481 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (October 31, 2017)

Watch the following video where the author reads from her book!

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea

The kids in a 6th grade class get a teacher who was asked to come out of retirement for the year. Mrs. Wood is a great teacher and has a no nonsense approach and knows how to manage a classroom. She also excels at the daily read aloud time and it becomes the highlight of the day for some of the students.  Meanwhile the statewide testing focus causes her administration to ask her to start practice test sessions early in the school year and require cutting out non essentials such as birthday parties, read alouds, and even some recess time. The students feel the pressure from their own lives and school and when the time comes to take the test, team up and devise a plan to cheat in order to all get perfect scores.  This results in some consequences they hadn't planned on. 

The author, Rob Buyea, used to teach fourth grade and so I expect that his realistic stories about school will be described correctly.  His experience with testing is not like my school.  All our tests are done on the computer and not paper and pencil.  And even when it was with paper and pencil, none of the tests were exactly in the same order. It would have been impossible to cheat the way the ids in this story do. Our students don't receive results of their tests until way into  the summer. The results don't have as much impact on them. It does however impact the teacher, and the report card of the school. 

Buyea uses the multiple points of view in his previous books and does the same in this book as well. Each student has some issue in their own life which shades how well they are doing in school. From no time to study because of sports, bullying, dyslexia, to always wanting to perform perfectly.  The consequences for each student helps family and school understand more about the difficulties the students are dealing with at school and home. 

This is a fun and fast read. You have to keep the characters straight but it is pretty easy if you remember to read the chapter headings. I give this book a 3 out of 4 rating. It is a 4.7 reading level.

  • Print Length: 351 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (October 3, 2017)