Readers who enjoy the "I Survived" series by Lauren Tarshis will gobble up the "Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales" collection. For grades 3-7, a fictionalized Nathan Hale tells the truth about noteworthy events. The graphic format animates in a way that encourages further exploration. Current topics include Harriet Tubman, the Donner Party, the Monitor and Merrimac, World War I battles, and of course, the author's historical namesake. The story of the Battle of the Alamo is coming out in late March!
There’s always that one kid, isn’t there? That kid who loosens the lid of the salt shaker, puts plastic wrap over the toilet seat, or short sheets the beds. In the book The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John, prankster Miles Murphy is beyond such small time pranks—he’s the king of pranksters! At least, that’s what he thinks until he moves to Yawnee Valley and discovers his new rival, Niles Sparks. Everyone thinks Niles is “the good kid,” the principal’s pet, but Miles knows better. Niles’ pranks are sheer genius, but Miles is determined to be even better. Niles wants to team up, but Miles wants to be the prankster king, not somebody’s partner. Will Niles be able to persuade Miles to team up and pull off the biggest prank in history?
Middle-schooler Chris loves basketball. He’s perfected the art of being the strong, silent type, and even his parents don’t know how much he loves English and how he harbors a secret desire to be a master thief and comic book artist. He’s used to always being the second best behind his straight-A, sports star, Mr. Popularity, big brother Jax.
Then, Jax comes home from college. He’s dropped out of Stanford and seems to be in a downward spiral, drinking and gambling. Chris wants to help his brother, but he’s uncomfortable with the secrets and lies. A canny strategist, Chris quickly becomes a first rate detective as he tries to figure out what’s going on with his brother, not to mention the rash of local burglaries. Now, if he could only figure out Brooke—the girl he really likes in school!
While there is basketball throughout the book, it is by no means the central theme. Chris is complicated and believable. There are interesting side issues, like designer babies (Chris was born to save his brother’s life), shoplifting, and gambling. A surprise twist at the end may catch you off guard, and there are a few laugh-out-loud moments. Obviously, put Stealing the Game in the hands of any kid who liked sports, but it would also appeal to quiet kids, kids who are struggling with their identity, or kids who like mysteries.
Everyone over the age of twelve in the Bailey family gets their powers on February 29th, at 4:23 p.m. The traditional powers are expected: super strength, speed, invisibility, etc. But when Rafter and his brother Benny’s powers arrive, they’re total duds. Rafter can light matches on polyester. Benny can change his belly button from an innie to an outie. They’re sure that the Johnson family, whom they’ve been fighting for ages, are to blame. Then Rafter discovers that the Johnsons have had their powers stolen, too. Rafter and Benny team up with Juanita Johnson to discover what’s going on and in the process discover that it isn’t so much having superpowers that makes you great, it’s the choices you make.
Valuable lessons about the worth of individuals, the strength of family, the value of friendship, and the dangers of prejudice are wrapped up in laugh-out-loud funny books. Fans of Disney's The Incredibles will gobble up these books. For grades 3-7.
Scientifically minded Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard believes in facts. Only interested in what can be proven, she doesn’t know what to think when she meets a boy with no name locked in a room in her father’s museum. He claims to be sent by wizards from another world to stop the Snow Queen. Even worse, he asks her to help him escape and find the sword that will end the queen’s life. What’s a practical girl to do? Little by little, Ophelia becomes involved in the battle between good and evil, risking everything and learning to trust the voice inside her that urges her to believe.
Lovers of fantasy and fairy tales will enjoy this modern retelling of the classic tale of the Snow Queen. Themes of courage, grieving, trusting your instincts and thinking for yourself make Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy a book worth reading.
Sometimes it’s difficult to connect to people who are different than we are, especially when they won’t meet our eyes, demand a strict adherence to rules, obsess about things we might find boring, and disturb us with their outbursts.
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin is written from the perspective of one of these people, a girl named Rose with Asperger’s Syndrome. She is a trial to her father, gets kicked off the bus for demanding that the bus driver follow all the rules of the road, and obsesses over homonyms and prime numbers. When her dog goes missing in a hurricane, Rose works out a plan to find her again, only to be caught in a terrible dilemma.
This is a wonderful book to help children understand and learn to empathize with people who are different than they are.
The continuing adventures of 6th grader Miss Moses LoBeau and her best friend, Dale Earnhart Johnson III involve a ruin of an inn, a ghost, a moonshine still, and a history project. These elements are woven together with lines as beautiful as “He’s wiry and tall and flows like a lullaby” and as delightful as “Stress focuses you right up until it sucks your brain dry. Standardized testing taught me that.”
Although this Newbery contender is fine as a stand-alone, read Three Times Lucky first to understand some of the background.
Jan Thornhill’s new picture book Winter’s Coming: a Story of Seasonal Change introduces the reader to Lily, a snowshoe hare learning about winter. Beginning in the fall, the creatures around her begin their preparations for colder weather, but Lily doesn’t know whether she should join in or not. The repeated refrain “Winter’s coming” makes Lily think that Winter is a creature. The animals’ varying responses confuse Lily as she tries to figure out what Winter might really be like until she finally learns from Bear that Winter is a season. Thornhill weaves interesting tidbits about winter survival tactics throughout the book, like caterpillars freezing and bears hibernating. The illustrator, Josée Bisaillon, demonstrates Lily’s unknowing winter preparation by gradually whitening the rabbit’s fur throughout the story. A great book to include in discussions about the seasons or survival strategies. Because of the lengthy text, reserve this book for kindergarten through third grade.