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Apache Chief Geronimo

Written by William R. Sanford

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They called the young warrior “Geronimo.” He would become known for his relentless raids, his numerous escapes from capture, and his resistance to white settler intrusion during westward expansion.

Part of the “Native American Chiefs and Warriors” series, this book examines the life of the legendary Apache Chief Geronimo. Born Go Khla Yeh (One Who Yawns), he grew up in the harsh desert lands of the southwest and belonged to a band of Apaches called the Bedonkohe, known for their hunting and survival skills. They continually battled against the Mexicans, and it was, in fact, Mexican soldiers that bestowed him the nickname “Geronimo.”

Tragedy would strike early in his life when a massacre killed his wife and young children. He vowed to seek revenge for their deaths and gained a reputation as a fierce warrior. Sometimes he would be captured, but he knew how to escape. He was a wanted man, spending most of his life on the run. When Geronimo’s people were forced onto reservations in different parts of the country, he fought for their return to their homeland. It was only after his death in 1909 when some Apache could finally go back to the southwest.

This book would be a great addition to a classroom library or media center, especially for fifth grade students studying biographies or Native American history. Sanford uses Geronimo’s own words and other written accounts to create authenticity. Archival photographs, illustrations, and maps support text complexity while adding interest to the straightforward narrative. Short chapters with simple sentence structures make this book accessible to all fifth grade readers, including reluctant ones. The glossary, index, and extra reading/web resources could also be used for literacy activities. More titles in this series can be found on the publisher’s website: www.enslow.com.

  • GeronimoTitle: Apache Chief Geronimo
  • Author: William R. Sanford
  • Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Inc.
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Format: Paperback, 48 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-4644-0253-1
  • Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography / History
  • Lexile: 570

Hero on a Bicycle

Written by Shirley Hughes

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Thirteen year old Paolo is the hero on a bicycle, but the book is not just about him. The setting is the city of Florence, Italy (1943-1944), but the scope of the story is of life in war-torn Europe and the daily heroism of people trying to maintain a semblance of normality in very difficult times.

Rosemary is a Britisher married to Florentine Franco Crivelli, whose anti-Fascist leanings make it dangerous for him to stay at home. He disappears, nobody knows where. Rosemary is left to manage life in Nazi-occupied Florence: the daily food supplies, the sense of danger around every street corner, and the frustrations of her increasingly isolated teenagers.

Paolo is restless. Constanza is caught in a double bind: she knows Paolo rides out every night, understands his need for that freedom, and will not snitch to their mom. However, she has her own longings which she cannot share because Mom’s burden is heavy enough. Her outlet is playing old records over and over again. Rosemary, aware of their thoughts “reflected grimly on the old cliché that wartime, when not terrifying, was a combination of long stretches of boredom and grinding hardship.”

Into this mix is thrown the Partisan fervor and the foreboding German presence. The author says in an interview (http://www.heroonabicycle.co.uk/p/plot.html) that it is a “straightforward thriller”, but to today’s reader it is not just a thriller, but also a story about the essential goodness of all people. Rosemary performs dangerous work with the Partisans to give shelter to Allied soldiers. Helmut Grass, the German officer discovers that the Crivelli family is hiding an escaped Allied prisoner of war (he finds a part of a cigarette pack which shows the words Lucky Strike, an American brand), but does not disclose that information to his commanding officer. Constanza thinks, “It was difficult to think of him as The Enemy, someone against whom she and her family were about to pit all their courage and humanity.”  Hilaria’s family benefits from their Fascist sympathies, but she warns her friend Constanza that Rosemary was on some kind of Gestapo list. Il Volpe, the Partisan leader, stops for a brief moment to acknowledge Paolo’s presence, even as he escaping from the German firing squad. In big ways and small, people demonstrate their basic humanity.

Teachers and librarians should start with the “thriller” element of the story, and then create reading activities and discussions about that bygone era. There is much that can be learned from the book.

  • HeroTitle: Hero on a Bicycle
  • Author: Shirley Hughes
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Reviewer: Anjali Amit
  • Hardback:   213 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6037-6
  • Genre: Novel

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers

Written by Steve Sheinkin

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This true crime thriller will amaze fifth grade readers interested in American history. It tells about the conspirators as they plan how to steal Lincoln’s body out from under the Lincoln monument in Springfield, Illinois, as well as when and why they would even try such a thing.

On the other side of the story are the Secret Service agents following their trail but wanting to catch them in the act rather than just prevent the theft. They have placed an undercover double agent in the middle of the works that causes the tension to rise as readers expect him to get caught many different times.

These are the very earliest days of the Secret Service and readers will be interested to read how much of their decision making in catching criminals was left up to each individual detective.

Beside the main crime at hand, these conspirators are also involved with counterfeiting plates of American currency. When one of their main leaders gets sent to prison the rest first try to think of a way to get him out; then devise a plan for keeping up the counterfeiting ring without him.

As a diversion, they plan the theft for election night of 1876 to be sure all the neighbors are off the roads and in town.

Several different literacy skills can be strengthened by use of this book including, reading for details, sequencing, comprehension, vocabulary, context clues, plot and cause and effect.

Boys and girls in the third grade and beyond would benefit from having this book read aloud or assigned in a book club setting where it can be discussed and enjoyed with others.

The story is smoothly written and moves the plot along at a brisk pace keeping young readers interested. It contains several photographs from the time as well as diagrams of the Lincoln Monument and maps of the surrounding grounds to help readers get drawn into the tale.

Author information: This book is written by the same author that wrote the nonfiction Newberry Honor Book, BOMB. BOMB also received the 2013 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal.  http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/sibertmedal

Extras: Glossary, Source Notes, Index, Authenic Photos from the Library of Congress and the Lincoln Monument Site, maps of the site and diagrams of the Lincoln Monument in Springfield, Illinois.

  • Grave RobbersTitle: Lincoln’s Grave Robbers
  • Author:  Steve Sheinkin
  • Publisher: Scholastic, NY, January 1, 2013.
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover/ 207 p
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-40572-0
  • Genre: American History 1875, true crime thriller
  • Lexile: 930

 

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Written by Abraham Lincoln

Illustrated by James Daugherty

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Four score and seven years ago……..Do you know the rest?  The Gettysburg Address is probably one of the most famous speeches made in history.  Everyone is at least familiar with some of it or the president who spoke it.  In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln stood under a November wintery sky and delivered a two minute speech that changed history.   James Daugherty has created wonderful pictorial interpretation of this infamous speech.   Each page contains a part of that speech with  an interpretation of that particular part of the speech.   Students with higher reading skills will be the target for this book, while the illustrations will appeal to many others.

I remember having to memorize this speech in 5th grade. Oh what a joy it would have been to have a book such as this in which to do the memorizing.  The illustrations bring the book to life, capturing the events in bright, bold colors.  The illustrations also help the reader with comprehension.   After the speech is finished the author has added descriptions of his paintings and his interpretation.  This book would be a wonderful tool in teaching the Gettysburg Address.

Along with the speech itself, there is a bit of added history from Daugherty.  President Lincoln was not informed until just a few days prior, that he would be speaking at all.  It is rather remarkable that Lincoln felt his speech was a “flat failure”, yet here we are 100+ years later and it is still remembered as a turning point in our progress as a nation.  The most poignant line that we as a nation should strive for is still as relevant today as it was back then – “a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth”.

  • Gettysburg AddressTITLE: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
  • AUTHOR:  Abraham Lincoln
  • ILLUSTRATION: James Daugherty
  • PUBLISHER: Albert Whitman and Company
  • REVIEWER: Cheri Liddy
  • ISBN: 978-0-8075-4550-8
  • GENRE: History

Falcon in the Glass

Written by: Susan Fletcher

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Renzo is an apprentice learning to blow glass and earn his own place among the best glass makers in mediaeval Venice. But he only has two weeks to prove that he can do all of the required steps or be left as a drudge waiting on others in the shop for the rest of his life. What he doesn’t know is that there are things, and people more important than blowing glass into a beautiful goblet or bowl. While trying to save himself and his family, he must decide whether or  to save others. His understanding of the problem will make readers ask if they would take such chances for strangers.

Fifth grade readers will enjoy this look into the dark and mysterious canals of Venice. They will also be enthralled by the early process for making glass and the hard work and extreme heat required.

The story shows what happened to people who lived on the fringes of society at that time. It is a most sobering look at how orphans were left to fend for themselves as outcasts in an earlier time.

The dialogue and action make the story fast paced and engaging for grade 5 readers, as well as those younger and older. For classroom or home use, this book makes a fantastic read aloud option for children from grades 3 – 9.

Extras: End pages give information for readers wanting more information about blowing glass, old Venice during the Renaissance or the annual Carnivale that continues even today. Readers can also meet the author and get more extras by going to: KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com

  • Falcon in the GlassTITLE: Falcon in the Glass
  • AUTHOR: Susan Fletcher
  • PUBLISHER: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013
  • REVIEWER: Elizabeth Swartz
  • FORMAT: Hardcover/300p
  • ISBN:  978-1-4424-2990-1
  • GENRE: Historical Fiction
  • LEXILE: 660

 

Geometry (Ace Your Math Test)

Written by Rebecca Wingard-Nelson

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Geometry (Ace Your Math Test) delivers a succinct review of geometry concepts, vocabulary and skills. Although this book is written on a fifth grade reading level, it is appropriate for older students and will most likely appeal to middle and high school students interested in test preparation.

In one or two-spread chapters, the text presents math concepts such as triangles, perimeter, Pythagorean theorem, symmetry and the coordinate plane. Topics are typically presented through a minimum of text and include a call-out box with definitions, one to three brief steps of explanation and sample test questions; however, some topics are covered through only definitions and sample questions.

The book does not provide repetition, practice sets or multiple examples. Instead, it offers only the highlights of the topic and a quick refresher question or two. The concise text may appeal to those who struggle with reading comprehension. For those who want more practice, additional practice worksheets are available at (http://www.enslow.com/displayitem.asp?type=1&item=3529#.UbJ4gqIo7EY).

The book design offers lots of white space, clear diagrams, and easy-to-find topics. Geometry also offers an introduction about taking tests, frequent sidebars with helpful test-taking hints and explanations of many geometry symbols. The hints vary, but are mostly simple ideas such as “mark your answers clearly” and “focus on each problem.” The sample questions include “multiple choice,” “show your work” and “explain your answer” examples. This variety and the specific techniques addressed with each one may be valuable to homeschoolers or other readers who are not used to standardized or typical classroom tests. The backmatter includes books and websites for further practice as well as an index.

  • GeometryTITLE: Geometry (Ace Your Math Test)
  • AUTHOR: Rebecca Wingard-Nelson
  • PUBLISHER: Enslow Publishers
  • REVIEWER: Heather L. Montgomery
  • EDITION: Paperback: 104 p.
  • ISBN: 978-1464400100
  • GENRE: Nonfiction/Math/ How-to
  • LEXILE: 860

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

Written by Kathi Appelt

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The scouts in this exciting adventure in the deep, boggy southern swamp happen to be two raccoons but that only adds to the enjoyment in store for fifth grade readers. The readers will understand the pair are on duty inside an abandoned car even though the raccoons have no idea of what a car actually is in the outside world. The idea of it adds humor without end as recurring thunder storms add a bit of zip and lightning to their otherwise cozy outpost.

But back in town, twelve-year old Chap Brayburn is doing everything in his power to help save the swamp. It was always a special place where his grandpa would spend time and then come back and tell endless stories about it. Now there are developers from the far away big city that want to buy the swamp and change it forever. Chap is not about to let that happen and pledges to do whatever he can to save it because he knows that’s what his grandpa would do if he were still alive.

It will take more money than one boy and his Mama can make by cooking and selling sugar pies.  But through comprehension of many well placed clues, readers will begin to see parallel plots between the ‘coon brothers and Chap and their hopes will rise for the salvation of the swamp. Many surprises and twists are in store for readers in this excellent new book by award winner Kathi Appelt, who is well known for her books, The Underneath and Keeper. This will make a fantastic read aloud for home or school for grades 4-7 even though it has been assigned a reading level of 5.4 for the average independent fifth grade reader.

Readers will appreciate the short chapters, fast paced action and good hearty belly laughs.

  • True Blue ScoutsTITLE: The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
  • AUTHOR: Kathi Appelt
  • PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books For Young Readers
  • REVIEWER: Elizabeth Swartz
  • FORMAT: Hardcover/327 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-4424-2105-9
  • GENRE: Fiction: Adventure, Humorous
  • LEXILE: 810
  • EXTRAS: Meet the Author Video and other extras at KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com

 

 

July Titles

Pdf: July Titles 5th Grade

 

The Arab World Thought of It by Saima S. Hussain, ISBN 978-1-55451-476-2

… It is a picture and text guide to exciting and little known facts about some things very familiar to readers, but who may not know much about the Arab contributions to our world. …

 

Deviants: The Dust Chronicles by Maureen McGowan, ISBN 978-1-6121-83671

Get ready for a fast-paced read through a well-thought out dystopian world. Glory, sixteen years old, is left alone in a harsh post-apocalyptic society, not only to fend for herself but also to take care of her crippled brother. …

 

The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia, ISBN 978-0-7636-5685-0

A lively story about choices facing today’s Muslim American girls.  Aliya is a typical fifth grade girl: she wants to talk to a boy she has a crush on …

 

Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup, ISBN 978-0-7636-5685-0

Princess Adela wishes everyone would stop treating her like, well, a princess. She would rather dirty her hands in the garden than learn how to embroider or waltz or drink tea. …

 

Losing It by Erin Fry, ISBN 978-07614-6220-0

The most unlikely kid finds comfort by running.  Bennett Robinson and his dad bonded over baseball games and hamburgers, talking more about the Dodgers than his mom’s death …

 

Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom and the Challenges of Bad Hair by C. C. Payne, ISBN 9780761462255

“Let your light shine” is the piece of advice from Grandma Bernice that Lula does NOT want to follow.  She is bullied by her former BFF, Kali, and she is afraid to try out for the talent show.…

 

Mirage (Above World) by Jenn Reese, ISBN 978-0-7636-5418-4

In book two of the Above World series, Aluna, the sea-dwelling Kampaii, and her three genetically modified friends race across the desert to the great city of Mirage…

 

Ruby Redfort: Take Your Last Breath by Lauren Child, ISBN 978-0-7636-5468-9

Ruby’s parents get thrown overboard a ship. They are assumed dead. All the sea animals seem to have gone crazy. …

 

Showtime: Meet the People Behind the Scenes by Kevin Sylvester, ISBN 1554514878

Ruby’s parents get thrown overboard a ship. They are assumed dead. All the sea animals seem to have gone crazy. …

 

Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey by Gary Golio, ISBN 0547239947

This is the latest in a series of books by Gary Golio about Jazz musicians. Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey is a brief, but compelling biography of John Coltrane’s journey …

 

The Ugly One by Leanne Statland Ellis, ISBN 978-0-547-64023-5

Micay, Beautiful Round Face, is known by far too many in her Incan tribe as Millay, the Ugly One. She keeps to herself as much as possible because her ugliness has been a source of torture for her as long as she can remember. …

Lara’s Gift

Written by Annemarie O’Brien

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Above everything else, Lara loves the dogs. Lara works with her father, a kennel steward raising borzoi — a special kind of wolf-hunting dog.  In imperial Russia, where the Tsar still rules, the winters are endless and the wolves must be kept at bay, therfore the dogs are highly valued. Lara knows how the kennel works, but she also dreams of what will happen to the dogs she loves. These dreams let her get to the births faster, and ease their pain earlier. Lara’s mother says the visions are a blessing; her father says they are a curse. Lara herself must come to terms with the visions before she can go to battle for her own destiny. How can she convince her father and herself that despite her gender and her visions, she should continue to work with the dogs?

Lara’s challenging coming-of-age story is also a study of contrasts. The coziness of the kennels contrasts with the vast Russian wilderness. The sweetness of the dogs she works with contrasts with their fierceness when dealing with wolves. And her own image of her work stands starkly against what the norms for a Russian girl at that time. This will make an exciting read aloud for third grade and up, though fifth grade and sixth grade readers may want to zoom ahead on their own too.

We move back into time and across the continents, not only with the story, but with the words O’Brien uses. Her characters use Russian slang, which is explained in the glossary. Their tone feels slightly formal, which also befits the estate they are living in. And in O’Brien’s extensive author’s note, she offers a short history of the area, a history of the dog breed, and a note cautioning readers not to run out and get one of these giant dogs.
Laras Gift

  • Title: Lara’s Gift
  • Author: Annemarie O’Brien
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-307-93174-0
  • Genre: fiction, historical
  • Lexile: 1010

Showtime: Meet the People Behind the Scenes

Written by Kevin Sylvester

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Ever seen Taylor Swift in concert? She’s amazing, so talented. Her concert is sold out months in advance. Do you imagine Taylor just showing up the afternoon of the show, dressed, holding a guitar? If only it was that easy. Showtime: Meet the People Behind the Scenes gives just a glimpse into the work and people that come together to make the Taylor Swift experience become magical for her fans.

When you open the book, don’t expect to see photos and articles about your favorite entertainers. What you will see is exactly how many other people are involved in the production of just one concert or play. Fifth grade readers will be amazed, literally hundreds of people are needed to bring the Taylor Swift concert to you.

Ever give thought to who made the guitar Taylor is playing? Long to know how long it took to make that guitar? Want to know how to become an instrument maker?  All of that information is in Showtime.

Did you know artists’ need songwriters, choreographers, vocal coaches to become and to protect their onstage persona? Yes, Taylor doesn’t just jump on stage and make up everything as she goes along. It takes a lot of time, a lot of creativity and a lot work from a lot of other people to make sure everything is perfect for the entertainer.

Then, there’s set and costume designing. Every single detail of the stage starts as an idea, moves onto a 2D picture, then is modeled at a 1:25 ratio. That means someone has to spend the time to make minature replicas that represent the idea. The model is used to check lighting, see if there is a chair blocking an actor, is the backdrop going to overwhelm the entertainment and much more. Costume designing not only makes the clothes, but searches out for period clothing, tailors the sizes, assures that the costume stays clean after each performance. Details. Details. Details!

Many other professions are highlighted as well. Truckers, critics, advertisers, pyrotechnicians, and promoters all play huge roles in the entertainment industry. All of these people start their job way before Taylor Swift gets on stage.

What is great about this book is the way each profession interviews someone actually doing that job. Readers get a greater level of comprehension with these added features. You get a feel of what life is like to hold down that job. At the end of each chapter/profession is a really informative list of what it takes to be in that field. It says under “Want to be a Pyro Person?” that the top requirement is to “do well in school…do well on tests…know how to study.” In other words, you can’t just wake up in the morning and decide to do this job. To have a career in entertainment takes a true commitment and drive to be the best. Do you have what it takes?

  • ShowtimeTitle: Showtime: Meet the People Behind the Scenes
  • Author: Kevin Sylvester
  • Publisher: Annick Press
  • Reviewer: Ann Norris
  • ISBN:1554514878
  • Genre: Careers, entertainment industry
  • Lexile: 1010
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