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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

Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom and the Challenges of Bad Hair

Written by C. C. Payne

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“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.  She wants any friend beside Alan who is a confirmed geek.  She wants very badly to fit in and nothing she does brings her closer to that goal.  None of that matters to Grandma Bernice who brings love and joy to Lula’s life along with  a whole lot of instructions.  Lula doesn’t appreciate Grandma Bernice’s sayings until she dies unexpectedly.  Lula has a hole in her life that she doesn’t know how to fill.  Mama doesn’t have the time to do all that Grandma Bernice used to do.  Kali still attacks and the talent show looms.  She feels ready to explode.  When she least expects it, Lula feels that Grandma Bernice is with her, helping her to find a way to “let her light shine.”

Lula’s strong Southern voice takes center stage in this school story.  She puts in little asides by saying “Here’s a little tip for you…” mimicking the way Grandma Bernice gives advice in bite-sized pieces but with her own style.  The characters are lovingly drawn and uniquely individual.  Once Lula finds the courage to go to Kali’s house to give her Grandma Bernice’s last hand-made quilt, she has embraced her grandmother’s teachings and can face the world again.  Because the voice is so strong, this book is a good class read aloud.  Students could make a book trailer using Lula’s tips as a script for a literacy activity.  There are discussion questions on the author’s website: (http://www.ccpayne.net/lula-bells-discussion-guide/).

  • Lula BellTITLE: Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom and the Challenges of Bad Hair
  • AUTHOR: C. C. Payne
  • PUBLISHER: Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2012
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 266 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-7614-6225-5
  • GENRE: Middle-grades fiction, school stories
  • LEXILE: 950, Reading level 5.6

Deviants: The Dust Chronicles

Written by Maureen McGowan

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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 book follows  the well established tradition of dystopian novels going all the way back to the 18th century, and maybe even earlier. The Brave New World, 1984, The Chrysalids, Fahrenheit 451The Giver are but a few of the novels that depict a society trying to cope with a world gone awry. In more recent memory we have The Hunger Games.

Maureen McGowan crafts a detailed world for her characters to live out their lives. Asteroid showers and volcanic eruptions have almost destroyed the earth. The population of this novel lives in the domed city of Haven. As in all dystopian novels there is the inside, in this case Haven, and the outside. But is inside a comfortable place? The inhabitants comprise the Management, living a life of luxury; the Employees, eking out a miserable existence; the parasites who do nothing; and the Deviants of the title, whose life is in danger. Discussion points can be many; for example, the rise in the number of dystopian novels, world-creation and the evolutionary path.

Brief descriptions paint the complete picture: “Impossible to believe that one family lived alone in the nearly 5000-square-foot space.” This in today’s McMansion world! There is an ease of comprehension.

Glory is a Deviant, her gift (?) that, if emotionally aroused, she can kill merely by making eye contact with another, be it rat or human. Her brother has a different Deviance, and is a parasite besides. In Haven’s harsh society he would probably be expunged. Glory hides him away from the authorities, scrambles to find food enough for two on rations for one. It is a hard world, and a cruel one. The threat of being thrown ‘outside’ where the Shredders roam, and the dust destroys is ever-present.

The story moves along briskly. There is friendship and betrayal, heroism and sacrifice; above all a feisty heroine who keeps us glued to the page, even though we fault her for her faulty decisions. A great read.

  • DeviantsTitle: Deviants: The Dust Chronicles
  • Author: Maureen McGowan
  • Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing
  • Reviewer: Anjali Amit
  • Hardback:   312 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-6121-83671
  • Genre: Novel
  • Lexile Score: 970

The Arab World Thought of It: Inventions, Innovations, and Amazing Facts

Written by Saima S. Hussain

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The Arab World Thought of It: Inventions, Innovations, and Amazing Facts Is written for fifth grade level readers and above. 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.

Young readers are curious and ready to discover facts that maybe even their parents don’t know so reading this or studying this in the classroom will keep them engaged with new and fascinating information.  The scalpel, for instance, might be familiar to the reader, but the fact that the first one was the invention of an Arab physician may come as a surprise. Teachers and librarians will agree that this book is full of interesting factual information that will enhance World History and Social Studies.

The book aligns with the core standards for the fifth grade through middle school level reader and the language is easy to comprehend. The additional pictures and captions will assist even a lower level 5th grade reader with a great understanding and will spark more interest in what some might feel is a dry historical topic.

More information about the series is available on the website of the publisher at www.annickpress.com but the last pages of the book will also give further reading, samples of the Arabic Alphabet, and common words translated into original Arabic words giving extra activities for the 5th grade classroom teacher or for parents who home school their children.

The book is a great addition to classroom, library, or home collection of books for the 5th grade level reader and will serve as a great resource when comparing other cultures and their contributions to our world. Discussions and further study regarding language, sports, medicine, architecture, and astronomy will be enhanced with The Arab World Thought of It.

  • The Arab WorldTitle: The Arab World Thought of It
  • Author: Saima S. Hussain
  • Publisher: Annick Press
  • ISBN: 978-1-55451-476-2
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand
  • Genre: Nonfiction, culture, inventions
  • Lexile: 1140

Losing It

Written by Erin Fry

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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 from cancer.  They seemed to bond over food, too, because both of them were obese.  Then Dad had a stroke and Bennett knew that Dad’s weight had a lot to do with it.  Pushy Aunt Laura took over.  She took over his meals and his life, but Bennett didn’t have anyone else now.  Dad was stuck at the rehab center and the insurance was running out.  At school there was the bully who wouldn’t leave him alone.  The next thing Bennett knew, Aunt Laura planned out an exercise routine for him, manipulating him with his concern for Dad.  Bennett tried walking.  He sort of liked it and kept doing it.  He saw a flyer for cross-country track.  His life already had so many changes, what was one more?  But Bennett had to wonder if he was setting himself up to fail big time.  He found the strength to persevere.  He had to make this happen for Dad and him.  He didn’t see what an amazing thing he was doing…until he did it.

The power of love is at the heart of this story.  Bennett found the courage to exercise to make his life better so he could take care of his father and show him a healthier way.  Bennett also had to learn that he could ask for – and receive – help.  There are plenty of life lessons to talk about in a discussion group.  The reading level is easy enough that it could be a class novel or book club selection.  Draw in readers with a nicely done book trailer on YouTube: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFzxWnt33YM).  The author is a teacher so there are literacy activities in the curriculum guide on the author’s website: (http://erinmfry.com/for-teachers/).

  • Losing ItTITLE: Losing It
  • AUTHOR: Erin Fry
  • PUBLISHER: Amazon Children’s Publishing
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 261 p.
  • ISBN: 978-07614-6220-0
  • GENRE: School stories, Sports stories, Realistic fiction
  • LEXILE: 450, Reading level 5.0

Mirage (Above World)

Written by Jenn Reese

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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 to warn the half-human, half-horse Equians about Karl Strand’s plans of domination and destruction. But they arrive too late. Strand’s evil clone, a human woman named Scorch, has already formed an alliance with their leader, High Khan Onggur, and has convinced him to join Strand’s army. With Aluna’s Equian friend, Dash, sentenced to death for breaking his exile, the stakes are high for these four futuristic friends, including Hoku, the tech-loving Kampaii, and bird-girl, Calli. The only way to restore Above World order is to defeat Scorch at the upcoming Thunder Trials, an Olympic-like competition. The fiercest warrior of the group, Aluna, secretly worries about her legs; they are slowly fusing into a fishtail, and she fears she is running out of time.

Reese creates a richly imagined dystopian world with unusual names and vocabulary words that will enhance comprehension skills for those ten and older. Treachery, martial arts sequences, and the introduction of more unique characters (particularly the snake-people) should hold the interest of fifth graders who have invested their time in the first book. For new readers, though, like myself, I would not start with book two! This is a true sequel, not a stand-alone, and I found myself spending too much time playing catch-up – sorting out the characters, their customs and codes of honor, and deciphering references to the first book. Perhaps this is why, in the end, I felt emotionally detached to the characters and to the story itself.

  • MirageTitle: Mirage
  • Author: Jenn Reese
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-5418-4
  • Genre: Fiction / Science Fiction
  • Lexile Score: 960

Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey

Written by Gary Golio

Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez

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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: from the church where his mother played the organ while his grandfather preached the gospel, where John soaked up the music along with all he heard about the power of the Spirit to guide and heal each human being and taking us thru the depths of drug addiction and recovery. The story tells how John lived his music, how his music was him, not an extension of him. We also read about how he finally returns to his mother’s home, to rid himself of the drugs, and how his gift of music was restored, better than ever before.

“Swing, blues, bebop, hot jazz, cool jazz, gospel, and classical—everything John had ever heard was blending together in his mind and heart. It was a heavenly mix of sounds, like what he had imagined years ago, sitting in church as a boy.”

This story is an excellent story of rediscovering yourself, and turning your life around. A story of a life dedicated to the music, John felt inside that was struggling to get out. John had struggled to bury the sadness in his life from losing so many members of his family by turning to drugs, but then came to the realization that numbing his body and mind also numbed his music.

The book is awash with stirring paintings done by the illustrator Rudy Gutierrez. Gutierrez does an excellent job of catching the vibrancy of life and the soul searching that took place in John’s life.

This book can lead to discussions on making the right choices in life, on the value of family, on seeking the truth about who you are.

This book was written for 4-6th graders, and is an excellent book to introduce grade school children to the many facets of the musical world. This book has received several awards and is on many book lists.

  • Spirit SeekerTitle: Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey
  • Author: Gary Golio
  • Illustrator: Rudy Gutierrez
  • Publisher: Clarion Books
  • Reviewer: Carole Robishaw
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0547239947
  • Genre: Music, biography
  • Lexus Score: 980

The Garden of My Imaan

Written by Farhana Zia

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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, she wants to know how to stand up for herself and she wonders how to reconcile school life with life at home.  The difference is that she is Muslim and she feels uncomfortable with what that means in America today.  Then she is asked to show a new girl, Marwa, around.  She is a strict Muslim.  She already wears a hajib but, even more, she is calm and confident in the face of discrimination and bullying.  Aliya resents being asked to be Marwa’s friend because it calls everyone’s attention to the fact that they are both Muslim.  Aliya is embarrassed partly because she doesn’t know what she believes.  She begins to write letters to Allah to express her frustration and confusion.  Thanks to the gentle guidance of her grandmother and Marwa’s example, Aliya begins to see that complaining doesn’t accomplish anything, but doing something does.  She is bold enough to stand up to the class bully.  She finds the courage to run for student council.  She even sees that an offer of friendship is the best way to make peace with the mean girl.

Aliya grows and matures in a way that will speak to any girl no matter what her religious background.  The story helps explain Muslim beliefs and shows that there is no typical Muslim.  Aliya’s family is from India, while Marwa’s is from Morocco, and yet they are treated the same by people either carrying prejudice towards Muslims or who simply don’t know the differences.  The grandmothers are fun.  There is a grandmother, great-grandmother and a great aunt, all of whom influence Aliya and entertain the reader.  Aliya’s best friend is Winnie, who is part Korean, so the theme of understanding different cultures is carried throughout.  This would be a good book club selection for a girl’s book club.  If this is used as a read aloud, be aware that there are several Arabic and Urdu phrases woven into the dialog.  The students could look up these phrases on the internet and hear them pronounced as a literacy activity, perhaps gaining insight into families with different backgrounds.

  • Garden of My ImaanTITLE: The Garden of My Imaan
  • AUTHOR: Farhana Zia
  • PUBLISHER: Peachtree, 2013
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 230 p.
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-698-7
  • GENRE: Middle-grades fiction, school stories, multicultural fiction
  • Lexile 600
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