Archive for Uncategorized

Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond

Written by Martin Jenkins
Illustrated by Stephen Biesty

Don’t let the small number of pages fool you, this great new book is loaded with information.  Comprehensive text is accompanied by no less than eight huge and detailed pencil drawings of telescopes, space suits, and other equipment plus smaller depictions of rockets, planets, and more.

Human fascination with the stars goes back as far as humans do. Each time a little progress toward understanding is achieved, the focus and goals change. Originally, people struggled with what was the center of the universe and what made the stars move at night. After that, it was a matter or getting off the ground. Then traveling into space  and returning safely after brief periods. Now, there’s a quest to discover life outside the earth’s atmosphere, to understand the origins of the universe, to use satellites wisely, and to safely travel and colonize at great distances.

This book provides a great jumping off place for anyone already captivated by space exploration. It is also a must have for any classroom studying space, Galileo, technology, or the planets.

And of course the more we find out about other worlds, the more we might come to appreciate how unique and precious our planet that we call home really is.

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  • Exploring SpaceTitle: Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond
  • Author: Martin Jenkins
  • Illustrator: Stephen Biesty
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 64 pages
  • Grade Level: 3 to 7
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Space exploration
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8931-5
  • Extras: Table of Contents, Index, Timeline, Glossary, Selected Sources

Beyond the Bright Sea

Written by Lauren Wolk

A brand-new baby, alone in a skiff, washed up on your island. What would you do?

Osh, or maybe his name is Daniel, took the baby in, called her, Crow, because that’s what her squawking sounded like, and raised her.  Their only real neighbor, Miss Maggie, lives on the next island. They must wade through part of the ocean to even get between her place and theirs. Theirs, being only a shack.

What brought Osh, or Miss Maggie to the Elizabeth’s Islands is never discovered, but the mystery of baby Crow is unraveled by the twelve-year-old girl herself. She just wants to know where she came from and why she was put to sea in a tiny boat, all alone. Osh is afraid the truth will change her, them, and their lives.

Filled with metaphors drawn from the island life of tending sheep and mucking out chicken coops, meaning as well as humor leaps from the pages turned rapidly by grade five and well above readers, anxious to see what could possibly happen next.

Long buried treasure, threats, storms, leprosy, sinking ships, and finally finding out she was right where she belonged all kept Crow grounded in what is important in life.

Each character is so well developed and real, the reader is left missing them just after closing the cover of the book. Many things worth thinking about are gently presented, like how we treat our neighbors. But no preaching is done, well, sometimes a little scolding by Miss Maggie, but then, everyone will recognize her commonsense way of living and loving.

Teachers and librarians will remember, Wolf Hollow, and will order this work from Lauren Wolk immediately in order to read it before book club time. This will be gobbled up by the students.

This book is sure to be an award winner for years to come.

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  • Beyond the Bright SeaTitle:  Beyond the Bright Sea
  • Author:  Lauren Wolk
  • Publisher:  Dutton Children’s Books, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 299 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-101-99485-6
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Grade level: 5 Up

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Written by Kelly Barnhill

Well-written and fascinating, this tale will leave you wanting to read more about the characters and their realm.

Even within the world of witches and dragons, not everything is as it seems. The Protectorate fears the Witch (Xan) in the woods so much that they sacrifice their youngest citizen to her each year. Meanwhile, she is the most benevolent of old ladies. Even the Elders are convinced there is no witch and the babies die in the woods. Meanwhile, Xan is caring for the babies and finding them homes in the surrounding villages, where they are honored and called Star Children. One mother is so distraught, she instantly goes mad. Meanwhile, her daughter becomes enmagicked by the Moon and is cared for by Xan herself. Her name is Luna. Add a kindly young man of the Protectorate, a sleeping volcano, a tiny motherless dragon, and an ageless Bog monster and you have a lot of excitement. Naturally, all these characters eventually collide, setting the universe right. But how?

There are many reasons this book won the Newbery Medal. It has a lot to say about the world today and the role perception plays in our actions. Luna transforms into a woman before our very eyes. Worth the read.

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  • Girl Who Drank the MoonTitle: The Girl Who Drank the Moon
  • Author: Kelly Barnhill
  • Published: Algonquin Young Readers, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
  • Grade Level: 5 to 9
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Lucky Broken Girl

Written by Ruth Behar

Set in the 1960’s in New York City, this tale based on real life experiences is one of an immigrant’s own experience. Life is filled with diversity as well as poverty but then disrupted by a car accident. Ruthie is put in a body cast and stuck in bed for months.

Trials between her and her mother are real and expected but tend to slow the pace of the story. While the experiences are true to life, the plot will seem weak to today’s readers and may cause more readers to begin the book than will finish it. Part of the problem may be due to readers not being aware of the time period of the story. Aside from the usage of Chiclets and GoGo Boots, there is little to announce it is taking place in the 1960’s. This lack of clear setting is a problem.

Teachers and librarians can help get the book into the hands of readers by explaining it is historical fiction. It is a “quiet” read but has much to offer to individuals, especially those in a healing mode.

The writing is lyrical and beautifully done. Character development is strong and dialogue is realistic. The beauty of the story comes in finding healing through the wonderful people, books and stories brought to Ruthie. There is always hope, even in what could look like dire circumstances.

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  • Lucky Broken GirlTitle:  Lucky Broken Girl
  • Author:  Ruth Behar
  • Publisher:  Nancy Paulsen Books, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 250 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-399-54644-0
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Grade level: 5 up
  • Extras: Author Note

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. …