Friday, July 28, 2017

Spotlight Friday: Hello Goodbye Dog blog tour - 7.28.17


Time to get ready for the weekend!
Kick up your feet and find a good place to read.
Sharing #booklove for your classroom or library.
Spotlighting a book or two because these books deserve the spotlight!

There is nothing more that appeals to most young readers than stories about dogs.  Dogs and puppies have a way of sneaking into the hearts of all youngsters.  They are some of the most engaging stories I know and even those readers who don't find themselves "dog people" still have these stories sneak into their hearts!


Hello Goodbye Dog
Hello Goodbye Dog
written by Maria Gianferrari
illustrated by Patrice Barton
published by Roaring Brook Press

I love this new picture book by Maria Gianferrari!  Moose the dog just wants to stay with his young owner, especially as she goes to school.  Why?  The reader is let in on a secret before Moose even knows the secret - we see that he loves listening to stories and he is very good around all of the children.  Finally at the end, the adults in Moose's life understand he would make a great therapy dog to go to school and listen to the children read their stories to him.

The illustrations are done by the amazing Patrice Barton (illustrator of The Invisible Boy).  I can always tell her illustrations.  The soft touches she gives the characters always make them seem like  more life-like, even though they are illustrations!  There is something inviting about them that draws (no pun intended!) the reader into the story.

I love that this book is so versatile in how you are able to use it as a mentor text in your class.  Here are some ideas you can try:

Writing craft moves
  • Take a look at how Gianferrari uses metaphors to explain what hello and goodbye means to Moose.  How do the metaphors enrich the understanding, how do the metaphors help the reader understand Moose?
  • The words hello and goodbye are compared throughout the story.  Make a list of other oppositional words that could be compared within a storyline.  
Reading moves
  • Have students notice the pattern in the story - looking at the words hello/goodbye.  What do they notice?  Thinking about the pattern they notice what does that tell them about the characters, about the meaning of the story?
Social/emotional
  • I love that Gianferrari includes information at the end of the book about the importance of therapy dogs.  Take some time to explore and understand more about therapy dogs.  How do they help schools?  Students?  You can even hold a debate - the benefits vs challenges of a therapy dog at school.
Whether you use this book as a mentor text or as a read aloud, your students will visit this story again and again.  Would you like a chance to win a copy of this book for your library!  Be sure to enter below!

Take a moment and check out the other stops on the Hello Goodbye Dog blog tour!


HELLO GOODBYE DOG BLOG TOUR!
GIVEAWAYS EVERY DAY!!

*Monday, July 24th:                               Pragmatic Mom + THREE book giveaway!
*Two for Tuesday, July 25th:             Librarian’s Quest

*Wednesday, July 26th:                        Homemade City
*Thursday, July 27th:                             Kid Lit Frenzy
*Friday, July 28th:                                   Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
*Monday, July 31st:                                Picture Books Help Kids Soar
*Tuesday, August 1st:                            Bildebok
*Wednesday, August 2nd:                     The Loud Library Lady
*Thursday, August 3rd:                         DEBtastic Reads!
*Friday, August 4th:                                Mamabelly’s Lunches with Love
*Monday, August 7th:                             Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

EXTRA: August 25th:                              Kidlit411—Interview with Patrice Barton


Goodreads summary:
For Zara's dog, Moose, nothing is more important than being with his favorite girl. So when Zara has to go to school, WHOOSH, Moose escapes and rushes to her side.

Hello, Moose!

Unfortunately, dogs aren't allowed at school and Moose has to go back home.

Goodbye, Moose.

But Moose can't be held back for long. Through a series of escalating escapes, this loyal dog always finds her way back to Zara, and with a little bit of training and one great idea, the two friends find a way to be together all day long.


About the author:
Maria writes both fiction and nonfiction picture books from her sunny, book-lined study in northern Virginia, with dog, Becca as her muse. Maria’s the author of the Penny & Jelly booksCoyote Moon, an ALA Notable Book, and a Junior Library Guild Selection, Officer Katz & Houndini and Hello Goodbye Dog. She has additional titles forthcoming from Roaring Brook Press, Boyds Mills Press, GP Putnam’s Sons and Little Bee. To learn more about Maria, visit her website: mariagianferrari.com, on Facebook and Instagram.





Roaring Brook Press has generously donated a copy of Hello Goodbye Dog to be given away to one lucky winner!  Please fill out the form and cross your fingers!  The giveaway is open for U.S. residents until Thursday, August 3rd at 7pm EST.  Good luck!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Refugee - a review 7.27.17




Refugee
Refugee
written by Alan Gratz
published by Scholastic

When I first saw this cover, I thought it was going to be a story about the recent refugee crisis in Syria.  I found out it is, but it's also much more.

Refugee tells us the story of three children and their families.  We first meet Josef who is a refugee from Germany, trying to escape Hitler's Nazi regime as they take Jews and put them into death camps.  Next is Isabel, a Cuban refugee from 1994, trying to get to freedom in el norte, Miami.  Finally is Mahmoud, a Syrian refugee leaving the war zone of Aleppo in 2015.

The way Gratz weaves the stories of these three children and their children is fantastic.  While their stories are different, there are common threads that bind each one.  The hope of tomorrow, of mañana... caring for each other... and to sacrifice for your family.

I think this story is going to be important to have in libraries that span multiple grade levels.  Older readers will have some background knowledge of the political strife that is happening in the countries that the characters are trying to leave.  With the understanding of that, these readers will be able to go through the layers of the story and see different sides, how countries and politics change, yet also see the similarities.  But I also think younger readers (those without the knowledge of World War II, communism, the political unrest in the Middle East) will be able to tackle this story and understand the need to be the change for the future.  They will read this on the purest level of seeing the main characters, what they go through and be able to see the very basic right vs wrong issue.  These readers are the ones that can start changing the future of our world be reading books now.

It's with books like this, and putting them in hands of readers, we may have a new wave of thinkers, and our future could change.

Goodreads summary
JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .

ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .

MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers -- from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, their stories will tie together in the end.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Dazzle Ships 7.26.17


Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

It was last year at NCTE that Chris first told me about this book.  I was intrigued as soon as started telling me about it - ships that were camouflaged, well, dazzled, in World War I.  I couldn't wait to read it!


Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion
Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion
written by Chris Barton
illustrated by Victo Ngai
published by Millbrook Press
August 1st


Goodreads summary
This nonfiction picture book explores art, desperation, and one man's incredible idea for saving ships from German torpedoes in World War I. Dazzle camouflage transformed ordinary British and American ships into eye-popping masterpieces.

My thoughts
First of all, I like the way Barton talks to the reader - asking questions and commenting.  It makes you feel as if he is drawing the reader closer, getting ready to share a secret.  A secret in camouflaging!  He keeps the storyline tight by focusing on the one person, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve lieutenant-commander, Norman Wilkinson, who really brought the idea of camouflaging to the attention of the Navy.  Both Britain's Royal Navy and the United States Navy used this form of intelligence to protect the ships from the German u-boats.  I remember learning about these underwater submarines and how for a long time these boats were making a difference in who was dominating the war.  Yet another piece of history that would interest the students... perhaps more than the textbook?

The illustrations by Victo Ngai are fascinating.  I really like the choice of media and although done digitally, it almost looks like it was done in colored pencil.  I felt like this spotlighted the artistry of the camouflage.

I appreciated the spotlight on the women who worked on this project.  Again, I knew briefly from studies the role of women had when they were needed to fill the jobs that had been left empty when men went off to war.  It was interesting to note that not only did women have a role painting the boats, but they also were key in designing the camouflage patterns models that were used by the painters.

And like many other events in history, certain facts are not always substantiated and Barton references this.  While the dazzled ships were instrumental in turning the tide of the war, Barton does note that it cannot be proven if the dazzled ships are what saved the British fleet from the u-boats.  After reading a book like this, I had further questions and appreciated the extensive information found in the backmatter.  The photograph of the actual boats should not be missed!

The story is wrapped up by looking at the big picture of dazzle ships.  They were certainly a new concept and one that required some out of the box thinking.  While the need for dazzle ships changed as technology improved, the concept of thinking creatively is important, and is sure to 'dazzle' a new idea somewhere in the future!

Dazzle Ships is a book that will be going on my Mock Sibert list, for sure!  I can't wait to share this book with students this fall.  Add this book to your library on August 1st!

Thank you to Chris and Lerner Publishing for the review copy!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

#road2reading Challenge - Heartwood Hotel series 7.25.17


All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools 
that you may use with readers at the start of their reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.


One thing is for sure, readers have taste in many different books - different genres, different formats.  Another sure thing, animal books are very very popular!  I'm so excited to find this series for young readers!

Heartwood Hotel, Book 1 A True Home       Heartwood Hotel, Book 2: The Greatest Gift (Heartwood Hotel, The)
Heartwood Hotel series
A True Home and The Greatest Gift
written by Kallie George
illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
published by Disney-Hyperion


This new transitional chapter book series is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  All of the characters are animals and the setting takes place in an animal hotel.  Where could this hotel be?  Why, in a hollowed out tree of course!  Wondering what it might look like?  Take a look at the end pages where you can see a detailed look at all the different rooms available!  And if you want a closer up view, you'll get that within the book at the pencil illustrations by the very talented Stephanie Graegin.  Readers will delight in meeting the guests of the Heartwood Hotel.  There is often a spotlight on one guest, which is helpful for young readers to keep track of the characters.  Although many are mentioned, readers do not need to keep track of them, which could throw them off.  The plot lines and solutions are straight forward.  There are multiple events that have an effect on the main problem, but not multiple problems that are woven together.

Author Kallie George is no stranger to animals books.  She's already the author of the fun series, The Magical Animal Adoption Agency.  Both series are great transitional chapter book series.  Perfect for readers who are looking for a bit more sophisticated chapter book, but not quite a middle grade level book.

The first two books in the series are available now.  The third book is scheduled to publish in February 2018.

Heartwood Hotel:  A True Home summary:
When Mona the Mouse stumbles across the wondrous world of the Heartwood Hotel in the middle of a storm, she desperately hopes they'll let her stay. As it turns out, Mona is precisely the maid they need at the grandest hotel in Fernwood Forest, where animals come from far and wide for safety, luxury, and comfort. But the Heartwood Hotel is not all acorn souffl and soft moss-lined beds. Danger lurks, and as it approaches, Mona finds that this hotel is more than a warm place to spend the night. It might also be a home.

This delightfully enticing start of a new chapter book series tells a tale of friendship, courage, and community, with exquisite black-and-white illustrations throughout.



Heartwood Hotel:  The Greatest Gift summary:
Mona the mouse has finally found a place to call home, the cozy Heartwood Hotel, where she works as a maid and sleeps snuggled up in a room with her best friend. Following the festive St. Slumber celebration, most of the guests have settled in to hibernate, and the staff is looking forward to a relaxing winter. But disruptions abound, from a difficult duchess to a mysterious midnight snacker. As the snow stacks higher, Mona will have to gather friends both old and new to keep the peace, finding help in some of the most unexpected places. The second book in the enchanting Heartwood Hotel series, The Greatest Gift will warm your heart with its endearing characters and exquisite illustrations.


Don't miss Alyson's post about some early reader chapter books she's been reading.

Want to talk about books for readers who are on the #road2reading?  Link up here!

Monday, July 24, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7.24.17

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.


Last Week's Adventures

Do you know some young readers who are ready for some independent reading?  Pass this list on to them!

Girls, science, math and the arts.  All of those things go together in these books!

Do.  Not.  Miss.  These.  Books.  You've got readers that can't wait for them!

Graphic Novels

Swing it, Sunny
Swing It, Sunny! by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
4/5 stars
I loved catching up with Sunny and her family.  The chapters seemed a little bit more like vignettes than one continuous story.  I think this will work with younger readers, but just like its predecessor, this book does have some mature themes running through it.  And just like its predecessor, the Holms siblings write about them in an appropriate way for young readers.

Middle Grade

Rise of the Isle of the Lost (Descendants #3)
Rise of the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz
3/5 stars
I finished this one literally one minute before Descendants 2 came on TV.  Got to watch it as a family - hey, I have a 12 year old.  I am very aware that there is not too much time left and she won't want to spend any time with me!
I read these books and I watched the movie upon request of my child.  Like I said last week, I'm glad that the second and third book in this series is a bit more middle grade friendly than the first book.  I know this series will be popular with middle grade readers.

Forget Me Not
Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
5/5 stars
I picked this up at NCTE and then it got buried in my piles.  Then my friend Kristen Picone read it and it became a must read!  
This book is powerful as an #ownvoices book.  The MC, Calli, has Tourette's Syndrome.  While I know what it is, and I know of many misconceptions, I don't have a lot of experience with it.  That's why a book like this is powerful.  The author has Tourette's and I can tell the authenticity in the voice of Calli.  While I've read many books that have MCs that have some kind of disability and the author has done significant research, there is something about real life experiences that makes a difference.
I just wonder what would happen, if more and more books are written like this and more and more kids read them.  Would that make an impact on how they grow up, the way they treat others?

One Amazing Elephant
One Amazing Elephant by Linda Oatman High
4/5 stars
Very sweet story about the growing friendship between a girl and an elephant.  
I liked the alternating voices in chapters, although it's hard to read an animal voice without thinking of Ivan.  Although Queenie Grace, the elephant, doesn't have quite as soulful voice as Ivan, it's still one that is going to reach into the heart of young readers.  

Young Adult

Long Way Down
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
5/5 stars
Jason Reynolds ALWAYS writes words that make me pause and think.  His books offer me windows that keep me thinking of possibilities and understanding what I might not know or understand.  This book is no exception.  Make sure this book is on your October list!

Currently Reading

Attack of the Not-So-Virtual Monsters (Gamer Squad #1)
Gamer Squad: Attack of the Not-So-Virtual Monsters 
by Kim Harrington
I thought this might be a series that would be a hit with gamers.  Giving it a try!

On Deck

some #mustreadin2017 titles:
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Hook's Revenge: The Pirate Code by Heidi Schulz

I've read the other two titles in this series the last 2 summers, so time for this one:
The Silver Moon of Summer by Leila Howland

Happy summer reading!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

upcoming Harper Collins books! 7.20.17



Today is for sharing some upcoming Harper Collins books!  You'll want to add these to your upcoming library purchases list!

Spirit Hunters
Spirit Hunters
by Ellen Oh
publishes July 25th

You know how you have kids who are looking to be scared?  They want books that are going to give them the chills and be a bit spooky.  Well, this is the book you're going to want to hand them.

Harper and her family have just moved to D.C. into a house that is old, needs a lot of fixing up, and is, well, probably haunted.  Within the first few pages we know something is up with this house, and something seems to be targeting Harper's brother, Michael.  Layered with a mysterious past and new friendships, this book will surprise you every time you turn the page!

As the book goes on, we learn more about Harper and her family and this is where the incidental diversity fits in - I love that there are diverse parts of this book without it being about diversity.  There are pieces of Korean culture that are woven into this story that makes it unique and fun.

I can't wait to get this book into the hands of kids this fall!

Goodreads summary
We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh returns with Spirit Hunters, a high-stakes middle grade mystery series about Harper Raine, the new seventh grader in town who must face down the dangerous ghosts haunting her younger brother. A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn!

Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?



The Countdown Conspiracy
The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky
publishes August 1st

I have a love/not really love relationship with science fiction.  Science fiction books - not my favorite genre.  Science fiction movies - some I love:  Star Wars... Apollo 13.... Flight of the Navigator... E.T...... (ok, not sure if you really classify those last two as science fiction, but you see where I'm going).

This book, kept me on the seat of my pants, holding my breath, not focusing on any conversations around me.  Even the parts that got too science-y, or too tech-y (wait, did I mention this is really more STEM fiction??), kept it relatable enough I could figure out what they meant without having to understand exactly what they said.

This book is sure to fly off the shelves and I think kids are going to talk to each other about this book.  I can't wait for what Slivensky comes up with next!

Goodreads summary
Ambassador, you are go for launch in T- minus 5…4…3…2….Get ready to blast off with this high-action, high-stakes middle grade adventure that’s perfect for fans of Chris Grabenstein and Peter Lerangis!

Miranda Regent can’t believe she was just chosen as one of six kids from around the world to train for the first ever mission to Mars. But as soon as the official announcement is made, she begins receiving anonymous threatening messages…and when the training base is attacked, it looks like Miranda is the intended target. Now the entire mission—and everyone’s lives—are at risk. And Miranda may be the only one who can save them.

The Martian meets The Goonies in this out-of-this-world middle grade debut where the stakes couldn’t be higher.



I'm really excited for these Harper Collins releases.  I hope they find their way into your libraries and into your readers hands this fall!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - new picture book biographies... the girls 7.19.17


Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.


Last month I shared some new picture book biographies.  That week was the boys week.  Now it's the girls' turn!


Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code
Grace Hopper - Queen of Computer Code
written by Laurie Wallmark
illustrated by Katy Wu
Fascinating book!  I had not heard of Grace Hopper, but this is a woman that should be celebrated!  If you do any kind of women's celebration, be sure to add this book to your collection!  Hopper was a math and science pioneer in the area of writing computer code.  She was someone who thought creatively and outside of the box.  There is a lot of conversation that can be had with students about that type of thinking.

Margaret and the Moon: The Computer Scientist Who Saved the First Lunar Landing
Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing 
written by Dean Robbins
illustrated by Lucy Knisley
What a perfect book to read to follow up Grace Hopper!  I love that more and more information is coming out about these talented ladies and how they helped pioneer math and science careers - more than we knew!
One thing that I found was distracting for me as a reader was the font was all in upper case. I'm not sure what the decision was regarding that, but I wish it had a more traditional layout for young readers.

Maya Lin by Jeanne Walker Harvey
Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines
Designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
written by Jeanne Walker Harvey
illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
I think this book was even more interesting to me having had visited the Wall.  But with the number of trips schools take to D.C. and learning about American History, this book will have its place in a lot of classrooms.
Wonderful piece about the creator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  I really liked learning more about the creation and architecture of the Memorial.

I love that these picture book biographies that feature women all have science and math involved.  Go girls!



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

#road2reading Challenge - new picture books for early readers 7.18.17


All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools 
that you may use with readers at the start of their reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.


I am always on the lookout for books that are perfect for readers who are beginning their reading journey.  I find a lot of leveled readers that are published by companies to be dry and void of humor or plot. 
The books spotlighted here are fun stories, have great characters and are relatable to young readers.  They aren't completely dependent on sight words and decodable words, but with repeated readings, young readers will be comfortable with the new vocabulary.
I hope some of these books find their way into your young reader's hands.


What Is Chasing Duck?
What is Chasing Duck? 
by Jan Thomas
I've been waiting to get my hands on these books for awhile!  This is the first of two books that feature the animal friends - I think in an earlier edition they were going to be called the Giggle Gang.  Something silly usually happens, in this one Duck is being chased by a creature that sounds to be pretty awful, but of course there is a twist!  Words are repetitive, some words are supported by the illustrations.  Other words that may be difficult to figure out, make sense with the story so once a child hears it, they will probably be able to recall it using the context of the story.  I like the lesson that is subtly taught in the story about being brave and facing your fears.  
At the end of the book there are three simple steps for parents about reading books like these: I read, we read, you read.  These steps will work great with this type of story.
I'm looking forward to more books in this series!

Let's Go to the Moon by Erica Silverman
Lana's World: Let's Go the the Moon 
by Erica Silverman
illustrated by Jess Golden
I really like the Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series so I'm happy to find this series by the same author!
This first one features Lana and her family and friends taking an imaginary trip to the moon. This adventure story will appeal to young readers and I like the focus on imagination.

Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore
Freckleface Strawberry: Monster Time! 
by Julianne Moore
illustrated by LeUyen Pham
I love this series!  Because of the amazing illustrations by LeUyen Pham and the fun stories that Julianne Moore comes up with, this series appeals to a wide range of readers.  I had some of my readers who are reading below grade level love this series because they are FUN stories!  So happy there is another book in this series to hand to them.
Freckleface Strawberry is excited to play "Monster" at recess but her friends all have different games they want to play.  She has to figure out how to compromise so everyone can play together.

Little Plane Learns to Write by Stephen Savage
Little Plane Learns to Write
by Stephen Savage
Little Plane practices everything he needs to do to skywrite - he practices his dives and his arcs but loopity-loops throws him off.  With a little determination and help from friends, Little Plane figures it out!
Great for growth mindset and teaching kids to keep trying, this will be a great book for young readers and writers!

Snail and Worm Again by Tina Kugler
Snail and Worm Again
by Tina Kugler
I have so much love for this early chapter book series!  I love the characters.  Snail and Worm are like Elephant and Piggie, but they have their own quirks, their own interactions.  The little stories crack me up.  I really wish this series would see some love from the Geisel committee!  Be sure to check this series out!

Don't miss Alyson's post about some new nonfiction series

Want to talk about books for readers who are on the #road2reading?  Link up here!

Monday, July 17, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7.17.18

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.


Last Week's Adventures

I wrote about the books I found at ALA that are perfect for those on the #road2reading.

Here are four nonfiction picture books that should be in your classroom library this fall.

Do not miss these new releases from Scholastic.

Picture Books

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals
Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals by Mo Willems
3/5 stars
Good gift for baby shower/new baby.  The humor will appeal to parents.  The illustrations - bright and basic - will appeal to newborns.

The Almost Impossible Thing
The Almost Impossible Thing by Basak Agaoglu
4/5 stars
Another book to add to your growth mindset collection.  This one about having dreams.

Blue Sky White Stars
Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus
5/5 stars
Beautiful.  I love the poetic words by Naberhaus - it was a perfect length because it avoided being preachy while giving you lots to think about.  The illustrations by Kadir Nelson were perfect.  I don't think they could have been illustrated by anyone else.

Graphic Novels

All's Faire in Middle School
All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
5/5 stars
There is so much to love about this graphic novel.  I am just in awe how Victoria writes and illustrates her graphic novels.  She nails the middle school voice and experience.  So many times I found myself nodding my head or groaning or reminiscing.  I love the way the Renaissance Faire is brought into the book as part of the MC's lives and seeing how it impacts her middle school experience.
Typically, middle grade is considered 6th-7th grade.  Sometimes 7th-8th grade.  Keeping that in mind, that is the audience of this book.  Despite the fact that our main character is entering 6th grade, I think 7th and 8th graders will appreciate the middle school humor and remarks.
I would be remiss in this review if I didn't let educators know that this book does contain some mature parts.  They are minor and irrelevant to the story, other than this topic does start appearing in middle school.  At one point in the book, the characters gawk over what appears to be a "Harlequin Romance" type book and read about the characters taking clothes off.  The word "sex" is mentioned a few times.  No details, no lewd discussions, just your typical middle grade experimenting with the word and romance.  However, because of the popularity of this author, I know there will be readers as young as 2nd grade reaching for this book.  As with any other book, I think it's important that educators/librarians know the content of a book and know their readers.  

Middle Grade

The Someday Birds
The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla
5/5 stars
Hearing a book that might have something to do with birding made me not reach for it.  Just not something I'm interested in.  Seeing a few friends really enjoy it made me take a side glance.  Seeing friends put it on the Mock Newbery made me think I really needed to read it.  And within a few chapters, I knew I had a special book.  Love that feeling, when the unexpected with a book happens.  This book has such heart, has such feelings, that you can't help but fall into the story.  Glad I took another glance!

The Seventh Wish
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
5/5 stars
I'm so late to the party with this book, I'm sure there is nothing I can say that you don't already know.  But after knowing the controversy that has surrounded this book, it just makes me sad.  Because like Charlie's family and like the other families that she sees at the open AA meetings, addiction can happen to ANYONE.  We are fooling ourselves if we think hiding this from readers is going to be helpful in anyway.  After finishing it, I immediately went and talked to my 12 yo about it because she read it... over a year ago.  I'm glad to have been able to have a conversation with her.  Thank you Kate for writing this.

Return to the Isle of the Lost (Descendants, #2)
Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa da la Cruz
3/5 stars
I have a middle grade daughter.  I enjoy talking books with her and I give her a lot of book recommendations.  I don't get as many from her because my books flow right into her hands.  Or, she grabs a book I have reads it first, then tells me to read it.  But since I already knew about it, it's not as big of a recommendation.  So when she really does find a book first, read it and ask me to read it, I take that seriously.  This series is one of those recommendations.
This is the second Descendants book.  It follows the Disney Channel movie "The Descendants".  I'm a big Disney fan, and I love the villain characters.  The books and movies are up my alley, but I've never been a fan of novels based on TV/movie characters.  With that being said, I do think de la Cruz has written a book for middle graders that is not written "down".  This is a book that appeals to the intended audience.   
The first book has some mature scenes (a party that had some form of Disney-fied alcohol and the characters suffered what appeared to be hangovers) but this book stays a bit cleaner.

The Countdown Conspiracy
The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky
5/5 stars
Be sure to return on Thursday for a longer review of this book.  In the meantime, be sure to put it on your TBR.  It publishes August 1st.  Perfect for the reader who loves suspense and excitement, or for a reader who is looking for science fiction/STEM.

Currently Reading

Refugee
Refugee by Alan Gratz

On Deck

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Rise of the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz
Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
One Amazing Elephant by Linda Oatman High

Happy Reading!