Category Archives: IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2018 Top Summer Picks for 9-12 yr olds (part 2)

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Last week, my IMWAYR post featured some new middle grade novels that would make excellent choices for summer reading or end of the year read-alouds!  Turns out there were TOO MANY books to mention in one blog… so here is Part 2!

Heartseeker by Melinda Beatty

I actually haven’t read this first book in a debut series as it is not released until June 5th – but it’s certainly on my TBR summer list.  It’s getting a lot of great ARC reviews and I so like the concept behind this fantasy adventure about a girl named Only who can see lies.  When news of Only’s abilities reaches the king, he commands her to work for him to seek out traitors and corruption.  WOW!  Sounds like a winner!

The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider

So this book may sound a little weird and morbid – parents who work in a cadaver lab, a tiger kidnapping, talking severed heads… but with such an original plot line, and laugh-out-loud humour – I think it will appeal to many middle grade readers.  Fovea (whose name means eyeballs, by the way), is a 7th grader – embarrassed by her parents, mocked by her peers and without a single friend. She spends the summer working in her parent’s cadaver lab with a whole lot of body parts and in the process, discovers herself, some new friends and a new “embrace the moment” approach to life.  Perhaps not for everyone – but would certainly appeal to middle grade readers (Gr. 6-7 range) who enjoy this type of “screw-ball comedy” and the “ickier” side of things!

Nightbooks by J.A. White

Another book I have on my MUST READ this summer (not released until mid July but I have my pre-order in!) is this scary (but apparently not too scary!) re-telling of The Arabian Knights that sounds like a mixture of Neil Gaiman’s books and Grimm’s fairy tales.  It is the story of Alex, a monster-loving boy, who finds himself trapped in a magical apartment building.  In order to stay alive, he has to tell the witch who captured him a scary story every night.  Sounds Ah-Mazing!

Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea – Lynne Rae Perkins

A charming, breezy read – perfect for summer!  A family with two young girls goes on vacation, spending a week on the ocean.  No huge dramas, life-threatening crises, or earth shattering issues – but a heart-warming celebration of small moments.  Walking on the beach, feeling the ocean waves for the first time, sand castles with different kinds of bucket mixtures, imaginative play, a new friend, horseshoe crabs and learning to be brave.  Sweet but not fluffy.  Love the addition of some wonderful illustrations!  This is the kind of book I would have LOVED when I was in grade 6 or 7 – and I love it now!

Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe –  Jo Watson Hackl

A charming coming-of-age story – this one with an endearing protagonist, lots of adventure and an added suspense, mystery and a treasure hunt.  I was hooked right away with the authentic voice of Cricket – a young girl dealing with the death of her father and the disappearance of her mother.  Cricket’s adventures are driven by a longing to heal her family and are filled with ups and downs and twists and turns.   Lots of life lessons in this one that will leave you filled with sadness, hope and love.

Where the Watermelons Grow – Cindy Baldwin 

WOW – a beautifully written, moving, sensitive story about families living with mental illness.  Gorgeous writing with wonderful descriptions of the charming characters in a small southern town and the sticky summer heat.   My heart ached for Della and her concern about her mother, who suffers from schizophrenia.  The author does not shy away from difficult, important issues that we often have no control over.  A wonderful, heart-wrenching story filled with hardships and harsh realities, yet also filled with love and hope.  Likely this would be more suited for older middle grades and even teen readers.  I recommend a box of Kleenex and a fresh watermelon close by – I started craving one while I was reading!

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

I was excited to read this second book by Erin Entrada Kelly, who won the 2018 Newberry for her book Hello, Universe.  She focuses on similar themes in this book – family stress, bullying and friendships.  Charlotte and Ben are two middle school students who connect through an online Scrabble game.  Their new friendship becomes invaluable as the chaos in each of their lives begin to spin out of control.   I enjoyed the alternating chapters that focus on the scenarios in each child’s life.   A great story about the importance of connecting with others for helping us navigate through life’s ups and downs.

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Breakout – Kate Messner

A group of young students everyday lives are turned upside down when two inmates escape from the local prison.  This compelling story about prejudice and racism in a small town was inspired by the escape and subsequent search of two prisoners from the Clinton NY correctional facility in 2015.  Written in a very unique format depicting multiple points of view told through a series of letters, essays, articles, texts, newspaper articles and poetry.  Even though it is 400 pages, the format makes it a surprisingly fast read.  I really like how Kate Messner weaves important and current themes into her books and believe this one will spark many thoughtful and reflective conversations.

Sunny – Jason Reynolds

Sunny is the 3rd book in Jason Reynold’s popular Track series.  This book follows 12-year-old Sunny Lancaster, the #1 middle distance runner of the Defenders whose mother died the day he was born.  Sunny’s story is very different than  Ghost or Patina.  It is told in a series diary entries Sunny keeps to help control all the thoughts and ideas swirling around in his head.  It becomes clear through the stream of consciousness entries that Sunny’s brain doesn’t process things like other kids – he jumps from thought to thought, from subject to subject, rhyming and playing with words.  Sunny’s story is so authentic, so sad, so full of hope – I think it is my favorite in the series.

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

Charming story about overcoming obstacles and finding your place in the world.  Twelve year old Lucy was unharmed after she was struck by lightning strike four years ago.  But it left her with some compulsive behaviors and somewhat of a mathematical savant, making navigating, fitting in, and being accepted in middle school very challenging.  So much to love about this book… the short chapters make easy reading, great character conversations, very “connectable”,  lots of math and STEM connections, and love the dog!!!

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found one or two titles that caught your eye!

 

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Filed under 2018 releases, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Novels, New Books

IMWAYR – Countdown to the Winter Olympics!

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

The 2018 Winter Olympics will begin on Feb. 9th!  I LOVE the Winter Olympics!  It is a wonderful opportunity to teach children about history, winter sports, national pride, global awareness, sportsmanship, determination, hard work, reaching your dreams… the list goes on!   And of course what better way to start the conversation but by sharing BOOKS!   This week, I have been reading through many old favorites and several new titles.  Here are some recommended books (fiction and nonfiction) to help your students learn about the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics!  GO CANADA!


G is for Gold Medal – An Olympic Alphabet – Brad Herzog

Wonderful facts about the Olympics with short rhyming passages for younger students, along with a longer information for each letter for more advanced readers.  Great illustrations.

Living in South Korea – Chloe Perkins 

A great early reader series with information about living in different countries around the world. Since the Winter Olympics are being hosted by South Korea, this is a great book to share with your readers.  Facts about the South Korean culture, geography, history, holidays, and modern life for a typical kid are included.     

2018 Winter Games Activity Book for Kids Heather Aliano

While general Olympic facts are important, this activity book is specific to this year’s games – and includes activities and information about the history of the Winter Games, the tradition of the torch relay, all 15 winter sports, the ceremonies, mascots, and traditions.  Some great reproducibles.  

A Kid’s Guide to the 2018 Winter Games – Jack L. Roberts

Full colored guide for intermediate students that includes great photos, text features and a chart to track this year’s medal count.  This book introduces older readers to the Winter Olympics as well as some of the athletes and the location for 2018.  While it does highlight several American athletes, it has enough general information to make it worth it.  (Note – some mistakes found – Switzerland spelled incorrectly) 

The Winter Olympics Nick Hunter (Heinmann) 

Although this book was written in preparation for the Sochi Olympics, the soft cover is very reasonably priced and includes interesting facts, history, and event information in 32 colorful pages.

Winter Olympic Sports Series – Alpine and Freesyle Skiing

I really love this series from Crabtree Publishing which focuses on each of the Winter Olympic sports.  Each book features an introductory guide and overview of the specific Olympic events, along with fun facts, amazing stats, and a look at some of the most outstanding competitors.  Great photos and text features.  

Winter Olympic Sports – Speed Skating

Winter Olympic Sports – Ice Hockey and Curling

Winter in Canada – Sports Kelly Spence

While not specifically about the Winter Olympics, this book from Scholastic shows a diverse range of Canadians of all age and skill levels participating in a wide range of winter sports.  Short text introduces each sport with colorful action photos and fun facts.  This would be a great alternative to purchasing a separate book about each sport.

Pebble Plus BiographyPatrick Chan

Pebble Publishing has a great biography series featuring famous Canadians.  There are books about authors, scientists, athletes and artists perfect for celebrating our great Canadians.  Here are three of the books featuring our accomplished Canadian Olympic athletes.

Pebble Plus Biography – Hayley Wickenheiser

Pebble Plus Biography – Carey Price

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Yes, I Can! The Story of the Jamaican Bobsled Team – Devon Harris

This true story about the four-man Jamaican Bobsled and their experience preparing and participating in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary was the inspiration behind the movie “Cool Runnings”.   It is an amazing story of about having the courage to pursue your dreams, persevering in the face of all difficulties and never giving up.  This book is hard to find and copies are quite expensive to purchase but check your local library – such an interesting and inspiring story.

Snowman Paul at the Winter Olympics – Yossi Lapid

A delightful book about a rather overly confident, mischievous penguin competing in the Winter Olympics and winning everything!  But is he competing fairly?  This simple, rhyming story introduces many different themes including friendship, values, honesty and peer pressure.

Max and Marla Alexandra Boiger

Max and his optimistic, persistent owl friend Marla are aspiring Olympians determined to be a winning sledding team in the next Winter Olympics.  This is a delightful story about friendship, perseverance, and the joy in the little things in life, even the obstacles on our way.  A great book to start a discussion with children about sportsmanship, friendship, winning, losing and determination.

Tacky and the Winter Games – Helen Lester 

Tacky and the rest of the penguins are back in Tacky and the Winter Games. In this hilarious story, Tacky and his friends are training for the winter games.  Unfortunately, Tacky is not the best athlete and his own way of doing things. This book will make children laugh at all the ridiculous things Tacky does.  Tacky is goofy and adorable and your kids will love him!

            Lucy Tries Luge – Lisa Bowes

 Lisa Tries Short Track – Lisa Bowes

Part of a series called Lucy Tries Sports, these books are great for encouraging youngsters, especially girls, not to let their fears keep them from trying out a new sport. In Lucy Tries Luge, Lucy gets a new luge and decides to tackle the track. Young readers will appreciate the fact that she is a bit anxious at first, but with reassurance from her parents, she faces her fears.  In Lucy Tries Short Track, Lucy is back for another speedy adventure–this time, she laces up her skates and tries short track speed skating and discovers it’s not as easy as it looks!

Olympig! Victoria Jamieson

In this light-hearted story, a spirited, sporty pig teaches readers about about losing gracefully. Boomer the Pig has been training hard for the Animal Olympics, so when he loses his first race, he shrugs it off and cheerfully moves on.  But after losing one event after another, his frustration begins to mount. But even after coming in last in every sport, there’s no getting this Olympig down.  Very cute!

 

Ready, Set, Snow! Abby Klein

This book is #16 from the Ready, Freddy! series – a new series for me!  This book focuses on a school winter competition Freddy and his friends are involved in.  I liked that good sportsmanship was emphasized as well as highlighting that different people have different skills. Would make a good read-aloud in a grade 2/3 class.

Sports Party Rings – Make Your Own Olympic Rings! 

And… for those who, like me, become frustrated trying to to cut out 5 colored rings, here are some pre-cut rings in Olympic Colors for your 2018 Winter Olympics bulletin board!

A few Winter Olympic sites you may find helpful:

Canadian Olympic School Program

Canadian Olympic Team Official Website 

Profile of Canadian Athletes/ Team Canada 

Education World: Countdown to the Olympics

Teachology – Guide to the Winter Olympics

Thanks for stopping by!  Congratulations to all the athletes participating in the Winter Olympics this year!  Go, Canada, GO!

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Filed under IMWAYR, New Books