Monday, January 30, 2017

It's Monday What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 1/30/17

So I've strayed from my Must Read in 2017 list already! I can't help it- I see a shiny new book on the library shelf and I HAVE to read it. What I like about today's blog post is that I had never heard of these titles before I read them. I think I might have found some new favorite authors.


I subscribe to A LOT of different library blogs and none of them have even mentioned this book. I feel like Christopher Columbus discovering a hidden gem. This one will be an IMMEDIATE addition to my library.

At first I thought The Secret of Goldenrod by Jane O'Reilly was going to be a scary book.  Creepy house on the cover, the word "secret" in the title, and a porcelain doll that comes to life (there is nothing creepier). It has all the makings of a frightening ghost story, but it's not spooky in the least.  

Trina and her father move from town to town fixing up old houses. When they arrive at Goldenrod, she has to start over AGAIN in a new house, new town, and new school. The difference this time is that everyone swears Goldenrod is haunted.  It's hard enough to make friends without living in a supposed haunted house that's rumored to have cast a curse on the town. Trina soon finds a secret room with a doll inside that is at least 100 years old. Imagine her surprise when the doll suddenly begins to talk. Augustine, the doll, helps Trina discover the true secrets of Goldenrod. Can Trina prove that Goldenrod isn't haunted the way people think it is and fix the fractured town?

I found this book to be a really unique take on a haunted house. It is haunted- just not the way I thought it was. The house has a tragic history, but instead of being dark and scary, O'Reilly keeps it magical and fun. Before this book, everything I ever read involving a talking doll was terrifying, but Augustine isn't what I first imagined. What little girl doesn't wish for her favorite doll to start talking? I've been ruined by horror movies and forgot that. As for Trina, like many middle grade book characters, she struggles to fit in with her peers. She's confused about her absent mother, doesn't want to be babied by her father, and is desperate to stay in one place. It's easy to read and a definite page turner. Great for a child that thinks they want a scary book (but deep down they aren't ready).  LOVED IT!


Anyone But Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp isn't a new series, but it's new to me. I found it just in time as the third book is due this Spring. 

Ivy Pocket is a twelve year old orphaned maid who finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery ghost story. No matter what she does, Ivy makes one mistake after another, but she would never admit to anything being her fault. She is kooky and unfiltered, and if you ask her, the smartest, most talented, prettiest girl in the room. The story starts with her dunking her employer's head in a bowl of  punch. Of course it isn't Ivy's fault that her employer has "brain fever" (according to Ivy of course). Fired and penniless, Ivy accepts a deal from a rich Duchess to deliver a cursed necklace to the granddaughter of an old friend. Ivy embarks on a dangerous adventure that brings death and villainous characters her way. The magical properties and mystery of the necklace bring catastrophe into Ivy's life, but her ridiculously inflated ego keeps her from understanding just how dangerous her situation is. 

I think that it will take a mature reader to truly understand Ivy. She is horribly rude with no filter but hilarious at the same time. She doesn't take the blame for anything and I still can't quite decide if she's clueless or brilliant. She invents fanciful stories about her past and her parents that I know aren't true, but I wish they were for her sake. The mystery is very imaginative and kept me reading to the very end. I'm torn on the ages for which I would recommend this because it's dark- think Coraline and Lemony Snicket. It's that Victorian Gothic kind of dark. There are old legends and ghosts and some evil characters in this story.  I think fans of scary books would like it, but be careful of readers who frighten easily. 

I am Helen Keller (Ordinary People Change the World) by [Meltzer, Brad]I am Jane Goodall (Ordinary People Change the World) by [Meltzer, Brad]I am Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Change the World) by [Meltzer, Brad]I am Jackie Robinson (Ordinary People Change the World) by [Meltzer, Brad]

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It is often difficult to find biographies for very young students. The Who Was/ Who is series is very popular, but I wanted something that even younger students would enjoy. I wanted something quick and full of pictures. More specifically, I was looking for a biography that I could read aloud in a 15 minute time frame. I found all of that in the series Ordinary People Who Change The World by Brad Meltzer. The illustrations are fun and colorful, and it looks like a graphic novel (which is very appealing to young kids). Each of the books, there are 12 so far, tells the inspiring story of people whose dreams change the world.  Even if students can't read all of the words, they can gather enough of the story from the illustrations to understand what's happening. They are easy to read and very inspiring. 
I HIGHLY recommend this series for grades K and up.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

It's Monday What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 1/16/17

I'm three books into my goal of 40! I enjoyed all three of these and it wasn't until I finished them that I realized all of the books have middle school boys as the main character.


In The last Boy at St. Edith's by Lee Malone, Jeremy Miner attends St. Edith's Catholic School. It's a great school in a good neighborhood, and he is lucky that he gets to attend. As the title suggests, there's one slight problem- Jeremy is the only boy. There used to be more but they have dropped out one by one until only Jeremy remains. He can't transfer because he is getting free tuition (his mom works there), so he is stuck! The girls treat Jeremy like he's one of them, and no one understands how hard it is not to have any male friends or influences. That leaves him, in his mind, with one option- he has to get expelled! Jeremy and his friend Claudia begin a series of pranks that they are sure will get him removed from school. As with most practical jokes, things don't exactly go as planned and when they begin to backfire, Jeremy must decide how far he will go. Eventually Jeremy realizes that even without other boys, his friends, school, and teachers are pretty great, but is it too late?

This book was really clever and funny and the plot was original. Surprisingly, the female author did a fabulous job of capturing the angst a lonely 7th grade boy must be feeling in that situation. The pranks Jeremy pulls were funny- until they weren't. The things that went wrong made me cringe and when he got in over his head, I was screaming at the page for him to stop and confess! Also, I liked watching him grow up a little and realize what's really important in his life. His friendships with the girls are sweet and deeper than he initially thinks. I believe older boys and girls (5th and up) will enjoy this story. 


Like the other books I read this week, All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor, is a refreshing original story. How many synonyms can I find for the word LOVE to describe how I feel about this book?
Perry is like any other middle school student in many ways. He loves his Mom, his friends from home, and his very best school friend, Zoey. What sets him apart from others his age is that his home is Blue River Prison, and he has lived there all of his life. When Perry was born, his mom (an inmate) found a way for him to stay with her. He grew up running free around the prison, playing in the laundry baskets, running around the track with the other inmates, and even celebrating his birthdays in funny ways. The inmates are his protectors and closest friends. He leaves the prison for school and various activities but each night comes home to Blue River for dinner and time with his family. Perry is incredibly happy and content. One day, an overzealous District Attorney learns about Perry and removes him from the only home he's ever known. Perry is determined to find a way back to the prison and in doing so, he learns how most of the inmates came to be at Blue River- even his own mother. The answers he uncovers are surprising and teach him lessons about life and second chances.

Despite roadblocks and a very unconventional upbringing, Perry thrives in the prison. He is happy and well cared for. Just because his life is different, doesn't mean it's wrong. Blue River is a co-ed minimum security prison that seems more like a camp- not scary for readers at all. There are so many lessons in this book about friendship, mistakes, and being unique. Perry is a lovable character along with his mother, Big Ed, the Warden and the other colorful inmates. It's funny and suspenseful as we wait to see if Perry succeeds in his mission. This book radiates hope and left me feeling warm and fuzzy! I think it's geared more towards an advanced reader because it's long and detailed but they won't be sorry they gave it a chance. 

                                                                  Ms. Bixby's Last Day by [Anderson, John David]

Break out the tissues for this one! John David Anderson's Ms. Bixby's Last Day is the story of three boys determined to give their favorite teacher (who is sick) one perfect day. Ms. Bixby, with a pink streak in her hair, is the kind of teacher who makes learning fun. She makes school interesting and earns the respect of  her middle school students. She clearly cares about them and they feel the same way about her. As the story starts, she reveals she is ill and has to leave school before the end of the year. She doesn't even get to stay for her planned goodbye party. Topher, Steve and Brand decide that Ms. Bixby deserves a perfect last day, and they set out to make it happen. Of course as 12-year-olds, it's difficult for them to get to her with all the supplies they need for the last day. They have to navigate the city bus route, an expensive bakery, a thief, and a book seller who speaks in riddles to make it to Ms. Bixby. 

What starts as a story about Ms. Bixby's leaving actually revels itself to be more about the three boys in her class and how she has affected their lives. Each of the boys has an unexpected back story and Ms. Bixby has influenced them in an inspiring and wonderful way. Their determination to get to her is endearing and the plan they have for her perfect day is incredibly touching. While skipping school is NOT ok, their earnest reasons for doing so makes it forgivable. This is a beautiful book about the positive relationships teachers can have with their students, and it reminds me how special it is to be a teacher. Because it deals with illness and some other heavy topics, a reader who is a little more mature might like it better. I highly recommend this one. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017



There are a few titles on this list that I've been trying to get to for a while, and some that have yet to be published. I'm going for an even 40 this year. I'm excited for all of these picks and I have my first pile ready to go next to my favorite reading spot. My goal is to read them all but I get sidetracked by new authors and new books all the time (not to mention my favorite grown-up books). Fingers crossed!

The Metropolitans by [Goodman, Carol]14 Hollow Road by [Bishop, Jenn]Tumble & Blue by [Beasley, Cassie]Mr. Lemoncello's Great Library Race (Mr. Lemoncello's Library #3)A Rambler Steals Home by [Higgins, Carter]Rise of the Earth Dragon: A Branches Book (Dragon Masters #1) by [West, Tracey]Under Locker and Key (MAX) by [Hymas, Allison K.]The Castle in the Mist by [Ephron, Amy]Forever, or a Long, Long Time by [Carter, Caela]Science No Fair!: Project Droid #1 by [Krulik, Nancy, Burwasser, Amanda]If the Magic Fits (100 Dresses) by [Schmid, Susan Maupin]Yours Truly (A Pumpkin Falls Mystery) by [Frederick, Heather Vogel]The Great Treehouse War by [Graff, Lisa]The Goldfish Boy by [Thompson, Lisa]Hideout by [Key, Watt]The Mighty Odds (The Odds Series #1) by [Ignatow, Amy]Sci-Fi Junior High by [Seegert, Scott, Martin, John]Restart by [Korman, Gordon]Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes by [Lambert, Mary E.]Marion Takes a Break (The Critter Club Book 4) by [Barkley, Callie]Captain Awesome to the Rescue! by [Kirby, Stan]See You in the Cosmos by [Cheng, Jack]Cloud and Wallfish by [Nesbet, Anne]Ms. Bixby's Last Day by [Anderson, John David]The Girl Who Drank the Moon by [Barnhill, Kelly]Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by [Baskin, Nora Raleigh]Counting Thyme by [Conklin, Melanie]Some Kind of Happiness by [Legrand, Claire]