Category Archives: junior

Welcome to the town of Remarkable!

remarkable   “She was wise enough to know that, despite what most people think, the best things in life are often quite ordinary.”  I adore this quote and feel the need to embrace it more often.  I think we tend to feel that everything has to be out-of-this world in order to mean anything.  When, in fact, simple is truly beautiful.  This is a book for children…middle-age readers, but as an adult I found it rather entertaining.  It is called Remarkable and it is by author Lizzie K. Foley.

Remarkable is a town where everything and everyone is remarkable…except Jane Doe.  Jane is surrounded by remarkable people:  her mother is a remarkable architect, her father…a remarkable novelist, a brother who is a remarkable artist and a younger sister who has remarkable math skills.  Her grandmama is in fact the mayor of Remarkable and may be the most remarkable of all.  But not Jane….she takes after her grandfather…John Doe.  Both are rather ordinary and overlooked.  In fact, Jane is so ordinary that she is the only kid in the whole town to go to the public school while everyone else attends the School for the Remarkably Gifted.

Now insert a sea monster, some pirates and some devilish twins….and a story begins to develop and we discover that being “ordinary”  is so much better than being remarkable in just one thing.

I loved the characters and the word play….so much fun to read!

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Middle Schoolers and up

 This is a debut novel by Richard Levine.   It explores the tragic events of two preteen kids….Ron AKA Runner Boy and long-legged D.C.  Both kids have had horrible events happen in their life which has forces them to grow up faster than their twelve years.  They meet at a party the summer before their 7th grade year, and immediately are drawn to each other through witty banter. Keep in mind this is all rate G.    D.C. is a twelve-year old girl who towers over all at the party while wearing the brightest neon shirt in the room, but this does not deter her from being confident.  She is comfortable in her own skin…a strong female character.  Ron also exudes a calm confidence when he is not influence by the other boys’  taunts about D.C.

After the party, summer begins and tragedy hits both D.C. and Ron.  The two meet again at the start of the school year and a natural and rare friendship begins. They join the Biology Club at school together, spend time with each other’s families, and begin to rely on each other.  They seem to be wiser than the other kids in their school on some level.

Island Eyes, Island Skies is a book that has fun with language….lots of play on words and similes and metaphors.    It will be a favorite of English teachers who can pull fun passages out of the text for some meaningful lessons on language.  I also believe this book would be an asset for a young adult who has experienced death of a loved one.  It is a heavy topic.  Richard Levine has written of it in a way that kids can feel they are not alone.  A tough topic to tackle.

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Must-Read Middle reader

  Back to school means lots of new books in the school library for me to enjoy…..I love opening the boxes straight from the publisher and smelling that new book smell.  I love knowing that I am the first one to open that crisp cover….it really is heaven to me…no sarcasm.  All those stories just waiting to be read…..there really is something magical about it all.  The hardest part is trying to decide which one I am going to read first. My choice gets easier after I let the students have the first pick (mighty nice of me, I know).   I let a week go by before I randomly grab one.  My first one of the year was The Book of One Hundred Truths by Julie Schumacher, and I was not disappointed.  This is the story of 12 1/2 year of Theodora Grumman and she is a liar.  She is about to leave for three weeks to go visit her Nenna and Granda on the coast of New Jersey.  She goes there every summer and visits with her father’s family…..the eccentric side of the family.  However, this summer is different for so many varied reasons.  Her Granda’s health is declining, her cousins all will be staying at the house, and she has to watch her 7-year-old nosy cousin, Jocelyn.  Yet, perhaps the biggest change is in Thea herself.   Thea has taken to lying about everything over the past few months and has withdrawn….her parents have no clue as to why.  Only Thea knows….she is keeping such a big secret that is pushing her toward these lies.  Her mother has given her a notebook and has asked her to keep a list of 100 truths….100 things that she knows to be true.    So Thea does…..but she refuses to tell the one truth that is tearing her up….she lost her best friend…..and it was all her fault.  The  book is perfect for middle school readers….it will grab their attention straight from the beginning and will refuse to let go until the very last page.

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because of mr. terupt

This one is for the junior/preteen readers…though I definitely loved this one and read in within two hours.  It is called Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea.  It is a book ALL kids should read.  A group of fifth graders are starting school with a new teacher, you guessed it…Mr. Terupt.  He is unlike any teacher they have ever had and he makes school fun, but that is not all.  The story focuses on 7 students (which I thought would be too many characters to keep track of…..it is NOT).  Each chapter is written in a different student’s voice and version of the school year.  The students are as varied as they could possibly be….a new girl, a mean girl, class clown, the smart one, shy girl, an outcast, and a loner.  Sounds kind of like The Breakfast Club?  Mr. Terupt teaches them more than just math & reading….and he understands them all.  As the story progresses, you are aware that something horrible is about to happen and you are hoping that it is not too horrible….so you keep reading.  And then the horribleness comes, and you keep reading….you have to find out the conclusion.  And you won’t be disappointed.  I told my 11 year-old that he would love this book, and he plans to read it…as soon as he finishes the Harry Potter Series.  He is on book 5 and can’t put them down!  Not a bad thing at all!

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Intense, but not scary

 This book that was recommended is called Escape Under the Forever Sky by Eve Yohalem.  My friend, Ann, told me that her 5th grade daughter, Paige, loves this book.  They are reading it for their school’s book club, and it is one of the first book’s that Paige has really been drawn into….so of course, I had to read it to see what was making Paige read so feverishly.  It is a fantastic story!  It is about a girl named Lucy who is 13 years old.  She is an only child to two extremely career-oriented parents.  Her mother is the American Ambassador to Ethiopia, and she has been relocated to Ethiopia to work and reside.  Lucy spends her days in a gated community with protection and many rules and not a lot of freedom.  As a teenager, she resents this and sneaks out and gets grounded.  This only fuels her desire for more freedom and adventure in a country she feels misplaced.  She is a minority in Ethiopia on many levels:  1.  She is a white American  2.  She is rich and 3. Her mother is a very important political figure.  She wishes she could explore the wildlife around here and hang out with her friends, but she is not permitted such freedoms.  She spends her days at home while her parents are at work where she builds card houses and dreams of a “normal” life.
She has one close friend, and together the two of them sneak out to the local market for some fun.  This is where the action starts, Lucy is kidnapped by drug dealers and taken to a secluded locale.  She is able to escape, but only to discover she is miles away from civilization in the wilderness of Ethiopia that she dreamed of….except it is not quite dreamlike…no shoes, no water, no food….but a constant beating sun, lions, monkeys and drug dealers on her tail.  A great action packed story that is full of intense adventure, but not too scary for the younger reader.

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Newspaper Boy

                Earlier this week, I finished Sue Corbett’s The Last Newspaper Boy in America.  This is one that I am going to recommend to my 5th & 6th graders including my own son.  I read somewhere that what truly makes a great book is not the plot, but the characters in the story.  If the characters are endearing….if the characters really make you  care about them…then you have a good story.  The characters in this book were incredibly endearing to me.  It takes place in a rural small town in Pennsylvania where hard times have hit.  The local hairpin factory has been bought out and left empty for years leaving the townspeople unemployed and money hungry.  The story focuses on the David family.  The mother Magnolia, is a avid book reader-walker who writes book reviews and can always been found with a book in her hand.  She is a woman after my own heart.  Junior AKA dad is unemployed, but he still takes care of the hairpin factory in hopes of a potential buyer.   He is a forever optimist who looks at his unemployment as a blessing, for he now has time to cook and bake which is his true passion.  They have 3 boys:  Trace, the eldest and the artist, Sonny, the middle child who is a charmer yet a bit naive and then the youngest Wil.  The story focuses on Wil who turns 12 during this story and is about to take over the family newspaper route from Sonny.  Bad news descends when they learn the newspaper is going to cancel delivery to their small town. Wil is devastated.  He has been looking forward to carrying on the newspaper tradition as well as earning some extra money.  This triggers the action of the story into fast moving adventure about a family learning about each other, the people of their town and themselves.  I believe readers of all ages will find something to love about this story.

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6th Grade Reads

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