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Books categorized as 'Fiction'

Stella Diaz Has Something to Say

Stella Dias Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez
Recommended for: Grades 2 and up

Stella Diaz, a Mexican-American girl living in Chicago, loves her fish, family, and best friend. Around others though, Stella is shy and nervous. These traits especially come out when she and her best friend are put in different classes this school year. The book follows Stella as she gains confidence from her classmates and family, and finds joy in dancing, drawing, and a spelling bee. It lightly touches on a few important issues like divorce (Stella has a not-so-great relationship with her father who lives in a different state) and split cultural and language identities (Stella sometimes confuses English and Spanish words and wishes she lived in Mexico with the rest of her family). Black and white illustrations offer a fun visual to the stories. In the end, you will be cheering alongside Stella as she finds her inner star during a school presentation. The character of Stella is instantly relatable, and you will quickly come to adore her sweetness and bravery. This is a great choice for anyone who loves Clementine. Plus – the story feels especially real since it is “89.2 percent” based on the author’s real life experiences.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Brown

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A Handful of Stars

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
Recommended for: Grades 4 and up

“It’s scary to try something different when you don’t know how it’ll work out, but that’s when the best things can happen. The things that surprise you and change you. Those things can make *you* different.” p. 153

A Handful of Stars is the sweet story of 12-year Lily and her new friend, Salma Santiago, who has temporarily moved to Maine for the blueberry picking season. The book is set in a small town with an abundant blueberry industry, where Lily’s grandparents run the only general store in town. Salma’s family is from Florida but they move around the country to work on seasonal harvests. The two girls happen upon each other one day, instantly click, and start working together toward their unique goals. This book addresses different dimensions of change – evolving friendships, communities in transition, and the passing of seasons. It especially emphasizes the process of growing out of old friendships and into new ones. I appreciate that the main character, Lily, is sensitive to others feelings throughout this change.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Brown

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Ghost

Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Recommended for: Grades 6 and up

Castle Cranshaw, a.k.a. Ghost, has been running ever since he sprinted out of his house when his dad threatened him and his mom. One day, Ghost stumbles upon a track tryout, smokes the other kids, and earns a spot on the team. However, Ghost feels like an outsider on the team for not having the “right” shoes and not living in the “right” neighborhood. Even though this triggers some moments of anger, Ghost always tries to do better for his mom and his team. His Coach’s tough love mentorship helps Ghost to accept himself and work hard. This book is the first in a four-part series, each about a different runner on the track team. This is good news because I quickly became attached to the characters, who have fun with each other as well as process difficult experiences. Another heart-warming feature of the book is the sweet relationship between Ghost and his mom. This book also comes with thoughtful discussion questions at the end!

Reviewed by Mrs. Brown

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Rain Reign

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
Recommended for: Grades 4 and up

Rain Reign is about Rose Howard, a young girl living with Asperger’s who loves her dog, Rain. A hurricane plows through her upstate New York town and causes lots of changes in Rose’s life. The story is told from Rose’s point of view, so it’s a great way to understand a bit of what it’s like to live with Asperger’s. This is also a great book for kids who love dogs and/or grammar and word patterns, both topics Rose talks a lot about. The fast-paced chapters kept my interest up throughout. While Rose’s relationship with her dad is a difficult conflict in the book, it finishes with a heart-warming and happy ending.

Reviewed by Mrs. Brown

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The Terrible Two

The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett
Recommended for: Grades 4 and up

The Terrible Two is the hilarious story of two pranksters who eventually team up to pull off one of the greatest pranks of all time. The story starts with Miles Murphy, an expert prankster, who has just moved to a new town and school. On his first day, Miles discovers his new school already has a resident prankster. And this resident prankster is not who you think he is. The ensuing prank battle ends with the Terrible Two coming together to prank the entire school, including their bumbling principal. Funny graphic images are interspersed with the text of the book, making it a great choice for reluctant readers.

Reviewed by Mrs. Brown

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The Truth of Me

the truth of me coverThe Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan
Recommended for: Grades 3 – 5

Robbie’s parents spend more time on their music than with him. Robbie is closer to his eccentric grandmother Maddy and loves summers spent with her while his parents tour with their Allegro Quartet.  This year Robbie also brings his dog Ellie and hopes she can get along with Maddy’s unique animal friends which include raccoons, deer and bears.  Robbie likes that Maddy makes his parents nervous with her unusual stories and animals.  Maddy’s love and guidance help Robbie learn a lot of “little truths” – about his mother, his grandmother and himself.  It is a summer of growth and acceptance and having the courage to make changes.

Reviewed by Mrs. McIntire

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Summer on Earth

summer on earth coverSummer on Earth by Peter Thompson
Recommended for: Grades 4  and up

Ralwil Turth is fearful when the control panel of his space pod lights up indicating sudden loss of power.  He navigates to the nearest planet capable of supporting life: Earth.  Eleven-year-old Grady is still dealing with the loss of his father on the summer day he meets a man sitting in the corn field wearing his Dad’s overalls and looking as scared as Grady feels.  Ralwil, “Will” to Grady and his family, is good at fixing things, so Ma lets him stay a bit.  Will becomes quite attached to his new family and bonds with Grady, all the while learning about this strange world.  Though his first priority should be to fix his power source, Will instead helps the family in their struggle to keep the farm. Though his intentions are good, Will’s  solution causes more trouble.  It endangers his return to his home planet as well as his very existence.  Is the bond between Will and Grady strong enough to overcome the shock of seeing who Will really is?
This story combines excitement, humor and heart-warming  moments.

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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Jefferson’s Sons

jefferson's sons coverJefferson’s Sons by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley
Recommended for: Grades 4 – 7

This is the story of Jefferson’s slaves at Monticello.  Beverley and Madison are sons of Sally Hemings.  Jefferson has promised to free them at the age of 21. Sally is preparing her light-skinned children to live in the white world when they are freed.  But Jefferson is ageing – what will happen to his slave children if he dies before they turn 21?
Told in three parts by sons Beverley and Madison and another slave boy close to the Hemings family, Beverley and Madison love their father but puzzle at his words in the Constitution – all men are created equal.

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

 

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The Jumbies

the jumbies coverThe Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Recommended for: Grades 4 – 6

Corinne La Mer is a brave island girl who does not believe in tales of the jumbies who haunt the forbidden forest. Living alone with her fisherman father, she tends her mother’s precious orange trees and sells the fruit at market. A beautiful stranger named Severine comes to market one day and soon becomes friendly with Corinne’s father. Corinne fights to keep Severine away from her home but finds Severine’s magic too powerful. Corinne’s bravery inspires her friends to band with her when the jumbies and other dangerous creatures decide to attack the village. What does the mysterious Severine want with Corinne and her father and why does she wish to destroy the village?
Tracey Baptiste creates an eerie atmosphere with her menacing creatures of the forbidden forest inspired by Caribbean folktales.

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

The misadventures of the family Fletcher coverThe Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
Recommended for: Grades 4 – 7

The Fletcher family is made up of two fathers, 4 adopted boys, a dog, a cat, a grouchy neighbor, a favorite aunt and assorted friends – real and imaginary.  From Sam, the cool sixth grader, down to Frog, entering kindergarten, the family experiences all the squabbles, turmoil and joys of a close family.  Each boy has his own difficulties during the school year: old vs. new friends, popularity, sports and trying new activities.

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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