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Books categorized as 'Realistic'

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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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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Kinda Like Brothers

kinda like brothers coverKinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth
Recommended for: Grades 4-6

11 year old Jarrett is not having a great summer so far. He has to attend summer school, his best friend is away, and he can’t get the nerve to talk to his crush, Caprice. His mom takes in foster children, and Jarrett always has to struggle to get her full attention. Jarrett’s summer gets even worse when his mom takes in Treasure, a developmentally delayed toddler, and her 12 year old brother Kevon.  Jarrett and Kevon are forced to be together, but neither boy takes the time to really get to know the other.  As the summer continues, and Jarrett’s jealousy and anger grow, both boys make decisions that lead to bad outcomes. I really liked reading about Jarrett’s family and friends, and watching him change and mature over the course of the summer.  He was a realistic character who made mistakes, like all people do, but he learned from them, too.  I recommend this book to anyone who likes stories about family, friendship, and growing up.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Waring

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Quinny and Hopper

Quinny and Hopper coverQuinny and Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen
Recommended for: Grades 3 – 5

Quinny Bumble is very talkative, loud and friendly. She just moved from New York City to the country and is missing her many friends. Hopper is smart, quiet, cautious and has no friends. Can these two be friends? Other colorful characters include two younger sisters, two bullyish twin brothers and a lonesome, stylish, black and white striped chicken that won’t be caught.
Quinny and Hopper begin a friendship, but can it survive the start of school and Hopper’s fear of being rejected? This is a fun and amusing story of two unlikely friends.

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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Save Me a Seat

save me a seat coverSave Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Recommended for: Grades 3-6

5th graders Joe and Ravi may seem very different, but they have a few things in common. Ravi just arrived from India, and is adjusting to life in the United States. Joe is adjusting to the challenges of staying under the radar while his mom is the new cafeteria aide. Both boys are quickly judged by their peers, misunderstood, and tormented by the same bully, Dillon Samreen. Told in alternating chapters from Joe’s and Ravi’s point of view, this story takes place over one week of school. If you like the Mr. Terupt books by Bob Buyea or the Wonder books by R.J. Palacio, give Save Me a Seat a try.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Waring

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