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Books categorized as 'Realistic'

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree cover Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Recommended for Grades: 4-7

Ally is both ashamed and embarrassed that she cannot read.  She doesn’t want anyone to know that the letters on the page wiggle and jump around and don’t mean anything to her.  Great in art and good in math, Ally is frequently sent to the office because she refuses to write her assignments.  The “popular in-group” in her class are very mean to her and her two friends, who also have unusual strengths.  A new teacher comes to the school and has an unusual way of handling this class of “Fantasticos” as he calls them!  The reader will ache and cheer for the typical characters in this book as they all learn to grow and understand.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Baumgartner

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Echo

echo coverEcho by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Recommended for: Grades 5-8

5 stories – told in a variety of folktale, fantasy, and historical fiction – are woven together in this moving novel. How does one enchanted harmonica tie together the fates of Otto, Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy? Each of their stories is full of love, loss, and the power of music. This imaginative book just won a Newbery honor and an Odyssey honor for best children’s audiobook. If you are a musician this book will really speak to you. Fans of good storytelling and historical fiction will love it, too.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Waring

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Fuzzy Mud

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
Recommended for: Grades 3-5

To escape the wrath of class bully Chad, Marshall and Tamaya take a hidden route home through the woods adjoining their school. Undaunted, Chad finds them, and in their defense Tamaya throws a handful of woodland mud at him. The plot thickens when this mud, found to be tainted by waste from a nearby research facility, grows “fuzzy” and painful on contact. Parents, doctors, nurses, teachers and students contend with the consequences on the homefront, while the U.S. Senate holds the ‘Heath Cliff Disaster Hearings’ in order to prevent future environmental disasters. This intense story was a real page-turner, and I couldn’t wait to see how it would turn out.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Wettergreen

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Orbiting Jupiter

Orbiting Jupiter coverOrbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
Recommended for: Grades 6 and up

Jack’s parents take in a new foster child, Joseph, who had a very troubled past. Joseph is slow to adapt to farm life and his new school, where everyone seems to know all about his past. He has a 3-month old daughter whom he has never seen, he almost killed a teacher and he was incarcerated for two months. They don’t know that his father was abusive. Joseph is only fourteen. Thankfully, Jack’s family and a few of Joseph’s teachers see his potential and his goodness, and he begins to open up. But in opening up to others, he talks about his past and knows he must try to find his baby daughter.
In this book for teens, Gary Schmidt has written a wonderful story of both growth and loss.

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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Full Cicada Moon

full cicada moon coverFull Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
Recommended for: Grades 5 – 8

Mimi and her family move from California to rural Vermont where her father is a professor at the local college. Mimi feels she is an outsider in her new home. She is part Japanese and part African American. She has “boyish” interests – she wants to become an astronaut, enter the science competition and take shop. Mimi struggles to fit in, yet refuses to conform or back down from her interests. Mimi navigates her way through all her problems with grace, even though sometimes they anger her.
This novel in verse is simply and beautifully written.

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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Goodbye Stranger

goodbye stranger coverGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Recommended for: Grades 6 – 9

Bridge and her friends Emily & Tabitha have vowed that their only rule was No Fighting. As they enter 7th grade, their lives begin to go in different directions and sometimes they find their rule a little hard to keep. Emily encounters a problem with a boy over texting pictures, Tabitha becomes interested in women’s rights, while Bridge joins the drama club and meets Sherm. They all must cope with the pressures of friendship, both growing away from some and towards others. They make mistakes, both big and small, and deal both with asking for forgiveness or granting it. I enjoyed reading about these close friends and their various life dilemmas.

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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Roller Girl

roller girl coverRoller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Recommended for: Grades 4-7

“For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship.” (Amazon.com)
If you’re a fan of Raina Telgemeier, you’ll love Roller Girl. I loved every page! Astrid is a fun and realistic character, and learning about roller derby was an added bonus.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Waring

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The Hired Girl

hired girl coverThe Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Recommended for: Grades 6-9

14 year old Joan Skraggs longs for a life of literature and knowledge, but is stuck cooking and cleaning for her father and brothers on their early 1900s Pennsylvania farm. When her father burns her books as punishment, she runs away to Baltimore, and is taken in by a well-off Jewish family as their hired girl. In her new home she learns about faith, house-keeping, literature, art, and love. Joan’s personality shines through in this novel which is written in first person point of view as her diary. She is a complex and realistic teenager: impetuous, smart, kind, and naïve. By the end of the novel you will have made a good friend that you don’t want to leave.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Waring

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Sunny Side Up

sunny side up coverSunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Recommended for: Grades 5 and up

In August 1976, 10 year old Sunny is paying a solo visit to her grandfather at Pine Palms Retirement Community. Her story takes off when Sunny befriends the grounds keeper’s son, Buzz. Together they retrieve golf balls, earning money to buy, read and share Superhero comic books. (A plug for the power of comic books has a surprise appearance later in the story.) All the while, Sunny has flashbacks to upsetting events going on between her parents and older, rebellious brother back home in Pennsylvania. You will enjoy Sunny’s adventures in Florida, while empathizing with her concerns about her brother’s escalating substance abuse. Written by the award winning brother-sister team of Jennifer and Matthew Holm, this semi-autobiographical novel is powerful in its graphic presentation, message and simplicity.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Wettergreen

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I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001

I survived the attacks of September 11, 2001 coverI Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis
Recommended for: Grades 2 – 5

Lucas suffered a concussion playing football and is told by his parents that he must quit. Devastated by the news, Lucas needs to talk to the man who taught him to play football, his dad’s firefighter friend Benny. Lucas skips school and takes the train into the city to talk to Benny at the firehouse. The beautiful day suddenly becomes a nightmare as the nearby Twin Towers are attacked and Benny and the rest of the firemen rush to the scene. Lucas’s dad is also called into the firehouse, but meets up with Lucas first. They have a close call when the first Tower collapses and Lucas’s dad has to abandon his attempt to find the rest of his crew. Then all they can do is wait and hope the crew will be safe. Like all the “I Survived” books, this one is a really gripping story!

Reviewed by Mrs. McIntire

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Number of comments: 1