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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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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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The Screaming Staircase

the screaming staircase coverThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Recommended for: Grades 5 – 7

Since the Problem, ghostly hauntings are a nightly phenomenon in and around London. There are nightly curfews, homes are well stocked with well-known ghost deterrents, and psychic detection agencies are hired to deal with the hauntings. Soon after Anthony Lockwood, young owner of Lockwood & Co. hires a new operative to assist him and his partner, George, they have a disastrous setback. In order to avoid ruin and regain their reputation, Lockwood & Co. is forced to take on London’s most well-known haunted house. Other agencies have already tried and failed at this job. Will the psychic talents of the three investigators be enough to keep them alive through the night?
Book 1 of Lockwood & Co. Series

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girls Beats Up the Marvel Universe

squirrel girl coverThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe Written by Ryan North, Drawn by Erica Henderson
Recommended for: Grades 5 and up

I love the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl! I also love comics, but I’m not a huge Marvel fan. You don’t need to know a lot about various Marvel characters to enjoy this graphic novel, although it wouldn’t hurt. Doreen, AKA Squirrel Girl, is a computer science college student who is funny, kind, and generally kick-butt in many ways. When she accidentally gets cloned, and her clone turns evil (surprise!), she will have to use both her super punching abilities and her compassion to save the day. I highly recommend this funny, exciting, and fast-paced graphic novel to all comics fans, ages 10 to 100!

Reviewed by: Mrs. Waring

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The Unwanteds

the unwanteds coverThe Unwanteds by Lisa McCann
Recommended for: Grades 4 – 7

The city of Quill is populated by the Wanteds, the Necessaries and the Unwanteds. Quill’s yearly Purge sends Unwanted 13-year olds to their deaths. Those marked as Unwanteds have somehow shown a creative side to their nature, even if only one time.
Alex and a group of Unwanteds are brought to the “death farm” beyond the locked gates at the edge of the city, run by the Eliminators. Instead of death, they find themselves saved by Mr. Today, a magician in the magical world of Artime. Marcus Today created Artime to save all Unwanteds and teach them to use their creativity as a weapon in case of war with Quill.
I liked the fantastical creatures who turned out to be instructors, and also the Magical Warrior Training the select Unwanteds undergo.
This fantasy is the first in an exciting series.
Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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Shadows of Sherwood

shadows of sherwood coverShadows of Sherwood: a Robyn Hoodlum adventure by Kekla Magoon
Recommended for: Grades 5-7

Overnight, Governor Crown, with help from a certain Sheriff, has engineered a takeover of the government. All members of Parliament and their families who might have opposed the takeover are imprisoned or killed, with one exception: 12-year old Robyn. Robyn comes home to find her family gone, and an ominous pool of blood on the kitchen floor. Now she is a fugitive. She needs to evade capture by government agents and try to find and rescue her parents. Luckily, she finds friends – other kids, each with unique talents that help the group. Together, they band together and do what they can to help others survive this new, militaristic state. Can the ancient legends about the moon help them? I loved this futuristic Robin Hood story.  It’s the first in a new series.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Teixeira

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Completely Clementine

completely clementine coverCompletely Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
Recommended for Grades 2 – 4

Pennypacker’s 7th and final book in the Clementine series brilliantly captures the life of a third grader.  Clementine learns how to maintain a friendship with someone different from herself, that it is okay to have a different opinion from someone she loves – a parent, and how hard it is to grow up and move on from secure surroundings.  With humor and typical antics, as readers have enjoyed in the previous six books, Clementine finishes third grade, meets her new sibling, and gets to see how the other half lives on an overnight at Boston’s Park Plaza!   You will finish this series with a smile on your face and a great sense of satisfaction.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Baumgartner

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The Fenway Foul-Up

Fenway foul up coverThe Fenway Foul-Up by David A. Kelly
Recommended for: Grades 1 – 3

Cousins Mike and Kate are huge baseball fans.  Luckily for them, Kate’s mom is a sport reporter, and they get to travel the country with her, attending games and visiting ballparks.  When they go to Fenway Park to watch batting practice before a big game, they get caught up in a mystery about star player Big D’s missing bat.  Can Mike and Kate help find his bat before the Red Sox start a losing streak?
This is the first title in the Ballpark Mysteries series.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Waring

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The Great Cake Mystery : Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case

The Great Cake Mystery : Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case coverThe Great Cake Mystery : Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case by Alexander McCall Smith
Recommended for: Grades 2 – 5

Alexander McCall Smith  introduces Precious Ramotswe, heroine of his popular adult series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, as a young girl.  Precious already seems to possess some of the attributes of a good detective. A mystery presents itself at the school she attends.  Instead of jumping to conclusions, as some of her classmates do, Precious works her way to a  solution following evidence.  In this story, friendship overcomes suspicion.
Sequel: The Mystery of Meerkat Hill

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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Hamster and Cheese

hamster and cheese cover image Hamster and Cheese by Colleen A.F. Venable and Stephanie Yue
Recommended for: Grades 2-5

First in the Guinea PIg, Pet Shop Private Eye series, Hamster and Cheese tells the story of a reluctant detective and her irrepressible (and self-appointed) sidekick who are on a quest for a missing sandwich. Funny characters (including Mr. Venezi, the befuddled pet shop owner) and detailed drawings make this a great read. Includes fun facts about animals at the end of each story.

Reviewed by: Ms. GS

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