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Books categorized as 'MCBA'

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 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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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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Brown Girl Dreaming

brown girl dreaming coverBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Recommended for: Grades 4 and up

Brown Girl Dreaming is an autobiography about Woodson’s life growing up and into an award-winning author. The book is comprised of many short poems, each with lots of detail that made me feel like I was with her. Woodson’s mom is constantly searching for a place that feels like “home” and abruptly moves the family from South Carolina to New York City when Woodson is young. Woodson tells us many stories of her friends, family, hair, and food throughout her childhood. And, since she grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, Woodson’s family introduces her to the Civil Rights Movement. The back of the book includes pictures of Woodson’s extended family members, who are key characters in her memories. Through all her stories, Woodson shows us how she learned to read, “listen”, and write. If you love poetry or coming of age stories, this book is for you. The poems flow so well into one another; it was hard for me to put it down.

Reviewed by: Ms. Harwood

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The Witch’s Boy

the witch's boy coverThe Witch’s Boy  by Kelly Bramhill
Recommended for: grades 4 – 6

In his village, Ned’s mother is known as Sister Witch. She has been the guardian on an ancient, unruly magic which somehow attaches itself to Ned.
In another kingdom lives Aine, daughter of the Bandit King. Aine loves her father, but he has changed since her mother died. Now he leaves Aine alone while he builds a following of fellow bandits and plans to gain Sister Witch’s powerful magic.
Distrusting each other when they meet, Ned & Aine learn they need each other to survive their quest to cross the enchanted forest between their two kingdoms. They encounter good and evil on their journey and are torn between their budding friendship and loyalty to family. Will their kindness and courage be enough to resolve all the obstacles they face on their quest? Can Ned keep control over the magic he possesses? Can Aine trust Ned’s goodness to overcome the forces against them?
Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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