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Books categorized as 'MCBA 2011-2012'

Sunny Holiday

Sunny Holiday by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Recommended for Grades 3 – 5

Sunny Holiday and her best friend, Jazzy Fine, want to make sure that every month has a holiday that is great for kids (presents, candy, parties, etc.).  The girls live in an apartment building next to the railroad and river in Riverton.  Sunny’s father is in prison because he made a bad choice, and Jazzy has never known her father.  The girls support each other through fourth grade, experiencing taunting from more privileged girls, and a couple lucky coincidences that bring a surprise to Riverton.

Reviewed by:  Mrs. Baumgartner

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Number of comments: none


The Year the Swallows Came Early

The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Recommended for Grades 4 to 6

Eleven year old Groovy, Eleanor Robinson,  loves to cook and associates recipes with happenings in her life – good or bad.  She has dreams of going to culinary school when she is old enough, but her father’s bad habit of gambling landed him in jail after he spent the money that her great grandmother had left specifically for her!  Groovy and her friend Frankie have to deal with broken families and push onward with their lives.  Groovy must learn about forgiveness to break out of the laziness that overcomes her because of her conflict between love and hurt feelings.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Baumgartner

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Number of comments: 1


The Leanin’ Dog

The leanin’ dog by K. A. Nuzum
Recommended for: Grades 4 & up

Dessa Dean and her Dad live in a cabin in the Colorado mountains.  It’s winter and her Dad goes out hunting for food every day, so she is very lonely.  Dessa Dean has a problem: she hasn’t set foot off her porch since the recent death of her Mama.  She has a lot to be proud of – she cooks for her father, she is good at reading animal tracks, and she does all her “school work” assigned by her father. Yet she feels that she is “going daft” because of her paralyzing fear of leaving the safety of her cabin.
When an injured dog appears, Dessa Dean longs to keep it.  Her strength and determination come back little by little as she becomes friends with the dog.

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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How Oliver Olson Changed the World

How Oliver Olson Changed the World by Claudia Mills
Recommended for: Grades 2-4

3rd grader Oliver Olson has very loving, but very overprotective, parents.  They won’t allow sleepovers, closely supervise playdates, and in general, give Oliver very little control over his own life.  When a big science project comes up in school, Oliver must learn to work together with a classmate he barely knows, and how to set some boundaries with his parents.  This is a sweet and thought-provoking novel, and you will be rooting for Oliver as he changes his world.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Waring

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Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road

Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road by Kate Klise
Recommended for: Grades 3-5

When children’s book author Ignatious B. Grumply moves into an old Victorian mansion, he is surprised to find it already occupied by a young boy and cranky ghost (who was an unpublished author in her day).  The story of what happens between the three characters, how they become an odd little family, is told entirely in letters, newspaper clippings, notes, drawings, and other communications.  This book is fun to read and has characters that will make you laugh and care about them, too.
If you like this one, try the next in the series, Over My Dead Body, or try other titles by the same author and illustrator team: Letters from Camp, and the Regarding the… series.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Waring

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The Prince of Fenway Park

The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott
Recommended for: Grades 5 to 7

As this story begins, the Red Sox are down 2 games against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series of 2004 and Red Sox fans are thinking about the Curse. Oscar has other worries. He feels he doesn’t fit in anywhere and his mom is sending him to stay with his father for a month or so. Oscar doesn’t really know his father. The surprise of his life awaits when his father reluctantly agrees and takes Oscar to his home – underneath Fenway Park! There Oscar learns that his father is one of the many Cursed Creatures both good and evil who cannot leave until the Red Sox Curse is broken. Will Oscar be the key?
This clever tale is a fun mix of fantasy and baseball history while
covering issues of racism and family relationships.

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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Number of comments: none


The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Recommended for: Grades 4 & up

Calpurnia, the only girl in a family of 7, is leaving childhood behind.  Expectations of Callie becoming a proper woman proficient in cooking and handiwork mean nothing to her.  She loves exploring the natural world around her.  This leads to a close bond with her gruff grandfather, an amateur naturalist, who encourages Callie in scientific observation and collection.  The story is a journey of self-discovery for Callie, as she struggles between what is expected of her and the hopes of what she could become.

Reviewed by: Mrs. McIntire

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The Magician’s Elephant

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
Recommended for: Grades 4-6

In a faraway time, in a land far away Peter Augustus Duchene, a young orphan, dares to spend the money his guardian gave him to buy their meager meal on a fortune-teller.  While this might seem a foolish thing to do, Peter needs to know more than anything in the world if his little sister still lives and where he might find her.  The fortune-teller confirms that his sister lives, but her cryptic message “Follow the elephant…she will lead you” leaves Peter feeling as helpless and alone as ever.  Peter has never seen an elephant and has no idea where to find one.

But that very night in the town’s opera house a magician performs the trick of his lifetime: instead of the bouquet of lilies he intends to conjure for a noblewoman, an elephant crashes through the ceiling and into her lap.  Will this be the elephant that helps Peter finds his sister?  You might suppose the elephant’s appearance would be the most magical event of the story, but rather it is the unlikely characters whose paths intersect where the real magic takes place.

The Magician’s Elephant reads like a fable or fairy-tale, with magical language and many levels of meaning to ponder.  At times dark but ultimately hopeful, this story might best be enjoyed as a family read-aloud or independently by 4th graders and up.

Reviewed by: Ms. Bender

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When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Recommended for: Grades 5 – 8

2010 Newbery Award Winner
Sixth grader Mira’s world is changing. First, her best friend Sal suddenly and inexplicably stops talking to her. Then, she finds herself becoming friends with Annemarie, a wealthy and popular girl that had never paid her much attention before. Mira gets her first “job” and has her first crush. She is figuring out her place in the world, her place at school, and her place within her family.

Then, Mira finds a mysterious note hiding in her library book. It is for her, and written by a stranger who knows a lot about Mira’s life. In fact, this person seems to know what is going to happen in the future. And even more strange and worrying, this person says he needs Mira’s help to save Sal’s life. The strange homeless man who is always on her corner, the smart but quiet bully who lives on her block, and Mira’s favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, all play a part in unraveling the mystery at the heart of the story.

Stead deftly combines a coming-of-age novel with mystery and science fiction. Readers will be left with plenty to think about and will want to pick up A Wrinkle in Time next.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Waring

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Number of comments: 1


Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel

Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw
Recommended for: Grades 3-5

11-year-old Ellie loves to draw. She keeps her notebook with her everywhere she goes and always draws and takes notes about what is happening around her. Her notebook comes in especially handy this summer, when she is forced to go camping with her pain-in-the-neck relatives: Aunt “Ug”, Uncle Ewing, her cousins “Er-ick”, “Prissy Tiffie”, “Boring Bossy Deanna”, and her brother, “Ben-Ben the monkey boy.” Ellie just knows that this will be the worst summer vacation ever, but as she doodles and observes, she finds that her annoying family isn’t that bad after all. When her notebook is discovered, Ellie learns some lessons about the power of the written word and making assumptions. This is a fun book with tons of pictures! It is the first of a series.

Reviewed by: Mrs. Waring

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Number of comments: 1