Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloane (Lexile: 770; Interest Level: Grades 5-8) is the story of Willow, who needs to learn to navigate a new world when her old one is shattered by an accident. Willow is a very smart girl who is very interested in medical issues. She is so smart that she gets a perfect score on a standardized test, and she is sent to see a counselor because school officials believe she cheated. When her world is rocked upside down, Willow discovers that with the help of new friends, she can move on, however slowly. In addition to being very intelligent, Willow is a girl who profoundly touches the lives of everyone she meets, unwittingly building herself a new family. Although this is a book that tugs at the heart-strings and makes you think, I believe that anyone who enjoys stories about strong friendship and family will enjoy this b
Wendy Mass has done it again with a thoroughly imaginative book about 12 year old Logan, the son of a candy maker. In Candymakers (Lexile: 740; Interest Level: Grades 4-8), four twelve-year-olds meet at the Candy Factory to get ready for a competition to make the best new candy, but they are also learning about making friends. The story is told from the perspective of each of the four children, all of whom are approaching the contest with very different backgrounds, which you only discover as the children tell their tales. This book is full of adventure, mis-communication, friendship, secrets, lies, and amazing candy. (I mean, who wouldn't want candy that turns from chocolate to gum and back again?!) Fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Candy Shop Wars will enjoy this book. Of course, fans of candy and anyone who ever wished they could live in a candy factory will, too! (453 pages)
What would you do if you woke up in a borrowed tent, 2
states from home, and discovered that your mom had left you there? That is exactly the situation in which Jack finds himself in Small As An Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (Lexile: 790; Interest Level: Grades 3-7). At first Jack thinks his mom had just gone searching for a new (better) campsite, but after she has been gone for a day, he realizes that he needs a plan to fend for himself. He can't tell anyone, or the government would take him away from his mother, so, he has to figure out how to ask for help without telling anyone what is really wrong. He worries about his mother, but he also worries about himself, especially as he starts having to explain why he isn't in school as he tries to make his way home.
Jack's favorite animal is the elephant, and one of the first things he does on his adventure is steal a small, plastic elephant that keeps him company along his journey. Underlying the story all the way through is also a sense of worry about "the elephant in the room" as the saying goes. A great realistic adventure that makes you want to cry for Jack, except you are too busy rooting for him! 2015 Indian Paintbrush Nominee (275 pages)
Another great dragon fantasy, Dragon Run by Patrick Matthews (Lexile: 630; Interest level: Grades 3-6) introduces us to Al, a 12 year old boy about to take his "test" to find out what rank he will have in society. If he scores high (close to 7), he will have his pick of jobs, meaning a better life. If he scores low, he will disgrace his family and ruin his chances of having a good job. He has been training for this, and his parents are both 4s, so he feels pretty good about his chances. So, when he gets the unheard of score of ZERO, he doesn't quite know what to do. He gets some help from unlikely places, but he finds out that his family no longer claims him, and he can't go home without putting them in danger. Follow Al's adventure as he meets new friends, hides in plain sight, and stands up to the rulers of his lands--the dragons! Fans of dystopian literature (who may not yet be ready for Hunger Games) ma(336 pages)
In Dragonet Prophecy (Lexile: 740; Interest Level: Grades 4-6), the first book of the Wings of Fire Series by Tui T. Sutherland, the five young dragons (dragonets) of the prophecy are getting anxious about being kept underground and are getting tired of their guardians always telling them what to do. They know they have been chosen to save all of Dragon-kind from the wars of the various dragon queens, but they don't know how they can do that if they have never been out in the world. So, the five dragons figure out a plan to escape and go to find their families and see the world. The adventure upon which they embark shows them that maybe the needed more training than they had received--or even than their teachers could give!
In a series reminiscent of Guardians of Ga'Hoole and Warriors (but with dragons!), this is a promising start to an enjoyable series! (304 pages)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.