One of the 2015-2016 Indian Paintbrush Nominees, The Wednesdays (Lexile: 880; Interest Level: Grades 2-5) by Julie Bourbeau is certainly entertaining! Max lives in a town in which strange things happen, but only on Wednesdays. Why? Perhaps it is because of the Wednesdays, whatever they are. Well, Max isn't afraid of Wednesdays, and he hates being stuck inside all day. So, on one particular Wednesday, which happens to be Max's birthday, when his parents think he has let the Wednesdays into the house, they send Max outside to play. Max is elated! He has a great time exploring the empty town, even though the Wednesdays play a few tricks on him along the way.
What Max doesn't know, however, is the real danger the Wednesdays can pose to boys like him. You will have to read this story to find out what happens when Max meets the Wednesdays! I really enjoyed this story, and I think anyone who enjoys stories with a little fun, a little mystery, and a little danger, will enjoy this one, too! (256 p.)
In The Mighty Miss Malone (Lexile 760; Interest Level: Grades 3-6), Christopher Paul Curtis transports us to the 1930s and into the life of Deza Malone and her family as they struggle with the fall out of the Great Depression. This historical novel follows an African American family as they search for the father, who has gone missing after leaving to look for work. Deza tries to keep her family together, but her older brother leaves them to try to make a living singing, and Deza struggles to find her place in this new world.
I have many friends who have absolutely adored this book, but I have to admit that it was not one of my favorites. Perhaps I had a hard time with Deza's voice in this story, or perhaps it was just the wrong time for me to read it. Christopher Paul Curtis is a Newbery Award Winning Author (Bud, Not Buddy), so all of his books deserve a read. If you are interested in the time period following the Great Depression of 1929, or in African-American history, you should certainly give this book a try! (320 p.)
Have you ever wished your life could be different? Callum Hunt certainly did. He wished he had two working legs. He wished he could do sports. He wished he had friends. What he didn't wish was to do magic. His father warned him against magic and told him that mages were terrible people. But, he was still called to participate in The Iron Trial, which his father hoped he would fail.
In the first book of the Magisterium Series, The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (Lexile: 830; Interest Level: Grades 3-6), Callum Hunt faces the magical trials and, at first, fails miserably--the only child to get a negative score! But when Master Rufus picks him as an apprentice anyway, Call must decide what he wants to do with his fate. His father wants him to fail and be sent home. Call isn't so sure, especially when he begins to make friends at the Magisterium. And when he begins to learn things he never thought possible.
Fans of fantasy, magic, and school stories will delight in this new series. It certainly surprised me! And, it is a good segway into the more advanced writings of Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, both of whom usually write for young adults. (304 pages)
A true survival story, Raft by S. A. Bodeen (Lexile: HL 680; Interest Level: Grades 6-12), tells the story of 15 year old Robie as she struggles to survive life by herself on the ocean after the plan she is on crashes into the Pacific Ocean.
Robie thinks she is old enough to brave a week on her own in Honolulu when her aunt is called away to Los Angeles on business, but she soon changes her mind and decides to head home. Unfortunately, she can't reach her parents by phone (because the phones are often out on Midway Atoll Island where she lives). She decides that she can take care of getting herself home on the supply plane that she usually uses to transport herself between her parents and her aunt's house. One thing after another happens at the busy airport, but finally Robie is on her way home. Except that something got missed.
For a really bumpy ride of a story, you may want to check out Raft. Fans of survival fiction will enjoy this story of a strong young lady who fights against all odds of nature. (256 pages)
I wonder if all boys (and maybe girls, too) play fantasy football--making their own teams and getting points for how each player does. Charlie loves football. He is a guru at fantasy football, and his teams almost always win because he watches players and their stats very carefully. He plays football at school, too, where he can see plays before they happen by playing close attention to how the teams line up for the plays.
Charlie's best friend, Anna, is also awfully smart about football. It helps that her grandfather owns the L.A. Bulldogs, a professional football team. When Charlie becomes friends with Anna's grandfather, he gets a chance to use his football smarts to help out his favorite team by making suggestions for players to sign. Charlie learns that loving the game may not be enough, and it isn't always easy to go out on a limb with your hunches in Fantasy League by Mike Lupica (Lexile: 930; Interest Level: Grades 3-7).
Even though it is a football story, I really enjoyed the friendships, the exploration of fame, and, yes, I admit it, even the sport itself. All people enjoying the sport of football, or who ever wondered what it might be like to make big-league decisions, may enjoy this story. (304 pages)
Jack Mogens is a sixth grade Little League ball player, and he is really excited to get to start as a left fielder. A lot of people may think of baseball as a fairly safe sport, but Michael Northrop shows a little of the harsher side of baseball in Plunked. T(Lexile: 640; Interest Level: Grades 3-6)! In this story,
The first book of Brandon Mull's new series, The Five Kingdoms, Sky Raiders (Lexile: 610; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) is yet another imaginative tale woven full of what dreams and nightmares.
Cole is very excited about a new haunted house he's heard about, and he convinces his best friend Dalton, and the girl he likes, Jenna, to come with him to see it. What he doesn't bargain for is the true horror of his friends getting kidnapped. Somehow being able to sneak away and avoid capture, Cole follows his friends down a hole and ends up in the Outskirts (wherever that is) and sees his friends taken as slaves. As he tries to help them escape, he gets caught as well. When it is sensed that he has no shaping ability (again, whatever that is), Cole is sold to the Sky Raiders where he is set the task of scoping out Sky Castles for treasure. Yes, castles in the sky that form in one cloud wall, float across the sky to another cloud wall, and containing usable treasure. Unfortunately, where there is treasure, there is also usually some more unpleasant things, such as a giant scorpion-centipede thing.
Of course, it wouldn't be a great story if it just ended there, but Cole's new friend Mira has a secret, and he is roped into helping her escape when the High Shaper sends 400 legionnaires to capture her. Now the children are on the run with no where to go and no way to get there, so they try to hide inside a cloud wall and discover some unlikely allies and the beginning of a whole new adventure.
This story was sometimes really slow, with a lot of talking to explain the story, but the sequels sure are lining up to be awfully good stories now that we have some good, solid background. Fans of Brandon Mull's other series (FableHaven and The Beyonders) will not be disappointed. (421 pages)
How would you like to live in a house full of crazy robots? It might sound cool. But what if your mother built one that she insists you take to school you and treat like it was your brother? This is how House of Robots by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (Lexile: unknown; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) begins. Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez does NOT want a robot for a brother, and he certainly does NOT want it to come to his 5th grade class with him! But no matter how much he begs, his mother insists that it is VERY important.
Just like Sammy thought, it was a BAD idea to send that robot to school--it got itself suspended on its very first day. So, that was the end of that, or so Sammy thought! However, in just a few days, E, new and improved, was headed to school with him again, but this time, there were a few surprises in store, especially when Sammy and E came up against the school bully. But there was even more excitement in store than just a bully show-down!
This light-hearted book with some great humor was an easy read, with lots of pictures thrown in to help. If you are looking for something light-hearted, easy and fun, but with a little mystery and adventure thrown in, I encourage you to check out House of Robots! (352 pages)
Lockwood & Co. is a ghost-hunting agency in futuristic London, about 50 years into when everyone calls The Problem. Basically, The Problem is that ghosts have starting coming back every night with a vengeance. And the only ones who seem to be able to sense the presence of or see ghosts are children. By the time children become grown ups, they are unable to see them or sense them as well any more, so it is children who work as ghost hunters for adult supervisors.
At the beginning of The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Lexile: 720; Interest Level: Grades 4-8), Lucy's supervisor chooses not to listen to her warning during a mission, and things go terribly wrong. So Lucy heads to London to search for a new job, getting hired by Anthony Lockwood in an agency with no adult supervisors. Lucy, George, and Lockwood (as he prefers to be called) enc0unter a pretty spooky ghost who leads them into a mystery that is a half-century old and an estate that has be haunted for about 500 years. Filled with ghosts, humor, mystery, adventure, and even the sarcasm Jonathan Stroud is known for, The Screaming Staircase is one of the better horror stories I have read in a while. Warning: it may take a little while to get into it, but I promise, the ending will NOT disappoint! (390 pages)
Logan is new to the town of Xanadu, Wyoming, and he is having a hard time making friends. One of only a couple African-American students at his school, and definitely an outsider from the big city of Chicago, Logan doesn't even know what to do to try to fit in. Then, something really odd happens when he wakes up one morning. His pets are afraid of something, and there are feathers in his room. Then he sees feathers around town, and Zoe and Blue (two kids from his class) are acting all weird and say they are looking for Zoe's dog.
Logan tries to be helpful, but Zoe and Blue seem to have a secret they don't want to share. However, when Logan gets home after school and finds that his pets were afraid of the griffin cub under his bed, it isn't long before Logan is thrown full into the secret of The Menagerie by Tui T. and Kari H. Sutherland (Lexile: 710; Interest Level: Grades 3-6).
Are you thinking what I was thinking? Griffin (part lion/ part eagle) cubs? In WYOMING? Yep. That sealed the deal for me! And griffins are not the only magical/ mythical being living at the Menagerie in Xanadu. Fans of Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series are sure to love this new series by the Sutherland sisters. Also, students who have heard of Fablehaven but need a little easier of a read will be delighted with this tale! (272 pages)
Scholastic Publishing has a new series called Tombquest, which is being written similarly to 39 Clues, Spirit Animals, and Infinity Ring in that each book will have a different author and there is an online game component. Michael Northrop's Book of the Dead (Lexile: 650; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) is the first book of this new series.
Alex Sennefer is very sick, and the doctors don't know why, so they have no idea how to save him. Alex's mother, however, has been doing quite a lot of research in her job as an Egyptologist, and she knows about the powers of the Lost Scrolls when used with the Book of the Dead. When she unleashes some of the ancient power to save her son's life, Alex gets thrown into an adventure to save hers and unlocks some powers he never knew he had. This story is very fast-paced and full of adventure, and it would be a good starting point for students who may want to read Rick Riordan's Egyptian series, but are a little put off by their length. I haven't checked out the online part, but I am sure it will appeal to gamers as well! (208 pages)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.