Miles Murphy is forced to move to a new town with his mom, but not just any town: Yawnee Valley! Yep, that name may just say it all. And the people of Yawnee Valley love cows. Now, do we picture this small town? In Miles' old school, he is known as the school prankster. He wants to stay that way at the new school, but when he gets to school on his first day, someone has parked a car on the front steps to the school--the PRINCIPAL's car!! Miles definitely has his work cut out for him if he wants to be the best prankster at this new school!
Of course, the principal has already pegged Miles as a prankster, and he pairs him up with Niles, a kid who actually wears a "School Helper" sash around everywhere! How is Miles ever going to make any friends, or become the best prankster at the school if this is how his first day starts?
An illustrated chapter book in the vein of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, readers will enjoy The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John (Lexile: 620; Interest Level: Grades 3-6). Anyone who has ever aspired to create the best April Fool joke will also enjoy this book. (224 p.)
On April 17, 1964 (exactly 52 years ago today), Jerrie Mock landed her Cessna 180 single-engine plane, which she named "Charlie," at the Port Columbus Airport, claiming her title as the first woman to fly solo around the world. When I started to read The Jerrie Mock Story: The First Woman to Fly Solo Around the World by Nancy Roe Pimm (Lexile: Unknown; Interest Level: Grades 3-6), the first thing that surprised me was that Jerrie Mock was from Newark, Ohio. This means that she lived just over 30 miles from where I attended high school!
Many people credit Amelia Earhart with the first solo flight around the world, but Amelia Earhart flew with a navigator, and it was during her attempt at a flight around the world that she went missing. Jerrie was a housewife and a mother of three children, one of whom was only 3 years old when she did her famous flight! This biography is a good story about her flight around the world, and it contains some interesting side notes about the places or people she encountered. Anyone interested in aviation would enjoy this book, as well as anyone interested in amazing women. (168 p.)
Marlin has a great deal of trouble in his life. He is the youngest son of a world-famous adventurer, and his older brother is a total bully. He lives at the fancy resort known as the Zoo at the Edge of the World, which is owned by his father. It is his job to help his father take care of the animals they protect and to help entertain the wealthy guests when they arrive. He doesn't mind the animal part, but he hates meeting the guests because of the trouble he has with talking. Marlin stutters. It is almost impossible to understand him, but he doesn't seem to have the same problem when it comes to the animals. He can talk to them just fine.
However, when his father captures and brings home a Jaguar, Marlin's life becomes a great deal more complicated. What starts with trying to show up his brother ends with him receiving a great gift. What should he do now that he can talk with animals--and understand their response? Find out in The Zoo at the Edge of the World by Eric Kahn Gale (Lexile: 680; Interest Level: Grades 3-6). Readers who enjoy animal books, zoos, or books about young people overcoming their obstacles to become something more will enjoy this story. (240 p.)
Imagine a story which mixes a little historical fiction (early American Colonization, with Benjamin Franklin and a 20 year old George Washington), a little science fiction, a little fantasy, and a little mythical legend. This is a good description of The Lost Kingdom by Matthew Kirby (Lexile: 620; Interest Level: Grades 3-7).
Billy is very excited when his father finally decides to take him along on an expedition, but he is hardly prepared to discover they will be flying in a air ship! Billy meets the members of his father's Philosophical Society, a group of scientists who are also interested in protecting the land of Pennsylvania. The purpose of the expedition is to discover the Lost Kingdom of the Welsh, which is rumored to be somewhere West of the Ohio Territory. Throughout the journey, Billy must learn to believe his own observations and to stand up for his own beliefs--even when they are at odds with what he has learned before. And, he must show great resilience when they meet with the dangers of the Wild from lightning storms, bear wolves, Native Americans, and the French.
There was a lot about this book that I really wanted to like--and that I hope other readers do like. I admit that I had trouble buying the "science" of how the air ship worked, and that messed with my enjoyment of the rest of the story. Fans of Matthew J. Kirby will probably want to check this one out, and it is a good "steampunk" (imposing futuristic scientific processing, usually with gears and stuff onto an earlier historical time period) style story for middle grade readers. (352 p.)
An engaging realistic adventure story, Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson (Lexile: 690; Interest Level: Grades 5-7) follows the four day adventure of Victoria, who set out to travel with her dog team from her house to the house of another musher, planning to just be gone for the day. When she finds a boy lying hurt after crashing his snowmobile, she knows she has to do what she can to help him. What she doesn't count on in the boy not knowing his way home, the blizzard that comes up, and having to be the person in charge of what seems like a disaster.
This story contains great details about dogsledding and a well-created plot that could really happen. It was hard to put this book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next! Students interested in dog stories, dog sled racing, mushing, Alaska, and just good adventure will enjoy this story. There are a couple of parts that make this book definitely feel like it is for older students, but I believe that overall this book is a good one for middle-grade readers. (288 p.)
An underwater adventure awaits the readers of Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly (Lexile: HL 580; Interest Level: Grades 5-10). Seraphina is the Principessa of Miromara, meaning she will become the leader of her people. On the night before her Dokimi, a ceremony in which she pledges herself to her people and her future husband, she has a nightmare that she is being called by the Iele, mythical witches. Then during the Dokimi, her people are attacked and her mother shot with a poisoned arrow.
Sera and her best friend Neela must now swim for their lives and decide what to do next. Should they swim toward the Iele, the witches they believe are mythical beings made up to scare them as children? Who can they trust to help them along the way? What is the cause of the unrest within the waters? The girls must use their own wits, magic, and strengths to propel them through. This novel contains a lot of interesting puns (money is currensea, for instance), and a few questionable words disguised in "sea" language. I found it sometimes hard to get into the mermaid feel of this story, sometimes feeling the world was "forced." I am sure that any fans of mermaids, however, would really enjoy this first book in the Waterfire Saga. (368 p.)
Eli and his friends are growing up in the ideal town of Serenity, NM. None of them have ever been out of town--not even to just outside the city limits. They don't question this because they have everything they need in their town of 184 people. However, when Eli's best friend Randy convinces him to go on a bike ride out of town, Eli discovers that he can't leave--literally. He gets so sick right after the city limit sign that he collapses and has to be carried back to town.
This is the first clue that Eli has about something being very strange in their little town, but then Randy is sent away and leaves Eli a note that changes how he thinks about everything. And when his Internet changes on the night of a big storm, and Eli discovers that he and his friends have been being taught a different version of history, he really starts to wonder what is going on.
Told from the multiple viewpoints of Eli and four of his friends, Masterminds by Gordon Korman (Lexile: 730; Interest Level: Grades 3-7) is a page-turning, mysterious adventure story that is truly hard to put down. Fans of Gordon Korman, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and other adventure stories will not be disappointed! (352 p.)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.