Peter is a true businessman. It doesn't matter that he runs his business out of his yard/ garage. It doesn't even matter that he is only 12 years old. He reads business magazines and is confident that he has what it takes to be the best businessman on the block. Rule number one? No lemonade. Lemonade stands are for amateurs, not professionals, and Peter is a Professional.
So, as a professional, Peter decides it will be a good idea to hire an intern. An intern is someone who works for you, doing most of the grunt work, and doesn't get paid. So, he holds an essay contest to choose an intern. He chooses his next door neighbor, Rachel. Rachel is at first quite excited to be part of Peter's business, but she quickly learns that he expects her to do the work for no pay, no recognition, and no encouragement. Rachel then decides that her time could be better spent in a different way.
Check out Payback on Poplar Lane by Margaret Mincks (Lexile: Unknown; Interest Level: Grades 4-7) to find out what Rachel does to get back at Peter, and what their war for the cup-de-sac does to their relationships with others! If you liked Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen, or other stories in which children are vying to make money, you will probably also enjoy this story. (320 p.)
It is not easy to move schools and start a new life in a new state. It is even harder for Aven because she is constantly faced with strange looks from kids (and adults) who don't quite understand her life with no arms. Yes, you read that correctly. Aven was born without arms, but that doesn't stop her from doing all of the ordinary things that other people her age do. She just does them differently.
Eating lunch at school can be a particular challenge for Aven, so she searches for somewhere other than the cafeteria to eat, which is how she meets Connor in the library. Conner has his own disability that makes him uncomfortable around other people, and he and Aven become good friends. The two of them uncover a mystery to solve on the theme park property where Aven lives, and they get to puzzle out a mystery with a result for which neither of them were prepared.
Told from a first-person point of view with a liberal sprinkling of humor, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (Lexile: 700; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) will captivate the reader from the very beginning. A good book for learning empathy for those who are differently abled, this is a book I highly recommend to all readers. (272 p.)
Jerry Spinelli pulls readers into an interesting time and topic his historical fiction novel The Warden's Daughter (Lexile: 550; Interest Level: Grades 4-7). Cammie O'Reilly lives a rather unusual life, the least of which is because she lives at the town prison. Her father is the Warden, or the chief jailer. That isn't the only thing that makes Cammie unique, though. Her mother died when she was a baby--died while saving her life!
Both of these events make Cammie an oddity in her town, and she grows up with an interesting take on the world. One of the ladies who is an inmate at the prison is appointed to work in her apartment as a caretaker--of both the apartment and Cammie, who begins to see her as a surrogate mother.
The story takes place during the summer months, right before she turns 13, and Cammie has more freedom that is probably good for her, and she starts acting out in various ways to get the attention of her Trustee caretaker.
Readers will discover an interesting look into the prisons and life in the late 1950s and the growing up of a young girl within the pages of this novel. (352 p.)
Middle school can be really difficult, and it can become more so when you are the new kid. And, Landon has the added complication that he is deaf, but wears cochlear implants to help him hear. Landon makes a deal with his parents before the move that he won't be negative about the move if they let him try out for football at the new school.
Landon is huge. Going into the seventh grade, people assume he is in high school. He looks like a football player. He has never learned to play football. And when he speaks, people assume he is "slow" because his speech is difficult to understand. Left Out by Tim Green (Lexile: 800; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) shows us how Landon perseveres, however, and continues to try to be part of something bigger than himself, even when his younger sister stands up to his bully.
In typical Tim Green fashion, Landon gets help from an unexpected source on his new team with connections to an even bigger help. Can Landon make it on the new team and learn to play the game he loves? Can he and his sister fit into the new school? Fans of football books and Tim Green will, I am sure, enjoy this book. (341 p.)
Following the success of the adult version of this book, Daniel James Brown adapted The Boys in the Boat for Young Readers (Lexile: 1000; Interest Level: Grades 5-11). This is a true story of the 1936 Olympic Rowing Team and their race for the gold medal.
I was hooked into this book from the prologue, where the author describes his first meeting with Joe Rantz as he begins to learn the remarkable story of one of the members of this rowing team. The description of learning such a big story that has never been told makes one wonder how many stories like this have not been told!
The actual story itself begins with the arrival of Joe Rantz at the University of Washington, moving across campus toward the boathouse where the rowing team tryouts would be. From there, we begin an amazing journey of learning about the sport of rowing, the time period after the Great Depression and before World War II, and the life of a very interesting, hard-working young man. Those who enjoy nonfiction, historical information, and unique sports will enjoy this story. (240 p.)
I have known a lot of kids in my life who have longed to own dogs or horses (or really any number of pet-types, really), but this book really surprised me when the idea of horse and dog began to mix.
Dirt (Lexile: 940; Interest Level: Grades 4-7) by Denise Gosliner Orenstein is a story about Yonder, an eleven year old who is trying to find her own way after her mother dies and her father sinks into depression. She notices that the Shetland pony owned by her neighbor has taken a liking to escaping and coming down to visit her house, so Yonder adopts the pony and calls him Dirt. Of course, when Yonder decides it is better to spend time with Dirt than attend school, trouble is bound to find her, and she must figure out how to protect herself, her family, and her pony.
This is a very touchy story about poverty, depression in family members, and trying to do the right thing. I certainly see why so many students who have read it have recommended it to me! (212 p.)
In this first volume of a sequel series to Fablehaven, Brandon Mull takes us deeper into the hidden sanctuaries of the magical creatures, specifically returning us to Wyrmroost, the dragon sanctuary, where Celebrant is waging war on the captivity of the dragons. He wants to break free and lead the dragons in reclaiming the world!
The wizards, enchantresses, and dragon slayers that once made up the order of Dragonwatch has all but disappeared over the years, so a new plan must be made. Kendra and Seth are going to have to work harder and more cooperatively than they ever have before to help protect the boundaries of the sanctuary from the assault within its borders.
Don't worry if you haven't read the Fablehaven series (although I think you would enjoy it, too!), Dragonwatch (Lexile: 620; Interest Level: Grades 4-8) contains enough background information to fill you in on characters and backstory. Fans of Brandon Mull's other series, dragons, and adventure will certainly enjoy this tale. (376 p.)
Jennifer Holm takes on the interesting topic of aging in The Fourteenth Goldfish (Lexile: 550; Interest Level: Graded 3-6) when Ellie is confronted with a bossy, obnoxious boy who looks and acts a lot like her scientist grandfather. Wait... It can't really be her grandfather standing there sassing her mother, can it? If it is, what is Ellie going to do about it?
Join Ellie as she gets to know her grandfather, and scientific inquiry, in ways she never expected to. Fans of Jennifer L. Holmes' other works and anyone interested in the old tale of the Fountain of Youth will find this story fun and engaging. (240 p.)
Rick Riordan, author of the popular Percy Jackson series moves from Greek mythology (Percy Jackson series) and Egyptian mythology (Kane Chronicles) to Norse mythology in this new series. Magnus Chase is living homeless on the streets of Boston when we first meet him, living by his wits and trying to stay out of trouble. He has been living this way for 2 years, ever since his mother was killed in mysterious circumstances.
Now, Magnus's Uncle Randolph is searching for him, and since the last thing Magnus's mother said to him was to not trust Randolph, Magnus is trying to stay far away. However, fate intervenes and sends Magnus into a world that he thought was old folk tale--a world that involves the old Viking beliefs and legendary gods. Magnus, it seems, is the son of a Norse god and is fated to find The Sword of Summer (Lexile: 630; Interest Level: Grades 5-9).
Tempted into cooperation by Randolph's claim to be able to tell Magnus about his father, the quest into the strange world of Norse heroes begins with Magnus finding the sword and immediately... well, I should probably not tell you that part. Spoilers straight at the beginning. I can say, however, that this story will keep you wondering, and laughing at Magnus's strange humor, all the way through. Fans of mythology, Rick Riordan's other work, and fun adventure will find this story engaging. (544 p.)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.