Turtle is resigned to her fate as she travels to Key West, Florida to live with relatives she had never met. She is, however, surprised to find out they weren't really expecting her. Her mother's letter explaining about getting a housekeeping job where she couldn't keep Turtle with her didn't make it to Turtle's aunt before Turtle did. And thus begins the adventure of trying to fit as the only girl in a group of boys, trying to find a way to help her mamma by making a little money, and discovering what it is like to have family around all the time. Add in finding a map to buried treasure, and a famous author who doesn't write for the funny papers, and you have
In Turtle in Paradise (Lexile: 610; Interest Level: Grades 3-6), Jennifer Holm paints a realistic picture of life in Key West during the 1930s, when the economic turnaround from the Great Depression is slow in coming and everyone focuses on the dream of getting to Easy Street. This 185 page book ends with historical information from the author.
Coming to us by the same author as Love, Aubrey, Eight Keys (Lexile: 590; Reading Level: Grades 4-7) is the story of Elise. Elise has a lot of "always" in her life. She has always been friends with Franklin. She has always lived with her aunt and uncle, and she has always be okay with who she is. Until middle school. Then all of a sudden the things she used to like, including Franklin, seem childish. She doesn't seem to know how to make friends, and her locker-mate seems out to get her, just because she starts the school year with scabs on her legs.
Personal growth is a key theme in this story as Elise tries to figure out how to get her homework done, still have time to play (is it still OK to play?), and somehow protect her lunch from it's daily squish. Can she talk to the grown-ups about what she's thinking, or will they not understand?
Then after getting her annual birthday letter (left for her by her father who died when she was very young), she discovers keys to locked doors and a riddle to help her figure out her problems. Join Suzanne LaFleur on another great growing-up adventure in which you can't help but feel Elise's pain and struggle, and her joy at the little things she discovers about herself. 224 pages.
How cool would it be to be able to cook with magic? Yep. I thought so. Fans of Brandon Mull's Candy Shop War and Ingrid Law's Savvy will love this story about the Bliss family who own a bakery, but also can mix some magic into recipes if people in their neighborhood need it.
Rose Bliss wants more than anything to be a magical baker like her parents. So, when her parents go out of town and trust her with the key to the secret room where they keep the magical cookbook, she is sorely tempted, but determined to prove that her parents can trust her. But when "Aunt" Lily shows up asking questions, and Rose's brothers are pushing her to get out the cookbooks, can Rose keep her promise to her parents? Or will the pull of the cookbook with its recipes for Love Muffins and Cookies of Truth win out in the end?
Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood (Lexile: 870; Reading Level: Grades 3-6), has 374 pages and one of the 2014 Indian Paintbrush Award Nominees.
At one point in my life, I wanted to be an actress. I thought it would be lovely to be in movies and pretend to be someone else. Just think of all the lives you could live that way! Well, I think Stefan feels the same way in Wolf Storm by Dee Garretson (No Lexile Yet; Reading Level: Grades 3-6). Stefan is starting to film his first movie, a science fiction film with awesome props and even tame wolves to work with! But on the first day of filming, he thinks he sees a wild wolf off behind the snack cart.
After filming that day, most of the grownups go down the mountain to dinner, and they get stuck when a blizzard kicks up. Stefan and his co-stars, Raine and Jeremy, bring their tame wolves into the lodge with them to "keep them safe," but little did they know how safe they would have to be. The blizzard is just the beginning for Stefan as he becomes the lead actor in a huge real-life adventure in which there are no stunt doubles!
This 288 page book is one of the 2014 Indian Paintbrush Nominees.
Sunny Skyland last saw her twin sister when she was 3. She wants nothing more than to find her. When she discovers some extra money, Sunny takes off on an adventure to find her sister. A true adventure story, Runaway Twin by Peg Kehret (Lexile 740; Reading Level: Grades 4-7) gives us a character with real guts who learns how to stick up for herself and follow her dreams, no matter the cost.
I lost track of time in this book because Sunny went through one adventure after another in almost dizzying succession. She meets some people who help her out, and some who make her way more difficult, but her survival will surprise you.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if all of your school classes were like PE, and all of the "outside of school" activities were about reading, math, social studies and science? I bet some of you would love that. Others may hate it. Personally, I would hate it. And, if no one really cared about the "in school" activities, only what you did after school, how would you feel?
KT, the main character of Game Changer by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Lexile: 740; Reading Level: Grades 5-8) loves softball. It's all she thinks about. So, when something goes desperately wrong and she ends up in a world in which all of her school classes are exercise classes and all of the after school activities are things like Math Club and Geography Bee, she feels lost. She's good at school, but no one seems to care because her brother is a Mathletics champion. What KT, her brother, and a girl she barely knows learn about priorities, obsessions, and friendship, make up the heart of this story. 240 pages.
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.