An historical novel about Hurricane Katrina, Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Lexile HL 470 (HL stands for High/ Low--high level content with a low reading level); Interest Level: Grades 5-8) tells the story of Lanesha, a 12 year old girl being raised by Mama Ya Ya, the local midwife. Lanesha has the gift of seeing ghosts, and it makes her feel like an outcast at school. So, on her own with Mama Ya Ya and a couple of new friends she makes after her 12th birthday (because 12 is a lucky number), Lanesha prepares for the hurricane that is coming their way. How she deals with the big changes coming her way shows a strength of character for such a young girl. I have to admit, however, that I sort of wish this book had an afterward or an epilogue to tell us what happens after the story. My curiosity is peaked! (217 pages)
In a book as refreshing as pie at the end of a meal, Pie by Sarah Weeks (Lexile: 930; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) was a story about dealing with grief, solving a mystery, and the importance of finding your talent and sharing it with the world. Alice's favorite person in the whole world was her Aunt Polly, who was a fantastic pie maker. She opened a shop with her inheritance money so that she could make pies and give them away. Polly just loved to make pies. And they were so good that she won 13 Blueberry Medals (for the best pie in the country) in a row! When she dies unexpectedly, everyone is out to find her recipe for the perfect pie crust, which it appeared that Polly left to her cat Lardo. Everyone also started trying to make their own pies, many in an attempt to win the Blueberry medal themselves. It is up to Alice and her new friend Charlie to figure out who catnapped Lardo, wrecked the pie shop, and was stealing pies from all over town. Each chapter starts with a recipe for a different kind of pie. I really enjoyed this story, and I am glad it is on the Indian Paintbrush list for this year. (183 pages)
I have to admit that I put off reading Mike Lupica's Game Changers (Lexile: 870; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) because it is a football book. I am not a huge fan of football, but I found myself really enjoying this book. Yes, there is tons of football--with detailed descriptions of plays. However, the book is mostly just a story of eleven-year-old Ben, who wants very badly to be a quarterback, and how he copes with a season in which the coach's son, who doesn't even want to be quarterback, is given the job. Ben tries to be a good teammate, and even tries to be friends with Shawn (the coach's son), but Shawn doesn't make that very easy. Ben's friends don't really support his efforts to be friends with the guy they see as "stealing Ben's job," and that makes things even harder. I discovered that even football stories can have good plots with great character development. This is definitely a good book for this year's Indian Paintbrush list. (207 pages)
Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen (Lexile: 870; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) is wonderful historical fiction, with a smattering of nonfiction information about the Revolutionary War. Thirteen-year-old Samuel is out hunting when British soldiers attack his small village, killing his neighbors, burning the houses, and capturing his parents. Samuel embarks on a journey to find out what happened to his parents and save them if he can. Along the way he encounters enemies and friends in unlikely places and witnesses things that he wishes he had never seen, all the while trying to figure out why this war was happening and which side he should be on. Every chapter or so, Paulsen includes some nonfiction information such as how the different guns work, what life was like for soldiers, and what might happen if you were injured (like Samuel) during that time period. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the Revolutionary War, and everyone who has to study it in school. This is on this year's Indian Paintbrush list. (164 pages)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.