North to Freedom (I Am David) by Anne Holm. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1963 (first edition), 256 pages. Reading Level: 10-12 Appropriate for: ages 12-up Bottom Line: After escaping from the soviet prison camp that comprised his whole world, a 12-year-old boy must come to terms with who he is in relation to the world. The […]
Continuing our series of discussions on contenders for the 2016 Newbery Award, Janie and Betsy turn their attention to a previous honor winner . . . Betsy: The Gaither sisters are back in a third installment: Gone Crazy in Alabama. Rita Williams-Garcia took home a 2011 Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Award for […]
Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace. William Morrow Paperbacks,2010 (Reprint, orig. 1950). 336 pages. Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-15 Recommended for: Ages 12 and up Bottom Line: Coming-of-age, romance, and historical fiction is combined in a little-known novel by a classic American author. While all her classmates are going off to college, Emily […]
As a teacher, I’ve had various conversations with parents about how to get their children engaged in reading. The flip side of that conversation comes when a student is interested in reading, but won’t venture outside a specific genre. Now, at first, this might not seem like a concern. If the student is reading, isn’t […]
Phoebe the Spy by Judith Griffin, illustrated by Margot Tomes. Puffin Books, 2002. 48 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 8-10 Recommended For: Ages 8-10, Ages 10-12 Phoebe’s father owns an inn in Boston around the time of the American revolution, and one day he comes to her with a serious matter. He has heard […]
Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Puffin, 1985, 288 pages Reading Level: Young Adults, ages 12-14 Recommended for: Ages 12-up Bottom Line: Ancient Egypt comes alive through historical fiction when romance and intrigue meet in the life of a slave girl. As Mara, Daughter of the Nile opens, Hatshepsut is pharaoh. While […]
Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail and Danger in Ancient Rome by Kate Messner. Scholastic, 2015. About 125 pages, plus author note. Reading Level: Chapter books, ages 4-8 Recommended for: ages 6-8 Bottom Line: The “Ranger in Time” series is a fun way to introduce early readers to history, as a loveable search-and-rescue […]
Hammer of the Huguenots by Douglas Bond. P&R, 2015. 215 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10 and up Bottom Line: Douglas Bond’s latest fictional excursion into church history focuses on the struggles of the French Protestants during the mid-seventeenth century. Philippe had no idea when he apprenticed to the shipbuilder, […]
Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin. Amulet Books, 2015. 268 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10 Recommended for: ages 8-12 Bottom Line: After Franny is stricken with polio, an erudite flea becomes her best friend in this quirky fantasy for middle-grade readers. During the summer of 1952, 10-year-old Franny Katzenback became a statistic: one […]
Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper. Atheneum, 2015. 320 pages Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-12 Bottom Line: Stella by Starlight dramatizes the personal and social challenges of an African American girl growing up in the rural south of the 1930s. One dark summer night in Bumblebee, North Carolina, Stella’s […]
My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!) by Alison DeCamp. Crown, 2015. 252 pages Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-12 (especially boys) Bottom Line: Stanley Slater’s 99% true adventures in a Michigan logging camp, ca. 1880, are a bit short on plot but long on laughs. “I’m a whiz at not dying, I […]
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