The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang

The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-ChangThe Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang
by Amy Ignatow
Grades 4-6

I would have loved to read this when I was in elementary school! Lydia and Julie are nervous about starting middle school, so they spend their entire fifth grade year trying to learn how to be popular. The book is told in notes and drawings, as if they had passed the book back and forth throughout the year. Their problems and dilemmas rang true. A great book for other girls to know they are not alone as they navigate the tricky social waters of tweendom. This is the first in the series. I look forward to reading the rest.

The Girl from Felony Bay

The Girl from Felony BayThe Girl from Felony Bay
by J.E. Thompson
Grades 5-8

If you love mysteries and adventure stories, this book is for you! Abbey Force found her father after an accident seven months ago, and he has been in a coma ever since. Accused of a crime during which he was injured, Abbey vows to spend her summer proving his innocence. Although neither of them expected it, she becomes friends with the girl whose family bought her home. It is while showing Bee around the property that Abbey discovers an even bigger mystery. Together they dig deeper and deeper until the uncover a much larger and more sinister plot than they had ever expected. Abbey and Bee are smart, fiesty, and strong heroines. I was rooting for them all the way.

Books like Hunger Games, but for 4th & 5th Graders

I am often asked for book recommendations. It is one of my favorite parts of my job. I am fortunate to work with a population that reads very high. But just because a student CAN read something, doesn’t mean that they SHOULD read it. I love the Hunger Games trilogy. I think it is fantastic. I don’t however, think it should be read much below Sixth Grade. (Maybe the second half of Fifth Grade, depending on the student.) In light of that, here is my list of books for fourth and fifth graders to read instead of Hunger Games:

Are there any others that you recommend? Let me know and I will add them to the list.

Important Blog News: Newbery Award Committee 2015

You may be wondering why we are over three months into 2014 and I still have not posted a review of a single 2014 book on this blog. The answer is, I can’t. I have the extreme honor of serving on this year’s Newbery Award Committee, and as such I cannot post online anything about any books that meet the eligibility requirements. Not even that I read them. This blog will keep on going however, so not to worry. I will be posting reviews of books published prior to 2014 as well as books by authors who are not eligible to win. (You must be American to win the award.) I may also publish book lists and other fun book related items. After the award is announced at the end of January 2015, I will absolutely flood the list with all kinds of book reviews. I’ve been reading like a maniac! (I’ve read close to 50 eligible books so far.) So stick around. As always, you can use the box on the right if you want to subscribe and get my blog posts via email. Happy reading!

The Year of the Baby

The Year of the BabyThe Year of the Baby
by Andrea Cheng
Grades 3-5

In this sequel to The Year of the Book, Anna’s parents are back from China with her new baby sister. Both her parents and the doctor are worried, though, because Kaylee refuses to eat much and is not gaining any weight. With fears that she is failing to thrive, Anna takes it upon herself to try to get to her sister to eat more. The friendship issues with Laura and Camille were worked out in the first book, and now they stand beside Anna, as they figure out a solution to the problem and come up with a great science fair experiment besides. Fans of the first book will want to read this, but you do not have to read it to appreciate this one.

The Grimm Conclusion

The Grimm Conclusion (A Tale Dark & Grimm, #3)The Grimm Conclusion
by Adam Gidwitz
Grades 4-8

This story continues in the same style as the first two in the series. A string of fairy tales, told in all of their original gruesome glory, are put together with the two main characters (this time Jorinda and Joringel) move from tale to tale. There is death, despire, and the dark side of human nature. Since it is a children’s book, though, there is also hope and redemption. The first two books (and some recurring characters) are mentioned in this one. It is not essential to have read them, but it helps. Recommended for fans of the first two.

Amber Brown is on the Move

Amber Brown Is on the MoveAmber Brown is on the Move
by Paula Danziger
Grades 2-4

It is the end of fourth grade and Amber Brown has a lot going on. She, her mom, and Max are moving into a new house together. The state standardized tests are coming up, and she hasn’t been doing well on the practice tests. And now there is a ball room dancing at school. Amber makes it through these difficult situations in ways that will be reassuring to others facing them as well.


by John David Anderson
Grades 4-8

Andrew Dean (aka The Sensationalist)is in training to be a super hero’s sidekick, along with a handful of others at his middle school. And not just any superhero’s sidekick, but The Titan’s sidekick, arguably the greatest superhero of all, at least until he disappeared from the scene six years earlier. Andrew’s powers are his sharpened senses — he can see, smell, hear, and taste with much more precision than the average human. Or any other human for that matter. But when The Dealer comes back to town and breaks The Jacks out of prison will it be enough to save his city?

Penny and Her Marble

Penny and Her MarblePenny and Her Marble
by Kevin Henkes
grades K-2

Oh the guilt! In this third easy reader about Penny, she finds a shiny blue marble on Mrs. Goodwin’s lawn. Penny takes the marble home, even though she knows that it isn’t her. That entire evening she feels out of sorts. She has bad dreams that night, all because of the marble. In the morning, Penny decides to return the marble. Young readers will relate to Penny and her sticky situation. An excellent book that will also work well as a discussion starter.

The Truth of Me

The Truth of MeThe Truth of Me
by Patricia MacLachlan
Grades 4-6

This is a sweet story of a boy coming to terms with who his parents are. Robbie and his dog Ellie are sent to spend the summer at his grandmother’s house while his parents who are half of the Allegro Quartet tour Europe. He uses the time to learn more about himself and his grandmother, and gain a better understanding of why his mother acts the way she does. A quiet and introspective book.