Today's podcast is by Gray, grade 7, Middlesex Middle School, Darien CT
Rowling, J. K.
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS
New York : Arthur A. Levine, 1999
IL 5-8, RL 7.0
Wilson, N. D. NINJA BOY GOES TO SCHOOL
New York : Random House, 2014
IL K-3, RL 2.5
It is not always easy being a ninja. Especially when you are going to school. You have to use all your ninja skills. Balance life a flamingo without looking silly. Have the strength of a gorilla without the smell. And strike when the time is right. But you must also learn to face your enemies in whatever format they appear.
Uchida, Yoshiko. JOURNEY HOME
New York : Aladdin, 1992
IL 3-6, RL 5.3
The world is at war again and for Yoki and her family, even living in the United States is not safe for them. The family has been forced to leave their home in California because of their Japanese heritage. It is against the law for Asians to live along the coast. The family was moved to a detention camp in the desert of Nevada. Life was hard, but eventually the family was allowed to relocate to Utah. They have lost just about everything they had before the war. Her father has had to take menial work and her mother now works as a cleaning lady. Her brother has joined the army and is fighting in Europe. Yuki won’t give up hope of returning to her home in Berkeley. When the war ends and the family is told they can go home, Yuki is so excited. But reality is not what she expected. Her father can’t get his old job back. Their house is now rented out to a new family. Her best friend has moved on and now has new friends. And her brother has been injured in the war and is in a hospital in Washington. How will the family be able to start anew after living through so much?
Thorpe, Kiki. WEDDING WINGS
New York : Random House, 2014
IL K-3, IL 2.9
I have always wanted to be a flower girl in a wedding. It sounds like so much fun. You get to get dressed up and everyone is looking at you. Gabby is so excited but there is just one thing she hasn't counted on. There is a fairy hiding in her flower basket!
Terrell, Brandon. DODGER DREAMS : THE COURAGE OF JACKIE ROBINSON
New York : Stone Arch Books, 2010
Max loves baseball and especially the Dodgers. As an African American, he is particularly fond of Jackie Robinson. Robinson is the only African American player in all of baseball. Although the Dodgers have the reputation of being a lousy team, this year they made it to the World Series. But they are up against the Yankees and no one thinks the Dodgers have a chance. When Max receives tickets to the game for his birthday, he feels he is the luckiest boy in the whole world. His first game, his first World Series and seeing his idol, Jackie Robinson.
Stewart, Trenton. THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY AND THE PERILOUS JOURNEY
Boston : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009
IL 3-6, RL 6.5
The kids from the Benedict Society are back for a new adventure in the second book of the series. Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance are all gifted children who were chosen by Mr. Benedict to solve a mystery. This time, they need to find Mr. Benedict. He and his assistant, Number 2, have been kidnapped by the evil Mr. Curtain, who just happens to be Mr. Benedict’s identical twin brother. Now what was planned as a fun scavenger hunt becomes a life or death adventure. Mr. Curtain needs a plant that will control his narcolepsy and he needs the children to find it. Constance shows the others a letter that was left by Mr. Benedict. It contains a riddle that they need to solve. When they do, it leads to other riddles and more dangers.
Marsh, Robert. AFTER THE CHALLENGER : A STORY OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE DISASTER
New York : Capstone, 2009
IL 3-6, RL 2.0
Dustin Martinez is 15 years old and he wants to be an astronaut. He lives in Cocoa Beach. Florida where a lot of the people from the space program live. In 1986, Dustin and his classmates go outside during school to watch the space shuttle Challenger take off. This is a really special shuttle launch. Onboard is Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space. Within seconds of take off, the students are shocked to see an explosion. The shuttle has blown up. Everyone is shocked. When Dustin's father is hired to help look for the wreckage, Dustin and his sister stowaway on the boat and go out to try to bring the Challenger home.
Seidler, Tor. A RAT’S TALE
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008
IL 3-6, RL 5.5
Montague Mad-Rat lives in the sewers of New York. He tends to be picked on by the other rats since his family is different. His mother loves to make hats. And his father only cares about making mud castles. When Montague rescues a beautiful young she-rat, his life begins to change. Isabel Moberly-Rat is nothing like anyone he has ever met. She comes from the wealthy part of town on the wharf and has a very different outlook on life. These rats look down on those who work with their paws like Montague and his family. But the wharf rats are in trouble. The person who owns the wharf has died and now the wharf is to be sold and the rats exterminated. The rats had a deal with the previous owner. The rats gathered up money and put it in a wheelbarrow and the owner left the rats alone. Maybe they can get the new owner to leave them alone if they collect enough money. When Montague donates his painted shells to the campaign to save the wharf, he is laughed at and he runs away humiliated.
Sadler, Marilyn. TEN EGGS IN A NEST
New York : Random, 2014
IL K-3, RL 1.4
Red Rooster wants to count the number of eggs that will hatch soon. But Gwen says it is bad luck to count your chickens before they are hatched. So when the first chick hatches, Red runs to the store to get a snack for the newborn. When he gets back, he finds more chicks have hatched. Can you count the number of times Red has to go back to the store? How many chicks do Red and Gwen have at the end?
Paterson, Katherine. THE SIGN OF THE CHRYSANTHEMUM
New York : Harper, 1988
IL 5-8, RL 5.6
Set in 12th century Japan, the story centers on 14 year old Muna. Living in a small village, Muna longs to find the father he has never known. His mother has told him tales of a great warrior who came to the village years ago. He was a fierce samurai with a tattoo of a chrysanthemum on his shoulder. When she passes away, Muna stows away on a ship bound for the city in search of his father. He is discovered and a likable ronin named Takanobu takes him under his wing. Muna soon realizes that Takanobu is a bit of a scoundrel, but he has been kind to Muna and deserves loyalty. One night, a fire breaks out in a bar where Takanobu has been drinking. Muna tries to save him, but suffers smoke inhalation and is not successful. Fukuji, a master swordsmith, takes Muna in and helps him heal. After, Muna stays with Fukuji doing chores around the house to earn his keep. Muna is happy with his life and hopes that one day Fukuji will take him on as an apprentice. But fate has other plans for Muna.
Offill, Jenny. WHILE YOU WERE NAPPING
New York : Schwartz and Wade, 2014
IL K-3, RL 2.5
Have you ever fought taking a nap because you thought you might miss something? The little boy in this story sure does. But his sister tells him she will let him know if anything good happens. And what a story she tells when he wakes up. It is all about pirates and fireworks and trips to outer space. She really makes her brother regret falling asleep.
Georgina has not always lived this way. She used to have both a mother and father and they lived in an apartment. Until her father walked out and left them with very little money. Now, Georgina, her brother and her mother are homeless and living in their car. It is very hard at school as the other kids are starting to make comments about her wrinkled clothes and dirty hair. She isn’t doing her homework so her grades are falling. Everything is going wrong. But when she sees a poster about a lost dog, Georgina comes up with a plan – steal a dog and collect the reward. Then they will have enough money to move into a real place and not have to live like this. Georgina and her brother scout out different areas looking for the right dog. It has to be a friendly dog owned by a rich person who can pay the reward. When they find the right dog, they put their plan into action. What they don’t count on is that the owner doesn’t have any money for a reward. Georgina and her brother stash the dog at an empty house in the woods. Is this really going to work? Will they be able to pull this off?
Naidoo, Beverly. JOURNEY TO JO'BURG
New York : Harper, 1988
IL 3-6, RL 5.1
The book takes place in South Africa during the time of Apartheid. Naledi is afraid when her young sister becomes very ill. Although her grandmother is doing her best, Dineo needs medical help. There is no money for doctors or hospitals. Naledi’s mother works in Johannesburg, 300 kilometers away. There is no way to get word to her about Dineo. Naledi and her younger brother,Tiro, decide to walk to Jo’burg to get their mother. They really have no idea how far it is. As the two journey, they learn about the harshness of apartheid and the kindness of strangers who help them on their journey. They also learn about the people who have risked everything to fight for the rights of blacks in South Africa.
Ellen was just given the best birthday present ever. Well, she has to share it with her little brother but that is fine. Together with their grandparents, they are going to camp out at the zoo for the night! They both love the zoo and have spent lots of time there. But never at night. They will be staying with their grandparents anyway since their parents will be away. This is going to be just about perfect. But then there is a change of plans. Grandmother has broken her leg and can’t go camping. But it will fine since their parents have changed their plans and now will be home to share the camping trip. When the time arrives, their parents aren’t home. The plane has been delayed. The grandparents have gone to the hospital to have grandma’s leg reset. Fearing they will have to miss the camping trip, Ellen and Corey decide to take a taxi to the zoo and wait for their parents there. They leave a note so their parents will know to meet them at the zoo. When they get to the zoo, their parents aren’t there and the coordinator is anxious to leave since her daughter is having a baby. Corey lies and says his parents have just pulled up. Now everyone is gone and Ellen and Corey are alone in the zoo.
Miller, Pat Zietlow. SOPHIE'S SQUASH
New York : Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013
IL K-3, RL 2,7
Sophie picked out a squash at the farmer's market. Mother thought it would be nice to have for supper. But Sophie drew a face on the squash and named it Bernice. She took it everywhere. No one could convince her that it was getting a bit squishy and should be eaten before it rotted. When Sophie asked the man at the farmer's market how to make Bernice better, will she take his advice?
MacLachlan, Patricia. SKYLARK
New York : HarperCollins, 1994
IL 3-6, RL 3.3
In this sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall, we pick up the story after the marriage of Sarah and Jacob. The family is doing well and are happy living on the prairie. Things are about to change, though. There has been very little rain. The crops are drying up and some families are leaving. Papa refuses to even think about that possibility. He says that they were born there and that their names are written in the land. But the drought is getting worse every day. When they lose the barn to a fire, Papa knows that he needs to make a drastic decision.
Lobel, Anita. LENA'S SLEEP SHEEP
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2013
IL K-3, RL 1.9
Lena is all tucked into bed and ready to start counting her sheep. There's a full moon out and Lena asks her parents to keep the curtains open so she can look at the beautiful moon. Little does she know that her sheep are really scared of the moon. They think it is a horrible beast. How can Lena convince the sheep that the moon is friendly and that it is ok to come out?
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