Artichoke’s Heart is a typical realistic fiction story where the overweight teen girl clears up her relationship with her family, deals with her mother’s illness, gets a best friend, gets over the bullies at school, gets the boy she has a crush on, and learns to be good to herself. The premise is familiar but the writing and characters draw you in.   It is poignant and sweet. I would recommend it for teens and adults. Younger readers should be aware that there is some mature language and topics. Posted by MichelleRead More →

 I was drawn to this book because it has CHOCOLATE in the title and on the cover. How could I resist that? At first it just seemed like an innocent, sweet story (no pun intended) about a Jewish girl, in fifth grade, living in Chicago right after WWII. The adults in the family discuss missing relatives in Europe while Dorrie looks forward to the end of the school year when she must bring in a dessert for a competition called “Sweet Semester.” I particularly enjoyed the end of the book when Victor, a 16-year-old relative, is brought to America to live with Dorrie and her family. HeRead More →

This book is a gold mine for parents or teachers working with children! I love the word play and the great life lessons in Zen Ties, including helping others and respecting elders. It would be interesting to discuss the relationship between the children and the elderly neighbor, and how they can apply those lessons to their own friendships. I would also use this book to “tie” into lessons on haiku poetry and spelling practice. It would be fun to give out plastic cups to children so that they will also have a special cup, just like Koo. Posted by MichelleRead More →

I could not stop reading this book! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Dashti selflessly goes with “her lady” to be imprisoned in a tower. The book is her journal account of the years spent trapped in the tower, and then her adventures after they escape. It reminded me a bit of one of my favorite books, Catherine Called Birdy, because both are journal entries by a teenage girl during similar time periods. And both involve arranged marriage and love and a young girl’s struggle to find herself. I would recommend Book of a Thousand Days for fifth graders to adults. Posted by MichelleRead More →

The Graveyard Book is very satisfying! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was intrigued by the unique idea of a boy being raised in a graveyard. How would one write a book about that? Neil Gaiman did an amazing job. I think that kids will really enjoy it. The book begins with a sad murder that leaves the main character an orphan. The toddler is protected and raised by the inhabitants of a graveyard. It has ghosts, ghouls, a vampire, a werewolf, bad guys, action, and a kind and brave main character. Recommended for ages ten and up, but not for sensitive readers. Posted by MichelleRead More →

Another great book by Melissa Marr! Ink Exchange is cleverly more of a continuation than a sequel. In Wicked Lovely the story revolved around Aislynn, Seth & Keenan. They appear throughout Ink Exchange but it focuses instead on Aislynn’s mortal friend Leslie and the faeries Niall and Irial. I am already looking forward to another book! There are so many other characters with interesting stories to tell. Will the third book be about Ani, Rabbit, Gabriel, Bananach, or the Winter Queen? It gets me thinking about other books and wondering how many other stories could come from minor characters that you usually pay little attentionRead More →

In my opinion this is Christopher Paul Curtis’s best novel yet.  He is a gifted storyteller, making you laugh one chapter and cry the next.  Elijah is the first child to be born free in Buxton, Canada, a town of freed and escaped slaves.  We see this period of time through Elijah’s eyes and ears, as he has adventures, welcomes escaped slaves to town, & overhears adults discussing their lives as slaves.  He learns to appreciate his freedom and so will the reader. This is a moving, beautiful novel.  I am recommending it to fifth graders and up.  It would make a great read aloud,Read More →

I thoroughly enjoyed this book including Nicoletta Ceccoli’s beautiful illustrations throughout. The adventure begins when “rivery” magic gives Claire’s bullying cousin Duke a horn instead of a nose. Similar to Pinochio’s nose, whenever he bullies someone, his horn grows as he slowly transforms into a rhinocerous. Only an act of true kindness will return him to himself, but Duke is too mean and selfish to care. He runs away and gets involved with some mischievous trolls who turn his family into stone. Claire agrees to help the trolls so that she can save her stony relatives and attempt to save Duke from himself. It’s aRead More →

Lynne Reid Banks’ newest novel is historical fiction set in Rome around the 3rd century AD. Two tiger cubs are captured and brought to Rome. One is given to the emperor’s daughter to be raised as her pampered pet. The other brother is taught to be a vicious man-eating fighter at the Colosseum. There is description of the gladiators and animals slaughtering each other, and also innocent, forbidden love between the princess and a slave. It demonstrates the social structure of Rome very vividly and also demonstrates how Christianity was viewed by the Romans. Tiger, Tiger would be excellent to use if you are teaching ancient Roman historyRead More →