Written by Patricia MacLachlan
Age Level: 7 and up
Grade Level: 2 – 4
This is a lovely story, quiet and beautiful, about the power of a good teacher. Sylvia Bloom just finished 4th grade with the best year ever, but now summer stretches ahead, with no teacher to guide her writing. Even worse, she’ll have to get used to a new one next year.
Everything changes when her teacher’s husband, the local sheriff, offers her a summer job writing short pieces for the town newspaper. Along the way Sophie finds the answer to the question that’s haunted her – why her mother would leave behind fame, fortune, and travel as an opera singer for a Wyoming farmer who sings Willie Nelson and does the Texas two-step. Read, and maybe Sylvia’s answer can help you too!
Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo, and Flo
Written and illustrated by Lauren Molk
Age Level: 3 –5
Grade Level: P – K
Oh My Gosh – Cute! Remember the rhyme with the tiger who gets caught by the toe? Lauren made Eeny, Meeny, Miney, and Mo into mice. Then she added in Flo who’s everything ornery and always this side of trouble. The story is about four brothers and one tenacious little sister. They’re still trying to catch that tiger by the toe. Flo and the illustrations are the stars of this book! Kids will LOVE them!
One Word from Sophia
Written by Jim Averbeck
Illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail
Age Level: 4 –8
Grade Level: P – 3
Poor Sophia! She just wants a giraffe, but no one understands so she targets her argument to each of her relatives. A legal one for Mom the judge. A graph for businessman Dad. She even tries a survey on her uncle. Nothing works . . . until her Grandmama refuses to listen. That’s when she tells Sophie to get to the point. Sophie sharpens her argument to ONE word. You’ll have to read to find out what it is, but be careful! Your child might learn Sophie’s lesson too well and apply it to you. Good luck!
Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White
Written and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Age Level: 7 –10
Grade Level: 2 – 5
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I’ve been a fan of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little since I discovered them in the 60’s.
I can also recommend it as a retired teacher and as a writer. As a teacher, this is great material for a book report. Melissa Sweet included her own illustrations AND E.B.’s. She has photos of him, plus photocopies of real letters he wrote. As a fan girl, I loved every page, and it was good to the last one. The end pages include a timeline, Melissa’s sources, a bibliography of E.B.’s books, a thank you from Melissa, and an index to help you search out important facts. The book ends with an afterward from EB’s granddaughter. This is SOME book!
And now as a writer, I appreciate the wisdom Melissa found and shared. Here are my four favorite writer facts:
Written and Illustrated by J. R. Krause
Age Level: 3 –7
Grade Level: P – 2
I loved this book! It’s about handling fear, with a little help from your friends, AND it’s fun! George is a boy who’s afraid of the ‘night,’ but one evening a dragon comes out of his book, ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON. Would you believe Dragon is scared of the ‘knight’ too? They go flying together and conquer those fears. How? Sorry, that would be telling! You’ll have to read for yourself to find out how these two friends help each other, AND they even write their own storybook.
Jagger Jones and the Mummy’s Ankh
Written by Melayna Evans
Age Level: 9 – 12
Grade Level: 4 – 7
Have you ever wanted to travel to Egypt, to see the pyramids or the sphinx? You don’t have to buy a ticket. Just check out this book by Malayna Evans, author AND Egyptologist. Travel back in time to meet the family of King Tut. He doesn’t figure in this story, but his sister does. She calls Jagger Jones, a kid from the South Side of Chicago back in time. Jagger must fight Egyptian gods and their magic to save the royal family and keep his own sister safe. What a great adventure! I was with Jagger every step of the way hoping he’d beat the bad guys and save the princess. Jagger, thanks for a great trip back to visit ancient Egypt!
Laila and the Sands of Time
Written by Shirin Shamsi
Age Level: 8 – 12
Grade Level: 4 – 6
If you’re looking for a story about a different time, a different culture, this is it! Laila was supposed to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca with her father, but everything changed when cancer took him away. Her aunt and uncle take her instead, and that’s when Laila finds herself swept back to 7th century Arabia. She makes a new friend who must get her baby sister out of Mecca, and out of danger. The two girls find a caravan crossing the desert. They’ll follow it part-way then sneak away so they can reach safety in Yathrib, modern-day Medina. Can Laila navigate danger to protect the baby? Will she return home again? If you’re seeking adventure, this is the book for you!
Tangled in Time: The Portal
Written by Kathryn Lasky
Age Level: 8 – 12
Grade Level: 3 – 7
I love Elizabeth I. If I had a chance to travel back in time, the first person I’d visit is Elizabeth, but of course I can’t. A book is the only way to time travel. This one took me back to Elizabeth’s childhood. I could imagine what her life was like, how she dressed, what she ate, and the people who surrounded her. Kathryn did a great job worldbuilding Tudor England. It matches with all the historical details that I know about Elizabeth’s life.
Kathryn added in eleven year old Rose Ashley for her middle grade audience. She’s a great heroine. Rose just lost her mother. She’s placed with a grandmother she barely knows who’s fading into dementia, and to top it off Rose meets the Mean Queens, 3 middle school bullies.
But Rose isn’t without powers of her own. She’s a master seamstress who can turn something old into something fabulous. She also finds a new set of friends who help her survive the mean queens of today and of Tudor England. Enter the portal and discover how Rose weaves together her lives in England and in Indiana. This is a great story, and I can’t wait for October 29 and Book 2, The Burning Queen.
Thank You, OMU
Written and Illustrated by Oge Mora
Age Level: 4 – 7
Grade Level: P – 3
This story is about the power of sharing and kindness. I’m a retired teacher, and I think it’s an important lesson for young children to have. Best of all Oge didn’t do it in a teachy-preachy way.
Omu has a pot of thick red stew that’s so yummy that people are attracted by the smell. They come one by one. Omu is so kind that she shares and shares till there’s nothing left for her own dinner. But her kindness has some unexpected payoffs. You’ll have to read to find out how she’s repaid. Kindness is a POWERFUL force!
Cute As An Axolotl: Discovering the World's Cutest Animals
Written by Jess Keating
Illustrated by David DeGrand
Age Level: 5 – 8
Grade Level: K – 3
Do you want to learn about an Axolotl? I saw the cover and had to dive in. I met more plants and animals that are just as cute, just as interesting. Each spread featured the animal’s picture, a great fact, and a funny cartoon. In his the axolotl showed off his stylish headgear. A sidebar featured the species name, size, diet, habitat, predators, and threats to its existence. This is a great way to learn new information. It’s also a great source for reports!
Whenever I read or write, I find a comfy chair with a great view. I get my favorite drink, stretch out, and let the words take me away.