Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Million Ways Home by Dianna Dorisi Winget

Book description from Amazon.com:   A moving middle-grade story about love, loss, and the unlikely places we find home.

Poppy's life has been turned upside down after her grandma (and guardian) had a stroke and ended up in the hospital. But Poppy is working on a plan to help Grandma Beth so their life together can go back to normal. But when she witnesses an armed robbery, "back to normal" slips even further out of her reach. To keep Poppy safe, the budget-strapped police devise an unusual "witness protection program," wherein Poppy will stay with Detective Brannigan's mother. Soon Poppy is feeling almost at home, even making sort-of friends with a girl named Lizzie and definitely friending Gunner, a beautiful dog with an uncertain fate. But it's still not home. So while she and Lizzie navigate a rocky friendship and plot to save Gunner's life, Poppy also tries to figure out a new plan to save Grandma Beth and their home, all while avoiding a dangerous robber who might be searching for her. But what if Grandma Beth can never come home and the robber is put behind bars? What will happen to Poppy then?

My 25 cents. . . Super story, a little mystery and a little nervousness for the main character kept this reader turning pages.  Main character, Poppy, becomes friends with a girl that has not had the best of luck in life so far.  It turns out that being friends is a gift for both of them!  Makes you think about what is really important in your life.  Poppy, the main character is excited to have her  grandmother so involved in her life (since age 1) that watching her grandmother age and become dependent on others is w a y more difficult than she had ever imagine!  Poppy meets Lizzie, who has her own battles to face with her parents' divorce and her dad's new life. During all of this drama, Poppy is determined to save Gunther, a dog deemed "untrainable" at the shelter which she volunteers a during the week--this makes dog lovers root for a ending as well! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander

Book description from Amazon.com.."With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander.

My 25 cents...This was a great story and a f-a-s-t read!  Written in prose, it will take no time at all for the reader to be eagerly turning pages as they get caught up in the twin brothers' story here.  One does not need to know anything about basketball to enjoy this title either, basketball just happens to be a shared passion of the characters.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Want to read some scary books this Halloween season?

Try one of these titles....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Like those GOOSEBUMPS books by R.L. Stine??

Check this out!  You can design your very own GOOSEBUMPS style graphic novel by

Our K-8 Library has a collection of these on the Middle School side of the library!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Eight Keys by Suzanne Lafleur
2014-15 Children's Choice nominee

Book description by Amazon.com...Elise and Franklin have always been best friends. Elise has always lived in the big house with her loving Uncle and Aunt, because Elise's parents died when she was too young to remember them.  There's always been a barn behind the house with eight locked doors on the second floor. When Elise and Franklin start middle school, things feel all wrong. Bullying. Not fitting in. Franklin suddenly seems babyish.  Then, soon after her 12th birthday, Elise receives a mysterious key left for her by her father. A key that unlocks one of the eight doors upstairs in the bar . . .

My 25 cents...I picked this up because it was a children's choice nominee.  I wasn't sure I was going to like it because I am not usually a fan of mystery books.  It was more of a story or "wonder"??  WHY each key was left , WHO is leaving the keys for Elise and WHAT is the message when the key opens the room??  Also a side story of REAL friendship and the ups and downs during middle school. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Other sites for looking for "what to read next"!!


One of the most difficult questions one can ask a librarian is "what's a good book for me to read?"
(But do ASK, because we want you to READ and it's our JOB!!)   This is difficult because A) What I think is "good" might not match what you think is "good" and B) There are sooooo many "good" books out there!!

Maybe you read a book you really, really enjoyed and you want to read a book with a similar kind of story?  Perhaps you loved a particular author and read all of his/her books already and want to find an author that has a similar writing style?

Aside from what I have read and blogged about--here are just a few search tools you might want to try that will help you find that next "good" book.  (Remember, since these are public links, this does not mean we own all of these books in our school library though.)

To find a "new author" or look up a series of books and see the order they come in, try:
Thank you to the Bettendorf Public Library for this awesome link:

and to Mid-Continent Public Library for these (click on light blue headings for links):                                              Bookhive  "BookHive is a web site designed for children ages birth through twelve, their parents, teachers or anyone interested in reading about children's books. Providing reader's advisory service, this site contains hundreds of recommended book reviews in a variety of reading levels and interest areas."                                                                    Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction The Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction was established to encourage other writers to focus on historical fiction.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Girl, Stolen by April Henry
(nominee for Iowa Teen 2014-2015)

Book description from Amazon.com...

Sixteen–year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription for antibiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what’s happening, their car is being stolen. Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, but once his dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare? Because she’s not only sick with pneumonia—she’s also blind.

My 25 cents...SUS-PENSE-FUL!!!!  This is a real page-turner!  Cheyenne must continue to remain calm as she tries desperately to escape from her kidnappers.  No easy job for someone who is young, blind and also very ill from pneumonia.  Sometimes being brave will even surprise the one being brave!!
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
(nominee for Iowa Teen 2014-2015)
Book description from Amazon.com...
Robie is an experienced traveler. She’s taken the flight from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll, a group of Pacific islands where her parents live, many times. When she has to get to Midway in a hurry after a visit with her aunt in Hawaii, she gets on the next cargo flight at the last minute. She knows the pilot, but on this flight, there’s a new co-pilot named Max. All systems are go until a storm hits during the flight. The only passenger, Robie doesn’t panic until the engine suddenly cuts out and Max shouts at her to put on a life jacket. They are over miles of Pacific Ocean. She sees Max struggle with a raft.
And then . . . she’s in the water. Fighting for her life. Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. They have no water. Their only food is a bag of Skittles. There are sharks. There is an island. But there’s no sign of help on the way.

My 25 cents...
This story reminded me of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.  The major difference is this is all happening ON WATER, not on a deserted island.  The other major aspect is no one really knows Robie is missing, because her parents think she is safe at her Aunt's house visiting, but her Aunt had to leave on business and thinks she is being checked in on by the neighbor lady. So no one is worried about her or looking for her?!  There is a super "plot twist" that I did NOT see coming either, about 3/4 way through the story.  I literally stopped reading after that and said WOW! outloud!!  If you are a fan of survival type stories you don't want to miss this one!
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
(nominee for Iowa Teen 2014-2015)

Book description from Amazon.com....
Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she's blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong--until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She's not really a Murphy, but the gifts they've given her have opened up a new future.

My 25 cents...
Imagine being removed from your family situation and placed into another.  All you have ever known is now different and new.  This is what Carley is going through.  She's tough on the outside by tender on the inside.  She is seeing family life in a whole new way.  This story gives the reader a view into foster care from the foster family and from the foster child.  It's a story that will probably make you think long after you read the last page, about kids that go into the foster care system.  I know it did that to me.
There is a slight reference to abuse (from Carley's mother and step-father) but it is done in a way that is not disturbing to reader, it is used to explain why Carley may have ended up in foster care.)
CURVEBALL The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick
(nominee for Iowa Teen 2014-15)

Book description from Amazon.com...

Sometimes life's greatest accomplishments take place off the field.

There's nothing All Star pitcher Peter Friedman loves more than baseball. It's his life. He breathes baseball, dreams about it, and works his tail off to be great. Most kids are nervous about starting high school, but Pete's amazing arm is going to make his life pretty easy.

Until freshman year doesn't turn out as planned. A pitching accident over the summer ruins his arm. If he isn't the star pitcher, then who is he? Pete's best friend and pitching partner, AJ, tells him he'll be back to his normal self by spring training. To make matters more complicated, there's something going on with Pete's grampa -- and Pete's mother doesn't want to talk about it.

The only person Pete can confide in is Angelika, the amazingly cute girl in his photography class who might like Pete as much as he likes her . . . only Angie doesn't know if she can date someone who can't be honest with himself, or with the people he's closest to.

My 25 cents...
This was a fantastic story for boys and girls.  You don't have to be a fan of baseball to appreciate the story and feel the pain (physical and emotional) that Pete feels.  It's a great story about friendship and the importance of being honest, with yourself and those that matter to you.  The side story of Pete and his grandpa also tugs at your heart as Pete has to balance keeping a secret for his Grandpa and his Grandpa's safety.  This is the same author that wrote
Notes from the Midnight Driver and Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie (and many other titles!) that many Middle School students enjoyed from our school library. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Book Description from Amazon.com....
Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

My 25 cents....
The description of this book is what drew me to read it. Mo was washes ashore by a hurricane--what a beginning for a little kid huh?  In partnership with her BFF: Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, the two set off to find out just who committed a murder in there teeny tiny town.  Unfortunately Dale is under suspicion (he is totally innocent!!) so they are racing against time.  This book is full of surprises and just enough suspense to make you want to stay up and keep reading past your bedtime!  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

2013-2014 Winners! Iowa Children's Choice and Iowa Teen Award winner announced!!!

Iowa Children's Choice winner: 
Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

(see my February 2013 post here in this blog!!)

Iowa Teen Award winner:  

Legend by Marie Lu

Book description from Amazon.com...What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.  

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

Book description from Amazon.com:
Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto.With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory—a list that became world renowned: Schindler’s List.

My 25 cents:  I knew this book was not going to be a "happy" one since it is from a time in history that is so horrible.  I had to keep reminding myself though, that it really was true because as a reader I couldn't comprehend that humans would treat other humans so badly. This book gave me a whole new understanding of the conditions some were forced to live in simply for being Jewish.  Unreal.  I kept asking myself if I myself could have survived what Leon had to go through and quite honestly I am not sure I could have.  Read this book for an eye-opening experience and see if you think you could have lived to tell about it. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog by Tom Watson

Book description from Amazon.com...
Stick Dog and his four friends, Poo-Poo, Mutt, Stripes, and Karen, must execute a master plan for stealing hot dogs. The closer they get to the hot dog vendor, the more difficult their mission becomes. With the same hilarious antics, the five dogs are met with many challenges along the way, including having to distract the frankfurter guy and Karen getting locked in a human's house. No matter what, these dogs have their eyes—and stomachs—on the prize.

My 25 cents....I can not tell a lie. This book made me laugh out loud at times!  I really didn't expect to like it. Five dog friends have adventures and this one is about them trying to get some frankfurters from the Frankfurter wagon.  Sounds simple if you aren't a dog right?
The dogs know that the frankfurter boy's name starts with a "P" but can't remember it (it's Peter) so they keep coming up with other "P" words to call him:  Pumpkinhead, Piddly Pants, Patsy Puffenstuff...in their hilarious plans on how to swipe the frankfurters (get a helicopter and fly over? wait if they can get a helicopter who can fly one??) Stickdog is kind of the leader of this group of dogs and has to be sensitive to the feelings of the other dogs' "not so good" ideas.  The illustrations throughout the book make it a quick read. 
If you like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books you will most likely enjoy this series too! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Make your voice COUNT!!
A really awesome site to see book trailers about EACH Iowa Teen Read Nominee title!


Our school library owns each of these titles (as does the public library).  Students that have read at least 2 of this year's nominees will be able to vote for their favorite in March 2014  in the school library!

Be a part of helping teens in Iowa choose the winning book title for 2014!!

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Land of Stories: the Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Book description from Amazon...(minus the spoilers!!)
When Alex and Conner's father unexpectedly dies, the twins lose the person who always had the perfect story to cheer them up. Then, on their 12th birthday, their grandmother gives them the book of fairy tales he used to read to them. Suddenly it seems to come to life, and the youngsters find themselves falling into the Land of Stories, seemingly with no way to get out. Desperate, they follow instructions in a mysterious journal: if they gather eight items from various residents in the kingdoms of the Land of Stories, they can complete the Wishing Spell and have one wish granted. After scaling castle walls, diving deep into the home of mermaids, and meeting characters from all of the beloved fairy tales, they are stymied by the Evil Queen, who has escaped from Snow White's dungeon. With the hope of using the spell gone, the twins appear to have no way home until they meet Fairy Godmother.

My 25 cents...This book was recommended to my by a middle school student who also happens to be a Glee fan.  (Author is on the tv show Glee)  I have always been a pushover for fairytales, so learning "more" about those characters was a definite draw for me.  This book really kept me turning pages.  There is enough suspense and action happening to make me not want to stop reading and enough humor (usually in sarcasm between brother and sister) to make it fun as well.  I could see this being a fun read-aloud for a family with kids of different ages, as there is a little something for everyone.  The combining of the fairy tale characters reminds me of the first Shrek movie!