Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Three New Chapter Books!

We have 287 new books in our library! Here's the full set:

I'm reading like crazy to get ready for next year's Golden Dragon list (books for grades 4/5 shared with the international schools in Vienna, Prague, and Warsaw). See this year's list here.

These are some I read this week:

Falling In, by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Isabelle Bean, considered "strange" at school, comes into her own in a most unusual way. She "falls in" to a fantasy world on the other side of a door (ala The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe) and meets characters and circumstances that require her to take a leadership role. She meets Young Hen who is lost and needs to find her way back to her siblings. And the woman who takes them in, Grete, has been accused of being a child-eating witch and wants to set things right. Through her connection with these two, Isabelle sees a new side of herself, a magic she's always wondered about. A fantasy setting with realistic coming-of-age themes, this will appeal to more than just fantasy-lovers. Recommended for grades 4 and up.
(more reviews @LibraryThing)

Keeper, by Kate Appelt
Wait for it. The plot, that is. The first 100 pages set up the reason that Keeper, age 10, decides to boat out to sea - flashbacks provide context and character motivation. Eventually we realize that this misguided journey IS the conflict, a symbol of the internal struggle between Keeper and her own memories. Then suddenly, the slow build up of tension breaks into full-on suspense as we follow Keeper anxiously into ever-deeper and more dangerous waters. Recommended for only the most introspective and patient upper elementary readers.
(see other reviews @LibraryThing)

One Crazy Summer, by Rita Willams-Garcia
The winning element in this historical fiction novel is the main character's voice. The oldest of three sisters in a motherless family, Delphine takes charge of her two younger sisters for a summer, a summer she could never have seen coming. It's 1968 when she flies with her sisters from Brooklyn to Oakland, California to meet their runaway mother. But whatever mothering they expected doesn't materialize. Instead, they are left to fend for themselves, navigating the free breakfast line, new friendships, and politically charged landscape. They join the Black Panther summer camp and learn to speak the "Power to the People" to advocate for equal rights for black people. With their mother's talent for poetry and her dedication to the cause, it's no surprise the three sisters end up sharing a common bond with her. But it's hard going, creating a relationship with a woman who never wanted to be part of their lives; will their mother be able to see them for who they are? And how they are part of her? A good mix of family relationships, tension, and history, this is recommended for grades 4 and up, with a book talk filling in history of the civil rights movement as needed.
(see other reviews @LibraryThing)

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