Pre K-1st WOULD I TRADE MY PARENTS by LAURA NUMEROFF (Abtams Books, 2009) *** If you liked your friend’s parents better than yours, would you trade? No? Even if your best friend’s dad built houses and his mom made the best blueberry pancakes ever? Or Katie’s mom who drives a convertible and her dad who lets her watch TV until 8:00. Or Sydney whose parents teach square dancing. They let us dance with them sometimes. Or William who has his own bedroom at each of their houses. His mom owns a pet shop and he has three cats, two hamsters, some fish and a dog. I wish my parents would let me have a dog. But my mom teaches French and has taught me some words. And my dad taught me the names of all the kinds of clouds. Mom puts a note in my lunch every day and Dad reads to me every night. And on weekends, we all go for a bike ride. I think I’ll keep them.
2ND – 4TH pennies for elephants by lita judge (Hyperion Books, 2009) *** In 1914, the Boston Post ran the headline, “Three Trained Pachyderms for Sale!” Some animal trainers were retiring from show business and want to find a home for their elephants. The Boston Zoo didn’t have the $6000 needed to buy the elephants so the children of Boston began a campaign to keep the elephants their town. They did all sorts of things to raise money to buy the elephants and penny by penny, nickel by dime, the money began to come in. Kids opened piggy banks, ran errands, even put on their own circus shows to raise the money. Soon so many kids refused to spend money on movies the theaters started hosting shows with ticket sales going to the elephant fund. Eventually there was a grand parade with the kids and the elephants. They had raised the money needed and now they could see the elephants anytime they wanted.
MIDDLE SCHOOL notes from the dog by gary paulsen (Wendy Lamb Books, 2009) *** Finn just doesn’t get people. He plans to read a ton of books and speak to no more than 12 people during his entire summer vacation. But the new neighbor comes over while he and his friend, Matthew, and his dog, Dylan, are sitting on the front steps. And she is completely bald! Matthew starts asking her questions Finn would never think of asking even if he thought of them. Questions like “Have you always been bald?” The boys find out the she is going through chemo for breast cancer. She wants to raise $10,000 and run a triathlon for cancer awareness. She asks Finn if he would plant a garden for her and for some unexplainable reason, he agrees. Then Dylan begins bringing notes to Finn in his mouth, wagging his tail like he has just done the greatest thing ever. Finn doesn’t know where they come from, although he has a good idea, and he keeps them to himself. Throughout the summer, Finn, Matthew, and Dylan learn more about Johanna and both boys come to love her. They help her raise the money and help her with her struggles. And learn something about themselves as well.
HIGH SCHOOL dope sick by walter dean myers (Harper Collins, 2009) *** This is a raw, chilling story of a black teenage boy’s life in the ghetto. Street language and witnessing the consequences of taking drugs and dealing with the kinds of characters who deal in the drug trade bring the reality of this world to the reader in a very graphic way. The story is told in first person by “Lil J” who has just been involved as a hired man in a drug deal gone bad and he is on the run. Through the narrative, you get a first hand glimpse of what goes through his head during this ordeal. You also gain an understanding that it is the circumstances of his life coupled with the choices he made along the way that have put him in this position. There is a surreal twist as the story unfolds in that in his hiding place he meets a guy who shows him flashbacks of his life through a TV screen that is reminiscent of Marley’s Ghost in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.