I've been trying to figure out how to get to advanced readers copies so I can read the latest and greatest books so I can then recommend them to my students. Through a group I follow on Goodreads, an completely awesome book recommending site, I found Netgalley. Netgalley provides advanced readers copies online (like through a Kindle) so you can read books ahead of time. Some of them are REALLY badly formatted, but in the case of this last book I read, the formatting didn't distract from the complete awesomeness of the book!
This one was called "Ava and Pip" by Carol Weston. Ava and Pip are sisters and they are word nerds. Their names and their parents names are palindromes, they like to play a homonym game, and Ava would like to be a writer. Pip has some un-named issue that makes her smaller and shyer than Ava so Ava tries to help. When a new girl decides to have a party the same time as Pip's thirteenth birthday party, Pip is very hurt. So Ava decides to write a thinly veiled fable about stealing people's friends. When the story wins a prize at the local contest, the girl figures out the story is about her and confronts Ava. Ava apologizes profusely and the two become friends and both of them try to help Pip be more outgoing. There are a ton of writing lessons that you could teach from this book (generating ideas, figurative language, palindromes, homonyms, adjectives, journal writing) but you could also use it to talk about problem solving and making friends. The characters are super likable and it's a quick read. I can't wait to show this to my students.
Here is a book trailer about it...
I also read "Spic and Span: Lillian Gilbreth's wonder kitchen" by Monica Kulling. This is a story about Lillian Gilbreth who was born in 1878 to a wealthy family. She wanted a life of adventure so she went to university and married Frank Gilbreth. They both became "efficiency experts" and used video (ok, motion picture cameras) to help them analyze work situations so that workers could be safer and more efficient. They had 11 kids together and then Frank died unexpectedly. So as a mom of 11 kids with no job (nobody thought women could do work like this!) she had to figure things out. Her first new client was Macy's and she also started looking around her house at things that would make things better there. She invented the trash can that you can open with a foot pedal and the first electric stand mixer. On top of that, the art work that goes with the book is lovely, soft water colors that show the energy of the topic. I really liked this one.