This week, my favorite book was an older title that was recommended by the amazing Liesl Shurtliff when she came to speak at our school. She said she had been reading "Fablehaven" by Brandon Mull to her boys and that it was really good. Really good was a big understatement! I can't believe I hadn't read this before! It's about two kids, Kendra and Seth, who are going to stay with their grandparents who they don't know very well. The grandparents live far away and don't travel much so they just haven't spent too much time together. When the kids arrive, their grandmother is away and their grandfather has a lot of rules (which Seth believes are meant to be broken). It turns out that breaking the rules at Fablehaven has bigger consequences than a timeout or going to bed early. Fablehaven is a sanctuary for magical creatures and not all of them are very nice. This was a very exciting and fun read. It would be great paired up with "The Sisters Grimm" by Michael Buckley or "the Spiderwick Chronicles" by Tony DiTerlizzi. I can't wait to get it in my library.
My big kids are reading books about social issues so I pulled a couple of picture books that I could read to them during their library time. The good news is I got to read a great story called "Train to Somewhere" by Eve Bunting. The bad news is I also had to deliver the speech to the kids that Mrs. Tanner cries when she reads books like this because she is connecting so strongly to the story because the writing is so great. It keeps me from feeling like a freak and their classroom teacher says she does the same thing. Phew. This lovely picture book tells the story of Marianne who is heading west from NY city. Her mother has left her on the steps of an orphanage there. Her mother promises that she will go west and make a better life and come back and get Marianne. The orphans are being sent out west with the idea that anything will be better than being on their own in New York City in the 1890s. The kids have formed bonds with each other and are sad to be separated but Marianne holds fast to the idea that her mom is waiting for her at one of the stops. This one has a lot of opportunities for conversation about why a parent might have to leave their child or why kids might be better off out in the country rather than in a big city. It might also be good to pair up with one like "Cheyenne Again" also by Eve Bunting to talk about why people make decisions about other people's kids.
I also read advanced reader's copy of "The Baking Life of Amelie Day" by Vanessa Curtis. It's about Amelie who is 12 and really wants to be a great baker. She's set her sights on entering a baking competition and makes it into the finals. Except that Amelie also has cystic fibrosis which leaves her vulnerable to infections and with difficulties breathing. She has a very supportive network around her and I thought it was really interesting to see how the author portrayed her parents as having very different ideas about how they should treat someone with a chronic and potentially fatal illness. I also really liked all the recipes in the book. This would be great matched up with a book like "President of the Whole Fifth Grade" by Sheri Winston (many recipes and difficulties to overcome) or "The Honest Truth" by Dan Gemeinhart (really sick kid trying to reach a goal). Here's book trailer about it.