It’s September, so everyone is back in school–and surrounded by a whole student body full of germs! The weather is getting colder, and it seems like there are sniffles and coughs everywhere. We’re all taught to wash our hands constantly, but somehow everyone always gets sick anyway.
What do we need in a situation like this? A funny book about a flu pandemic, that’s what. (Yes, really).
Finn Reeder is annoyed that his teacher, Ms. Westing, is out of school with the flu, especially since she left instructions that the class is supposed to start keeping a journal “with a full page for every single day.” Finn writes dutifully (if not cheerfully) away, and finds that he is unwitting keeping a log of a massive flu pandemic that lays his school, town, and the entire country low.
With his father burning the mail and forcing the family to wear hazmat suits, half the school out sick, and his English class proctored by a mysterious figure in a gas mask, will Finn manage to make it through the month without dying of . . . dodgeball? (Guess which teacher is NOT sick). Check out this hilarious notebook-style semi-graphic novel to find out.
Posted by: Sarah
Looking for a fun Social Studies report topic? This month, Sarah tells us about The Kids Guide to Lost Cities by Sean Price.
Now that it is September, it is time for apple picking and best of all, apple pie. In this book, a little girl makes a tasty apple pie, and her dog is eager and determined to get a taste of it. After the dog’s pining drives the little girl away, he is able to devise a plan to finally get a bite of it. The story is told using the letters of the alphabet and introduces children to some new vocabulary. The adorable, retro illustrations add to the fun. Make sure you have an apple pie ready when you share this book!
Posted by: Liz
Hard times have come to the Florida forest where Calpurnia lives with her mother, father, and her dog named Buggy-horse. There are no fish to catch, so the people are weak with hunger and unable to work. Calpurnia can feel the hard times, but she isn’t worried. She is a loved child who feels a kinship with the world, and this helps her to feel safe and brave. Determined to help end the hard times, she follows her nose to a secret river deep in the forest, abundant with catfish. On her return home, laden with fish, Calpurnia encounters several dangerous (and obviously hungry) animals; because she knows there is enough to go around, she shares her catch and stays free from harm. When she returns home with the fish, her parents are overjoyed. Her father is able to sell the fish, the people in the forest are strengthened and able to go out and find work, and the hard times turn to soft times.
This story is moving to me because it demonstrates the powers of imagination, faith, love, and wonder to overcome hardship. It is illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, with warm, deep, lyric paintings. Both the text and illustrations are evocative of a different time and place, but the simple fairy-tale-like structure makes it easily accessible and comfortably familiar. The Secret River is a longer picture book that would make a wonderful class or family read-aloud.
Posted by: Parry
Have you ever told what happened and no one believed you – not even your parents? Well, that is what keeps happening to Tim. What also keeps happening is a lot of CRAZY, UNBELIEVABLE things, like a ninja eating the last piece of cake, an astronaut taking Dad’s hammer to fix his spaceship, and a giant squid eating Tim’s whole book bag while he is off buying ice cream! When Tim explains to his parents what happened, his parents are very upset with him for telling lies, and he is told to rake the leaves in the yard and think about what he has done. Tim does think and decides that he is simply going to have to own up to the things that are happening, even though he REALLY is not doing them.
Sooo . . . the next time a pirate drinks the tea straight from the pot, and a crocodile lands on the roof and breaks the TV antenna, and a monkey starts throwing pencils at Grampa while he is sleeping, Tim says it is all his fault! Of course, Tim gets in trouble again, until he comes up with a new plan. He sends an invitation to a party to a certain ninja, an astronaut, a giant squid . . . and when they all arrive mom and dad finally know that Tim was really telling the truth all along. What a fun twist on a traditional story!
Posted by: Mary
Sports camp! Fun or intimidation? Maybe a little of both. It is Riley Liston’s first time away at sports camp, Camp Olympia. He doesn’t have any friends at camp and he is the youngest and the smallest. He is eleven and all the other boys are either twelve or thirteen. In spite of these facts, Riley is competitive and he loves sports.
This short story of a two week sports camp experience is chock full of successes and failures, tentative new friendships, and the formation of a team from kids that were just assigned to the same cabin, Cabin 3 – Threshers. There are also pranks and ghost stories, after lights out retaliations and spooky happenings. Looming over all is the threat of Big Joe, a huge snapping turtle which supposedly inhabits Lake Surprise and is capable of biting off a swimmer’s arm or foot. This adds a lot of drama to the last, big swimming competition.
This is a fun, quick read sprinkled with Camp Olympia Bulletins which give the highlights of the sports events of the day and give the standings of the teams. Recommended for boys 5th grade through 7th.
Posted by: Fran
Charise Mericle Harper is the author of many popular children’s books including the Just Grace series, the Fashion Kitty series, and the picture book Cupcake. I was a bit surprised to see Harper depart from stories that center around girls and take on boys. This picture book examines what many items that preschoolers find in their regular routine would be like if they were like boys. “If waffles were like boys… breakfast would be a battlefield!”, and “[i]f socks were like boys…laundry baskets would be pirate ships!”, and so on, moving through objects young children encounter throughout the day until “[i]f stars were like boys…night skies would be fireworks!” Harper not only has moved away from her girl-centric stories, but chosen to examine the most energetic side of boyhood. Paired with humorous cartoon-like illustrations from Scott Magoon, this story will not miss with preschool aged boys and girls in search of a bedtime story. Just make sure this is the first bedtime book of the night because it is a bit to boisterous to0 be the last. Posted by: Kelly