Pre K-1st THE PIRATE AND THE PENGUIN by PATRICIA STORMS (Owlkids Books, 2009) *** Penguin was tired of being cold and bored at the South Pole. “I’m off to find adventure and sunshine!” And off he went on an ice flow. Way out at sea was a ship full of pirates. But their captain was a bit different. All he wanted was to find inner peace. “But what about treasure?” asked his crew. “If you want treasure, YOU steer the ship” and he went to take a nap. Well…, the ship ran into the ice flow and the penguin was thrown onto the pirate ship. Before he walked the plank, Penguin asked if he could try on the captain’s hat. And the captain tried on Penguin’s sweater. The crew was so confused as to who was the captain that they switched places! And Penguin, oh, I mean the ‘captain’, went off to adventure and the captain, oh, I mean the ‘penguin’, went to the South Pole where it was cool and boring. What bliss!
2ND – 4TH THE JUNKYARD WONDERS by PATRICIA POLACCO (Philomel Books, 2010) *** Trisha is in Room 206 in her new school. She had hoped this new school could be a new beginning where no one knew that she had been in a ‘special class’ before. But all the kids in Room 206 are different in one way or another. “Welcome to the junkyard. I am your teacher, Mrs. Peterson.” She calls them the junkyard because they are all different. “Like stuff in a junkyard,” explained Thom. Trisha is devastated to be in a special class again! But Mrs. Peterson has great plans for her junkyard. She takes them to a real junkyard to collect items for special projects. Trish’s tribe plans to build an airplane that can go to the moon! They name it the Junkyard Wonder. But the school says they can’t launch from the roof. Is all their hard work for nothing? This book is based on experiences from Patricia’s own life. There was a real Mrs. Peterson and at the end, Patricia tells how each of the kids in her tribe grew up. It is a wonderful story of overcoming and success.
MIDDLE SCHOOL IF STONES COULD SPEAK by MARC ARONSON (National Geographic, 2010) *** The mystery of Stonehenge has baffled men for many centuries. This book proposes a slightly different explanation for the amazing stone structure. Through the work of archeologist, Mike Parker Pearson, and the Riverside Project, new discoveries and ideas about Stonehenge are coming to light. Many thought that all study of Stonehenge would just come to the same conclusions that had been reached before, but Mike and his group looked at more than just the stone circle. They investigated many of the ancient places around the area and came to some different conclusions. They wanted to try to understand the ancient people who lived in that area and who would bring those giant stones together. Mike brought in Ramilisonina, a retired archeologist from Madagascar, who had studied its ancient peoples all his life. With this different perspective on ancient people, many things about Stonehenge began to make more sense. Discover, along with Mike and the Riverside team, what may be the true story behind Stonehenge. And as the work continues, maybe they will find more to tell us about why those towering stones are there.
HIGH SCHOOL HOW I MADE IT TO EIGHTEEN: A MOSTLY TRUE STORY by TRACY WHITE (Roaring Brook Press, 202010) *** This graphic novel is set in a mental hospital where 17 yr. old Stacy Black is living as a patient in trying to get her life back and feel happy again. The images and dialog are very expressive and give the reader a clear view of what is going on in Stacy’s mind. As a graphic novel, the dialog is separate from the explanation so the reader can follow the sequence of the story. It becomes clear that the author is speaking from her own experiences as she describes in detail the feelings, uncertainties and frustrations of living with depression, bulimia, addictions and self-image. It also becomes clear that Stacy wants very much to understand herself and grow to lead a normal life. The hospital setting is portrayed as responsive, caring and therapeutic.