family life

Lots to Think About

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Author: David Almond

David Almond must be a deep thinker.  My Name is Mina gives the reader a lot to think about, and do.  Mina is quirky to say the least.  She doesn't see anything the same way as any of her classmates or teachers so school doesn't quite fit her. Her classmates think she is crazy. Mina, like so many young people, is just trying to find her place and figure things out.  This prequel story to Almond's award-winning Skellig will not disappoint. 

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Title: Eight Keys
Author: Suzanne LaFleur

Suzanne LaFleur writes a story that helps 12 year olds with many of the questions they have and the problems they are experiencing with friends.  We all know that something happens to your life in middle school, and often times you don't quite know where to turn.  Readers will be satisfied with Eight Keys because it doesn't give you the answers.... you need to discover them for yourself.  It does give you lots to think about.  Readers who like this book may also like books by Wendy Mass.

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Author: Joanne Rocklin

I was totally sucked in by this book and delighted in the feel of the neighborhood surrounding a vacant lot with one remaining valencia orange tree on it.  I would be a neighborhood kid that loved this place!  Rocklin does a great job of connecting the reader with the characters with minimal text.  I could see this book as a classroom read aloud for Grades 3+.  There's just enough mystery and suspense interwoven with adventure and action.

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Author: Atinuke

"Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa"
Four delightful stories about curious Anna and the pains and joys of living in a close family with many cousins, aunties, uncles, and grandparents. This book abounds with love. It oozes between the lines of text. Mixes traditional African ways with contemporary urban life. Loved, loved, loved it!

Glad to find out there are more in the series!

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Title: Crunch
Author: Leslie Connor

Imagine a world where fuel was unavailable.  No mail, empty grocery stores, highways full of bike riders and hikers .... The Mariss family children are keeping the home fires burning while their parents are stranded far away from home.  This means the three older kids keep house, do daily chores, watch their younger siblings and..... keep the bike repair business going.  A cast of characters builds a community around them, some friendly, some not so much.  They work well together for a while, but when parts are running low and there seems to be some thievery, tensions get high.  Satisfying read with much to think about.  How comfortable would we be if the fuel pumps ran dry?

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Author: Tracy Trivas

Sixth grader, Griffin Penshine, is tricked into accepting a box of Indian Head pennies from a mysterious old woman.  A note inside explains that each coin represents a wish stolen from a fountain more than 70 years ago.  This makes Griffin a "Wish Stealer" and in order to change her own fate, she must return the pennies to the original owners or to someone who has a similar desire. The book features short chapters making it a quick read.  Readers will soon discover they play an important role as "Wish Giver" too.  Mother-Daughter Book Club Selection, March 2011. Ages 9-12

Sweet and Funny

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Author: Jennifer Holm

This book has the best nicknames I've ever heard. Turtle is sent to live with her aunt's family in Key West, FL in the 1930s because the woman her mom works for doesn't like kids. Meet the Diaper Gang and get ready to laugh. Part adventure story, part treasure map... this book will steal your heart from page one!

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Author: Nora Baskin

If you work with or know anyone with autism spectrum disorder, please read this book.... Anything But Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin. Told from the point of view of Jason, a high functioning sixth grader, we get a realistic peak into the day-to-day life of a "12-year-old living in a neurotypical world." I especially liked the way Baskin depicted Jason's parents and brother who are traversing their lives with a differently-abled child without a road map, but with a lot of love. Jason has great talent along with his challenges. He is a gifted writer and through online writing sites, like Storyboard, he meets PhoenixBird, ..... a girl. We see that Jason, along with his autism struggles, has the same issues of courage and confusion as any boy his age.

Blubber

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Title: Blubber
Author: Judy Bloom

Jill Brenner doesn't think she's a classroom bully. She joins in on the fun with Wendy and the other girls as they torment Linda (a.k.a. Blubber) by tripping her, making her eat a chocolate covered ant, and showing everyone in the class her underwear. Jill can't understand why Linda lets everyone walk all over her until the tables get turned, and Wendy and the other girls start bullying Jill.

This was a hard book to read because I don't like to read about people being mean and cruel to one another. It makes me anxious inside. I think, however, that it was good for me to read because it helped me realize that bullying happens even in places where students are supposed to feel safe--their classroom. Although I wasn't particularly fond of the narrator's presentation, I recommend getting the audiobook and listening to the final conversation between Judy Blume and a librarian to hear Ms. Blume's take on her reasons for writing this particular story and what you can do to stop bullying around you.