Friday, September 25, 2015

Maine Student Book Award Round Up #3

The few Fridays ago I shared my thoughts on several books from the 2015-2016 Maine Student Book Award list. You can see the first post here and the second one here.

There are only a few more books that I have read. This is mostly because I know that some are not written for my 4th graders and others I just won't get to. I am sure they are all wonderful and you should definitely read them for yourselves. 

by Kwame Alexander

Goodreads Summary
"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood.

My Thoughts
This book was the 2015 Newbery winner for a very good reason. It was one of my favorites from 2014 for sure! It is written in verse which can take some getting used to, especially for my 4th graders. It is also chocked full of wonderful, rich, descriptive language and vocabulary. While they might miss some of the subtleties, I would recommend it for some 4th graders, but definitely grades 5-8.  

by Stuart Gibbs
Published 2014 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
352 Pages 

Goodreads Summary
It's a murder mystery on the moon in this humorous and suspenseful space adventure from the author of 'Belly Up' and 'Spy School'. Like his fellow lunarnauts -- otherwise known as Moonies -- living on Moon Base Alpha, twelve-year-old Dashiell Gibson is famous the world over for being one of the first humans to live on the moon. And he's bored out of his mind. Kids aren't allowed on the lunar surface, meaning they're trapped inside the tiny moon base with next to nothing to occupy their time; and the only other kid Dash's age spends all his time hooked into virtual reality games. Then Moon Base Alpha's top scientist turns up dead. Dash senses there's foul play afoot, but no one believes him. Everyone agrees Dr. Holtz went onto the lunar surface without his helmet properly affixed, simple as that. But then Dash learns Dr. Holtz was on the verge of an important new discovery, and it's a secret that could change everything for the Moonies;a secret someone just might kill to keep...

My Thoughts
Science fiction meets murder mystery! This book is a great combination of the two. I like how living on the room is not romanticized and actually seems sort of boring and constricting after a while. I was very interested in the authors description of how this moon base works and the info from the NASA manual add a comedic component. There are many possibilities for this book. I would recommend it for an independent read or read aloud for grades 4-7. 

by Ann Bausum
Published 2014 by National Geographic Children's Books
80 Pages 

Goodreads Summary
Move over, Rin Tin Tin. Here comes Sgt. Stubby! That German shepherd star of the silver screen may have been born behind enemy lines during World War I, but Stubby, the stump-tailed terrier, worked behind enemy lines, and gained military honors along the way. Private Robert Conroy casually adopted the orphan pup while attending basic training on the campus of Yale University in 1917. The Connecticut volunteer never imagined that his stray dog would become a war hero. He just liked the little guy. When Conroy's unit shipped out for France, he smuggled his new friend aboard. By the time Stubby encountered Conroy's commanding officer, the dog had perfected his right-paw salute. Charmed, the CO awarded Stubby mascot status and sent him along with Conroy's unit to the Western Front. Stubby's brave deeds earned him a place in history and in the Smithsonian Institution where his stuffed body can still be seen. Almost 100 years later, Stubby's great deeds and brave heart make him an animal hero to fall in love with and treasure all over again.

My Thoughts
This book is about little Stubby and how he became a war hero, but it is more about a man and his incredible love for his dog. I am not a "dog person" by nature, but I fell in love with Stubby within the pages of this story. Kids will eat it up! I can imagine sharing it as a read aloud slowly, bit by bit as you watch your class fall in love with Stubby. I would recommend it for kids in grades 4-8. 

by J Patrick Lewis and George Ella Lyon
Published 2014 by Wordsong
128 Pages
Historical Fiction/Poetry

Goodreads Summary
This novel-in-verse plunges readers into the heart of the experience of the March on Washington, capturing the emotions of the day from multiple points of view. Throughout this moving, beautifully crafted collection of poems, six “soloists” tell their personal tales of how the March changed them. These voices are interwoven with those of more than 35 others, combining to share one incredible story of that important day. From a woman singing through a terrifying bus ride to DC to a young child riding above the crowd on her father’s shoulders, each voice brings something different and fresh to the story, making the March completely accessible to young readers. Based on extensive research, Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis and highly-lauded poet George Ella Lyon have crafted a unique and beautiful account of this important moment in our history.

My Thoughts
Beautiful!! Reading this book makes you feel like you are right there in Washington during the historic March in 1963. The authors have certainly done their homework. They have taken over 70 different points of view and woven them together in one powerful, moving novel in verse. While it would take a good deal of discussion and vocabulary building for 4th graders, selected poems could be shared if classes would like to discuss this period in US history and get varied perspectives. However, I would recommend it more as an independent read and read aloud for grades 5-8.

Those are all the MSBA books I have read. I will not likely get to the rest, but I would encourage you to support the efforts of The Maine Student Book Award by reading as many as you can and sharing them with your students. 

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