Friday, November 07, 2008

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat
by Lynne Jonell
c. 2006


  • The sequel, Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls, is published (one copy for LH on order until we see if there is interest).
  • Genre: Mystery with fantasy and humor
  • Great Stone Face nominee 2008/9
  • for 4th and 5th grades


Emmy's world has turned upside down. Since her family
inherited a fortune, her parents are rarely home and seem to have pretty much forgotten her. Her teachers and fellow students ignore her, and she has
been left in the hands of her coldhearted and sinister nanny, Miss Barmy.

Read p. 1, "Emmy was a good girl. At least she tried very hard to be good.
page 5, "you're a big nothing, if you ask me."

As if things weren't bad enough, now Emmy has a rat insulting her! But Emmy discover that she isn't the only one who can understand the class rat when Joe, who is popular and plays soccer very well, surprises Emmy by talking to her when he catches her leaving a note for the Ratty the rat.

Read p. 14 "Emmy stared at Joe. Someone had spoken to her"
p. 15 "except Joe, who stared at her wildly"

So Emmy does decide to be a little bad, and she impulsively lets Ratty, who is not so very mean, out of his cage and they become friends. Emmy and Ratty are trying to figure out what Miss Barmy is doing sneaking into the school and are hiding in the bushes near the soccer field, when suddenly ...

read p. 98 "all at once, a whistle blew, a player shouted ...
p. 100 "curled up on the ground and shut her eyes"

Now Emmy has several mysteries on her hands - why can she and Joe understand rodents talking? Why is her nanny Miss Barmy so mean and exactly what is she really up to? Why do all of her classmates and teachers treat her like she doesn't exist? And, what is she going to do about Joe, who is now two inches tall?

Find out by reading this fun, action-packed mystery!


5th grade booktalk

Sara Zoe Patterson

some text taken from:
SLJ review
Book cover/flap

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shadow Thieves

Shadow Thieves
by Anne Ursu
c. 2006


  • This is the first book in a planned trilogy called The Cronus Chronicles. The second book is already out, called The Siren Song; Little Harbor owns one copy. The Promethian Flame, book 3, will be released summer 2009.
  • Genre: fantasy
  • Mielswetzki is pronounced Meals - wet - ski
  • Share with grade 5 - nothing inappropriate, just a challenging book requiring some background knowledge


In The Shadow Thieves, a fantasy book by Anne Ursu, the author imagines a world very much like our everyday world, except that ancient Greek myths are real.

Charlotte Mielswetzki is a pretty ordinary girl, but something extraordinary happens to her, and
it has everything to do with her creepy English
teacher, Mr. Metos and the peculiar, yellow- eyed men in tuxedoes that have begun
to follow her everywhere.

And then there's her new cat, Mew, who stopped her on the street and insisted Charlotte take her home and seems to have some strange abilities.

Charlotte's cousin Zee lived in England, where all of his friends became mysteriously and seriously ill. Sent to Charlotte's family in
America, Zee discovers that the same thing starts to happen to his new

Read p. 76 "Perhaps everything would have unfolded differently ...."
p. 77 ".. and just about every new release the movie rental place had."

p. 79 "Zee's days of bed rest meant he was not in school on Monday ..."
p. 80  "and make-up work to, well, make up."

p. 80 "by Wednesday afternoon parents had called parents, doctors had called doctors ..."
p. 81 "and on Tuesday half the students are out sick."

When Charlotte learned there was to be no school, she ran up to the den to tell Zee

p. 83 "Hey, Zee! Guess what?"
p.84 "They followed me."

Zee believes he is the cause of the mysterious sickness , and Zee and Charlotte set out to solve the mystery in order to help their friends. The cousins must get down to into Hades and across the River Styx to get to the bottom of this …they must save the world from The Shadow Thieves.


5th grade booktalk

Sara Zoe Patterson

some text taken from:
SLJ review
Book cover/flap

On the Wings of Heroes

On the Wings of Heroes

by Richard Peck

© 2007

Great Stone Face Nominee, 2008-2009

(Better for 5th grade - will end up on that "list" next year but booktalk it to both 4th and 5th for the GSF)

On the Wings of Heroes is by Richard Peck. This book is historical fiction. Historical
books are from the author’s imagination yet set
in an actual time and place in history. This story takes place in the year 1941, as World War II was just beginning for the United States.

When the United States enters World War II, life changes for everyone, including Davy Bowman. Davy's older brother Bill enlists and becomes a bombardier on
a B-17, flying dangerous missions over Germany. Davy's mom and dad worry about his brother, waiting anxiously for news about him.
Instead of playing hide-and-go-seek, Davy and his friend Scooter spend their time collecting metal, paper, and milkweed for the war effort, and meet the town's cast of quirky characters.

Davy and Scooter are combing the countryside for milkweed, which will be used to fill life vests, when they spot a very interesting barn, and inside the barn, a very cool old car. They start exploring the barn and the car, when suddenly ...

Read: p. 67 " an explosion about busted my eardrums. Hail rattled the roof from a clear blue sky."

Through p. 70 "He looked modest. Also, he had a buttermilk mustache. Miss Titus's was real."

Sugar, shoes, toothpaste, and car tires are all rationed, leaving Davy wearing shoes many sizes too small while he waits for his turn to get larger ones. But school goes on (with Miss Titus as a surprise substitute!), and Davy's adventures with his friends and his father keep him busy with funny and sometimes sad adventures and misadventures while he waits to hear news of his brother Bill, flying secret missions overseas. 

Sara Zoƫ Patterson

August 2008, revised 10/08

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

reading for kids

Warriors: The Lost Warrior Manga/Tokyopop edition, Erin Hunter
Ages 8-12, grades 4-6
So the first thing is that this is in graphic novel format, but there is nothing 'manga' about it. That completely aside, I'm not really interested in this story. It was amazingly popular with the 5th and 6th grade girls at my previous job (the regular format, that is). These cats take themselves way too seriously.

Clementine's Letter, Sara Pennypacker
Ages 7-12, grades 2-4 (main character and setting is 3rd grade)
Clementine is awesome, and I definitely see why kids and adults alike love her. Great books, appealing story, funny and realistic in an overall positive sense.

Leaping Beauty, Gregory Maguire
Ages 8-12, grades 3-6
This would make an excellent read-aloud for older grades (4 and 5), especially when studying fairy tales. I can imagine activities where the kids listen and draw characters based on what they are listening to. The vocabulary, sentence structure, and themes would make this a challenging book for all but the brightest and strongest readers. But a lot to interact with and read together and talk about - very stimulating and full of great vocabulary.

Dinosaur Trouble, Dick King-Smith
I'm not going to bother looking up the age range or anything because I just didn't like this book - dinosaurs work together to kill a t.rex that has been tormenting them.

Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
grades 1-2
Pretty fun story, good vocabulary, lots of straightforward dialogue. A solid beginning reader.

I Love My New Toy!, An Elephant & Piggie Book, Mo Willems
Ages 4-8, grades k-2
Another solidly awesome beginning reader from Mo Willems - funny, pretty simple, great story and great characters

Medusa Jones, Ross Collins
Ages 9-12, grades 3-5
Would make a perfect Ancient Greece tie-in - Medusa Jones is a medusa, and has a centaur and minotaur friend - their other classmates are the kids of greek gods, and are vain and a little lacking in brains. They pick on Medusa and her friends until they all go on a field trip up Mount Olympus and Medusa and friends save the day. The greek gods' kids don't really stop picking on our heros, and Medusa, in a funny, inadvertent way, turns them to stone. A fun story with a lot of opportunity for discussion and research outlets.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Bloom's Taxonomy for the Digital Age

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy

I will be digesting this for a long time to come - using this space to begin passing it along - I like the inclusion of so many different skill sets, and know many will appreciate the rubrics (me, I am completely disenchanted of rubrics these days, but that is another story about kids growing up to always need specific, concrete guidelines, a story for another day)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Reading for kids

What I've read recently [mostly notes for myself to remember these books later]:

Rex Zero and the End of the World, Tim Wynne-Jones [grades 5-8, ages 9-12]
a fifties Cold War kids in suburbia book, from the perspective of a new-to-the-neighborhood kid. A mystery "monster" is terrorizing kids and making them spend their summer in fear and solving the great mystery, at home the news is making their parents build bomb shelters or not talk about things. Some good kids get it and parents don't stuff, some good sibling it's ok to be friends but you don't have to be as long as you can get along and see your siblings as people stuff.

Babymouse, Queen of the World! [grades 4-6, ages 4-8]
fun, silly and not-so-silly graphic novel. Babymouse wants popularity over friends to start, but figures it out before the end. lots of great fairy tale and classic story references (cinderella, frankenstein)

Artemis Fowl the graphic novel [ages 9-12]
I haven't read this series yet, but the graphic novel makes me want to. Evil 12-year-old genius as the central character? Awesome. Not sure my long term patience for the high-tech fairy world, but we'll see.

Amulet, Kazu Kibuishi - Book 1, The Stonekeeper [ages 8-12]
brilliant illustrations, a story painfully similar to Spyderwick Chronicles, but still alluring - mom eaten by blobby thing in basement other world, kids rescue her with the help of the amulet. Cliff hanger.

The Time Travelers, Book 1 in The Gideon Trilogy, Linda Buckley-Archer [grades 5-8, ages 9-12]
Two modern kids that barely know each other get thrust back in time due to an experimental machine. They land in 1763, a time where the details of life (clothes and getting around) are very different, but so are cultural things like the criminal justice system. Engaging, with a riveting story that provides continuous reasons to keep reading till the end.

Friday, April 18, 2008

on the power of fandom

Over at The Movie Fanatic, they are running a series called THE TWILIGHT SAGA: and today's installment is The Twilight Fandom: Who they are and what they're capable of.

I was hoping for a little more from the title, ie "what they're capable of" but perhaps that is coming in the rest of the 4-part series. For now, though, it's just fun to read things like this and know that people can be really really really passionate about books:

Twilighters Around the World: Twilight sites are not limited to English speaking countries. If you think Harry Potter is the only ‘worldwide’ phenomenon, think again, here's our current alpha list:

Argentinean sites: and
Australian site:
Brazilian site:
Chilean site:
Colombian site:
Finnish site:
French site:
Italian site:
Mexican site:
Philippine site:
Portuguese site:
Spanish sites: and
Swiss site:
Venezuelan site:

According to the Twilight Top Sites, there are now 86 websites dedicated to Stephenie Meyer's book and soon-to-be movie, Twilight.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

giving stuff away for free can mean making more money

From Neil Gaiman's blog (bold emphasis mine):
It's worth drawing people's attention to the fact that the free online reading copy of American Gods is now in its last six days online (it ends 31 March 08). I learned this from an email from Harper Collins, which also told me the latest batch of statistics.

For American Gods:

68,000 unique visitors to the book pages of American Gods

3,000,000 book pages viewed in aggregate

And that the weekly book sales of American Gods have apparently gone up by 300%, rather than tumbling into the abyss. (Which is -- the rise, not the tumble -- what I thought would happen. Or at least, what I devoutly hoped would happen.)

The book is up at This URL, if you're interested, or want to pass it along to a friend.

Hear that you sellers of books and music and journals and other content? This is how you make fans. Fans buy stuff. Simple as that.

Monday, March 24, 2008

libraries + video games in the new york times

I love the focus of this article, legitimizing video games as a medium that is worthy of its place in libraries, not only as program center but circulating material. Plus, the idea that the video games encourage young people to use the library, and that is something we actually want (v. trying to get rid of teens in libraries)

Taking Play Seriously At The Public Library With Young Video Gamers >