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Review: Fish in a Tree (2015)

fishtreeI want to share this book with every teacher that I know.

This is the story of Ally, a bright young girl who has creatively managed to fool a lot of people. Her poor behavior at school hides her truth. She can’t read.

This is also the story of Mr. Daniels, a teacher who sees Ally’s potential and finds a way to reach her.

The irony is that the kids who this book will speak to the most are not likely to be kids who pick it up to read. This book would be a great title for teachers to read aloud. It would appeal to a wide variety of ages, and I think could do well in grades 2-5.

Ally’s determination and optimism send a positive message to readers on the power of hard work and perseverance. The kindnesses shown by Mr. Daniels and by some of Ally’s classmates illustrate how simple acts of caring can change a person’s life.

I highly recommend reading this book, and sharing it with kids in your life!

-Erin

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Review: Sisters (2014)

sisters

It is summertime, so I finally had a chance to read this book. Getting my hands on it during the school year was impossible. Our students, both the girls and boys, are loving this graphic novel about a family that takes a road trip from California to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Sisters is actually book 2 in a series by Raina Telgemeier. I have not read the first book, and felt that this one stands alone just fine. It is a quick, engaging read and has the power to hook a lot of young readers. I enjoyed the story much more than I expected to. Actually, I really loved it. This may be because the author is close to my age and she wrote about her own life as a child, growing up in a way that seemed very familiar to me.

This book has been nominated by kids for the Colorado Children’s Book Award in 2016. Despite the very stiff competition it has, I’m going to go ahead and predict right now that this one will win the kids’ votes. -Erin

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Review: The Night Gardener (2014)

night gardenerThe Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier is a perfectly creepy story. In the author’s note at the end of the book Auxier credits inspiration from Ray Bradbury and Washington Irving, and then goes on to say that The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett also weaves it’s way into this work. Well, who can resist the thought of a spooky Secret Garden?

The story follows Molly and Kip, two young Irish orphans looking to find work as servants, as they travel to the mysterious Windsor Estate which is hidden away deep in “the sourwoods.”  Along the way they meet an old traveling storyteller named Hester who helps them find their way once Molly promises to share stories of the enigmatic estate with her. When they arrive at the Windsor house they soon realize that things are not as they appear. Entwined within the house is a gigantic, sinister tree. The inhabitants of the house appear pale and sickly, and it isn’t long before Molly begins to encounter the Night Gardener. Then there’s also the matter of the locked door at the top of the stairs…

School ends next week, but I can’t wait to book talk this one with the kids in the library next year! This is a thrilling read with an element of mystery that propels the story forward. It is the perfect amount of creepy for elementary school kids. I would recommend it for readers ages 8-13 who appreciate a bit of suspense and dark imagery. I loved the additional themes within the story of storytelling (what makes it different from lying?), and greed. -Erin