Junior Library Guild

All posts tagged Junior Library Guild

The Black Rabbit, by Philippa Leathers

Published May 8, 2014 by Dagmar

BlackRabbitHere’s a really fun read aloud.  I read this to students from our transitional kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade.  All of them LOVED this book.

Black Rabbit comes out of his burrow into the bright sunlight.  He sees a big black rabbit behind him and is very scared.  He runs from Black Rabbit, but Black Rabbit runs after him.  Rabbit hides behind a tree but when he comes out from behind the tree there is big Black Rabbit.  All my students yelled out, “It’s his shadow!”, but this book has a couple of great twists that kept them totally interested until the end.

My students all immediately said, “Read it again!”  Don’t miss this great book.  A Junior Library Guild selection.


Nelson Mandela, by Kadir Nelson

Published December 6, 2013 by Dagmar

mandelaYesterday, Nelson Mandela passed away.  He fought for freedom and won it for his people.  He was a tremendous man.  He lived 95 years and is a symbol of the power of protest for so many around the world.  President Obama said, “Let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived–a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”

How lucky for us that we have Kadir Nelson’s beautiful picture book about Nelson Mandela to help children understand the life and work of Nelson Mandela.  The book, written in verse, leads the reader through Nelson Mandela’s life from the time he was a child through the end of apartheid and his election as South Africa’s first black president.  The illustrations are full-page and incredible in the way that they capture the emotion of each scene.

On the back cover of the book, the author says, “My work is all about healing and giving people a sense of hope and nobility.  I want to show the strength and integrity of the human being and the human spirit.”  He certainly succeeded in this book.

Highly recommended.  Best for third grade and up, but could work for younger students as well.  Thank you to Junior Library Guild for introducing me to this book.

Review: Secrets of Shakespeare’s Grave, by Deron R. Hicks

Published August 13, 2013 by Dagmar

Here’s a book I really enjoyed from my summer reading list: Secrets of Shakespeare’s Grave, by Deron R. Hicks.  This is the first book in the Letterford mysteries.

Secrets of Shakespeare's graveBeginning in the year 1616 on Mont Saint Michel on the coast of France, the reader is immediately engaged as a man breaks into a church in order to remove an item that he has been asked to protect.  Flash forward to 1623 when a man is asked to built a mysterious device in a small room.  Flash forward again to the present day as newspaper articles tell of the misfortunes of one famous publishing house, Letterford Publishing.  Chapter 2 takes the reader to Manchester, Georgia where we meet Colophon Letterford, the 12 year old daughter of Mull Letterford, the beleaguered owner of Letterford Publishing.  As the family sits down to Thanksgiving dinner, a mysterious and unkempt Cousin Julian arrives.  Colophon learns that Cousin Julian is trying to find a treasure, supposedly hidden by Colophon’s ancester, Miles Letterford.  Together, Colophon, her older brother Case and Cousin Julian set off to solve the Letterford mystery and hopefully save Letterford Publishing.

This is a fast-paced, intelligent mystery perfect for upper elementary readers.  I can’t wait to recommend it to my students.

Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet, by Andrea Cheng

Published July 1, 2013 by Dagmar

Etched in ClayThis is a very moving book, written in verse, about Dave the Potter a slave who lived in South Carolina in the 1800s.  Andrea Cheng has woven the voices of Dave’s various masters, with Dave’s own voice and the voices of his two wives, Eliza and Lydia.  The book moves quickly and is filled with beautiful woodcuts that help illustrate the story.  I read this book in one sitting and immediately handed it to my 12 year old son to read.  He also read it in one sitting.

Dave was bought on the auction block when he was 17.  Bought to dig clay in the river in South Carolina, Dave’s master, Harvey Drake, the owner of a pottery company, teaches him to throw pottery.  Drake sees that Dave is talented at creating pottery and soon, Dave no longer digs for clay.  He only creates pottery.  Drake marries Dave to a woman named Eliza, who is sold off after a few years.  Dave misses her terribly.  When Drake, at his wife’s urging, helps Dave learn to read, Dave not only reads, he starts to think in verse.  Soon, he wants to write down his words on the pots he creates.  But, slaves who could write were feared in South Carolina.  In fact, a slave caught writing would be punished by lashing.  Despite the danger, Dave bravely continues to write verse on the pots he creates, showing the world that he made those beautiful pots. Dave moves from master to master throughout his life and even works as a type setter for a time before returning to creating pottery. He is married a second time to a woman named Lydia who has two sons he loves.  Again, they are taken away from him.  Finally, after the Civil War ends, Dave is free.  Yet, he continues to work for his last master, Lewis Miles in Edgefield.

This book portrays the cruelty of slavery in a meaningful way that I think will resonate with students.  Readers really feel his hurt from the time when his master decides what to call him to the loss of his wives and stepsons and the indignity of being told it is dangerous for him to read and write.

Highly recommended for middle and high school.  A Junior Library Guild selection.

Summer reading lists

Published June 5, 2013 by Dagmar

I’m finishing up the school year, inventorying books, cataloging my book orders and giving hugs to kids stopping by wondering why we aren’t holding classes.  Once our shelves are filled with new books and we host our fabulous library book giveaway and sale today, it’s time to lock the doors for the summer and read, read, read!

I’ve got a pretty ambitious reading list for this summer.  Here are some of the chapter books I’m looking forward to reading this summer and hopefully recommending to students next school year.  Some of the picks are by authors I love, some were recommended by students, some are simply books on my library shelves that I haven’t read yet, including books sent through my fabulous Junior Library Guild subscriptions, others are award winners.

So many books, so little time! 🙂  Ok, here goes nothing!

PS. Be Eleven – new book by the wonderful author of One Crazy Summer (see my blog article)

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin – author of the incredible book Bomb: the race to build – and steal – the world’s most dangerous weapon (see my blog article)

Witness, by Karen Hesse – a very moving book about KKK activity in a small town in Vermont in 1924

A Hero’s Guide to Saving the Kingdom by Christopher Healy – when I asked my students about their favorite books of the year, one student enthusiastically recommended this book – a Junior Library Guild selection.

The Robe of Skulls by Vivien French- a popular mystery in my library and a Junior Library Guild selection.

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass – recommended by a young blog reader!

Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse – 1998 Newbery Award winner

Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey – 2012 Michael L. Printz Award winner

Ida B by Katherine Hannigan – a Booklist starred review

One White Dolphin by Gill Lewis – a book for animal lovers – a Junior Library Guild selection

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly – 2010 Newbery Honor book

Kira Kira by Cynthia Kodohata – 2005 Newbery Medal

Secrets of Shakespeare’s Grave by Deron R. Hicks and Mark Edward Geyer – a Junior Library Guild selection

Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley – a Junior Library Guild selection

I’d love to hear about your top summer reading picks!  Comment with some recommendations, please!

Have a wonderful end of the school year and summer ahead,