MrsK's K-8 Books Worth Reading

my best-reads-for-k-8 shelf:
MrsK Books's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (best-reads-for-k-8 shelf)

Saturday, February 19, 2022

IL's New Year Book Discoveries

 New Year book picks...
Hours inside leads to great discoveries...
Explore these titles...
Grab a quilt and a cup of hot cocoa!

 Family Story Time:
Publisher's Synopsis:
Pinkerton's natural canine urge to chew on things while teething coincides with a chaotic visit to the museum's collection of dinosaur bones.

MrsK's Review:
There is no better author/illustrator than Steven Kellogg! Pinkerton is one of the classic "chaotic" pups of enjoyment. In this sweetness of fun, Pinkerton is teething, and as a great Dane bones are essential. While Emily is preparing for her class trip to the Natural Museum of History, she reads to Pinkerton about dinosaurs. Her teacher has invited the class to dress-up in dinosaur costumes for their "Dinosaur Day" of exploration. Thinking that she could take Pinkerton with her, she hides his identity in a dinosaur costume. What, oh what, would a teething pup do in a museum of dinosaur bones?

With delightful word choice, chaos revealing illustrations, and humorous giggles... Pinkerton will take your heart and fill it with joy!

You can not go wrong with a Steven Kellogg read aloud!

Meet the Author:

Steven Kellogg is an author and illustrator who has contributed over 90 books for children. He is best known for writing books about animals, for which he credits his grandmother.

Grades 2-3

Publisher's Synopsis:
Winter has finally arrived in Silverlake Forest and Sophie and her friends are having some snowy fun! While playing one day, they accidentally wake a hedgehog named Pippa who has been hibernating all winter. Though Pippa is a little foggy at first, Sophie, Hattie, and Owen show her all the fun things to do in wintertime. There’s ice skating on the pond, sledding down snowy hills, snow-animals to build, and so much more! The only problem is now that Pippa’s awake, will she ever be able to get back to sleep?

"Is that what I think it is?"
MrsK's Review:
One morning when Sophie wakes up... her excitement brings her to the window. Snow! A snow day for Silverlake Elementary, is there anything better than that? Nope!

Sophie and her forest friends will have many delightful moments in their "glistening winter wonderland." Why not build a snow wall for a snow fight? Or maybe learning to skate backwards on the pond for the first time is a grand act of balance. Going sledding can lead to new friends, especially if they are ones who hibernate. There's always room for a mystery... especially when it's locating something special that is lost during all of the fun.

Sometimes you discover a delightful story, one in which the illustrations are too adorable not to browse. This is a fun-filled childhood story line with an adorably "spunky" main character. This is a series that brings to life characters that will not be forgotten.

Meet the Author:

Poppy Green can talk to animals! Unfortunately, they never talk back to her. So she started writing in order to imagine what they might say and do when humans aren’t watching. Poppy lives on the edge of the woods in Connecticut, where her backyard is often a playground for all kinds of wildlife: birds, rabbits, squirrels, voles, skunks, deer, and the occasional wild turkey.

Publisher's Synopsis:
In the ninth book, a Dragon Master named Mina arrives at the castle. She tells Drake and his friends that her kingdom in the Far North Lands was attacked by a magical Ice Giant. Everything there was frozen -- but Mina escaped! Only a fire dragon can unfreeze her land and defeat the terrible Ice Giant. But Rori and Vulcan are no longer at the castle! Can the Dragon Masters find them in time to help their new friend?

MrsK's Review:
Danger... quests... and dragons! Adventure has once again arrived at the Kingdom of Bracken. When Mina, a dragon master, arrives from the Far North Lands... you learn about the fabled Ice Giant. Mina's quest is to find the one dragon that will keep her kingdom from being frozen forever!

Fantasies have an amazing way of unlocking or fears of "inabilities," and bringing forth our inner strengths. This series is a must for every beginner reader who enjoys a quest into a fantastical kingdom!

Meet the Author:

Tracey West is the bestselling author of more than 200 children's books. She is currently working on the Dragon Masters series, which is part of the Scholastic Branches line. Her past series include Pixie Tricks, Scream Shop, and Hiro's Quest.
She currently lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband, Bill, and their three dogs, one cat, and five chickens. She is a proud stepmom to Will, Shannon, and Zane.

Grades 4-6
Publisher's Synopsis:
Iris knows this because she’s read them all. However, as a thirteen-year-old stuck in the tiny town of Bugden, real adventure seems like a distant dream. But when Iris and her best friend, Sam, stumble upon an unusually dry river on the outskirts of town, they’re led to a discovery beyond anything Iris has ever read about: a hidden city and a forgotten tale of friendship.

MrsK's Review: GN
Iris is an avid reader of adventure stories. With an adventurous spirit of curiosity, and a suddenly exposed "tiny" town for exploration, Iris and Sam begin their journey into the "un-inhabited" tiny town. Where is everyone? How long has this "tiny" town been in existence? How long will they have to investigate this grand adventure?

Just when they think they have all the time they could dream of... ominous clouds begin rolling in. Iris does not want to give up her discovering. Sam is getting more concerned about the storm. When they discover the truth about this "tiny" town... will it be too late for them to escape the rising waters?

Graphic novels are a delight for readers of every age, this novel is so well crafted. There are dangers portrayed in the illustrations. The storyline moves with "cliff-hanging" choices. The characters are so realistically portrayed... you forget you are the reader and not in the story!

Enjoy this grand, yet "tiny" adventure,

Meet the Author:
  For the past decade or so he’s been designing award winning animated short films, commercials, music videos, TV shows and video games. His strengths are in conceptualizing the look and feel of a production, designing environments and illustrating background artwork. He strives to make artwork that is broadly appealing and immersive, featuring bold colors, fun shapes and evocative lighting.

Publisher's Synopsis:
Cruz leaves his tranquil home in Hawaii to join 23 talented kids from around the globe to train at the Explorer Academy with the world's leading scientists to become the next generation of great explorers. But for Cruz, there's more at stake. No sooner has he arrived at the Academy than he discovers that his family has a mysterious past with the organization that could jeopardize his future. In the midst of codebreaking and cool classes, new friends and augmented reality expeditions, Cruz must tackle the biggest question of all: Who is out to get him, and why?

"To Discover. To Innovate. To Protect."
MrsK's Review:
Cruz has been chosen to train at the world's prestigious Explorer Academy. Hawaii's surf is much more safe than the expectations of those who believe he has what it takes to become the next generation of famous explorers. What would he do if he failed everyone's expectations?

Lani is his best friend, she will never let him down. Yet, now he will be 4,882 miles away from her friendship and insights. Even though she should have been chosen, Cruz believes that Lani would have been the better choice.

Aunt Marisol continues to teach anthropology at the academy, Cruz's mom had been a neuroscientist until a horrible lab accident took her life. Was he accepted because of the "ties" to the academy? After his mother's death, his dad moved back to Hawaii and opened a surf shop. Their life was ordered. The waves were safe. His friends were on the island. He surfed, hiked, and rock climbed... what will his life be like at an academy?

Cruz will learn that coincidences are not without reason. It will take a character of potential, the ability to perform tasks without endangering life, and an attitude of endurance. Living and competing with international students can be a strengthening experience... then again... it could lead to expulsion!

"Come visit me in Mexico where giant crystals grace.
Trek to frigid Iceland where I roam from place to place.
Look for me in France where old art is on display.
Seek me in New Zealand; let the insects light your way." 

National Geographic has a winner in this Explorer Academy series. Trudi's crafting of a story with scientific wonder will inspire new readers to want to know more. Having this book in your home library will be an outstanding source for research. Just as home encyclopedia's provided hours of discovery for my generation... this series will encourage the same sense of exploration!
Meet the Author:

Ever since writing her first play in the fourth grade, Trudi fell in love with storytelling. As a TV reporter, she got to tell other people's stories. Now, she tells her own!

Trudi writes the EXPLORER ACADEMY series, National Geographic's first fiction series for kids. Her other fiction titles include MY TOP SECRET DARES & DON'TS, THE SISTER SOLUTION, STEALING POPULAR, and THE SECRETS OF A LAB RAT series (all from Aladdin). She's also the author of more than 90 nonfiction children's books.

Trudi's married to her college sweetheart, Bill, and lives to serve her cats, Pippin, Woody, and Emmylou. When she isn't reading, she's wrestling yarn from the kitty gallery to crochet or baking bread. And yes, Trudi Trueit IS her real name.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 Winter picks for Family Enjoyment

Winter picks... these are by far the best covers that I was honored to discover this year! Some are sweet stories, others are inspiring, and then some are a pure joy-filled journey. Every title will provide a delightful "family" storytime.  Whether you are checking them out from your local library or you've ordered them from your "go-to" bookstore... don't miss these titles in 2022!
Happy Reading,
 A family gathered for a storytime...
Winter nipping against the window panes...
Hot cups of goodness...
Memories that will last a life time!

Family Read Aloud
ISBN: 978949474640
Publisher's Synopsis:
The Snowman's Song is an enchanting tale of longing and fulfillment. A little snowman yearns to sing Christmas carols, but is desolate because he hasn't a voice. From the kindness of others, he dares to believe in the impossible and experiences a Christmas miracle. Beautifully told in melodic verse, this inspirational story shows that impossible dreams do come true and reminds us of the true reason for the season.

MrsK's Review: Fantasy/Faith
"Why can't I sing like you?"
A little snowson wants his voice to be heard as a proud hymn about "our Savior's birth." The message is woven with soothing word choice, a melodious voice. As the little snowson continues to question what he must do to be heard, he learns about hope... friendship... and a belief in possibilities.

Illustrations are perfected with just the right "wintry" sprinkling of colors and swooshes. Most delightful and inspiring read-aloud.

Meet the Author:

Marilee Joy Mayfield is a published author of children's books. Published credits of Marilee Joy Mayfield include The Snowman's Song: A Christmas Story, The Tiny Adventures of Big Sister and Little Sister, and The Golden Cricket: A Story of Luck and Prosperity. 

Elizabeth Hasselbeck
ISBN: 9780525652793
Publisher's Synopsis:
Flashlight Night is narrated by a boy whose parents have used chalkboard paint to create a wall where he and his siblings can write out all their fears, cares, and concerns: Will I learn to blow a bubble? Tie my shoes? Stay out of trouble? Be the friend they choose?

The boy shares the wall with a friend, who records her own prayers. Later, they visit the chalkboard wall at dusk with a flashlight. The boy's mom shines the light on some prayers and turns it off at other times, pointing out that their prayers (and the children's faith) are still there, even in the dark, and that God hears every request.

MrsK's Review: Realistic Fiction/Faith
During the world's lockdown, this adventure in trusting God was given a chalk "wall" to heal the changes that none of us could control. A place to to write what was so "fearful." An avenue to see our prayers answered or prayer answers still unknown. 

This is such a beautiful gift to every parent and child. Our hopes in providing the best to the next generation can begin with a simple piece of chalk and this book. Plant the seeds that we are never alone, that God does answer prayer, and that we can use our flashlight in the dark moments to see His handiwork.
Flashlight Night: interview video
Meet the Author:
Hasselbeck was formerly known to television audiences as a participant on the wildly popular second edition of Survivor: The Australian Outback. Since taking her coveted seat on The View in 2003 she has been the focus of major magazine covers and articles including USA Weekend, Curious Parents, People, TV Guide, Fitness, Glamour, Us Weekly, Life, Pregnancy and ePregnancy. She has filled in on the FOX News Channel's Fox and Friends, and has been a guest on Hannity and Colmes, Larry King Live, The Martha Stewart Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Good Morning America.

ISBN: 9780997782714
Publisher's Synopsis:
Meet Bibli, a brave little library bookshelf in search of a story about someone like him . . . Once upon a time, in a library like any other, there lived a little bookshelf named Bibli who carried a BIG question on his shelves: “Could there be a story somewhere about a bookshelf like me?” Bibli is told that bookshelves are supposed to hold stories, not have ones of their own. But everything changes when he meets Cassie, a girl longing for a friend just as much as Bibli longs for a story to relate to. Bibli learns that with kindness, confidence, empathy, and friendship, even your biggest dreams can come true—and that everyone has an important story worth sharing.

"Everyone has a story... Be your-shelf!"
MrsK's Review: Fantasy/Feelings
Bibli is a very brave little bookshelf. When its library was first opened, Bibli was the only bookshelf. Unfortunately, as the library's collection grew, Bibli was pushed further into a back corner.

Now before you feel a sadness for Bibli, I must tell you that Ms. Grammar would come and choose the perfect story time book for the daily sharing. Oh, how Bibli enjoyed hearing all of the children's responses.

Then one day... a reader by the name of Cassie came to story time. Looking for a place to sit, Cassie soon found a place beside Bibli. With a whispered wonder, Bibli discovers a friendship with Cassie. A friendship that might help him discover if there has ever been a story written about a bookshelf.

Simply adorable! Delightful illustrations portrays the emotions of Bibli, of a young story-teller, and the reactions of the children (those listening to you the reader as you read aloud). Just a quick caution... this book will be one of those books that your littles will shout.. Again!

Meet the Author:
  Caroline and Katherine Brickley 
are twin sisters and the award-winning authors of The Blossom Shoppe and The Friendly Bookshelf. Inspired by their mother, who made up stories for them each night, the sisters spent their childhood coming up with stories of their own and bringing them to life. As they grew, so did their passion for storytelling, and in 2017 the sisters made it their full-time job by founding Blossom Children’s Media Group (Blossom) from their shared college dorm room. Now a multi-award-winning company known for excellence in children’s literature and family content, Blossom continues to bring children, families, and educators from around the world together through wholesome stories and inclusive community experiences. In their free time, Caroline and Katherine love to swim, travel, and spend time with friends and family, including their goldendoodle, Sugar, who served as the inspiration for the library dog featured in The Friendly Bookshelf.

ISBN: 9781728250342
Publisher's Synopsis:
When Leo's mom and dad pack him off to fight a dragon, he takes a shield, a sword--and a pile of his favorite books. But can a story be as mighty as a sword?

This delightful rhyming story about books and the joy of reading is also perfect for kids who love dragon books, adventures, brave knights, and books about castles!

MrsK's Review: Fantasy
Leo is not a knight who is inspired to fight foes. In fact, Leo, is a knight who is a wise reader. One night, his parents discover an ad about a dragon that needed taming. With the concern for his safety, of course his parents provide a suit of armor and a sword before they send him on his way.

With food for his travels, as well as a sack of books, Leo finds himself on a quest to tame this dragon. Along the way, Leo meets a Griffin, a troll, and an enormous dragon. A fiery red dragon that he had disturbed!

How will Leo fight these foes? Well that is his story to tell. A story that is weaving a tale that all of us know. A story in which we must face our fears with courage, grit, and the wisdom discovered within the pages of a book.

Darling tale, just awaiting your reader voice...

Meet the Author:
Helen lives in Swansea, Wales, and is an internationally published picture book author. Her work, which includes the award-winning picture books The Snatchabook and The Storybook Knight ( The Knight Who Wouldn't Fight), has been translated into 25 languages. Her stories have been staged as plays and as an children’s opera, by a school in Canada. Helen worked for many years as a language teacher in Mexico City and the UK before becoming an author. She also has an MA in Film and Television Production (Bristol University), which helped to develop her skills in crafting narrative. Helen often collaborates with her husband, the illustrator and author Thomas Docherty. Their latest book, Pirate Nell's Tale to Tell, will be published in September 2020.

ISBN: 9780735844445
Publisher's Synopsis:
When an inventive mouse misses the biggest cheese festival the world has ever seen, he’s determined to turn back the clock. But what is time, and can it be influenced? With the help of a mouse clockmaker, a lot of inventiveness, and the notes of a certain famous Swiss physicist he succeeds in traveling back in time. But when he misses his goal by eighty years, the only one who can help is an employee of the Swiss Patent Office, who turned our concept of space and time upside down.

"Time is Relative"
MrsK's Review: Fantasy/Science
This is a fantastic journey. One in which you will journey with an inventor, of course this inventor is a mouse that is very curious and oh-so intelligent.

Seeking to discover the answer to his question "What is time?," little mouse embarks on a journey. When he encounters a white mouse, who is a clockmaker, little mouse learns the history of time (ancient astronomers, earth's rotation, passing of time, and the physicist Albert Einstein). During little mouse's quest, he learned how to create a time machine. A time machine in which he could travel back to 1905 to locate Einstein.

This book is a journey that is wonderfully crafted. History is portrayed in a curious outline that will inspire further learning. The illustrations are intriguing and overflowing with historical accuracy. This is a journey for every learner... young and old! In today's world, such a journey is necessary to ignite the desire for a life-long learner,
Don't miss out on further adventures:
Meet the Author:

Torben Kuhlmann (right click on website and scroll then click: translate) is a German communications designer, illustrator and picture book author. He studied Illustration and Communication Design at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences . In 2014 he published his first book, Lindbergh - The adventurous story of a flying mouse, the product of his graduation thesis at the college.
Grades 4-6:
ISBN: 9780307931474
Publisher's Synopsis:
Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative game maker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.

Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.

MrsK's Review: Fantasy
Kyle's one "shining" talent is outsmarting players (board-games, cards, and following clues). When he learns that there will be an "invitation-only" student lock-in at the new library, he knows that he must enter the drawing. Yet, writing an essay is not his favorite skill. He only has a few moments to draft a winning essay to the "world's most famous game-maker."

Alexandriaville's newest library is about to open. Due to security purposes, the construction of the library has been kept secretive. No construction crew ever stayed long enough to see how their expertise "fit-in" with other contractors. Only Dr. Zinchenko knew the plans of her employer (three-story rotunda, stunning tech effects, Dewey decimal depictions, author-sculpture learning sessions, holograms, mirages, and so many opportunities to "uncover" a new learning adventure). 

Mr. Lemoncello, a man of marvels. A gaming genius. The financier, chief engineer/designer, and judge of the essay winners. An extraordinary riddle master! His designs will be the most amazing and wonderous library! "Every patron will gain the knowledge needed to do anything and everything they want or need to do!" 

So many clues... so many great titles... extra-imaginative technology... and an adventure learning the Dewey decimal system! A perfect family read-aloud... Absolutely the most enjoyable trip to a library that I've ever encountered,
"If two witches were watching two watches,
which witch would watch which watch?"
Mr. Lemoncello's: Extras Link
Meet the Author:

   CHRIS GRABENSTEIN is a #1 New York Times bestselling author. His books include the LEMONCELLO, WONDERLAND, HAUNTED MYSTERY, DOG SQUAD, and SMARTEST KID IN THE UNIVERSE series, and many fun and funny page-turners co-authored with James Patterson.

Rosemary Wells
ISBN: 9780763658151
Publisher's Synopsis:
One day in a house at the end of Lucifer Street, on the Mississippi River side of Cairo, Illinois, eleven-year-old Oscar Ogilvie's life is changed forever. The Crash of 1929 has rippled across the country, and Oscar's dad must sell their home--with all their cherished model trains--and head west in search of work. Forced to move in with his humorless aunt, Carmen and his teasing cousin, Willa Sue, Oscar is lonely and miserable--until he meets a mysterious drifter and witnesses a crime so stunning it catapults Oscar on an incredible train journey from coast to coast, from one decade to another. Filled with suspense and peppered with witty encounters with Hollywood stars and other bigwigs of history, this captivating novel by Rosemary Wells, gorgeously illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, resonates with warmth, humor, and the true magic of a timeless adventure.

" and my dad...working the central switches...
the throttle... that caused the trains to roar past...
the signal lights... blink red and green...
made all things possible."
MrsK's Review: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
In Cairo, Illinois, Oscar's heart quickened every time he saw his father carrying a red cardboard box. He knew that it would contain a cherished memory... a new Lionel train! Since the time in which Oscar was three, after his mother's death, his father and him had began collecting, designing, and crafting a train extravaganza in their basement. By 1929, they owned ten complete Lionel train sets. Although, Oscar's favorite train was the Blue Comet (I must say that if you had a train set back in the day... you can already relate to the awesomeness of this story).

In 1929, the stock market crashed. As with so many families, by 1931, Oscar's father looses his job in Illinois and is transferred to the John Deere company in California. Oscar's life is turned upside down. He must move from the house that his mother had lovingly maintained. He would not be able to keep his Lionel trains, for the house and the trains have been sold to the new owner. He would be left behind, just until his Dad could send for him, with his Aunt. How would Oscar cope?

Then one day... Henry Applegate introduces himself to Oscar. A most needed "miracle" especially at the precise time in which Oscar could no longer concentrate with his school work. Math story problems made no sense, and Oscar was in need of his dad's short cuts. As a mathematician, Mr. Applegate is the perfect tutor for Oscar. Mr. Applegate has a secret code for remembering things.

Then one night, during a storm, at the bank... all Oscar can remember is a moment in time when he heard a gun shot! The only thing he can see is the underside of a tin bench... that is stamped with the words Lionel Company.

What begins with a robbery, a murder, and a "missing boy," unfolds into a journey travel... back and forth into time. From Illinois to California and back again to the east coast. All Oscar understands is "some how" he is traveling on his Blue Comet train with a Golden State Limited round trip ticket.

Historical fiction, the journeys in which you meet historical figures... learn how people lived and survived... an avenue for insights that a history book often fails to emphasize. All aboard... 
If you can keep you head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you...
Rudyard Kipling Poem
Meet the Author:

  Rosemary Wells
is the author of a number of popular children's books, most notably the Max and Ruby series which follows the everyday adventures of sibling bunnies - curious three year old Max and bossy seven year old Ruby. She gets the inspiration for Max and Ruby from her two daughters and the experiences they have with friends and school. Her West Highland Terriers Lucy and Snowy have also worked their way into her books, as McDuff and insight for other characters. She has also written Noisy Nora, Yoko, Voyage to the Bunny Planet series, a Christmas Book called Morris's Disappearing Bag and a collected book of illustrations of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs. In April 2007, her children's book The Gulps featuring illustrations by Marc Brown was released. Also that year she published Red Moon at Sharpsburg, a historical novel featuring a young girl in the American Civil War.

ISBN: 9780062299994
Publisher's Synopsis:
Eli Frieden has never left Serenity, New Mexico...why would he ever want to? Then one day, he bikes to the edge of the city limits and something so crazy and unexpected happens, it changes everything.

Eli convinces his friends to help him investigate further, and soon it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems in Serenity. The clues mount to reveal a shocking discovery, connecting their ideal crime-free community to some of the greatest criminal masterminds ever known. The kids realize they can trust no one—least of all their own parents.

"... some of the kids in Serenity...including you... are special..." 
MrsK's Review: Mystery/Sci-Fi
In the town of Serenity there is very little concern about society and/or troubles. Serenity, New Mexico, is a small town in which life is perfect. Education is rich and fulfilling. The community is cheerful and supportive. All of the families are close-knitted. Serenity is voted as the "#1 Best Town in the USA." There is no troubles economically, no crime, and no homelessness. With a population of only 185, most of the families have a connection to the Serenity Plastics Works. Everyone in Serenity knows that they are lucky to be living in Serenity, especially since the towns around them have such burdens.

Or so Eli believed, until that afternoon that he followed Randy to the city limits in search of a 1961 Alfa Romero. In fact Eli was surprised to see the "Now Leaving Serenity--America's Ideal Community" sign. Eli learned that it was "78 miles to the next gas station" once you left Serenity. All he remembers is that he started feeling ill and then his chin hit the pavement. Oh, he remembered the "Purple People Eaters," who are those with helicopters. They are the Surety, like a stormtrooper, they work at the plastic works. Without a mother, his dad is the voice he recognizes. That's moment that Eli will remember as his life-changer.

Randy the one that causes everyone to laugh. The one who pushes the boundaries of Serenity's expectations. The one who does the "unthinkable" and leads Eli to the city limits. The one who questions by observations. The one who is "extreme." The one friend who cares enough to leave Eli a letter of warning. A letter in which he states what he has discovered about Serenity. 

Amber can hardly believe it, Randy has to go and help his Grandparents in Colorado. He's leaving Serenity! Living in any other place is the saddest thing Amber could imagine. Malik considers this is a grand adventure, one that he would like to be given. The whole world is out there, just waiting to be explored. He is excited about moving to NYC as soon as he is old enough. Tori, well, she is the one that usually helps balance Eli. Tori is that friend that usually listens, and then helps you short things through. She is the one who sees "common sense" when Randy sees adventure.

With Serenity Day festivities soon to start, all students are preparing projects. Eli chooses to do an American, New Mexico, and Serenity timeline. What he discovers is that the Boston Tea Party history he's been taught doesn't match with the computer's history. Why? What else have they been taught that might not be the truth? What really happens at the Plastic Works? and Why do some of the kids get really sick when they get close to city limits?

Korman is an author that you can trust as one of the "go-to" authors. Never a quick read, always filled with page-turning twists and surprises,

Meet the Author:

wrote his first book, "This Can't be Happening at Macdonald Hall", when he was 12 years old, for a coach who suddenly found himself teaching 7th grade English. He later took that episode and created a book out of it, as well, in "The Sixth Grade Nickname Game", wherein Mr. Huge was based on that 7th grade teacher.
Korman moved to New York City, where he studied film and film writing. While in New York, he met his future wife; they now live in Long Island with their three children. He has published more than 50 books.

Grades 8-10:
ISBN: 9781338135558
Publisher's Synopsis:
The story of Irena Sendler the female Oskar Schindler who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II now adapted for a younger audience.
Irena Sendler was a young Polish woman living in Warsaw during World War II. Irena smuggled thousands of children out of the walled Jewish ghetto in toolboxes and coffins, snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints, and slipped them through the dank sewers and into secret passages that led to abandoned buildings, where she convinced her friends and underground resistance network to hide them.

MrsK's Review: Biography
What was life like for a Polish woman living in Warsaw? How much do you know about the Holocaust? Have you heard/read about Anne Frank? 

Meet Irena, a young woman who was determined to smuggle over 2,500 children out of the Warsaw ghetto. This book is written for young readers (grades 4+). Most of Irena's story is written with a narrator voice unless their is a documented insert where you read Irena's descriptions and thoughts.
  • Air raid sirens... what did they do?
  • Siege of their city... what would save them?
  • Occupation... what did that mean... who was unaffected... who was gathered?
  • What was banned... for who... how were they identified?
  • Life inside the Warsaw Ghetto... why were some gathered and removed?
  • Parents desperate to send their children... somewhere safe... where could they go?
  • What would it take for the children who were being sent away?
  • Getting through checkpoints... how did they smuggle out the children?
  • Why were so many sent to Labor camps... what happened there?
  • 1943 Night visits... who was taken... why?
  • 1944 In hiding... what happens next?
Primary sources are the most important resources for any historical fiction author. The facts must be real for the time line. Famous names must have been alive and documented within the area that the book is written about (only character's and feelings are fictional). Biographies must have primary sources (letters, journals, pictures, or film footage).

Never could I have imagined that today's society has turned so drastically away from the truth as we knew it. For every grandparent, parent, teacher, and homeschooler... biographies and credited historical fiction must be introduced to our children. Read-Alouds must be shared... Inquiries must lead to discussions... truths must be discovered... hatred must not lead to silence!
Irena Sendler
Meet the Author:

Tilar J. Mazzeo is a cultural historian, biographer, and passionate student of wine and food culture. She divides her time among the California wine country, New York City, and Maine, where she is a professor of English at Colby College.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

2021 Booked to Dine Book Club choices


ISBN: 9781492671527

Publisher's synopsis:
In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry.

The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

MrsK's Review:
In 1936, Kentucky, the book woman begins her deliveries on her mule. When riding through rough trails, on a mule, there isn't an opportunity to "call" someone when in need. Nor is there a safety "net" for stranger danger. Would you be willing to ride into the mountains just to deliver books?

Cussy Mary is 19. She enjoys the honor of delivering books to those who live around Troublesome Creek. She is committed to the need of literacy for those who dwell in the wilderness, Kentucky's "hill folk." She is "called" to the "grit" of hope that one day a library will bring educational inspiration into the minds and hearts of a new generation. She is one of the "Blue People" of Kentucky, those that are viewed as less than because of the color of their skin. Life's options are limited, yet living life is filled with possibilities. She values that the books she delivers "grows" the younger minds. So, she is willing to face whatever comes across her path!

Historical fiction, a genre that teaches the life lessons of those who have traveled the paths before us. This novel is woven with "heart-fulfilling hope." Characters speak true to their times. Settings are presented with the reality of the time. The storyline is "painfully" factual with reality, hardships, death, and determination to make life better one book at a time.

If you are ready to experience "determination" then begin this journey. Around the world, there have been and continue to be those who are committed to literacy. Some had mules, camels, boats, rafts, and skis. Endurance along the "roads" less traveled... is inspiring!
 Historical fiction...
thoughtfully crafted!
Meet the Author:
   The NEW YORK TIMES, LOS ANGELES TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author, Kim Michele Richardson is an multiple-award winning author and has written four works of historical fiction, and a bestselling memoir.

Her latest critically acclaimed novel, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek has earned a 2020 PBS Readers Choice, 2019 LibraryReads Best Book, Indie Next, SIBA, Forbes Best Historical Novel, Book-A-Million Best Fiction, and is an Oprah's Buzziest Books pick and a Women’s National Book Association Great Group Reads selection. It was inspired by the real life, remarkable "blue people" of Kentucky, and the fierce, brave Packhorse Librarians who used the power of literacy to overcome bigotry and fear during the Great Depression. The novel is taught widely in high schools and college classrooms.

Her forthcoming fifth novel, The Book Woman’s Daughter is both a stand-alone and sequel to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and will be published May 3, 2022. Born in Kentucky, Kim Michele lives with her family there and is the founder of Shy Rabbit.

ISBN: 9780764237164
Publisher's Synopsis:
Headstrong Johanna Berglund, a linguistics student at the University of Minnesota, has very definite plans for her future . . . plans that do not include returning to her hometown and the secrets and heartaches she left behind there. But the US Army wants her to work as a translator at a nearby camp for German POWs.

Johanna arrives to find the once-sleepy town exploding with hostility. Most patriotic citizens want nothing to do with German soldiers laboring in their fields, and they're not afraid to criticize those who work at the camp as well. When Johanna describes the trouble to her friend Peter Ito, a language instructor at a school for military intelligence officers, he encourages her to give the town that rejected her a second chance.

As Johanna interacts with the men of the camp and censors their letters home, she begins to see the prisoners in a more sympathetic light. But advocating for better treatment makes her enemies in the community, especially when charismatic German spokesman Stefan Werner begins to show interest in Johanna and her work. The longer Johanna wages her home-front battle, the more the lines between compassion and treason become blurred--and it's no longer clear whom she can trust.

"How could it have come to this?"
MrsK's Review:
1944, Ironside Lake, Minnesota... a time of unrest, fear, doubts, and sacrifice. Have you heard that life sometimes brings a "turning point" in which everything you've planned gets delayed or taken out of your control? When your community is in need of a thread to hold on to? During WWII, a small town will experience the government's decision to open a German POW camp without consideration of their thoughts, feelings, or fears.

Johanna was in the process of completing her linguistic degree. She planned to meet the world head-on and to experience life through the language of commonality. No where, within her plans, did she expect a "called upon" government request. Nor, would she have expected her plans to be side-tracked by the government. Receiving the notification that she would be placed as a translator in a POW camp is not what one would choose. To be sent back to your hometown in the midst of their "unrest," as a camp translator, well how would the town accept this act of "un-patriotic" positioning?

With in a series of letters, we discover Johanna's realization that she is understanding the hearts of the enemies. Translating their letters to and from their home, their loved ones, leads to the commonality that she knows her town is experiencing with their sons interred in POW camps around Europe. How could she bring this truth to those within her town and help those behind the interment fences?

Once again, historical fiction brings an unknown truth into today's generation. It's hard to determine if growing up in the 60's, history was already being filtered and re-written, or if facts were shelved because of the "painful" life of war... all I can offer is this "shout-out" for historical fiction! To seek truth, to understand history, and to "hone" the person I'm becoming... historical fiction provides a path for self-exploration. An exploration that sharpens the awareness of compassion, acceptance, and profound hope. Ponder the state of our nation today... why are historical facts, perspectives, and life's struggles worth knowing? 2020 rolling into 2021... what should we have known? Who should have taught us? Why must we not forget? Our humanity is shaped... one way or another!
 Historical fiction...
Touching your heart...
with understanding commonalities...
instead of differences!
Meet the Author:
Amy Lynn Green is a publicist by day and a novelist on nights and weekends. History has always been one of her passions, and she loves speaking with book clubs, writing groups, and libraries all around the country. Her debut novel, Things We Didn't Say, received a starred review from both Booklist and Library Journal and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Awards in genre fiction. Amy and her husband make their home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can sign up for her newsletter on her website,, for quarterly giveaways, writing updates, and lots of bookish fun.

ISBN: 9780062999894
Publisher's Synopsis:
In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits her mother’s charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco. She also becomes caretaker for her ailing grandfather Andrew, her only living relative—not counting her scoundrel father.

But the gruff, deeply kind Andrew has begun displaying signs of decline. Natalie thinks it’s best to move him to an assisted living facility to ensure the care he needs. To pay for it, she plans to close the bookstore and sell the derelict but valuable building on historic Perdita Street, which is in need of constant fixing. There’s only one problem–Grandpa Andrew owns the building and refuses to sell. Natalie adores her grandfather; she’ll do whatever it takes to make his final years happy. Besides, she loves the store and its books provide welcome solace for her overwhelming grief.

After she moves into the small studio apartment above the shop, Natalie carries out her grandfather’s request and hires contractor Peach Gallagher to do the necessary and ongoing repairs. His young daughter, Dorothy, also becomes a regular at the store, and she and Natalie begin reading together while Peach works.

"You're never alone when you're reading a book."
MrsK's Review:
How does life meet changes? Who would you be if you had to start over? Natalie has been thrown into an inherited bookshop, as well as becoming a care-giver for her grandfather. There is no time to adjust to the tragedy she experienced during her one moment of recognition.

Growing up in a book store can be fun. New titles arriving. New discoveries and journeys with every turn of the page. Yet, what about her life-wishes? The hope of a new job. A new life. What is unfolding is not part of her wish list! Once she gets everything taken care of, maybe then she can begin following her wish list. Or will she? With an edge of resentment, Natalie will discover that her new life is molded by the unexpected gift of a change in attitude and strangers that become family.

OK... so yes... this is a book lover's dream come true! I began with a quote that I've always used in my vacation books for my students. One of the cherished quotes from this book is crafted with every reader in mind: "Sometimes you have to let the right book find you."

Wonderfully crafted, as this story unfolds you will be touched by the joy of each book title/author that is shared. Woven within the story of the bookshop, her grandfather's story, and her mother's journey as a bookshop owner... you will hear the sounds of the radio music playing for the customers... you will smell the coffee and treats within the coffee shop... you will feel the joys, sorrows, and worries of the bookshop staff and customers. Most importantly you will visualize the "wonder" of discoveries hidden within the doors of the Lost and Found Bookshop.
 Opening the door of the Lost and Found Bookshop...
Discovering an outing right at home!
*Read with a pencil and/or page flags*
Meet the Author:
 Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends...and fiction. She lives at the water's edge on an island in Puget Sound, and she commutes to her writers' group in a 17-foot motorboat. She serves as author liaison for Field's End, a literary community on Bainbridge Island, Washington, bringing inspiration and instruction from the world's top authors to her seaside community. (See She's been featured in the national media, including NPR's "Talk of the Nation," and is a popular speaker locally and nationally. The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book.

ISBN: 9780807083697
Publisher's Synopsis:
The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given.

"Strength. Endurance. To survive, my ancestors
had to put up with more than I ever could. 
Much more..."
MrsK's Review:
Dana is twenty-six, newly married, and living in California. As they were unpacking into their new home, Dana began feeling strange as if something was calling her. Suddenly she was in a green area... what was happening to her? Where was she? All she could remember was that her life with Kevin had become unfocussed.

At some point in time, she hears the screams of a child. A child drowning! Knowing how to save the boy, she doesn't hesitate as the little red headed boy lays motionless. Other than the mother screaming, the only sound she could hear was the sound of a gun being cocked. Then everything vanished.

She had no answers for Kevin. She only knew she had saved a boy from drowning and the adult voices sounded like they were from the deep south. Yet later that evening, she felt herself falling out of her chair.. in a beat of her heart...Dana was once again in the South, in a small cabin with a older child lighting the drapes on fire! Rufus appears to be around 8 years old. Why would he be starting a fire?

Dana soon discovers that when ever Rufus is in trouble and fears that he will die, somehow... someway he calls her to him. Across the states and across time. In fact it was 1815, not 1976! She is in Maryland, on the Weylin plantation in which this boys father whips him... a whipping almost to death. Weylin, a name that Dana knew well for it was listed in her grandmother's bible. Could Rufus be a relative? Her ancestor? This place and time would prove dangerous for Dana, very dangerous. Only the fear of her own death will get her home... home to Kevin. Or so she thought.

Historical fiction, a measure of strength and determination. A time in which we can learn valuable life "truths." An insight into man's failures, social downfalls, and hopes. When historical fiction is crafted with a heart of humanity, there is always an opportunity for the reader to gain personal insights. The fine line is if there is hope or horrific anger. Grit or hatred. Wisdom or deceit. Truth or separation. This story is woven through a prism of light, a light that shines an encouragement... we can overcome injustice and learn compassion from those who walked before us.
 Historical fiction...
An avenue we all travel!
Meet the Author:
After her father died, Octavia Butler was raised by her widowed mother. Extremely shy as a child, Octavia found an outlet at the library reading fantasy, and in writing. She began writing science fiction as a teenager. She attended community college during the Black Power movement, and while participating in a local writer's workshop was encouraged to attend the Clarion Workshop, which focused on science fiction.

She soon sold her first stories and by the late 1970s had become sufficiently successful as an author that she was able to pursue writing full-time. Her books and short stories drew the favorable attention of the public and awards judges. She also taught writer's workshops, and eventually relocated to Washington state. Butler died of a stroke at the age of 58. Her papers are held in the research collection of the Huntington Library. 

ISBN: 9780778319849
Publisher's Synopsis:
A woman inherits a beloved bookstore and sets forth on a journey of self-discovery in this poignant debut about family, forgiveness and a love of reading.

Miranda Brooks grew up in the stacks of her eccentric Uncle Billy’s bookstore, solving the inventive scavenger hunts he created just for her. But on Miranda’s twelfth birthday, Billy has a mysterious falling-out with her mother and suddenly disappears from Miranda’s life. She doesn’t hear from him again until sixteen years later when she receives unexpected news: Billy has died and left her Prospero Books, which is teetering on bankruptcy—and one final scavenger hunt.

MrsK's Review:
Beginning in 1998, Miranda knew that her Uncle Billy was special to her and a pressurized source of frustration to her mom. Having the opportunity of growing up in a bookstore is a delight to most children, for Miranda coming home to Prospero Books includes painful memories, unanswered questions, and a love/hate trepidation. Leaving behind her boyfriend and her eighth-grade classroom in Philadelphia, she heads home to Culver City. With so many feelings spiraling within her heart, she opens the doors of Prospero and walks within...

One of the joys Miranda recalls is Uncle Billy's scavenger hunts. Clues that could lead you around the bookshop, around the globe, or clues that might lead you to a family secret. Uncle Billy's will has "gifted" Miranda his Prospero Bookshop and one last scavenger hunt... where is this going? You know the quote, "It takes a village to raise a child," well it will take Prospero's book lovers, friends, employees and a handy-man to help raise Miranda from a school teacher into an independent bookshop owner. Will Miranda decide to value Uncle Billy's gift, while she struggles to keep Prospero books from closing forever?

As a reading customer of Prospero's Bookshop, you can count on excellent "title-sharing" and author picks, delightful setting details, endearing characters, as well as the uplifting "hope" for an independent bookshop's legacy.
 Independent bookshops...
Excellent book club choice...
A "forever" choice!

Meet the Author:
  Amy Meyerson is the bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays and The Imperfects. Her books have been translated into eleven languages, and her short fiction has been published in numerous literary magazines. Amy teaches in the writing department at the University of Southern California, where she completed her master's degree in creative writing. She is currently at work on her third novel, expected in early 2023.

ISBN: 9780470486788
Publisher Synopsis:
Finding Mrs. Warnecke tells the inspiring story of Cindi Rigsbee, a three-time Teacher of the Year, and Barbara Warnecke, the first-grade teacher who had a profound and lasting impact on Cindi's life. Cindi, an insecure child who craved positive attention, started her first-grade year with a teacher who was emotionally abusive and played favorites in the classroom. Her new teacher, Mrs. Warnecke, made learning come alive for her students. She went overboard caring for each child, made her classroom magical, and encouraged students to pursue their dreams. Finding Mrs. Warnecke not only tells the story of this teacher who made a lifelong impact on her students, it illustrates the importance of the teacher/student relationship in the classroom, and offers principles for other teachers to follow to make a positive impact in their own classrooms.

MrsK's Review:
Most of us have had a teacher like Mrs. Warnecke... you know the one! Don't you?
The minute I heard a review of this book, I had to read it. When you have spent what seems like a life-time "becoming" an educator... you never feel that you've done all that you could to guide, inspire, and ignite your learners to succeed beyond their deceiving self-images. By the time 1980 rolled into my life, I was ready to follow the "calling" and return to what I wanted to be when I grew up. The compelling desire to experience a story about a teacher who made the difference continues to "re-kindle" the hope that educators seek... the "seeds" of revelation that will inspire our future citizens.

Cindi Rigsbee became a teacher. A novice teacher learning how to teach her students. Becoming "seasoned" brings forth enough experiences with her learners, in which she will seek to understand the individualized challenges her learners face, challenges that will "re-define" her techniques, "hone" her skills, and create an atmosphere of relationships with her students. As an educator, she continues to greet each day with her "targeted" goal... that her "students will want to learn from her."

"Whatever it takes!" Life-long learners learn from those who are successful. Mrs. Warnecke became Cindi's first grade teacher. Her "turn-around" moment (Have you thought of a teacher like that?). Cindi's first few years teaching became a series of failures, hardships with no college learned answers, and the painful encounters with student cruelty. Yet, grit and determination always moves us forward. After a few more tries, Cindi began seeing, experiencing, and knowing success with her students. You must read this book, for there isn't enough time for me to point out all of the similarities I've had in my career. *A book club with teachers is a must!
"I began to understand that accepting all my students,
regardless of the misfortunes they dealt with...
would be the key...
to teach them effectively!"
Teachers. Who are we? Why do we choose to do what we do? What are our goals? How do you make a difference? Open the covers of this book... and be the change for your learners!
Shinning a light on "who" crossed your path
with inspiration. 
Meet the Author:

Nonetheless, other forces prevailed in my life that led me to the honorable profession of teaching. And, like my great-grandmother, I believe it’s important to share stories – stories of the thousands of students I’ve taught since 1979.

So, yes, I am a teacher…and I am a storyteller. But I am also a cheerleader for teachers and a cheerleader for the profession that makes all other professions possible. I believe my Great Granny Maggie would be proud.

So many books to explore:

MrsK's to-read book montage

Heartbreak Creek
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Each Little Bird that Sings
The Saturdays
Emily of Deep Valley

MrsK Books's favorite books »

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MrsK's Reading Bio

Reading is important! No questions asked, not even a blink of the eye from any student I grew up with. On the first day of the First grade, we were given our first books. Day two we all read aloud, round robin of course. Day three we were place in our first basal, now known as a lit circle group. Books were so important, publishers designed new curriculum so that every student was reading by the end of the first week. These early readers had images that looked like what we could see in the classroom, beyond the classroom, even on the big screen. Reading is important, throughout history every generation has believed that “Reading” opens up the world for endless possibilities.

I adore the 1950’s Dick and Jane books. Actually, most reading specialists and experienced (45+) educators believe that every student learned to read with Dick and Jane. Since these books are being re-issued, I have heard many parents, grandparents, and students claim that Dick and Jane stories of repetition does teach students to read.

Early influences from my mother influenced my desire to read. I would watch her read and we would go on “secret” excursions to the library. The library became my playground. I owned every book I could carry home, of course they needed to be taken back to their home after visiting with me for a week or two. My first book that I could pull off of the library shelf and read was, Father Bear Comes Home. I only saw my dad on Sundays for a few hours. I would pull this beginning reader off of the library shelf every week. Every week I would try to read the first chapter. Every week I got further in the story. My mom would let me check it out, only if I could read it myself (She didn’t like the illustrations therefore she didn’t want to take time to read it to me). One day, I pulled the book from the shelf and when mom came to get me from the children’s corner, I realized that I had read the whole story. I ran to the check out desk and the Librarian KERCHUNKED the checkout card. My mother, brother and neighbors read. My teachers read. We all read aloud all day long in school. The Priest read aloud every day at mass, even in Latin. Everybody in the Doctor’s office read. People on the bus read. Dad’s waiting in their cars as the Mom’s and children grocery shopped, read. In fact, once you could read and write, Sunset Magazine considered you a reader and sent you mail every day.

Reading is important; I’ve spent my life reading. I’ve traveled around the world and into space through books. My favorite genre is whichever book I have open at the time. Children’s Literature is my passion. Book clubbing is one of the best past times, especially if food is involved. In fact my friends of old are in a book club and we are about to embark on a beach trip to “read” and discuss our newest selection.

My “home-run” book story has helped every student find his or her own “home-run” reads. Every year, I have shared my, Father Bear Comes Home, and every year my students have brought in their “home-run” books. That’s the “diving board” into our Lit. Studies.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Tapscott’s insights into the new generations enthusiasm for the Net reminded me of my generation’s enthusiasm for reading, movies, TV, parties and our driving permits. The Net-Generation, as Tapscott describes, “are learning, playing, communicating, working, creating communities, and enforcing a social transformation.”
N-Geners are interactive “techies” who are always looking for a way to “work it” verses the TV Generation of “Baby Boomers” who started out looking for “how it works.” Reading development is tougher today, society moves too fast to invest their “non-working” free time into a book or even “home work.” Since I stepped into my own classroom, I have seen students being told to read, being forced to read, and threatened into reading. Homework is not any longer the vehicle for students to gain their future lifestyles or careers with. Yet, the Internet does create an enthusiasm for learning. Since I have been enrolled in these courses, I have used the computers in every subject. My students are using the newest technology in the classroom because I am giving them investigative sites to use as they learn from each other and books. I agree with Tapscott, in order to bridge the gap with this up and coming generation we must “live and learn with them.”

FTC Required Disclaimer: I receive these books from the publishers. I did not receive monetary compensation for these reviews. These reviews have been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at


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