Friday, February 9, 2018

Great Kid's Books

I have a friend who was looking for suggestions for an advanced reader - so here you go! Great kid's books that I've read over the last couple of years with my kids, in no particular order. If they were part of a series, only the first book is listed. All are appropriate for elementary and/or middle school.

The View from Saturday
The Mysterious Benedict Society
by Although this book was long it kept mine, and my kid's, attention! I loved the rich vocabulary of the book and that it was a great mystery without being morbid. Looking forward to the next one! (This book is the first in the series).

Crenshawby This book was a heartfelt tale of a young boy who used an imaginary friend - a giant cat - to deal with his family being homeless, "car camping," when he was younger. After his family has enjoyed some stability, it looks like they may be sliding into the predicament again and Crenshaw the cat comes back. This book is perfect for older elementary and explores truth, trust and imagination.

The Worst Class Trip Everby My kids, grades 4th & 7th, LOVED this action packed (fart jokes included) book. When Wyatt and his 8th grade classmates embark on a class trip to Washington DC they encounter spies, terrorists and a presidential assassination plot. Taking matters into their own hands they hilariously foil evil-doers.

The Island of Dr. Libris
by We enjoyed Grabenstein's last book, Escape from Mr Lemoncello's Library, so much I couldn't wait to read this book. And it did not disappoint! Billy is stuck at a cabin with his mom for the summer, but finds that book characters come alive on Dr Libris' Island. I love how the author weaves classic tales and characters into his books that either remind you of great reads - or make you want to discover the books you haven't read yet! The plot had both my kids wanting to know what would happen next. This book is great for late elementary through middle school ages.

Things Not Seen 
by Read this book out loud to my kids, ages 10 & 6, and it was surprisingly deep for a younger reader novel. Bobby wakes up one morning invisible and in his quest to figure out what happens he learns a lot about life and what kind of life he wants to lead. He and others struggle with what it means to "be seen." Although my kids did not pick up on the complexities of this, they were amused by what it would mean to navigate the world while being invisible and the scientific aspects of invisibility. I highly recommend this book to others and especially the middle school age group. 

by Excellent book. This book takes place in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1964 - Freedom Summer. History intertwines with the lives of 3 youth who are figuring out their town, their families, themselves, and their future. The incident that stands out to me the most is when the front porches in town are peppered with fliers from the KKK, because this also happened in my town this summer. While listening to this book with my children I could see how closely the past and the present are woven together. The present doesn't exist without the past and how we view the present has been shaped by the past. Also poignant is the voter registration drive, when blacks are risking their jobs and sometimes their lives to register to vote. As we embark on a presidential election season the candidates are just as important as the voters. Even without the lens of current events, the story line of this novel brings the past to life while illustrating social events of the 1960s such as The Beatles, integration, the Vietnam War, and divorce through relatable characters.

The World According to Humphrey
by My kids and I both enjoyed this book about a hamster who learns about life by getting to know the kids, and adults, of Room 26.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library 
by This book was GREAT! My 7 year old, 10 year old, and I enjoyed it immensely. It was based around a game-maker who built a library for his hometown since the library was where he got him game-making start. 12 12-year olds win an essay contest to win spending a night in the new library filled with all the latest technology. The next morning they are asked if they would like to continue their time at the library and enter a contest to see who can escape the library without using the only door. Clues are provided, all based on new and classic literature and based on the Dewey decimal system. This book was just an all around fun read. If you like games, puzzles, or literature - you will love this book!

Bedknob and Broomstick 
by My kids, ages 8 & 11, LOVED this book. But then, what's not to love about a witch, time travel and 3 kids!

by My 8 year old & 11 year old LOVED this book. I think what they liked best was the changing narrators, different voices between 5th grade and 9th grade, with changing perspectives. This was a story of friendship, learning, growing, loyalty, bullying, and change.

The Mighty Miss Malone
by There was so much to this book: The Great Depression, how minorities fared, learning what it meant to have things stacked against you from how you looked, perseverance, hope, kindness, family. We listened to this on CD in the car and my kids kept begging to turn it back on as soon as we got in again since they wanted to see what happened next.

by Great book! Especially for exploring the effects of our actions on others.

Emily's Runaway Imagination
by My kids and I thoroughly enjoyed the places Emily's imagination took her when it ran away! It was also interesting to see a slice of life in 1920's Oregon and a few times this book led to discussions about how life was different from then to now. The capers that Emily got herself into had us laughing out loud.

A Long Way from Chicago 
by My entire family loved this book - from ages 9-42! When Joey and Mary Alice are forced to spend the summers with their Grandmother in the country they can't even begin to imagine the tall tale type adventures they are in for! Stories that are funny, engaging and clean cut like this don't come along often!

Walk Two Moons

by This book was really good. As Sal sets off on a cross-country trip with her Grandparents she tells them a story about her friend Phoebe, however Phoebe's story and Sal's own echo each other. A journey across the country also is a journey of grief and discovery. Death, friendship, relationships, secrets and the definition of family are all explored. I loved getting to know the people in Sal & Phoebe's lives as this story unfolded.

Extra Credit
by This book was a little different from previous ones we had read by Clements. I was a little skeptical at first, but really enjoyed the perspectives of children from the US and Afghanistan. It was also interesting to see how their point of views changed throughout the book.

Here Lies the Librarian
by I really enjoyed this book about female auto mechanics and race car drivers in the early 1900's! Add in four Butler University library science majors and this small Indiana town is in for lots of changes! Richard Peck's writing style always has you seeing the characters in vivid detail and of course has hilarious plot details.

No Talking
by I listened to this book in the car with my kids and it started out as a boys against girls contest, but I really liked the underlying themes of civil disobedience, social action and social behavior.

A Week in the Woods
by Another great book from Clements! My kids loved reading how this city kid learned outdoor skills and was able to survive being lost in the woods on a class camping trip.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever 

by Love, love, love rereading this book at Christmas with my kids. It ALWAYS makes me reflect on the Christmas story differently, like how Mary & Joseph were refugees, dirty and tired and probably not like the squeaky clean version we tend to think of. And what if the wise men had gone back to Herod? And all these are brought about by a group of kids who were the unlikely suspects for telling the Christmas story.

Home of the Brave
by This short children's book was excellent. Kek describes coming to the US as a refuge who has been separated from his family. He struggles to make sense of his new home and what he experienced. He finds help from his neighbor who lives with her foster mom. When Kek starts to work at a small farm he finds hope and encouragement, but also heartbreak again. This book would be good for upper elementary ages as an introduction to other cultures.

Twenty and Ten
by Great short read on 20 evacuated French school children who hide 10 Jewish children during the Nazi occupation of France.

Al Capone Does My Shirts 
by We re-read this book since we wanted to freshen our memories before we read the most recent in the series. There is great historical detail in this book - from post-Depression living, San Francisco, Alcatraz, and gangster lore all told from the view point of a 12 year old. There is also the great storyline of having a sibling who is "different" especially in the un-diagnosed era of the 1930's.

by LOVED this book! The kids in this book showed a lot of imagination and learned a lot about how to start social movements. The ending was perfect.

Mary Poppins 
by This book was a joy to read aloud to my 8yo & 11yo. I was surprised that both boys kept wanting to hear what would happen next! Sometimes "classics" become a little outdated for "modern" kids, but not this book!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 
by My kids, ages 8 & 11, LOVED this book. There is adventure and magic and cars! I was left wishing Ian Fleming had written more children's books! The narrative flowed so smoothly and was interesting for me to read as an adult!

The Wednesday Wars

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