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This week’s book talks 6/5-9

11 Jun

For a number of reasons, I have no 5 day weeks left, even though this week and next are 5 day weeks. Darn for me! It will be 4 books next week, and probably 3 the last week, The last day of school schedule is out and it will be a whirlwind.

Monday

This classic hasn’t been checked out all year, even though I know a number of students would love it. Best reason for a book talk!

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Publisher’s Summary: “I can’t speak for all dogs.
Not all dogs are alike.
And most certainly, not all dogs
have the same experiences. . . .”

Squirrel is not like most dogs. Born a stray, she must make her own way in the world, facing busy highways, changing seasons, and humans both gentle and brutal. Her life story, in her own words, is marked by loss, but also by an inspiring instinct to survive. And when it seems she will roam the woods and country roads alone forever, Squirrel makes two friends who, in very different ways, define her fate.
At once heartrending and hopeful, Ann Martin’s exquisite story of a dog’s life is told with her trademark grace and insight.

Tuesday

I got a round of applause from Core 1 for my Scottish brogue inflected read aloud from Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville.

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Publisher’s Summary: In the first hilarious Enchanted Files, Angus is a brownie. No, not the kind you eat! He’s a tiny magical creature that loves to do chores. Angus has just “inherited” a new human girl, Alex. To say that Alex is messy would be an understatement. She’s a total hurricane-like disaster—and she likes it that way, thank you very much! Living with each other isn’t easy but Angus and Alex soon learn there is a curse that binds them. What’s worse, it threatens Alex’s family! Working together, Angus and Alex will set out to break the curse . . . without killing each other first . . . hopefully.

 

 

Wednesday

Driving home from work on Tuesday, I heard an interview with Alex Honnold, who was talking about his solo rope-free ascent of El Capitan. I told the kids about this event as I began talking about Peak by Roland Smith.

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Goodreads Summary: After fourteen-year-old Peak Marcello is arrested for scaling a New York City skyscraper, he’s left with two choices: wither away in Juvenile Detention or go live with his long-lost father, who runs a climbing company in Thailand. But Peak quickly learns that his father’s renewed interest in him has strings attached. Big strings. As owner of Peak Expeditions, he wants his son to be the youngest person to reach the Everest summit–and his motives are selfish at best. Even so, for a climbing addict like Peak, tackling Everest is the challenge of a lifetime. But it’s also one that could cost him his life.

Roland Smith has created an action-packed adventure about friendship, sacrifice, family, and the drive to take on Everest, despite the incredible risk. The story of Peak’s dangerous ascent—told in his own words—is suspenseful, immediate, and impossible to put down.

 

Friday

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1st, so it seemed appropriate to read about the consequences of an earthquake. When I talked about this book, one of my students shared her cousin’s experience in Hurricane Katrina.

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From the Authors website: Thirteen year-old Cort Delacroix lives on a houseboat at the edge of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in lower Alabama. His father, Tom, is a renowned river guide and local expert on hunting and swamp lore. He’s been teaching Cort everything he knows since the boy was a child.

Cort used to have a hard time imagining a future more ideal than being a river guide, but since his mother walked out on them he’s having second thoughts. His father isn’t his normal attentive, good-natured self.  Tom’s constantly preoccupied with trying to get his wife to come home, while Cort knows she never will. Now lonely and frustrated, Cort see’s just how empty the swamp is without his father around. He wonders if it’s all worth missing out on the life of a normal teenager.

All of Cort’s fears are realized when Tom abandons him in the midst of a category three hurricane. For the first time in his life he is truly alone against the swamp. A series of catastrophic events soon lead to Cort and two young girls stranded in miles of storm-thrashed wetlands. After struggling to high ground on an ancient Indian mound, they cling for their lives in a tree. The hurricane rages as a crazed wild hog stalks them from below and they stave off snakes and numerous other swamp creatures climbing to safety. Throughout this nightmarish ordeal they form an unlikely bond with a black bear hugging the tree next to them. But in the end it’s every animal for itself. And they’ll all do whatever it takes to survive.

It’s up to Cort to use everything he’s ever learned to keep himself and the two girls alive. And they may just have to rely on a bear to help save them.

Bottle Creek is the story of a young boy who must come from beneath his father’s shadow and take charge of his life if he is to survive a horrifying battle against nature. And even, perhaps, in order to become a man.

This week’s book talks 5/30-6/2

2 Jun

Woo hoo! We’ve made it to June.

For someone who is not officially counting down yet, I have checked off a number of items on my “last one of the year” list this week: SBAC testing, annual evaluation meeting, staff meeting….

But the book talk party keeps happening in my room. In spite of a short week and two days of SBAC testing, I managed to talk about 5 books.

Wednesday, I made up for lost time and talked about Maile Meloy’s Apothecary  series.

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The series opens in 1952 with our heroine, Janie moving to London because her parents are under investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee. There, she meets Benjamin, whose father appears to be an ordinary apothecary. In fact, he possesses a book, The Pharmacopeia,  that both sides of the Cold war would like to have. The final book is set in 1955, in the United States, where they continue to keep the world safe from nuclear disaster.

Thursday was the first normal day since SBAC testing began.

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Knowing kids might be as fatigued as I was, I book talked a classic, Cynthia Rylant’s Every Living Thing, a slim volume of short stories.

Publisher’s Summary: Here are twelve deeply moving short stories from the perceptive pen of Cynthia Rylant. Each captures the moment when someone’s life changes — when an animal causes a human being to see things in a different way, and, perhaps, changes his life.

 

 

 

 

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And that bring us to today’s book, Brave  by Svetlana Chmakova.

Her previous graphic novel, Awkward, is always checked out, rarely making it back onto my shelf.

Author’s Summary: On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!

Surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

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The kids will be thrilled to discover that Chamkova has a new graphic novel, Brave, also set in Berrybrook Middle School.

Author’s Summary: In his daydreams, Jensen is the biggest hero that ever was, saving the world and his friends on a daily basis. But his middle school reality is VERY different–math is hard, getting along with friends is hard…Even finding a partner for the class project is a huge problem when you always get picked last. And the pressure’s on even more once the school newspaper’s dynamic duo, Jenny and Akilah, draw Jensen into the whirlwind of school news, social-experiment projects, and behind-the-scenes club drama. Jensen has always played the middle school game one level at a time, but suddenly, someone’s cranked up the difficulty setting. Will those daring daydreams of his finally work in his favor, or will he have to find real solutions to his real-life problems?

We have only three weeks of school left and I keep encouraging my students (and myself) to finish strong.

 

 

This week’s book talks 5/22-25

26 May

We began our Ancient China unit so, I pushed books with some connection to that topic.

I started the week with Grace Lin and ended with Faith Erin Hicks.

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Goodreads Summary: In the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.

 

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Author’s Website: The moon is missing from the remote Village of Clear Sky, but only a young boy named Rendi seems to notice! Rendi has run away from home and is now working as a chore boy at the village inn. He can’t help but notice the village’s peculiar inhabitants and their problems-where has the innkeeper’s son gone? Why are Master Chao and Widow Yan always arguing? What is the crying sound Rendi keeps hearing? And how can crazy, old Mr. Shan not know if his pet is a toad or a rabbit?

But one day, a mysterious lady arrives at the Inn with the gift of storytelling, and slowly transforms the villagers and Rendi himself. As she tells more stories and the days pass in the Village of Clear Sky, Rendi begins to realize that perhaps it is his own story that holds the answers to all those questions.

Newbery Honor author Grace Lin brings readers another enthralling fantasy featuring her marvelous full-color illustrations. Starry River of the Sky is filled with Chinese folklore, fascinating characters, and exciting new adventures.

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Goodreads Summary: Pinmei’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.

Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide.

Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei’s grandmother–before it’s too late.

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Goodreads Summary: An unlikely friendship forms between Nameless City native Rat, and Kai, whose country has recently conquered her city.  The two of them must find common ground between their cultures and foil a sinister conspiracy.  Hicks has created a beautiful and intricate world inspired by Central Asia and the Silk Road in which the besieged inhabitants of an ancient city are desperate to learn the secrets of the perished civilization which carved the city out of living rock.

 

 

 

 

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Goodreads Summary:Kaidu and Rat have only just recovered from the assassination attempt on the General of All Blades when more chaos breaks loose in the Nameless City: deep conflicts within the Dao nation are making it impossible to find a political solution for the disputed territory of the City itself.

To complicate things further, Kaidu is fairly certain he’s stumbled on a formula for the lost weapon of the mysterious founders of the City. . . . But sharing it with the Dao military would be a complete betrayal of his friendship with Rat. Can Kai find the right solution before the Dao find themselves at war?

This week’s booktalks 5/15 – 5/18

18 May

Only one five day week until the end of the school year!!!

Here are the four books I booktalked this week:

MONDAY

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Author’s Website Summary: Mia Chen is on what her mother calls a Grand Adventure. She’s not sure what to make of this family trip to China, and didn’t want to leave her friends for the summer, but she’s excited about the prospect of exploring with her Aunt Lin, the only adult who truly understands her.

Then Aunt Lin disappears, right after her old nemesis, a man named Ying, comes to visit. Mia knows that years ago, when Aunt Lin and Ying were sent to the Fuzhou countryside to work as laborers, the two searched for an ancient treasure together–one that still hasn’t been found. She’s suspicious that their shared history might be linked to Aunt Lin’s disappearance.

When Mia discovers an old map filled with riddles in Aunt Lin’s room, she quickly pieces together her mission: find the treasure, find her aunt. Now, Mia, along with her big brother, Jake, must solve the clues to rescue the person she knows best in the world—and maybe unearth a treasure greater than her wildest dreams.

TUESDAY

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Author’s Website Summary: Jupiter and her family have spent their lives on the road, moving from town to town in a trusty old van, making do, and earning their living busking for tourists. But when their van breaks down, Jupiter’s mother rents an actual house in Portland for the summer so that Jupiter’s annoying cousin Edom, recently adopted from Ethiopia, can stay with them. Luckily, Edom doesn’t want to be in Portland any more than Jupiter wants her there, and the two hatch a plan to send Edom back to her mother. In the process, Jupiter learns that community — and family — aren’t always what you expect them to be.

 

WEDNESDAY

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Author’s Website Summary: With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.


But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

THURSDAY

Author’s Website Summary: The_Unwanteds_book_coverEvery year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their graves.

On the day of the Purge, identical twins Alex and Aaron Stowe await their fate. While Aaron is hopeful of becoming a Wanted, Alex knows his chances are slim. He’s been caught drawing with a stick in the dirt-and in the stark gray land of Quill, being creative is a death sentence.

But when Alex and the other Unwanteds face the Eliminators, they discover an eccentric magician named Mr. Today and his hidden world that exists to save the condemned children. Artimé is a colorful place of talking statues, uncommon creatures, and artistic magic, where creativity is considered a gift… and a weapon.

This week’s booktalks May 8-12

12 May

This is my last 5 day week until June.  And then, I only have one more 5 day week until school lets out. How crazy is that!!!

I continued working my way through my pile or ARCs.

MONDAY

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Goodreads Summary: Soldier Boy begins with the story of Ricky Richard Anywar, abducted at age fourteen in 1989 to fight with Joseph Kony’s rebel army in Uganda’s decades-long civil war. Ricky is trained, armed, and forced to fight government soldiers alongside his brutal kidnappers, but never stops dreaming of escape.

The story continues twenty years later, with a fictionalized character named Samuel, representative of the thousands of child soldiers Ricky eventually helped rehabilitate as founder of the internationally acclaimed charity Friends of Orphans.

Working closely with Ricky himself, debut author Keely Hutton has written an eye-opening book about a boy’s unbreakable spirit and indomitable courage in the face of unimaginable horror.

TUESDAY

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Goodreads Summary: Aspiring inventor and magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III would rather be tinkering with his latest experiments than sawing girls in half on stage, but with Antoine the Amazifier’s show a tomato’s throw away from going under, Carmer is determined to win the cash prize in the biggest magic competition in Skemantis. When fate throws Carmer across the path of fiery, flightless faerie princess Grit (do not call her Grettifrida), they strike a deal. If Carmer will help Grit investigate a string of faerie disappearances, she’ll use her very real magic to give his mechanical illusions a much-needed boost against the competition. But Carmer and Grit soon discover they’re not the only duo trying to pair magic with machine – and the combination can be deadly.

In this story perfect for readers of the Lockwood & Co and Wildwood series, Sarah Jean Horwitz takes readers on a thrilling journey through a magical wooded fairyland and steampunk streets where terrifying automata cats lurk in the shadows and a mad scientist’s newest mechanical invention might be more menace than miracle.

WEDNESDAY

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Goodreads Summary: In the seaside town of Melcombe Regis, England, 1724, Oliver Cromwell Pitts wakes to find his father missing and his house flooded by a recent storm. He’s alone in his ruined home with no money and no food. Oliver’s father has left behind a barely legible waterlogged note: he’s gone to London, where Oliver’s sister, Charity, is in trouble. Exploring damage to the town in the storm’s aftermath, Oliver discovers a shipwreck on the beach. Removing anything from a wrecked ship is a hanging offense, but Oliver finds money that could save him, and he can’t resist the temptation to take it. When his crime is discovered, Oliver flees, following the trail of his father and sister. The journey is full of thieves, adventurers, and treachery–and London might be the most dangerous place of all.

In the tradition of his Newbery Honor book The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi mixes high adventure and short, page-turning chapters with a vivid historical setting featuring a cast of highwaymen, pickpockets, and villainous criminal masterminds.

THURSDAY

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Goodreads Summary:Thirteen-year-old Lucia Frank discovers that she can become the girl she’s always wanted to be with the help of a little “moon magic” in this charming novel about the value of friendship, family, and finding yourself.

Lucia Frank has never had time for her mom’s “new age” nonsense. She doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. All she wants is to figure out how to get her best friend, Will, back and cope with her parents looming divorce. But then something strange happens on the night of her thirteenth birthday.

When the eclipsed moon slips into the shadow of the earth, Lucia’s Shadow slips out. Now hidden in a moonstone, the Shadow waits for Lucia to sleep so it can come out to play.

Lucia’s Shadow seems unlike her in almost every way: daring, outspoken, and unwilling to let anyone push her around. But it actually isn’t the anti-Lucia…in fact, her Shadow is very much like the person Lucia wishes she could be. At first, Lucia is eager to undo whatever magic happened on her birthday so life can get back to normal. But when she realizes her Shadow is doing and saying things she has only dreamed about, she wonders if maybe things aren’t all bad.

With a little help from her Shadow, she’s turning into the kind of girl she’s always wanted to be.

FRIDAY

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Goodreads Summary:When fourteen-year-old Rose Solomon’s brother, Abe, left El Paso, he told the family he was heading to Brooklyn. But Rose discovers the truth the day she picks up the newspaper at Pickens General Store and spies a group photograph captioned The Southwestern Scourge of 1915! There stands Abe alongside none other than Pancho Villa and his army!

Rose is furious about Abe’s lie; fearful for his safety; and worried about her traditional parents who, despite their strict and observant ways, do not deserve to have an outlaw for a son. Rose knows the only way to set things right is to get Abe home, but her clandestine plan to contact him goes awry when she is kidnapped by Villa’s revolutionaries and taken to his hideaway.

Deep in the desert, amidst a richly rendered assortment of freedom-seekers that includes an impassioned young reporter, two sharp-shooting sisters with a secret past, and Dorotea, Villa’s tyrannical young charge, Rose sees no sign of Abe and has no hope of release. But as she learns to lie, hide, and ride like a bandit, Rose discovers the real meaning of freedom and what she’s willing to risk to get hers back.

 

This week’s booktalks 5/1-5

5 May

Another funny week where I was away from kids for 2 days, so I only booktalked three books.

MONDAY

I had a hard time getting going Monday morning, but booktalking William Wenton and the Impossible Puzzle  was easy.

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Publisher’s Summary: Blackthorn Key meets The Da Vinci Code in this award-winning novel about a puzzle-solving genius who is forced to use his skills to face a danger that has been lurking in the background for years.

Twelve-year-old William Wenton is a puzzle-solving genius. He lives with his family in a quiet Norwegian town. They used to live in England, but eight years ago his family suddenly packed up, moved away, and even changed their last name! Neither of his parents will offer an explanation or tell William why he has to keep his talent for solving codes and puzzles a secret. But then a special exhibit comes to the local museum: the Impossible Puzzle. The experts say it is unsolvable, but William’s sure that he can crack it if he gets a chance.

However, when he does, everything begins to go wrong. Suddenly William is whisked off to a strange school filled with robots and kids whose skills are almost as good as his own. But what’s really going on? And what’s the secret involving William’s grandfather? And is there anyone he can trust?

TUESDAY

I don;t often read sports books, and I don’t have many in my classroom collection (only one tub) but Rooting for Rafael Rosales is a good one and shows how a kid might not be able to change the world, but they can make a difference in one person’s life.

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Publisher’s Summary: Rafael has dreams. Every chance he gets he plays in the street games trying to build his skills, get noticed by scouts, and—someday—play Major League Baseball. Maya has worries. The bees are dying all over the world, and the company her father works for is responsible, making products that harm the environment. Follow Rafael and Maya in a story that shifts back and forth in time and place, from Rafael’s neighborhood in the Dominican Republic to present-day Minnesota, where Maya and her sister are following Rafael’s first year in the minor leagues. In their own ways, Maya and Rafael search for hope, face difficult choices, and learn a secret—the same secret—that forever changes how they see the world.

FRIDAY

This was a kooky weather week that started off in the normal, low 60’s F, jumped to the 80’s Wednesday and Thursday and is back to slightly lower than normal mid 50’s today. It needed a book that was funny and fantasy at the same time. The Apprentice Witch  seemed to fit the bill.

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Publisher’s Summary: Arianwyn has fluffed her witch’s evaluation test.

Awarded the dull bronze disc and continuing as an apprentice – to the glee of her arch-rival, mean girl Gimma – she’s sent to protect the remote, dreary town of Lull.

But her new life is far from boring. Turns out Gimma is the pompous mayor’s favourite niece – and worse, she opens a magical rift in the nearby Great Wood. As Arianwyn struggles with her spells, a mysterious darkness begins to haunt her – and it’s soon clear there’s much more than her pride at stake …

This week’s book talks 4/24-28

28 Apr

Today is a work day, when I get grades updated for the progress reports that will go out next week in the mail. I also had an excellent training with Kate Roberts and Chris Lehman, so I only taught three days. Lucky me!

Monday

I booktalked Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. I was worried a lot of students had already read it, but was shocked to find out few had. I was glad I chose it.

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Goodreads Summary: Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

 

Tuesday

download-1I went to a training with Kate Roberts and Chris Lehman. This was exciting because my PLT has been reading and implementing the strategies they write about in Falling in Love With Close Reading.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday

I booktalked Cherry Blossom Baseball, the third book in the Cherry Blossom Series by Jennifer Maruno.

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Goodreads Summary: Is pretending to be someone else the only way Michiko can fit in?

Michiko Minigawa’s life is nothing but a bad game of baseball. The Canadian government swung the bat once, knocking her family away from a Vancouver home base to an old farmhouse in the Kootenay Mountains. But when they move into town, the government swings the bat again, announcing that all Japanese must now move west of the Rockies or else go to Japan.

Now in Ontario, Michiko once again has to adjust to a whole new kind of life. She is the only Japanese student in her school, and making friends is harder than it was before. When Michiko surprises an older student with her baseball skills and he encourages her to try out for the local team, she gives it a shot. But everyone thinks this new baseball star is a boy. Michiko has to make a decision: quit playing ball (and being harassed), or pitch like she’s never pitched before.

Thursday

The last booktalk of the week came from my Humor tub. Fakespeare: Starcrossed in Romeo and Juliet by M. E. Castle.

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Goodreads Summary: Three kids get lost inside Shakespeare’s book and must help Romeo and Juliet finish their story in order to return home in this silly middle school series!

Dear Reader,

You are reading this because you expressed interest in the Get Lost Book Club.

Are you ready to embark on a journey to Italy, where you’ll find yourself right in the middle of a major feud between two rival pizza-making families: the Montagues and the Capulets? A swordsman and perfumer will hunt you. There will be disguises, fake pizza, and tomato fights (make sure to duck!). You must help Becca, her stepbrother Sam, and her dog Rufus convince Romeo Montague to ask Juliet Capulet on a date, or you will all be stuck in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet forever!

Intrigued? Worried? Downright terrified? You should be. But if you’re ready for an adventure, step right up and follow me. It’s time to get lost.

Sincerely,

The Narrator

 

I hope you find something here to pick up and read.

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