Grand Central Publishing 2005
Denise Holten is all alone in a small town… Except for the company of her five year old son, Kyle. Kyle has a speaking/communication disorder that has caused Denise, a former elementary teacher, to stay at home to help him learn. She lives in a home she inherited in the town her mother grew up in, though she doesn’t know a soul. One fateful night a car accident turns her world upside down. Denise is knocked unconscious and her son, terrified of the storm raging around him, wanders off, trying to escape the weather. Unfortunately, he wanders off into a swamp. Fortunately, he was found several hours later, completely unharmed, thanks to Taylor McAden. Taylor volunteers for the local fire department, and has a particularly keen tracking ability. Denise feels gratitude towards Taylor, but she also feels something more… Sparks fly. He is patient with Kyle, kind, and a genuinely good man. Denise loves Taylor, Kyle loves Taylor, and Taylor loves Denise, but Taylor is dealing with guilt from his past. Denise attempts to break through those thick outer layers to find out what it is that is holding Taylor back emotionally. After a few twists and turns, their relationship is put to the test. Will it survive?
Your Reaction: Pleasantly surprised. Though I thought it was a little slow to start, I found it sucked me in. I have only read a couple Nicholas Sparks books (The Notebook and The Wedding), but I thought it stacked up pretty well to the other books (and the many movies).
Potential Problems: Minimal language issues. No “F” bombs. Sexual content. Not graphic. If you are okay to watch a Nicholas Sparks movie than you are probably okay to read the book.
Recommendations: I would be more likely to recommend this to friends my age or older. Not really for students… But many 9th grade girls are big Nicholas Sparks readers. They are definitely less smutty than other “romance” choices, so if you want to read romance this is a good PG-13 choice.
If you want to read “romance” but this isn’t appropriate for you.. If I remember correctly, Lurlene McDaniel was a popular choice when I was in jr. high and I think it may have been more “PG” rated. They also typically feature someone fighting a major illness.
The All New Amelia
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 1999
A journal of a young girl who is worried about how she looks, how other people look, how her peers treat her, and how teacher’s treat her. She is concerned about trends that she doesn’t start. She is trying to make friends with the popular girl in her class who is her class partner in archeology. Her partner has a british accent so she pays extra close attention to other’s voices. Her popular partner is a bit of a priss so not much gets done in their dig site. She feels like when she looks in the mirror she is not seeing herself. She has an image of how she should be, but it isn’t who she is. She thinks nail polish might help–nope. Her friend Carly doesn’t like the changes she’s making. Her popular partner is not becoming her friend, in fact, the opposite is in effect. She tried to change her luck. She put pocket dolls in her pocket and finally discovered an artifact. She was hoping the luck would transfer into her friendship with Carly, but she realized she lost the doll! She decided to apologize. She told her she would be herself. They celebrated as a class all their success. Popular friend Charisse finally treated Amelia normal when Amelia treated her normal. She found her lucky doll in the basket. All was well again!
Your Reaction: Cute and silly. I liked that it taught to be yourself and not anyone else. That is one of the most valuable lessons a girl can learn at a young age.
Potential Problems: Conformity.
Recommendations: Elementary girls who need to start learning to be themselves.
National Geographic Society 1997
Creatures in the rainforest develop different parts and behaviors to survive in their part of the rainforest. There are different layers where they abide: the emergent layer, the canopy, the understory, and the forest floor. The food chain is how life works in the forest. It is hot in the rainforest and the rivers contain piranhas. Relationships in the forest can be symbiotic or parasitic. The afternoon is when the forest is the hottest. Almost every afternoon their will be a huge downpouring of rain. Each year a section of the rainforest is cleared the size of Washington state. Nocturnal creatures emerge at night time.
Your Reaction: Scientific mixed with… political? Yes we do not want the rainforest destroyed, but I feel like their was a slight agenda going on.
Potential Problems: Political agenda.
Recommendations: Tree huggers and children interested in foreign animals.
Amy Goldman Koss
Where Fish Go in Winter and Other Great Mysteries
Puffin Books 1987
Reading level 3
When the lake ices over the fish essentially hibernate. Popcorn pops because of steam pressure from the moisture on the inside pushing out the hard shell. Wings help birds to fly only if they are the right proportion to the bird. Islands do not float, they are the top of mountains under the sea. Snakes shed skin because their skin is not flexible so they just grow new skin over their growing bodies. Touching a could would be like holding mist. Cats purr because their tummy muscles flutter. Leaves change colors because of clorophyll. The sound in a seashell is air and our blood rushing through our ear. The man in the moon is just rocks reflecting light. Turtles cannot leave their shell. Spiders will not get stuck in their webs because they have oily bodies. Onion oil turns to vapors that enters our eyes and nose and causes tears. Seeds are aware of gravity so thus decide how to grow.
Your Reaction: This was excellent because it told facts with pretty pictures and it was said in poem form. Beautiful and informative.
Potential Problems: None.
Recommendations: Curious young readers. Probably early or pre elementary school.
Space: Earth, Sun, and Moon
Chelsea Clubhouse 2003
The earth has different layers surrounding a core of hot liquid. It is spherical. Water covers much of its outer surface. From space we can see Earth’s curves. We spin all the way around in a circle in 24 hours which is our day. We orbit the sun for 365 days which is a year. Seasons change depending on our orbit position. The sun is the closest star to earth. The moon can block the sun in a solar eclipse. Sunlight on the atmosphere makes the sky appear blue. We sent a space probe called Ullysses to learn about the sun. The moon is a solid sphere much like the earth but much smaller.
Your Reaction: Goes through a lot of basic information about the outside world. Very easy to understand.
Potential Problems: None.
Recommendations: Children interested in their planet and the solar system.
Rourke Publishing 2004
The key difference between different forms of transportation is speed. The slowest form of transportation is walking. When driving, we use our speedometer and measure our miles per hour. Trains typically travel a faster average speed than a car. Plane travel is much faster than driving or trains. Sound travels faster than a plane. Speed of light travels faster than sound.
Your Reaction: Boring. This lays things out simply to understand the speed, but it isn’t very exciting.
Potential Problems: None.
Recommendations: If you really just want some facts about speed of travel this book is helpful.
Jacqueline A. Ball
Blizzard! The 1888 Whiteout
Bearport Publishing Company, Inc. 2005
Elementary mid to upper
Blizzards must meet certain criteria, like blwing 35 miles per hour, and you cannot be able to see 500 feet in front of you. The temperature will be under 20 degrees farenheit, and these conditions will last at least three hours. The most famous blizzard in America was the Blizzard of 1888. This hurricane hit New York City. The wind chill factor will be such that it freezes peoples faces in less than a minute. The meteorology in the day wasn’t very accurate. It was transmitted by phone or telegraph and the particular forecast called for colder but generally fair. Two storm systems were headed towards the coast, one warm and one cold, but they didn’t see it hitting like it did. All of the Northern East coast was affected by the Blizzard of 1888. The children were safe at home due to snow cancellations, but many adults got caught off guard by the storm. People survived if they had food and fuel supplies on hand. The storm killed a total of 400 people. They made safety changes in the cities to save them from future disasters. We now have a better idea of when a large storm might come.
Your Reaction: It is eye opening to see how a storm can form quickly without any notice, but it’s comforting to know that we now can prevent a lot of the problems through preparation.
Potential Problems: Scary storms and death.
Recommendations: Those students interested in science and weather or history.