Monday, November 7, 2016

Somebody on this bus is going to be famous by JB Cheaney

Nine people ride the same school bus every day, but they share a stronger connection than that.  They just don't know it.  By looking at each of their stories through the months of the school year, Cheaney is able to weave this together by considering each person's story in a different month.

It is May, and the school bus goes off the road during a torrential rainstorm.  The students are put to the test, and no one is sure how this will end.  We as readers know that someone will become famous from this ordeal, but who will it be?

I must admit that she had me going there until the end.  I really did not figure out who was going to be famous.

I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rogers

Kammie moved to Texas, and she does not have a circle of friends.  She has decided that she wants to be friends with three girls at school, and they inform her of an initiation.  Kammie is desperate for friends, so she agrees.  The result of the initiation is a very bad haircut and her being stuck in a well. When Kammie first falls in, Kandy, Sandy and Mandy all stare at her with contempt instead of being concerned about her being stuck in the well.  Kammie quickly realizes that the girls are not people that she wants to be friends with, but that does not change the fact that she is stuck in the well.  The girls have abandoned her, and she is not sure if anyone will be able to get her out.  She just keeps slipping further down the well...
Rogers does a good job in this book of telling Kammie's story while she is stuck in the well.  We learn quickly that Kammie has had some hard knocks, and I don't mean the ones she is getting from the well.  She has had to learn quickly that people make mistakes--sometimes really big ones.  I recommend this book, and it is a fast read.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


The evolution of xSTREAM @ Ridgeview Middle School

As I considered the many articles that I read about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activities and how they fit into the library, I wondered how best to incorporate this into the Ridgeview Middle School Library.  We had some activities; I asked guest speakers to come in; I hosted makerspace events.  However, nothing seemed to be exactly what we envisioned for our students.

Then, I began reading more and how A had been added to the acronym to include Art.  It went from STEM to STEAM.  Okay, that sounds interesting, we could definitely ask the art teachers to come in, and I could offer arts and crafts activities as part of makerspace.  Again, this was fun, and I had a blast with the students who came to those after school events.

But, something was missing.  I have a good friend who told me about how she incorporated reading into the mix and titled it STREAM.   At the TLA conference this spring, our keynote speaker, LeVar Burton, also mentioned this idea.  Now, we are talking.  No matter what else we do, I believe that libraries should always focus on reading.  

I left that session energized, and ready to put something in place.  But, we needed something--a brand if you will.  So, with collaborating with Mrs. Young, RMS ITS, we thought that xSTREAM had a certain ring to it.  And, we believe that x stands for extraordinary, exemplary, extra-special, etc.

We took the idea to Mr. Mutscher, and he embraced it as well.  We have already put the first xSTREAM campus wide night event on the calendar for April.  I. CANNOT. WAIT.

Throughout this school year, everyone will see this brand--xSTREAM.  Now, you know how it started.  We hope that you will be a part of the story of what it will be at Ridgeview Middle School.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Undertow by Michael Buckley

Lyric Walker lives near the beach at Coney Island, and she loves her town.  One night something or someone came from out of the ocean and onto the beach.  She soon finds out that it was not just one but an army of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors.  The human race is very nervous about what might happen, so they transform the beach into a military zone and forbid contact between the Alpha and the humans.  However, the Alpha demanded that their teens be educated, so Lyric and her friends now must go to school with the Alpha teens.  Lyric is recruited to meet with the Prince every day, and she hates it because he is rude and uncouth.  But...there is something about him that she cannot get out of her mind.  Lyric also has her own secret that she is keeping from all of her friends and the prince.  If her secret is revealed, her family could be in grave danger. Read Lyric's story in Undertow by Michael Buckley.

I enjoyed this book, but it definitely was set up as a trilogy.  In other words, at the end of this are left waiting for the next one which is good for me that it was already out so that I could read it as well--Raging Sea.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

We are all made of molecules by Susin Nielsen

From the Publisher:

Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless. 
Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink.

Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder.

They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they—like everyone else—are made of molecules. 

This book really spoke to me in a special way especially considering the terror attack in Florida over the weekend.  Stewart and Ashley learn about friendship, each other and themselves in this novel.  I loved learning about Stewart, and Nielsen did a super job of developing his character.  Ashley was VERY interested in being popular and was completely full of herself.  That being said--what she learned is a lesson that I want every teenage girl to get.  Not all of them will get it, but I definitely hope they read this book.  

Thank you to this author for writing this book that I think will speak to a multitude of readers because it deals with so many varied topics.  Give this one a try.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Wonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee

Wonder Woman wants to become the best superhero in the world, so she decides that she needs to accept the invitation to become a student at Super Hero High.  She quickly gets the nickname of "Wondy" and gains in popularity due to her roommate posting everything from her waking up in the morning to her not so heroic attempts at saving her teacher in a drill.  Even though she is not fond of the attention she gets from the online following, she is learning to deal with it.  The thing she is not dealing with too well are the threatening notes she begins to receive.  Why would anyone not want Wonder Woman at Super Hero High?  Find out in this quick read by Lisa Yee.

In this novel, I did enjoy reading about how Wonder Woman could have started in her heroic activity.  This is just the first in a likely popular series.  I was a little surprised at how much this rendition of Wonder Woman reminded me of Amelia Bedelia due to taking everything so literally.  I look forward to seeing which other heroes will show up at Super Hero High.

Here is a quick animation of the beginning of the book.  Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Last Shot by John Feinstein

Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol entered a writing contest and have won spots to cover the Final Four tournament.  Both are very excited to be so close to famous college players and coaches.   As they wait to interview the hot shot player of the tournament, they stumble upon a conversation between this player and an unknown adult.  This adult is telling him that he must "throw" the final game so that Duke can win instead of his school.  By stumbling on this story, Stevie and Susan know that they have to get to the bottom of what is going on at the tournament.  Will they find out the truth?  Will they find out the truth in time to help out the star player?  Or, will the Final Four tournament be in ruins?  Find out in this quick reading mystery.

I was inspired to read this during March Madness this year.  If you are a college basketball fan, you will see many familiar names and places within the pages of this novel.  If you are not a college basketball fan, well...why not?  Seriously, you will find a story here that will interest you.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Like a River by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

Leander Jordan is the younger brother, and he is always being compared to his older, smarter, harder-working brother, Nate.  He is tired of hearing how he needs to be more mature.  When Nate gets hurt, he is told that he now needs to do the work of two, but Leander wants to do something besides stay on the farm where he is constantly compared.  Nate's best friend Giv comes by to tell everyone goodbye before he goes off to war which gives Leander an idea.  Even though Leander is not old enough, he decides that this is his opportunity to prove himself.  So...he convinces Giv to let him go along.  Leander gets into the Union army, but he soon realizes that war is not glamourous.  Leander gets wounded on the battlefield and is sent to a hospital where he meets Paul Settles. Paul is there to take care of his dad and cares for the rest of the patients as well.  Paul and Leander both have secrets that could cause major problems for each of them.  Will their secrets be revealed?

Wiechman did a super job of weaving these two stories together.  Since we had just set up a Civil War hospital up in the library a couple of weeks ago, this book was extremely interesting to me.  I appreciated how she explained the hospital setting.  Good historical read!

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Grandpa Ephraim tells of a magical circus where a girl can fly, an elephant can talk, and a special man is there called the Lightbender. He tells the story so well that Micah, his grandson, believes in magic with all of his heart.  Micah loves living with his grandpa until his grandpa gets sick.  Then, Aunt Gertrudis moves in to take care of them.  But, she is a bitter old woman and blames everything on magic specifically the magical circus, Circus Mirandus.  Grandpa Ephraim hoped that she had mellowed over time, but when he sees that is not the case, he knows that it is time to call in a wish to the Lightbender.  The Lightbender is the only one who can help them, but will he be able to grant the wish that Micah and Grandpa Ephraim so desperately need?  Find out in this quick read.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

One of Us by Jeannie Waudby

K is caught under the train in a deadly bomb attack by the Brotherhood.  Thankfully, she is saved by Oskar.  Oskar recruits her to infiltrate the Brotherhood so that they can be taken down for good.  K has to take on a different identity as well as live and go to school with the very people who she believes are responsible for her parents' death.  As she gets to know the other students at the school, she does not know if what she has been told about the Brotherhood is entirely accurate especially when it comes to Greg.  Oskar tells her to be steadfast in catching the criminals, but her heart is telling her a different story.  As time goes on, she is not sure who to believe.  Who are the bad guys?  Who is she really?  Don't miss this page turner.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Up from the Sea by Leza Lowitz

Kai lost almost everyone he cares about in the tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011.  He is offered the chance to meet people who were affected by 9/11, so he takes it because he will get the chance to see his father as well as attend the tenth anniversary of Ground Zero. In this novel in verse, Lowitz brings the characters together to show how the power of knowing that you are not alone can be to people in crisis. 

Kai helps you understand what children felt who lost so many in the tragedy.  I particularly liked how the author brought in a separate tragedy and how those who had been affected during that time could help their Japanese counterparts.   I highly recommend this title.


Monday, February 15, 2016

The Secrets of Tree Taylor by Dandi Daley Mackall

Tree hears a gunshot and her father runs down the stairs and out the door.  He tells her to stay behind and wait for him to return.  Tree's dad is the town doctor, and he is going to see if someone needs his help.  Tree, of course, follows along and witnesses a scene that she does not quite understand.  She begins investigating so that she can write a newspaper article about what really happened.  However, when she spends more time with the person who she is pretty sure is the guilty party, she is not quite sure what to do with the truth.
Tree learns that everyone has secrets, and one of the major parts of growing up is figuring out whether or not to reveal the truth for every secret.  Some secrets are best left uncovered while some secrets have to be shared.  Join Tree as she finds out when to tell the whole truth and when to keep it to herself.