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Battle of the Books

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Title: Battle of the Books


1
Battle of the Books
2011-2012
2
The Word Eater,by Mary Amato
3
The Word Eater,by Mary Amato
  • From School Library Journal
  • Grade 4-6-The book opens with the turn of a page
    on the Bookworm's Desk Calendar, heralding the
    birth of a seemingly ordinary worm. But this is
    no common creature, for readers soon learn that
    he has a voracious appetite for the written word.
    It is sixth-grade Lerner Chanse who discovers
    that when Fip eats a word, that object
    disappears-forever. Lerner is having a hard time
    finding her place in her new school. She doesn't
    want any part of the MPOOE club (Most Powerful
    Ones on Earth), nor does she want to belong to
    the only other group-the SLUGS (Sorry Losers
    Under Ground). In a series of clever, if
    far-fetched events, she daringly uses Fip's power
    to turn the tide on the MPOOEs. Tongue-in-cheek
    wordplay in the quote on the desk calendar that
    opens each chapter prepares readers for the
    outlandish series of happenings to come.Doris
    Gebel, Northport-East Northport Public Library,
    NY

4
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda,by Tom
Angleberger
5
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda,by Tom
Angleberger
  • From School Library Journal
  • Grade 36For Tommy, the only question is whether
    or not Origami Yoda is real. Of course he's real
    as a small puppet on Dwight's finger. But does
    the oracle possess magic power? In order to find
    out, he decides to compile scientific evidence
    from the experiences of those who asked Origami
    Yoda for help. His friend Harvey is invited to
    comment on each story because he thinks Yoda is
    nothing but a "green paper wad." Tommy also
    comments because he's supposedly trying to solve
    the puzzle. In actuality, the story is about boys
    and girls in sixth grade trying to figure out how
    being social works. In fact, Tommy says, "it's
    about this really cool girl, Sara, and whether or
    not I should risk making a fool of myself for
    her." The situations that Yoda has a hand in are
    pretty authentic, and the setting is broad enough
    to be any school. The plot is age-old but with
    the twist of being presented on crumpled pages
    with cartoon sketches, supposed hand printing,
    and varying typefaces. Kids should love
    it.Sheila Fiscus, Our Lady of Peace School,
    Erie, PA

6
Peter and the Starcatchers,by Dave Barry
7
Peter and the Starcatchers,by Dave Barry
  • From School Library Journal
  • Grade 5-9This prequel to Peter Pan refers as
    much to the 1953 animated Disney film as to J. M.
    Barrie's original play and novel. The early
    chapters introduce the archetypal antagonists
    Peter, leader of a group of orphan boys being
    sent into slavery aboard the Never Land, and
    Black Stache, a fearsome pirate who commands a
    villainous crew. New characters include Molly
    Aster and her father. Molly, at 14, is an
    apprentice Starcatcher, a secret society formed
    to keep evildoers from obtaining "starstuff,"
    magic material that falls to earth and conveys
    happiness, power, increased intelligence, and the
    ability to fly. Inevitably, the ships wreck off a
    tropical island and a trunk of starstuff is
    temporarily lost. Here, readers meet more
    familiar characters the mermaids in their
    lagoon the indigenous people who live in the
    jungle (modern versions of Barrie's redskins)
    and, of course, the crocodile. The authors plait
    multiple story lines together in short,
    fast-moving chapters, with the growing friendship
    between Molly and Peter at the narrative's
    emotional center. Capitalizing on familiar
    material, this adventure is carefully crafted to
    set the stage for Peter's later exploits. This
    smoothly written page-turner just might send
    readers back to the original.Margaret A. Chang,
    Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North
    Adams

8
Because of Mr. Terupt,by Rob Buyea
9
Because of Mr. Terupt,by Rob Buyea
  • From School Library Journal
  • Gr 4-6Seven fifth graders at Snow Hill School in
    Vermont learn a variety of life lessons, not
    necessarily from their textbooks, when they start
    the school year off with their new teacher. Short
    chapters are actually brief narratives by
    individual students and sectioned off by each
    month of the school year, beginning with
    September. From the students' distinct voices
    readers come to understand the different
    personalities and backgrounds that define them.
    Peter, the prankster Danielle, who never stands
    up for herself and Jessica, the new girl in town
    who hides behind her favorite books, are just a
    few of the characters who shape readers' vision
    of the classroom. As their narrative continues,
    readers realize that each child has a story that
    only begins in school it's the problems and
    conflicts that make up their home lives that come
    full circle because of a prank that results in
    tragedy. Mr. Terupt is that one teacher who
    really understands them, who always seems to be
    on their side, and who teaches them a valuable
    lesson no matter how much some of them try to
    shut him out. If the school year is a series of
    events, then Mr. Terupt is the catalyst that
    starts the chain reaction. The characters are
    authentic and the short chapters, some less than
    a page, are skillfully arranged to keep readers
    moving headlong toward the satisfying
    conclusion.Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public
    Library, OH.

10
The Magicians Elephantby Kate DiCamillo
11
The Magicians Elephantby Kate DiCamillo
  • From Barnes Noble
  • When a fortuneteller sets up shop in the
    market square of Baltese, one earnest young man
    is among her first customers. Peter Augustus
    Duchene doesn't dawdle over his romantic future
    or his past lives he wants to know whether his
    sister lives and, if so, can he bring her safety.
    The fortuneteller's answers are puzzling. She
    assures him that an elephant will lead him to his
    beloved lost sibling, a promise that leaves him
    waiting for a solution that might not come. An
    absorbing story about hope and persistence by the
    Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo.

12
Top Secret,by John Reynolds Gardiner
13
Top Secret,by John Reynolds Gardiner
  • By  Molly Grue "Renaissance Woman" (SF Bay Area,
    CA USA) -
  • When Allen Brewster, a fourth grader, decides to
    discover human photosynthesis for his school
    science project, his irritable teacher, Miss
    Green, calls his idea ridiculous and assigns a
    lipstick project instead. His parents are kind
    but unsupportive, but Allen is undeterred,
    especially when his tender and wise grandfather
    encourages him to pursue his research. Allen
    discovers that the biggest difference between
    hemoglobin and chlorophyll is that the former
    contains iron while the latter contains
    magnesium, so he decides to ingest foods that
    contain high levels of magnesium. He mixes salt
    water from an aquarium with peanut butter,
    Coco-Puffs, raw liver, and Mexican refried beans,
    runs the mixture through a blender, and drinks
    it. (Kids, don't try this at home!) After
    tinkering with his formula, he discovers that his
    skin has turned green, his taste buds have
    disappeared, he doesn't need to eat, and he
    craves sunlight. But then Allen faces numerous
    new obstacles. No one but his grandfather
    believes that he has discovered human
    photosynthesis. He gets aphids and starts
    sprouting roots. His crabby teacher ejects him
    from class and tells him not to come back until
    he looks like a normal human being. And once the
    government confirms that Allen has succeeded in
    discovering human photosynthesis, his project is
    classified as top secret, because it is a threat
    to national security! Will Allen ever be
    permitted to return to school? What will he do
    about the science fair? Will his nasty teacher
    ever get her comeuppance? This fast paced, funny
    book is very amusing, engaging, and highly
    recommended for reluctant readers.

14
Wild Girl,by Patricia Reilly Giff
15
Wild Girl,by Patricia Reilly Giff
  • From School Library Journal
  • Grade 46Twelve-year-old Lidie must leave her
    beloved home in Brazil for a new life in New
    York. She reunites with Pai and her older
    brother, who left shortly after Mamãe died five
    years earlier. Lidie's father and Rafael train
    racehorses for a wealthy benefactor. When she
    meets the filly Pai has dubbed Wild Girl, Lidie
    remembers her mother calling her by that name.
    The horse's story parallels hers, as they are
    both plunked down into an unfamiliar, sometimes
    harsh environment. But when at last Lidie rides
    Wild Girl, it is as if their spunky, spirited
    souls gloriously merge. This brief tale of the
    sense of powerlessness that accompanies childhood
    is magnified by the perspective of an immigrant
    girl. It also addresses the pain of separation
    from loved ones, and animal cruelty. These issues
    are dealt with in an evenhanded, never too
    sorrowful or desperate way. Readers will find
    hope and resiliency in this coming-of-age
    story.Tracy Weiskind, Chicago Public Library

16
Gabriels Horses,by Alison Hart
17
Gabriels Horses,by Alison Hart
  • From School Library Journal
  • Grade 58A story set in Kentucky horse country
    during the Civil War. Gabriel, 12, is a slave but
    dreams of becoming a famous jockey. His father, a
    free man married to a slave, is a trainer for
    Master Giles's stable of Thoroughbreds. When the
    man enlists in the Union Army to earn the money
    to buy his wife's freedom, Gabriel must adjust to
    a cruel new trainer. Although the war's impact in
    Kentucky is less dire than in other Southern
    states, marauding bands of Confederate raiders
    terrorize residents, seeking horses, food, and
    anything else they can steal. One Arm Dan's bunch
    raids Master Giles's farm, not for food, but for
    the horses that Gabriel is determined to protect.
    Outnumbered, his only choice is to take eight of
    the animals and run. Master Giles, a kind man,
    rewards the boy's cunning and bravery by granting
    him his freedom and a paid job as his top jockey.
    Characters talk about the many faces of freedom,
    from actual emancipation, to being allowed to
    learn reading and writing, to realizing the dream
    of working at what you love. More subtle signs of
    liberation are seen in the black freemen who call
    Giles "Mister" and the slaves who address him as
    "Master." The author grounds this fast-paced tale
    in historical fact by providing a nonfiction
    epilogue. Readers will find this wonderful blend
    of history and horses appealing.Ann Robinson,
    Moultonborough Academy Library.

18
Million Dollar Throw,by Mike Lupica
19
Million Dollar Throw,by Mike Lupica
  • From School Library Journal
  • Grade 68Lupica delivers another smooth,
    well-paced, character-driven novel.
    Thirteen-year-old Nate Brodie's life would seem
    to be the stuff of adolescent boys' dreams he is
    the star quarterback of his school football team
    and has a great relationship with his best friend
    and soulmate, Abby McCall. However, all is not
    smooth sailing. The Brodies are in danger of
    losing their home in the economic downturn, and
    Abby's eyesight is failing due to a rare
    congenital disease. Nate thinks he may have the
    opportunity to solve all of his problems when he
    wins the chance to make a million dollars by
    throwing a football through a small target during
    halftime at a pro football game. Unfortunately,
    his quarterbacking skills suddenly and
    mysteriously desert him just as he is preparing
    for his big moment. With the support of his
    family and friends, he fights his way back and
    regains the confidence he needs to face the
    challenges in his life. While the serious issues
    raised about the effects of economic uncertainty
    on families are resolved a tad too easily,
    youngsters are likely to accept this as just a
    good, entertaining read.Richard Luzer, Fair
    Haven Union High School, VT

20
Faith, Hope and Ivy June,by Phyllis Reynolds
Naylor
21
Faith, Hope and Ivy June,by Phyllis Reynolds
Naylor
  • From School Library Journal
  • Grade 58Naylor takes up the issues of crossing
    class lines with a solid portrayal of Ivy June
    from rural coal country in Kentucky staying with
    an upper-middle-class family for two weeks over
    spring break and the return visit of the daughter
    of that household, Catherine. The living
    situations of the seventh graders are at two
    extremes and yet both girls have the humanity and
    distinctness that allow them to escape the
    confines of representing their classes. Make no
    mistake, this is Ivy June's story, and her
    hardships and family challenges are front and
    center in a way that Catherine's own family woes
    are not. The exchange program set up by the
    schools is a perfect showcase for looking at the
    role of wealth and poverty in our assumptions
    about one another. Ivy June's discomfort at
    having the wrong shoes is comparable to
    Catherine's squirming at being unable to wash her
    hair daily. Neither manages to overcome her own
    class assumptions. Despite the challenges, this
    is a warm and tender story of learning to care
    about the needs of the "other" while gaining
    appreciation for your own values and strengths.

22
The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester,by Barbara
OConnor
23
The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester,by Barbara
OConnor
  • From School Library Journal
  • Gr 47This well-crafted novel creates a charming
    mix of the commonplace and the extraordinary. On
    summer break, the likably mischievous Owen Jester
    has caught the biggest, best bullfrog in Carter,
    GA. However, Tooley Graham isn't healthy,
    saddling Owen with a nagging guilt about keeping
    his new pet captive. Meanwhile, after hearing a
    crash in the night, the boy discovers that a
    Water Wonder 4000a two-passenger submarine that
    has fallen off a passing train. He tries to keep
    his secret from everyone but his friends, but
    nosy neighbor Viola isn't easily fooled. When she
    discovers the sub, the only way to keep her from
    alerting grown-ups is to let her in on the plan
    to take it for a spin. But there are problems.
    How will they move the heavy sub to the pond? Can
    they figure out how to drive it? And most
    importantly, how can Owen and his friends work
    with their archenemy? The plot is straightforward
    and efficient the focus is always clear.
    Characterization is a strengthparticularly
    memorable is Viola, who steals the show as an
    honest-to-goodness know-it-all. O'Connor deftly
    leads readers to ponder some big questions about
    friendship and disrupting the natural order.
    Beyond pleasure reading, the story lends itself
    nicely to use in a classroom setting. Appealing
    and authentic, this tale of summertime adventure
    will be a hit with readers year round.

24
Fair Weather,by Richard Peck
25
Fair Weather,by Richard Peck
  • Amazon.com Review
  • Granddad emits a strangled sound, 13-year-old
    Rosie pitches right off her chair, and young
    Buster just vibrates. What event catapults the
    Beckett family into such a state? The arrival of
    a letter from distant Chicago--and not just a
    letter, an invitation from Mama's elusive,
    wealthy sister Aunt Euterpe. She decides that
    it's high time for the children to see the world
    beyond "the four walls of a one-room country
    schoolhouse." And what better opportunity than
    the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, to honor
    the 400th anniversary of the discovery of
    America? Spanish nobility, President Cleveland,
    and Ferris wheels, oh my! Richard Peck, Newbery
    Medal-winning author of A Year Down Yonder,
    paints a charming portrait of a 19th-century
    farming family turned upside down by a visit to
    the big city. Narrator Rosie is friendly and
    funny as she describes the instant (if not
    entirely successful) citification of her family,
    encounters with Buffalo Bill himself, and her own
    delightfully eccentric Granddad who named his
    horse after Lillian Russell (which is just fine
    until they meet her at the fair). This wonderful,
    witty glimpse into 19th-century
    America--sprinkled with historical
    photographs--concludes with an insightful essay
    on the Exposition. Heartily recommended.

26
Knucklehead Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories
About Growing up Scieska,by Jon Scieska
27
Knucklehead Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories
About Growing up Scieska,by Jon Scieska
  • From School Library Journal
  • Starred Review. Grade 36Just try to keep kids
    away from this collection. Inspired book design
    makes the volume look like an old-school comic.
    The front cover features an elementary-aged
    Scieszka popping up out of a military tank,
    surrounded by explosions and bombers, while the
    back advertises a "Treasure Chest of Fun" and
    displays chapter titles and excerpts along with
    nostalgic graphics. Scieszka answers the
    oft-asked question, "Where do you get your
    ideas?" with a slew of childhood anecdotes and
    his family's escapades that have given him plenty
    of material from which to draw. Born in 1954, the
    second of six brothers, he writes about Catholic
    and military schools, buying gifts, chores, and
    hand-me-downsall familiar experiences related
    with a specific Scieszka twist. His mother, a
    nurse, insisted that her sons use proper terms
    for anatomy ("rectum" rather than "butt") and
    bodily functions ("urinate" rather than "pee"),
    making way for several laugh-out-loud moments.
    Some stories are just amiably funny, such as
    wearing recycled Halloween costumes, while others
    help readers understand more about how the author
    developed his unique sense of humor. Although it
    includes the car trip story from Guys Write for
    Guys Read (Viking, 2005), Knucklehead is aimed at
    a younger audience. Family photographs and other
    period illustrations appear throughout.
    Entertaining and fast-moving, silly and sweet,
    this homage to family life is not to be missed.

28
The White Giraffe,by Lauren St. John
29
The White Giraffe,by Lauren St. John
  • From School Library Journal
  • Grade 47Imagine the rich surroundings of South
    African wildlife, the mystical stories
    surrounding a rare white giraffe, and an orphaned
    girl. Such is the backdrop for this heartwarming
    story. When her parents are killed in a house
    fire, Martine, 11, is sent to live with a
    grandmother she didn't know she had at a wildlife
    sanctuary. The cold, hands-off woman offers
    little comfort to a displaced, grieving child,
    leaving Martine to fend for herself in a foreign
    land. When a local woman tells the child that she
    has "the gift," Martine doesn't know what it is
    or why she would have it. Then she learns of a
    white giraffe and poachers' intent on capturing
    it. The story unfolds into a legendary tale full
    of intrigue and what life demands of a young
    chosen one. African folklore adds a touch of
    magic to the story and will help readers
    understand the supernatural beliefs of an ancient
    culture. Enjoyable characters offer a glimpse of
    local culture through Tendai, a Zulu tribesman,
    and the local mystic, appropriately named Grace.
    The bush healing techniques are especially
    interesting. Although a few sections need more
    fleshing out, the story is captivating and well
    spun.

30
Sammy Keys and the Hotel Thief,by Wendelin Van
Draanen
31
Sammy Keys and the Hotel Thief,by Wendelin Van
Draanen
  • Amazon.com Review
  • Look out Harriet the Spy! Here comes Sammy Keyes,
    a resourceful, brave, too-curious-for-her-own-good
    young sleuth who gets into trouble with her
    grandmother's binoculars. Sammy was just killing
    time when she looked across the avenue with the
    binoculars. She certainly didn't imagine that she
    would see a thief in the act of stealing
    something from one of the rooms at the Heavenly
    Hotel. The worst part is that the thief saw Sammy
    spying! And what did "smart" Sammy do then? She
    waved at the thief! Now Sammy is in loads of
    trouble. Can she solve the mystery of the hotel
    thief before the thief finds her and before the
    police discover that she has been living
    illegally with her grandmother? (Oh, don't
    ask--it's just another stressful situation in
    this young detective's life.) Teens of all ages,
    shapes, and persuasions (especially reluctant
    readers) will adore Sammy and her crazy
    adventures. She is much more than a brilliant
    detective Sammy Keyes, who is curious in all the
    right ways, is the sort of person you'd love to
    have as a friend.
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