Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Single Shard

By: Linda Sue Park

Tree-ear has lived under a bridge with his friend Crane-man since he was very little.  Crane-man is wise but crippled, and Tree-ear is an outcast as an orphan.  They spend their days
scrounging for food and living the best they can.  Tree-ear is in awe of the local potters, especially Min.  When Tree-ear accidentally breaks one of Min's works, he offers to work for Min to pay the debt.  Tree-ear continues to work, hoping that Min will teach him how to use the pottery wheel.

Mrs. Senechal says:
This book drew me in right away.  The setting is Korea around 1000 A.D.  It was amazing to read about the many difficult steps the potters went through to make their beautiful pots.  I also loved the two main characters, Crane-man and Tree-Ear.  In addition, this book won the Newbery Award in 2002!  If you like historical fiction and descriptive writing, you will love this book.

**Our school is attending the Plum Creek Literacy Festival at Concordia University, in Seward, NE.  We will get to go to a session led by this book's author, Linda Sue Park!


By: Avi
Illustrator: Brian Floca

Ragweed is a young mouse from the country who is ready to explore the world.  He leaves 
his home and family, boards, a train, and stops in the first city.  However, this town has Silversides, a cat who wants to get rid of mice.  Ragweed's first experience in the city is being chased by Silversides!  Luckily, his second experience is getting rescued by a city mouse, Clutch.  Ragweed meets many new friends and learns many new things, but eventually he will face Silversides again.

Mrs. Senechal says:
I loved this adventurous book!  The author does a great job of describing life from a mouse's point of view.  In addition, all of the characters were very different and interesting.  There were also great moments of suspense that made me want to keep reading to see what would happen.  While this is a chapter book, I loved that there were also illustrations - they really helped the story come to life.

*Our school is attending the Plum Creek Literacy Festival at Concordia University, in Seward, NE.  We will get to go to a session led by this book's illustrator, Brian Floca!

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

By: Mac Barnett

Steve loves to read detective stories.  His favorite series is "The Bailey Brothers".  Steve has
memorized all of their detecting strategies and believes that one he will be a great detective as well.  Unfortunately, at school, Steve draws the topic of "quilting" while his best friend gets the topic of "detectives".  Steve heads to the library, checks out the only book on quilting, and suddenly is captured by a SWAT team of librarians!  They believe that Steve is working for Mr. E. and trying to steal top secret government secrets.

Mrs. Senechal says:
This was a fun book to read.  If you like mysteries with a good sense of humor, you will enjoy this book.  If you happen to like "The Hardy Boys" series, you'll also see hints of those books throughout this story.  I liked that Steve was a realistic kid who learned that not everything you read in a book will turn out the same way in real life.

Monday, July 4, 2016


By: Patricia Reilly Giff

When a business trips sends her dad out of the country, Elizabeth must stay with an aunt
she barely knows.  At her aunt's home, Elizabeth is captivated by a drawing of a colonial girl hanging on her aunt's wall.  Suddenly, she realizes the girl in the drawing looks almost exactly like her!  Elizabeth's aunt shares that this girl was known as Zee and is an ancestor of hers from the time of Revolutionary War.  Then, staying with her aunt didn't seem so bad as Elizabeth tried to learn everything she could about Zee.

Mrs. Senechal says:
The author tells this story in two parts - from the perspective of Elizabeth in modern times and from the perspective of Zee in the late 1700's.  It is really interesting to see how each perspective adds details to the story and helps solve the mystery of who Zee was.  The author does include some of the historical challenges and tragedies that were a part of the Revolutionary War.  However, she also captures the fierce spirits of the colonists as the fought for their freedom.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sweet Home Alaska

By: Carole Estby Dagg

Terpsichore's family is struggling to make ends meet in their small town in Wisconsin.
 When her father learns of an opportunity to receive land and supplies to move to Alaska, Terpsichore looks forward to a grand adventure.  Her mother, on the other hand, does not want to leave the civilized things, like her nice dishes and piano.  The family agrees to try Alaska and stay through the first harvest, and then they will decide if they will stay permanently. 

Mrs. Senechal says:
This story is based on actual government program from the 1930's.  The plan moved about 200 families to start a new community in Alaska.  The author does an excellent job describing the difficult conditions and unexpected challenges that these settlers faced.  I have not read many historical fiction stories from this time period, so I found it fascinating!  If you like the Little House on the Prairie series, you will love this book, too!

Fish in a Tree

By: Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Ally hates school.  She is always in trouble, the kids don't like her, and she can't read.  But, 
not being able to read is a secret Ally hides very well.  Her mother and teachers keep telling her to try harder, but when Ally tries, the words seem to move around the page and it causes her terrible headaches.  After another trip to the principal, Ally is moved to a different classroom.  She is surprised when her new teacher, Mr. Daniels, doesn't force her to read or write the way other teachers have.  Instead, he give her choices and support and begins to earn her trust.

Mrs. Senechal says:
The author does an amazing job of describing what a struggling student can be thinking and feeling.  The author also creates a great group of classmates with many different strengths, weaknesses, and personalities - just like in a real classroom.  As a teacher, I loved reading this book - Mr. Daniels is my hero!  I think this is a book all students should read!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Letter for the King

By: Tonke Dragt

Tiuri is about to become a knight.  All he must do is keep watch a full night.  But when someone comes to the door begging for help, Tiuri cannot ignore them.  Suddenly, he carries a message that must be delivered or the kingdoms of his realm will fall.  Tiuri immediately leaves his home behind and begins this enormous journey.  Within hours, enemies appear who will do anything to make sure Tiuri's quest will fail.

Mrs. Senechal says:
This story was originally written in Dutch in 1962 and was just recently published in the United States.  I really liked this story because of all the unique characters that Tiuri meets - the author makes it difficult to know who to trust!  Tiuri also makes a great hero because he is so honorable.  This book is full of constant adventure and action.  Fans of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings will definitely like this book, too!  Thanks to Samuel for sharing it with me!