Kids’ Choice: Marshfield Dreams and Marshfield Memories by Ralph Fletcher

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With my 6th graders, each fall we read MARSHFIELD DREAMS by Ralph Fletcher. This is a funny yet touching memoir of Mr. Fletcher’s childhood, growing up in Marshfield, MA, in the 1960’s. He has a large family (8 kids) and a host of fun experiences. Part of the joy in this book is in the simple details of typical family life, such as getting a new baby sibling or a first pet. Events are portrayed in language that kids and adults will both enjoy. Each fall the kids tell me that this is “one of the best books I’ve ever read!”.

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You can imagine my great excitement when I discovered that a sequel to Marshfield Dreams — MARSHFIELD MEMORIES — was published this past fall! I contacted Mr. Fletcher’s publicist and she kindly sent me a copy to enjoy and to share with my students. The Fletcher fun continues with more stories about boy scouts, the woods, sibling hi-jinks, and Ralph’s burgeoning interest in both writing and girls. I was thrilled to be transported back to Marshfield!

Highly recommended for readers in grade 4/5 and up. This was a great choice for reluctant readers in older grades. And adults will enjoy it as well! Thank you for my review copy of Marshfield Memories. My school purchased my copy of Marshfield Dreams through Amazon.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

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Those of you who love Kate DiCamillo and her “Raymie Nightingale” will remember Louisiana Elefante. In this middle grade novel, the next chapter of Louisiana’s story is told. This was a quick read with a very distinct narrator’s voice (I don’t think Louisiana ever speaks with contractions), and while it was sad (the child is basically abandoned – twice), it has a sweet ending with a theme of accepting yourself for who you are.

I’ll be sure to recommend this one to our school library. Thank you for my review copy via Net Galley!

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The Search for the Homestead Treasure by Ann Treacy

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I do love everything I receive from University of Minnesota Press! All the books I’ve received are for middle grades or YA and take place in Minnesota. They are all well-written, interesting, and well-done. This book was no exception.

Here’s the overview:

Fourteen-year-old Martin Gunnarsson is trying to hold his family together on the homestead where his ancestors died of diphtheria in 1865. Somehow rumors of a treasure on the farm survived, and when Martin discovers Aunt Cora’s journal in a musty trunk in the hayloft, he thinks it might give him a clue. But what exactly is he looking for?

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Ann Treacy is coauthor (with Margi Preus) of A Book of Grace. Her writing has appeared in Lake Superior Magazine as well as Highlights for Children magazine. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.

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This was a short read (less than 200 pages) and I couldn’t put it down. I loved the character of Martin, and his resilient spirit as he struggles to help his family run their farm. I also enjoy a mystery, and this was woven in, too — the treasure that was hidden somewhere before his grandparent’s family died of illness. Will Martin find it? Where is it? And will his family be able to survive?

Highly recommended for classrooms and middle grade readers who want more than your average pioneer story!

Thank you for my review copy and for having me share my thoughts!

Look for it at a bookstore or library (or online!) near you —

THE SEARCH FOR THE HOMESTEAD TREASURE
Ann Treacy
University of Minnesota Press | 176 pages | May 2016
ISBN 978-0-8166-9956-8 | hardcover | $16.95

Kids Spotlight: The Dragon of the Month Club by Iain Reading

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Last month I was asked by Book Publicity Services if I would like to take a look at THE DRAGON OF THE MONTH CLUB series by Iain Reading. I promptly gave it to my resident reader. She enjoyed it and thought it was a cute story and especially geared to middle grade readers, perhaps a tad younger than her (she is 12).

Here’s some info on the book from the publicist:

The Dragon Of The Month Club, by Iain Reading, was published in February 2015 and is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Genres: Middle Grade / Fantasy / Adventure

Synopsis:

The Dragon Of The Month Club is the exciting first installment in a new book series that tells the story of Ayana Fall and Tyler Travers, two best friends who stumble across an extraordinarily magical book and soon find themselves enrolled as members of a very special and exclusive club – The Dragon of the Month Club.

On the thirteenth of every month a new dragon conjuring spell is revealed and the two friends attempt to summon the latest Dragon of the Month. The varieties are almost endless: Air Dragons, Paper Dragons, Fog Dragons, Waterfall Dragons, Rock Dragons, Tree Dragons – not to mention special bonus dragons for all the major holidays, including a particularly prickly Holly Dragon for Christmas.

But one day when a conjuring spell somehow goes wrong Ayana and Tyler find themselves unexpectedly drawn into a fantastical world of adventure based on the various books scattered all across Tyler’s messy bedroom. Travelling from one book-inspired world to the next with nothing to rely on but their wits and a cast of strange and exotic dragons at their disposal they must try to somehow find their way home again.

Drawing inspiration from some of literature’s most memorable stories – from 19th century German folktales to the streets of Sherlock Holmes’s London – the adventures of Ayana and Tyler bring these classic stories to life in delightfully strange and unexpected ways. Filled with fascinating detail and non-stop action these books will spark the imaginations of readers of all ages to inspire a life-long love of reading and seeking out books that are just a little bit off the beaten track.

Contest:

There is an ongoing contest for readers to win a one-of-a-kind hardcover version of The Dragon of the Month Club with their artwork as the cover.

“Draw a picture! Write a story! Take a photograph! Bake some cookies! Mold a dragon out of clay! Knit one out of yarn! Make one out of LEGO! Whatever you want! Just let your imagination run wild because anything goes – the more creative the better! Send your dragon in and then on the 13th day of every month one entry will be chosen at random and featured on the official Dragon Of The Month Club website. Each month’s lucky winner will also receive a free one-of-a-kind personalized hard-cover edition of The Dragon Of The Month Club book featuring their winning artwork (or other creative content) on the cover or inside the book itself,” says Iain.

To learn more, go to http://www.dragonofthemonthclub.com/

About the Author:

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.

Iain writes middle grade and young adult books. His published works include the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Waterfire Series, and the dragon of the month club. To learn more, go to http://www.amazon.com/Iain-Reading/e/B00B0NGI6Q/

Connect with Iain on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

 

Spotlight on CHICKADEES, BUMBLEBEEZ, PUSSY WILLOW TREES AND TWO-AND-A-HALF! by Jeffrey M. Politsky

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I received this fun picture book from the author’s publicist and I will be sharing it with the school library where I teach.

Here’s some info on it:

Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half, by Jeffrey Politsky, is a children’s book of adventure. It is recommended for ages 4-9.

“Kids who still have their parents read to them really like the book, as do kids who are independent readers,” says Dr. Politsky. “The reviews of parents and children who have read the book are very favorable: adults really like the message and the children just love the story. I hope many more children will get to read it.”

Synopsis:

Children love to explore; it’s intuitive. And they tend to struggle when asked to confine their activities and behaviors to our adult-imposed rules and paths. Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half is a vibrantly and exceptionally well-illustrated adventure book meant to inspire children to follow their urges to explore and to appreciate diversity. The book starts off when “One day a little brown monkey with dazzling olive green eyes, a friendly smile, and a long curly tail asked his father if there was more to the life than just hanging around with other monkeys and eating bananas.” Before long he meets a lovely grey cat and a majestic blue pelican each on their own quests. Together, they explore a foreign island and when their journey takes them into a private swath of land, they befriend a local dog who takes them further than they ever imagined.

Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half emphasizes several significant values, which help us subsist and ultimately thrive: learning through independent exploration, the need for friendship, the importance of respect and tolerance for other cultures, languages, and lifestyle diversity, along with a healthy understanding of the powers of mother nature.

About the Author:

Dr. Jeffrey Politsky grew up in Toronto, Canada. He obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Toronto and his medical degree at the University of Western Ontario before moving to Vancouver for his residency training in Neurology. He moved to Boston in the late 1990’s to complete his epilepsy fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and has lived in the United States ever since. Today, Dr. and Mrs. Politsky live in New Jersey with their two children and two giant schnauzers. While he has written numerous articles and chapters related to the neurologic sciences, Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half is Dr. Politsky’s first serious non-academic venture.

Dr. Politsky began writing Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half on Formantera, one of the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean Sea off of the east coast of Spain.

“As I began pondering what makes free-form travel so interesting, I decided to try and create a story that would be appealing to youngsters. All of my back-packing adventures, like so many other travelers, had common themes: selecting a location, landing in a foreign place and feeling very foreign, attempting to understand the culture and fit in, survival, discovery, problem solving, raw happiness. I incorporated several of my own experiences in the text,” says Dr. Politsky. “I decided to weave into the story the linguistic nuances that my grandfather used when he would joke with my brother and me when we were youngsters – in essence we would ask him a question and he would answer using neologisms and in a manner that made absolutely no sense at all and then start laughing in a jolly fashion, quite amused with himself. I cherish my memory of my grandfather. His good nature and terminology stuck, much of it is incorporated in the book. In fact, some of his favorite expressions make up the book’s title.”

Dr. Politsky’s grandfather died in 1989 of complications related to multi-infarct dementia.

Tony Santiago illustrated the book with Dr. Politsky’s children and grandfather individually represented in the characters.

In 2011, Dr. Politsky’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is fine now; but the process was quite an ordeal. Anyone who has been through this or a similar experience understands this. Dr. Politsky sees and treats patients every day with epilepsy and related neurologic & medical conditions – in many cases illnesses appear like an unexpected storm and can turn people’s lives upside down and inside out like a tornado. By the end of 2012, Kim had been diagnosed, treated, and had achieved full physical recovery.

Fifty percent of the proceeds of the sale of each book will be donated equally to research programs dedicated to the study of dementia and memory dysfunction, and to the study of breast cancer.

To purchase a copy of the book, go to http://jumpservicesllc.com/projects.html

Readers can connect with Dr. Politsky on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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Me again! This is a fairly lengthy book that can be read over time with little ones. I think they will enjoy some of the repetitive nature of the text and the colorful and fun pictures. Kudos to Dr. Politsky for giving half of the proceeds of this book to medical research!

Thank you for a copy to read and share!