‘Nine Liars’ by Maureen Johnson is another engrossing Stevie Bell mystery

On the cover of Maureen Johnson's latest Stevie Bell mystery, "Nine Liars," are the words: When everyone lies, somebody dies. This little epigram becomes important in the story, and I am embarrassed to admit that I neglected to read those important words before finishing this twisty and cleverly crafted novel. Here Stevie is called upon … Continue reading ‘Nine Liars’ by Maureen Johnson is another engrossing Stevie Bell mystery

‘The Midnighters’ by Hana Tooke is a delightful middle grade historical fiction romp with a soupçon of the supernatural

Many children know the feeling of not fitting in and in "The Midnighters," author Hana Tooke explores that feeling through her main character, Ema, whose fantastic, incredibly dangerous journey in this novel finally leads to her finding acceptance and respect. Ema was born into a family of scientists, and while she absorbed much of their … Continue reading ‘The Midnighters’ by Hana Tooke is a delightful middle grade historical fiction romp with a soupçon of the supernatural

‘Defy the Night’ and ‘Defend the Dawn’ are the first two books in Brigid Kemmerer’s fabulous new series

I admit that sometimes, I am spectacularly uninformed about the books I read. Take Brigid Kemmerer's new series which begins with "Defy the Night" and its sequel, "Defend the Dawn." I was sure that this was a duology, and I was thrilled that I would get to read both books in a row. I was … Continue reading ‘Defy the Night’ and ‘Defend the Dawn’ are the first two books in Brigid Kemmerer’s fabulous new series

Two must-read middle grade novels are ‘Attack of the Black Rectangles’ and ‘Island of Spies’

Two books published in 2022 that on the surface seem quite different, but share an important theme, are "Attack of the Black Rectangles" by Amy Sarig King and "Island of Spies" by Sheila Turnage. Both are about children who are determined to deal with problems that they are told are best left to adults. One … Continue reading Two must-read middle grade novels are ‘Attack of the Black Rectangles’ and ‘Island of Spies’

Two pop-up books for children about animals and dinosaurs would make great holiday gifts

Almost all kids love pop-up books, and pop-up books about animals are sure to be a hit. "Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures" by Arnaud Roi and illustrated by Charlotte Molas and "The Pop-up Guide: Animals" by Maud Poulain and Peggy Nille are two picture books that entranced my six-year-old grandson, and he did think that … Continue reading Two pop-up books for children about animals and dinosaurs would make great holiday gifts

For young mystery lovers: a picture book and beginning readers series for using clues to solve puzzles

When I was teaching, I loved using picture books as teaching materials. The students were so entertained by the stories that they didn't realize I was sneaking in important concepts! With these mysteries for young readers, teachers can show students how to pay attention to details and how to use organized problem-solving methods to get … Continue reading For young mystery lovers: a picture book and beginning readers series for using clues to solve puzzles

‘Furysong’ by Rosaria Munda is the conclusion of a brilliant fantasy trilogy

With her latest novel, "Furysong," the last fantasy in the trilogy that began with "Fireborne" and continued with "Flamefall," author Rosaria Munda has claimed her place as a first class writer who can plan, plot, and execute a series of books wherein each approaches 500 pages—not one page of which feels unnecessary. Yes, the novels … Continue reading ‘Furysong’ by Rosaria Munda is the conclusion of a brilliant fantasy trilogy

‘Odder’ by Katherine Applegate is a poignant and thoughtful story filled with joy

Odder by Katherine Applegate In her newest novel, "Odder," we see why children's writer Katherine Applegate is a Newbery medalist and New York Times bestselling author—it's because her writing touches readers' hearts, fills us with emotion, and often shows us a new way of observing the world around us. In "Odder," we meet a sea … Continue reading ‘Odder’ by Katherine Applegate is a poignant and thoughtful story filled with joy

Middle grade fiction about pressing problems, prejudice, and social inequality

Good teachers and librarians know that literature can help inform children about social justice and other issues around the world. And there are many authors and many thoughtful middle grade books that open readers' minds about such problems. Here are some excellent choices that should be a part of classroom and school libraries. Two Degrees … Continue reading Middle grade fiction about pressing problems, prejudice, and social inequality

Cats, a pigeon (THE pigeon), and troubled pugs star in these picture books

These four picture books all feature animals, but the messages they impart are all quite different. However, in all of them, the animals are clever and open to new ideas, and isn't that an important message we want to teach our children? The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster by Mo Willems Everyone knows the … Continue reading Cats, a pigeon (THE pigeon), and troubled pugs star in these picture books

National Geographic Kids has some engaging and informative 2022 books kids will love

National Geographic Kids creates the kind of nonfiction books that kids of all ages (and adults, too) love to read. They are filled with facts, photographs, maps, charts, and lists, in addition to the nonfiction text features that elementary school students learn about -- like table of contents, indexes, glossaries, and pages with more information. … Continue reading National Geographic Kids has some engaging and informative 2022 books kids will love

Nonfiction biographies to inspire children

From the iconic Ruby Bridges and Colin Kaepernick to the lesser known Ethelda Bleibtrey (whom I had never heard of prior to reading this book), these nonfiction picture books will teach children about individuals from history whose determination, imagination, and strength impacted the world. So Much More to Helen! We've all heard of Helen Keller, … Continue reading Nonfiction biographies to inspire children