Dogs, dogs, dogs — especially in the classroom

What’s the next best thing to having a real, live, sweet dog in the classroom? Having lots of books about dogs in the classroom! And even if you are lucky enough to attend a school where a dog is available in the classroom, lots of dog-themed books are the perfect complement to the pup. Here are some great book choices for elementary age readers — all of which promote the notion that every child should have a dog (and every dog should have a child) and the idea of rescuing a dog. I highly recommend all of these.

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‘The Fort” by Gordon Korman is a thoughtful middle grade novel about secrets and what we hide from even our best friends

The Fort by Gordon Korman

Gordon Korman has been writing books for a long time—since he was twelve years old, in fact. As he explains in the Author’s Note, he wrote his first book in 7th grade as a fluke of an assignment. Scholastic published it two years later, and—luckily for middle grade readers and teachers— he’s been writing ever since. His books are always thoughtful, engaging and realistic. When kids read Korman’s books they see kids a lot like them: imperfect kids, kids with insecurity, kids who don’t fit in, and kids who are different.

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Nonfiction animal picture books for back-to-school adventure and learning

Teachers love using picture books to teach concepts to students from kindergarten through middle school. Picture books are usually easy to understand, and the visuals help all kinds of learners access the information. They can be entertaining as well, so children learn reading is fun, not work. Here are some wonderful new picture books to share with the children in your life.

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‘For Butter or Worse’ by Erin La Rosa is a tasty romantic treat

For Butter or Worse

Cooking shows are hugely popular, and many a Kitchen Aid stand mixer was purchased during the pandemic (guilty, me). For those who are perfecting their proofing skills and practicing delicious pasta dishes, “For Butter or Worse” by Erin La Rosa is a deliciously delightful romance. Nina and Leo, the two stars of a reality cooking show, “The Next Cooking Champ,” are often at each other’s throats. They don’t like each other, and when Nina quits after Leo inadvertently calls her a name on live TV, her restaurant’s popularity tanks. Likewise, Leo’s family chain of restaurants loses business.

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‘An Island Wedding’ by Jenny Colgan a delightful summer romp

An Island Wedding by Jenny Colgan

The fictional Scottish island of Mure is the setting for a series of novels by Jenny Colgan, and so delightful are her descriptions of the remote setting and the colorful inhabitants that we long to visit there and see the whales in the ocean, feel the cold breezes, and marvel at the colorful buildings that line the street along the coast. In “An Island Wedding,” we revisit this magical place, based on the real islands of Orkney and Shetland, and reacquaint ourselves with many of the inhabitants who have been featured in past novels.

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‘Upgrade’ by Blake Crouch is a thrilling sci-fi novel about the future

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Blake Crouch’s newest novel, “Upgrade,” doesn’t start with a bang but rather a slow, uphill journey that draws us in gradually. But don’t relax, because before Chapter 2 begins, the action ratchets up, and by the end of the second chapter, you’ll find you want to keep reading to find out what happens next — quickly. That level of excitement and wonder continues to the very last page. Crouch is a master at creating stories about fantastic events and the people who are affected by them. There are few real bad guys in this story; instead, there are characters who, because of their arrogance, believe they can save the world.

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‘Dead Against Her’ by Melinda Leigh is a gripping mystery novel

Dead Against her by Melinda Leigh

The fifth novel in the Bree Taggert series by Melinda Leigh, “Dead Against Her,” is just as riveting and touching as the first ones. They feature Bree Taggert, a tough female sheriff in a rural upstate New York community who was born in the county to an abusive father. She became a detective, and, when her sister was murdered, returned to her roots to raise her sister’s children with the help of her now retired former partner.

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‘Dreaming of Flight’ by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a brilliant and touching story of love and loss

Dreaming of Flight by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Fans of Catherine Ryan Hyde will adore her new novel featuring, as protagonist, an eleven-year-old boy named Stewie. Stewie’s life has been tough. His parents died when he was a baby, his older brother Theo has cerebral palsy, and his sister Stacey is raising them alone on her salary as a nurse. She works nights, and while she loves her brothers dearly, she has little extra time to parent.

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‘A Rip Through Time’ by Kelley Armstrong is a time travel mystery in Victorian Scotland

A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong

After ending her fabulous “Rockton” series, prolific author Kelley Armstrong presents us with “A Rip Through Time,” a mystery boasting a different twist. Instead of exploring a unique location, we follow a modern police detective who is flung back in time to the Victorian Era, into the body of a housemaid in Edinburgh, Scotland. When Vancouver detective Mallory Atkinson is out jogging in Edinburgh while taking a break from visiting her dying grandmother, she is brutally attacked. She wakes up days later; but in what seems like a never-ending nightmare, she realizes that she is in the body of a maid and that she has been somehow transported back 150 years in time.

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‘Dark Objects’ by Simon Toyne

Dark Objects by Simon Toyne

Veteran bestselling author Simon Toyne brings us several twists in his new murder mystery, “Dark Objects.” Pay attention because there’s a lot going on in this clever story that includes gruesome murders, mysterious clues, dead people with no background, and an expert on crime who herself was a victim of horrible violence. While the crimes and the mysteries around them are fascinating, equally riveting are the two main characters.

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‘Our Last Days in Barcelona’ by Chanel Cleeton is a great summer read/book club choice

Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

Fans of Chanel Cleeton’s historical fiction have gotten to know the families in her novels, and with “Our Last Days in Barcelona,” we revisit some of her characters while we meet new ones in a dual narrative that is set in mid-1930s and the early 1960s. In the earlier timeline, Alicia, the mother of the Perez sisters, has fled to Barcelona from Cuba with her young daughter to stay with her parents after finding out about her husband’s infidelity. Yet when that daughter, Isabel, travels to Barcelona in search of her sister Beatriz in 1964, she sees a photo of her mother, herself, and an unknown man at a cafe in Barcelona. Strangely, her mother, when questioned, adamantly insists that they have never been to Barcelona. We also meet Rosa, a Perez cousin, whose own situation mirrors the personal quandaries that both Alicia and Isabel face.

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‘The Summer Place’ by Jennifer Weiner is a return to Cape Cod, where a family must reconcile secrets of the past

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Reading Jennifer Weiner’s books about idyllic summers spent on Cape Cod makes one yearn to pack up and head for the nearest beach. The sky is almost always blue, the water is clear, and the salty aroma in the air only serves to make readers hungry for a lobster roll or an ice cream cone, just like the ones in which the characters in the book indulge. In her latest novel, “The Summer Place,” we meet the Danhauser family and assorted relatives. The heart of the book is the story about three generations of women, grandmother/mother Veronica Levy (Ronnie); Sarah Weinberg Danhauser, her daughter; and Ruby, Sarah’s husband’s daughter from a previous marriage. Ruby and her boyfriend Gabe have decided to get married, and they are having the wedding at Ronnie’s beautiful beach-side home on the Cape.

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