Tuesday Top Ten: Most Requested Books by my 6th Graders

Another school year has begun and I’ve spent the last few days working on Media Center Orientation for the 6th Graders.  After we take a tour, go over the rules and policies, they get to check out books.  They’re so super excited to do this.  Seriously.  They all raise their arms and go, “YES!” when I tell them they’ll be checking out books.  So cute.

So here are the most requested fiction titles (over the past few days) by my 6th Graders.

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series  by Jeff Kinney:  Hilarious and always popular!

2. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger: One of this year’s Sunshine State books

3. Scat by Carl Hiaasen: Another Sunshine State book

4. Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer:  Their elementary school probably didn’t carry this series.  So now that can get their hands on it, they’re going crazy!! Seriously, I have straightened that section of books like 5 times today only to walk by and see them scattered on the floor.

5. Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osbourne: I’ve never read any of these as they’re mostly for elementary age readers, but the 6th graders like them

6. Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor:  One of my favorite Sunshine State books this year.

7. The 39 Clues series by various authors:  They LOVE this series.

8. A Child Called “It” by David Pelzer:  Something about exploring the pain of others leads to understanding who we are as humans.  I still don’t understand this one and I don’t even know if I’d let my own kids read this in 6th grade.  It is pretty intense. But these 6th graders (girls mostly) are so curious about this book.

9. Dark Life by Kat Falls: Popular Sunshine State book

10. Pemba’s Song, A Ghost Story by Tonya C. Hegamin and Marilyn Nelson:  I knew this ghost story (and Sunshine State book) would be popular with my kids!


Spies and Lies: I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

To most people the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is just another prep school for the daughters of the rich and famous.  At least that’s what they want you to think…

Cammie Morgan is a sophomore at the Gallagher Academy.  Yes, it’s a girls prep school, but they’re these girls are prepping for something special.  They’re prepping to one day become spies. Cammie and her fellow students aren’t studying for the SAT, or for college placements, instead they study subjects like advanced martial arts, chemical warfare, and covert ops (just to name a few).

Cammie is known for being the chameleon, the one no one sees.  Until one night on a covert ops assignment in town she gets seen.  Although Cammie is fluent in fourteen different languages and is capable of taking down an attacker in more than seven different ways she has no idea what to do when the ordinary boy is interested in her, who he thinks is just an ordinary girl.

Of course Cammie can’t tell Josh (the ordinary boy) who she really is and what the Gallagher Academy is really all about.  So, she creates a fake version of herself, or her legend; every good spy has one.  Soon Josh is falling for Cammie, the one he thinks is home schooled, travels the world with her peace corp parents,  and has a cat names Susie.

Is it possible to have a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her? Will it ever be safe for Josh to see past the lies and love the girl spy?
I seriously loved this book (the first in the Gallagher Girls series).  It’s so light and fun; a definite must for anyone looking to “de-stress” for a while, especially for female readers grades 5 and up.  Cammie is a really easy character to connect with and her friends are likable and funny, especially Bex, the British one.  Although the main plot line of the book is the romance between Cammie and Josh, there are strong messages of friendship and loyalty at the core.  Definitely a smart and witty read.

Book Trailer of the Week: The Red Pyramid

Happy Saturday to you!

Today I’m posting from a cute little French cafe in my neighborhood with delicious pastries. 

Anyway, this week’s book trailer is one or the book I’m currently reading:  The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, which is book one of the Kane Chronicles.  This series as been touted as Percy Jackson with Egyptian gods instead of Greek, but I don’t know anything about that because I still as of today have not read the Percy Jackson series (gasp!).  I’m enjoying The Red Pyramid and I really like this book trailer mostly because its shorter than a minute, which is one of the main things I look for when choosing trailers for my school’s morning announcements.

Ok.  Here it is!


So Spooky: Pemba’s Song, A Ghost Story by Marilyn Nelson & Tonya C Hegamin

Pemba is just your average teenage girl.

She misses her boyfriend and best friend.  She loves music and dancing.  She was deeply affected by the loss of her father. She doesn’t want to move to rural Connecticut and is mad at her mom for making her leave Brooklyn.

The second Pemba and her mother move into their kinda spooky colonial house, strange things start happening.  That very night Pemba has disturbing dreams and wakes up in the attic even though she fell asleep in her room.

Pemba knows she’s not crazy, but her headaches are getting worse and she keeps seeing an apparition in the mirror who is sending her visions.  Pemba befriends an old man, Abraham, who begins to help Pemba understand the history of her town and even her own house.

Soon, Pemba realizes that Phyllis, an 18th century slave girl, is trying to reach out to her from beyond.  Phyllis has a story to tell and she knows Pemba is the only one who can help her. Is she gifted enough to help Phyllis? But how will Pemba be able to solve a mystery that is hundreds of years old?

The story itself is intertwined with Pemba’s journal entries and poems.  Each one provides the reader with insight into Pemba’s heart and emotions.  I really felt like Pemba was a believable and realistic character and I enjoyed getting to know her in this unique way.

Also, this book is pretty spooky at times.  To be honest, I finished this one at night after my husband was already asleep and I was creeping myself out at any noise I heard!

I’m pretty positive that my students are going to love this one.


Tuesday Top Twenty: I Know What you Read this Summer!

Well,  I don’t know what you read this summer, so I can’t write about that.

But, I do know what I read this past summer.  I was busy alright!  This is not a Top Ten today, it’s a list of the twenty (yes twenty) books I read this summer.

1. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

2. Rumors by Anna Godbersen

3. Dark Life by Kat Falls

4. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

5. The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott

6. Flawed Dogs: The Shocking Raid of Westminster by Berkley Breathed

7. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

8. Pemba’s Song: A Ghost Story by Tonya Hegamin and Marilyn Nelson

9. Scat by Carl Hiaasen

10. Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted

11. The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

12. Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

13. Bystander by James Preller

14. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

15. Jolted: Newton Starker’s Rules for Survival by Arther Slade

16. Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor

17. Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

18. One False Note by Gordon Korman

19. I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

20. The Help by Katheryn Stockett  (The only adult fiction I read all summer!)


Kids are Mean: Bystander by James Preller

As one who was once in middle school, you know it’s there.

As one who is a middle school educator, you know it’s there.


Yea, that is what Bystander by James Preller is all about. Well, not just about bullying, but also about learning how to be strong in the face of bullying.

Seventh grader, Eric is new in Bellport, Long Island.  Eric’s mother just moved him and his little brother from Ohio back to her hometown.
Eric has just met someone who actually wants to be his friend; Griffin.  Griffin is a little strange, but he seems popular, cool and confident.

Soon, Eric starts to notice that all is not well with Griffin.  He encourages Eric to lie to his mother and he always seems to be at the center of bad situations.  The more time Eric spends with Griffin and his friends, the more Eric starts see; Griffin lies, he’s a bully and he’s a thief.

As Eric starts to realize that Griffin isn’t who he wants to be associated with and attempts to break away from the relationship, things take a turn for the worse.  Being on Griffin’s bad side isn’t where Eric wants to be. And as the tagline asks, is Eric just “a bystander? Or the bully’s next target?”.

Things I liked about this novel:

So, I thought this book was a page turner.  I would get to the end of each chapter and think, “Okay, I can read one more!”  or “I need to get back to that book to see what happens next”.  You’re pushing forward through the book just knowing that something is about to happen just right around the corner.  This is totally what one feels like as a victim of bullying, you know its coming, you almost expect it with every turn.  I don’t know if Preller intended this effect on the reader, but it’s there.

Griffin’s character isn’t just some one-sided “mean kid” character.  Often in movies or books the mean kid is just mean, for no reason whatsoever, but Preller provides a little more insight.   As the book progresses, the reader gets a little glimpse into Griffin’s home life and it kind of all falls together; you suddenly understand his motives. I think my friend, Becky (shot out!) always said, “hurt people hurt people”.  I’m sure she got that from someone famous, and it makes so much sense with Griffin’s character.

Things I wasn’t so fond of (oh, and a bit of a spoiler alert):

Mainly, the conclusion.  There is no meaningful solution to the problem.  Griffin, in some strange way, respects Eric, so they kind of silently agree to live and let live and go their separate ways.  The problem I have with this, is that it’s not that easy for a bullying victim to just live life because the bullies do not give up that easily.  Not in my opinion, and not from what I’ve seen working with middle schoolers.   There usually has to be some sort of confrontation, whether with an adult or without.  The ending to me, wasn’t very realistic.

All in all, I enjoyed Bystander and I think it’s a great way to opening up a conversation with your friends, students, or children about bullying.


Book Trailer of the Week: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Alas, summer is pretty much over for me as the students come back to school on Monday.

Since I’m still mourning the loss of my summertime,  I’m in the mood for a light beach type read. Since I’ve seen this one around for the past few hot and humid months, I think I should probably read at least one of Jenny Han’s novels.

Here’s the book trailer for her novel, The Summer I Turned Pretty.



Tuesday Top Ten: Popular Middle Grades Series (at my School)

Today has nothing to do with me.  Today’s list is all about what middle schoolers (at least in Central Florida) are reading.

I’m listing ten of the most popular middle grades fiction (not YA) series in my school’s Media Center.

Also, these are actually in no particular order; well okay for real the most popular series at my school is still The Diary of a Wimpy Kid (I mean we have like 6 copies of each book and they’re never on the shelf!) .

Ok here goes:

10. The Kingdom Keeper series by Ridley Pearson

9. The Dork Diaries series: by Rachel Renee Russell

8. The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

7. The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins

6. Maximum Ride by James Patterson

5. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

4. The Warriors series by Erin Hunter

3. The 39 Clues series by various authors

2. The I.Q. series by Roland Smith

1. The Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney