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Could you recommend a book?

Summer is here and my son is on his way to a couple of sleepover camps for the first time.  I was never a camper myself, so I find I have very little information to offer on the typical goings on at camp.  As usual, I thought I should get him a book to read about it, but realized that I cannot think of a single book about going away to camp.  We did watch both of the parent trap movies, but that has exhausted my options.

If you would please leave some camp related book  titles in the comments, so we can try them out, it would be appreciated.  I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday weekend. Thanks for the help!


Summer Mystery Series

I was wandering around the stacks at Fletcher Library Monday and string of bright blue book spines jumped out at me. Upon closer examination, I realized they were the Hardy Boys series. I must tell you I am not sure I ever read a Hardy Boys novel, but my husband loved them as a kid. His other favorite was Encyclopedia Brown, another great series of mystery books for kids. With the Hardy Boys located, I went searching for the Nancy Drew books. This is a girl I knew and loved well as a child. I didn’t know the author’s name – originally Caroline Keene as it turns out – and so I just walked the stacks looking for other collections of common spines until I found her.  Read More


Mercy Watson to the Rescue

Mercy Watson to the Rescue
by Kate Di Camillo

It occurred to me on Friday, while I was playing pictionary with my third grade book clubs, that I rarely talk about books for them.  They are all interested in reading Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but there are some wonderfully funny books that will entertain them without too much challenge.  This allows them to read on their own.

Kate Di Camillo has long been one of my favorite authors.  After  reading Because of Winn Dixie, I was a fan for life.  In addition to the longer chapter books she writes for middle readers, she has given life to a wonderfully funny little pig named Mercy.  Mercy belongs to the Watsons and they love her dearly.  Mercy lives next door to the Lincolns, sisters Eugenia and Baby.  The neighbors have mixed opinions of Mercy.

In Mercy's first adventure we learn about her love of buttered toast.  A love that will help her rescue her beloved Watson family in a time of need.  Mercy is comical and would be happy in the company of other literary characters like Amelia Bedelia and Clifford.  Trouble is never too far away, but Mercy always manages to survive.


The Name of this Book is Secret Series

The Name of this Book is Secret
by Pseudonymous Bosch

Summer is coming, and I am aware that it can be hard to get kids thinking about reading. The library is offering their summer programs and many schools will have summer reading lists. If you are opting out of these, you might consider introducing a series to your kiddo.
One series I would recommend begins with The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch. It is written with 3rd-7th grade readers in mind, and a mysterious narrator spends a good bit of time engaging the readers as a part of the story, an additional character you might say... Read More



The Companions Quarter Series
by Julia Golding

We have spent the better part of the evening creating a minotaur mask and it has inspired my son to write a recommendation for the blog...

The one thing I found interesting about the series it that it is part of a genre called "eco-fantasy."  I had never heard of it before, but I can tell it is a great genre.  To my surprise these four novels include a dense plot line.

Each of the novels has creature from mythology, but the stories are original.   There are three primary characters, Cole, Coney and Coney's Aunt Evelyn.  By the end of the series, I considered Coney a friend.  It probably won't surprise you to find that she had magical qualities.  Each novel has its own adventure, but common characters.

The qualities each of the characters possess, help  them defeat the threats present in their worlds.  The pace it fast and the language smooth.  I think any young reader would love it.

Recommendation contributed by an enthusiastic 12 year old reader.


Little Women

Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

I believe many things bring people together; among them common experiences.  Reading a book can be one such experience.  It is great when a new book becomes popular.  I can always hear the kids talking about the newest Rick Riordan or James Patterson once they are available.  Reading classic novels can bring people from different generations together.  To that end, a few colleagues of mine and I have been working on a list of 100 books all kids should read during their K-12 years.

For our book club parties, I created a pictionary game from the list.  As the game proceeded, it was clear to me that these particular 5th graders were not familiar with the titles they were finding on the tickets.  One began drawing and quickly got the group to guess the word "little."  I expected the guesser to go straight to Stuart Little or Little Women.  Instead, they never got the title.  It was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  I was stunned. So, if your reader hasn't given this classic a try, maybe it is time.

The setting is a New England town during the Civil War, actually Alcott's home, Orchard House, in Concord.  A family's father, Mr. March, has left for the War. He leaves behind his wife and four daughters, with little to survive on but their love for one another.  The novel weaves together the virtues of domesticity and work, while commenting on the pursuit of wealth.  It has been well loved since its release in 1868.  It was sold as a book for girls, but I believe the strength of the male characters makes it a reasoned, if not good, choice for boys.  If nothing else, your boys will become familiar with the challenges of being a woman in the 1860's.

I grew up loving these women.  Marmee, Amy, Beth, Jo and Meg.  I even had a set of Madame Alexander Little Women dolls that I shared with my sister.  We wore them out!  Even if it doesn't have an enduring impact on your reader, it will allow them to share some common ground with the generation of readers that have come before them.

Note:  If you, too, loved Little Women as a child, you should read Geraldine Brooks novel, March.  It is about Mr. March and what he was up to while he was away at war.