Northanger Abbey: By Jane Austen

Catherine Morland is not your average heroine.  As far as her books tell her, the heroes should be brilliant, cultured, and witty.  Catherine is none of these, but delights in the adventures of her novels, rather than having one of her own.  
Until one day, she is invited to holiday in Bath.  This holiday will change her life entirely.  Her small, rural town at home now miles away, she is forced into the spotlight of the culture of a busy, bustling city. Catherine is not amused, until a certain young man appears in her life.  Mr. Tilney is everything a man should be, but can Catherine deserve him?  What will her friend Isabella, and Isabella's lovesick brother think?  Can Catherine abandon her friends for someone she barely knows? Then, upon being invited by the general to Northanger Abbey,  she discovers the family may have some secrets.   What mysteries will she find in those old stone halls?  What secrets lay hidden in the rooms of the Tilney family household?  

Made in Austen's brilliant style, Northanger Abbey shines out as on of the most unusual of her novels.  It was written over the span of 13 years, so that Austen from a young writer to become a more accomplished one, had time to make many changes to this work of art.  Beautiful in style as well as a compelling read!!

Grade Level: 10.8

Pembrick's Creaturepedia: By Ollister B. Pembrick

For those of us who have gone on the journey through the Dark Sea of Darkness, the Ice Prairies, or whether you prefer to live a simple life in the Glipwood township, all well meaning citizens know that Pembrick's Creaturepedia is the best source of knowledge in regards tot he strange creatures that dwell in the world of the Wingfeathers.  How else would we know that a flabbit's ears are ' not cute' or the eight-eyed Raggant has a jubilant demeanor?  Thank you, Ollister Pembrick for such a thorough compilation of the strange creatures that roam our borders.  

"With this creaturepedia close at hand, you may walk the world of Aeriar calm and/or composed, rather than embalmed and/or decomposing.
-O. Pembrick, Master of Disguisery"

The Night Gardener: Jonathan Auxier

Torn from Ireland and forced to make their way in the world, Molly and Kip must trust their future to strangers.  Fortune seems to smile upon them as a sudden job opportunity presents itself in the form of caretaking an old manor house and the residents therein.  But there seems to be another resident lurking in the halls late at night.....

If you liked Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes, then yo will love this newest novel by Jonathan Auxier!!  If you don't mind a little bit of a thriller of a novel, that is!  I was certainly on the edge of my seat for nearly half the book, I must say.  Not for the faint of heart!!  *** SPOILER ALERT*** Just a note of caution: One untimely death of a character that is depicted quickly and with little detail as to not be graphic.  Still,  this character meets a rather unfortunate end.  

Grade Level: 4.9

Summer Reading Projects

Thank you for the lovely summer projects that have already been turned in!!! It's wonderful to see how you are progressing on your summer books so far. Keep it up 6th graders!!

The Last Battle: C.S. Lewis

Narnia is no longer the place we once knew.  It has ben tainted by evil and is slowly falling apart.  During the last days of Narnia, the land is facing its most difficult challenge yet—and its not what yo might expect.  Narnia is not facing a great invader from some unknown place.  Narnia is at war against herself.  The land is filled with creatures and people who would choose to believe the lie that a treacherous ape is letting them, instead of believing in the true Aslan.   Lies and treachery have taken root, and only the king and a small band of loyal followers can prevent the destruction of all they hold dear in this, the magnificent ending to The Chronicles of Narnia.

Be prepared to get choked up!! This novel is an excellent finale to the Chronicles of Narnia.  
Grade Level: 5.6

Wildwood: By Colin Melloy

"Prue McKeel's life is ordinary. At least until her brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, a dense, tangled forest on the edge of Portland. No one's ever gone in—or at least returned to tell of it."
And thus begins our journey through Wildwood, a fabulous novel involving two siblings and an Impassable Wilderness.  It is a story of love and adventure.  You will travel through secret worlds and discover amazing creatures and evil sorcerers.  If you like stories about magic, epic battles against coyote armies, and friendship ultimately prevailing, then this is the book for you!!!

Grade Level: 6.3

Fortunately, The Milk: By Neil Gaiman

"I bought the milk," said my father. "I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road."
"Hullo," I said to myself. "That's not something you see every day. And then something odd happened."

Grade Level: 4.3

In A Glass, Grimmly: By Adam Gidwitz

“So thirsty," Jack groaned.
"So worried,"said the frog. I hope we don't starve to death."
"Yes,"said Jill, "not starving to death would be nice."
"So would not thirsting to death," said Jack
"Thirsting isn't even a word," said Jill
"It isn't?"
"Then what's the word?"
"I don't know. You just can't."
This is, of course, the kind of inane conversation that occurs when people are slowly losing their minds.” 

Jack and Jill are actually cousins, didn't you know that?  Oh, and the Frog Prince is actually a tale about a frog who is not really a prince at all.  Just a frog who falls in love with a nasty, selfish princess, poor fellow.  This story shows the journey of two children who are learning (slowly, sometimes) to love themselves, and not get their identity from others.  Least of all some nasty, rude boys who convince Jack to sell his cow for some silly magic beans (even though the beans are actually magic) and Jill, so clouded by her queen mother's beauty that she cannot see what a terrible example she might be to follow.  

The second book in the on-going series by Adam Gidwitz does not disappoint!! Fans of the original Grimm fairy tales will love these fresh takes on their old beloved tales.

Grade Level: 4.4

The Great Gatsby: By F. Scott Fitzgerald

This book is not for children.

F. Scott Fitzgerald  decided to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned."  And thus, The Great Gatsby was created.  

 This novel has been coined his 'finest' work by some critics, and has become the most well-known novel ever by Fitzgerald.  The decadence of the Jazz age and the superfluous nature of money has given this novel a permanent place in American literature. Self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby is the embodiment of the desired American culture: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. 

""Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." 
— F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)

Gatsby's success and gruesome demise gives caution to readers who easily feel drawn to fleeting treasures of this world.  Please keep in mind that themes in this book are very adult and this book should be read by students no younger than high school.  

Grade Level:  7.3

A Tale Dark and Grimm: By Adam Gidwitz

Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.  If, by awesome, you mean gruesome, and full of murder and mayhem.  Dear Hansel and Gretel have a story that has been told over numerous generations.  But have you been told the ENTIRE story?? I think not.  Only this novel will give you all of the dreary details of poor Hansel getting turned in to a carnivorous beast, and sad, lonely Gretel losing her family and very nearly getting eaten (twice).   

This book is one I highly recommend, but I would like to warm you ahead of time!!  As grimm as the old fairy tales get (see what I did there?) this one is quite true to the originals.  Beware when picking up this book!  It is wonderfully written and puts an interesting twist on the old tales.  

"You see, to find the brightest wisdom one must pass through the darkest zones.  And thoough the darkest zones there can be no guide.

No guide, that is, but courage."


Grade Level:  4.6

Doll Bones: By Holly Black

     Zach, Alice, and Poppy are best friends.  For years, they have been playing games that take them into their imaginary world of pirates, warriors and mermaids.  Their queen, a bone-china doll, is their 'ruler'.  One day their innocent games seems to take a turn for the worst.  Poppy is having frightening dreams about their beloved queen.  Zach is starting to feel too old for silly games, but will he abandon Poppy in her time of need?

     These three embark on an overnight journey to right this murderous wrong, and meet some strange folk along the way.  They must discover the truth about their China doll, and right the wrong from so many years ago.

     Parents!! You should know that Doll Bones is REALLY creepy/spooky but in a non-violent way.  It is really a story of friendship and learning how to be yourself as you grow up and try to navigate adolescence.   The one most frightening scene involves an unbalanced and awkward  stranger on the bus who wont go away. The story centers on the mysterious death of a girl long ago, and helps each child deal  with difficult family backgrounds, and the loss  of one child's parents.

Prepare to be creeped out!! In a good way :)

Grade Level: 5.4

Hollow City: By Ransom Riggs

Jacob Portman and his new-found peculiar friends are forced back in time to a war-torn 1940's London. The extraordinary children must face an unspeakably evil foe in order to rescue their beloved teacher Miss Peregrine and return to their own time back in the 21st century.  But in these destitute surroundings, a great evil lurks around every corner. This novel uses never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind  eerie experience.

Hollow City is the sequel to Miss. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, a novel I reviewed some time back.. The sequel does not disappoint!!  I must say that these novels are not for everyone and can be a little frightening at times.  

For those of us who are familiar with these books, I have posted the book's trailer below.  It is eerily fascinating and a little frightening, but interesting nonetheless!!  BE AWARE!! The trailer made me jump a little near 0:48.  Maybe not good for the very young ages to watch or read.  

Have a look!

Grade Level:  5.7

Divergent Book 1: By Veronica Roth

This world has been divided to eliminate conflict.  Each group of people is organized into their character qualities.  Everyone should get along now, that they are only associating with like-minded people.  Right?  

What will you choose? 

It is Choosing Day.  They day you get your future decided for you.  Choosing a different path than your family?  You will never see them again.  But........ what if you can fit into more than one group? More than two? That is not possible.  And if it is... well your life is in danger.  

Tris, our heroine,  is forced to use her bravery and selflessness to protect others even when she doesn't realize it. Calm Four encourages Tris to use her upbringing's focus on selflessness to be even more courageous. Tris and Four work together  for the greater good, and sparks fly along the way.  

If you are thinking about letting your student read this,  please know that I had high hopes for this book.  It is really well written, has fascinating characters and an extremely diverse universe.  I did not like, however, the amount of inappropriate physical contact between the major characters.  This is supposed to be a children's/teen book, but parts of it are really inappropriate.  Violence in a daily routine for the characters in this story; many of them die, are murdered, and one character commits suicide.  These scenes aren't overtly graphic, but still questionable for a young audience.  

Book 1 of 3

Grade Level: 4.8

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland: By Lewis Carroll

        Alice sits on a riverbank on a warm summer day, lounging lazing and reading over her sister’s shoulder, when she catches sight of a White Rabbit in a waistcoat running by her. "Curious..." she thinks to herself.  The White Rabbit pulls out a pocket watch, exclaims that he is late, and pops down a rabbit hole.  And, like any child would do, Alice decides to follow the rabbit down the hole, and thus our adventure begins!
          Cake that makes you grow, drinks that make you shrink, talking animals of every sort, and a vengeful Queen of Hearts!!  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is one of the mot popular children's books ever written.  This novel revolutionizes the way we teach and perceive children's stories,  and opens the door into the complex world of Classical Literature. 

“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”― Lewis CarrollAlice's Adventures in Wonderland

Grade Level: 7.4

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes: By Eleanor Coerr

Sadako is born a lively and athletic child.  She is the star of her school's running team, and a wonderful, outspoken student in school.  When Sadako was 2 years old, a bomb dropped on the town of Hiroshima, one mile away from Sadako's home.  As she grew up, she know she would always have scars from where she was scalded during the WWII bombing.  And then the dizzy spells start, her parents realize that there may be more damage than just physical.   Upon being diagnosed with Leukemia, Sadako chooses to face her future with bravery. Recalling an old Japanese legend, Sadako sets to work folding paper cranes. 

"For the legend holds that if a sick person folds one thousand cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her healthy again. Based on a true story."

The 8th Grade Class at D.R.C.S. is learning the Historical and Cultural context in Literature this month.  Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is a story that has been told to generations of children since its publication in 1977, and is one of the stories that stuck with me since my childhood.  This is a story of bravery, war, love, and letting go.  A must-read for everyone!!!

Grade Level: 4.1

The Fault In Our Stars: By John Green

Hazel Grace is a teenage girl living with Cancer.  She wakes up every day knowing that she is slowly dying.  On a seemingly ordinary day, Hazel meets a boy names Augustus.  He makes her question the seeming monotony of her life and helps her see the beauty within herself.  Hazel is a true heroine with whom we learn to love ourselves a bit more.  She also shows how hard it is to love yourself.  But after learning to love yourself, she can truly learn what it means to love someone else. Her story is about learning to be loved, even though life sometimes can end with tragedy.

The Fault in Our Stars has an extensive array of literary references that range from Shakespeare and on-wards.  This novel can really bring home the issues of facing mortality, living with a chronic and catastrophic illness like Cancer, fate, life, and death.

Honestly, this is one of the best books I have read in a long time.  I would still not let my children (if I had any) read this book until they were MUCH older that 6th grade (maybe even older than middle school!) There is mature language and romantic scenes that are not appropriate for children.

Please don't get me wrong; John Green is amazingly talented writer. I would just be a little cautions if I were giving his novels to any student not yet in high school (or older, maybe college would be best!) 

Grade Level: 5.5

Cinder: By Marissa Meyer

Like modern twists on classic fairy tales? Then this one is for you! Cinder has an uncanny gift at mechanics.  Pretty handy if you are a cyborg working as a servant for her nasty old step-mother.  But when a dashing young Prince arrives on scene, things between the sisters gets a bit dodgy.  

Unfortunately having a crush on a prince doesn't bode well if you are having an intergalactic struggle between warring planets, right? Nope, it never does.  

I personally LOVED this book.  This book really brings home the idea of peace and what might be sacrificed in order to achieve it.  It helps us question the reasons for making the choices that we do, and suggests that choices made for selfish reasons ALWAYS end badly for everyone. 

There is a bit of romance that every parent should be aware of.  There is quite a bit of not-so-subtle innuendos that I might be a bit leery of with a younger age group.  There is also quite a bit of violence (Intergalactic Warfare and such) but nothing too overly graphic.  It is Book I of the Lunar Chronicles Series.  I look forward to reviewing Book to for you :)

Grave Level: 5.8

Dr Seuss Month!!! March Reading

 As Dr. Seuss month comes to a close, I would like to share three of the Seuss books we have read in class.  Not everyone is a big Seuss fan, but you cannot deny how talented this man is at rhyming!! 

If I Ran the Circus is about a young circus keeper that has high aspirations for his future occupation!!

My Personal favorite!! The Lorax !! Who couldn't love this little, fluffy, orange er.... thing?  Beware the Lorax!!! He speaks for the trees.  Since they cannot speak for themselves.
 Cat in the Hat  is about two young children stuck in the house on a rainy day.  Nothing fun to.... KNOCK KNOCK!! Oh dear!  The Cat in the Hat is here!!