Review of Middle-Grade Read: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan


Loved this book! This book has so many themes, but first and foremost, it is an excellent book for schools to add to their diversity collection. Students who are not familiar with the Muslim race will soon connect to Amina because the author introduces this Pakistani-American preteen as just another ordinary student, who has feelings, goals and fears like any other American student. However, as soon as the reader gets to know and understand the character, her culture/heritage is interwoven within the story. The reader gets to be introduced to the Islamic religion, the foods, the practices and rituals. Great book for middle-grade readers to read and get exposure to the diversity in the world and empathy of being part of a race not all Americans quite seem to understand.

Do I think it is a 2018 Newbery Contender?  Yes

Is it a contender as a read aloud to my 2017-2018 class?:  Yes

Review of Middle-Grade read: The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish


When I saw this book at the bookstore, I was intrigued by it because of its cover. I passed it by only to regret it later when I saw my Twitter friends post rave reviews of this book. This is my 4th 2017 middle-grade book to read and is my favorite 2017 middle-grade read thus far. The theme to this book is friendship. Ethan is a lucky boy. Although he lost one friend through a tragic accident, he finds true friendship again when his family moves to a new town. Love it.

Do I think it is a 2018 Newbery Contender?  Yes

Is it a contender as a read aloud to my 2017-2018 class?:  Yes

Review of the middle-grade read: Me and Marvin Gardens by A.S. King


I liked the story fine.  There were a lot of qualities that I liked in the book: science, environment awareness, coming-of-age story and friendships.  The story line was unique; whereas, I haven’t read a book like this before, but for some of it, it was just plain weird.  Mainly, it is the description of the animal who Obe names Marvin Gardens that doesn’t sound cute whatsoever.  Whenever Obe said he was petting his slimy belly, I thought, “Yuck!”  On one part, I liked how the author described the sadness of a once large piece of land being stripped into parts just to make into suburban housing developments and the environmental tidbits the school Obe went to announced each school day, but then other parts of the environmental awareness of the story sounded just a little too preachy.

Do I think it is a 2018 Newbery Contender?:  No

Is it a contender as a read aloud to my 2017-2018 class?:  No–I looking for outstanding books.  This is just a good read.

Book Review of the Middle-Grade read One Last Word by Nikki Grimes



Beautifully written and crafted. Thought provoking line by line. Here are a few lines from the poem, “On Bully Patrol” I wanted to comment on:

Worse yet–again, like–my child tarries
over each assigned task far too long,
ever seeking impossible perfection in
the doing of it. Never mind that the
symmetry she desires is beyond the human depth.
I sigh, recalling the ultimate value of
such doggedness, the strength implied, the
sturdy beauty of a stubborn seed.

I bet Grimes “tarried” over the task of writing this book. And how ever long it took her to accomplish this, thank you Ms. Grimes. Even though Grimes may feel it’s imperfections, I feel she achieved the “impossible perfection”. She was able to teach me, a Caucasian, the feelings of how an African American living in Harlem felt–“beyond human depth”. This book was probably her “stubborn seed” but I see the “sturdy beauty” of it.

This book will not be a read aloud for my 2017-2018 students. This book will serve as a mentor text. I can not wait to share and study the beauty of this book with my students.


Do I think it is a 2018 Newbery contender?  Yes

Is a contender as a read aloud for my 2017-2018 class?  No, because I will be using this a mentor text rather than a read aloud.


Book Review of The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli


Review:  This book could have easily earned 5 stars. I like how Spinelli opened the novel with a setting of the present while the bulk of the book is set in the summer of 1959, then ending the book right smack back in the present pulling the whole story together. I also like how Spinelli eased into the progression of the mourning process of the protragonist, Cammie over the loss of her mother whom she never knew with the climax smacking the reader in the face. I liked how Spinelli included the trustee’s “the housemaid” diary entry as another point of view that provided a summary of the events that happened in the summer of 1959 towards the end of the book. Spinnelli’s writing is so beautiful that it just stops you in your tracks as you read. However, I think including the character, Boo Boo was a mistake. Including the events of the protagonist with Boo Boo was the book’s biggest downfall. So much so, I don’t think this book is a Newbery contender for 2018. However, it is a good read–just not notable.

Do I believe it is a 2018 Newbery Contender?  No

Is it a contender as a read aloud for my 2017-2018 class? No

The 17 Middle-Grade Reads I Am Most Looking Forward to Reading in 2017

These are the following middle-grade books that I am, as of today, most looking forward to reading this year.  2016 was a fabulous year for middle-grade reads.  I’m thinking 2017 is just as promising.

Release Date:  January 3rd

      Release Date: January 3rd

Release Date:  January 3rd

    Release Date:  January 3rd

    Release Date:  January 31st

    Release Date:  February 14th

    Release Date:  March 14th

    Release Date:  March 28th

    Release Date:  April 11th

    Release Date:  May 2nd

    Release Date:  May 2nd

    Release Date:  May 16th

    Release Date:  May 30th

    Release Date:  September 12th

    Release Date:  September 26th

    Release Date:  September 26th

    Release Date:  October 17th

What middle-grade reads are you most looking forward to reading?


My Favorite 16 Middle-Grade Books Published in 2016

I read a total of 52 books in 2016.  Some were middle-grade reads that were not published in 2016.  A few were young adult books published in 2016/2015.  Some were professional education books; however the majority were middle-grade reads published in 2016.  I was going to do the top 5 or top 10, but I saw another Twitter poster make a favorite 16 in 2016 and thought that was a great idea.  Here are my favorite 16 in 2016:

















Many people can’t wait until 2016 is over, but for me, I thought 2016 had one of the best years for books that were published.  My hope is 2017 brings as many great books as this year has brought.

Book Giveaways Help Spread the #booklove to Children

Being a Title 1 5th grade reading teacher, students come to me never being successful in reading and often hating reading.  My mission is to change that.  One way to help students find his or her love for reading is simply letting students read what they want to read.  One way to achieve that is to buy a lot of books for my classroom library.

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I love to enter giveaways that help me in that endeavor.  I most recently won a Summer Book Giveaway by the talented children’s author, Rebecca Behrens.  You can tweet her @rebeccabehrens.  Here is what I won:

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Along with giving me 5 books of her latest book, Summer of Lost and Found, Rebecca Behrens sent me Summer of Lost and Found postcards & bookmarks and When Audrey Met Alice bookmarks to give to my students.  She also added two books by Caroline Starr Rose–May B and Blue Birds and also the book, My Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson.  She also included a cute ampersand book bag.  Rebecca Behrens also included a cute little note to me, which included a picture of books and a cat.  She doesn’t know it, but cats and books are my favorite theme.  Note the picture below.  It is a picture of my favorite book bag–all due to the cat and the books.

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I enter a lot of middle-grade book giveaways, but I must be lucky in the Summer Book Giveaways from authors who also send a tote along with the giveaway.  Last year, I won the Kirby Larson Summer Book Giveaway.  Here is a picture from that giveaway:

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In this giveaway, Kirby Larson sent me two of her books, Hattie Big Sky and Hattie Ever After.  Along with her two books, she also sent me the books, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy, The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm and Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco.  Larson also sent the cute book bag.  If you can not read the hashtag, it says #READLIKEAGIRL.

Now, what do I do with all these books that I buy and win?  One thing I do is put them into my library.  Another thing I do is give them away to my students.  More often than not, my students do not have access to books at home.  To help them in the endeavor of having books in the home, I give the books away.  At Meet the Teacher Night, I had a bunch of books laid out on tables.  Students were allowed to take up to five books home.  Some were brand new and some were gently used.

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Each year my school puts on a Family Reading Night.  All students leave the event with at least one book.  Others leave with many books.  Larson’s and Behren’s donation will go towards next year’s reading event.  I like to give brand new books at that event.  There are a couple of sources I use.  I get the 50 books for $50 from Scholastic.  I also use  FirstBook is an organization that will sell me brand new books cheaply because I teach at a Title 1 school.  I was busy storytelling, so I didn’t get a picture of the books that were given away, but here is my school’s little advertisement:

giveaway books

Another way books get into the hands of my students is to award students with books for perfect attendance.  One of the goals of my school was to raise the attendance rate.  I really don’t believe in little trinkets and silly stuff for rewards, but, boy do I believe in giving my students books.  Here are some pictures of students who got to choose which book he/she wanted when he/she got perfect attendance for the nine weeks:

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Thank you Rebecca Behrens and Kirby Larson in helping me with my endeavor!


My Favorite Books From Every Year I’ve Been Alive

This is my very first post.  This website is only about reading middle grade books–my favorite.   Middle grade books are reads read by grades 3 through 8. My first post is about my favorite books from every year I’ve been alive. I had one condition.  The books had to be middle grade books.  It took a lot of research and a lot of time to create this post. I got the inspiration to do my first post from Brandy’s blog called Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Anyways, I made my own list.  Here it is:

1968:          ramona the pest

1969:         sounder

1970:          trumpet of the swan

    1971:    best christmas pageant ever

1972:      tales of a fourth grade nothing 1

1973:     taste of blackberries

1974:  my brother sam is dead

1975:   tuck everlasting

1976:   abels island

1977:   bridge to terabithia

1978:   sideways stories

1979:   bunnicula

1980:   stone fox

1981:   nothings fair in fifth grade

1982:   bfg

1983:   witches

1984:   new kid on the block

1985:  sarah plain and tall

1986:   hatchet

1987:  theres a boy in the girls bathroom

1988:  aliens for breakfast

1989: my daniel

1990:true confessions

1991:  weasel

1992:   treasure tree

1993:    giver

1994:   walk two moons

1995:   mick harte

1996:  belle prater

1997:  wringer

1998:  holes

1999:    love from your friend

2000:   esperanza rising

2001:    love that dog

2002:   stargirl

2003:   prairie whispers

2004:  kira kira 1

2005:  book thief

2006:  hattie big sky

2007:    tall tales

2008:   hate that cat

2009:    love aubrey

2010:   tall dark and grimm

2011:   tua

2012: ivan

2013:  rump

2014:  crossover

2015: honest truth


Can’t wait to start reading those books that are published in 2017.  I will not post my favorite until 2018.  Love this list!