Morse Pond Review: The Capybara Conspiracy

the-capybara-conspiracyThe Capybara Conspiracy

Erica S. Pearl

Random House Children’s Books

$16.99

Available Now

 

 

This book is full of thrilling action and suspenseful excitement. There are creative characters and backstabbing traitors. Farley Middle School has an amazing mascot that is being plotted against by three harmless children. Those children are not jocks but they think that if they steal the mascot and then give it back like they didn’t steal it they will be able to get what they really want. There is a backfire in the system named Pablo.  I really enjoyed this book told in play format!

~Gideon, grade 5, age 10

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Morse Pond Review: Fish in a Tree

fishinatreeFish In A Tree

Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Penguin Young Readers Group

$16.99

Available Now

 

Fish In A Tree is an incredible book about a girl who has one unbelievable challenge she has to get through. Ally Nickerson has a case of unidentified dyslexia. She had to make it to 5th grade without anyone even noticing. When her original 5th grade teacher has a baby, a permanent substitute named Mr.Daniels comes. He is the only teacher that realizes that Ally isn’t dumb, she is just different. This book is full of sadness, hope, and even some happiness. If you liked One For The Murphys, or Out Of My Mind you will love this book too. I am really glad that I came across this book. It turned out to be one of my favorite books.

~ Jane, age 10, grade 5   

 

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Morse Pond Review: The Silver Gate

silver-gateThe Silver Gate
Kristin Bailey
Harper Collins Publishers
$16.99
January 17, 2017

The Silver Gate is an amazing story of a brother and sister who face many challenges but get through them. In the story, Elric has to protect his sister, Wynn, because people think she is a changeling. Wynn really wants to find the silver gate where the fairy queen is. This book is full of magic and love. Even though they fight sometimes and get mad at each other, these siblings still love each other. Through all the hard times, they help each other through all the challenges. If you like magic and family I highly suggest this to you. I really enjoyed this book.

~Kylie, age 10, grade 5

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Morse Pond Review: Dog Man

Dog dog-manMan

Dav Pilkey

Scholastic

$9.99

Available now

 

I really enjoyed this book because it made me laugh a lot. The main character is a good guy who is trying to protect the community from an evil cat. This graphic novel, by the author of the Captain Underpants series, is great!

~ Quinn, grade 5

 

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Morse Pond Review: Fuzzy

fuzzyFuzzy

Tom Angleberger & Paul Dellinger

Amulet Books

$14.95

Available Now

Fuzzy is definitely in my top 10. Lots of amazing word choices are used in this book. It has an interesting conflict that will make you want to know what’s going to happen next, set in a middle school. So, this book is easy to relate to, except that the main character is a robot! I haven’t read much of these authors’ books at all, but just by reading this book I can already tell they are talented. Word should be spread around so this book gets read by many more people. It’s sure to be a favorite!
~ Madison, grade 6

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Morse Pond Review: Serafina and the Twisted Staff

serafinaSerafina and the Twisted Staff

Robert Beatty

Disney Hyperion

$16.99

Available Now

This book is one of the best! It is the sequel to the book Serafina and the Black Cloak which I would also recommend. Both books are amazing fantasies for any book lover. Serafina and the Twisted Staff  includes many twists and turns that will keep readers turning the pages. It ends in a massive cliffhanger that will keep you wanting another book. I highly recommend this book for mystery and fantasy lovers.

~ Caroline, grade 6

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Morse Pond Review: The Black Lotus

black-lotusThe Black Lotus: Shadow of the Ninja

Kieran Fanning

Chicken House

$16.99

Available now

The Black Lotus: Shadow of the Ninja is an amazing book! The characters Ghost,Cormac, and Kate are awesome. Each one has a unique power. This book made me want to stay up all night reading. In this book there is adventure around every corner. It has everything you could want in a book. For example, there are ninjas, samurai, time travel, super powers, and much more. It’s full of teamwork and friendship. I highly suggest it to all readers.

~ Kylie, age 10

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Staff Review: The Forgetting

 

ForgettingThe Forgetting

Sharon Cameron

Scholastic

$18.99

Available September 13, 2016

Every twelve years, the city of Canaan falls into the Forgetting, a day where everyone’s memories vanish. The only way to remember events from before the Forgetting or even clues to who you are as an individual is by keeping detailed entries in your personal book. Your book is your identity, but the truth can easily be twisted or misrepresented and no one truly knows exactly what has happened. Except for Nadia. She has never forgotten. She remembers exactly what has happened. She knows who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. Nadia’s memories allow her to investigate how the city of Canaan came to be. Because she remembers her past, she is less afraid than her neighbors and ventures over the stone wall that is supposedly protecting the city. When Gray catches her coming back over the wall, he threatens to expose her secrets unless she helps him. With the next Forgetting approaching, Nadia and Gray must figure out what is destroying Canaan. Or this time everyone will forget what the truth really is.

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Staff Review: With Malice

WithMaliceWith Malice
Eileen Cook
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
$17.99
Available now

Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital bed not remembering anything for the past 6 weeks. She doesn’t remember the once in a lifetime trip to Italy she just took with her best friend. The trip which was supposed to be fun and exciting, that instead turns into a deadly car accident. Jill is told that her friend Simone was killed during the accident, but now questions are being raised about whether the accident was intentional. As Jill slowly regains her memory, she tries to piece together bits of information that will explain what really happened to Simone and what led up to the accident. Is Jill responsible for Simone’s death, or is she being framed? With Malice is a great summer read for anyone who loves mysteries.

~ Lana

 

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A Middle School Library Teacher’s Reflections on Censorship

SeventhWishAt the start of this school year (2015-16), my library classes discussed books as windows and mirrors. I promised my students that I would do my best to have books in the library that opened their eyes to the world around them, as well as books that they could relate to on a very personal level. Little did I realize what a vital role this theme would play for many of my students. With the recent censorship controversy revolving around of Kate Messner’s Seventh Wish, I feel it is important to speak out.

As I reflect on this past school year and working as a library teacher at an intermediate school filled with 636 inquisitive and open-minded 5th and 6th graders in Falmouth (Cape Cod), Massachusetts, I truly believe that it is mainly my task to provide our students with books that can be a window to the world, which gives them a better understanding of what life is like for other children their age in other areas of the world, the struggles that they must endure, and the hope and resilience that they display. Our entire 6th grade reads A Long Walk to Water each year now and does some incredible activities based around the book, including fundraising for a well for a school in Kenya. Other books that became a focus of mine for showing the students what life is like over the bridge (to Cape Cod) are Listen, Slowly, The Red Pencil, Emmanuel’s Dream, One Plastic Bag, The Breadwinner series, Harvesting Hope, and many more. The students really enjoy these stories, and I love to hear their insights. Often times the students make connections to the stories, finding parts of stories that serve as mirrors as well.

When I purchase books for the students, I always seek out books that they will connect with and feel compelled to read because of that connection. Knowing students’ interests as far as sports, dancing, gaming, coding, the study of ancient civilizations, pets, crafts and numerous other topics help me to build a collection that represents my students. However, I often find that there are sides of students that I do not know until they come to check out a book. My students (as all of us) are multi-faceted individuals who think deeply and yearn to feel connected.

As I read the controversy surrounding Kate Messner’s new book The Seventh Wish, I knew that our library needed this book. Not only for the students who have unfortunately seen the devastating effects of addiction first hand, but for those students who haven’t as well. Unfortunately our quaint little seaside town is facing a serious opiate addiction problem. There are obituaries in the Cape Cod Times daily about someone who has lost their battle to addiction. They are the older siblings, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and friends of our students. It is an epidemic. So, sadly many of our students will be able to relate to this story on some level. Others may connect with Charlie’s love of Irish step dancing, her initial fear of ice fishing or her yearning for her crush to reciprocate her feelings.

As I read the story, I knew that my youngest daughter (14) would need to read this story as well. She has always been a huge fan of Kate Messner’s books, but sadly would be able to connect with Charlie’s feeling as her sister is placed in rehab. My oldest daughter was diagnosed with major depression last winter and was put into a psychiatric hospital for just over a week. Like Abby, my oldest daughter is a vivacious, talented and smart girl whose younger sister adores her. Many of the thoughts and feelings that Charlie shares about the treatment facility were echoes of what my daughter had said to us in December while her own sister received treatment. Although their stories are not the same, the connection is similar, and reading the book would allow my daughter some understanding that others have the same feelings and emotions in difficult situations. Not many people knew about what was happening in our family at the time, and I highly doubt that someone would have handed my daughter this book and told her that it might offer her some solace as well as entertainment during a difficult time.

Herein lies the crucial point. We, librarians, teachers, educators, may not always know what book will be the right book for a certain student at the time, but it is our job to make these books available. As I think back on my nine-year career (so far) as a library teacher, and my 13 years as a fifth grade teacher, I have often been surprised by the books my students needed. The harrowing tale of abuse in A Child Called It in our library has served at least one student I know of by giving her a network of supports to use (from the back of the book) to use when she felt she had nowhere else to turn. That book was the first step in her receiving the help she needed to get out of a horrible situation. Several years ago, while one student was advocating for the American Girl book The Care and Keeping of You be removed from our shelves, a student in another 5th grade class told us that reading the books is how she learned how to take care of her period (not covered in our Health curriculum until 6th grade and her home life was such that she did not feel comfortable asking her dad, who was a single parent). More recently, when George came to our shelves, some folks (students, teachers and parents) thought it might not be appropriate for our shelves. However, we purchased it and ran an evening event with the author. Many parents of grown transgender children came, as well as one of our students who used this event as a springboard for talking to his family. He is now in the process of transitioning, He reports that, most days, he feels confident and supported here because of the book.

In each of these examples, the students who benefited most from the books were not the ones who I had in mind when purchasing the item. For me, this realization is the best reason for not censoring books in schools. We never know who will need what book and when. For books with any content that might seem mature or “questionable” to some, I take my role as a library teacher to heart and I talk with the students about it during choosing and check out so that they are aware of what they are reading. I also tell my students to feel free to abandon a book if it is not a “right fit” for them on any level. However, my students need books to feel connected to the world and less isolated. In September, I am beginning my Enrichment Book Club with The Seventh Wish, hoping to share this wonderful story with my readers. Whether it serves as a window, a mirror, or both for my students, I know it will touch their hearts and bring about some amazing discussions!

Mrs. Abbott, Library Teacher, Morse Pond Middle School

 

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