Nerdy Book Club love

Clubs.  They were so cool.  To be part of the club seemed to permeate my school years: from the BabySitters Club series to the Spanish Club to the club scene, it seemed like I spent decades floating from one type of club to another.

Then adulthood hit.  No more good clubs!  What happened?  Were adults not cool enough for the club anymore?  Bunco groups are not clubs.  Gym memberships are not clubs (no matter how they disguise the name).  Golf clubs?  Not for me.

Last spring, though, I stumbled across a club that sounded like it was made for me: Nerdy Book Club.

“Holy cow!”, I thought.  “Nerdy = me.  Book = love.  Club = me, but the cooler me!”

I wanted in!  Turns out, joining was easy…just read the blog.  Done!

But I realized that silence, while golden, was not my style when it came to nerdy book club-style subjects.  I wanted to share some nerdy book club love.  So…

Emails were sent.  Months later, a response came: I could write a post promoting the love of reading.  And today, that post went live!


The Nerdy Book Club proves that clubs ARE cool.  Being an adult in a club that totally fits your personality, though, is more than cool – it’s nerdastically awesome.


Review: Rain Reign


Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

7 word summary: Rose gives back her one love: Reign.

Realistic fiction.  Stand-alone novel.  ©2014.  Share with ages 9-13.

Missing mother.  Alcoholic, distant father.  And a dog.   When her father shows up one rainy night with a soaked dog, Rose falls in love.  She names her Reign, a homonym to “rain”.  Rose loves homonyms: she keeps lists of them with her and thinks they are lucky (rose/rows, rain/reign).  And Reign is lucky to have found someone as loving and attentive as Rose.  On the night of the hurricane, though, Reign takes off.  With the help of her uncle, Rose is determined to find Reign.  It’s the choices Rose makes that shows her compassion, grit, and true understanding of love.  A dog story where the dog doesn’t die, Martin (of Babysitter’s Club fame) has written a story that should build empathy for readers young and old alike.  Highly recommended.

Best of 2014

A year of reading brings an annual Best Of list!  Here are my pics for the Best of 2014 in Children’s Lit.  Updates are a certainty, as I’m still reading!  Stay tuned for the Kids Choice Best of 2014 (culled from my littles & my students)!

Best Picture Books of 2014

Best Beginner Readers of 2014

Best Middle Grade Fiction of 2014

Best Graphic Novels of 2014

Best Nonfiction of 2014

And here are other BEST OF 2014 lists out there!










2014 Holiday & Winter Book Roundup!

What great new titles are out there for the winter holidays and season?  Here are my pics!

Blizzard by John Rocco – “After a massive blizzard, a boy becomes a hero when he manages to walk to the local store and bring supplies back to his neighborhood which has been snowed in for days.”  Based on a true story.  CANNOT wait to read this – Rocco’s Blackout was stellar, and this should be, too.  Share with ages 4-10.

Star Bright: a Christmas story by Alison McGhee – “What can a small angel give a most important baby? A Christmas story about the greatest gift of all.”  J&H loved this one.  A gentle look at the true meaning of the holiday.  Share with ages 3+.

The Last Christmas Tree by Stephen Krensky – “An eager little Christmas tree, not very tall or well-shaped, is the last on the lot but when it seems all hope of being covered with lights and ornaments is lost, a special person comes to take him home.”  On hold for this gem!  Share with ages 3-10.

Catch That Cookie! by Hallie Durand – “Marshall refuses to believe that gingerbread men can run, even after a series of clues leads his class on a riddle-filled gingerbread cookie hunt.”  Just got it this weekend – so fun!  Perfect for those gingerbread units!  Share with ages 4-10.

Snowman’s Story by Will Hillenbrand – “One wintry day, a hat lands on the head of a newly made snowman and brings him to life. Hiding inside the hat is a rabbit, who listens to the snowman read a story to some animal friends. When the snowman falls asleep, the rabbit hops away with the book. But the snowman isn’t about to let his story—or the mischievous rabbit—get away.” KCLS doesn’t have this wordless wonder yet.  I’m not patient, either.  Bookstore, here I come!  Share with ages 3-10.

Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood – “Cat wants off Santa’s naughty list and makes several valiant attempts, but this ‘being nice’ business is trickier than he thought.”  Fun, fun, fun!  J&H LOVED it.  Lots of inferencing happening with the illustrations, too.  Share with ages 3-10.

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle – “In this wordless, lift-the-flap picture book, Flora and her new friend, the penguin, dance on the ice together and learn to treat each other with respect and kindness.”   Beautiful and interactive, this is best shared with kids in a small setting (preferably on a lap!).  Share with ages 3-8.

Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman – “Discover how animals stay alive in the wintertime and learn about their secret lives happening under the snow.”  Share with ages 5+.  Another book on my hold list that I’m eagerly awaiting!  Poetry + Winter + Animals = winner!

Simon and the Bear: a Hanukkah tale by Eric A. Kimmel – “Stranded on an iceberg on his way to America, Simon remembers his mother’s parting words and lights the first candle on his menorah while praying for a miracle, which soon arrives in the form of a friendly polar bear.”  Kimmel writes a great story that is also a Hanukkah story.  Great to pair with last year’s Hanukkah Bear.   Share with ages 5+.

What have you read?  Share favorites below!!

Review: Following Flora


Following Flora by Natasha Farrant

7 word summary: Flora falls in love.  Is Zach worthy? 

Realistic fiction.  Sequel to After Iris. Reads well as a stand-alone. ©2014.  Share with age 10+.

The Gadsby Family is back in this sequel to After Iris (my fav middle grade novel of 2013)!  Mum and Dad are at home, trying to keep the peace among Flora, Blue, Twig and Jas.  Teen Blue’ is busy documenting life via diary and camera while trying to figure out if Jake is her buddy or boyfriend.  Younger Twig is off babysitting a crush’s sibling, while nine-year-old Jas is discovering her confident side (riding horses and writing poetry).  It’s 17-year-old Flora’s story, though: she falls madly in love with Zach.  It’s the Gadsby’s relationship with Zach, who has quite a bit of unexpected baggage, that holds the story together in this blisteringly realistic novel about the importance of family, friends, and life’s choices.  Creative cursing (“Who the **** put my shoe here?”), light romance.  Highly recommended.

Library Lessons Dec 1-5, 2014: NW myths, Peter Brown, WCCPBA nonfiction

Week 14!  Two more weeks until Winter Break!

A shorter week for me.  J-girl had no school on Thursday (conferences); therefore, I took the day and was off with her.

Kindergarten: New author!  Peter Brown!  YAY!


We talked a lot about perspective using Brown’s illustrations, especially when Chowder was using the far-out sellarscope to look at the animals in the Critter Corral.  This was also a good story to talk about problem and solution – specifically, the problem when Chowder was stuck in the tree and the possible solutions.

Nonfiction connection: 600’s = pets.  The K’s do love their doggie & kitty books!

Students also worked as a class at locating Brown’s books on the library shelf.  A tricky skill, but something to work on (and on and on).

2nd grade: WCCPBA nominee Sea Otter by Suzi Eszerhas

A nonfiction, narrative book detailing the life of a baby sea otter.

Our thinking question of the week was a real conversation-starter: What challenges would a baby sea otter face if it lived in an aquarium (or zoo)?

Students listened very carefully to the story and had to assimilate and apply information to make a sound statement.  They came up with 4 reasons, each supported with evidence from the text.  Nice!

4th grade: NW Coastal Peoples and MythsIMG_0267

A quick recap of our lesson last week – with a reflection ticket – to assess if the story/lesson had impact began the lesson.  Three yes/no questions later = students shared library learning at home over Thanksgiving break!  Students also got to watch the Flipgrid videos after check-out.

THIS WEEK started with the reading of a few student summaries from the Kids Discover magazine articles that highlighted the importance of storytelling and myths in the NW culture.  Then, two movie clips: one that explained the purpose of myths in the NW culture, the other being a full myth.  Each video was about 5 minutes each.  This lesson is extending/supporthing the SS/Literacy work in the classrooms!  Students will continue this work next week with another NW creation myth.

Read-Aloud Tuesday: Dec 2, 2014

This week, the K’s of the Montessori classroom were off on a field trip to a local art museum.  I specifically chose one art-themed story.  All three are great to help students be flexible and problem-solve when situations don’t go exactly according to plan.


Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli

Sam’s number one in everything: speed, turning, winning races!  When Sam doesn’t finish number one, though, what will he do?  This is a must-read for the young crowd that’s obsessed with winning everything, no matter what.  It’s Sam’s choices that ultimately make him Number One!  Highly recommended.  Share with ages 2-6. ©2014.


My Red Balloon by Kazuaki Yamada

A young girl has a red balloon.  She shows it to the bus driver when the balloon escapes.  They set off, picking up animals as they drive toward the floating balloon.  It’s when the balloon is gone for good – no thanks to a bird’s sharp beak – that the animals comfort the girl with an astute observation: the setting sun, a huge red circle, is just like her red balloon…and it will return day after day after day.  Lovely and repetitive, this got rave reviews.  Share with ages 2-6. ©2014.


Ozzie and the Art Contest by Dana Sullivan

Ozzie’s great at art, so he’s confident that he’ll win the classroom art contest.  On the day the prizes are awarded, though, Ozzie is dismayed: he finishes with an Honorable Mention…not 1st or 2nd or 3rd!  Careful observation of the illustrations will clue readers in on why Ozzie didn’t place higher (hint: read the directions!), and Ozzie ultimately finds a way to make his artwork fit the contest rules in a creative fashion.  Share with ages 3-7. ©2014.

Read-Aloud Tuesday is when I read aloud in my son’s Montessori classroom (ages 3-6).  Young readers are demanding and honest: I strive to share the best of the best with them each week.