Monday, October 29, 2012


We had two days of fall break last week, which meant I got a little more reading time than usual. I read three intermediate grade novels, all with girl protagonists.

My favorite, and one that I cannot wait to share, was DOUBLE DOG DARE, by Lisa Graff, which I think would be a perfect fourth or fifth grade beginning-of-the-year  (or later in the year) read aloud too. Francine Halata has dreamed of becoming the media anchor at Auden Elementary for years.  Her plans are changed, however, when Kansas, a brand new kid, king of dares at his previous school, somehow ends up being nominated for the anchor job. Francine and Kansas challenge each other to a month of dares, with the winner guaranteed the coveted media anchor. At the same time, on a much deeper level, Francine and Kansas have more in common than anyone knows. Lots of really funny scenes, but also some very real life issues.

The second book I read was  SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS by Sara Pennypacker. I love Pennypacker's CLEMENTINE series, so I was excited to see this book.  Stella, the main character, lives with her Great Aunt Louise, the manager of a group of guest cottages on Cape Cod, and Angel, a foster child that Louise has taken in to keep Stella company. The two girls are not friends, at all, until a tragedy strikes and then the two girls have to learn to depend on each other. 

I don't want to give away the book, so I'm not going to say a lot. I will say, however, that I loved, loved, loved Stella. She is everything I would want in a girl character-  plucky, independent, resourceful, and level-headed. Angel reminds me of a lot of foster kids I have known- afraid to trust, but a really good-hearted kid. While I liked these two characters, there were parts of the plot that I had trouble swallowing. Even so, I think kids who enjoyed the CLEMENTINE series would be excited to know that there was another Pennypacker book available. 

The last book I read was ABOUT AVERAGE, by Andrew Clements. The main character, Jordan, was another character that was really easy to like, she was just an all around great kid. Jordan, however, doesn't view herself that way- she knows that she is not the prettiest girl in her class, or the smartest, or the most athletic, or the best musician, and her goal insixth grade is to be recognized for being good at something. Again, I have to confess that this is not my favorite by the author, but again, I think it's a book that kids who like this author will be glad to find. 

And on the TBR pile? Umm, not sure. I have Sharon Creech's THE GREAT UNEXPECTED checked out from the library and am waiting for a pile of CYBILS poetry books that I have reserved to arrived. And I have stacks and stacks of TBR books, but am not sure what else I will get to this week. Happy reading!


Ms. Yingling said...

Andrew Clements is always popular at my school, so I'll take a look at this, but what's with the really bad 80s cover art on it? I thought this was an older title of his that I had missed.

GatheringBooks said...

These are all unfamiliar titles to me - I haven't read much MG novels as of late, will look into these. :)

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

The Clements book goes on my list - he can be hit or miss, I feel, but the the kids love him regardless.

Teacher said...

Very cool to see MG novels with strong female characters. I also enjoy some of Clements' books. This one looks like something that MG students could easily relate to their own lives.

Linda B said...

Hi Carol, I know about these books but haven't read any. I've seen some say they liked the Pennypacker & some not so much, like you. I don't like the flavor of the Clementine books as much as Ivy & Bean or other early readers, so perhaps that's it. Have you read Hound Dog True? I really liked it. Thanks for telling about these. Maybe we can meet at TC over the holidays? I'm excited to hear your ideas about the poetry books you're reading.

maria.selke said...

Some cool choices here. I'm always up for strong girls - and most of what I read in that vein tends to be fantasy.