Book Lists

December 2018

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Two silly pranksters use hypnosis to trick their principal into thinking he’s the crime-fighting Captain Underpants. Dav Pilkey’s wacky black-and-white illustrations on every page create a comic-book feel. The pictures enrich and expand the text, and often contain their own jokes. One whole chapter is a visual pun on “graphic violence.” Readers use Flip-O-Rama to animate a cartoon battle by flipping the pages back and forth.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid #2 by Jeff Kinney

Greg and Rowley begin seventh grade in DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: RODRICK RULES. Greg falls for cute new girl Holly Hills (Peyton List) and renews his attempts to be popular. Meanwhile, his mom has begun writing a newspaper column about parenting that further embarrasses Greg. And his older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), continues to torment him. When their parents go out of town for a weekend, Rodrick throws a wild party, and then the brothers conspire to clean up their mess and hide the evidence. This conspiracy brings them closer as brothers, but what happens when the other shoe drops?

Poached by Stuart Gibbs (#2 in the series that began with Belly Up)

FunJungle has barely recovered from Henry the Hippo’s death, when now-famed Kazoo the Koala has gone missing. Trouble is, the only person near the koala exhibit in the past several hours was Teddy Fitzroy, noted prankster, who’s the 12-year-old son of the zoo/theme park’s prominent biologist and wildlife photographer. Once again, Teddy must track down suspects, eliminate dead ends, and figure out who the real thief is before Marge, J.J. McCracken, daughter Summer, and even his own parents decide the evidence is too incriminating. Making matters worse, Teddy is now the target of a school bully, Vance Jessup, who has some pranks of his own cooking.

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

In this free-verse journal Jack reluctantly comes to feel the power of poetry, and uses it to express his feelings about school, writing, poetry, Walter Dean Myers, and his late dog, Sky. Includes an appendix with most of the poems mentioned in the story.

One For The Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she’s blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong–until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She’s not really a Murphy, but the gifts they’ve given her have opened up a new future.

Baby Mouse, by Jennifer Holm (a graphic novel)

Babymouse is a sweet and caring mouse who sometimes gets down that she can’t do everything perfectly. She often imagines herself as the successful lead in children’s books and movies like Charlotte’s WebStar Wars, and The Wizard of Oz, but things don’t always work out so perfectly in real life. With the help of friends and teachers, Babymouse learns that working hard and staying positive is the way to succeed in everything she tries.

September 2018

A Whole New Ball Game by Phil Bidner

Best friends Rip and Red are excited about being classmates and playing basketball together in fifth grade. But when school starts, nothing is like what they expected. Red, who’s on the autism spectrum and does best with predictability and routine, has an especially hard time adapting, but sensitive Rip helps guide his friend through the changes, both thrilling and unsettling.  The biggest change is their long-haired tattooed teacher and basketball coach, Mr. Acevedo, who rejects tests and homework and encourages kids to climb atop their desks and seeks new perspectives.  His unconventional approach can be fun, but what will happen when it’s time to take the required tests? And will they ever win a basketball game?

Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs

The star animal of FunJungle, Henry the Hippo, has turned up dead. The zoo claims he died of natural causes, but 12-year-old Teddy Fitzroy’s convinced there’s a better explanation, and a slew of suspects await, all with their own motive: Large Marge hates Teddy. Charlie Conroy was once bitten by Henry. And the Animal Liberation Front could be trying to sabotage the zoo. With the help of zoo owner J.J. McCracken’s daughter, Summer, Teddy tracks down clues and learns a lot about zoo animals, ethics, and uncovering the truth in Texas whodunnit style.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Greg Heffley gets a journal from his mom (“a JOURNAL, not a diary”) and records a middle school year’s worth of crazy kid schemes, brushes with bullies, bad units in gym class, bids for student government, school play humiliation, and more.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Ally has always been good at drawing, but she has a secret: She never quite learned how to read. Instead, she came up with a series of clever stalls and distractions to get out of it. But now, she has a new teacher, Mr. Daniels, more attentive than most, who seems determined to meet her where she is and find an alternate path to learning. But with other kids such as Shay always bullying and the lifelong shame Ally has felt about what she sees as her shortcomings, she’s not sure if it’s possible to ever “cure dumb.”

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

GHOST is Castle Cranshaw’s new nickname—he gave it to himself and it sticks when he challenges a track team’s best sprinter to a race.  Running is as easy for him as breathing, probably because he’s been doing it all his life. An emerging track star with a past, Ghost has to figure out why he runs—is it toward what his life could be or away from his past? Luckily, he has new friends on the team, his coach, and even his mom to help him figure it all out.

How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor

Ji-so (Lee Re), is an eight-year-old Korean girl living with her mother and younger brother in a van, waiting for the return of the father who abandoned them.  Their desperation and embarrassment prompt Ji-so to come up with elaborate plans to raise money sufficient to buy a home.  She settles on stealing a rich person’s dog for a reward.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

In the summer between fifth and sixth grades, Astrid’s mother takes her and her best friend, Nicole, to see a roller-derby bout. Astrid is immediately fascinated by the strong, powerful athletes and their amazing moves on skates. When she discovers that the league offers a day camp for girls her age, Astrid immediately knows she wants to spend the summer as a ROLLER GIRL. But Nicole doesn’t quite get it. Lately she’s been more interested in boys, clothes, and her new snobby friend from ballet, Rachel. As Astrid deals with the pressure of training for her first bout in front of an audience, she and Nicole seem to be drifting in opposite directions. Is it time for them to go their separate ways, or can this lifelong friendship be saved?

Teddy Mars by Molly B. Burnham

As one of seven kids, fourth-grader Teddy Mars has to dream big if he wants to stand out.  Intent on breaking a world record, Teddy won’t let his pesky little brother, strict teacher, or harried parents get in his way.  Frustrated by all these things that are out of his control, Teddy moves out of his overcrowded house and into a backyard tent, where he befriends the oddball next-door neighbor, known as Grumpy Pigeon Man. With some help from his friends and a new job provided by Grumpy Pigeon Man, Teddy is sure he can succeed in his quest to break a world record.  The question: Which one?

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Based on the true story of a gorilla who now lives happily in a lowland gorilla habitat at Zoo Atlanta but before that had spent 27 years in a cage in a shopping mall after being captured as a baby in Africa, THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN tells, from the gorilla’s standpoint, of life in the circus mall, being gawked at by tourists, and how it all seems so normal. But the arrival of a baby elephant starts to trigger memories, and before long Ivan finds himself making promises he’s not sure how he’s going to keep.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

In London just before World War II, Ada doesn’t know how old she is, her last name, or much of anything of life outside the room where her mother has kept her in terrible conditions for as long as she can remember. Ada’s mother is humiliated at the thought of people knowing she has a disabled daughter (Ada was born with a clubfoot and gets around by crawling), so Ada has no dealings with other people, except to wave from her window. Her younger brother, Jamie, who’s about to start school, is more mobile and sometimes steals food for his starving sister. Their mother beats them both regularly and often doesn’t give them enough to eat. Suddenly, as World War II and a possible German invasion loom, the kids are evacuated to the countryside, where they’re so filthy and lice-infested that nobody wants them. When a reclusive local spinster is forced to take them in, their lives change in unimaginable ways, including having clean clothes and regular meals. Also, there’s a pony. As the kids experience love and kindness for the first time in their lives and learn to pitch in with the war effort, Ada can’t get away from her biggest terror: that their new happiness will last only until their mother finds it more convenient to take them back to their old life.

***All book synopses were found at www.commonsensemedia.org under “What’s the Story”***