Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Crown's Game

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by Evelyn Skye

Enchanters. A duel to the death. Mystery and intrigue. Russian royalty. Romance.  The Crown's Game has them all.

Russia is in turmoil and the tsar realizes he needs an Imperial Enchanter to help them through a difficult time. Two people have unknowingly spent their whole lives training to fill the role of Enchanter. Unfortunately, mystical law states that only one of them can reign; they must enter a magical duel to the death.

To complicate matters, one of the enchanters is Nikolai, the tsar's son's best friend and the other is Vika, the tsar's son's love interest. Not only is the heir to the throne interested in Vika, but Nikolai and Vika feel an undeniable bond to one another that can't be ignored. Needless to say, the game becomes very complicated for everyone involved.

I found out about this book on a list of new YA books that are getting lots of attention and I can see why this one would be on the list. While it isn't a book I would normally pick up on my own it has a lot to offer and I really enjoyed reading it. If you liked The Selection series you will probably like this book as well. I would recommend this book for Grade 6-8.


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by Sara Pennypacker

I was excited to see that Sara Pennypacker (think Clementine) had a new book out and, even better, to see that it was also illustrated by Jon Klassen (think This is Not My Hat and I Want My Hat Back).

The story is much different that any of the other Sara Pennypacker books I have read. The tone is much more serious and the plot is more intricate. Pax is a wolf who grows up domesticated because he was abandoned by his family as a baby. After living for many years with his beloved boy Peter, Peter's dad is called to war and forces Peter to leave Pax alone in the wild.

Peter is filled with regret and realizes he should never have abandoned Pax. The rest of the novel is Peter's attempt to find Pax back and Pax's experience of being in the wild for the first time since he was a baby.

This book is a story of friendship, bonds, forgiveness and love. If you love animals, especially foxes, you will love all the chapters that explain about Pax's integration into the wild. In terms of age range,  I would say this book would be best suited for kids in Grade 4 or 5.  It is part of the Global Read Aloud as well so kids all over the world will be hearing or reading this story. Join the fun and read this book today!

Friday, 5 August 2016

A Post About Overdrive

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Overdrive is an online borrowing service that is used by the Halton District School Board as well as many public libraries including the OPL. Using Overdrive, you can download audio and e-books with the click of a mouse. You can read or listen to the books using a variety of devices and I just wanted to share what a lifesaver Overdrive was for us this summer!

My family went on a two-week road trip. My boys, aged 7 and 10, were happy and calm every time we had an audio book on. We were able to listen to the first two Harry Potter books, the first 39 Clues book and about half of Rick Riordan's new book The Trials of Apollo. The Trials of Apollo expired before we finished but both boys really liked it. When you have a lot of driving to do and four people in a small car any diversion or entertainment is welcome and our best times driving were when an audiobook was playing.

HDSB Library Services has catered their Overdrive selections for students in Grade 5-12 so I always give out student barcode information near the beginning of the year so that everyone in Grade 5-8 can access books online if they want. If you ever want your barcode again, I am happy to write it down for you. If you ever need help getting started on Overdrive I am also happy to do that.

Overdrive is a great way to take advantage of a ton of resources and you can never lose a book or incur late fees because everything is digital. If you haven't gotten started on Overdrive yet and would like to, come and see me in the Learning Commons and we will get going.

Say You Will

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by Eric Walters

One word. Promposal!!

This book is a great story of how Sam sets up an amazing promposal for the one girl in school he wants to go with. All through the book there are two possible people he might ask - Taylor - one of the most popular kids in school - or Brooke - one of his best friends.

Eric Walters does a great job of keeping us guessing and I LOVE the actual promposal that Sam comes up with! I also love that Eric Walters is such a diverse author - one minute he is writing about the end of the world and the next he puts out a light and fun book like Say You Will.

I would recommend this book for Grade 5-8 and would love to hear your thoughts on Sam's great promposal if you take the time to read this book!

Fish in a Tree

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by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

I have been dying to read this book since one of our grade 3 students told me it was the best book she ever read and my son read it with his grade 5 class this year. I wasn't disappointed!

Ally has always felt that she is dumb and tries to hide the things she can't do, like read, from others. When her new teacher, Mr. Daniels, recognizes that Ally might have dyslexia and tries to help her she begins to see herself in a new light. She also starts to open herself up to the possibliity of having friends and letting people know about her struggles instead of hiding them all the time.

I would recommend this book for kids in Grade 3-7. Like some other books I've reviewed lately if you like Wonder or Mockingbird you will probably like this one as well.

The Thing About Jellyfish

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Ali Benjamin

I found out about this book through the website They are currently having a vote on the shortlist of books for next year and this is one of the books they are recommending for middle school. I decided I am going to read them all and see if there are any real standouts that we can use next year.

This is a great story about loss, grief, and sadness and how we process all three. If you are looking for a good cry, the last part of this book will definitely provide it. This book reminded me of Mockingbird by Katherine Erksine and Wonder by Palaccio so if you liked either of those books you will probably like this one too!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Blackthorn Key

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by Kevin Sands

I was excited to read this book because I have seen it all over the place and I wasn't disappointed. The main character, Christopher, is an apothecary's apprentice. Unfortunately, apothecaries all over the city are being murdered and it isn't long before Christopher's beloved master is the next victim.

Using the puzzles and clues that his master left behind, Christopher, along with his friend Tom, must find out who is behind the horrible murders and decide whether he wants to share the power that lies behind his master's hidden discovery.

I would recommend this book to Grade 5-7. It is a quite violent in the last couple of chapters but the overall story, character development, etc. is GREAT! As an added bonus, Kevin Sands is a Canadian author so I am hoping this one will be on Silver Birch or Red Maple next year!

Fuzzy Mud

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By Louis Sachar

I picked up this book because we had to study Louis Sachar for Battle of the Books and I was curious if it was any good, considering I wasn't a big fan of the title. I am, however, a big fan of Louis Sachar in general and have read Holes and Sideways Stories many, many time.

Anyway, Fuzzy Mud is the story of Tamaya Dhilwaddi and Marshall Walsh, who end up taking a detour through the woods and find themselves in some serious trouble. Another boy, Chad Hilligas, has decided to beat up Marshall and hunts them down in the woods. As they are fighting, Tamaya picks up some weird mud and throws it at Chad's face. He backs off and leaves.

Tamaya and Marshall make their way home. That night, Tamaya's hand starts to get a rash. She realizes it's from the mud she picked up and that her skin is flaking off. Tamaya ends up going to school the next day where she learns that Chad is missing. She realizes it is up to her to find him and that he is probably in really bad shape since the mud went all over his face. She sets out to find him and the adventure continues from there.

I don't want to say too much more about this one because I don't want to give it away but it was a good read, freakier than I thought it would be, but good. I would recommend this book for Grade 4-6.

Monday, 28 March 2016


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By Rachel Vail

Truly dumps her best friend when one of her old friends, who is now quite popular, invites her into her group. Hazel, the girl who gets dumped, hacks Truly's social media accounts. Hazel tries to stir things up, sometimes to help Truly, sometimes not so much.  Natasha, the girl who invited Truly into her group, also uses social media to spread rumours. Before long everything has gone wrong and Truly isn't sure what to do.

The book ends with Truly throwing her phone into the lake and everyone making up and being friends again.

Normally I like Rachel Vail books and I was excited to check this one out too. Unfortunately it was not my favourite, mostly because I didn't like the writing. There were a few good story lines but the story was told by many different characters so you have to pay attention to who is talking or you might be a bit confused.

I would recommend this book to Grade 6-8 as it is a story about middle school.

Better Nate Than Never

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by Tim Federle

This is a story about a boy named Nate who really wants to be on Broadway. With the help of his best friend Libby he sneaks away from home to go to an audition in New York City. He makes it to the audition but not without worrying his whole family, re-uniting with his aunt, and having a few adventures in NYC.

I liked this book because Nate is the kind of character who sticks with you. I read this book a while ago and I still remember what it was about, which is a good sign since I read a lot and sometimes forget. If you like stories that really focus on the characters you will probably enjoy this book. There is a second book in the series as well called Five. Six. Seven..

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Timberwolf Rivals

In this seventh book in the Timberwolves series, Johnny and his friends Tom and Stu are pulling pranks on each other in an attempt to win the Valentine's Day dance prize.
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By Sigmund Brouwer

I got this book last year when Sigmund Brouwer came to our school last year and it ended up under the tree for my younger son. We had a lot of fun reading this book together as it is full of pranks and silliness. The story isn't about hockey very much but is more about how two friends try to impress a girl to get her to do a dance competition with them. 

I think that kids in grades 1-3 would like this book and it is part of a series so if you like this one there are other ones that you can enjoy as well. 

Fragile Bones - Red Maple

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By Lorna Schultz Nicholson

Fragile Bones -- Harrison and Anna -- is the first book in a series about a group of teenagers who take part in a program called Best Buddies. "To take part in the Best Buddies Program, volunteers with and without intellectual disabilities agree to be paired with each other for one school year.  The pairs are then responsible for contacting each other once a week by telephone, e-mail, letter or note; meeting each other twice a month for a one-to-one activity; and participating in group activities during the school year." (

This story tells both of their points of view as they participate in the program and learn from one another. If you are interested in learning about autism this book gives a lot of insight into Harrison's experience with autism and also how his family handles it. If you are interested in learning more about the Best Buddies Program you can check it out at