Monday, September 1, 2014

End-of-Summer Book Club - August 27

Our end-of-summer book club on Wednesday was a small group.   We think many of you were out of town or on the lake enjoying the last week of summer before school starts.  As I left the house for our two hour meeting, my husband asked me, "Do you have a book to read?"  Indeed, I did!  I had two boxes of books and one sack to share.   Plus, even if no one showed up, Ms. Bowman (KCLS librarian) and I love to share our reading lives with each other.  Our own Island Books bookstore supported the evening by providing free ARCs (advance reader copies)
for any students who dropped by.  

We brought in the KCLS rocking chair, a couch, and some chairs to create a cozy space in the meeting room.  Ms. Bowman had a table for her recommended books,
I had a table for my book choices, and we had a table for the free books.
And we had cookies and cookie bars for everyone
(with enough leftovers for IMS teachers on Thursday).  

Our evening began with Ms. Bowman and me sharing our books with each other.
We were joined by two incoming sixth grade students, Olivia and Liliana.
Each of them brought a book they had recently read.
We spent the next hour talking and sharing books.  
Olivia shared The Key and The Flame.
Liliana shared Half Brother.
I love adding to my WTR (want to read) list when I chat with fellow book lovers.
Near the end of the evening Callum arrived for a
quick book share and some cookie bars.  
Callum shows off his ARC of Badger Knight.
Although our numbers may have been few, our book love was mighty.
Anytime a few people gather to talk books, there is much book love!  
Sharing book love in the town center!
We  hope to hold this book sharing event several times a year.
We'll announce future meetings at IMS, through KCLS (King County Library System),
and on the blog, Sweet Summer Reads.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Liliana reviews Half Brother

I read a book called Half Brother written by the author Kenneth Oppel. I found Half Brother captivating in so many ways. Every time I tried to put the book down I failed to do so and picked it back up again. The main character Ben Tomlin's life gets turned upside down when a chimpanzee named Zan unexpectedly becomes a so/called family member. Zan is part of his fathers experiment to see if animals can acquire language. He said in order for Zan to learn sign language they must treat him exactly like a human. Overtime Ben's relationship with Zan grows stronger and stronger, until Ben insists that Zan is his brother. Meanwhile Ben begins to truly hate his dad. He had said to Zan that he was his father but now Ben realizes that Zan was nothing more than a test subject to his father, and in his dads eyes Zan belongs to science. But Ben has bigger problems. Problems meaning he might lose Zan forever. This book was outstanding.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Olivia reviews Circa Now

Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner is a great book filled with magic, humor, and a LOT of funny pictures!! In the beginning of the book, Circa Monroe's father dies in a tragic tornado. Throughout this book Circa has to handle with her fathers death, her mothers depression, and a strange boy showing up at her doorstep that doesn't remember anything from his past.

Circa and her mother take the boy in and find out many interesting snippets of his past. Meanwhile, Circa plays with her fathers photo editing technology that he used to use for his job (he restored old photos). Suddenly, everything she edits turns up in real life! Miles's past becomes more and more tangled with her edits and it's going to take a lot more than an undo button to fix it.

Rating: 5/5


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

End-of-Summer Book Club, Wed. 8/27, MI Public Library, 6:30-8:30 pm

End-of-Summer Book Club 
Mercer Island Public Library Meeting Room
Wednesday, August 27, 6:30-8:30pm
For middle school students, including incoming 6th graders
Stop by to chat with teen librarian, Carrie Bowman, and former IMS teacher, Mrs. Behnke, about books you've read this summer. We can't wait to hear about your favorites! We'll share our summer reading, treats, and the famous cookie bar treats, too. 
Come get some ideas for fall reading . . . 
no need to share unless you want to.
Drop by the meeting room anytime from 6:30-8:30pm.
Presented by Ms. Bowman and Ms. Behnke

Can't make it on Wednesday, 8/27 to our evening book club, but want to share your summer reading?
Stop by the blog anytime to share what you’re reading this summer and to get ideas from other readers.  You won't be able to post, but leave a comment here.  Then I'll create the post for you.  In order to comment, you need a google account and need to be logged in. 
If you’re unable to add a comment, send your thoughts to me  (,
until the end of August, and I’ll add them to the blog.  

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Callum reviews 4th book in Wings of Fire series

A Book review for The Dark Secret

The Dark Secret is the fourth installment in the book series Wings of Fire. It is about five dragons, the dragonets of destiny, and their quest to stop the world war between tribes by choosing a queen of the Sandwings tribe. There is also the Rainwings, Seawings, Nightwings, Icewing, Mudwings, and Skywings. The dragonets are Starflight, a Nightwing, Tsunami, a Seawing, Glory, a Rainwing, Clay, a Mudwing, and Sunny, a Sandwing. This book is focused on Starflight and the Nightwings. He gets kidnapped and is taken to the kingdom of the Nightwings, which no other tribe knows about. He finds out that the Nightwings have a set of backup dragonets to fight in the originals place. He becomes friends with the Nightwing in the group. They both didn’t grow up on the volcanic island, so they both want to escape. They learn that the Nightwings are planning on attacking the Rainwings and taking over their kingdom. They team up to try and stop them.
I really like these books because I really want to find out which bratty queen they choose. Trust me-none seem like a good fit. I would read this book if you like fantasy. I would also recommend reading the other books first. I really want to read the next book in the series.

                                                                            -Callum M.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Reviews from Ellie G.

Zebra Forest, Adina Rishe Gerwirtz, 4/5

This book was exciting and interesting to read! Some parts got too descriptive but mostly the story stayed thrilling!

Almost Home, Joan Bauer, 4/5

In Almost Home the characters really come to life. This is one of those books that can make you cry after just a few chapters.

Flora and Ulysses, Kate DiCamillo, 3/5

In this book the story never loses energy! The only problem I had was that in some parts the story could get hard to follow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Trailer and Review for The Fourteenth Goldfish

Jennifer Holm's newest book, The Fourteenth Goldfish, will be available on August 26th. Click to watch the book trailer featuring author, Jennifer Holm, or read a review of the book by a blogger at the Teen Librarian Toolbox. 

Some previous books by Jennifer Holm include Turtle in Paradise, Penny From Heaven, My Only May Amelia and sequels, the Babymouse series, and the Boston Jane series. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Books Read in August or Anytime this Summer

I can't believe that it's already August 9.   I hope you're finding some time to read!  I know that your 7th grade teachers will be interested in hearing about the books you read this summer.

Try to read at least three books during the summer.  Post the book title, author, and your rating.  You might also want to include the genre.

Feel free to share your thoughts about the book, but remember you don't have to post a lengthy review.   You might choose to use a star rating system of 1 - 5 stars, with 5 stars being the best book you've ever read, and 1 star indicating that you didn't like the book.

If you have trouble commenting on this post, email your comments to me (, and I'll post them on the blog.

Even though your book review will show up as a comment on this post,  I'll make a separate blog post for each of you who submit book reviews.  So far that includes Sophia K. and Callum M. (one student from the 1/2 block and one student from the 4/5 block).  Let's see which class can have the most posts for the summer.  I'm hoping to see your name in the title of a blog post soon.  Share what you've been reading and encourage others to read good books too!

Happy reading!

Book Reviews from Sophia K.

Although I have read many books already this summer, here are three that I enjoyed:
Nature Girl, by Jane Kelley. I rate this book a 5 star. This book was both funny but serious plus it had great some hooking moments! I could definitely connect with it! I would recommend it to fourth graders but not any higher than eighth grade.

Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella. I rate this book a 4 star. I thought this book was realistic fiction. This book was very funny and crazy. I learned a lot about money and everyday life. I didn’t like some of the parts because of how dramatic they were, but other then that I liked the book.

The Candy Makers, by Wendy Mass. I rate this book a 3 star. If your looking for a candy coated mystery this book is for you. The only thing was that it was very difficult to follow. But it had amazing details and mouthwatering surprises!

- Sophia K (former student of yours 2014)

Book Review from Callum who traveled to Norway

A book review for Shadow on the Mountain

         Shadow on the mountain is a book about Norway’s resistance during the second
world war. It is based around three characters, Espen, the main character, Ingrid, his
sister, and Aksel, a Gestapo officer. It’s told from their points of view but not in first
person. Espen is a boy, who starts off the book at thirteen, and is eighteen the end of the
book. He is a part of Norway’s underground, and is the same age as Aksel. Aksel is a
Gestapo officer who thinks, along with many Norwegian Gestapo,  that Nazi Germany is
the right way for Norway to be run. Ingrid starts the war at ten and is 15 by the end of the
book. She is Espen’s sister, and carries around diaries that are very harmful to her
existence. She learns more and more about Espen’s secret life as the story progresses.
         Espen and his friends, Per, Gus, Leif, and Stein are part of a soccer team. As the
Nazi’s become more and more involved with people’s life, their soccer team gets
controlled by Nazi’s and Aksel. Looking for something else to do, the guys meet up in
the woods. They decide they want to be remembered as heroes in this war and will do
anything to help beat the Germans. They join the resistance along with Espen,
codenamed Odin, and together help and risk their lives. Espen and his friends face
a lot of tasks that will require their lives if failed.        
       The book is based on a real life event. At the end you learn about the real life of
Espen. The book as a whole is very interesting, and I would recommend it to anyone
going to Norway, or looking for a spy and war book to satisfy your reading cravings.                                                                                          
       You can learn more about Norway’s resistance at the Norway Resistance museum in
Oslo. It features exhibits showing stuff about the war. So many people were working
underground it made the Nazi’s look stupid! One guy put his diary on toilet paper. It
shows you how serious the penalties were for owning something such as a radio or a
censored book. The book and the museum made me realize just how bad they suffered.
It made me super happy to be born after the war.

                                                                   - Callum M.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Goodbye to one of the Giants of Children's Literature

My heart was saddened when I learned of the death of Walter Dean Meyers on July 1.  I enjoyed this tribute to him written by the reviewer, Alexis Burling and posted at KidsReads.  Burling shares this quote from Miriam Altshuler, Meyers' literary agent:  “Walter Dean Myers was a compassionate, wonderful, and brilliant man. He wrote about children who needed a voice and their stories told,” she said. “His work will live on for generations to come.”  If you've never read one of his books, this would be a good time to request one from the library.

Alexis Burling mentions her early years working as a publicist at Scholastic.  She met many wonderful authors and illustrators, but comments that "... perhaps the writer who most stuck out in my mind was Walter Dean Myers. He was humble in a way that only the truly gifted can be and when he talked to kids, he treated them like equals."
Her words echo the feeling I had when I heard Walter Dean Meyers speak at the Washington DC  National Book Festival in September 2012.  My recap of his presentation ends with these words:  "A young aspiring author in search of a mentor was astounded when Walter Dean Meyers, encouraged him with the words, 'Email me!'"

Goodbye gentle giant!  The world of children's literature will miss you, but your words will enrich the lives of young people for many years to come.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Check out Middle Shelf, an online magazine!

I discovered an online magazine, Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids, while wandering on Twitter this week.   Take a look at the July/August issue for great book recommendations and interviews with Kirby Larson, one of my favorite NW authors, and Katherine Applegate, author of The One and Only Ivan.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mock Newbery 2015 Lists of Possibilities

Are you interested in reading some of the possibilities for the 2015 Newbery Award?  I'll post some links to Mock Newbery clubs, in case you'd like to read some of these titles.


I haven't read ANY of these titles yet.  I've heard of the first seven.  Lots of people are talking about A Snicker of Magic.   I've read other books by Cynthia Lord and Laurel Synder so I'm looking forward to Half a Chance and Seven Stories Up.  I loved Three Times Lucky, so I can't wait to read The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing.  I have ARCs (advance reader copies) of The Mark of the Dragonfly and Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy.  I just checked out Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere (another Hurricane Katrina book) which should be a good companion book to Zane and the Hurricane from this list.

The next six titles are new to me, although I do recognize some of the author's names (Neal Shusterman and Margita Engle).

If you've read any of these books, post your reviews in the comments.  It's time for me to make more time for summer reading!

The Eva Perry Mock Newbery Book Club Blog

This Mock Newbery Book Club Blog from North Carolina  includes tons of titles with brief summaries (perhaps they include almost every new book that's been published in 2014).  Last year, they chose Counting by 7's which was my first choice for the Mock Newbery competition and a favorite of quite a few readers in our club.  The year before they chose Wonder, our choice for that year also!  If you're interested in reading from a specific genre, you can click on that genre in the menu on the left. 

Feel free to leave comments about any of these books or other Mock Newbery sites you discover.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Links for Book Trailers

This is a list of web sites with book trailers that Ms. Radow (IMS librarian) and I compiled for our enrichment session at MI library in the spring of 2013.  You can access the book trailers by clicking on the link.  Think of a book trailer as another way to discover books you might like to read.


How do you use book trailers in the classroom?  Can you help me locate other sites that you've found useful?  My students are sixth graders, so I tend to avoid young adult titles and focus on the middle grade/early middle school reader.



Click on this link to go to a great booklist from KCLS.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Looking for your next great book?

This is the a list of great sites to help you find good books to read.  I compiled this list during the summer of 2013.  If you find other good sites, email me (, and I'll add them to this post.

These links take you to a variety of places where you can explore book titles.  Enjoy shopping for your next great read by exploring these websites and links.  Please comment on the sites that you like and let me know if any of the links are not working.  Happy reading! 

(link added 7-21-14)
Be sure to check out the many book reviews on this site.  July is Harry Potter month with tons of activities and links to all things Harry Potter.

50 States of Middle Grade Lit
(link added 8-12-13)
Wow!  I love this  post by blogger, Monique German.   This is a fun book list.  She selected a book from each state and then incorporated the book covers into a USA map.  Some people are so creative!  Be sure to scroll down to see the map and the actual list of books by state.

HAISLN (Houston Area Independent Schools Library Network) Recommended Reading Lists 2013 -  (Updated for 2014, link added 8-2-13)
This link provides reading lists for grades K-12.  I left the Houston area 16 years ago, but I've continued to follow this excellent book list for all grades.  The document library in the green box takes you to the book list which includes a short summary. If you'd like to see the book covers and a summary, scroll down and click on the lists in the yellow box.

Bookwink - Click on the blue subject or genre to be taken to specific booklists, use the tabs on the top of the page to search by grade level, author, or title.

Find a Book! archive at Anita Silvey's Children's Book-A-Day Almanac lets you search her archives for recommendations by age group, book type, subject, date, and more.

Read Kiddo Read - This site, created by James Patterson (author of The Maximum Ride series and Middle school series), is aimed at helping kids find great books to read.  Click on the yellow tab for Great Pageturners, and click on the purple tab for  Great Advanced Reads. 

Guys Read  - This is the place to come if you’re looking for great guy books. This site includes recommendations from teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, parents, and guys themselves.

Summer Reading Lists for Middle School Kids - Pragmatic Mom, a blogger I follow, provides an extensive list of books for summer reading (posted summer 2013).

A Book and A Hug - At this website, you can explore books by category or age, participate in Read Around the World, or even write your own review.  Barb Langridge, an independent children's bookseller and a children's specialist at a public library explains why she created this website:  "Books can open doors to the world. Reading really is magic and I want to help parents and young people find the books that connect to them and open the world up for them."

Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present - This is a comprehensive list of the yearly Newbery Medal winner and honor books.

Looking for a great audiobook?  The Odyssey Award list includes winners and honor books for the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults available in English in the United States.

Remember our Mock Newbery Literature Circles last year?  Teacher Holly Mueller's Mock Newbery 2014 Book Club post shares "buzz" book titles for the 2014 Newbery and even includes a few book trailers. At her class website, Reading with Mrs. Mueller, she reports on her first summer Mock Newbery 2014 Club Meeting with her students.

Young Readers's Choice Award - The Pacific Northwest Library Association's Young Reader's Choice Award is the oldest children's choice award in the U.S. and Canada. The award was established in 1940 by a Seattle bookseller, the late Harry Hartman, who believed every student should have an opportunity to select a book that gives him or her pleasure.  Use this link to access the books nominated for 2014, the 2013 Nominees and Winners, and the Past Winners of the YRCA (Young Reader's Choice Award).

Robert F. Sibert Medal and Honor Books - Like to read nonfiction?  The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, established by the Association for Library Service to Children in 2001 with support from Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc., is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year.

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children - More award-winning nonfiction! This link provides the 2013 award winner, honor books, and recommended titles.  For links to winners in previous years,  click Orbis Pictus Links on the left-hand side of the site.  NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) has established an annual award for promoting and recognizing excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children. The name Orbis Pictus, commemorates the work of Johannes Amos Comenius, Orbis Pictus—The World in Pictures (1657), considered to be the first book actually planned for children.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Books Read in July

I can't believe that it's already July 12.  I hope you're finding some time to read!  Perhaps I'll see some of you at Island Celebration this weekend.

Try to read at least three books during the summer.  Post the book title, author, and your rating.  You might also want to include the genre.

Feel free to share your thoughts about the book, but remember you don't have to post a lengthy review.   You might choose to use a star rating system of 1 - 5 stars, with 5 stars being the best book you've ever read, and 1 star indicating that you didn't like the book.

If you have trouble commenting on this post, email your comments to me (, and I'll post them on the blog.

Happy reading!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Celebrating the Arrival of Summer and Time to Read!

 I wrote this post on June 30, but failed to hit the publish button, so now it's old news.

This is officially my first day of summer (June 30)!  I spent last week cleaning out the classroom (almost finished), grading papers, posting grades, and watching the moving of the portables.  I'll be sharing some challenges here to keep you reading and exploring books throughout the summer.  Feel free to participate (or not).  We'll celebrate with cookie bars and time to share our summer reading at the library in August (more details later about this event).  Even if you don't read much this summer, drop by for cookie bars and to get some ideas for fall reading!

I'm currently reading The Boys in the Boat for my July book club meeting.  It will be challenging for me to finish it by next Tuesday, but I love reading on my deck in the summertime.  We have company arriving for the July 4th holiday on Wednesday so I'll be spending lots of time reading between now and then.

Here's a summer time quote by Aster Austin Dobson:

"The easeful days, the dreamless nights; 
The homely round of plain delights;
The calm, unambitioned mind, 
The simple stuff of summer time."

I hope that you're finding time for plain delights and simple stuff during your summer vacation!  Leave a comment about your favorite plain delights and simple stuff (it doesn't have to be reading).
- Mrs. B.

If you can't figure out how to comment, remember that you can email me ( and I'll add your comment to the blog. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Welcome Summer Readers of 2014 - Books Read in June!

Welcome to this blog dedicated to books you're reading or want to read this summer.  For many bibliophiles, summer offers the perfect time to get lost in a good book, travel to times long past, or venture into future worlds.  Come here to share the stacks of books you want to read and to let us know about the books you've finished.


 A chance for you to read and get a cookie bar!
·     Pick 3 books of your choice.
·     Have fun reading them.
·     Keep track of the books you're reading on the 
Sweet Summer Reads blog.   
·  If you can't comment on the blog,
email me and I'll post it to the blog.
·     Get book ideas from other classmates. 
·  Check out the book links posted by Mrs. B.
·     Most of all, just enjoy the luxury of free time to read
Have a great summer!
-Mrs. B.

Try to read at least three books during the summer - one in June, one in July, and one in August.  Post the book title, author, and your rating.  You might also want to include the genre. 

Feel free to share your thoughts about the book, but remember you don't have to post a lengthy review.   You might choose to use a star rating system of 1 - 5 stars, with 5 stars being the best book you've ever read, and 1 star indicating that you didn't like the book.  

If you have trouble commenting on this post, email your comments to me (, and I'll post them on the blog. 
Happy reading!