• Just Like Rube Goldberg

    by Sarah Aronson Year Published: 2919


    Just Like Rube Goldberg: the incredible true story of the man behind the machines  is an awesome look at the life of an inventor and cartoonist who never actually invented a thing.  Commonly associated with unusual chain reactions using everyday items, Goldberg worked for newspapers in the first half of the 20th century. Though today he is synonymous with contraptions and OK GO! music videos, he lived an interesting life that continues to influence today. Perfect for any student who is interested in biographies, Just Like Rube Goldberg will delight and inspire all students to create their own chain reactions!  We’ve read it in first grade, but any level would appreciate it. Come check it out today!

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  • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe

    by Carlos Hernandez Year Published: 2019


    Possibly one of my early favorites of 2020 is the irreverent Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez. Steeped in Cuban culture by way of Miami, Sal Vidon is adjusting to his new life at Culeco Academy, a performing arts magnet school.  It turns out that Sal is not just a good sleight of hand illusionist, but he also can reach into parallel universes. This is a fantastic story that will leave you roaring with laughter and on the edge of your seat (and just a few tears).  It is part of the March Book Madness program we’re running with fourth and fifth graders, and between you and me, I hope it wins! It’s definitely for mature fourth graders and up (lots of slang language that is just on the edge of naughty). Winner of the Pura Belpre Award for the author who showcases Latinx culture, you can put this book into your tweens that love fantasy and realistic fiction-- it’s great for both!  We have three highly sought-after copies in the LC -- check them out today!

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  • High Five

    by Adam Rubin Year Published: 2019


    From the creators of Dragons Love Tacos comes a light-hearted and fun book called High Five. Illustrated in the same style as its predecessors, High Five breaks the fourth wall and enters you into the 75th Annual High Five tournament to compete against all sorts of creatures whose high five skills are legendary. With sly wit and BRIGHT illustrations, your students will want to read High Five again and again!  I’ll be using it with first grade next week as we continue to work on SEL skills, but it will be available after that! High five!

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  • New Kid

    by Jerry Craft Year Published: 2019


    The American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards took place last week at the end of January In it, they announce the best books of 2019 in several categories, including the Caldecott (best illustrated book), the Newbery (best literature for grades 3rd through 8th) and many others.  This year, for the first time, a graphic novel won the Newbery award, not for it’s illustrations, but for its content. New Kid, by Jerry Craft, follows the story of Jordan, an African American middle school student who is transferring from his neighborhood school to a private school on the other side of town. As one of only a handful of people of color at the school, Jordan must navigate through stereotyping, microagressions, and his own quest for self-identity.  It is a STUNNING novel that students will enjoy for years to come. It is also on the Rebecca Caudill 2021 list as well as the March Book Madness list for middle grade readers. We currently have three copies here at Highlands-- check it out today!

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  • The Undefeated

    by written and illustrated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson Year Published: 2019


    The American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards took place last week. In it, they announce the best books of 2019 in several categories, including the Caldecott (best illustrated book), the Newbery (best literature for grades 3rd through 8th) and many others.  This year, one book took home multiple awards across several categories. The Undefeated, written and illustrated by two of the best, Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson, portrays the triumphs of the African-American community. It won the Caldecott Medal! It also was a Newbery Honor Medal (given to only 3-5 books per year) and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Medal for Kadir Nelson. Simply written, the verse of the books tells of the perseverance necessary in order to succeed and the challenges the African-American community has faced and continues to face.  It is a beautiful picture book, recommended for grades 3 and up. We currently have one copy in the LC, but I expect there will be more soon! Please come check out The Undefeated today!

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  • Big Al

    by Andrew Clements Year Published: 1988


    Did you know that in addition to being a middle grade writer, Andrew Clements spent plenty of time writing picture books?  It’s true! One of my favorite beginning of the year books when I was teaching in the primary grades was Big Al.  This story follows Big Al, a scary-looking fish who has a hard time making friends.  He keeps trying and when he uses his appearance to his advantage, the rest of the fish realize that they’ve made a mistake in judgement.  We have a copy here at Highlands, so please check it out today for some great social-emotional learning!

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  • No Talking

    by Andrew Clements Year Published: 2007


    Did you know that Andrew Clements has written a ton of middle grade realistic fiction? It’s true!  Perhaps my second favorite book from him, after Frindle, is the hilarious No Talking. This book follows one fifth grade class who have a contest about who can talk less.  Along the way, they learn the power of protest, listening, and finding unlikely partnerships. We have several copies in the LC -- check them out today!


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  • Frindle

    by Andrew Clements Year Published: 1996


    In a move that will shock absolutely ZERO people, the book pick of the week is the classic Frindle. 10 year old Nick Allen can sometimes make trouble, but it’s usually the good kind of trouble. When he and his language arts teacher get into a war of words about how words are created, we discover that there are surprising allies in the world and that being famous isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.  This was author Andrew Clements’s breakthrough hit, and opened the door to many other books by him that have been loved for the past 20 years! If you haven’t had a chance to read it, it’s a quick 105 pages! We’ll have a couple of contests and ideas running through, but not starting until next week. Until then, enjoy Frindle! 

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  • Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record Setting Dive of the Bathysphere

    by Barb Rosenstock Year Published: 2018


    Welcome back to the book pick! This week, I’m sharing a fascinating nonfiction picture book that I read with my fourth graders. Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record Setting Dive of the Bathysphere, by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Katherine Roy really shines a light into ocean exploration as we meet two explorers about to try an experiment about 90 years ago to prove that humans could dive into the depths.  It’s a gorgeously illustrated book that builds suspense as Otis and Will dive ever deeper into the ocean. The endnotes provide photographs and background information that help convey the real risks these men took. The library does not have a copy YET but all of your local public libraries do! 

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  • The Princess in Black

    by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale Year Published: 2014


    This week, I’m highlighting a series of books for those emerging readers. In the old days, we called the books “beginning chapter books” but in the interest of making them accessible to all, we now call them “Quick Reads”. These are books that have a chapter structure and typically a storyline throughout (though they are sometimes a collection of short stories. Classic examples would be the Frog and Toad series and the Henry and Mudge series. One of my favorite newer series of these Quick Reads is the Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale (illustrated by LeUyen Pham).  In it, there’s a young princess who solves mysteries as she tries to be in both worlds of being a hero and all the duties required of a young princess. They are a lot of fun for ALL students!  Book six was just released in the last month and we have all of them here at Highlands. Please check them out today! 

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  • Owl Moon

    by Jane Yolen Year Published: 1987


    As we move into winter, I’m always struck by the piece and calm of a night out away from all the hustle and bustle. A full moon and some snow is the perfect time to read and reflect on one of my favorite picture books, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. It tells the small moment of a father and daughter who go out in the middle of the night to look for owls.  It is gorgeously illustrated and sparsely written...perfect for a quiet moment in the classroom or home. Winner of the Caldecott Medal in 1987 for the best illustrated children’s book, I highly recommend Owl Moon!

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  • COG

    by Greg van Eekhout Year Published: 2019


    Science fiction without the bummer of crushing dystopia? An AI that works to be more and more human? For 3rd grade and up? Sign me up!  When I was young, Star Trek: The Next Generation came out and I was fascinated by Data’s journey.  In COG by Greg van Eekhout, an biomaton (android) is working to learn how to learn. When he decides that he doesn’t want to be a part of the plans of the evil corporation that owns him, COG enlists the help of other robots and heads out on the road to save himself and his creator. This book is funny, heartwarming, and will have you cheering for the robots who just want to be able to make their own decisions.  We have a copy in the LC-- check it out today!

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  • Gross as a Snot Otter

    by Jess Keating Year Published: 2019


    “Gross! Eww! Please read more!” are the comments I got ALL week with the fourth book in the “World oF Weird Animals SeriesGross as a Snot Otter by Jess Keating, Much like the beloved Pink is for Blobfish, this new entry into the series offers a ton of fascinating information about some unusual (and a few common) animals. It’s an excellent example of writing nonfiction around a concept; it focuses on one particular group of animals and gives a great overview to why they’re so unique.  Each page allows readers to access it at different ability levels and is laid out uniformly. The photos and the cartoon illustrations are awesome. It lives up to its title— it’s gross! We have one copy - check it out today!

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  • Stargazing

    by Jen Wang Year Published: 2019


    This week’s book pick of the week is a graphic novel getting a lot of attention. Stargazing by Jen Wang takes on cultural identity, friendship, hardship, and navigating all of them in upper elementary and middle school world. Christine has her world turned upside down when she meets Moon, a girl who believes she from the stars.  Could these two unlikely friends survive trauma and middle school? It’s a great story that will have you laughing and gasping. A great book for our fourth graders and up! We have a new copy on our new books shelf- come check it out today!

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  • Another

    by Christian Robinson Year Published: 2019


    Christian Robinson has been an amazing illustrator for many years now.  He illustrated the Caldecott-winning Last Stop on Market Street, School’s First Day of School, and Gaston. Now he is debuting his first book on his own, called Another. It’s a wordless picture book that captures the imagination and definitely could bring a lot of conversation in by it’s playful use of multiple dimensions (think wormholes).  It’s fun and will definitely get all students talking and thinking! Check it out on in our new book section today!

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  • Other Words for Home

    by Jasmine Warga Year Published: 2019


     This week’s pick is the beautifully written Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga.  Told in prose, the story follows Jude and her Syrian family as they move to America. Jude’s family is split down the middle as her father and brother stay in Syria, while she and her mother move to the United States as the situation in her hometown deteriorates. Identity, adaptation, and rear of the unknown all are told from the viewpoint of this middle school student as struggles to find her way to her new normal.  It is a wonderfully written story for our fourth grade and up students who would like insights into the world of someone trying to make the best of a very tough situation. This book has received a lot of buzz for the Newbery Award- the highest honor a book targeting students in third through eighth grade. (All major book awards will be announced in January!) We have one copy; please check it out today!

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  • Not So Different: What You Really Want to Know About Having a Disability

    by Shane Burcaw Year Published: 2017


    This week, we’re looking at a book with a question and answer format. Shane Burcaw has taken his physical disability and used it to help others.  In Not So Different: What You Really Want to Know About Having a Disability Shane walks us through how he lives his life even though he’s confined to a wheelchair. Part humor, part compassion, and all honest, this book is on both the Bluestem and Monarch lists this year.  Check it out today!

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  • Nightbooks

    by J.A. White Year Published: 2018


    This week’s book pick of the week is Nightbooks by J.A. White. If you have a fourth or fifth grade student who loves a spooky book, this is for you. Alex is on his way to run an errand in his (present day) New York apartment when he is lured, taken, and trapped by a modern day witch, Natacha, who wants him for his ability to tell stories.  Can Alex escape? This imaginative retelling of Hansel and Gretel will keep you guessing and is full of wonder and shivers. We have two copies in our “spooky” display in the library, so check them out today!

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  • P is for Pterodactyl

    by Raj Halder Year Published: 2018


    Sometimes you just want to see how ridiculous the English language can be.  We know there are so many rules, and exceptions to those rules. I love a good alphabet book, and P is for Pterodactyl by Raj Halder does not disappoint. It uses playful imagery and explanations to talk about all the silent letters and (mis)uses of phonics in our everyday language that trips up students (and grown-ups!) Students in grades two through five will surely enjoy finding other examples in the world that go along with this clever and thoughtful book.  We have two copies in the Highlands LC-- come check them out today!

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  • 9/20/19


    by Raina Telgemeier Year Published: 2019


    In a move that will surprise no one in the middle grade book publishing world, this week’s book pick is the eagerly anticipated, much awaited, highly praised Guts. Guts is the third book in a series of memoirs (Sisters, Smile) by acclaimed graphic novel author Raina Telgemeier. In Guts, Raina is a 10 year-old student with anxieties, part of which stem from a food poisoning incident. However, the book goes on to show how Raina works on her challenges, including navigating tween-hood, and how she starts to go to therapy.  This book is important for all those students who are working on their fears because they need to know they are NOT alone in their struggles. It’s also beautifully written to get all students to understand a little more on perspective taking and empathy. I would highly recommend this book for any teachers, parents, and  fourth and fifth grade students. As is normal at Raina’s age in the book, there are discussions about body changes, but they are dealt with the touch you have come to expect in her books. We currently have FIVE copies of Guts here at Highlands, and about 40 holds placed on it, but please find a copy and read it! :)

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  •  9/13/19

    The Bad Guys

    by Aaron Blabe Year Published: 2015


    The Bad Guys series by Aaron Blabey is fun, fast, and a great character study.  Not quite a picture book, but not quite a graphic novel, The Bad Guys series follows the exploits of notoriously bad characters as they try to change their reputation. Blabey is hilarious and his characters come to life (anyone that’s read President Squid) in well-drawn black and white caricatures.  The first book of the series is also on both the Bluestem and Monarch book lists for 2020.  There are currently nine books in the series, with a tenth planned for January. They are located in our new “Everybody” graphic novels section- check them out today!

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  •  9/6/19

    Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

    by Dusti Bowling Year Published: 2017


    When a book makes all the lists in can in a year, you know you’re in for a treat!  This week’s selection is on the Bluestem, the Caudill, and the Battle of the Books list! Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus is a doozy!  Aven is your typical middle-schooler who’s annoyed that she’s being forced to move from her Kansas hometown where everyone knows her, she loves her soccer team, and most importantly, everyone’s dealt with her over the years and her lack of arms.  That’s right, Aven has no arms. Now that she’s in Arizona, will she be able to adjust? Will everyone else? It’s a hilarious, gut-wrenching, and poignant look at identity, moving, and finding out who you really are. We have FOUR copies in the LC (and they are constantly gone).  The sequel drops later this month, so check it out today!

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  • 8/30/19

    Perfectly Norman

    by Tom Percival Year Published: 2017


    We all hide certain parts of ourselves from all except the closest of our confidants. We have hopes, dreams, and worries that most of us don’t see every day.  Tom Percival takes this idea literally to the next level in Perfectly Norman. Norman doesn’t want anyone to think of him as different- he wants to fit in. But when he sprouts wings overnight, he struggles with the decision of sharing his new-found flying abilities. Simply told and beautifully illustrated, this Monarch Award nominee is a great jumping off point for discussing how being yourself is so important. K-5! We have three copies- please come check it out today!

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  • 8/16/19

    I Walk with Vanessa

    by Kerascoet Year Published: 2018


    I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoet is a wordless book that is making its way up the popularity ladder. It is a great book for discussing how we can share kindness. In the story, a girl is being bullied and a bystander decides to do something about it instead of letting it go. Great illustrations, and a great jumping off point for how we can help others, even if things are not directly affecting us. Great SEL and kindness themes and perfect for all ages in our school, this book is great for back to school and establishing how we can always find ways to help others.

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  • 5/17/19

    Be a Maker

    by Katey Howes Year Published: 2019


    Be a Maker by Katey Howes has inspired our kindergarten and first grade students this week. Told in rhyme, it encourages students to find ways to make, whether it’s a rocketship out of cardboard, music, or a difference, the illustrations capture their imagination as they realize how often they ARE makers. As a continuing part of design thinking and growth mindset,  Be A Maker encourages everyone to find their passions and have fun with them!  We have two copies in the LC -- check them out today!

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  • The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

    by Dan Gemeinhart Year Published: 2019


    My last book pick of the year is my favorite book I’ve read this school year, and I’ve read a lot of good ones!  The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise is one of the most fun, interesting, heartbreaking, and soulful books I’ve read for middle grade (I would say 4th grade and up) students. It follows Coyote and Rodeo, a father and daughter who have lived for the past few years in a converted school bus and drive around the country.  When Coyote discovers she needs to get back to California to retrieve a treasure of hers, she works to convince her father to get back to where this whole journey started. A cast of fantastic characters, a beautifully written narrative, and a profound (but gentle) story about the nature of grief, this is a book that is going to stay with me for years.  Also, surprise! It’s a Battle book for next year! Find it at your local library or bookstore and enjoy this phenomenal book!

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  • 5/10/19


    by Gordon Korman Year Published: 2017


    What if you had a chance to start your life all over? What if you woke up one day with no memory of who you used to be?  Would you fall back into your old habits and personality? Or would you be someone different? In the middle grade novel Restart by Gordon Korman, all of these questions are addressed.  Chase wakes up in a hospital after falling off of a roof and does not remember anything about his life. The story takes several surprising (but realistic) turns from there. This is probably my favorite Gordon Korman novel since Swindle. It is a great story of how you can change things about you, how perceptions change, and what it truly means to get a second chance. A Battle of the Books selection and a Rebecca Caudill 2020 nominee, Restart is fantastic for all of those tweens who are gearing up or living the middle school life. Check it out today!

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  • 5/3/19

    The Night Diary

    by Veera Hiranandani Year Published: 2018


    This week’s book pick is a historical fiction novel set in the time of the partition of India in 1947.  Told in journal form, Nisha comes from a family that is torn between their mother and father’s side. A story of survival, it portrays the migration of refugees during this time of upheaval. It is a fantastic book for fourth grade and up and is a Rebecca Caudill nominee for next year! Please check it out today!

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  •   4/26/19

    Follow, Follow

    by Marilyn Singer Year Published: 2013


    This week’s book pick of the week is one of my favorite poetry books and styles. Follow, Follow by Marilyn Singer is a collection of ‘reverso’ poems - poems that show two different viewpoints based on whether you read it from top to bottom or bottom to top. They are an excellent discussion on perspective and viewpoint. This is the second book in the series and the first one, Mirror, Mirror is also awesome. We also have Echo, Echo which is a collection of Greek mythology told in reverso form. Check out out Follow, Follow today!

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  •   4/12/19

    Book Scavenger

    by Jennifer Chambliss Bertma Year Published: 2015


    The Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman is a fun mystery and adventure rolled into one. It follows two tweens, Emily and James, as they cavort around San Francisco, trying to solve a mystery left by an ultimate game master, Garrett Griswold. A fast-paced story with plenty of puzzles to solve throughout, this book (and series) is perfect for those who love Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and The 39 Clues. Great for grades three and up!

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  • 4/5/19

    It's a Challenge!

    by Gene Luen Yang Year Published:


    This week’s book pick is not a specific book, but a challenge! A former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang, has established the Reading Without Walls challenge.  In it, students are challenged to read about people different than them in a multitude of ways. This helps to broaden their perspective and try something outside of their comfort zone. You can read more about it here.

    I’ve touched on it with fifth grade students, but any grade can participate; it’s a great way to approach reading for fun differently and ask students to try something new!

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  • 3/8/19

    Movie Clip of the Week- Free Solo

    by Directors: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi Year Published: 2018


    I’ve been going on and on with my fourth and fifth graders this week about Alex Honnold, the focus of this year’s Oscar for Best Feature Length Documentary.  In the movie Free Solo, Honnold works to become the first person ever to climb Yosemite’s El Capitan without a rope, harness, or any other equipment except climbing shoes and a chalk bag. Because fourth and fifth graders rock climb, and because we’re studying National Parks, they go to watch the first video below, which is an AWESOME 360-degree filmed vignette of the movie. I am fascinated and horrified by it all as I watch this determined man decide to risk his life in pursuit of what is perfection to him. His backstory is interesting, his mindset is interesting, and his decision making process leaves me in awe.  I’ve included four clips below that wrap it all together. While I don’t necessarily think this is all going to interest your students, I found it to be a can’t-look-away set of videos that really capture the technical nature of not only Alex’s climb, but how in the world they filmed it. It blew me away, and I haven’t been able to stop talking about it with everyone I run into. If you enjoy even one of these clips, I highly recommend watching Free Solo (it’s PG-13 for.. danger? Not quite sure…)  Anyway, enjoy!

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  • 3/1/19


    by Gordon Korman Year Published: 2008


    An oldie but a goodie comes back to my book pick this week. Swindle by Gordon Korman is fun.  It follows a group of boys who have been cheated out of a very valuable baseball card and their quest to get it back. Part Ocean’s Eleven, part Sandlot, sometimes we just need a book that takes us on an adventure! It’s the first in the series and we have several copies of each. Check them out today!

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  • 2/15/19

    Upside Down Magic

    by Sarah Mlynowski, E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle Year Published: 2016


    This week’s book pick of the week is Upside Down Magic by a trio of authors. To be honest, when I looked at this cover, it looked way to cutesy for me.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and thoughtfulness this book captured. Nory desperately wants to get into the best school for her magic powers, but they tend to go...wonky.  When she’s sent to a school for students who have problems with their magic, she’s crushed. Can she find a way to make the best of her situation? In the first of the series, Nory meets her classmates and discovers there’s a whole group of people that struggle just like her. Check it out today!

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  • 2/22/19

    Ida, Always

    by Caron Lewis and Charles Santoso Year Published: 2016


    BRING ALL THE TISSUES. If you have someone that’s experiencing loss, then do I have the book for you. Though I can’t see myself doing this book as a read aloud, Ida, Always  by Caron Lewis and Charles Santoso chronicles the story of two polar bears who live out their days at the zoo.  When one becomes sick, the other cares for her, and (yes, I’m spoiling it) when she dies, the polar bear learns to cope with the loss. A beautifully touching story about remembering those we have lost and it is treated so gently, I feel that it belongs everywhere. Please check it out and put it in the hands of a student (or grown-up!) who needs it!

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  • The Girl Who Thought in Pictures

    by Julia Finley Mosca Year Published: 2017


    This week’s pick is The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca. It is the story of Dr. Temple Grandin and it is a great introduction to her and to be confident in who you are. Told in rhyme, this literary nonfiction piece follows parts of Dr. Grandin’s life and talks about how our differences can make us better and help all. Check it out today!

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  • The Word Collector

    by Peter Reynolds Year Published: 2018


    Peter Reynolds has had a wonderful career as an illustrator and author. He continually inspires students to reach further, persist, and believe in themselves. Often told through a simple story and cartoon-like illustrations, this author of The Dot, Ish, and Going Places is a automatic add to our library. In The Word Collector, Reynolds crafts a story about sharing the power of your voice and words that is ultimately fueled by kindness? What are some of your favorite words?  Check it out today!

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  • Wishtree

    by Katherine Applegate Year Published: 2017


    Wishtree by Katherine Applegate is our (very unsurprising) Book Pick of the Week.  In it, Red, a 200 year-old tree interacts with animals and observes humans.  When someone upsets the peaceful neighborhood with an unkind word, Red feels like he needs to help. What will Red do? How will the animals help the humans?  This is a beautifully written and illustrated story to confront anger with love. It’s one of the most critically-acclaimed books of 2017 and I’m delighted that it’s our selection this year for One Book, One School.  Enjoy the first chapters today!

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  • 1/11/19

    Chasing Vermeer

    by Blue Balliet Year Published: 2004


    This week, we look at a mystery!  One of my favorite stand-alone mystery novels for middle grade (4th-7th) students is Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet.  Set in Chicago, two friends are determined to solve both a centuries-old mystery, as well as a new one when a painting goes missing from The Art Institute.  Lots of puzzles, discussion of art, and the value of friendship keeps this story moving. In the tradition of The Westing Game and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,  Chasing Vermeer is a thoughtful, delightful, and creative story.  We have two copies in the LC - check them out today!

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  • 12/21/18

    Real Friends

    by Shannon Hale Year Published: 2017


    Probably one of the best books I’ve read this year, Real Friends by Shannon Hale documents the trials and tribulations of making friends in elementary and high school. Written as a partial memoir, the graphic novel follows Shannon, a girl with anxiety-related issues, as she navigates the tricky world of making friends. It is honest, real, heartbreaking, and sometimes raw. If you have a student or a child in your life who wants to know that they are not alone with their struggles, this is the book for them.  I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is fantastic and great for fourth grade and up!

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  • 12/14/18

    The Last Kids on Earth

    by Max Brallier Year Published: 2015


    It’s hard enough to be a tween and teen in our world today.  Throw in a monster apocalypse and the struggle feels even more real. In The Last Kids on Earth series, written by Max Brallier and illustrated by Douglas Holgate, Jack, a 13-year old boy, has finally found purpose in life- slaying the monsters that have taken over his town.  With the help of his friends, he is determined to rescue June, whom he believes will be forever grateful for it. Perfect horror-lite for 4th and 5th graders, this series is up to four books and is a great transition for those who enjoy Diary of Wimpy Kid and Timmy Failure. The Highlands library has all four books in the series available… come check them out today!

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  • 12/7/18

    Cute as an Axolotl

    by Jess Keating Year Published: 2018


    Cute as an Axolotl is the third book in Jess Keating’s  World of Weird Animals series and much like Pink is for Blobfish and What Makes a Monster? the books teach us a lot about the unusual animals that people may not know about.  Great for students (and adults!) the format is very adaptable for all grade levels. We currently have one copy of this book available (and hopefully a few more to come!)  Check it out today!

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  • Stick Dog

    by Tom Watson Year Published: 2012


    With absolutely zero surprise, our book pick of the week is Stick Dog by Tom Watson. In an age where students are reading more complex texts with even more complicated storylines (which are great!), it’s sometimes nice to have a palate cleanser like these books. If your students enjoy Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or the Thirteenth Story Treehouse series, they will certainly enjoy the story of Stick Dog and his friends. Very accessible, very gentle, and very funny, these books appeal to students at all levels. We have an extensive collection in the library, and don’t forget that you can order them to get personalized for your classroom (or a holiday gift!) Thanks for joining us in the hilarious adventures!

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  • Dreamers

    by Yuyi Morales Year Published: 2018


    My book pick of the week is the sparse and powerful Dreamers by Yuyi Morales. Told in stunning art and collage, the two main characters come to America and discover the power of libraries. I can almost guarantee that this book will be on the Monarch list of the next year. However, I believe this story can be read in ANY classroom, especially around Thanksgiving as we are a nation of immigrants. The power of books and the library winds through this story and the author’s note and reading list at the end are great for the older students. If you have ever doubted the power of books, please take a look at this beautiful story. We currently have one copy in the building; I’m sure we’ll have more in the spring. PLEASE COME LOOK AT THIS BOOK!

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  • All are Welcome

    by Alexandra Penfold Year Published: 2018


    All are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold is a simple book that’s perfect for a restart in your SEL curriculum. Each set of pages ends with the simple phrase “all are welcome here.” In  a world where things can get really confusing for students, it is so important for us to remind them that school is a safe place for them to be themselves. Our first graders are working on a good surprise for everyone else to share how we can be more welcoming. We have one copy in the library-- it is great for the primary classes!


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  • The Day You Begin

    by Jacqueline Woodson Year Published: 2018


    The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson (and illustrated beautifully by Rafael Lopez) is a non-linear story that shows different scenarios about children who feel differently because of their race or language barriers in the classroom. It is a perfect book for embracing yourself and accepting others and I expect it to be on all sorts of SEL and award lists for our younger readers. However, I believe it has a great message that needs to be heard in the classroom. We have one copy (for now) on our new book display. PLEASE take a look at it! :)

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  • Gregor the Overlander

    by Suzanne Collins Year Published: 2003


    Let’s go back to an “oldie” but a goodie for this week.  Making its return appearance on the Battle of the Books list after 10 years is Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (of Hunger Games fame). Set in the present day, Gregor and his sister Boots fall down into an immense world underneath New York City known as the Underland. Animals the size of people and people who have never seen the sun. It’s definitely a fantasy lover’s series, with five books total.  I love the action and the way Gregor tries to put family first in everything he does. It’s great for fourth and fifth graders (and some precocious third graders as well.) Check out one of our three copies today!

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  • The Peace Dragon

    by Linda Ragsdale Year Published: 2018


    Another great story by our visiting author is The Peace Dragon. In it, two friends, a boy and a dragon, overcome their initial wariness to become fast friends. But when they try to introduce Omani (the dragon) to the rest of the village, the villagers are worried. How will it play out? Kindergarten through second grade students will enjoy this story which makes sure students go beyond judging a book by its cover.  Enjoy!

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  • Alphabetter

    by Linda Ragsdale Year Published:


    Second graders got to hear Alphabetter by Linda Ragsdale this week!  It’s a great book about creating portmanteaus of positivity.  Would you describe any of your students as charvelous? What about friendunderful? Sharing just a few parts of this book will spur lots of creativity in your students, K-5. The LC has one copy of Alphabetter, and will soon have two! Check them out today!

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  • 9/28/18

    Amina’s Voice

    by Hena Khan Year Published: 2017


    Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan is a an excellent book for discussion about identity, finding yourself, and feeling like you have a foot in two different worlds. Amina is struggling with balancing her desire to stay true to her Muslim roots while also wanting to blend in at school. I really thought the main character was presented as realistic and I think all students in grades four and five could identify with her struggles of trying to figure out who she is.  This is a Bluestem nominee for this year, so we have three copies in the LC. Check them out today!


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  • 9/21/18

    Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers

    by Sarah Levine Year Published: 2016


    One of the most visually interesting books on the Monarch list this year is Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers. It has great illustrations that will get your students’ attention immediately and clamoring for the next page. The book is chock-full of information about animal teeth, including why different animals have different teeth, and why it is important that they do.  If you’re looking for a different non-fiction format that will keep your 2nd-4th graders engaged, I highly recommend this book. We have three copies in the Monarch section. Check it out today!

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  • 9/14/18


    by Barbara O'Connor Year Published: 2016


    The stories of a child and their dog seem to be popular in every generation. Wish, by Barbara O’Connor (How to Steal a Dog, Greetings from Nowhere) is a Bluestem-nominated book that tells the story of Charlie, a girl who’s been sent to live with her distant relatives. As you might expect, Charlie has a hard time adjusting because she’s counting on her wish to come true. When she sees Wishbone, a stray dog, she decides she must have him, and it turns out that the bonds that are formed stretch beyond just Charlie and her dog. It’s a fun tale (tail?) that helps students see that new starts are possible, and family means more than just blood relatives. Wish is a warm-hearted story, and no worries, the dog stays safe!

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  • 09/07/18

    Jabari Jumps

    by Gaia Cornwall Year Published: 2017


    Jabari Jumps is one of my favorite Monarch nominees this year (and I like a LOT of them). A story about facing your fears, School Library Journal says, “Jabari has completed his swim lessons and tests and is ready to jump off a diving board. In his zig zag swim trunks and swim goggles, the boy tells his dad that diving looks easy. But when he stands at the ladder and looks up, up, and up at the diving board, he starts stalling for time, saying that he has other things to do before he can make the big leap. His father reassures him that it is OK to be scared, encourages him to take deep breaths, and tells him that he might just be surprised. With renewed determination, Jabari climbs the ladder and jumps into the pool. He's flying and splashing and sinking down and swimming back up and he's done it! Jabari is a great jumper. Just enough conversational text accompanies each illustration, including several smaller vignettes on a single page that help build suspense.”

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  • 8/24/18


    by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead Year Published: 2018


    In the spirit of The Adventures of Beekle and Crenshaw comes Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead.  A ten-year old girl discovers her imaginary friend has been waiting in a closet for five years for her to come back to her grandmother’s house. Told from two perspectives (each author writes for one character) Bob is hilarious and sweet.  We will have two copies of it as soon as they arrive—perfect for 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade classes!


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