The Calder Game

The Calder Game by Blue Balliett is a mystery story linking art sculpture with intrigue. The book description reads, “When Calder Pillay travels with his father to a remote village in England, he finds a mix of mazes and mystery…including an unexpected Alexander Calder sculpture in the town square.

Calder is strangely drawn to the sculpture, while other people have less-than-friendly feelings toward it. Both the boy and the sclupture seem to be out of place…and then, on the same night, they disappear!”

I thought about this book on the weekend, when I visited the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle with Mr. Hembree. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the first thing we noticed was the gigantic Alexander Calder sculpture called The Eagle. We walked around it and under it and looked closely at his signature on the side.

 In this view from underneath the sculpture, you can see what looks like the eagle head or beak (or at least that is what it looks like to me)!


 The last picture shows Calder’s signature on the side of the piece and the date.


I don’t think this is the Calder that disappeared from The Calder Game, but isn’t it fun imagining it could be? Here is a link to a book trailer  I found for The Calder Game by Gaia, a student in Mrs Scavone’s class from June 2011.

The Calder Game is available for check out  F BAL  MYSTERY.


What sculpture did you see in the book trailer?

Have you ever seen an Alexander Calder sculpture before? Which one?

What piece of art would you write a mystery about?




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Flora the Flamingo Backpack Buddy

We have three new backpack buddies to add to our collection! Two titles are very familiar - Go Dog Go and Knufflebunny.

We also have a new title – Flora the Flamingo

In this wordless picture book  a friendship develops between a girl named Flora and a graceful flamingo, as they learn to dance together.   Check out the book trailer about this very fun new book!

Flora the Flamingo Book Trailer


We now have 48 backpack buddies to choose from. Each one has a backpack, a book, matching puppet and a journal. Backpack buddies are available for check out in grades 1-3.


What is your favorite backpack buddy?

What book (fiction or non-fiction) would you suggest?


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A Book Review from Denmark

We have a special treat today! A few weeks ago three of our former students stopped by to visit with their parents. They were here on vacation and were visiting their former teachers and friends in the Seattle area.

PebbleGo Europe Kids Map Denmark is the country north of Germany.

All of three students love to read! Lucily for them, I had just come from the American Library Association mid-winter meeting with numerous Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) of books. ARCs are copies of books that people read and review and check for errors before they are officially published. Think of them as preview copies.

It’s always fun to have a new book that nobody else has yet, so all three students went home with some new books to read for the flight back to Denmark. Mathias not only read his book, he sent us a review for the blog too!

Here is Mathias’ review of House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini. It will be officially released on April 23, 2013.

Setting: The story first takes place in Sea Cliff, San Francisco, then later in a mysterious world of adventure.

Characters: The Walker family is composed of five members.

Mr. and Mrs. Walker, were recently in a lawsuit because Mr. Walker, who is a doctor, had cut an eye into the back of his patient. They were sued by the family of the man, and used almost all their money to defend themselves.

Brendan Walker, the middle child, a computer geek and a quite smart kid. He is also very much into Lacrosse and his quick thinking saves them on several occasions.

Cordelia Walker is the oldest and smartest kid of the family. She is an avid reader and helped solve many of the problems the family were to face.

Eleanor Walker is the youngest and appears to be the most dumb. However she does show quite an appeal for helping and a very smart and quick brain, despite being dyslexic. She is also very much into horses.

Plot: A family of five are searching for a new house. Their real estate lady finds a nice house on the edge of Sea Cliff, a place known for it’s beautiful houses. At first the family is a bit worried that the house may not be as nice as the real estate lady says (their price range for houses is rather low) however they were all proved wrong. When they arrived it was a beautiful three story house, full of amazing furniture and stunning features that made the house almost seem too good to be true. This was made true when they heard the price. Their jaws dropped and they immediately decided to buy the house.

Soon after they bought the house strange things started happening. Brendan and Eleanor were seeing strange figures and shadows day after day. Brendan even thought that the statue which stood in the back had come alive and talked to him.

The next day something strange happened. First the old lady who says she lived next door comes by. Her name is Dahlia Kristoff, the relative of Denver Kristoff who used to live in this house. Brendan goes crazy on her, thinking she was the woman who had turned into the statue. After the old lady leaves the kids start doing some digging. Cordelia find out that according to a picture upstairs, she’s a 105 years old and missing a hand. Not long after the doorbell rings again. Thinking that the pizza has arrived, Mr. Walker goes over to the door and opens it. Outside stands Mrs. Dahlia again, and as soon as Mr. Walker opens the door, she steps in. Immediately she transforms. She is now bald and only a skeleton of herself. Her right hand is missing, just like Cordelia thought and she looked downright scary, especially with the brand new pair of skeletal wings that had just erupted from her back. Mrs. Walker started calling the police, but for a gust of wind that snatched up the phone and cracked it on a pedestal on the other side of the room. Then weird things start to happen. Dahlia Kristoff starts flying up, and every item currently in the vicinity start flying up. They form a vortex of flying items just zooming around the room. The two parents are knocked out by flying objects, but somehow the kids manage to stay conscious. Dahlia starts shouting about her long lost father’s (Denver Kristoff) reincarnation and suddenly everything goes black.

My Thoughts: I think this book is amazing. With all of the mystery happening in only the first instance of the story, it provides a great lead into the book. The book itself is astonishing. The idea of having an entire story based on the fusion of three books is downright fascinating. The different characters in this book are amazingly unique, in such ways that even you can’t see the events they’re going to make happen before they do. The things that happen from every angle, like betrayal, love and unexpected friendship just makes this book one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Thank you Mathias for this awesome book review! I can’t wait to buy a copy for the library in April when it comes out!

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One Book at a Time

Mumbai, India

 On Monday, a package filled with 25 children’s books left for Mumbai, India with Josa’s Dad. He was going to Mumbai on business and offered to take some books with him.

Mumbai, formerly known by the name Bombay is located in the state of Maharashtra. It’s considered the financial capital city of India. It’s the most populated city in India and one of the top most populated cities in the world with over 14 million people. Mumbai is far away from Seattle!

Because Mumbai is so overcrowded, not everyone has the same advantages as we have in Seattle. The Dharavi area of Mumbai is home to thousands of people, many of them children. Unfortunately there aren’t enough school buildings or even books for all the children who want an education. That is why Josa’s family thought that might be a good place to share some of the extra books we have. DoorStep_DSC_0067_Vineeta-Guptacom

The students in Ms. Holder’s class helped prep the books for the first shipment. Each student signed a bookplate inside the book. Our principal, Mrs. Paul signed one too!

After everyone signed a book, I put them in an envelope for the trip. They left with Josa’s Dad a few days ago.


I was worried that 25 books wouldn’t make much of a difference when there are thousands of children who need books. Josa’s mom very kindly reminded me about the story of the starfish. Have you heard of this story? I had forgotten about it and after she told me about it, I realized she’s right.

We are making a difference. The actions of our students do matter. Twenty five books will help…One book at a time!


Have you ever been to India?

How do you matter at school or at home or in your community?


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Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

Gabe in Mrs. Adair’s class submitted this book review of Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz.

This book’s main character is Alex Rider.  He is a fourteen year old boy. Alex’s uncle Ian died in a car crash, at least that’s what the police said.

Alex knows that’s not true, and the gun marks in the driver’s side car door proves it! Alex finds out his uncle was a top field agent for a secret government division, M16.

They ask Alex to work for them, they ask him to investigate Herod Sayle. Herod came up with the most sophisticated personal computer of the decade. But M16 suspects Herod has something up his sleeve, so they send Alex undercover into Sayle Enterprises to investigate.

Alex uses a wide array of useful gadgets to baffle Herod Sayle, but will his cover be blown or worse, will he be killed?

If you like adventure books then you will love this book. Even better, there is a whole Alex Rider series, so this is just a taste of this action packed series. I think this book for readers 9 years and older.

If you like the sound of this book, come to the library! We have the entire Alex Rider series on our Action/Adventure shelves! Mrs. Hembree

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Some Down Under Book Love


Look what came in the mail from Australia!

That’s right, two books and a wonderful note from Miss Y in Melbourne, Australia. She is a librarian at the St. Martin of Tours Primary School. We have been blogging buddies for over a year now, exchanging ideas for books back and forth.

These Andy Griffiths books are going to be BIG hits in our library. You can’t NOT laugh when you read them. They are just that funny! Look at this photo of him from his website. Does he look like a serious kind of guy? I haven’t had a chance to read the books yet, but here’s what it says on Andy’s website:

“Andy and Terry live in an incredible ever-expanding treehouse and create very silly books together. Andy writes the words and Terry draws the pictures… well, when they’re not too distracted by all the amazing things going in their incredible ever-expanding treehouse! Last year they opened a new school with a brand new library.”


I think these books sound like some crazy fun. If you are in 3-5th grade, this might be the just-right book for you. Stop by the library and put in your reservation. They will be available for check out early next week.

It’s been quite a week for connections. First a phone call from New Zealand and then a package from Australia. I love these reading connections! Miss Y’s students have been enjoying some Mo Willems books we sent her last year and now we have some Andy Griffiths books here! It’s a full circle of reading fun!

Here’s a photo of what the school looks like outside, courtesy of the magic of Google maps! I hope you will visit Miss Y’s LRC blog soon and leave her a comment.  I just watched a new book trailer she made about a new book in the Clementine Rose series for girls by Jacqueline Harvey. This is the author of the Alice Miranda books we already have in our library! Jacqueline visited Miss Y’s school last year. Here is the post about this visit. I sure hope if Jacqueline ever visits the Pacific Northwest on a book tour, she will stop by our library!


What do you think about our surprise package?

Have you ever read any Andy Griffiths books before?

Look at the title.What word do we spell differently?



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The One and Only Ivan Wins Newbery

Ivan Won!


The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate won the coveted Newbery Award this morning at the American Library Association Conference here in Seattle! I sat in the audience as the awards were revealed at the press conference.

At the press conference, the ALA announces  the winners of numerous book awards such as the Coretta Scott King Award and Geisel Awards. Then it’s time for Caldecott and Newbery – last in line.  These two awards are the most prestigious and coveted in the US for the writers and illustrators of children’s literature.

I was thrilled to see my personal favorite picture book win the Caldecott! There lots of happy clapping and screaming in the audience (yes, librarians scream – loudly!) as we saw the winning book show on the big screen!

Then it was time for the Newbery. One by one the titles of the Honor winners were released. I held my breath as I saw Spendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, Bomb:The Race to Build – and Steal- the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin and Three Times Lucky by Shelia Turnage win the honor awards.

I think most of the audience inhaled and waited for the final slide to show. What book would it be? The whoops of joy filled the room and tears filled my eyes! I tried to take a photo of the slide showing that Ivan won, but all I got was a photo of the ceiling when I jumped out of my chair! It was a magical moment to be in a room filled with all that love for a book that has touched the hearts of thousands of readers around the world. I tried taking a picture again, but it sure came out blurry! My hands were shaking too much to be very good at holding still.

Lots of hugs were shared with fellow librarians. Especially happy was Mr. Schu, who visited the real Ivan last summer and possibly has the only copy of the signed book by both Ivan and Katherine Applegate. You can read his very moving post about what it meant to meet Ivan at the Atlanta Zoo here. We shared some tears together as we realized that our shared love for a very special book won top honors. Here is a photo courtesy of John Schu showing both the author and Ivan signatures.

After the press conference was over, I went to the exhibit hall to visit the HarperCollins booth. They published The One and Only Ivan. I got there in time to see one of the representatives place the gold Newbery sticker on the book! Notice that Ivan is looking at the sticker!


Ivan also had his picture taken with “Ivan” at the booth!

A few minutes later, Anne Hoppe, the editor stopped by too! If you remember, she visited  with Katherine and Julia last April when they came for our school visit. She shared that it is very special experience to be the editor of a book that wins a Newbery.

I can’t even think of the words to describe what it was like to see a book that has so totally touched my heart and changed my life win the Newbery. I just hope now even more thousands of children pick it up and share the story. Like so many of you who purchased a copy last spring, we now own a signed Newbery book! How absolutely fantastic is that???

I wish Katherine and her family could have been in Seattle to experience announcement in person. The good news is that they will have the opportunity to receive the award in person in Chicago in June!

Never heard of Ivan and want to know more? Here is the trailer I made last year. I hope you will watch it and then run to your local library or bookstore and get a copy!

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Favorite Books of 2012

Have you ever read a book that you just couldn’t forget?

Did it make you laugh? Cry? Shout?

 Today’s post is about my favorite books from 2012. These are the standout books from a year of reading.  Even though I may have read them months ago, I still think about them and consider them book friends. When I see the cover, or think of a passage from the book, I get a smile on my face. Not all of these books were written in 2012, although most of them were. I am in the process of reading all the Newbery Medal winners, so one book was published years ago. All, except the young adult books are available in our library. I hope you will stop in and check them out!

Tomorrow the American Library Association will announce all of the Youth Media Awards at their Mid-Winter Conference here in Seattle. I will be at the press conference for the very first time!  I can’t wait to see what books won medal and honor awards. Above any other books, I have my fingers crossed for The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and Wonder by RJ Palacio.

Here are my standouts from a year of reading!

Categories: Favorite Graphic Novels, Favorite Picture Books, Favorite Non-Fiction Picture Books,Favorite Middle Grade Novels, Favorite Young Adult Novels, Favorite Audio Books

So there you are…my favorites. Not all will win awards tomorrow at the ALA conference. However, they have already won a special award in my heart because each of these books has touched me in a very personal way. I’m looking forward to lots of reading in 2013 and seeing where my reading travels take me!


Were any of these books favorites for you this year?

Is there a book I should have included?

Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Flying the Dragon

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013 and a new year of reading!


I am thrilled to start off our year with a student book review by Kaito. He recently read Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dia Lorenzi and submitted this book report as soon as he returned from winter break.

Main Characters: Grandfather, Hiroshi and Skye.

Story Setting: The story takes place in Japan and America.

Story summary: Grandfather lives in America. Hiroshi lives in Japan. Grandfather and Hiroshi fly dragon kites. His grandfather is now sick, so the entire family has to move to America. Hiroshi has to hang-out with his cousin Skye.

Main Events: The main event is the kite battle in Washington, DC. Hiroshi and Skye battle the other competitors with their dragon kite.

1 opinion and 1 fact about the story: Dragon kites are real and legendary. I think dragon kites are fun to fly.

Thank you Kaito for sharing your ideas about this book. I read it too and thought it was pretty terrific. I learned a lot about the Japanese language, culture and kite flying from reading it.

This book is a chapter book and would be good for kids in grades 3rd and up. It is in the realistic fiction section of our library. The call number is F LOR  REALISTIC

You can also read about how the  illustrator Kelly Murphy created the cover for The Flying Dragon. Click on this link to take you to that interview.


Have you ever flown a kite before?

What do you like to do for fun with your grandparents?

Leave us a comment and let us know!


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