For the Younger Readers


What have you been reading so far this summer?


Reese was doing some newspaper reading this morning. Apparently he didn’t like what he read, so now we have a shredded mess all over the living room floor! Nice! Well it’s Saturday and I have been doing some reading since school let out.After reading Destiny Rewritten, I decided to move to some new chapter books that younger readers would enjoy.


You can’t go wrong with any of Lunch Lady graphic novel series. This time a terrible technology villain invades the school and steals everyone’s gizmos and gadgets. Yikes! Will the Lunch Lady solve the dilemma?


Jennifer S. Holland has a new non-fiction series perfect for kids just starting to read chapter books. If you like animals, you will love these short stories about the friendships between some pretty unlikely animals.


Magic Tree House fans will like book #49 Stallion by Starlight. This time Merlin the Magician wants Jack and Annie to find the secret of greatness. What makes a person great? To find the answer they travel back in time to ancient Macedonia to meet Alexander the Great and his famed horse Bucephalus.

book 5


Newbery winning author Patricia MacLachlan’s new book is perfect for dog lovers. Zoe’s mother rescues Great Pyrenees dogs. “Pyrs”, as they are called for short, are large, yet gentle 140-150 pound, white fur dogs. When Phillip moves in next door, he becomes friends with one of the rescue puppies. Will the puppy help him speak again?


Any girl who loves the Fancy Nancy books by Jane O’Connor will adore her newest chapter book series. A little bit fancy, a little bit Nancy Drew, and a little bit mysterious fun, these books will entertain transitional picture book to chapter book readers.


Mystery fans will love the funny new mystery series by the author of the Lunch Lady series. The author Jarrett J. Krosocaka will be our featured guest author next year, so make sure you keep up with all of his latest books!


I hope these books will give you some ideas for the upcoming weeks! Tomorrow I’ll be traveling to San Antonio, Texas to attend the ISTE technology conference! I’ll be going to classes and finding out all sorts of different ideas to use in our library lessons in the fall!

Keep Reading! Mrs. Hembree


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What is Your Destiny?



What is your destiny for this summer?

Are you destined to go on a vacation with your family? Will you take the time to hang out with friends? Will you have the chance to sleep in and not worry about the alarm clock? My summer destiny is all about books, and that’s a GOOD thing!


Finally I have the time to read for long stretches of time and catch up on the books I on my “have to read list”. I brought a big pile home for the summer. I don’t know if I’ll get to all the books in my piles, but I’ll sure give it a try.Sometimes there is a hidden power that makes me pick up one book before another. I’ve learned to trust that inner voice and listen to it. That’s why I picked up Destiny Rewritten first.

 book 1

 Destiny Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice seemed like the obvious choice in this time of change. You can see in the background of the photo the world we’ve been living in this school year. Construction! The old school is going to be torn down, and in August we’ll be moving into the new school. In fact, the piece of wall hanging off, is part of the wall to our old library, and the windows up above in the new building is our new library.

Kathryn sent me this signed copy a few weeks ago. I set it aside because I wanted to have the time to savor it. I first heard about Kathryn when I read her book, The Year the Swallows Came Early. I loved it from paragraph one. Last year her novel, A Diamond in the Desert captured the Japanese-American experience in the internment camps in California during the 1940′s and I made a book trailer about the book. Yes, I guess you could say I’m a fan of Kathryn Fitzmaurice.

Sometimes fans get presents, and that’s what I got! A signed copy from Kathryn! If you are a fan of poetry, realistic or romance fiction, I urge you to add this book to your summer reading list. It won’t let you down.

Destiny Rewritten is the story of 11 year old Emily, who really, really dislikes poetry. Not a problem, right? A lot of kids don’t like poetry. No big deal. Wrong!

When your mother is a poet, is an English professor at the local university, and names you Emily Elizabeth after her favorite poet Emily Dickinson, you are supposed to like poetry. Except, not this Emily. She likes romance fiction and writes letters to to the romance writer, Danielle Steele, hoping she will write back and help her with her problems.

Because she has a very big problem. Is she destined to be a poet? If so, why can’t she even write a simple line of poetry without feeling like someone asked her to solve the problems of mankind?

To make matters more complicated, her mother is a bit of a free-spirit  who didn’t document all those special moments of Emily’s childhood in a baby book like the other moms. Instead, the highlights were written in her rare copy of the The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, purchased the day before Emily was born. Was that chance? Was it kismit?

Chapter One

Things (that seemed to have nothing to do with me, but did, and) that changed my life:

“My destiny was decided in a secondhand bookstore the day before I was born when my mother, Isabella, found a book of poems. She’d been searching for a name for me, something that would set my life’s direction. ….Then, there is was, a first edition of Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson…..”She will be named Emily, and she will be a poet,” my mother declared.”

 A MAJOR crisis strikes when the book is lost. Emily’s mother thinks it’s all part of her destiny, but Emily will have none of that type of thinking. She’s more pragmatic than her mother and needs answers to important questions. For example she wants the answers to the identity of her father. Her mother won’t tell her outright because she thinks Emily will find out when the time is right. Emily wants to know whether it’s okay to like romance fiction and happy endings more than gloomy poetry by a dead poet.

I loved every page in Destiny Rewritten and am glad I saved reading it for a special time. It authentically captures the topsy-turvy feelings middle grade girls. It seemed like the perfect book to close my school year. My own destiny is a bit in limbo as we close down one school, pack up and prepare for a move to a new school.  Yet, I have a feeling that September will open a happy chapter in a new library adventure. In the meantime, I’ll be reading, and reading, and reading!

You can find a copy of Destiny Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice at your local library or bookstore. In the fall, it will be located in our Realistic Fiction section.


Have you ever thought about your destiny?

Is it different than what others thought?

Have you ever done something that didn’t make sense at the time, and then seemed absolutely perfect later on?

Leave a comment and let me know!

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Apple Pie and Baseball

What is more American than apple pie?

By Scott Bauer, USDA ARS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Scott Bauer, USDA ARS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

For all the baseball fans out there, there’s a new non-fiction book that will give you hours of reading entertainment!


Have you always wished you could visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York? For those of us on the west coast, this is a big dream. However, now Inside the Baseball Hall of Fame brings the Cooperstown Hall of Fame into your own house. In full color, nearly 200 objects from  the museum are described with their backstories. Stories about the San Diego Chicken costume, the lyrics of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and Lou Gehrig’s glove from 1939 are just three of the highlights in this book.


You will find Inside the Baseball Hall of Fame at your favorite bookstore  or public library today.


What do you special part of baseball history do you hope is in this book?

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Learning the 3 P’s with Chopsticks


There is something about eating with chopsticks that changes things. First of all, unless you are really good at it, you can’t eat fast. The process is super s….l….o….w. It  takes some coordination and practice to maneuver two sticks in one hand and pick up food. According to the Mobile Cuisine Chopsticks fun facts page, when you use chopsticks, you involve over 30 joints and 50 muscles in the fingers, wrist, arm, shoulder as well as thousands of nerves.

Second, when you are around other people who can’t use them very well, it’s funny.  At first it’s frustrating. Then when you look around and see that every other person is having the same problem, it’s time to laugh. Food can go anywhere and everywhere when you use chopsticks.

The 3 P’s

Last, a person can learn about the 3 P’s. That’s persistence, practice, and patience! Becoming a master of chopsticks requires all 3 P’s. Once you become skilled with chopsticks, you can eat anything (except maybe broth)! It feels just like riding a two-wheeler bike without falling down!

Those are some of the lessons we learned after we read Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Chopsticks is about a pair of chopsticks who are the best of buddies. They do everything together, but when one gets hurt, they have to learn how to manage on their own.

It feels uncomfortable and lonely in the beginning. Before long, things change and what was so difficult at first, is just a memory.

To find out what it’s like to use chopsticks, we had a little practice session. Everyone got a pair of chopsticks and a cup. Tables partners shared a plate of cereal. The object was to get as many pieces of cereal from the plate into the cup. No fingers allowed! We got frustrated. We had fun! We got to eat cereal!

Chopsticks is one of the nominees for the  2013 Washington Children’s Choice Award. More fun activities for this book can be found on her Chopsticks activity guide. If you like Chopsticks, you’ll probably enjoy Amy Krouse Rosethals’ other books too! Give Spoons or Exclamation Mark a try.


What was your first experience using chopsticks like?

What are some things that come in pairs?

I used transition words to start new paragraphs. Can you name them?

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Honus Wagner Card Sells for $2.1M

On Saturday, the rare 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $2.1 million  in a public auction to an unnamed bidder. Honus Wagner was a Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop in the early 1900′s and considered to one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

There are only about 50 of these cards left in existence, which makes them extremely rare. The story is that Honus Wagner made the American Tobacco Card pull the card because he had not granted them permission to print the card. He did not want children buying cigarettes to get his card.

The story of Honus is the first book in Dan Gutman’s baseball adventure series. It’s the story of a boy who finds the Honus Wagner card and finds he use it to travel through time.

Dan Gutman wrote this book in 1993. He submitted it to a publisher in 1994 and within two months it was rejected. He tried again and it was rejected again. He was rejected SEVEN times before HarperCollins – publisher #8 said, “yes! we like it!” You can read more about his rejection story on the Dan Gutman website.  

The book is now available in an audio version, was made into a TV movie called The Winning Season, and a play that was performed in four different cities, including Seattle. The importance of persistence is an important message that Dan shares with his readers on his website:

The good news is that there are now ELEVEN books in his baseball adventure series! Ted and Me is the latest book to be published. It’s about baseball legend Ted Williams and is Gutman’s 100th book to be published!

If you would like to learn more about the story of the T206 Honus card, ESPN has produced a 15 minute video about the history of this baseball player and the famous cards. Click here for that link. You can find Gutman’s adventure series in the sports section of our library.


Why do you think this collector paid this much money for a baseball card?

If you could create a sports card about a person, who would it be and why?


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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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