The Yankee Reader

What gets you excited about your day?


For my nephew it’s baseball with a healthy dose of reading (and maybe a couple computer games). He is a diehard Yankees fan as you can see from his room decor. Everything is Yankees from tip to stern.
My favorite part of his room are the stacks of books. I wish I had taken more pictures, but trust me. He loves to read and his shelves prove it. We are DEFINITELY related! Like a true reader, the books closest to his bed are the important ones. The sports books by Tim Green, Mike Lupica, and Dan Gutman. Florida adventures by Carl Hiaasen. Then there are the top tier books- Wonder and The One and Only Ivan. These are the ones that will stay in his room, or at least that’s my prediction.


 Now he has a copy of Comics Squad. It never even made it downstairs to get read. Nope! It was consumed in one night. Right there in my nephew’s personal Yankee Stadium.

Now, where will it go on the pile?

PS. I have another sport book to suggest. If you like baseball, look for Screaming at the Ump by Audrey Vernick. This middle grade novel puts a twist on the typical baseball story by looking through the lens of a 12 year old and umpire camp. Cool sports story and well paced.

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Never a Mariner

I’ve been at sea for most of the summer.


It started right after school ended when I found my shell collection. It had been missing for a couple years, but we found it in the garage tucked behind some boxes. I was thrilled because I have been collecting shells since I was a little girl. I always come home with a shell from every beach I walk along. I also like to buy pretty shells. I just have a  “thing” for shells and the ocean. In fact I love the ocean so much, that I can’t live far from the water. Except for a brief summer in Denver, and a year in Germany, I have only ever lived on the East coast or West coast where I can see salt water within minutes.


That box of shells inspired me to create a new ocean/shell display in our living room so I could get those shells and seastars out of the box where we could see them every day. Then I went back East with my daughter to see my family, traveling around Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. We were near the ocean every chance we could get, walking along the shore, collecting shells or enjoying some time in the sun or fog.

Nubble Lighthouse, Maine

Nubble Lighthouse, Maine

The Motif, Rockport, Massachusetts

The Motif, Rockport, Massachusetts

Hampton, Maine

Hampton, Maine

I started and ended my vacation in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Gloucester was settled in 1623 and was one of the first English settlements in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It’s known as America’s oldest seaport and if you have ever eaten Gorton’s fishsticks, they come from Gloucester!

 The Gloucester Fishermen Memorial honors the thousands of lives taken by the sea.

When I’m in Gloucester, I visit my cousin, the owner and captain of the Aaron and Alexis. Captain Swicker is a cod and lobster fisherman and knows first hand how dangerous the sea can be.


On my last day in Gloucester, he took me to the Bookstore of Gloucester to outfit me with some books he wanted me take home, share with the family and read.

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

Reading Fatal Forecast, Lone Voyager, and the Perfect Storm immersed me into the lives of famous Gloucester fishermen. Fatal Forecast is the true story of Ernie Hazard, a fisherman aboard the Sea Fever, who during a hurricane was thrown overboard and survived fifty hours alone in a tiny life raft. Of the three books, this was my absolute favorite. It’s a terrifying tale with a happy ending, unlike The Perfect Storm. This book was made into a movie and filmed in Gloucester. Again, it’s the story of fishermen caught out in the fishing grounds in the Atlantic in 1991 in what was known as a ‘perfect storm’ – not perfect as in nice, but perfect as in the worst storm nature could put together with 100 foot waves and hurricane winds. Many of the fishermen and women made it home, but not the crew of the Andrea Gail. (I do not recommend the Perfect Storm for young readers due to language, and serious subject matter.)


I saved the Lone Voyager- a story about Howard Blackburn and his absolute love for sailing in the late 1880’s for last. In the winter of 1883, Howard and a crewmate were in an open dory (a small boat) and got separated from the main schooner during a blizzard. For five days he rowed himself toward land and when he eventually reached the shore, his hands were frozen to the oars, and his friend was frozen to death. While Howard lost all his fingers, and most of his toes from frostbite, the disability never stopped him from life on the sea. He went on to record the fastest solo sail voyage across the Atlantic. Of course, this time has since been beaten, but the fact that Blackburn sailed alone without fingers is still an amazing feat.


I have learned one main lesson on my summer sea-vacation. First, while I love the ocean – the smells, the sand, shells – I respect how dangerous it is. My cousin lost 800 traps in the storm of ’91 and I still remember how afraid we all were for the fishermen at sea. I love to go out on the boats and be on the open sea, but only in nice, sunny, summer days. When the storms hit, I want to be inside a house, warm and dry. I am a landlubber librarian, who only can take trips on the ocean through stories. I will leave fishing to the experienced mariners, and pray that they come home safely from every trip they take.



Do you prefer land or sea?

Have you ever been on the ocean in bad weather?

Leave a comment and let us know! 


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Reading in Ancient Greece

Look where Ema is reading!

ema greece1

Did you figure it out? Yes, Ema is reading Anne of Green Gables in Ancient Greece! She has certainly traveled a long way to do some reading!


We have had photos from readers in  Washington, Massachusetts,  and Canada! These places are in North America.  We have also had reading photos from our friends in Sovenga,  South Africa.  Ema’s photo is our first from Europe. Now we have had photos from three different continents.  Here is a map of the world.

map of world

Do you think it’s warm in Greece right now? What kind of buildings and sites do you think Ema is seeing in Greece? Leave us a comment and let us know! Our goal this summer is to promote student reading and see if we can find readers from every continent in the world. Spread the word on how important and fun reading can be! Send us your photo to:

summer read email pic


Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree

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The Sweetness of Books

Happy Summer Vacation!

The Bulldog Readers have been sending in their photos showing what fun it can be to read in the summer! Maybe their choices will lure you to the library this summer.





I hope you are having a great vacation! I am having a great time on the east coast visiting my family. On Friday we went to New York City and I saw the New York Public Library. Yesterday we went to the Bronx Zoo. Don’t forget, you can be included on the blog. Just have your adult family member email me the picture.
summer read email pic
Simple and easy!
Happy Reading!
Mrs. Hembree

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Under the Egg

What painting is under the egg?


That is the mystery “Theo” Theodora Tenpenny must solve when her grandfather’s dying words are “Look under the egg.” The problem would be easily solved if she had any idea what he was talking about. Under the Egg is a great art, mystery story that reminds me of Chasing Vermeer and the movie Monument Men. Theo’s mom is a bit “off” – not crazy, not slow, but rather extraordinarily gifted, and just not really in the reality of this world. She spends every waking moment in her bedroom trying to solve a mathematical equation for her  15 year old dissertation. That leaves Theo in charge of food, cleaning, fixing and trying to figure out how to stretch out less than $400 so they don’t get kicked out of their house on 18 Spinney Lane.

Once Theo realizes that the mysterious “under the egg” item is really a painting, and might be a masterpiece from Raphael, life gets really complicated.


The School of Athens is a fresco painted by Raphael between 1510 and 1511. It was painted on the wall of the library in the palace at the Vatican. The painting shows many of the philosophers of Ancient Greece including Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and Euclid.

Raphael, was one of the Renaissance painters from the early 1500’s, who was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint some interior rooms in the Vatican. He is considered to be one of the great Italian painters. How could her grandfather have a Raphael in their house? Was it stolen? Was her grandfather really a thief?

Read Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald to find out! If you love it, try also reading more art mysteries like Chasing Vermeer or The Calder Game by Blue Balliett.

Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree

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The Red Thread Sisters

What would you do to help a friend?

reese and book

Friendship and family are the themes of Red Thread Sisters by Carol Antionette Peacock. Wen, an eleven year old girl who has spent the majority of her life in a Chinese orphanage, is suddenly adopted by her forever family and moves to Boston, Massachusetts. Wen is bewildered by her conflicting feelings of joy over being adopted, and sadness that she must leave her best friend, Shu Ling. Wen and Shu Ling  have been the only family either of them have ever known, and it’s heart wrenching to leave her behind. Wen promises to find Shu Ling her own forever family so she too can move to America. Of course, that’s not an easy task.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Carol Peacock bases some of the background of the story on her own experiences adopting her two girls from China. If you would like to learn more, please read this interview with Carol Peacock. I thoroughly enjoyed this realistic fiction book, especially this ancient Chinese legend, included in the beginning of the book, and woven throughout the story.

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.

The legend really made me stop and think about the people who have become important parts of my life. They are my red threads. Who is your red thread? Leave a comment and let me know. In the meantime, please send enjoy the book trailer. Red Thread Sisters is one of the 2015 Battle of the Books selections.






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Climb to the Top

Have you ever thought about climbing to the top of Mt. Everest?


Four teenagers.  The tallest, meanest mountain.    Bad weather. 

 And one snitch.

This is the story of Everest: The Contest (book 1), The Climb (book 2), and The Summit (book 3) and if you answered yes or no to my question, then Gordon Korman’s trilogy, is the series for you! If you are a climber, you will not be able to put down these books, about 4 teen climbers, one of whom is only thirteen, who train and climb Mt. Everest. If you are like me, then you will love reading about someone else doing the climbing and call it good. I admire the tenacity and strength of people to climb to the top of mountains, I’m just not in your club.

This series is a quick summer read for intermediate readers. Each book is only about 150 pages and the action will keep you on the edge of your seat. Caution! You may not want to put the book down to come to dinner. If you get in trouble, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree

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Look Alex Reads too!

How many books have you read so far?


It looks like Alex is  participating with summer reading fun. Look at him enjoying the fabulous Bulldog yearbook from 2009-2010! Today marks one week since school let out for summer vacation. What books have you read so far? I hope by now you have read at least ONE book to keep your reading skills sharp. I am reading Odd Weird and Little by Patrick Jennings. He is the author of Guinea Dog, Guinea Dog 2, My Homework Ate My Homework, Invasion of the Dognappers, and Lucky Cup. He’s also a local author, but local I mean he lives somewhere  in western Washington State! Who knows, he might be your neighbor. If you look on his website, you can find out the answer if you READ carefully!


Anyway, Odd Weird and Little is a funny  book about bullying. Yes, usually books about bullying are serious because bullying is a serious topic. Yet, Patrick Jennings knows how to take a subject like bullying, twist some humor into it and create a book that readers will love and learn from. Woodrow and his classmates are surprised by the new kid who comes into their class. He is small, like really small, wears a full suit, strange old-fashioned glasses over his HUGE eyes, carries a suitcase, comes from Quebec, Canada, and allegedly only speaks French. I have a idea who Toulouse, really is, but need to wait until I get further into the book, to confirm my hunch.  Do you have an idea from my description so far?

I hope you will leave a comment and let me know. Even better, go to your local library and check it out yourself, read it and then leave me a comment about what you think of the book! Here’s a link to a blog post where the author explains how he got the idea for Odd Weird and Little. You can also visit Patrick Jennings virtually on his website (check with a parent first) To leave a comment, just click on the bubble at the top of this post, fill in the required information and type your reply. Push send! Easy, peezy!

Don’t forget to send me your Super Summer Reading pictures! Mrs. Adei in Ghana, told me that she thinks she has some students who will want to participate too! Remember, we are trying to excitement about reading span every continent this summer! Send them to:

summer read email picHappy Reading! Mrs. Hembree 

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Reading in a Teepee

Check out our first summer reading photo from Connor!


He’s reading the “STAT” series by Amar’e Stoudemire. STAT means Standing Tall and Talented is a basketball series written by a former professional basketball star. Amar’e Stoudemire, Captain of the New York Knicks and a six-time NBA All-Star, is a well-respected professional basketball player who has left his mark on the game and the community through his award winning outreach. He is focused on creatively inspiring youth to avoid poverty through education. He is the father of three children.

There are four books in the series. Here’s a review of Book #1 Home Court. If you are a fan of sports fiction and basketball, this might be the perfect series for you. 

stat series

Check them out at your local library or at a bookstore near you. Remember to let me know what you think! Is this a series we need to add to our Sport Fiction section?

The Super Summer Reading program is open to anyone near or far. If it’s summer vacation or still the school year for you, please have a trusted adult send a photo of you reading to me! The email address is shown here. 

summer read email pic

Be sure to let me know where you are so I can let our readers know in the blog post. For more information about this fun summer reading program, click on this link.

Happy Reading!

Mrs. Hembree

PS. I am  currently reading The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern (realistic fiction)

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A True (…sort of) Conversation


“You HAVE to read this book!


The morning bell had just rung and kids were streaming past the library doors. Parker surged against the tide to come inside the library. She set the book down on the counter and looked at me.

“Really, Mrs. Hembree, you need to read this book. I know you’ll like it! I brought you my personal copy so you wouldn’t have to wait. See here on the inside?  I wrote my name inside.”

“Okay, okay!” I replied with a big smile on my face. “I recognize the cover, but I never read it. I’ll read the book as soon as I can.”

“No, Mrs. Hembree, you need to start reading it today…like right now!” Parker insisted. “I’ll stop by later and see what you think.” Just as quickly as she came in, she was gone, caught up in the morning chaos of kids making their way down the hallway to class.

That book drop began our multiple recess book conversations about True (…sort of) by Katherine Hannigan. She did stop by an hour or so later to see if I had started it. (I hadn’t had a chance.) Her insistence was infectious, so that night I did take it home and began falling in love Delly Pattison from page one. Delly is one of six children in the Pattison family: Dallas, Tallahassee, Montana, Galveston, Delaware, (Delly for short) and RB, the baby. She is tiny and always in trouble.

And Delly Pattison was trouble: little trouble on the way to BIG TROUBLE, and getting closer to it every day.

Reading True (…sort of) was like getting a Delly present, or as she says, a surpresent. A surpresent is a present that’s a surprise. That’s what True (…sort of) is- it’s a surpresent into a Delly world of readeliciousness. That’s reading deliciousness. (my new word). I finished the book in 2 days and couldn’t wait to tell Parker. As she came down the hall on her way to class that morning I asked her to stop by later that morning.

“Did you finish it?” Parker asked through the crowd of kids.

“Yup, I LOVED it! We gotta talk! Stop by at recess!” I yelled back to her.

She came at recess and we started talking. Those conversations lasted for days, usually starting with, “What did you think about the part when….” or “Why do you think….” or “How about ……what did you think of that?” Other  kids would gather around the check out desk listening to our conversations, and interrupting with, “What book are you talking about? Can I check it out?”

Eventually Parker and I decided to sit down for a long conversation so we could include it on the blog. Mr. Schu on the blog Watch. Connect. Read. publishes long conversations with authors, so I thought we could try something similar. 

Why did you want me to read this book?

Parker: I wanted you to read this book because I know you liked Ida B and this was kind of  a very adventurous book and I thought you might like it.

What was your favorite part?

Parker: Probably my favorite part is where Ferris Boyd got lost or kind of disappeared and they went on a Dellyventure.

Don’t you love the words she uses? Like surpresent. I want a surpresent! I love all the words that were her own. She even had a Delly dictionary made up with words. A Dellyictionary I guess it is. Words made up by Delly (Delaware) Pattison. I like that. The words give a lot more depth to Delly.  I thought that I really knew her.

Then there’s Ferris. Why did you think she didn’t talk people couldn’t touch her?

Parker: Maybe because she was really shy and whenever that father came over, and whatever happened inside, I think, kind of connected to why she didn’t talk.

Did you have the idea that she was being abused before the author let you know?

Parker: Ya, I did. How did you think the author came up with the idea of Ferris not talking and being abused? Do you think it’s some kind of influence (she witnessed) reflected in the book?

I wonder if she came across a student who dealt with selective mutism.

Taylor, who has been listening to us talking, and has not read the book, joins our conversation.

Taylor: Do you think the characters would be based off some people you’ve met, or something that happened to you?

 I bet, for her, she either met somebody, or read about it. I know I’ve had students who have suffered from this same problem. I think I’ve had three in my career, who could talk, but chose not to.  (selective mutism: when a person who can talk, choses not to talk, at all or very selectively).

If you could talk to Katherine Hannigan, what would you ask her?

Parker: What gave you the idea for writing this book?

Why would it be good to meet her?

Parker: Because I could actually meet the source of the book. And knowing the source of the book, I could know more about her personality so that I could see why she wanted to write this book.

What do you think about the title, True (…sort of)? It’s an interesting title.

Parker: I know!  On the back (of the cover) it says, ” At the end of the day Delly watched Ferris Boyd slump out of the back door of the school, then she ran to the front. “Go with Cletis,” she hollered at RB. “I’ll be home later/” RB went pale with worry. “You in trouble?” “Nah,” she said. “I got a project.” “What kind of project?” Delly told the truth, sort of.

So you think Delly never told the entire truth. She always told portions of the truth. That’s how the book got it’s name?

Parker: Yes!

What do you appreciate about Delly?

Parker: What I would say I appreciate about Delly is that she cares about others. She wants to help Ferris Boyd. Do you think that RB is a good guy or a good leader for little kids?

I think he’s good because he’s always trying to do the right thing. He kind of annoys Delly because he always wants to hang around her, but he wants to do the right thing because he sees how his sister doesn’t always make good choices. He’s trying to influence her. He’s like an old soul in a young body. He wants to do the right thing!

Our conversation shifted at this point from talking about the book to talking about reading. Others have joined in our group, curious about what we are talking about.

Finish this sentence: Reading is……

Parker, Taylor, and now Yana: AWESOME! Because it’s sometimes fiction, sometimes, non-fiction, and it gives you a good idea of adventure or imagination or mystery or comedy…things like that! Realistic fiction!

School libraries are….

Yana: The coolest thing ever! Because you have so many books! You can’t even count them all! There’s too many to read.

Parker: But that’s good because then you have more books to read!

So girls, if somebody read True (…sort of) already, what other book would you suggest? If they likes those themes in that book, what else might they like in our library? Besides Ida B. It doesn’t have to be by the same author.

Parker: I would recommend… Out of my Mind, and Wonder!

All three girls chimed in and shout WONDER! So cool! And Almost Famous, and Anything but Typical.

That sums up our True (…sort of) conversation. A copy for the library is ordered and Parker already has friends waiting to read her copy! Thanks for the great conversation girls! Below is a video with the author Katherine Hannigan who discusses her book. For me, it was interesting to see how she handwrites notes to herself in a spiral notebook as she works out the beginning drafts of her books.



If you enjoy Realistic Fiction, what book would you add to our list?

Do you have a “Delly-ism” to add to the Dellyictionary?

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