Since Cadence Jolly’s mom left town five years ago, the whole town protects and fosters her shyness. Now she is almost eleven and wants to break out of her shell. She needs to find the self-confidence to let herself and her amazing singing voice shine. There are going to be auditions for the church choir and Cadence and her friends Zara and Faith mean to make the grade. When a secret recording of Cadence singing leaks and catches the attention of the whole church, her friend wants to take the credit. How can she put herself out in the world and still keep her friends? Will she have the confidence to step into the spotlight? The sense of love, faith and community is heartwarming and Cadence is an endearing protagonist. Don't miss President of the Whole Fifth Grade by the same author.
Tessa's Picks, 3rd-5th grade, Contemporary fiction, Character driven, Friendship, People of Color
Before. Before what he did to Kacey. She was his best friend. They were always together having adventures, laughing, daring each other. It was all about that last dare. Now she was gone and Ethan and his family have moved from Boston to Georgia to give Ethan a new start. The seaside town of Pam Knot where their new home with grandpa Ike is offers a big dose of culture shock. The last thing Ethan expects to find is a new friend. Coralee is a feisty girl with a big personality who is up for any adventure. They find a box of jewels in a haunted house and flee from an unexpected “ghost.” Both of them are keeping secrets that could lead them into danger. A daring rescue during a hurricane brings all the secrets tumbling out. I dare you to read this book.
Tessa's Picks, 4th-7th grade, Friendship, Character driven, Family life, People of Color, Contemporary fiction
Seventeen –year old Harper Scott’s whole life has been ballet. She and her best friend Kate have held true to ”The Plan “which would place them in professional ballet companies after early graduation from high school. But the plan fails Harper; "Your love is evident," her instructor tells her. "But, darling, sometimes ballet does not love us back." Harper tries to move past disappointment and envision a new path forward which lands her in Antarctica, one of three lucky students to receive an internship. She is related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died attempting to reach the South Pole and that fact was the “luck.” Haunting her are her jealousy and anger that Kate has succeeded where she failed and doubts about her first ever romantic interest in Owen who she left in home town San Francisco. This is a story of what it means to have your whole life derailed, go to an unimaginably hostile, isolated and beautiful place and forge a whole new path for yourself. I loved this book; it broke my heart and then mended it.
Tessa's Picks, 6-8th grade, Character driven, Romance, Friendship
Everyone hates Jacques Papier. No, really. Jacques is never called on, picked for kickball or even noticed. His parents need to be reminded to set a place for him at dinner. His twin sister Fleur is his best friend and constant supporter. But the truth will out and it is that Jacques is Fleur’s imaginary friend. Did you see that coming? Convincing Fleur to set him free, he goes on a journey to discover himself in the hope of someday becoming real. He joins “Imaginaries Anonymous” and their humorous help gets him through some tough times. Through the "The Office of Reassignment," he is reassigned to new children and has a touching impact on their lives. How will Jacques find out where he belongs and who he truly is? This would make a delightful read-aloud for the whole family. Remember, “you’re only as invisible as you feel, imaginary or not.”
Tessa' Picks, Grades 2-4, Character driven, Friendship, Humor
A Change of Heart By Alice Walsh Growing up in the 1930s in Georgia, young African American Lanier Phillips lived in fear of the Ku Klux Klan. When he grew up, Phillips joined the Navy looking for a more just atmosphere. Instead he faced more racism and discrimination as the black sailors were made to do menial tasks. Tragedy took no note of skin color when the USS Truxtun was shipwrecked off the coast of Newfoundland with few survivors. Phillips was the only black man rescued and taken into the home of good Samaritans. Never having seen a black man, they thought that the oil from the ship had seeped into his pores. When he tells them that his skin is that color he expects their treatment of him to change. The community’s kindness and care remain constant and their affirmation of his humanity changes his outlook on life forever. He says, “I was wounded in mind and soul, but I was healed in St. Lawrence, Newfoundland .” He went on to march for civil rights with Martin Luther King, Jr. This remarkable true story celebrates the healing power of love and kindness.
Tessa's Picks, 2nd-5th grade, Biography, History, People if Color, Social Justice
Immigrants chose to leave their country to look for better opportunities. Refugees flee their homeland because of unsafe conditions. Here are three new books that look at their stories.
Their Great Gift Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land By John Coy, Photographs by Wing Young Huie Thought-provoking photography and text make this book on 21st century immigrants an ideal discussion starter for teachers and parents. Intimate, individual family stories combine to present the universal immigration experience and celebrate the diversity of our country. It is a vision of hope for the future and a heartfelt reminder of a significant American ideal. All ages.
Stepping stones A Refugee Family’s Journey By Margriet Ruurs. In English and Arabic The author of this book saw an image on Facebook that touched her deeply. It was of a mother holding her baby and a father trudging along under a heavy load; it was composed of stones. One of the stones was signed—Nizar Ali Badr. Finding him on Facebook, she was moved by his images of love, anguish sorrow and joy. The artist was Syrian and much of his work was inspired by the war in his country. They joined forces to produce this book which tells the story of a Syrian family who are forced to leave behind everything they know and love. The lyrical text handles a heart breaking subject with such grace that it could be shared with children of all ages. There is hope of a bright future and peace.
A Refugee’s Journey from Syria by Helen Mason Roj and his family are forced to flee their homeland of Syria when civil war bombings destroy their home. They escape secretly by boat and end up in a European camp for refugees. Students take a walk in Roj’s shoes and will gain a real understanding of the plight of the Syrian people. Interspersed with the story are facts about Syria and the efforts made around the world to help the millions of refugees. Students are encouraged to help refugees in their communities. Written in 2017, this current book is for children third grade and up.