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
Since we left home we haven't stopped singing. My father says if we keep singing, we'll scare away all the tiredness and the fear and become a song.
This collection of poems tells the story of migration from Central America to the United States. The author himself grew up in El Salvador and came to the United States in the 1980's, fleeing war in his home country. The poems range from the specific story of an individual to describing the migrant experience as a whole. They move in time chronologically starting in Central America and ending in the United States. Each poem has both a Spanish and English version and they're accompanied by beautiful, dreamy acrylic paintings. The poems are short, but their impact is big and could easily spark longer discussions and more research into the migrant experience.
When Clover's friends get accepted into a horse camp and leave her behind, she knows she's fallen victim to her bad luck yet again. Then she stumbles upon a magical animal adoption agency in the woods by her house. She learns how to take care of fairy horses, unicorns left behind by spoiled princesses, and even a baby dragon. It seems her luck is turning around, until the owner of the agency disappears on a trip and leaves her to take care of the animals by herself. Will she be up to the challenge? Is there more bad luck lurking around the corner? Clover's summer is going to be either the best or worst of her life, but it certainly won't be boring!
I would have been all over this when I was a kid! Employee at a magical animal adoption agency would have immediately become my dream job, and I would have spent hours playing imaginary games where I was Clover. Even as an adult I couldn't resist the charm of this novel as Clover slowly gained confidence and learned how to take care of herself by taking care of others. Plus, fairy horses! They're tiny horses for fairies! Why has no one told me about these before?
If a unicorn granted you one wish, what would you ask for? Phoebe wishes for infinity wishes, then infinity dollars, then super powers. When the unicorn refuses to grant her any of those, she aims for something more realistic: for the unicorn to become her best friend. But becoming friends with a unicorn is more than Phoebe bargained for. The unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, is incredibly vain and clearly not used to close contact with humans. But on the other hand, she's a freakin' unicorn! Having a magical creature as your best friend can't be all bad...
This comic reminds me of Calvin and Hobbes, and I don't make that comparison lightly. The "Shield of Boringness" means that most of Phoebe's classmates can't see her unicorn. That doesn't stop them from having hilarious adventures on their own though. The sweeping imagination and spot-on humor mixed with the daily trials and tribulations of childhood make this comic a delight for all ages.
Micah Tuttle loves listening to his grandpa's stories of the magical Circus Mirandus with its invisible tiger, flying birdwoman, and a powerful magician known as the Lightbender. People think they're just stories, but Grandpa insists that they're true and Micah believes him. Now Grandpa is dying and the only thing that can save him is a miracle. Luckily, the Lightbender owes his grandpa just that. But is the circus real? Will Micah be able to convince the Lightbender to pay his debt? It's hard to believe in magic in a world of cynics, but Micah would do anything to give his grandpa another chance.
This is a beautifully-told, heart-breaking story of the connection between a boy and his grandfather. The circus is delightful and the magical elements fantastic, but when you boil it down this relationship is the core of the story. It suffuses the whole book with emotion and a deep meaning about the difficulty of letting go. On top of all that it's a great magical quest/adventure story.
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Erica's Picks 3rd - 5th Tags: character driven, family life, fantasy, tear-jerker
Lily loves life in her small town and she's looking forward to summer and the annual Blueberry Queen Pageant. Then her blind dog slips away and runs off into the blueberry field. Salma, the daughter of one of the migrant workers, sacrifices her lunch to lure the dog back to safety. It's the beginning of a new friendship that will change both their lives. But will their friendship survive when they both enter the Pageant?
This sweet story of friendship is everything I've come to expect from Cynthia Lord. It's touching without being saccharine. It teaches lessons without being preachy. It's filled with a gentle humor and well-drawn characters. It's perfect for summer reading, and who can resist a book with a dog on the cover?
A lone wolf strikes out from his pack and heads south to California. His radio collar allows scientists and animal lovers to follow his progress. Abby watches with excitement as he heads closer to where she lives, but she's also worried. Some people don't want the wolves to come back to their land. Will this one survive?
Journey alternates between the perspectives of the wolf and a young girl following his progress. The young girl's story provides context and adds tension as she worries over the fate of the wolf. She even participates in a contest to name him. The wolf is from Oregon and the girl lives in Northern California. Even the girl's grandparents as far away as Mexico follow the wolf's progress. This is based on real events and there's a lot of great back matter including the real Journey's path, a timeline of wolf conservation efforts, and questions and activities for a classroom.
The giant squid is a tantalizing mystery. We have more close-ups photographs of Mars. We know more about dinosaur behavior. Much of what we do know about giant squids comes from pieces we have found and dissected--pieces often found in sperm whales. Despite how rarely giant squids are sighted by humans, sperm whales have been found with as many as 7,000 indigestible giant squid beaks in their stomachs. Get a glimpse into the life of these mysterious and beautiful creatures with Giant Squid by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann.
This book is beautiful and a bit terrifying, much like the creatures it describes. What little we know is described in a poetic language that creates a rich atmosphere. The pictures are gorgeous, showing parts of the squid to emphasize its size and the sense that it's lurking just out of sight. This would make a great read-aloud for budding science enthusiasts.
During the Nazi invasion of France, thousands of Jewish people found sanctuary in the Grand Mosque of Paris. This book describes how Muslims in Paris helped their Jewish brothers and sisters during World War II. They saved lives in a myriad of ways ranging from writing false papers identifying Jews as Muslims, to secreting Jewish people and resistance fighters through hidden tunnels and out of Paris in emptied wine barrels.
There are so many fascinating vignettes of courage and defiance in this book. The actions described were secretive by nature and never officially documented, but the authors have hunted down the scraps of information they could find to present these stories. Full-page oil paintings throughout illustrate the story. There's a glossary, bibliography, index and further information in the back.
The Grand Mosque of Paris: A story of how Muslims rescued Jews during the Holocaust by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaix