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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Reading Level 5, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 64
1. The Mighty Odds by Amy Ignatow, 240 pp, RL 5


I have been a huge fan Amy Ignatow's superior notebook novel series The Popularity Papers since reviewing the first book back in 2010. And, Ignatow's is the only series where I have reviewed every single book as it is published. I definitely have favorite trilogies and series that I keep up with but rarely have the time to continue reviewing the books as they are published. I felt so passionately about the marvelous characters and storylines in Ignatow's series about two best friends navigating the rough waters of middle school that, with each new release in this seven book series, I wanted readers to know about it - and I also wanted to talk about each book. If you aren't familiar with this series, I hope you will seek it out, either before or after you read the first book in Ignatow's new series, The Mighty Odds!


With The Mighty Odds, Ignatow is back and better than ever! Doing what she does best, Ignatow has created a compelling cast of  very diverse characters in this novel that is filled with fantastic illustrations and full page comics, giving readers first person glimpses into their minds. In The Mighty Odds, there are the popular kids and the weirdos, the bullies and the bullied. But there is so much more to these characters than their social status. Cookie (Daniesha) Parker is one of the few African Americans in Muellersville, PA. Aware of how she is looked at when she walks into a fancy store with her friends, Cookie is also the most popular girl at Deborah Read Middle School (how cool is that? Ignatow named the school after Benjamin Franklin's wife who was an inventor, printer, thinker and Founding Father!), wielding her own kind of power. In fact, Cookie is the one who first called Farshad "Terror Boy." Farshad is Iranian-American, the child of two doctors. His world shrinks painfully when the nickname sticks and his friends fall away. Ignatow writes masterfully of his loneliness, distrust of his peers and attempts to move beyond this by being the top student in the school.

The Mighty Odds begins with a class field trip to Philadelphia. The class piles into two busses - the sleek coach and the old, yellow short bus. Of course the popular kids maneuver it so that the oddballs end up on the short bus. However, when Cookie and her friend get caught sneaking away from the class, part of their punishment requires Cookie to ride on the short bus with the pudgy Nick, best friend to the loudly, embarrassingly quirky Jay (who has a massive crush on Cookie, referring to her as his "black orchid"), Farshad and Martina, the daughter of Russian immigrants, called "Martian" by her sister, unnoticed by everyone else. Much to his chagrin, Jay gets bumped from the bus by Mr. Friend, a slightly goofy sub who whips out a yo-yo to entertain the kids. This turns out to be a good thing when the bus crashes in the middle of a lightning storm on the way home, leaving Farshad, Cookie, Martina and Nick with strange powers. As the story unfolds, the four learn that Mr. Friend, the bus driver and Abe Zook, the Amish boy who comes to their rescue after the crash have also developed curious powers.

Just as the first book in the The Mighty Odds series is drawing to a close, the kids get their first clue as to what may have given them their "okayish powers," as Cookie thinks of them. Martina can change her eye color, Cookie can hear people's thoughts - but only when they are thinking about directions,  Farshad has has super strength, but only in his thumbs and Nick can teleport, but only four inches to the left. Mr. Friend, the bus driver, Abe and even Abe's horse leave the crash with super-okayish powers also, but you'll just have to read this fantastic book to find out what they are!

Source: Review Copy




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2. Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle, 314 pp, RL 5




Having been a bookseller for so many years, I am very familiar with Lauren Myracle and her two very popular series, the Winnie Years and the Internet Girls, which, told entirely in texts, emails and IMs, was especially innovative and popular (and prescient) when first published in 2004. But, having a proclivity for fantasy, it took me until now to finally read one of Myracle's books. The blurb for Wishing Day grabbed my attention immediately. On the third night of the third month after her thirteenth birthday, every girl in the town of Willow Hill makes three wishes: the first is an impossible wish, the second is a wish she can make come true herself and the third is a wish made from her deepest, secret heart.

Natasha Blok is the oldest of three sisters born in under three years. In fact, her sister Darya is in seventh grade with her. Ava, their youngest sister is in sixth grade. As Wishing Day opens, Natasha is at the ancient willow tree, planted by her grandmother many times removed, the woman who started the wish tradition. Her aunts, Vera and Elena, are steps behind her, waiting anxiously for Natasha to make her wishes. Natasha's mother Klara disappeared eight years earlier, leaving her father sinking into sadness and silence and her aunts moving in to raise their nieces. Of course Natasha wants her mother back, but she also wants to be kissed and she secretly wants to be somebody's favorite.

Myracle weaves a story rich with characters. Natasha is a typical big sister, stepping in and caring for her siblings after her mother vanishes. Yet, she also let a distance grow between herself and Darya, who, with a head of red, shiny curly hair, a flair for fashion and a firm disbelief in magic of any kind, especially when it comes to the Wishing Tree. And, an even deeper secret than her three wishes is hidden under her mattress. Natasha is a writer, albeit a writer who has yet to finish a story. As Wishing Day unfolds, Natasha learns more about her mother's life before she disappeared, finishes writing her first story and kisses a boy. She also has her deepest secret self revealed when her sisters discover her writing and enter it in a local contest, is not kissed by the boy she thinks she wants to kiss her and might not even want to be kissed at all and, most surprising, discovers that she IS someone's favorite.

Myracle weaves in a thread of magic - beyond the Wishing Tree itself - in the character of the Bird Lady, an eccentric, ancient legend in Willow Hill who has a sparrow nesting in her fluff of grey hair. The Bird Lady appears every so often to utter cryptic words to Natasha, who begins finding meaningful notes around town. The ending of Wishing Day will leave you wondering and wanting more (especially more answers) and, quite happily, there is more to come because this is an intended trilogy! I suspect that the next two books will focus on serious, gorgeous, skeptic Darya and the ethereal, playful, free spirit Ava as Natasha's sisters turn thirteen and make their own wishes.

Source: Review Copy

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3. Greenglass House by Kate Milford, illustrations by Jamie Zollars, 373 pp, RL: 5

The Greenglass House by Kate Milford, with superb cover art and spot art by Jamie Zollars is THE perfect book for spending time with over winter break, especially if you live in colder climes. The Greenglass House practically demands that you cozy up in a corner, ideally on a high-backed love seat like the one main character Milo often finds himself tucked into, reading The Raconteur's

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4. Great Ball of Light by Evan Kuhlman, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes, 287 pp, RL 5

Great Ball of Light by Evan Kuhlman with illustrations by Jeremy Holmes, weaves together two seemingly disparate plot threads to create a fantastic story that is also thoughtful and philosophical.  Like a peanut butter and pickle sandwich - something that sounds incompatible, even kind of gross - Kuhlman blends the story of a broken family on the mend with lightning in a jar, specifically a

0 Comments on Great Ball of Light by Evan Kuhlman, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes, 287 pp, RL 5 as of 3/13/2015 5:06:00 AM
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5. The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno, 544 pp, RL 5

It's not often that I read (or listen to) a book that is more than 400 pages. In fact, it has been two years since I last did both - Wildwood by Colin Meloy, 560 pages, which I read, and Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman, 512 pages, which I listened to. At 544 pages, The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly written by Ted Sanders and illustrated by Iacopo Bruno was a challenge for me, but well

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6. Amelia's Middle-School Graduation Yearbook by Marissa Moss (except for words and pictures by Amelia) 80pp. RL 5

Wow! It's hard to believe that Marissa Moss's creation, Amelia and her composition book/diary, first hit the shelves 20 years ago! Amelia was not new to me, having just started as a children's bookseller, and having a daughter and a collection of American Girl dolls. Amelia and her notebooks have had a variety of publishers, starting with Tricycle Press. After publishing an excerpt from

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7. Breadcrumbs, written by Anne Ursu with illustrations by Erin McGuire, 336 pp, RL 5

First reviewed 9/22/11, Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu is almost amazing beyond description. One of the most stunning, incredible books I have read. Please read my review. I have a confession to make. I still believe that someday I might walk into a woods and be transported to a magical kingdom. I still think that someday I might find a beautifully smooth stone that could grant me something special

4 Comments on Breadcrumbs, written by Anne Ursu with illustrations by Erin McGuire, 336 pp, RL 5, last added: 8/5/2013
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8. A Monster Calls, written by Patrick Ness, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, illustrations by Jim Kay, 205 pp, RL 5

A Monster Calls is now in paperback! I don't know how or where to begin writing about this breathtaking, heartbreaking, perfect new book. The start would be the best place, I suppose. As Patrick Ness says in his Author's Note from the beginning of A Monster Calls,  I never got to meet Siobhan Dowd. I only know her the way that most of you will - through her superb books. Four

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9. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, 185 pp, RL 5

I originally reviewed Newbery Medal winner, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin early in 2009, a few months after I started this blog. It is a childhood favorite of mine and one of the rare books I have read more than once as an adult and, after a recent rereading, I decided to rewrite my original review and hopefully inspire more readers to give it a try. I couldn't help reminiscing about this

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10. Son by Lois Lowry, 393 pp RL 5

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - SON -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Son by Lois Lowry completes the quartet of books that began in 1993 with The Giver, followed by Gathering Blue in 2000 and Messenger in 2004.  Son begins at almost the

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11. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, 384 pp, RL 5

Newbery Honor winner  SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS  is now in paperback! Laura Amy Schlitz is the author of the Newbery winner Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. She is the author of one of my favorite books, A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama, that reads a bit like a Gothic Anne of Green Gables if an had been adopted by a trio of elderly sisters who pretend to be

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12. The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew, 158 pp, RL 5

The Shadow Hero is the new, totally awesome graphic novel from Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. Besides being completely entertaining, humorous and suspenseful from start to finish, The Shadow Hero is smart. And The Shadow Hero is diverse in ways that, in less gifted hands, could be didactic and boring. In a time when internet voices - from authors to bloggers to educators to booksellers - are

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13. The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda, 292 pp, RL 5

Thanks to a fellow bookseller for introducing me to The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda! I love a good fantasy story that employs fairy tale or mythological characters, creatures and plots, but don't always love what authors do with them. I read The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and didn't quite click with his writing style. I gave The Red Pyramid a shot because I wanted to give Riordan

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14. The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman, 255 pp, RL 5

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman combines time-travel fantasy and historical fiction in an different way that makes for an interesting read. Sherman begins her novel introducing us to the thirteen-year-old Sophie Martineau and the very different world of 1960s Louisiana. Sophie's mama is a Fairchild of Oak River, which was once a great sugar cane plantation. Now, the remains of the

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15. Son by Lois Lowry, 393 pp RL 5

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - SON -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Son by Lois Lowry completes the quartet of books that began in 1993 with The Giver, followed by Gathering Blue in 2000 and Messenger in 2004.  Son begins at almost the

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16. Hurt Go Happy, by Ginny Rorby, 256 pp, RL 5

** January 23, 2013: A report from a National Institute of Health council unanimously recommended that almost ALL of the 451 chimpanzees currently housed at their facilities for the purposes of research and testing be retired, as reported by James Gorman in the New York Times yesterday. Sadly, the N.I.H does not have the funds to retire some 400 of the chimps OR enact the changes to the

5 Comments on Hurt Go Happy, by Ginny Rorby, 256 pp, RL 5, last added: 1/23/2013
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17. The Short Seller by Elissa Brent Weissman, 250 pp, RL 5

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - THE SHORT SELLER -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> The Short Seller is the newest book from Elissa Brent Weissman, author of Nerd Camp, Standing for Socks and The Trouble with Mark Hopper. What I love about

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18. City of Orphans by Avi, 350 pp, RL 5

City of Orphans is now in paperback! While I have read a handful of books by the prolific, Newbery Award winning author Avi, his most recent book, City of Orphans, is the first I have reviewed here! In 1991 Avi won the Newbery Honor for his book The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, a unique work of historical fiction in which the twelve year old Charlotte goes from a proper young girl to

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19. The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica: Here, There Be Dragons, written and illustrated by James A. Owen, 324 pp, RL 5

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - HERE THERE BE DRAGONS -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} The premise of Here, There Be Dragons, written and illustrated by James A. Owen, the first in a series of books that will come to an end with book seven, The First Dragon, in

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20. Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan, 194 Pp RL 5

This review first ran on 3/23/09. While fantasy is my favorite genre to read, historical fiction is a very close second. Gloria Whelan is the master of compelling historical fiction with strong girls as protagonists. A poignant story, Listening for Lions reminds me a bit of my childhood favorite, A Little Princess. As I've said before, I often judge a book by it's cover and Listening for Lions

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21. The True Meaning of Smekday, written and illustrated by Adam Rex, 432 pp RL 5

Adam Rex's debut novel has been a family favorite since we first read it in 2007. Most recently, we listened to the excellent audio version with our 8 year old and my 20 year took the book and audio version to college with her. Coming from Dreamworks in 2014, the movie version of The True Meaning of Smekday, retitled HOME (click here for details) which will star Rihanna and Jim Parsons as Tip

2 Comments on The True Meaning of Smekday, written and illustrated by Adam Rex, 432 pp RL 5, last added: 7/26/2013
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22. The Case of the Missing Marquess (Enola Holmes Series #1) by Nancy Springer, 214 pp, RL 5

First reviewed on 4/1/09, Nancy Springer's six books about Sherlock and Mycroft's MUCH younger sister are stellar on so many levels. From the Victorian underworld of London that Enola is thrust into to the mysteries she tries to solve to the character of Enola herself, a strong, brave, smart heroine if there ever was one. Each book in this series is a masterpiece. I hope that, in the wake of the

6 Comments on The Case of the Missing Marquess (Enola Holmes Series #1) by Nancy Springer, 214 pp, RL 5, last added: 7/29/2013
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23. Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters, 272 pages, RL 5

First reviewed on 9/24/10, Lesley L.L. Blume's book was a wonderful discovery to me, the kind of book I know the 11-year-old-me would have loved with Cornelia and Virginia becoming fast friends. As it is, I recommend this book to young readers whenever I can. A magical, moving story that travels the world. When I was a kid and reading chapter books some thirty years ago, a book like

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24. Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle, illustrated by Francois Place, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, 400pp RL5

First reviewed in 2009, Toby Alone presents the reader with a world within a world, in miniature and facing enormous problems. Enchanting, exciting and magical, Toby is a wonderfully brave, thoughtful character you won't forget. Reading Toby Alone by French playwright Timothée de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, winner of the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation,

6 Comments on Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle, illustrated by Francois Place, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, 400pp RL5, last added: 8/3/2013
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25. Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus, 340 pp, RL 5

First reviewed in 2011, Gods of Manhattan is very much like Wildwood in that it is a fantasy squarely set in America as well as a fantasy that presents a world within a world. This time, there is a ghost world of historical figures running New York City alongside the flash and blood politicians. Excellent fantasy and adventure and really great history as well! It's really hard not to pick up

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