Slugs, snails, and puppy dog tails—little boys aren’t really made of these items. From adventurous ants to budding magicians and reluctant dog walkers to intrepid big brothers, the characters in today’s selections are more likely to study things that creep and crawl. Lucky for them, the characters in the following independent readers learn how to solve their problems in life along the way.
BROACH, Elise. The Miniature World of Marvin & James: The Masterpiece Adventures, Book One. illus. by Kelly Murphy. Holt. 2014. ISBN 9780805091908. JLG Level: I : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).
Marvin and James are back (Masterpiece, 2009), but not for long, as James is going away to the beach. Marvin, who is an ant, has much to explore while he waits for his friend’s return. Unfortunately, his cousin Elaine leads him to a place that looks like fun, but could be the death of both of them.
Perfect for kids who aren’t quite ready to read the intermediate level novel, readers will connect with the pair’s friendship issues, as Marvin struggles with being left behind. Broach has an excellent website filled with stories about her own life, her work, and even a curriculum activity guide. She even provides a snail mail address if you’d like to send postal letters. Murphy’s website includes information about her numerous speaking engagements and awards. You can follow her on Twitter. For these and other resources, visit the JLG BTG LiveBinder.
EGAN, Kate and Mike Lane. The Vanishing Coin: The Magic Shop. illus. by Eric Wight. Feiwel and Friends. 2014. ISBN 9781250029140. JLG Level: I : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).
Battling boredom, bullies, and bad luck, Mike one day discovers an odd shop. For once, he finds that there is something that he can do well. Could it be that magic is his ticket to success? Can he use his new skills to take charge of his life?
The first in a series, readers will want to try the magic tricks included within the novel. As a read aloud, you can pause at the bottom of page 43 and ask students to work together to solve the riddle. Learn about the author, magic consultant, and illustrator from the series’ publisher. Follow the illustrator on Facebook and Twitter. Discover magic tricks at Funology. Watch 25 magic trick videos at Magic Tricks for Kids.org.
Surviving dinner with his great-aunt Myrtle is hard enough, but now she’s going to live with his family for a week. To make matters worse, Gavin has to walk her tiny dog for 30 minutes after school. No snack. No skateboarding. How can he get over his “new kid” status with a dog that wears a pink bow? Add Harper the fifth grade bully and Gavin’s move to the neighborhood is off to a rocky start.
Read an interview with the author, a former school teacher. For a list of previous titles, Goodreads.com is a good option. To learn more about the illustrator, visit her website. Kids who are interesting in dog walking can read more at ASPCA. Animal Planet hosts an excellent video about Pomeranians.
MYRACLE, Lauren. The Life of Ty: Non-Random Acts of Kindness. illus. by Jed Henry. Dutton. 2014. ISBN 9780525422662. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).
Ty’s second grade class has one week to complete a random act of kindness, but if it’s a planned deed, how can it be random? Ty is more focused on keeping his promise to get his baby sister a pet. When Friday looms ever closer, he panics. Will he have to quit school because his deed is undone? Time is running out!
Myracle, who writes for teens and tweens, blogs, tweets, and maintains a Facebook page while she travels around the country. Follow Henry on Tumblr. Perhaps you’d like your students or patrons to practice non-random acts of kindness. Check out The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation for ideas, resources, and lesson plans.
The JLG Booktalks to Go LiveBinder includes these and additional resources.
In an effort to organize these links, I have created a LiveBinder. All websites will be posted within the LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources will be added. Simply go to JLG Booktalks to Go where you will see LiveBinder main tabs. Each tab is a book title. Under each color-coded tab are gray subtabs with links to media, websites, and other related documents. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Please visit JLG’s new LiveBinder, JLG Booktalks to Go.
For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.
Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com. (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc., SLJ’s parent company.)