For kids who want books that are meatier than independent readers, but are not quite ready for middle grade novels, the following stand-alone and series chapter books will grab their attention. Fans of the eclectic family that lives at 43 Old Cemetery Road or readers who are just meeting Anna Wang for the first time, will welcome these new additions to popular series. Newcomers Emily, who has a touch of magic, and Esther, who just wants to do the right thing, are part of a cast of beloved characters in the following titles selected by the editors of Junior Library Guild. Also, take a look at the resources that can be used to teach these novels in classrooms and libraries.
CHENG, Andrea. The Year of the Fortune Cookie. illus. by Patrice Barton. Houghton Harcourt. 2014. ISBN 9780544105195. JLG Level: A+ : Intermediate Readers (Grades 3–5).
Anna Wang’s former teacher is finally going to China to adopt her new baby, and Anna gets to go too. Leaving home for the first time seems scary, but her new friend Andee sends paper fortune cookies on the trip. Reading them every day helps Anna stay connected to home while learning to blend in with citizens of Beijing. Finding a new friend who can teach her Chinese allows the young girl to finally see that she doesn’t have to be either Chinese or American; she can be both.
On Cheng’s website, you’ll find tips for author visits and a teacher section of lesson plans that support the Common Core State Standards (for previous titles in the series). Visit the illustrator’s website for a beautiful portfolio of her work and find out the title of the book that led her to love picture books. You can follow her on Twitter. Though a fortune cookie recipe is included in the novel, readers may want to watch a video of factory production of the sweet. I also found a fortune cookie saying database if you need message inspiration for making your own. To satisfy your curiosity, you may enjoy reading a New York Times article on the controversial history of its invention.
Of course, other themes thread throughout the story including the history and culture of China. While your databases will support the study of China, I’ve included resources for knitting, adoption, and community service in the JLG Booktalks to Go LiveBinder.
GARDNER, Sally. Operation Bunny: Wings & Co., The First Case. illus. by David Roberts. Holt. 2014. ISBN 9780805098921. JLG Level: A : Intermediate Readers (Grades 3–5).
Emily escapes her ex-adoptive-mother-slash-employer, leaving a kitchen full of dishes and three unattended toddler zombies. She and Fidget, a larger-than-life talking cat, must use their magic and best defenses to outwit the evil witch Harpella. Can they find the missing cabinet before she turns everyone into a purple bunny?
KLISE, Kate. Greetings from the Graveyard. (43 Old Cemetery Road: Bk. 6). illus. by M. Sarah Klise. Houghton Harcourt. ISBN 9780544105676. JLG Level: A+ : Intermediate Readers (Grades 3–5).
Who knew that Ignatius B. Grumply’s proposal of 21 years ago would come back to haunt him? Now that he’s a rich and famous author, Nadia’s interest is renewed. She’ll stop at nothing to get his money. After two convicts escape from prison, Ghastly experiences an unexpected crime streak. Enter Olive’s long-dead butler and the new family business of creating greeting cards. Readers will find plenty of clues to sort through as they pour over the newspaper articles, letters, text messages, and art that we’ve come to anticipate in the series.
Read about this sister act on their website which encourages young people to write them “slow, old-fashioned, low-tech letters.” Readwritethink , as well as NCTE, has lesson plans for teaching students to improve their letter writing skills. You can follow Kate on Twitter.
ROSENGREN, Gayle. What the Moon Said. Putnam. 2014. ISBN 9780399163524. JLG Level: A+ : Intermediate Readers (Grades 3–5).
Ten-year-old Esther just wants her mother’s affection. Maybe when they move to the country, her Ma will be happy enough to give it. But life in the Depression is even harder on the farm miles from town. Esther just can’t seem to learn Ma’s ability to read the signs quick enough to prevent herself from getting in trouble. She’s not even allowed to be friends with Bethany, but one tiny secret won’t hurt, will it?
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.)