April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

MacLachlan, Henkes Tackle Kid Challenges in New Books for Independent Readers | JLG’s On the Radar

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Even summer can be stressful when a child prepares to move. And as the new school year approaches, the fear of being smart enough for the next grade can overshadow the excitement of new adventures. From Anna Branford to Patricia MacLachlan, favorite authors offer fiction for independent readers who have their own challenges to face. Selected by the editors at Junior Library Guild, the following titles feature protagonists who overcome their conflicts, and will be available for readers this fall.

violet mackerel personal spaceBRANFORD, Anna. Violet Mackerel’s Personal Space. illus. by Elanna Allen. S & S/Atheneum. Sept. 2013. ISBN 9781442435919. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

Investigating theories is one of Violet Mackerel’s specialties. The summer her mother remarries she decides that if you leave a small something behind (like a shell or a bit of sea glass), a tiny part of you gets to stay forever. Her brother Dylan struggles with the news that the family will be moving to a larger house. When he moves outside to his father’s beat-up tent, Violet focuses on helping her brother adjust. Planning for the wedding redirects her own fear of change, until the day the last box is packed. A big part of her wants to stay in the house she has lived in for her whole life. Does her theory really work? Violet’s musings offer young readers the opportunity to reflect on the spaces they leave behind as well.

Amber brown on the moveCOVILLE, Bruce and Elizabeth Levy. Paula Danziger’s Amber Brown is on the Move. illus. by Anthony Lewis. Putnam. Sept. 2013. ISBN  9780399161698. JLG Level:  I : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4)

Moving is never easy, and even worse, Amber has to pack her own things. At school, she falls behind in standardized testing preparations. Saturday Academy for Amber! When her class begins to take ballroom dancing, she has trouble keeping up with that as well. Her dad decides they should take lessons together, but he falls for the dance instructor. Now Miss Isobel (who can never remember Amber’s name) joins the pair on her weekends of musical theater movie watching. Stepfather Max nags at Amber to pack. No wonder she can’t focus. There’s too much change and Amber begins to feel hopeless. How can she get back on track? Coville and Levy guide the endearing girl through a hard year when Amber must learn to take change one step at a time.

the year of billy millerHENKES, Kevin. The Year of Billy Miller. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Sept. 2013. ISBN 9780062268136. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

The summer after Billy Miller hits his head, he worries if he will be smart enough for second grade. His teacher, Ms. Silver, assures him that he is. Now that Billy is older, he wants to call his papa, Dad. How will his father react? Will it hurt his feelings? And papa is struggling with his big art break. What can Billy do to help him? Little sister Sal can be a pain. She even gets glitter on his bat cave project! And his mom becomes the subject of his class project, though it’s really hard to write about her. (He’d rather write about volcanoes.) Henkes divides Billy’s tale into four character-focused sections, enabling readers to understand more fully how Billy conquers fears, works through problems, and grows up―just a little bit.

show must goKLISE, Kate. The Show Must Go On! illus. by M. Sarah Klise. Algonquin. Sept. 2013. ISBN 9781616202446. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

Sir Sidney has the best circus in the world. Everyone leaves happy. He treats his animals like family. When he grows old and tired, he places an ad in the paper for a new circus manager. Dozens of applicants appear, but they seem more interested in meeting him than in running a circus. Barnabas Brambles, Certified Lion Tamer, has other ideas. He wants to see change―energy, new vision, and a new attitude! Sir Sidney gives him a one week trial, and a free hand to run the business. The stipulation is that he should treat everyone―large and small―with respect. Nothing could be further from the truth. Brambles doubles the performances and prepares to sell Sir Sidney’s beloved animals. Something must be done! The sisters Klise introduce an entertaining cast of characters in an amusing new series (“Three-Ring Rascals) for independent readers.

truth of meMACLACHLAN, Patricia. The Truth of Me. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. 2013. ISBN 9780061998607. JLG Level: I : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

Robbie’s grandmother Maddy is his best friend, though not many kids would say that. Maddy has many friends, but most of them are wild animals. It worries her daughter, but Robbie knows that it proves that Maddy has special powers. He believes she shared a piece of corn bread with a bear while sitting on a log in the woods. The summer that he spends with his grandmother while his musician parents go on tour provides an opportunity for Robbie to experience her gift of talking to the animals. MacLachlan’s tender story of a boy who finds courage inspires readers to observe the truth in their own lives.

For audio/video versions of these booktalks, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild 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.

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Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.