The Reading Corner

Summer Adventures

For me, one of the best parts of summer is losing myself in the pages of a book. Here are three of my newest favorites!

In the tradition of Captain Underpants, Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities is a crazy-funny new superhero adventure. The people of Copperplate City are accustomed to seeing their beloved Captain Stupendous save the day from villains; in fact, there are tons of Stupendous fan clubs. Vincent Wu and his friends Max and George, devoted (and only) members of the Captain Stupendous Fan Club, stumble upon the Captain’s new identity just as a menacing robot threatens the city, controlled by the evil Professor Mayhem. When Vincent’s mom is kidnapped, he knows what he has to do – and it’s scaring him to death. He has to… talk to … a girl.

Dangers of a more traditional sort threaten Princess Matilda’s kingdom in Handbook for Dragon Slayers.¬†A scheming cousin is after the throne and, with her lame leg, her people think she is cursed. Actually, she’s not even sure she wants to be queen, but a surprise attack changes everything. Kidnapping, rescues, faithful friends, and yes, dragons, are all part of this fantasy adventure that reminds me a bit of Harry Potter.

Rose Under Fire is a beautiful, brutal survival¬†story of a pilot, a poet, and a courageous prisoner. It’s 1944, and American teen Rose Justice has volunteered with the British ATA pilot corps to help the war effort. She’s already a skilled pilot, since her father owns a flying school back in Pennsylvania, and wishes she could fly combat missions. She gets more than she bargained for when Nazi fighters spot her plane over Germany and force her to land in enemy territory. Sent to the Ravensbruck women’s concentration camp, Rose endures unspeakable conditions and Nazi cruelty, but the poetry she creates sustains her and the women she befriends. As the Nazis’ grip on Europe fades, however, the odds grow that all the prisoners will not survive.

What adventures have you enjoyed this summer? Leave a comment!

Summer Reading Countdown: 1…Blastoff!

Meet our cover artist! Charlie has a great imagination and loves all kind of books. We were thrilled that he agreed to share his wonderful drawing, "Mythical Beast," with the Pike community.

With the last day of school fast approaching, I'm scooping up piles of new books to bring home. My own outside reading corner is ready, the "sun tea" is brewing, and my summer reading adventure awaits! See you in September!


Summer Reading Countdown: 3, 2…

Our 7th and 8th grade summer reading lists have gotten a 21st-century makeover! We wanted to create a multimedia resource to make our book suggestions come alive, so we turned to a familiar platform: Google Sites. Embedded in each page are book trailers, author videos, and links to web sites, along with the wide variety of recommendations you’ve come to expect from Pike’s SummerReads lists.

GoodReads is the social network for book lovers, and our rising 9th grade class has joined in, using their 9th grade book list, or “shelf,” as a jumping-off point. They’ll be sharing suggestions and book reviews with each other throughout the upcoming year, and have already started to create an enthusiastic reading community!

Summer Reading Countdown: 5, 4…

Here at the Pike Library, we've been thinking about summer for a long time now -- summer reading, that is. Each year, we enthusiastically share a boatload of titles we're passionate about in SummerReads, our summer reading list collection.

Students are also part of the reading conversation. This winter, Middle School Book Squad students wrote wonderful reviews of books they read, which are featured on the Middle School and 6th grade lists. Upper School student reviews are a big part of their lists as well. Visit the library web site for all the summer reading details.

What are you looking forward to reading this summer? Post a comment and let us know!



The Power of the Pen

Two recently-acquired novels feature characters who express themselves through their writing. Call Me Maria by Judith Ortiz Cofer, and From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson are quiet novels with unique characters facing family challenges.

Maria adjusts to life in New York City with her father. Her mother has stayed in their Puerto Rico home, and Maria misses her terribly. Through letters and poetry, we see how Maria learns to balance her two worlds.

For as long as he can remember, it’s just been Melanin and his mom in their small Brooklyn apartment.Words come easily to him when writing in his journals, but he is often tongue-tied around people, especially a girl on whom he has a crush. When his mother starts dating, his world turns upside down.



One Small Step for Man…

I admit it – I’m not a huge science fiction fan when it comes to books. Movies, yes – sign me up for a Star Trek or Star Wars marathon any day. So against everything that is logical in the universe, I found myself picking up the audiobook Crater by Homer Hickam for a long car ride, and of course I was enthralled.

craterThe Earth has been devastated by civil wars for hundreds of years and needs the precious resources available on the Moon, where a robust yet lawless society flourishes. Crater has one of the risky jobs of mining Helium – 3 and is perfectly content with his life with his adoptive mother. All that changes one day when he is tapped for an extraordinary mission to obtain (OK, steal) an object of untold importance. He’ll have to travel across the moon’s surface, facing danger at every turn.

Homer Hickam is best known for his memoirs about growing up in a small mining town dreaming of building rockets, dramatized in the movie October Sky. In Crater, he creates a vibrant lunar landscape and a harsh technological society, giving the reader enough details without distracting from the action. You’ll find yourself rooting for this unlikely hero and clamoring for the sequel, due out soon.

Favorite Art Mysteries

Did you know that paintings by Van Gogh are the most frequently stolen? No wonder that this amazing artist is featured in Tokyo Heist, a new young adult mystery by local author Diana Renn.

Violet is supposed to spend the summer in Seattle with her artist father, but when several Van Goghs are stolen and her father’s place is ransacked, she finds herself in Tokyo, where she will need all her wits about her to uncover the criminal and find the precious art.

Tokyo Heist is filled with interesting characters and non-stop action; definitely one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a while. Here are a few more of my favorite art mysteries!


Potter-esque Adventures!

I’m always ready for a good adventure – but when brilliant authors add a little fantasy, I’m hooked! Both these new series feature teen heroes-in-training and their friends, using magical powers to battle unusual forces of evil. Sound familiar? If you liked Harry Potter, give these a try!

In The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1), author Jonathan Stroud invites us into an alternate England where dangerous ghosts – er, Visitors – have overrun the country. Psychic teens are the best warriors against this national threat, and that’s where Lucy Carlyle and Anthony Lockwood come in. Their assignment: destroy the Specter in one of the most haunted houses in England. Will they come out alive?

Wild chalklings threaten the United Isles, and only trained Rithmatists can subdue them. In The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson, Joel’s dearest wish is to learn this magical mathematical skill and fulfill his father’s lifelong quest. When danger strikes his home of Armedius Academy, he must decide whom to trust if he is to stop the bloodshed.

Friends and Family

We are highlighting the newest award-winning books this month in the Reading Corner. I’ve already blogged about the Newbery Medal-winning book, Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, here, but check out this video interview!

And now, a peek inside two 2104 Newbery Honor books.

It‘s hard for Zach to remember a time when he wasn’t friends with Alice and Poppy. The adventures they create are full of pirates, warriors, and – most important of all – the Great Queen, a precious, bone china doll locked away in Poppy’s dining room cabinet. Lately, though, Zach’s friends have teasing him about hanging out with girls, and his father says he’s too old for childish games.

The Great Queen, however, has other plans. I know what you’re thinking – she’s only a doll. Or is she? Part ghost story, part adventure, Doll Bones is a fabulous page-turner from Holly Black, the genius behind the Spiderwick Chronicles.

Billy Miller has lots of questions. Is he smart enough for second grade? Is his teacher mad at him? Will his little sister stop annoying him? Can he stay up all night without falling asleep? How can he possibly write a poem – and perform it in front of the whole class and their parents?

Go on a journey through second grade with Billy, and you will discover the answers. This is a wonderful story from Kevin Henkes, who has written many picture books, chapter books and early readers.

Did Kevin Henkes have an annoying little sister like Billy? Find out in this interview!



Back to the Future

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time travel, from Madeline L’Engle’s Newbery-winning A Wrinkle in Time to the Back to the Future movies. Two books I’ve finished recently are stellar and inventive examples of how authors can bring us across centuries and into others’ hearts and minds.

Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick takes place on the remarkable Scandinavian island of Blessed (or Blest or Bloed, as it is also known). It’s June of 2073 and Eric Seven has arrived here for work. Soon he’s captivated by the beautiful and mysterious Merle, who whispers insistently, “I followed you.” In each chapter that follows, we move backward in time and discover the island’s secrets and its curses, as well as love and hatred that are braided together in and out of time.

In Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, events threaten to destroy lives across three centuries. Andi Alpers, guitar whiz, is losing it – still unable to cope after her younger brother’s death, she’s living in her music and failing her senior year of high school. When her estranged father whisks her off to Paris, she’s convinced things can’t get worse. All that changes when she discovers a hidden diary. Suddenly, she is transported back to the time of the bloody French Revolution, to the life of Alexandrine Paradis. Will Alex survive the dangerous game she is playing, trying to protect the young king, Louis-Charles? And in reading the diary, will Andi find the strength that she needs to embrace life?