Multicultural Children’s Book Day is Here!








I’m excited to participate in reviewing for this year’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day! I talk a lot with teachers, parents, and students at my school about how literature is a way to open windows into others’ experiences, and also an opportunity to see yourself and your experiences reflected in the pages of a book.

I’ve been working to bring those diverse experiences and voices to the early reader collection in my library, so I was thrilled to receive The Gold Medal Mess, the first in a new series, by author David A. Kelly. Kelly is well known to my students as the author of the popular Ballpark Mystery series.

We are introduced to Max, Alice, Luke, Kat, and Nico as they practice for their school’s annual Olympics event. When Max and Alice find a letter warning the school to cancel the event, they alert their principal. Not content to sit by, however, they decide to investigate the trouble. By using observation and cooperation, the friends gradually piece together the information they gather, and identify the culprit.

Kelly has assembled a likable group of friends, each with distinctive personalities. Told mainly from the perspective of Max and Alice, the narration is straightforward, supporting emerging fluent readers. The black-and-white illustrations bring the action to life, while subtly identifying the diverse characters. The action is well paced, alternating between the action of the Olympic events that have a “you are there” feel, and the development of the mystery element. Light-hearted banter among the friends lends a humorous note throughout.

The first in the new Most Valuable Player series, The Gold Medal Mess brings the winning formula from the Ballpark Mystery series to new sports. I’m looking forward to more adventures!


Multicultural Children’s Book Day  is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Their mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2017 Sponsors: Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUSA, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books, The Pack-n- Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books. Author Sponsors include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin,  Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand, Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O’Malley, Stacy McAnulty,  Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis Stowe, SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang.





Things are going great for Luke – that is, until his father is kidnapped and the vampire-like Russian gang at his school threaten him. In an old abandoned house, he discovers a powerful weapon that he’ll need to track down his dad – but what will it cost him to use it?


There’s one wolf in Grace’s backyard that she thinks of as “hers” – always in the shadows, watchingshiver at the edge of the woods. When she finds Sam huddled on her back porch, she is drawn to his yellow, familiar eyes. Could wolf and boy be one and the same?

Check out this list of more scary YA titles!

Why I Love My Local Bookstore

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek

My local bookseller recommended this book to me, and it did not disappoint. At the beginning of Maya’s 8th grade year, she stumbles upon a 1950s guide to popularity and is half bemused, half intrigued by the advice given to girls her age a half-century ago. Although mysterious accessories like girdles seem alien to her, the cruel realities of teen life ring true across the generations. Feeling like she has nothing to lose (she’s already incredibly low on her school’s popularity scale!), Maya decides to follow the book’s advice, chapter by chapter, and document her progress.

Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir recounts her social experiment with well-crafted prose and a wry self-deprecating humor. You’ll love this fresh voice and her exploration of the perennial issue of “fitting in.”

Banned Books Week

bannedbooksbuttonThe Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week, an annual promotion of the American Library Association, will be celebrated September 21–27. Banned Books Week is intended to showcase the frequency with which books are challenged in communities, removed from reading lists, prohibited, and outright destroyed.

Each year school boards around the country remove books from school libraries and summer reading lists on the grounds that they are “objectionable” to someone in some way. Through the years challenged titles have included To Kill a Mockingbird, The Diary of a Young Girl, And Tango Makes Three, and Where the Wild Things Are, among others.

Come look at the display in the library of books that have been recently challenged around the country. Do your part to support intellectual freedom; take home one of these banned books and read it proudly.

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.