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Summertime and the Reading is Easy!

Time to kick back, relax, enjoy the sunshine, pool time and inhale the aromas of sunscreen, sweat and chlorine.  It is officially summer! Today is the last day of the school year for my kids.  Ahead of us stretch the promise of endless days filled with outdoor adventures in sun and sand, on foot and on bike.  Late nights promise stargazing by a campfire and drive-in movies.  Of course the best part to them is no school – no required learning based on curriculum and tests.  They can spend the next eight weeks focused on whatever they want.

However, an organized Pigeon like myself, who wants to fit as much into a busy summer as possible, needs to know what my kids want.  So each summer we make a giant posterboard that hangs in our kitchen and says,

“This Summer I Want To…..”

They fill in the rest.  Ideas range from “go strawberry picking” to “have a no sock day” (which was debated as valid since hardly anyone around here wears socks in summer anyway).  We try to limit the ridiculous (skydiving, pie-in-the-face day) but encourage big and small ideas (ice cream for breakfast, trip to California).  Often what they write says more than they realize.  “Enjoy camp” showed up this year.   I thought the wording of that was interesting – not “go to camp” but “enjoy camp”.  It is going to require a bit more investigating to figure out what that means.  This board, while a depository for the kids summer dreams, is open to the entire family.  I put down my suggestions for fun summer activities, too.  Some of which are embraced (Renaissance Festival) and others derided or ignored (clean your room day).  When we do an activity on the board we check it off. By September we are amazed at everything we’ve done with our summer, which is full and busy (biking, hiking, camping, swimming) and surprisingly laid back (“do nothing day” had 3 checks last summer).

A must-do on our list every year is the summer reading program at our local library. It encourages kids to read over the summer, but without specific requirements.  They are rewarded for reading what they want to read. And there is no discussion, comprehension assessment or test after.  Just a prize.  They go in a”secret room” and pick their prize each week – cute nick-nacks that clutter my house, but to them are a source of pride and accomplishment.  Teen readers earn entries into a drawing – last year’s prize was an iPad.  Yup, pretty cool incentive to read.

These first few days of summer hold all the magic.  The possibilities are endless, the wonder of days stretched out before us without schedule or requirement.  Sit down on the porch with an ice cream cone at twilight and watch fireflies or swing in a hammock and bring along one of these amazing summer reads. Mom’s Bookshelf: Summer has a grown-up collection of seasonal reads perfect for the beach, backyard, patio or pool.

nightbeforesummervacationThe Night Before Summer Vacation by Natasha Wing – In the rush to pack for vacation something is sure to be missed in this adorable story told in the familiar cadence of Clement Moore’s classic poem.PB

RHSsummertreasureSummer Treasure (Robin Hill School) by Robin McNamara – Hannah sees her teacher on a trip to the beach and gets a special surprise. ER/1



summerpartySummer Party by Cynthia Rylant – The Cousins, Rosie, Tess and Lily are heading home.  But they will miss Aunt Lucy’s house and each other.  So they decide to throw a special party to welcome their parents home and celebrate their good times spent at the cottage. ER/2

MTHsummerseaserpentSummer of the Sea Serpent :Magic Tree House #31 by Mary Pope Osborne – The 3rd book in the “Merlin Missions” begins on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, when Jack and Annie must solve another riddle and travel to a land of myth and mystery. ER/2-3

judymoodynotbummersummerJudy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer (Book #10) by Megan McDonald – It’s bad enough that Judy’s best friends are leaving for the summer, but now her parents are going on a trip and she’d stuck home with Stink and Aunt Opal!  Not to be defeated Judy is determined to make this summer the most exciting, eventful and thrilling ever – with hilarious, unexpected results. MR/3

summerhumphreySummer According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney – Humphrey, everyone’s favorite class hamster, is shocked to find out that school is ending!  What will he do for the summer?  Go to camp, of course!  Along with many familiar friends from Room 26 Humphrey braves the wild and has lots of summer fun. MR/3-4

seaglasssummerSeaglass Summer by Anjali Banerjee – Poppy loves animals and hopes to become a veterinarian.  She gets her chance when her parents let her visit her Uncle Sanjay, a vet, while they go to India for the summer.  Poppy’s summer of discovery teachers her that there is more to being a vet than just taking care of the animals.  With a little help she’ll learn to balance the hard work, joy and sadness of caring for furry creatures.  MR/4

frozensummerFrozen Summer by Mary Jane Auch  – The summer of 1816 was shockingly cold and for Rememberance Nye and her family, who recently settled on this new frontier, the unusual weather causes enormous challenges that threaten their very survival.  Take a trip to Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, NY to see a cabin just like the one the Nye family lived in. MR/4

penderwicksThe Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall – When the Penderwick sisters spend their summer at Arundel they charm the housekeeper, befriend the young boy who lives there and get into a variety of exciting adventures.  Delightfully charming and sweet, sincere and heartwarming!  National Book Award Winner and A Paperback Pigeon All Time Favorite. MR/4-5

onecrazysummerOne Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia – It’s the summer of 1968 and Delphine and her sisters fly from Brooklyn to Oakland to meet the mother who abandoned them years earlier.  They eat take-out Chinese food, attend a summer program run by the Black Panthers, and try to make peace with the reality that their mother really doesn’t want to know them.  In a summer filled with self discovery, the girls realize that there are some bonds you can’t deny, and family is worth fighting for.  MR/5-6 A Newberry Honor Book, Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award Finalist

summergermansoldierSummer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene – When 12 year old Patty Bergen’s hometown becomes the site of a German POW camp during WWII she finds herself befriending an prisoner.  How can this Jewish girl reconcile her relationship with the enemy?  To what lengths will Patty go to keep her friendship secret, and is the risk worth it? MR/5-6

hiddensummerThe Hidden Summer by Gin Phillips – Torn apart by a feud between their mothers, best friends Nell and Lydia are forbidden to see each other all summer.  They secretly maintain their friendship by meeting at an abandoned golf course where a series of clues reveal a mystery waiting to be solved, and the opportunity to become who they’re meant to be.  YA/ 6 & up


Filed under Multi-Cultural, Seasons, Summer, travel, Uncategorized

Pug Love

Yesterday was June 1.  It would have been our dog, Elvis’ 14th birthday.  We lost Elvis back in February and as he had been part of our family for  a very long time his passing left quite a void.  Elvis was at once the easiest and most challenging of

Elvis, doing some early research for Paperback Pigeon.

of Elvis, doing some early research for Paperback Pigeon.

dogs.  He was a love pug, snuggly and sweet.  When he was little he was so tiny that our neighbor thought we were walking a gerbil!  He adored people and dogs alike, his first best friend being an enormous German-Shepard that would open its mouth for Elvis to stick his head in.  They adored each other.  When Shakespeare came along he let her pull his tail straight and yell “boing”!  HuskyGirl tried to ride him once.  He simply tolerated it all with a look of pained indignity – even when we dressed him up like his namesake for Halloween.   Just before Weezy-Jean made her appearance Elvis slipped a disc in his back and it resulted in limited mobility and a permanent limp.  Still he persevered.  Several years later we discovered a cancerous tumor on his tail.  That too he endured, even though it resulted in the loss of his tail.  In the interim he became a certified therapy dog, and the few times he visited with residents of our local nursing home they really connected with him.  They could see themselves in Elvis, limping and struggling, but a survivor.  Several years later,  he underwent surgery again, for the removal of his gall bladder.  We often joked that when we got him from the breeder she wasn’t confident of the AKC papers of his parents and gave him to us for $100, but without papers.  We didn’t care, he was our pet, not for show.  And he turned out to be the most expensive dog ever!  Yet, we counted ourselves so lucky to have him, for his gentle nature, and pug personality.

So it was actually with shock that we took him to the vet on a Saturday afternoon and discovered that he had a tumor in his abdomen that was almost the size of a football – he wasn’t a tiny pug, but he was still a pug, so this was a gigantic issue.  The tumor was putting pressure on all his internal organs.  So it came down to the worst decision we have had to make as a family.    We were given the option of surgery which wouldn’t be until Monday morning, but after much discussion we realized it wasn’t fair to put Elvis through another surgery, at his age, and with his quality of life.  It would be for us, selfishly wanting to keep him in our life, not for him.  We asked if we could take him home, enjoy our weekend with him, and come back Monday without the girls. We took him home and loved him.  And he passed away quietly, without distress, in our bed, Sunday night.  His final gift to us was taking the decision out of our hands.  It was heartbreaking, but also easier to accept as it was clearly his time.


Fuzzy enjoying a walk in the daffodils.

HuskyGirl committed herself to scouring the internet in search of dogs  – and after many weeks found us several rescues to work with.  We joined on with S.N.O.R.T.-Short Noses Only Rescue Team and have become foster parents to an amazing pug – Fuzzy.  I realize that our home needs a dog, but I’m not ready to replace Elvis, nor am I ready for another 14 year commitment, or the puppy stage.  Right now fostering makes sense for us – and pugs are just our kind of dog.  We will have Fuzzy until he is adopted in his forever home, give him a stable place to be in the interim, and share all that love we’ve been holding on to with him.    Elvis would be cool with this situation.

In honor of the king of pugs, here are some of our favorite pug books!

unloveableUnlovable (Owlet Book) by Dan Yaccarino – Alfred the pug has always been told he’s unlovable, by the cat, the bird, even the goldfish gurgles in agreement.  When a new dog moves in next door Alfred is so afraid that the new dog won’t like him, he pretends to be a Golden Retriever.  What happens when Alfred finally meets his new friend teaches that it is ok to be different, love yourself no matter what, and things will turn out alright. PB

chicknpugChick ‘n’ Pug by Jennifer Sattler  – Chick’s favorite comic strip is about a wonderpug superhero.  When she meets her hero, he’s just a stereotypical lazy, sleepy pug.  Chick knows his superhero alter ego is there somewhere – maybe he just needs a sidekick to help him out? PB

puddle pugPuddle Pug by Kim Norman – Percy loves to jump in puddles – big and small.  When he discovers perfect puddle and the three little piggy friends that live there he couldn’t be happier.  Unfortunately Mama pig says no pugs allowed.  When Percy saves the day will Mama let him play? PB

hellotozorroSay Hello to Zorro!  by Carter Goodrich – Mr. Bud is the dog of the house and he likes his routine.  When a new dog joins the family it is disaster for Mr. Bud.  Zorro the pug is a little bit bossy and doesn’t want to follow the routine. Can these two dogs find common ground and get along? PB

pugsleyThe Puppy Place #9: Pugsley by Ellen Miles – Lizzy and Charles Peterson love rescuing puppies that need help.  In this edition of the popular series Pugsley’s family have decided his crazy behavior make him impossible to keep and he winds up at the doggie day care where Lizzie works.  How can Lizzie prove Pugsley is a good dog? Can she help train him so that he can find his forever home?  ER-3

mollymoonhypnotismMolly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng- Molly Moon lives in a British orphanage where her only friends are fellow orphan Rocky and the pug dog, Petula.  When it seems things couldn’t get worse Molly discovers a book on hypnotism.  It turns out Molly is a gifted hypnotist who can make others do her bidding.  Using her skills Molly & Petula follow Rocky to New York City where she becomes a star on Broadway.  Then Petula is stolen!  It will take all Molly’s skill and ingenuity to save Petula.  Is she up to the task?   Check out more books in this series at Meet Molly Moon. MR/RA

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Of Mice and 4th Graders

Make no mistake, HuskyGirl is the animal lover in our household.   She is passionate, and compassionate, for any living thing – a quality that I encourage wholeheartedly (even when I get yelled at for moving the stone markers in the “slug cemetery”).    But last week, when we went to the pet supply store to pick out a harness for our foster dog, I mistakenly allotted enough time for us to visit the animal residents.  And HuskyGirl fell in love.  With the little white mice.whitemice

Let me step back a moment and clarify my standing on pets.  I love having a dog and appreciate that now my girls are older they are learning some caregiving responsibility.   That is where my relationship with anything else living in our house ends.  I had several traumatic attempts to own fish in college.  Nope, not tropical or exotic- just goldfish and betafish.  They usually lasted 2-3 days and then I’d find them floating, and cry, and call my boyfriend to come over and dispose of them for me as I couldn’t bear it.  After the third time he did this I decided I should marry him.  Which I did for many reasons, but this was one of the his top selling points.  I also don’t do plants.  I compulsively buy cut flowers as I simply can’t keep anything green alive.  Yep, I’ve even killed bamboo.

Regardless of my ability, or rather inability, to keep another creature alive I also will not have anything my house that eats live food, that I also have to keep alive.  That rules out lizards –  I am not making a salad for the crickets, just to feed them to the bearded dragon.   In addition, I refuse to have anything that requires frozen food that was once alive – knocking snakes off the list.  Ferrets?  Too smelly.   Turtles? Unless someone is digging a pond in our backyard that isn’t happening.  Nope on nocturnal animals either – we tried that with hermit crabs (may they rest in peace) and found that nocturnal pets are A)boring because they sleep when we are awake and B)annoying because they make noise at night.  This is how the previously mentioned hermit crabs wound up in my dining room.  I was less than thrilled.

And so we come to the little white mice.  I’ve said “No”.   My husband has said “No”.  Still she persists. HuskyGirl has taken to joining me when we walk the dog, only to talk about how much she wants mice the entire time.  She’s offered to pay for them. She’ll keep them in her own room.  She wants to visit them at least once a week.  Talk about committed!  However, I am holding firm. Mice are one of those animals that people try to get rid of from their home, not intentionally bring into it!  At this point I just can’t see it happening.  For one thing summer is almost upon us and we do have a couple trips planned.  You can board a dog, or have a neighbor feed your cat.   The fish get week-long dissolving pellets. Who is going to take our mice?   So right now we are doing our best to ignore her pleading requests.   Don’t worry, I won’t be offended if you take bets against me.

What is it about mice that fascinate young readers?  When mice are anthropomorphized they become these remarkable creatures that live life in secret.  They are mysterious, mischievous and quite marvelous. Although we haven’t traveled this week, check out books where the adventures are far and wide and the mice do the traveling!

mousecookieIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie (If You Give…) by Laura Joffe Numeroff – The original that started the whole series!  This book is just plain fun! If you give a mouse a cookie what will happen next?  It all leads back to the cookie in the end, after an exhausting afternoon of adventure.  Check out the rest of the Mouse stories: If You Take a Mouse to School, The Best Mouse Cookie (If You Give…), and If You Take a Mouse to the Movies. Or you could branch out and Give A Pig A Pancake, Dog a Donut or Moose a Muffin!  Then take time to bake the delicious treat that started the story off, and create your own story.   If You Give A Kid A…..PB

angelinaballerinaAngelina Ballerina 25th Anniversary Edition by Katherine Holabird – Angelina is a darling little mouse who wants to dance!  And do nothing else.  Her parents are fed up with her constant dancing, and finally decide to help channel this passion by sending her to ballet school.  Will her love of ballet and determination pay off?  PB

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse lillypurpleplasticpurseby Kevin Henkes – Lilly loves school and  just adores her teacher, Mr. Slinger. When Lilly wants to show the class her new purple plastic purse  she and her teacher don’t see eye to eye.  Lilly learns a hard, but important lesson, about following rules, kindness and forgiveness. PB

alexanderwindupmouseAlexander and the Wind-Up Mouse: (Caldecott Honor Book) by Leo Lionni – This classic tells the story of a real mouse, Alexander, who befriends a toy mouse, Willy.   Alexander wants to be just like Willy so he searches for the magic pebble to give the garden lizard who will grant his wish at the full moon.  But Willy has found himself in the discard box of old toys!  Will Alexander still wish to be a toy, or will he wish for something else?  PB

mousepaintMouse Paint  by Ellen Stoll Walsh – The three mice are trying to escape the cat!  Luckily they find white paper to hide in, but soon they begin playing in the paint and make some wonderful discoveries!  This is a perfect introduction to color mixing.  When your are done reading make sure you get out the finger-paint and try mixing up some colorful fun.  Also check out Mouse Count and Mouse Shapes for more stories of how the mice avoid capture! PB

mousetalesMouse Tales (I Can Read Book 2) by Arnold Lobel – A father mouse has seven little mice who all want a story at bedtime.  So he tells a story for each mouse!  This book is the classic collection of the seven stories and is perfect for beginning readers.  Check out more of Arnold Lobel’s mouse stories in Mouse SoupER-1

gstilton1Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye (Geronimo Stilton, No. 1)– Geronimo Stilton is the editor of the newspaper  The Rodent’s Gazette and always searching for the next scoop!  This series is eye-catching for readers trying to tackle more in-depth chapter books, as the type changes color & font to emphasize certain phrases.  Geronimo lives in a world of mice and there are many mouse-centered word changes and cheese puns to keep you in the rodent mood.  There is an adventure for every area of interest.  Many of these books contain cool information within the text that provide a great knowledge base while keeping readers interested.  There are several spin-off series to keep readers turning the pages!  ER-3

tstilton1Thea Stilton #1: The Secret of Whale Island – Geronimo’s sister has been teaching journalism at Mouseford Academy where she’s become a mentor to five mouseling friends.  Nicky, Colette, Pamela, Paulina and Violet travel the world and work together to solve mysteries.  The Thea Sisters, as they call themselves, find out cool information about the locations they visit and check in to see if you are following the clues along with them.  Fantastic information presented in the same style as the Geronimo Stilton books. For more on Thea Stilton check out Amazon’s Thea Stilton Page ER-3

mouseandmotorcycleThe Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary – When Ralph discovers a toy motorcycle under the bed in the hotel room he can’t help himself and just has to try it.   Unexpected adventure awaits, but there is also danger, as Ralph get himself into some sticky situations.  A classic tale that is a perfect read-aloud. Keep the adventure going with follow-up books Runaway Ralph and Ralph S. MouseMR/RA

tumtum&nutmegTumtum & Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn – Tumtum and Nutmeg live a quiet life in Rose Cottage, looking after the human children that live there.  However, things aren’t going to stay quiet for long!  A string of visitors threaten the peaceful existence of the mice in Rose Cottage and Tumtum and Nutmeg will use their daring and wit to make sure that everything works out.  This collection of three stories is a wonderful read-aloud for Early Readers.  Check out the second volume, Tumtum & Nutmeg The Rose Cottage TalesMR/RA

secretsatseaSecrets at Sea by Richard Peck – Mice sisters Helena, Louise, and Beatrice live with their little brother Lamont in the Cranston home in Victorian England.  When the Cranstons decide to voyage to America in hopes of finding a husband for their daughter the mice join them!  The ensuing adventure is full of intriguing characters, romance and excitement.  Also check another of Richard Peck’s mouse themed stories, The Mouse with the Question Mark TailMR/RA

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Filed under animals, classics, pets, series, Uncategorized

Zoo Crew

  This past week I had the opportunity to chaperone Weezy-Jean’s field trip to the zoo.  As I was corralling six very active seven year-olds I realized that our local zoo, which we have been visiting since the girls were infants, is one of the first places that my children began to see the diversity of the world around them, and to appreciate it.  Taking a trip to the zoo shows us animals that are definitely not native to our area – like rhinos and baboons – and it leads to great discussions.  Learning about these animals helps us learn about the world; climates, cultures, and environmental concerns.

However, I admit that I am not always comfortable watching orangutans through bars and seeing elephants in an enclosure instead of roaming the savanna makes me, well, just sad.  It would feel negligent if I failed to address that many people have very strong emotional and valid reactions to animals removed from their natural habitat and raised in enclosures.  But, my experience in Museum  Education (which includes zoos) has shown me the great benefit of using zoos as educational resources.  In a world where habitat loss threatens so many species, the ability to teach future generations about them is an important piece of the puzzle to ensuring their survival.  And I have never met anyone who works at a zoo because it is just their job.  People who work in zoos are there because they absolutely love animals, it is a passion, not just a profession.

HuskyGirl’s favorite animals at our zoo are the Mexican gray wolves (most likely due to their visual similarity to Siberian Husky dogs).   We’ve readLorenzo the signs many times, and know that these wolves are severely threatened due to the fact that the region they live in, Southwestern US and Mexico, was overrun by ranchers in the early 1900’s.  The ranchers didn’t like that the wolves attacked their livestock, so the ranchers “protected” their operations by eliminating the wolves.  There are only about 83 Mexican gray wolves living in the wild right now.  In 1977 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program.  Components of this include the Species Survival Plan which is managed by the American Zoological Association.  Long story short, zoos raise, breed and hopefully reintroduce wolves into the wild!  We saw this plan in action when we visited the Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville, PA.  Their Mexican gray wolf area is designated RL – real life –  where the wolves natural behaviors and feeding habits are preserved to make them eligible for reintroduction.  It was awesome! This is one example of how zoos help promote animal preservation and public awareness.

Ideally zoos will continue to expose and educate visitors about the incredible diversity of species that share this planet with us, and give an appreciation that will make animal lovers, and protectors of us all.  Going to the zoo can be really fun – check out these zoo books; they’ll complement a zoo trip or help you continue learning and loving animals after you get home.  Making a visit to the zoo on any vacation can be fun, but some zoos are destinations on their own – check out the list of a few “destination zoos” after the booklist!

Gogoodnightgorillaod Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann- This classic boardbook is a children and parent’s favorite. As the Zookeeper makes the rounds saying goodnight to all the animals, the Gorilla takes his keys and quietly lets all the animals out.  Following him home, they settle down to bed, but the Zookeepers wife is quite surprised when she gets more than one “goodnight”.  This book has very few words, and the repetition makes it a perfect book for your favorite toddler to tell the story with you.  It also allows for great narrative extensions as you make up your own story about the animals. PB

Ddearzooear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Ron Campbell – Another classic boardbook!  A zookeeper sends an animal as a pet, but it is never quite right (giraffes are too tall!) so each time they need to be sent back.  Each pet is presented as a package that is “opened” with lift-the-flap excitement.  Will the perfect pet ever arrive? Wonderful introduction to the diversity of animal life, and the unique characteristics of the animal families. PB

polarbearpolarbearPolar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle – This classic follow-up to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? introduces a variety of unusual animals and concludes with the Zookeeper who takes care of them all.   A familiar formula and the repetitive text make this a favorite of toddlers and preschoolers and kids love making the animal sounds!  Great extension activities include making your own version of the story using photographs from your latest trip to the zoo! PB

zoointheskyZoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations by Jacqueline Mitton – Combine a love of animals with Astronomy in this picture book that explores the constellations.  Learn the legends of the night through wonderful stories in this National Geographic book. PB

putmeinthezooPut Me in the Zoo (I can read it all by myself’ Beginner Books) by Robert Lopshire – How can Spot prove he belongs in the zoo?  In this fun story he shows all he can do with his spots – from juggling to changing colors – that make him perfect for the zoo.  But is that really where he belongs?  Celebrating uniqueness and discovering that there is a “spot” for everyone is at the heart of this story.  ER-1

abgoeswild Amelia Bedelia Goes Wild! (Chapter Book #4)  by Herman Parish – Amelia Bedelia takes everything completely literally, which leads to all kinds of confusion and hilarity.  And she’s always been this way as this series about her childhood tells us.  Amelia and her friends create their own backyard zoo and give tours to neighbors, but as always with Amelia things are always as simple as they could be.  In this illustrated early reader you’ll find fun, humor, and Amelia’s positive can-do spirit. ER-2/3

secretzooThe Secret Zoo  by Brian Chick – Noah and his sister Megan live next door to the zoo.  The animals are behaving strangely, and then Megan disappears!  Noah and his friends realize that they need to figure out what is really going on at the Clarksville Zoo!  Following mysterious clues and sneaking into the zoo they find adventure and camaraderie, but can they find Megan? MR/RA

This is book 1 in a series, for information on the other titles check out Brian Chick’s webpage.

*PBP note:  HuskyGirl, at age 9, loved this as a read aloud with Dad.  My husband however was a bit taken aback at the fact that sections portray the parents experience with a missing child.  One of the key plot points in many kid- centered adventures are the “absentee parents” .  However, in this book, the parents aren’t absent, they are frantically meeting with the authorities who are searching to find Megan.  Although – spoiler alert – everything does turn out just fine, and HuskyGirl didn’t seem at all bothered by it, Dad was definitely moved by reading about the parental perspective of missing a child.

 oneandonlyivanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate – Ivan, a captive gorilla, is content to spend his days watching television and painting.  When he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to rethink his world and his art.  This tale of hope and friendship is narrated by Ivan himself, giving a unique perspective.  Hailed as the best book of the year by Kirkus, School Library Journal and Amazon, and the winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal, The One and Only Ivan is destined to become a classic. MR/RA


trialbyjournalTrial by Journal by Kate Klise – Due to a new law that states if a jury trial involves a child there must be a child juror, Lily finds herself missing school to serve on trial of Bob White, a zoo employee accused of killing a young man Perry Keet, who also worked at the zoo.  Although there are perks to being on the jury – including a stay at the Menagerie Hotel and a private tour of the zoo – there are some things that aren’t quite what they seem, like the mysterious reptile house!  At the end of this trial Lily wants two things: to find out what really happened to Perry, and avoid summer school by turning in her jury journal as a report.  Uniquely told through journal entries, newspaper clippings, and court documents this is a cool mystery and an inside look at a jury trial. MR

Trip It: Check out these great Zoo destinations

National Zoo, Washington, DC – As part of the Smithsonian this zoo is free to the general public and has some unique animals, like pandas.

Central Park Zoo, New York, NY – In the heart of Manhattan this is a great stop.  Or head to another borough and visit the Bronx Zoo.

Pittsburgh Zoo, Pittsburgh, PA – Over 100 years in the Highland Park neighborhood make this a Pittsburgh institution.

San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA – Also check out the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Orlando, FL – Part of the Walt Disney World Resort, this theme park has rides, shows, and animals everywhere!

Looking for a zoo in your area? Check out the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Zoofinder!



Filed under classics, mystery, Uncategorized, zoo