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Capture the Flag
Kate Messner


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Pigsticks and Harold PDF Print E-mail
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Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey
Alex Millway

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What You Need to Know:
• Pigsticks and Harold is a hilarious adventure story for young readers.
• This volume is a good stepping stone for readers who are leaving learn to read volumes and starting to tackle early
  chapter books.
• While there is not a lot of text on every page, the sophisticated vocabulary and continuity of the story are more akin
  to chapter books.
• The second Pigsticks and Harold adventure is set to be published November, 2014, with book three and four to follow
  in 2015.
Sweet Book Summary:
Pigsticks is a frustrated explorer from a long line of noble pig explorers. Pigsticks is getting antsy and has decided it's time to finally get out there and do what he was born to do: travel to the Ends of the Earth. Pigsticks posts an ad in the local shop looking for an assistant for his journey. This leads to an afternoon of funny interviews where the reader meets an array of characters from town. Alas, Pigsticks is not satifed with any of the candidates. However, when Harold (the hamster) shows up to deliver a package, Pigsticks hires him on the spot. When Harold tries to explain he wasn't applying for the job and just delivering a package, Pigsticks will have none of it. The adventure that ensues will keep your reader engaged and laughing. And you, too, if it's a read aloud!
Author: Alex Milway Illustrator: Alex Milway Published: 2014, 84 pages
Themes: Excellent Read-Aloud, Friendship, Humor
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• Who do you have more in common with: Pigsticks or Harold? Why?
• Are you more like one of the characters from Tuptown? Which one?
• Do you think Harold should have spoken up to Pigsticks when he was roped into the adventure mistakenly? Why or
  why not?
• Can you imagine another adventure for Pigstick and Harold? What would it be?
If You Liked This Book, Try:
Bink & Gollie, Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
Bink & Gollie, Best Friends Forever, Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
Meet Mr. and Mrs. Green, Keith Baker
Mr. Putter and Tabby Spill the Beans, Cynthia Rylant
This recommendation was written by: Melissa Y.
Screaming at the Ump PDF Print E-mail
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Screaming at the Ump
Audrey Vernick

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What You Need to Know:
• Someday, Casey Snowden hopes to help run his family's school for umpires, but he also wants to become a
  journalist. First, however, he has to get through middle school.
• The story raises the debate about performance-enhancing drug usage in major league baseball.
• As you might expect, there are lots of details about baseball and umping the game.
Screaming at the Ump was a Junior Library Guild Selection.
• Audrey Vernick also wrote the well-known picture book, Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?
Sweet Book Summary:
Casey knows just about everything there is to know about being an umpire, but the calls he has to make in real life start to feel a bit out of his league. His dad and his grandfather, Pop, run Behind the Plate, the third (out of 3) best umpire school in the country, and Casey loves the school more than anything. It's not that he wants to become an umpire or even play major league baseball. He wants to write about the game, and he thinks that 6th grade is his big chance to get started.

Not so fast! Unfortunately, 6th graders don't actually get to do any writing for the school newspaper, they just solicit advertising. This news comes as a huge disappointment, especially on top of Casey's other troubles. Not only is his mom trying to get back into his life for the first time since his parents divorced a few years ago, but there are fewer students signing up for Umpire Academy this year, and the future of Behind the Plate feels very uncertain. When Casey decides to ignore the rules and submit a piece to the newspaper, the consequences of his decision, as well as the controversial nature of the topic he chooses, leave him on even shakier ground. Luckily, Casey has the benefit of advice from his Pop and surprisingly good ideas from his reality-TV-loving best friend, Zeke, to guide him.

Screaming at the Ump is a great selection because it tackles the topic of sports from an unusual angle, and it adds a nice layer of substance along the way. Understanding what it takes to be a good umpire - making good decisions, having respect for yourself and others, and seeing things from the right point of view - helps Casey figure out how to handle his own problems. There are also solid family bonds, difficult decisions, close friendships, and life lessons that will leave readers with a lot to discuss. Whether you choose it for your next book group or to read as a family, it is sure to spark some interesting conversations.
Author: Audrey Vernick Illustrator: n/a Published: 2014, 272 pages
Themes: Books for Boys, Character/Values, Divorce, Ethics, Family Life, Good Book Club Selection, Self-Awareness/Discovery, Sports
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• Would you want to have a family business like Casey's? What are the benefits and drawbacks?
• Why are Casey and Zeke such good friends?
• How does Mr. Donovan handle his role as faculty advisor to the school newspaper?
• Do you agree with the club policy that 6th graders can only solicit ad sales and cannot publish articles?
• How does Casey's eavesdropping cause problems and confusion?
• How did J-Mac's story affect your opinion about him as a person?
• What do you think about drug use in major league baseball?
• When, if ever, is it OK to do something just because everyone else is doing it?
• Does J-Mac deserve a second chance?
• In what ways is umpiring a baseball game similar to reporting a story?
• How do the rules of umping a game apply to everyday life?
• Why doesn't Casey want to have anything to do with his mom? Should he forgive her?
If You Liked This Book, Try:
Stumptown Kid, Carol Gorman & Ron J. Findley
Calico Joe, John Grisham
Love of the Game, John Coy
Keeping Score, Linda Sue Park
This recommendation was written by: Melissa G.