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Capture the Flag
by
Kate Messner


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A Crooked Kind of Perfect PDF Print E-mail
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A Crooked Kind of Perfect
Linda Urban

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What You Need to Know:
• Zoe wants nothing more than to play the piano, but in her family, that just may be impossible.
• Zoe's dad has anxieties associated with driving, crowds and leaving the house.
• The story is told from Zoe's perspective, so readers really get to hear what she's thinking and feeling.
• Other than cell phones, there is limited mention of modern technology, giving the story a timeless sense.
• Linda Urban is also the author of the middle grade novel, The Center of Everything.
• Did you know that Linda Urban used to work in an independent bookstore?
Sweet Book Summary:
What a perfect middle grade book! The voice of the main character comes alive off the pages, and the imagery really draws the reader into the story. It's not overly descriptive though - it's straightforward and it moves quickly. In fact, A Crooked Kind of Perfect reminds me a little of a Judy Blume book. The main character, Zoe, is easy to relate to and she just feels so real. At ten years old, she's funny, clever, determined and thoughtful. You can't help but root for her!

Zoe's dream is to play the piano, but with her dad's anxieties and her mom's work schedule, she somehow finds herself learning to play the Perfectone D-60, a lowly organ. On top of that, she's dealing with changing friendships and first crushes. Zoe doesn't wallow in her misfortune, though. Despite setbacks and mistakes, she stays focused and true to herself. She may not have the comfort of her ex-best friend, Emma, but she finds support in some surprising places. Mabelline Person, her quirky organ instructor and Wheeler, the 5th grade "bad boy" both help her in very unexpected ways.

Although A Crooked Kind of Perfect includes some serious subjects - identity, friendship, family, fears, financial instability - it touches on them in a delicate way and then brings the reader back to a safe place. The characters are charming and unpredictable, and they leave the reader wanting to hear more from them, even after the story ends. You just can't go wrong with this one!
Author: Linda Urban Illustrator: n/a Published: 2009, 224 pages
Themes: Determination, Family Life, Friendship, Good Book Club Selection, Music, Self-Awareness/Discovery
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• What would you like to learn to do as much as Zoe wants to learn how to play the piano?
• Why does Wheeler like to hang out at Zoe's house?
• In what ways are their families different? In what ways are they the same?
• What makes Wheeler a good friend?
• Why does Zoe's dad spend so much time at home?
• Is Emma a good friend? How does Emma and Zoe's friendship change?
• How would you describe Zoe's relationship with her mom?
• What is your prediction for Zoe once the book ends?
• How does the story affect how you feel about making mistakes?
If You Liked This Book, Try:
Pie, Sarah Weeks
The Upside of Ordinary, Susan Lubner
The Dirt Diary, Anna Staniszewski
This recommendation was written by: Melissa G.
 
My Teacher Is a Monster (No, I am Not.) PDF Print E-mail
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My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.)

Peter Brown

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What You Need to Know:
My Teacher Is a Monster (No, I am Not.) is a wonderful story about the dangers of making assumptions about others.
• Peter Brown has done it again: he has imparted an important message for children in the guise of a very enjoyable
  story.
• This book can be read with very small children or older children, both will "get" the message and both will be very
  entertained.
Sweet Book Summary:
I love My Teacher Is a Monster (No, I am Not.)! The aforementioned message in My Teacher Is a Monster (No, I am Not.) is the old adage, don't judge a book by it's cover. Bobby, our young student, is behaviorally challenged in the classroom. Ms. Kirby is at her wits' end trying to keep him engaged. Bobby thinks Ms. Kirby is, you guessed it, a monster. She is always yelling (roaring) at Bobby. The good news is Bobby can escape to his favorite park on the weekends to forget all about the strife in his classroom. But what happens when Ms. Kirby and Bobby meet up by accident in that park over the weekend? They realize they may have misjudged each other and end up really enjoying each other.

What a funny, important book. Peter Brown is a genius at creating funny, entertaining stories that impart important childhood messages, all without young readers ever noticing. If kids even smell a "message", they're out. But with Brown's books, they are never the wiser. I especially like that children will see that adults are fallible and that even teachers can learn a thing or two from their students. The physical transformation of Ms. Kirby over the course of the story is nothing short of brilliant, and the reader will be pouring over the illustrations to see all the details long after the last word has been read.
Author: Peter Brown Illustrator: Peter Brown Published: 2014, 40 pages
Themes: Excellent Read-Aloud, Humor, School, Exquisite Illustrations, Behavior
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• Have you ever judged someone too quickly? What happened?
• How did you realize you had made a mistake?
• What do you think teachers can learn from their students, if anything? Can you explain?
• Have you ever seen any of your teachers outside of school? How did that make you feel?
If You Liked This Book, Try:
Sea Monster's First Day, Kate Messner
Brontorina, James Howe
This recommendation was written by: Melissa Y.