• Spring Reads & Recommendations

    Posted by Jennifer Whitt on 5/3/2021

    Spring has been busy but there is always time for reading great books! here are a few of my favorites:


    NB No Barriers: A Blind Man's Journey to Kayak The Grand Canyon by Erik Weinhenmayer

    Erik Weihenmayer is the first and only blind person to summit Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. During his hike, his expedition leader slapped him on the back and said something that would affect the course of Erik’s life: “Don’t make Everest the greatest thing you ever do.” No Barriers is Erik’s response to that challenge. It is the moving story of his journey since descending Mount Everest: from leading expeditions around the world with blind Tibetan teenagers to helping injured soldiers climb their way home from war, from adopting a son from Nepal to facing the most terrifying reach of his life: to solo kayak the thunderous whitewater of the Grand Canyon.


    JF The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

    Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?


    un Unplugged by Gordon Korman

    As the son of the world’s most famous tech billionaire, Jett Baranov has always gotten exactly what he wanted. So, when his father’s private jet drops him in the middle of Little Rock, Arkansas, at a wellness camp called the Oasis, Jett can’t believe it. He’s forced to hand over his cell phone, eat grainy veggie patties, and participate in wholesome activities with the other kids.


    FOP Flight Of The Puffin by Ann Braden

    Four kids. Four different lives. And then… one card with a message of hope takes flight and starts a chain reaction, helping each kid summon the thing they need, whether it’s bravery, empathy, or understanding. But best of all, it makes each one realize they matter -- and that they're not flying solo anymore.


    LOM The Lion Of Mars by Jennifer Holm

    Bell has spent his whole life - all eleven years of it - on Mars. But he's still just a regular kid - he loves cats, any kind of cake, and is curious about the secrets the adults in the US colony are keeping. Like, why don't have contact with anyone on the other Mars colonies? Why are they so isolated? When a virus breaks out and the grown-ups all fall ill, Bell and the other children are the only ones who can help. It's up to Bell - a regular kid in a very different world - to uncover the truth and save his family ... and possibly unite an entire planet.





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  • February Reads & Recommendations

    Posted by Jennifer Whitt on 3/1/2021

    Ok readers.. you may be wonderiing where the December and January R&Rs are. I am going to be brutally honest with you.. I am ashmaed to say it but I was in a reading SLUMP. The holidays were busy and I did not get to read as much as I wanted to... and the bokos that I did manage to read were just... meh. 


    However, since then I have read some of the best books that I have ever read! I am so excited to share these titles with you.. they a earned 5 star reviews from me.


    house in the sea The House In The Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

    Linus Bakeris a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, and spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to an Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days. As Linus and the children grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.


    amari Amari And The Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

    Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why has Quintons left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs?  Amari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids—who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives  but Amari is given an illegal ability. With an evil magican threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.


    ck The Captive Kingdom by Jennifer Neilsen (#4 in the Ascendance series aka The False Prince series)

    After three books worth of adventures, twists and turns, Jaron leads as the Ascendant King with Imogen beside him -- but the peace he fought so long for is not destined to last. On a routine sea voyage, Jaron's ship is brutally attacked, and he is taken hostage. The mysterious captors and their leader, Jane Strick, accuse Jaron of unthinkable acts. They are also in possession of some shocking items -- including the crown and sword that belonged to Jaron's older brother, Darius. The items unearth a past Jaron thought he had put behind him. Though it seems impossible, Jaron must consider: Could Darius be alive? And what does Strick want from Jaron? Against his will, Jaron will be pulled back into a fight for the throne -- and a battle to save his kingdom.


    king King And The Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

    Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family. It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy. But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King's friendship with Sandy is reignited, he's forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother's death.


    *summaries modified from Goodreads.com*

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  • November Reads & Recommendations

    Posted by Jennifer Whitt on 11/20/2020

    I know this post is a bit early, but I wanted to make sure it went up before Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for the many s tories that have captivated me and taught me so many things this month. Here are a few of my favorites:


    w  Wink by Rob Harnell

    Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal kid, despite having a rare eye cancer. He views his new life, full of medical treatments, as a video game, and often describes his life in an action comic format. Ross starts to lose vision in one eye, his friends who don't know what to say to "the cancer kid," and endures cruel bullying. But, just when Ross starts to feel like he's losing his footing, he discovers how music, art, and true friends can change everything. This tory is funny, sad, real, and honest. 


    pl  Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

    Hanna is determined to fit in, get an education, become a dressmaker in her father's shop, and make at least one friend. However, Hanna is half Asaian and lives in a small town where the townspeople are predujice against Asains. Will she be able to overcome the stereotypes and predujice to show everyone how truly amazing she is?


    DD  Dog Driven by Terry Lynn Johnson

    When McKenna's little sister requests that she sign up for a mail run in the Canadian wilderness, she hesitantly agrees. McKenna's sister has lost her sight from a debilitating disease. What her sister doesn't know, is that McKenna is trying to hide her own worsening eyesight and has been isolating herself for the last year. McKenna is torn. Winning the mail run would mean getting her and her sister’s disease national media coverage, but it would also pit McKenna and her team of eight sled dogs against racers from across the globe for three days of shifting lake ice, sudden owl attacks, snow squalls, and bitterly cold nights. All of whihc, she can not see.


    CT Code Talker: A Novel About The Navajo Marines of World War II by Joseph Bruchac

    This novel taught me about a side of World War II that I had not realized even existed. Historically, Navajo children were brought to boarding schools, where they learned English and were told to forget their Navajo language. However, when World War II began, the Marines quickly realized that they could use the Navajo language as a code to communicate with each other. Throughout World War II, Navajo code talkers sent messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. What was once an undesireable and forgettable language, helped save countless American lives. The Navajo code talkers and their story remained classified for more than twenty years, so it is widely unrecognized. Read this novel to hear the story of a Navajo boy who is drafted into the Marines and becomes a war hero, without being able to be celebrated.

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  • October Reads & Recommendations

    Posted by Jennifer Whitt on 10/31/2020

    Well.. that escaleted quickly! October became super busy with school and my reading life was just as busy! Here are a few favorites from this past month:

    GC Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald

    I must confess, I have read this book before.. and liked it so much that I read it again along side a student. It is just THAT good. Teddy, a highschool freshmen, gets hurt in a preseason football practice. He is now in a coma, and his family and friends try to find out the truth about his injuries. This sports mystery, which is written in various formats such as newspaper artciles, doctor's resports, and text messages, will grab your interest and never let go!


    TABC Terror At Bottle Creek by Watt Key

    This book was addictive. Cort, is a thirteen year old, is trying to survive a deadly, Category 3 hurricane. Cort is left stranded with his two neighbors in his flooding neighborhood in Alabama. Will they survive this storm?


    LAWKI Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

    A meteor has knocked the moon closer to the earth, which sets off worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic explosions. When the ash from the volcanic eruptions blocks out the sun, it causes an extreme winter. Miranda, and her family have to survive on stockpiled food and limited water and the warmth of their wood-burning stove. This gripping story is told in journal entries which will leave you reading more and more!


    em Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk

    After Ellie and her family lost their home during a finanicial depression, they start over on Echo Mountain. Though it is an adjustment for everyone, the family is rocked when an  accident leaves their father in a coma. Ellie is blamed for this accient and does not correct anyone, despite her knowing the truth of what really happened to her father.  Ellie is determined to try anything to bring her father out of his coma. In search for a cure, Ellie makes her way to the top of the mountain, in search of the healing woman known only as "the hag." But the mountain still has many untold stories left to reveal to Ellie, as she finds her way forward.

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  • September Reads & Recommendations

    Posted by Jennifer Whitt on 9/30/2020

    Welcome back, readers! Another school year has begun.. and this one will be one to remember! Here are some of my favorite books that I read over the summer. Of course, there were a few books that I read, but did not love.. it happens to the best of us. Be sure to email me your favorite summer reads. Read on, readers!

    ss Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie

    I was lucky enough to be on the "street team" for this amazing book.. which meant that I got to read it before it was published! I am usually very wary of horror books.. I scare easily and often have nightmares for months after! This story was. creepy.. but had a light touch that I think middle grade readers will love. The story was suspenseful and unpredicatble but totally interesting and kept me wanting to read more and more! "Claire has absolutely no interest in the paranormal. She’s a scientist, which is why she can’t think of anything worse than having to help out her dad on one of his ghost-themed Chicago bus tours. She thinks she’s made it through when she sees a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus. There’s something off about his presence, especially because when she checks at the end of the tour…he’s gone.

    Claire tries to brush it off, she must be imagining things, letting her dad’s ghost stories get the best of her. But then the scratching starts. Voices whisper to her in the dark. The number 396 appears everywhere she turns. And the boy with the dark eyes starts following her. Claire is being haunted. The boy from the bus wants something...and Claire needs to find out what before it’s too late."



    Canyon's Edge The Canyon's Edge by Dusti Bowling

    "One year after a random shooting changed their family forever, Nora and her father are exploring a slot canyon deep in the Arizona desert, hoping it will help them find peace. Nora longs for things to go back to normal, like they were when her mother was still alive, while her father keeps them isolated in fear of other people. But when they reach the bottom of the canyon, the unthinkable happens: A flash flood rips across their path, sweeping away Nora's father and all of their supplies.

    Suddenly, Nora finds herself lost and alone in the desert, facing dehydration, venomous scorpions, deadly snakes, and, worst of all, the Beast who has terrorized her dreams for the past year. If Nora is going to save herself and her father, she must conquer her fears, defeat the Beast, and find the courage to live her new life."



    bb Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

    Dante has been dubbed the "Black Brother" to his brother Trey. They have the same parents but Trey has light skin and Donte has darker skin. Donte's teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter skinned brother, Trey. Quiet, obedient.

    When an incident leads to Donte's arrest and suspension, he knows the only way to get even is to beat the king of the school at his own game: fencing. With the help of a former Olympic fencer, Donte embarks on a journey to carve out a spot on Middlefield Prep's fencing team and maybe learn something about himself along the way.

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  • May & June Reads & Recommendations

    Posted by Jennifer Whitt on 6/30/2020

    It has been a busy spring, readers! I did not get as much reading done as I wanted to. I am OK with that though.. because I have a whole summer ahead of me to read, read, read, no matter what, what, what! Here are some of my favorites from May and June of 2020.

    long walk A Long Walk To Water by Linda Sue Park

    I know, I know.. how have I never read this well loved book before?! I don't know! All I know is that I am sad that I did not get to it sooner. This story, which is based on a true story, tells the story of Salva, who in 1985 is frorced to leave his country and seek refuge. It also tells the story of Nya who is living in Sudan in 2008, and struggling to fetch clean water for her family everyday. These two lives are intertwined in shocking ways despite the 23+ years between them. 


    night owl From Night Owl to Dog Fish by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends--and possibly, one day, even sisters. But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can't imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?



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  • April Reads & Recommendations

    Posted by Jennifer Whitt on 4/30/2020

    Reading time has been different while I am home with two young kids who are trying to learn and play all day long! While we are all adapting to being home, I did carve ou some time to read some pretty awesome books. What have you read this month?

    Forget me not  Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry

    When Calliope, a girl with Tourette syndrome, starts at a new school, she tries to hide her quirks. Calliope's mother has moved her around so many times that she has lost count and Calliope desperately wants a friend who sees beyond her ticks and quirky movements. But is it really worth it when they might move again? This quick red that is written in verse will give you all the feels.


    Clean Getaway  Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

    After getting in trouble at school, "Scoobs" decides to go on an unplanned road trip with his Grandma and decides to leave his cell phone at home so his dad won't find them. But along the way, his Grandma starts acting strange and "Scoobs" starts to wonder if he should have let his dad know what he was up to. Little does he know that he is on a trip to discover where he truly belongs. The added mystery of his Grandma's past tops off this relatable realistic fiction story.


    The Day The World Came To Town  The Day The World Came To Town by Jim DeFede 

    This book was chosen for the NPS Intergenerational Book Club and I was eager to read it because their recommendations in the past have been phenomenal! This moving story starts on Septemeber 11, 2001 when planes had to be rerouted after the USA shut down air space. 38 of those planes were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland and many of their lives were changed forever. This small town opened up its doors, homes, and hearts to passengers who were sad, confused, and panicked. Each vignette shows human compassion and kindess. 


    Let me know what some of your favorites were this month so I can add them to my TBR (to be read) pile! Read on, readers!

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  • March Reads & Recommendations

    Posted by Jennifer Whitt on 3/31/2020

    March was a rather different month that brough a few ups and downs along the way. We were in school until March 13th, when we were placed in a "stay at home" order which granted us ample time to read! Here are a few highlights from March.


    Chirp  Chirp by Kate Messner 

    Seventh grader, Mia, travels to Vermont for the summer as she's recovering from the broken arm she got falling off a balance beam.  Mia loves the time she gets to sepnd with her Grandma on the cricket farm but  Mia quickly realizes that her Gram thinks someone is trying to destroy the farm. Mia and her friends set out to investigate, but can they uncover the truth in time to save Gram's farm? Read on, readers!


    wolf  A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry

    After reading and loving Pax by Sarah Pennypacker, I did not think I could like another wolf story! While Pax still remains my personal favorite wolf, this story was also interesting, especially because it is based on true events! This story is told through the perspective of Swift, a young wolf cub, who lives with his pack in the mountains until a rival pack attacks, and Swift and his family scatter. Much of the story surrounds Swift trying to find his way back to his family, while learning about the world as he goes. Inspired by the extraordinary true story of a wolf named OR-7 (or Journey), this irresistible tale of survival invites readers to experience and imagine what it would be like to be one of the most misunderstood animals on earth!


     Love  Love From A-Z by S.K. Ali

    When Zayneb gets suspended for confronting her teacher, she heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break andresolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her. Then her path crosses with Adam’s. Since he got diagnosed with MS, Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father. The two quickly realize that they are similar and help each other through tough times. 

    peculiar  The Peculiar Incident On Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

    Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones. With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her! (summary taken from goodreads.com)

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  • February Reads and Recommendations

    Posted by Jennifer Whitt on 2/29/2020

    Stargirl  Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

    This was a reread for me (so I could watch the movie that will be released on Disney+) and I loved it even more the second time. When Stargirl shows up at Mica Area High School, she breaks all of the social rules and dares to be different. When she befiredns Leo Borlock, she shows him the true sens eof being yourself. Over teh course of the year Stargirl goes from being unpopular, to one of the most popular students, and then again to being seen as a "no one". Great lessons on being yourself and standing up for what you believe. Now onto the movie!


    All The Impossible Things  All The Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey

    Whenever Ruby “Red” Byrd is scared or angry, the wind picks up. And being placed in foster care, moving from family to family, tends to keep the skies stormy. This time, the wind blows Red into the home of the Grooves, a quirky couple who run a petting zoo, complete with a dancing donkey and a giant tortoise. With their own curious gifts, Celine and Jackson Groove seem to fit like a puzzle piece into Red’s heart. But just when Red starts to settle into her new life, a fresh storm rolls in, one she knows all too well: her mother. For so long, Red has longed to have her mom back in her life, and she’s quickly swept up in the vortex of her mother’s chaos. Now Red must decide the possible from the impossible if she wants to overcome her own tornadoes and find the family she needs.


    Wild Bird  Wild Bird by Wendelin Van draanen

    This one comes from the same author of The Running Dream (which I read last month and LOVED)! 3:47 a.m. is when they come for Wren Clemens. She's hustled out of her house and into a waiting car, then a plane, and then taken on a forced march into the desert. This is what happens to kids who've gone so far off the rails, their parents don't know what to do with them any more. This is wilderness therapy camp. Wren arrives angry and bitter, and blaming everyone but herself. But angry can't put up a tent. And bitter won't start a fire. Wren's going to have to admit she needs help if she's going to survive. In her most incisive and insightful book yet, beloved author Wendelin Van Draanen's offers a remarkable portrait of a girl who took a wrong turn and got lost--but who may be able to find her way back again in the vast, harsh desert.


    Red Queen  Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

    One of my new favorite Dystopian novels. This is a world divided by blood - red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.


    *Summaries taken from Goodreads.com*

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  • January Reads and Recommendations

    Posted by Jennifer Whitt on 1/27/2020

    Small Spaces  Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

    After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn't think--she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a "the smiling man," a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. When she goes on a field trip the next day, she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she's been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: "Best get moving. At nightfall they'll come for the rest of you." Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie's previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.  And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.


    WFFMH  When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

    Ben Coffin has never felt like he fits in. A former foster kid, he keeps his head down at school to avoid bullies and spends his afternoons reading sci-fi books at the library. But that all changes when he finds a scruffy abandoned dog named Flip and befriends the librarian’s daughter, Halley. For the first time, Ben starts to feel like he belongs in his own life. Then, everything changes, and suddenly, Ben is more alone than ever. But with a little help from Halley’s magician father, Ben discovers his place in the world and learns to see his own magic through others’ eyes.


    Unsung Hero  The Unsung Hero of Birdsong USA by Brenda Woods

    On Gabriel's twelfth birthday, he gets a new bike--and is so excited that he accidentally rides it right into the path of a car. Fortunately, a Black man named Meriwether pushes him out of the way just in time, and fixes his damaged bike. As a thank you, Gabriel gets him a job at his dad's auto shop. Gabriel's dad hires him with some hesitation, however, anticipating trouble with the other mechanic, who makes no secret of his racist opinions.
    Gabriel and Meriwether become friends, and Gabriel learns that Meriwether drove a tank in the Army's all-Black 761st Tank Battalion in WWII. Meriwether is proud of his service, but has to keep it a secret because talking about it could be dangerous. Sadly, danger finds Meriwether, anyway, when his family receives a frightening threat. The South being the way it is, there's no guarantee that the police will help--and Gabriel doesn't know what will happen if Meriwether feels forced to take the law into his own hands.


    Running Dream  The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

    Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run? As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her. With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.


    *Book Summaries copies from Goodreads.com*

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