The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy (2014)

This is a book that will be of interest to boys as well as girls. The main characters are four brothers who are ages 12, 10, 10, and six. The two 10 year olds are not twins biologically. All of the brothers are adopted, and Jax and Eli were such friends as toddlers that their adoptive dads adopted them both at the same time. The oldest is Sam and the youngest is Frog (as in “Jeremiah was a bullfrog”.)  The brothers are all beginning a new school year in the opening chapter of the book.  As the school proceeds, things don’t go quite as each of the boys thought they would. 

I really enjoyed this book overall, and think boys (and girls) aged 8 to 10 would particularly enjoy it, as well as people who enjoy family stories.  However, something that bothers me now, and would have bothered me at that age as well (I spent time as a young child rather obsessed with what age everyone should turn in what grade.)   At 10, Eli and Jax were only starting fourth grade.  I was 10 when I started fifth grade.  It was the same with the others.  Frog was already six and only starting kindergarten, and Sam was 12 and starting sixth grade.  Excuse me, but I was 11 most of my sixth grade year . . .  perhaps all of their birthdays were in August right before the school year?

The Weight of Water

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan (2012 in Great Britain, and 2013 in the US.)

This is a novel in verse about a girl new to England with her mother, from Poland. Kasienka (often known as Cassie in England) and her mother are there to look for their father and husband.  Kasienka’s tata had left them and gone to England some years before.   Her mother is desperate to find him.   They take a small room in a boarding house, and Kasienka starts going to school.  The school head incorrectly assumes that Kasienka needs to being in a lower grade level because English is not her first language.   Kasienka eventually takes tests and blows them all away.  She is moved up to her proper age group.  She navigates the pitfalls and bullying from other girls as she discovers the new life her father is living, a relationship with a boy, and how well she can do on the school swim team.  

This is a good read for middle grade kids.

Arlene on the Scene by Carol Liu with Marybeth Sidoti Caldarone

TitleArlene on the Scene

Author: Carol Liu with Marybeth Sidoti Caldarone
Original Publication Date: 2010
Date I First Read: 2013
Basic Category:  Juvenile Fiction (The main character is in fourth grade.)

Basic Summary:  Arlene is starting the fourth grade . . . but over the summer, she has acquired new purple leg braces.  She has a disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth, which makes her legs and hands  weak.   With the braces, she can walk better.  Still she worries, so she concocts a plan to prove herself.  First, she convinces the school principal that fourth graders should be able to run for student government, not just the fifth and sixth graders . . . and then Arlene starts campaigning hard! She learns a lot about her classmates in the meantime.  

What, from this book, has stayed in my mind:   Arlene’s speech in front of the student body just prior to the election.  

What I Took Away From the Book:  This is a book I would have loved to read when I was in third or fourth grade – maybe because Arlene is so unlike me at that age.  Not because of physically abilities, but because of her outgoing personality.  I would never imagine doing anything like she does in this book!  Go, Arlene! 

I also learned about Charot-Marie-Tooth.  It is a neuropathy disorder that is usually inherited, but sometimes it just shows up (as in the case of Arlene and her mother, and in the case of the co-author Marybeth Sidoti Caldarone and her daughter.) 

Rating (1-5 stars):  4.5  

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray (Illustrated by Mike Lowery), 2011.

This picture book is a 2014 Nominee of  Illinois’ Monarch Award.  The winner of this award is voted on by students in Illinois in grades K to 3.

This book really is perfect for kids in kindergarten.  The children listening to this book read aloud need to have the context of being in school to really get the excitement of being lost in the school – and getting into the principal’s office!  This illustrations are almost in graphic novel format, so that each page contains visuals for each line, sentence, or action.   It is definitely one I would take school visiting for kindergarten and perhaps first grade.  It takes the read through a myriad of emotions while also being rather silly at times, and it has a good ending.

(I am not in any way connected with the Monarch Award and nor am I being paid to review this book. I checked this book out from the local public library!)