Thursday, September 3, 2015

Massachusetts Children's Book Award Nominees 2015 - 2016

Massachusetts Children’s Book Award
Sponsored by Salem State University
Master List 2015-2016 Nominees 

Click on any title below to find activities, resources and learn more about that book!

Athlete vs. Mathlete by W.C. Mack

Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year by Bill Harley

Counting by 7's by Holly G. Sloan

**Dragonet Prophecy: Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland

Elvis and the Underdogs by Jenny Lee

**Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes

Go for the Goal! by Fred Bowen

Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino

I Survived: The Attacks of September 11, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis

Jack Gets a Clue: The Case of the Loose-Toothed Shark by Nancy Krulik

Kelsey Green, Reading Queen by Claudia Mills

Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts

Legend of the Ghost Dog by Eric C. Kimmel

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny: Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath

The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ: A Laboratory Dog’s Search for Love 
by Martha Ritter

*The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Appelgate

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesel Shurtiff

**The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

**Wishing Spell: The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
*        2016 MCBA Winner
**      2016 MCBA Honor Books

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Massachusetts Children's Book Award 2015 Winners Announced!

Massachusetts Children’s Book Award
Sponsored by Salem State University

2015 Classroom Certificate

Massachusetts Children's Book Award
  2015 Winner

The Lions of Little Rocks 

Massachusetts Children's Book Award
2015 Honor Books
(in random order)

Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune
by Rick Riordan

I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916
by Lauren Tarshis

Dewey the Library Cat
by Vicki Myron

The Familiars
by Adam Jay Epstein


Friday, July 31, 2015

Athlete vs. Mathlete by W.C. Mack

Notes: When their two worlds collide in seventh grade, fraternal twins and opposites Owen and Russell find themselves in direct competition at school, on the court, and at home.

From the Publisher:
Owen Evans lights up the scoreboards. His brother, Russell, rocks the school boards. These twin brothers couldn't be more different. They've long kept the peace by going their separate ways, but all that is about to change. The new basketball coach recruits Russell for the seventh grade team and a jealous Owen has to fight to stay in the game. When someone tries to steal Russell's spot as captain of the mathlete team, will the two be able to put aside their differences in order to save his position? Or will they be sidelined?

Readers Theater Script – Athlete Vs. Mathlete (PDF)

About the author:

Books by W. C. Mack

Did you like Athlete vs. Mathlete?  Check out 2 other books in the series!

Mack, W. C. Athlete vs. mathlete: double dribble (#2 in series). Fraternal twins Russ and Owen’s domination of the seventh-grade basketball team falters when Mitch and Marcus Matthews, identical twins, arrive and prove their skill on the court and in the classroom.

Mack, W. C. Athlete vs. mathlete: time-out (#3 in series). Owen wins the last spot at the local basketball camp, leaving his twin Russ to join the “Multi-Sport Sampler” camp, but while Russ is inspired to study various sports and make sense of them, Owen is frustrated by not being the star.

Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year by Bill Harley

Notes: Charlie Bumpers is sure he does not stand a chance of getting along with his fourth grade teacher and despite his best efforts to be neat and well-behaved, he always seems to be in trouble until he discovers her secret.

From the Publisher: Shortly before school starts, Charlie Bumpers learns that he will have the strictest teacher in the whole school for fourth grade. It doesn't matter that she's been named Teacher of the Year. He's still afraid of her. Last year when he was horsing around in the hall, he accidentally hit her in the head with his sneaker (don't ask). How will he survive a year under a teacher who is just waiting for him to make another stupid mistake? 

Charlie Bumpers Books

Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year - Chapter 1 

About the Author

About the Illustrator

Check out the these other Charlie Bumper Books! 

Charlie Bumper vs. The Really Nice Gnome - Book 2

Charlie Bumper vs. The Squeaking Skull - Book 3 

Charlie Bumper vs. The Perfect Little Turkey - Book 4


Counting by 7s by Holly Greenberg Sloan

Holly Goldberg Sloan talks about what inspired her to write Counting by 7s.

Notes: Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident.

From the Publisher:
This is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn't kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.

Suddenly Willow's world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.

Holly Goldberg Sloan's Website

FREE Teaching Resources
Teacher Guide

Read Chapter One


Dragonet Prophecy: Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland

Notes: Clay and the other four MudWing dragonets were stolen from their homes while they were still in their eggs and hidden for years in order to fulfill a prophecy claiming that the dragonets would end the war between the dragon tribes, but not all of the dragonets want their destiny.

From the Publisher:
A thrilling new series soars above the competition and redefines middle-grade fantasy fiction for a new generation!

The seven dragon tribes have been at war for generations, locked in an endless battle over an ancient, lost treasure. A secret movement called the Talons of Peace is determined to bring an end to the fighting, with the help of a prophecy -- a foretelling that calls for great sacrifice.

Five dragonets are collected to fulfill the prophecy, raised in a hidden cave and enlisted, against their will, to end the terrible war.

But not every dragonet wants a destiny. And when the select five escape their underground captors to look for their original homes, what has been unleashed on the dragon world may be far more than the revolutionary planners intended . . .

Free Teaching Resources
Discussion Questions for Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland

The Dragonet Prophecy - Wings of Fire - Wiki

Other books in the Wings of Fire Series:

The Lost Heir - (#2), The Hidden Kingdom - (#3), The Dark Secret - (#4), 
The Brightest Night - (#5), The Moon Rising - (#6), Winter Turning - (#7)

Elvis and the Underdogs by Jenny Lee

Notes: All his life Benji, now ten, has been sickly and he has long been targeted by the school bully, but after a seizure Benji gets a therapy dog that is not only big enough to protect him, it can also talk.

From the Publisher:
From Jenny Lee, writer on the Disney Channel show Shake It Up!, the number-one-rated kids' show in the country, this feel-good middle-grade novel is about a sickly boy whose life is turned upside down when he gets a therapy dog . . . who can talk!
Benji Wendell Barnsworth is a small ten-year-old boy with a big personality. Born premature, Benji is sickly, accident-prone, and at the hospital so often he even has his own punch card. So when Benji wakes up one day from a particularly bad spell, his doctors take the radical step of suggesting he get a therapy dog. But when a massive crate arrives at Benji's house, out walks a two-hundred-pound Newfoundland who can talk! And boy, is he bossy.
In this hilarious and heartwarming friendship story in the tradition of bestselling authors Gordon Korman and Carl Hiaasen, Elvis brings out the dog lover in the most surprising people and shows Benji that making new friends may not be as scary as he once thought.

Elvis and the Underdogs Website 

Click here to download a pdf to read the first 3 chapters of Elvis and the Underdogs

or Click below to read a sample. 


Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Notes: "Twelve-year-old Kyle gets to stay overnight in the new town library, designed by his hero (the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello), with other students but finds that come morning he must work with friends to solve puzzles in order to escape"--Provided by publisher.

Book Trailer

From the Publisher: Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.

Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.

Author Chris Grabenstein's Website

Watch the trailer

Read the first three chapters (pdf)

Read Chris' interview with Jack and Jill Magazine

Check out the study guide

Download the educator's guide prepared by Colby Sharp of Nerdy Book Club (pdf)

Have author Chris Grabenstein visit your classroom or library via Skype!

Download the complete list of books and periodicals mentioned in Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library (pdf)

Solve the Final Puzzle in Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Visit the school library that inspired Mr. Lemoncello's Library!

Learn how the cover was made for Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Chris talks about and reads from the book!

FREE Teaching Resources
Educator Guide


Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

Notes: A girl named Flora and a squirrel named Ulysses, whose life was saved by Flora after he was involved in an incident with a vacuum cleaner, team up to use Ulysses' superpowers to conquer villains and protect the weak.

It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry -- and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.

Flora & Ulysses Website 

Click here to read an excerpt from Flora & Ulysses. 

Click here for a discussion guide for book groups. 

Click here for a Q&A with Kate DiCamillo. 

Click here for a teachers' guide full of discussion questions and classroom activities. 

Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan

Notes: While in North Dakota helping her Aunt Frankie prepare for a possible flood, Lucy finds her voice as a poet with the help of her two-year-old brother Teddy, the rest of their family, and a few cows.

From the Publisher: From the Newbery Award–winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall comes a story about one brave girl who saves her family from losing everything.

Everyone in Lucy's family sings. Opera. Rap. Lullabies. Everyone, except Lucy. Lucy can't sing; her voice just won't come out.

Just like singing, helping Aunt Frankie prepare for flooding season is a family tradition—even if Frankie doesn't want the help. And this year, when the flood arrives, danger finds its way into the heart of Lucy's family, and Lucy will need to find her voice to save her brother. 

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Book Trailer

Neil Gaiman reading from Fortunately, The Milk . 
Watch the multi-award-winning Neil Gaiman read from his spectacularly silly, mind-bendingly clever, brilliantly bonkers new children's book, FORTUNATELY, THE MILK . . .

This time-travelling adventure for young readers will feature aliens, dinosaurs, volcano gods and a pint of milk that saves the universe! It will be illustrated throughout by Chris Riddell.

Neil Gaiman Discusses Fortunately, the Milk
Take a sneak peak at Neil Gaiman's children's book, Fortunately, the Milk... about a tale of one Dad's heroic mission to provide milk for his family ended up as something of a beginner's guide to theoretical physics. With dinosaurs...

Fortunately, the Milk... sees Gaiman collaborate once again with illustrator Chris Ridell to shape a story that features time travel, parallel universes and children who need their breakfast now...

Notes: While picking up milk for his children's cereal, a father is abducted by aliens and finds himself on a wild adventure through time and space.

From the Publisher:
"I bought the milk," said my father. "I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: t h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road.
"Hullo," I said to myself. "That's not something you see every day. And then something odd happened."
Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal.

Author Neil Gailman's Website 

Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes

Notes: Gaby Ramirez Howard volunteers at the animal shelter by writing adoption advertisements and would like to adopt a cat named Feather but with her mother deported to Honduras Gaby has no home herself.

Link to Video about Gaby, Lost and Found from Teachertube

From the Publisher:
Wanted: One amazing forever home for one amazing sixth grader.

"My name is Gaby, and I'm looking for a home where I can invite my best friend over and have a warm breakfast a couple of times a week. Having the newest cell phone or fancy clothes isn't important, but I'd like to have a cat that I can talk to when I'm home alone."

Gaby Ramirez Howard loves volunteering at the local animal shelter. She plays with the kittens, helps to obedience train the dogs, and writes adoption advertisements so that the strays who live there can find their forever homes: places where they'll be loved and cared for, no matter what.

Gaby has been feeling like a bit of a stray herself, lately. Her mother has recently been deported to Honduras and Gaby is stuck living with her inattentive dad. She's confident that her mom will come home soon so that they can adopt Gaby's favorite shelter cat together. When the cat's original owners turn up at the shelter, however, Gaby worries that her plans for the perfect family are about to fall apart.

Author Angel Cervantes Website

Click to see Scholastic's author video for Gaby, Lost and Found.

Download a fun printer-friendly Gaby, Lost and Found worksheet for yourself or your classroom!
Write your own story about your favorite pet.
Worksheet available in English and EspaƱol.

Just click to download.

Lost and Found activity sheet – English

Lost and Found activity sheet – Spanish

Teacher Resources

Go for the Goal! by Fred Bowen

Notes: Thirteen-year-old Josh joins an elite travel league soccer team on which the individual members are all talented but not playing well as a team, so their coach suggests that they do some team-building exercises.

Josh is thrilled to be playing for the United, a travel soccer team. He is sure this team of all-stars is going to have a great season. But Josh’s new teammates don’t play like a team. The United’s season is going down in a string of defeats until Josh discovers something about the 1999 United States World Cup team. That group of all-stars worked at being teammates. Maybe their secret will work for the United.

Fred Bowen's Personal Website

Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino

Notes: "When musical prodigy, Elvis Ruby, completely freezes up on television, he is forced to hide out in the Pinelands of New Jersey and try to find his way back to the music once again with the help of a new friend"--Provided by publisher.

From the Publisher:
In Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino, eleven-year-old musical prodigy, Elvis Ruby, was supposed to win the most coveted reality show on television, Tween Star. None of the other contestants even came close to his talents. But in the middle of the biggest night, with millions of people watching, Elvis panicked. He forgot the words to the song. He forgot the tune. He forgot how to play every single instrument he'd ever known and froze on national TV. So Elvis must run from the paparazzi camped outside his door and spend the summer working with his aunt and cousin at Piney Pete's Pancake Palace in the remote wilds of New Jersey. It's the perfect place to be anonymous, that is until Elvis meets Cecilia, a girl who can't seem to help blurting out whatever's on her mind.

Nan Marino's Website 

What's Real - Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace 

Book Report Form
Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace book report form (PDF File)

I Survived: The Attacks of September 11, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis

Notes: Lucas has to tell his dad's friend Benny, a firefighter and former football star, that his parents do not want him playing football anymore, and he takes the train into New York City to talk to Benny, but everything changes when the Twin Towers are attacked.

Click here to visit Author Lauren Tarshis's Website  and I Survived: The Attacks of September 11, 2001

Click here for quizzes, discussion questions, activity sheets and more

Educator’s Guide


I Survived: Analyzing the Author's Use of Historical Facts Reproducible (PDF)

Other books in the series:

Jack Gets a Clue: The Case of the Loose-Toothed Shark by Nancy Krulik

Jack Gets s Clue: The Case of the Loose-Toothed Shark - Lexile Level 490L

Notes: Jack and his friend Elizabeth try to find the thief responsible for stealing a giant sharks tooth fossil that Jack has been accuse of stealing and he must use his ability to talk to animals.

Check out these other books in the Jack Gets a Clue Series:

Kelsey Green, Reading Queen by Claudia Mills

Notes: "Margaret Ferguson books"--Title page. Kelsey is the best reader in her third grade class, and she is determined to lead her class to victory in the all-school reading contest.

From the Publisher:
Kelsey Green is the best reader in the third grade--well, maybe tied for best with know-it-all Simon Ellis. When the principal Mr. Boone announces a school-wide reading contest, complete with a pizza party for the winning class and a special certificate for the top readers in each grade, she knows she's just the person to lead Mrs. Molina's third graders to victory. But how can they win when her classmate Cody Harmon doesn't want to read anything, and even Kelsey's best friends Annika and Izzy don't live up to her expectations? And could Simon possibly be reading all of those books that he claims he is, or is he lying to steal Kelsey's rightful spot at the top?

Author's Website 

Franklin School Friends curriculum guide.pdf

Kelsey Green, Reading Queen is the first book in Claudia Mills's Franklin School Friends series.

Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts

Notes: Kizzie Ann Stamps is nervous about starting at a new school that was just integrated, and wonders if she and her dog Shag will be allowed to compete in a herding competition because she is African-American.

From the Publisher: Taking things in stride is not easy for Kizzy Ann, but with her border collie, Shag, stalwart at her side, she sets out to live a life as sweet as syrup on cornbread.

In 1963, as Kizzy Ann prepares for her first year at an integrated school, she worries about the color of her skin, the scar running from the corner of her right eye to the tip of her smile, and whether anyone at the white school will like her. She writes letters to her new teacher in a clear, insistent voice, stating her troubles and asking questions with startling honesty. The new teacher is supportive, but not everyone feels the same, so there is a lot to write about. Her brother, James, is having a far less positive school experience than she is, and the annoying white neighbor boy won't leave her alone. But Shag, her border collie, is her refuge. Even so, opportunity clashes with obstacle. Kizzy Ann knows she and Shag could compete well in the dog trials, but will she be able to enter? From Jeri Watts comes an inspiring middle-grade novel about opening your mind to the troubles and scars we all must bear — and facing life with hope and trust. 

Kizzy Ann Stamps | TIME For Kids


Legend of the Ghost Dog by Eric C. Kimmel

Notes: Twelve-year-old Tee moves to Nome, Alaska with her father, brother, and dog Henry, and one day when Tee is walking Henry down the street, a mysterious shadow appears to be following them.

From the Publisher:
A thrilling mystery set against a stark landscape and the inspiration of Nome's real-life dog hero, Balto.

Twelve-year-old Tee has just moved to Nome, Alaska, with her writer father and sullen little brother, Jack. Jack isn't happy about the idea of living in the middle of nowhere, but Tee and her dog Henry are thrilled -- so much open space to run around and sniff!

But on a walk near their new house, Henry spots something that has him seriously spooked. Tee sees a mysterious shadow, and it seems to be following them. Have they disturbed a restless spirit? And what other secrets might this dark place be holding?

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Cody Kimmel's Website

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny: Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath

Notes: Middle-schooler Madeline's hippy parents have been kidnapped from Hornby Island, Canada, by foxes and Madeline, upon discovering that she can understand animal languages, hires two rabbit detectives to find them

From the Publisher: "A rabbity romp complete with whimsical illustrations and a quirky cast of characters, has both the look and feel of a classic children's book," raves The Washington Post.

In this hilarious chapter book mystery, meet a girl whose parents have been kidnapped by disreputable foxes, and a pair of detectives that also happen to be bunnies! When Madeline gets home from school one afternoon to discover that her parents have gone missing, she sets off to find them. So begins a once-in-a-lifetime adventure involving a cast of unforgettable characters. There's Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, who drive a smart car, wear fedoras, and hate marmots; the Marmot, who loves garlic bread and is a brilliant translator; and many others. Translated from the Rabbit by Newbery Honor-winning author Polly Horvath, and beautifully illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

Author Polly Horvath's Website

Look Inside

Conversation with Mrs. Bunny


The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ: A Laboratory Dog's Search for Love by Martha Ritter

This book tells the story of a mute, nameless foxhound, who has spent her life in a laboratory cage. She has never seen the sun. When she gets rescued, Dottie, a diva ladybug, helps her understand the world and find a home with Olivia, a restless, solitary girl who wants comfort that her new pet cannot supply.

It is not love at first sight. The isolated dog and the hesitant girl must face their fear of connecting. They learn to tame each other, let go, survive adventures, and find the courage to trust as they search for their place in the sun.

The book has both humor and heart. It is an adventure story as well as a tale with many layers--about overcoming obstacles, mining experience for what matters, and doing what is necessary, though not always desirable, for friendship. It is ultimately about the joy of a hard-won connection.

Matt Ryan's illustrations are classic with a contemporary edge. They deftly reflect this fresh, poignant, wise, and sometimes downright wacky book. 

The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ


Teacher's Guide


The Story Behind the Story 


About the Author 



The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

 Official Book Trailer

Katherine Applegate talks about the picture book version of IVAN: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Book Trailer : IVAN: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate

Notes: When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.

From the Publisher:
This stirring and unforgettable novel from renowned author Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendships. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated novel is told from the point-of-view of Ivan himself.

Having spent 27 years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan's unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope. An author's note depicts the differences between the fictional story and true events.

Teaching Guide aligned with Common Core

The One and Only Ivan Website

The Book

The Real Ivan

The Author

Read a Sample of the book

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Notes: Ophelia, a timid eleven-year-old girl grieving her mother, suspends her disbelief in things non-scientific when a boy locked in the museum where her father is working asks her to help him complete an age-old mission.

From the Publisher: "Magic is "messy and dangerous and filled with longing," we learn in this brave tale of grief, villainy and redemption that borrows from the story of the Snow Queen. Set in a vast, chilly museum, the tale brings together a valiant girl, a charmed boy, a magical sword and a clock ticking down to the end of the world."--The Wall Street Journal
This is the story of unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard who doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty, the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

FREE Teaching Resources
Discussion Guide

Random House for Kids - Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

Download Discussion Questions

Look Inside the Book

Author Question and Answer