Thursday, September 3, 2015

Massachusetts Children's Book Award Nominees 2015 - 2016

Click on any title below to find activities, resources and learn more about each 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

Sunday, August 2, 2015

2015 Massachusetts Children's Book Award Winners

MCBA  2015 Winner

The Lions of Little Rocks 
by Kristin Levine

2015 MCBA 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

MCBA Information

Salem State News - 2015 MCBA Announced


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Just Announced Massachusetts Children's Book Award Nominees 2015-2016!

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

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

The award is sponsored by Salem State University.

MCBA Information 


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.