Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Massachusetts Children's Book Award Nominees 2016-2017

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

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

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Anton and Cecil, Book 1: Cats at Sea by Lisa and Valerie Martin

Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

The Buddy Files: The Case of the School Ghost by Dori Hillestad Butler

El Deafo by Cece Bell

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm

I Survived: The Great Chicago Fire, 1871 by Lauren Tarshis

No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis

Out of Bounds by Fred Bowen

Poached by Stuart Gibbs

Quinny and Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

Sophia’s War: A Tale of the Revolution by Avi

The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

The Witch’s Boy  by Kelly Barnhill

Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom (Heroes in Training) by Joan Holub



Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Image result for Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff 
Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Book Trailer from YouTube
Albie has never been the smartest kid in his class. He has never been the tallest. Or the best at gym. Or the greatest artist. Or the most musical. In fact, Albie has a long list of the things he's not very good at. But then Albie gets a new babysitter, Calista, who helps him figure out all of the things he is good at and how he can take pride in himself.

A perfect companion to Lisa Graff's National Book Award-nominated A Tangle of Knots, this novel explores a similar theme in a realistic contemporary world where kids will easily be able to relate their own struggles to Albie's. Great for fans of Rebecca Stead's Liar and Spy, RJ Palacio's Wonder 
 and Cynthia Lord's Rules.

Resources for Teachers and Librarians 

Audio Name Pronunciation with Lisa Graff
Listen to an interview about the book and its themes
Read an interview about the creation of the book
Reading Guide for Absolutely Almost by Celeste Caso
Educator's Guide for Lisa Graff's Books (aligned to Common Core Standands for Grades 4-6)

Author Lisa Graff's Website - Absolutely Almost

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A novel of snow and courage by Chris Kurtz

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A novel of snow and courage by Chris Kurtz 

Book Trailer

Flora has far more energy and spunk than her lazy brothers, and a taste for adventure. Yet the pig pen offers little opportunity for anything new and interesting . . . until she escapes and meets up with the dogs on the farm, while they're in training, pulling a cart. That gives her a dream: Being a sled-pig!

Wanting to head off on an adventure, she later intentionally gets caught in her pen by humans. She thinks she's off on an expedition to the Antarctic, although her guess about why she's on the ship there is much different than the humans' intention (bacon, ham, etc.). She learns how to help hunt for rats on the ship, befriends a cat and a boy, all the while hoping that she'll eventually be leading a team of dogs across the South Pole. Some unexpected turns of events lead to Flora proving herself as a South Pole pig.


Anton and Cecil, Book 1: Cats at Sea by Lisa and Valerie Martin

Image result for Anton and Cecil

Anton and Cecil : Cats at Sea by Lisa and Valerie Martin

A swashbuckling story of two very different cat brothers and their adventures at sea.

Cecil and Anton are as different as port and starboard. Cecil, stocky and black with white patches, thirsts for seafaring adventure as he roams the docks of his harbor side home, taking day trips on fishing boats when the chance comes along. Slim, gray Anton prefers listening to the sailors’ shanties at the town saloon. But one day when Anton goes to port, he’s taken to be a ratter on a ship bound for the high seas.

Knowing little of the wide open ocean that lies beyond the harbor, Cecil boards another ship in hopes of finding Anton. But what begins as a rescue mission turns into a pair of high-seas adventures.

Anton takes on a fierce rat, outwits hungry birds, and forges a forbidden friendship, while Cecil encounters dolphins and whales and finds himself in the middle of a pirate raid. On an ocean as vast as the one Anton and Cecil have discovered, will they ever see home―or each other―again?


Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood


Kathryn Littlewood

Rosemary Bliss's family has a secret. It's the Bliss Cookery Booke—an ancient, leather-bound volume of enchanted recipes like Singing Gingersnaps.

Rose and her siblings are supposed to keep the Cookery Booke locked away while their parents are out of town, but then a mysterious stranger shows up. "Aunt" Lily rides a motorcycle and also whips up exotic (but delicious) dishes for dinner. Soon boring, non-magical recipes feel like life before Aunt Lily—a lot less fun.

So Rose and her siblings experiment with just a couple of recipes from the forbidden Cookery Booke. A few Love Muffins and Cookies of Truth couldn't cause too much trouble . . . could they?
Kathryn Littlewood's culinary caper blends rich emotional flavor with truly enchanting wit, yielding one heaping portion of hilarious family adventure.

Kathryn Littlewood's Website

Read a Sample of Bliss

Download a magical recipe from BLISS!

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman 

For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it's the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game.

Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold's new game--before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.

Author Jennifer Chambliss Bertman's Website

The Buddy Files: The Case of the School Ghost by Dori Hillestad Butler

The Case of the School Ghost by Dori Hillestad Butler

There have always been rumors of a ghost at Four Lakes Elementary. On the night of the fourth grade sleepover, Mr. Poe, the custodian, tells the story of Agatha, the girl who haunts the school. Then secret notes, unusual banging, and a ghostly voice invade the sleepover. Buddy is determined to find out if there really is a ghost.

Downloadable Materials

Download a Teacher’s Guide for the Buddy Files #1-4  HERE
Download Coloring Pages HERE
Download a Crossword Puzzle HERE
Download a Maze HERE

The Buddy Files is a series aimed at beginning chapter book readers. It’s about a school therapy dog who solves mysteries. The books are told from the dog’s point of view. Each book is a stand-alone mystery and can be read and enjoyed alone.
But there’s another mystery arc that spans several books. For instance, Buddy discovers CLUES to what happened to his original family in books 1 and 2, but he doesn’t actually find out what happened to them until the end of book 3.

The Buddy Files #1: The Case of the Lost Boy
The Buddy Files #2: The Case of the Mixed-up Mutts
The Buddy Files #3: The Case of the Missing Family 
The Buddy Files #4: The Case of the Fire Truck
The Buddy Files #5: The Case of the Library Monster
The Buddy Files #6: The Case of the School Ghost

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Author Cece Bell Talks About Her New Book, 'El Deafo'

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid.

The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for.

Fish Finelli Book 1: Seagulls Don’t Eat Pickles by E.S. Farber

Fish Finelli Book 1: Seagulls Don’t Eat Pickles by E.S. Farber

When the Whooping Hollow town bully, Bryce Billings, bets Fish Finelli that he can't find Captain Kidd's treasure, Fish and his best buds Roger and T. J. must embark on a quest to find the long-lost booty! Between sneaking into the library to track down Captain Kidd's treasure map, stowing away on a boat, and trespassing on the legendary Lyons Island, Fish and his friends are up to their necks in "goose poop" on this adventure!

Other books in the series:
Fish Finelli Book 2 : Operation Fireball
Fish Finelli Book 3 : Ghosts Don't Wear Glasses

Time for Kids Kids Reporter Book Review 

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
Book Trailer

Believe in the possible . . . with this "warm, witty, and wise" New York Times bestselling novel from three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm

Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?

Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?

With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility.

Look for EXCLUSIVE NEW MATERIAL in the paperback—including Ellie’s gallery of scientists and other STEM-appropriate features.

Loot: How to Steal a Fortune by Jude Watson

Loot: How to Steal a Fortune by Jude Watson

Hijinks, heists, and high-octane action in Jude Watson's new middle-grade blockbuster!
On a foggy night in Amsterdam, a man falls from a rooftop to the wet pavement below. It's Archibald McQuinn, the notorious cat burglar, and he's dying. As sirens wail in the distance, Archie manages to get out two last words to his young son, March: "Find jewels."

But March learns that his father is not talking about hidden loot. He's talking about Jules, the twin sister March never knew he had. No sooner than the two find each other, they're picked up by the police and sent to the world's worst orphanage. It's not hard time, but it feels like it.
March and Jules have no intention of staying put. They know their father's business inside and out, and they're tired of being pushed around. Just one good heist, and they'll live the life of riches and freedom that most kids only dream about...

Hold on to your pearls, because this summer, the world's youngest criminal masterminds are coming for you.

 Discussion Questions

Mystery on Pine Lake: Cooper and Packrat by Tamra Wright

Mystery on Pine Lake: Cooper and Packrat by Tamra Wright

Cooper thought living at a campground would be cool. But ever since his parents bought the lakeside campground, he's had more chores and less time to explore. And as if babysitting his little sister and cleaning the bathrooms weren't bad enough, his ex-friend Roy has chosen him as this summer's bullying target. Cooper's only bright spot this summer is his new friend, Packrat, a guy who carries the world in his coat pockets and leaves his troubles behind. But trouble has come to the Wilder Family Campground and Pine Lake, where a family of loons is building a nest. First, someone dams up the lake and floods the nest. Then, when Cooper and Packrat build a raft where the loons can make a new nest, it gets destroyed by someone with big footprints. It's up to the boys to figure out who, why, and how to stop the culprit--before it's too late.

Author Interview with Tamra Wright

Other books in this Series:

Mystery of the Missing Fox
The stakes have never been higher for Cooper Wilder. When an accident puts Cooper s dad in the hospital, Cooper must shoulder new responsibilities at the campground. But he s distracted. First, he finds a fox caught in an illegal trap on the campground s land. Then kits start to go missing from the fox den. Who would want to steal the foxes? And why? Cooper joins forces with his friends, Packrat and Roy, to solve the mystery. The three young detectives must protect the den, find the kits, and (hopefully) rule out Summer, the new girl who lives across the lake, as a suspect. Juggling new work duties, feeling guilty about his father s accident, and desperate to help the fox kits, Cooper faces tough decisions about who and what should come first.
Mystery of the Eagle's Nest
Did you know that people buy and sell eagle feathers, claws, and parts? Cooper and Packrat didn’t, either. But they’re learning fast. When the boys find a box of valuable eagle parts, they soon realize that the owner will stop at nothing to get them back.

No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis

No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis

Even though Valli spends her days picking coal and fighting with her cousins, life in the coal town of Jharia, India, is the only life she knows. She’s filled with terror when she glimpses the monsters living on the other side of the train tracks — the lepers. When Valli discovers that her “aunt” is a stranger who was paid to take Valli off her family’s hands, she leaves Jharia and begins a series of adventures that takes her to Kolkata, the city of the gods. Valli finds that she really doesn’t need much to live and is very resourceful. But when a chance encounter with a doctor reveals that she has leprosy will Valli be able to face life as one of the monsters she has always feared, or flee to an uncertain life on the street?

Out of Bounds by Fred Bowen

Out of Bounds by Fred Bowen

The Story

Eighth-grader Nate Osborne is a forward on his soccer team, the Strikers. He and the rest of his teammates are competitive, especially when it comes to playing against their rivals, the Monarchs. They want to win so badly that they're willing to root against the Monarchs when they play other teams. Nate starts feeling uncomfortable. Bad sportsmanship isn't always cheating, but is it always bad? Nate has to decide.

The History

Although it is hard to believe, a professional soccer player (in The Netherlands) really did let the other team score because he thought it was the right thing to do. He felt his team's last goal shouldn't have been counted because the other team's goalie wasn't ready. The goalie had thought the play had been stopped because of an injury on the field and was very surprised when the ball flew by him and into the net. 


What is the balance between exceptional sportsmanship and playing your best to beat your opponents?

Audio Name Pronunciation with Fred Bowen

Sunday Brunch - Interview with Fred Bowen

Since many kids are passionate about sports, author Fred Bowen writes books about sport for kids to show them how much fun reading can be. Mr. Bowen sports-fiction series of books are for boys and girls (ages 8-12). He also wrote a picture-book biography of Red Sox legend Ted Williams titled "No Easy Way". In addition to his books, the author writes the Thursday sports column for kids in "The Washington Post."

Check out the author's sports fiction series at sportsstoryseries.com.

Here is the link to the Washington Post Sports Column for Kids - "The Score"


Poached by Stuart Gibbs

Teddy Fitzroy’s back for another zoo mystery—this time it’s a koala caper—in this action-packed follow-up to Belly Up.

School troublemaker Vance Jessup thinks Teddy Fitzroy’s home at FunJungle, a state-of-the-art zoo and theme park, is the perfect place for a cruel prank. Vance bullies Teddy into his scheme, but the plan goes terribly awry.

Teddy sneaks into the koala exhibit to hide out until the chaos dies down. But when the koala goes missing, Teddy is the only person caught on camera entering and exiting the exhibit.

Teddy didn’t commit the crime—but if he can’t find the real culprit, he’ll be sent to juvie as a convicted koala-napper.

Click here for a book Review on Poached 

Click here for a 1 minute Book Review about Poached

Author Stuart Gibb's Website

Author's Interview/Questions about Poached

Previously in the FunJungle series: Belly Up


Next in the FunJungle series: Big Game



Quinny and Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen

Quinny and Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen

Quinny has a lot to say. Hopper gets to the point.

Quinny has one speed: very, very, extra-very fast. Hopper proceeds with caution.

Quinny has big ideas. Hopper has smart solutions.

Quinny and Hopper couldn't be more different. They are an unstoppable team.

But when summer ends, things suddenly aren't the same. Can Quinny and Hopper stick together in the face of stylish bullies, a killer chicken, and the brand-new Third Grade Rules-especially the one that says they aren't allowed to be friends anymore?

 Author Video Interview

Author Adriana Brad Schanen's Website

For classes or book groups that are reading Quinny & Hopper, author offers a free Skype session.

Click here for a Q&H discussion guide and educator resources.

Readers Theater Script

Book Trailer

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lendle

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lendle 

The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo . . . until the gates shut at night. That's when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare's greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they've got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails.

Companion to the graphic novel The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth.

Seven Wonders Book 1: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

Seven Wonders Book 1: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

The Colossus Rises is the first book in a book series. This first installment chronicles the story of Jack McKinley, an ordinary kid with an extraordinary problem. In a few months, he’s going to die—unless he finds seven magic Loculi that have been hidden in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Click here to read more about the other books in the series:

Seven Wonders Book 2: Lost in Babylon 

Seven Wonders Book 3: The Tomb of the Shadows

Seven Wonders Book 4: The Curse of the King

Seven Wonders Book 5: The Legend of the Rift

Sophia’s War: A Tale of the Revolution by Avi

Sophia’s War: A Tale of the Revolution by Avi

In 1776, young Sophia Calderwood witnesses the execution of Nathan Hale in New York City, which is newly occupied by the British army. Sophia is horrified by the event and resolves to do all she can to help the American cause. Recruited as a spy, she becomes a maid in the home of General Clinton, the supreme commander of the British forces in America. Through her work she becomes aware that someone in the American army might be switching sides, and she uncovers a plot that will grievously damage the Americans if it succeeds. But the identity of the would-be traitor is so shocking that no one believes her, and so Sophia decides to stop the treacherous plot herself, at great personal peril: She’s young, she’s a girl, and she’s running out of time. And if she fails, she’s facing an execution of her own.

Sophia's War: a Tale of the Revolution Teaching Guide - Avi


The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

Edward thought he had picked up a rock. He didn’t know it was a sleeping Time Fetch―and touching it would alter the entire fabric of time and space.

Under normal circumstances, a Time Fetch sends out its foragers to collect only those moments that will never be missed or regretted. It then rests, waiting to be called back by the Keeper, who distributes the gathered time where it is needed in our world and others.

When eighth-grader Edward innocently mistakes a sleeping Fetch for an ordinary rock, he wakes its foragers too early, and they begin to multiply and gobble up too much time. Soon the bell rings to end class just as it’s begun. Buses race down streets, too far behind schedule to stop for passengers. Buildings and sidewalks begin to disappear, as the whole fabric of the universe starts to unravel.

To try and stop the foragers, Edward must depend on the help of his classmates Feenix, Danton, and Brigit―whether he likes it or not. They all have touched the Fetch, and it has drawn them together in a strange and thrilling adventure in which the boundaries between worlds and dimensions are blurred. The places and creatures on the other side are much like the ones they’ve always known―but slightly twisted, a little darker, and much more dangerous.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Massachusetts Children's Book Award 2016 Winners Announced!


Massachusetts Children’s Book Award
Sponsored by Salem State University

Massachusetts Children's Book Award
2016 Winner

                                                            The One and Only Ivan
Katherine Applegate 

Massachusetts Children's Book Awards
2016 Honor Books
(in random order)


Dragonet Prophecy: Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland 

The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani


Click below for a pdf form of the MCBA 2016 Winner and Honor Books