Sunshine State Young Readers Award Elementary List 2013-2014

Some days I miss elementary school. My middle-schoolers can be bundles of angst making me long for the simple times depicted in this year's Sunshine State Young Reader Award titles. Yesterday I posted the middle grades list so if you are unfamiliar with the Florida process, look HERE. I thought I would also share the elementary titles today. ESPECIALLY since my favorite book of 2012 (and the Newbery winner) is on the elementary list.

Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger: "Regular kid Lenny Flem Jr. is the only one standing between his evil-genius best friend—Casper, a master of disguise and hypnosis—and world domination. It all begins when Casper spends money from his granny on a spectacularly convincing fake mustache, the Heidelberg Handlebar #7. With it he’s able rob banks, amass a vast fortune, and run for president. Is Lenny the only one who can see through his disguise? And will he be able to stop Casper from taking over the world?"
Mousenet by Prudence Breitrose: "When ten-year-old Megan helps her uncle invent the Thumbtop, the world’s smallest computer, mice are overjoyed, and they want one for every mouse hole.
The Big Cheese, leader of the Mouse Nation, has orders: follow that girl—even if it means high-tailing it to Megan’s new home on the other side of the country. While Megan struggles as the new girl, the mice wait for their chance. But when they tell Megan the biggest secret in the history of the world—mice have evolved, and they need her help—she isn’t sure anyone will believe her. With all of Mouse Nation behind her, Megan could become the most powerful girl alive, but just how will she create a Thumptop for every mouse?"

Floors by Patrick Carman: "Charlie had his chocolate factory. Stanley Yelnats had his holes. Leo has the wacky, amazing Whippet Hotel.
There's mystery and adventure on every floor.
There's no other place quite like the Whippet Hotel. Each and every floor has its own wacky design--and its own wacky secrets. The guests are either mad or mysterious. And ducks are everywhere.
Leo Fillmore should know everything there is to know about the Whippet Hotel--he is the janitor's son, after all. But a whole lot more mystery gets thrown his way when four cryptic boxes are left for him...boxes that lead him to hidden floors, strange puzzles, and an unexpected friend or two.
Join Leo as he takes the ride of his life, without ever having to step outside. As the hotel starts to falling apart and the mystery thickens, there's only one thing Leo can know for sure: The future of the Whippet Hotel depends on him."

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng: "In Chinese, peng you means friend. But in any language, all Anna knows for certain is that friendship is complicated. When Anna needs company, she turns to her books. Whether traveling through A Wrinkle in Time, or peering over My Side of the Mountain, books provide what real life cannot—constant companionship and insight into her changing world. Books, however, can’t tell Anna how to find a true friend. She’ll have to discover that on her own. In the tradition of classics like Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books and Eleanor Estes’ One Hundred Dresses, this novel subtly explores what it takes to make friends and what it means to be one."

Thomas and the Dragon Queen by Shutta Crum: "A kingdom is at war.
A princess has been kidnapped by a dragon queen.
A brave squire volunteers to set out on a quest to rescue her.
But there's just one small problem. He's Thomas, the shortest of all the squires. With little more than a donkey, a vest, and a sword, Thomas will have to use all of his courage and determination to battle a beast with many heads, reach a forbidden island, and rescue the princess from a most fearsome dragon-and an even more fearsome fate!
Part thrilling adventure and part enchanting fantasy, sprinkled with charming black-and-white illustrations, Thomas and the Dragon Queen will delight young readers from start to finish."

Double Dog Dare by Lisa Graff: "What would you do to win a dare war?
In a humorous and insightful novel reminiscent of her award-winning titles The Thing About Georgie and Umbrella Summer, Lisa Graff tells the story of fourth-graders Kansas Bloom and Francine Halata, who start out as archenemies, until--in a battle of wits and willpower--they discover that they have a lot more in common than either would have guessed.
This dual-perspective novel will appeal to girls and boys alike--and to anyone who has ever wanted anything so badly that they'd lick a lizard to get it."

Melonhead by Katy Kelly: "Melonhead, the first book in author Katy Kelly's laugh-out-loud chapter book series, is now in paperback!

Adam Melon's friend Lucy Rose gave him a nickname—Melonhead—and it caught on fast. Melonhead is a self-proclaimed inventor. All his life, which is ten years and counting, great ideas have been popping in and out of his melon head. And sometimes they work! This year Melonhead's class is entering an inventing fair, so he and his friend Sam are dreaming up plans. And Capitol Hill has a ton of places to find invention parts. But they have to be sure they find what they need and get home on time with no excuses. That might be hard, because Melonhead and Sam have a way of forgetting. But their work will all pay off if they win first place—they'll be headed to even bigger and better things!"

Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord: "The state of Maine plans to shut down her island's schoolhouse, which would force Tess's family to move to the mainland--and Tess to leave the only home she has ever known. Fortunately, the islanders have a plan too: increase the numbers of students by having several families take in foster children. So now Tess and her family are taking a chance on Aaron, a thirteen-year-old trumpet player who has been bounced from home to home. And Tess needs a plan of her own--and all the luck she can muster. Will Tess's wish come true or will her luck run out?"

Waiting for the Magic by Patricia Maclachlan: "When William’s father leaves, his mother promptly goes out and adds four dogs and a cat to their lives. William’s sure that nothing can fill the hole left by his father, but the new additions to the family are determined to help. With his sister, Elinor, and his mother, William will learn that “family” can come in all shapes and sizes, because sometimes we find love through magic, and sometimes that magic is all around us."

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass: "In the town of Spring Haven, four children have been selected to compete in the national candymaking contest of a lifetime. Who will make a candy more delicious than the Oozing Crunchorama or the Neon Yellow Lightning Chew?
Logan, the candymaker's son, who can detect the color of chocolate by feel alone?
Miles, the boy allergic to rowboats and the color pink?
Daisy, the cheerful girl who can lift a fifty-pound lump of taffy as if it were a feather?
Philip, the suit-and-tie-wearing boy who's always scribbling in a secret notebook?
This sweet, charming, and cleverly crafted story, told from each contestant's perspective, is filled with mystery, friendship, and juicy revelations."

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanna Rocklin: "In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat, Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet’s office, Oona tells the stories of his previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook’s lives have echoes in Oona’s own family life, which is going through a transition she’s not yet ready to face. Her father died two years ago, and her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylan—whom Oona secretly calls “the villain.” The truth about Dylan, and about Zook’s medical condition, drives the drama in this loving family story."

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood: "A Mississippi town in 1964 gets riled when tempers flare at the segregated public pool.
As much as Gloriana June Hemphill, or Glory as everyone knows her, wants to turn twelve, there are times when Glory wishes she could turn back the clock a year. Jesslyn, her sister and former confidante, no longer has the time of day for her now that she’ll be entering high school. Then there’s her best friend, Frankie. Things have always been so easy with Frankie, and now suddenly they aren’t. Maybe it’s the new girl from the North that’s got everyone out of sorts. Or maybe it’s the debate about whether or not the town should keep the segregated public pool open. "

Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas: "Griffin Penshine is always making wishes. But when an eccentric old woman named Mariah gives Griffin a box of shiny pennies, it sets in motion a desperate quest. The old woman was a wish stealer, who stole each penny from a wishing fountain decades earlier. Somehow, Griffin has to redeem the lost wishes, or the opposite of her own wishes will come true--and it could literally be a matter of life or death. Griffin's mission to right Mariah's awful wrongs allows her to meet some extraordinary people, and to do good beyond her wildest imagination. But can she do enough to reverse the curse in time to save the people she loves the most?"

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides: "Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it s draining all the smarts out of the kids. Twelve-year-old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy Gullible Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? Janitors is book 1 in a new children s fantasy series by debut novelist Tyler Whitesides. You ll never look at a mop the same way again."

And, of course, we can't forget: The One & Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate: Read ALL about it HERE

Disclosure: All blurbs are from the publishers and not reviews from moi.

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2013 Cheryl Vanatti for

Sunshine State Young Reader Award Middle Grades Lists for 2013-14

Ah, summertime......
The Beach. Theme Parks. Water Parks.
What do we Floridians really do in the scorching Florida heat? We avoid those places and hunker-down under a shady oak to read our Sunshine State Young Readers Award books, of course.

Most schools in Florida ask (well, really pray) that students to read a number of books from the fifteen Sunshine State Young Readers Award books each summer. This year my school will also be participating in the Scholastic Summer Challenge so reading the Sunshine State Young Readers Award books should be even more fun!

Book Review: Two solid picture books to add to the shelves = Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Mary Walker Wears the Pants

I have been reading so many ebooks this year that it was nice to wrap my hands around some actual paper-based books this past week. Albert Whitman sent me Mary Walker Wears the Pants, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and In Search of Goliathus Hercules (to be reviewed later).  I am trying to let these titles soothe my sadness at having to miss Book Expo America (someone please tell those folks that us educators would like to attend too and that the end of the school year is impossible!). 

First off.......  Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero is a nice title to add to the stacks. The nonfiction picture book biography uses the feminist issue of wearing pants as a jumping point to discuss suffrage, the Civil War and equality. The story's telling is somewhat narrow, but it would serve as a good beginning to investigate these topics further. A nice afterword is included for teacher read-aloud or to challenge advanced students. However, the book's simplistic style makes it a bit unchallenging for students above 5th grade so I recommend this one for elementary library purchase and for teaching units that include women's rights, suffrage and/or the Civil War.

Next..... Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is a visually stunning depiction of The Gettysburg Address. It is a title that I would recommend for middle grade students, not only because the depth of understanding needed to comprehend the message of Lincoln's speech itself, but also because of the wonderful interpretive writings by illustrator James Daugherty and Professor of Civil War Studies Gabor Borritt. Daugherty does a fantastic job explaining each of the mural-like illustrations that accompany the speech. His interpretations are perfect for art and social studies educators to incorporate interdisciplinary standards. While I can see some elementary libraries purchasing this title, I would recommend it for all middle grade libraries as well as visual arts and social studies classrooms.

-------------------- Resources --------------------
Genre: Nonfiction
Age: Mary Walker = Elementary, Lincoln = Middle Grades
Pages: Mary Walker = 32, Lincoln = 48
Thank You: Publisher: Thank you to Albert Whitman for my review copies!
Date: Mary Walker = 3/1/2013, Lincoln = 2/1/2013
ISBN Mary Walker = 978-0807549902, Lincoln =  978-0807545508

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2013 Cheryl Vanatti for