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There’s a Chill in the Air: New Books for Older Readers

Almost Home by Joan Bauer
12 year-old Sugar Mae Cole is the type of resilient heroine frequently found in Joan Bauer’s novels. Her beloved grandmother has died, her father has abandoned his wife and daughter and the final straw is that Sugar Mae and her mother lose their home. They move to Chicago but that doesn’t work out either and Sugar Mae is taken to a loving foster care home after her mother has a breakdown. Though this sounds depressing, Bauer keeps the tone hopeful without being unrealistic. Sugar Mae has plenty of adults on her side and is strong enough to help her mother too. Homelessness is a challenging subject for a children’s book, but Joan Bauer manages to balance the very real social issues while keeping the story appropriate for middle school readers. (Grades 5 – 8).

The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure by Martin W. Sandler
For those who like real-life adventure, this is an amazing story of endurance, courage and survival. In 1897, a group of whaling ships was trapped by the ice at the tip of Alaska. The 265 men had little chance of survival there, so President McKinley sent a rescue mission which ultimately entailed three men going on a 1500 mile trek across Alaska in the dead of winter to take two herds of reindeer to feed the starving men. This is the story of their incredible and risky journey and the immense help they got from the indigenous people along the way. Narrative nonfiction is a really hot area for kids at the moment and this book joins the ranks of the many great titles available – just ask a librarian for more recommendations! (Grades 5 and up)

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin
From its birth, six million years ago, to its disappearance within the last million years, this book follows the life of an island in the Galapagos. Created from volcanic lava, this island becomes home to many species and Chin brilliantly shows how some of them adapt over the course of time to changes in climate and conditions. The illustrations, from full page spreads to small, almost animated, sequences, are full of detail, and the text, though simply written, covers a wealth of information. This is a terrific way to introduce kids to evolution and to how the world has changed over millions of years. (Grades 3 – 5)

Just Joking: 300 Hilarious Jokes, Tricky Tongue Twisters, and Ridiculous Riddles
Corny jokes abound: “Q. What did the chewing gum say to the shoe? A. I’m stuck on you!” and there are lots of silly tongue twisters like “See me sneak in my squeaky, reeking sneakers”. And there are more than enough knock knock jokes to keep any kid happy. Because this is a National Geographic book, there are loads of wacky photographs of animals telling the jokes, as well as some I-didn’t-know-that animal facts. Loads of fun for all ages, but this book will have particular appeal to younger elementary school kids. (Grades 2 – 5)

One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath
This companion novel to Everything on a Waffle has many of the same characters but stands alone. We see the world of Coal Harbor, British Columbia, through the eyes of Primrose Squarp – a spunky and quirky middle schooler. Over the course of the year, there are many changes in this small town, but the characters at its heart stay as warm and connected as ever. Though there are some serious themes, this is a funny book as Primrose shares her outlook and thoughts on the human condition. Also included are many recipes for homely food and some of them unexpectedly include mini marshmallows! (Grades 4 – 6)

– Hayley

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