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I mentioned in a previous post that this year's Show-Me nominees, picture books for Missouri readers in grades 1-3, are FULL of animals! Animal books almost always win, and there are eight of the ten nominees this year which feature animals. Of course I love animals, too, so my favorites fall right in line with the students. These are my two favorite nominees this year: Strongheart by Emily Arnold McCully and Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Interestingly, these two are both also true stories about famous animals. I will be interested to see how the voting comes out and if either of my favorites wins!
Posted by kparker  On Jan 23, 2017 at 9:44 AM 22 Comments
I love when I can recommend an entire series to my readers, and the Winners trilogy, by Marie Rutkoski, is complete with three excellent books.The first book is The Winner's Curse. The main character, Kestral, is 17 years old and the daughter of a fierce general in her country of Herran. On impulse when passing a slave auction one day, she purchases Arin, a handsome young man from the neighboring country Valoria. Although slave-holding has always been part of her life, her new role as personal owner of another doesn't sit well with Kestral who has always despised the slave trade, especially when she gets to know, and soon falls in love with, Arin. As she learns more about the history between their countries and the deceit within her own, Kestral dreams of the changes she and Arin can make together. But her role as general's daughter complicates things, as does her friendship and potential betrothal to a childhood friend. This first in the series ends on a real cliffhanger, but fortunately for readers, book two, The Winner's Crime, and the final book, The Winner's Kiss, are both published and ready for readers. I didn't find a lull in the action in any of the books in this series making them some of my favorites to recommend. 
Posted by kparker  On Jan 11, 2017 at 8:31 AM 122 Comments
It's time for me to start sharing this year's Missouri Show-Me Reader's Award nominees with the students in grades 1-3, and that also means it is time for me to pull out some of my past favorites to read to the 1st graders as I introduce them to this award.  The books pictured above are some of my all-time favorites and also happen to have served as my introduction to the award, too. I began working as a librarian six years ago, and Nubs was the book Missouri readers selected to receive the award my first year in the library. I was also sharing the previous year's winner, Two Bobbies, with kids that winter. I quickly fell in love with both books which tell true stories about amazing animals. As I looked further into the history of this award, I found another personal favorite, Hero Cat, and I also started to see a trend (which I continue to see to this day): the kids almost always choose an animal-themed story as their favorite! This year the Show-Me committee must have noticed this trend, too, because almost all of the 2016-17 nominees have animals as an important part of the story. I'm curious to see what the kids choose this year with so many animal stories in the running. Yesterday I read two nominees to my 2nd graders, both true stories about gorillas, and I already had kids asking, "Can I vote for two books this year?" It's going to be a fun awards season! I'll post some of my favorites of this year's nominees next week.
Posted by kparker  On Jan 11, 2017 at 8:28 AM 111 Comments
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I love when we get fun new picture books in the library. Recently I got a couple that are so much fun I just had to share them. We Forgot Brock! by Carter Goodrich had me smiling from cover to cover. In this book, a young boy is very devoted to his imaginary friend, Brock. When the family leaves Brock behind at the fair, Phillip is devastated. But Brock actually makes two new friends who find him at the fair: Princess Sparkle Dust and Anne. A happy ending is achieved for all when Brock is reunited with Phillip and the two pairs become a foursome. One of the best things about this book are the illustrations that so happily depict the imagination of children. In case you hadn't guessed, that's Brock on the cover in his skull T-shirt, wielding swords. :) Another great new picture book is Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T Smith. This version of Little Red Riding Hood includes a lion instead of a wolf and a very sassy take-charge girl known as Little Red. Just wait until you see what Little Red does to that lion! I can't wait to share this one with my elementary classes during storytime! It will be perfect for pointing out some ways it is the same and different from the classic version of this tale, and we will be smiling and laughing all the way!
Posted by kparker  On Dec 07, 2016 at 12:45 PM 24 Comments
Another fall book fair means great new books in our school library! We really appreciate when our students and families shop at the book fairs because the profit comes right back in to the school library in the form of lots of NEW BOOKS!  With this fall's profit I focused on ordering non-fiction books in areas of high interest for our elementary readers.  I get lots of requests for books about mysterious topics, such as ghosts, and there is also tons of interest in the military and vehicles. Every time I get new books in these categories, it's almost impossible to keep them on the library shelves! I already have readers anxiously awaiting the chance to check out these books. I just have to get them processed, and they will be ready to go!
Posted by kparker  On Dec 07, 2016 at 12:44 PM 43 Comments
The middle school students have been getting a good start on qualifying to attend this year's Truman Reader's Award party, and The Blood Guard by Carter Roy has quickly become a favorite. This is the story of a boy who finds out, in a rather unexpected way, that his parents aren't who he thinks they are. Ronan learns of the existence of the Blood Guard, a group charged with protecting 36 pure individuals who are crucial to our world's survival, and his family's role in this secret organization. This is an exciting story that is also filled with funny moments and humorous dialogue. It's only downfall is it leaves readers hanging, but the library already has the sequel: The Glass Gauntlet, so readers can continue on their adventures with Ronan and his friends as they try to become members of the Blood Guard.
Posted by kparker  On Oct 05, 2016 at 12:01 PM 40 Comments
I'm going to try to get back in the habit of posting at least once a week. The beginning of the year is always so busy! I haven't shared a favorite high school book for awhile, so I'm going to introduce this excellent book. I had read a few positive reviews of The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, and although I knew it was realistic fiction from the reviews, the title kept making me think it was fantasy... there are so many kings, queens, and princesses in all those fantasy series! Anyway, this is definitely realistic fiction, not fantasy,(BTW, the title comes from the fact that main character Dill's father is a snake-handling preacher.) but I think regardless of favorite genre this profound story of friendship and growing up should attract many readers. Dill, Lydia, and Travis haven't always had much in their small Tennessee town, but they've always had each other. As their senior year of high school begins, Dill is both excited for a future beyond his small town and dreading the distance life after high school will bring to the three friends. As they each dream of what comes next, they have to deal with the reality of now which includes struggles with poverty, abuse, and an unexpected tragedy. If this sounds dark, sometimes it is, but it is also hopeful and beautifully written. The small town setting and deep friendships should make this a book to which many Archie readers can relate.
Posted by kparker  On Sep 19, 2016 at 12:08 PM 37 Comments
I added this book to the library last spring after reading several wonderful reviews of it. At the time I hadn't read it yet, and when I showed it to students, some of them found the cover photo kind of strange and weren't willing to give it a try. Now that I've read it myself, hopefully I can get it into the hands of more readers because it is an excellent book. The narrator is 10-year old Jackson. He's looking forward to 5th grade, but he's also feeling a little worried. There seem to be problems at home: piles of unpaid bills and quietly arguing parents who haven't had steady jobs or reliable health insurance since his dad got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. When a human-sized cat who walks on his hind legs, Crenshaw, shows up again, it reminds Jackson of a time several years ago when "it" happened, and his imaginary friend Crenshaw helped him cope. Now that Crenshaw's back, Jackon's afraid. Is "it" going to happen again? Will he get to go to the same school this year? Will his parents tell him what is really going on? Is everything going to be okay? There are no easy answers for Jackson as his family struggles to avoid homelessness. This was an eye-opening story for me about how a family who does many things right can still end up in desperate circumstances. Although it's sometimes tough to see the plight from the eye's of a child, reading a book like Crenshaw can bring understanding and compassion to any reader. I highly recommend this for our upper elementary readers who like realistic stories and want to learn what life is like for others.
Posted by kparker  On Sep 02, 2016 at 8:21 AM 34 Comments
Look at all the great new things we have in our library to begin the school year! If you aren't seeing pictures when you read these posts, click on the entry title and it will open the post, along with any photos.  I've posted a few pictures today so everyone can see what we are most excited about to begin the year: new books AND new bookshelves! We are so happy to have custom-made bookshelves that fit under the old stage space. This was wasted space that now houses our early chapter book section and our new books for middle grade section. Thanks to Tim and Lacy Walsh for the wonderful shelves!   We also have hundreds of new books for readers of all levels. Come in to check out what's new!
Posted by kparker  On Aug 23, 2016 at 4:48 PM 40 Comments
I have a new favorite, and not just a summer 2016 favorite, but an all-time favorite read for students in upper elementary and middle school. It's Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, and it's historical fiction at its very best. I've seen this book referred to as a To Kill a Mockingbird for a younger audience, and I can definitely see the similarities, though this book stands just fine on its own. The main character and narrator is 11-year old Annabelle. She has always felt happy and secure with her loving family in their rural Pennsylvania home. But as World War II rages, she begins to see that the world is much larger, and much more complicated, than what she has known in her small corner. A new student and a homeless drifter each bring trouble and questions to town, and Annabelle must make difficult choices as she strives to grow into an honorable person. This is an incredibly moving and well-told story, yet I was sure, as I made it through the final pages, that I was going to finish it without shedding tears. Then one more truth was revealed, and that was the tipping point for me. I cried through the last few pages, but I didn't feel sad when I finished the book. Mostly I just felt so excited to share the books with my readers. I can't wait to hear what others think of this amazing story.
Posted by kparker  On Jul 12, 2016 at 3:13 PM 32 Comments
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