Our friend Karen Terlecky is a Language Arts/Social Studies Curriculum Support Teacher (CST) in our school district, and as such, works directly with Franki. She and Mary Lee started their careers in the district the same years in 4th grade classrooms across the hall from each other. They were CSTs for each other before the term had been invented. Karen is always up for a field trip to Cover to Cover Children's Books, our favorite local children's bookstore. Here are her Newbery picks:
I loved How to Steal a Dog -- one of the best morals I have ever read: "the footprints you leave behind are more important than the path in front of you" ( I know that's not the exact quote, but I don't have my book at home in front of me). I read this aloud to my 5th grade class at the end of last year, and then it was the book I started this year with. It was interesting how important the message was to both sets of students. In addition, O'Connor's description of the homelessness conditions was clear -- good for children to know how others live,and what they need to do to just get through the day. I also love the characters -- very well developed through dialogue and their actions.
I also really liked The Mysterious Benedict Society -- the concept of kids as heroes has been done in other books, but I thought there was a great twist to this since the kids had to use all their gifts together to overcome the evil in the book. It was like a spy novel for kids -- I'm partial to spy novels! Great twist at the end, also.
Me and the Pumpkin Queen -- loved it!!!!!!! Part of the reason I liked it so much was that I had a lot of background knowledge about places and events in the story. But, even if you take that away, the concept of this girl going through her own personal grief cycle by trying to grow the biggest pumpkin was very well done. And the friendship between her and the boy was amazing. This book is a winner for me!
The Thing About Georgie -- definitely a favorite! I almost forgot about it until I saw it when I looked in my cupboard at school!
3 others that I really like, but I'm sure won't win: Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf (hysterical!), No Talking (Andrew Clements is very predictable, but there is a clear underlying message that my students really understand), and Diary of a Wimpy Kid (another hysterical!).
I liked the Wednesday Wars, too, but I didn't love it as a Newbery, because I wasn't sure how much my kids would understand without the background knowledge that I possess because of my age.