Wednesday, February 02, 2011


One of my goals this year is to really read books that are good for 5th+ grade readers. So often in a K-5 library, I focus on books that are good for all ages and I have not been good about keeping up with the books that are best for the more mature 5th grade readers. I find 5th grade to be a tricky reading age.  As a teacher who spent many years teaching 5th graders,  I know that kids at this age are getting into Young Adult books. I also know that the range of YA is huge. There seems to be a younger group of YA for kids in grades 5-8 and then more high school YA.  As a mother of a 5th grader, I am seeing her interest move to a more YA focus.  And as a librarian, I want to meet the needs of all of the readers in the school.  So, a goal for me is to read more of the younger YA stuff this year.  Going to ALAN was the jump-start I gave myself to begin to do this.  I have always loved YA so this is a fun goal for me.

How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog)
HOW I NICKY FLYNN FINALLY GET A LIFE (AND A DOG) by Art Corriveau was my first read of February.  I loved this book and think it would be a great addition for any 5th grade classroom library.  Nicky Flynn is a child whose parents are recently divorced. His life is in transition as he now lives with his mother in a new neighborhood and attends a new school.  Nicky's mother is in a little transition crisis herself and is not at her best during most of the story. It is clear that she is a good mother, cares about Nicky and wants to do what is best, but she is also in the midst of a huge life transition after having decided to leave her husband.  Nicky is certain that his mother is a liar when she tells him almost weekly, that his father is too busy to see him. Nicky works to prove this point.    The real story begins when Nicky's mother brings home a German Shepard (Reggie) from the shelter.  She is sure that this is just what they need. Although Nicky isn't so sure, he and the dog become fast friends. He soon learns that Reggie was a seeing-eye dog and he learns a bit about his past. In the process of settling in and getting to know his new dog, he learns to lie a bit.

This is a great dog story.  I loved the friendship between Nicky and Reggie. It is also a great growing up story.  There are so many real life issues in this--the pain of his father's absence, the newness of his life, the loneliness he feels are all pretty universal for kids in transition.  And when kids are having a hard time, they often make poor choices.  There is lots to talk and think about in this story. I found it to be a story with both humor and depth--my favorite combination for 5th grade readers.  I love this book because it is a realistic fiction book that will appeal to boys. I also think it would be a great read aloud.

In terms of the appropriateness, there are a few "bad words" and a bit about the mother drinking wine too often but this is all handled in a way that makes sense for 5th through 8th graders.

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