New Books for 4th Graders

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Reading Level: Grades 4 - 8

England has always had ghosts, but ever since The Problem began hauntings have become more frequent and much more dangerous, with ghosts being able to kill people with a touch. Most people are born with the ability to sense ghosts, but they lose this skill when they reach adulthood so now children are employed to watch for and hunt ghosts under the supervision of an adult leader.Thirteen-year-old Lucy, who can hear ghosts, joins the rogue pair of ghost hunters known as Lockwood & Co. which has no adult in charge. Needless to say, nobody is terribly surprised when she and Lockwood accidentally burn down a house on one of her first missions. This new supernatural adventure series by the author of the the Bartemaeus books will leave the reader hoping book two comes out soon.

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Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12

Dad has been left in charge of the house in Mom's absence and  there is no milk for  his children's cereal.  Not much of a plot unless the author is Neil Gaiman.  In the ultimate "the dog ate my homework" story, Dad explains why it took so long to get the milk.  The story involves alien aduction, pirates, a dinosaur professor in a hot-air balloon, "wumpires," the space-time continuum- oh, you get the idea.  Illustrator Skottie Young 's illustrations manage to match the zaniness of the plot.  I'd write more, but I think Bigfoot needs help finding a book and there's the spell cast on the Youth Services Department and . . .

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Books illustrated by Skottie Young

Jackie Robinson: American Hero by Sharon Robinson

Reading Level: Grades 2 - 4

It's not that there's a lack of books about the racial barrier-breaking sports hero.  This biography, written by his daughter Sharon, is different.  Yes, this book about the racial divide in baseball and how Jackie Robinson was the first black man to play in the major leagues.  It also gives a clear and interesting picture of his early years, his family life, his career in the military, and his life after baseball.  Family photos throughout this short biography add that personal touch.  Sharon Robinson has every reason to be proud of her father and her work.

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