New Books for 5th Graders

Bluefish by Pat Schmatz

Grades 5+

You probably learned to read in kindergarten or first grade, maybe even sooner. Maybe it's a little hard for you, maybe it got easier as you read more and more, maybe you can't stop reading. 

But you did learn to read - good at it or not, loving it or not.

For Travis, that never happened. From kindergarten until seventh grade, he never let anyone see that he couldn't read - and no one knew - not even his teachers. When Travis and his grandpa move to a new town, and he begins at a new school, Travis isn't worried that he'll have trouble hiding his secret - until he gets his schedule.

Fourth period. Reading class. Room 134. Mr. McQueen.

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A Monster Calls: Inspired from an Idea by Siobhan Dowd by Patrick Ness

Grades 5+

Have you ever read a book that made you cry?  Ever read a book that, once you were finished, you just sat with and held for a while, letting the words sink into you, not wanting to have finished it?  Ever read a book that you couldn't stop thinking about after you finished?  Ever read a book that was so true and real you experienced the whole thing in your mind as you read?  This is one of those books.

Hauntingly, chillingly written with formidable illustration, A Monster Calls tells the story of a boy named Conor. Conor has terrible, monstrous nightmares; one day he looks out his bedroom window to see a monster looking back at him - but not the one from his nightmares.  This monster wants something of Conor, but before it gets it, it will tell Conor three stories. 

When the three stories are finished, it will be Conor's turn.  And he will have to tell his story.

The truth. 

If you read one book this year, this reviewer hopes it's this one. 

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Books by Siobhan Dowd
Siobhan Dowd, children's and young adult author, passed away from breast cancer in 2007. Among the things left behind was the idea for A Monster Calls, which Patrick Ness has written in her memory.

*Title also owned on My Media Mall

Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Grades 5-9
Third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson lived at the plantation Monticello and kept slaves to work in his fields, farm and home. One of his slaves was a woman named Sally Hemings, mother to four of Jefferson's children - Beverly, Harriet, Maddy, and Eston.  Though slaves, the children and their mother were given special treatment by Jefferson because of his discreet relationship to them - but nevertheless, slaves they remained. 

Master Jefferson promises freedom to all four of his slave children upon their twenty-first birthdays, but Beverly, the eldest, cannot imagine leaving his mother, sister, brothers - but especially his father. Light-skinned and longing for a father figure, Beverly struggles with the secrecy of Jefferson's nonpublic identity as his father, especially when Jefferson presents him and his brothers with a kit violin and lessons. He and his siblings imagine a life where his mother, siblings and father could live openly together as a real family; a life that did not involve waiting on Master Jefferson's real children, especially the snippy Miss Martha.

Based on true events at Monticello during the early 1800s, Jefferson's Sons is a slave tale of a different order, exploring slavery and racial issues from the fresh perspective of Jefferson's slave children. The novel is a welcome look into one aspect of post-revolutionary slave life in Virginia that explores the bonds of family and friendship.

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