New Books for 5th Graders

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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Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert by Marc Aronson

Grades 4+

In August of 2010, a Chilean mine collapsed suddenly, trapping thirty-three men in the dark mine over a mile beneath the earth with limited supplies. After the collapse, the men were able to get to a shelter point, but had no way to communicate with the ground above.  All routes to the surface were blocked by the accident.

Initial rescue attempts did not prove successful - maps of the mine were not updated and were somewhat inaccurate; rescue drilling routes that were, on the maps, clear shots to the miners were unable to bypass the sediment.

A gripping and inspirational survival and rescue tale of teamwork and determination, Trapped may make you claustrophobic at times, but ultimately will fill you with optimism.  A must-read non-fiction account of recent history for kids and adults alike.

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Jeremy Bender vs. the Cupcake Cadets by Eric Luper

Reading Level: Grade 4-6

Jeremy Bender wants, wants, wants to drive his father's boat...the one he is not allowed to touch. Jeremy has been secretly working on the engine of the boat, an antique Chris-Craft, sure that once his father discovers the boat all ready to run in the spring he will let Jeremy take it out on the lake by himself.

Disaster strikes when a grape soda spill and an accidental green paint spray (his pal Slater's fault) ruins the engine. The boys have to raise $470 so they can secretly repair the engine before spring. How can two 6th grade boys earn that kind of money in a couple of months? Jeremy finds the answer on the library bulletin board, the Cupcake Cadets annual model boat race. First prize is $500.

There is one catch...only girls can be Cupcake Cadets. Armed with two of his older sister's used cadet uniforms and a wig for himself (Slater has long hair), Jeremy and Slater disguise themselves as home-schooled twin sisters and join the cadet troop. The $500 is as good as theirs. How hard could it be to earn three merit badges (the entrance requirement) and beat a bunch of girls?

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Additional tales of the view from the other side include:

The day Joanie Frankenhauser Became a Boy by Francess Lin Lantz

Gender Blender by Blake Nelson and

Boy2Girl by Terence Blacker

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