New Books for 5th Graders

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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More books by Patrick Ness

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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More books by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

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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More books by Marc Aronson