If keeping friends is difficult, making them must seem insurmountable for some kids. The truth is that friendship is a work in progress. Best friends move away. Sometimes friends are busy with weekend activities. From time to time, two pals may not see things eye to eye. An occasional child may have a companion you can’t even see. The following intermediate chapter books selected by the editors at Junior Library Guild offer all kinds of situations that will make readers laugh, cry, and feel as if they’ve found new friends.
HARROLD, A.F. The Imaginary. illus. by Emily Gravett. 224p. Bloomsbury. 2015. ISBN 9780802738110. JLG Category: A+ : Intermediate Readers (Grades 3-5). LiveBinder Resources
“Without Amanda to think of him, to remember him, to make him real, he was slipping away. Rudger was being forgotten…Then a quiet voice said, I can see you. And Rudger opened his eyes.” In a Neil Gaiman/Roald Dahl–like world, Amanda Shuffleup has found a friend. Of course, only she can see him. When the sinister Mr. Bunting appears to be stalking them, fate drives the two friends apart. Now Rudger fights for his life, too.
A visit to Harrold’s website reveals a video on the writing process, as well as Gravett illustrating characters from the novel. A teaching guide is posted on Bloomsbury.
MYRACLE, Lauren. Friends of a Feather. illus. by Jed Henry. 144p. (The Life of Ty: Bk. 3). Dutton. 2015. ISBN 9780525422884. JLG Category: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2-4). LiveBinder Resources
Ty returns in the third chapter book of the series. Best friend Joseph is out of the hospital and back to school, but things haven’t gone back to normal. Everyone wants to be his friend now, and Ty has a hard time adjusting to that. Maybe he’s even jealous of the attention. He knows Joseph is on his side; it just doesn’t feel like they’re on the same team.
Myracle, who also writes for teens and tweens, blogs, tweets, and maintains a Facebook page while she travels around the country. Follow Henry on Tumblr.
PARR, Maria. Adventures with Waffles. illus. by Kate Forrester. 240p. Candlewick. 2015. ISBN 9780763672812. JLG Category: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2-4). LiveBinder Resources
For best friends Trille and Lena, every day is an adventure. When Lena wants a dad, they write an advertisement. Inspired by the story of Noah’s ark, they fill a boat with small animals until Lena has a thought. “It’s time we got a cow.” Seemingly fearless, the two pals move from one disastrous idea to another, with Trille’s grandpa to help save the day. But then sadness comes to Mathildewick Cove, causing Trille to wonder if Lena is his best friend after all.
Listen to an audio sample or read an excerpt on the publisher’s page. Readers hungry for waffles will enjoy following the recipe by Alton Brown on the Food Network.
SCIESZKA, Jon. Frank Einstein and the Electro-Finger. illus. by Brian Biggs. 178p. (Frank Einstein: Bk. 2). Abrams/Amulet. 2015. ISBN 9781419714832. JLG Category: A+ : Intermediate Readers (Grades 3-5).LiveBinder Resources
Blending science with humor, Scieszka and Biggs continue the “Frank Einstein” series. Pals Frank and Watson experiment with electricity, hoping to continue the work begun by Nikola Tesla. If they are successful, free wireless energy will be available to their entire town. Behind the scenes, however, arch enemy T.E. Edison races to complete his diabolical plan to monopolize all energy, leaving customers at his mercy.
Scieszka’s fun website is not to be missed for its links to Guys Read and his Favorite Answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Check out the amazing illustrations on the illustrator’s website. You can follow Scieszka and Biggs on Twitter. A teaching guide with extensive vocabulary and CCSS questions is available on the publisher’s website. The series now has its own website, full of activities and resources for adults and children. Additional resources are posted in the Fall 2014 LiveBinder, such as theWonderopolis lesson “Do Robots Wonder?” and Tobey’s Robot Workshop at PBS.
SPRINGSTUBB, Tricia. Cody and the Fountain of Happiness. illus. by Eliza Wheeler. 160p. Candlewick. 2015. ISBN 9780763658571. JLG Category: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2-4). LiveBinder Resources
It’s the first day of summer vacation, and there’s not a minute to lose when Cody realizes everyone is too busy to spend the day with her. A little boy named Spencer and a lost cat change everything. “There is a certain kind of sadness that belongs to someone else, but feels like it belongs to you too.” Cody is determined to find the cat and help young Spencer out of his own doldrums. After all, that’s what friends are for. “Only this is real life. Where things are not so simple. At all.”
Award-winning novelist Springstubb’s charming and diverse new characters are sure to delight young readers. You can find out more about the author and her work at her website, on Twitter, and onPinterest. Share the book trailer or read the first chapter which is posted on the publisher’s website. Read her advice for aspiring writers in an interview on colleague Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s blog. For more on illustrator Wheeler, visit her website, where you’ll find more of her gorgeous work. Readers will fill their own fountains of happiness when they learn that Cody and her pals will return in the new independent reader series.
WARNER, Sally. EllRay Jakes the Recess King! illus. by Brian Biggs. 176p. (EllRay Jakes: Bk 8). Viking.2015. ISBN 9780451469113. JLG Category: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2-4). LiveBinder Resources
When EllRay’s little sister suggests that her big brother needs a spare friend, the eight-year-old uses his list-making skills to narrow down the possibilities. Then, armed with carefully researched ideas for recess activities, EllRay spirals down a path that is loaded with good intentions but results in disaster. How can he make a new friend by Thursday if his efforts to be the Recess King continue to fail?
Read about the author’s favorite books and the answers to other questions in Deborah Kalb’s interview. For ideas about recess activities, visit Pinterest or BHG. You’ll find 15 indoor recess games on the Cornerstones’s website. Looking for a lesson plan? Wonderopolis posts an informational text article, “Do You Like to Play Tag?” which includes a short video, vocabulary, and a quiz.
The resources for the above titles have been organized in JLG Booktalks to Go: Spring 2015 LiveBinder. Titles are sorted by interest level, PreK-3, 3-6, 5-8, and YA. All websites are posted within each LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources are added. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Booktalks and resources are also included on JLG’s BTG Pinterest board.
For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.
Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com. (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc.,SLJ’s parent company.)