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The One and Only Ivan

Katherine Applegatte

This unforgettable novel celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated book is told from the point of view of Ivan himself. This acclaimed middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, especially during distance learning. It’s a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.

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The One and Only Bob
Katherine Applegate

Return to the unforgettable world of the The One and Only Ivan in this incredible sequel, starring Ivan’s friend Bob.

Bob sets out on a dangerous journey in search of his long-lost sister with the help of his two best friends, Ivan and Ruby. As a hurricane approaches and time is running out, Bob finds courage he never knew he had and learns the true meaning of friendship and family.

See the animated book trailer.



Ann Ann  

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Are Your Stars Like My Stars?
Leslie Helakoski, illustrated by Heidi Woodward Sheffield

Are Your Stars Like My Stars? is a great book for teaching about colors, but it’s so much more. One thing that makes the story special is that the people pictured are from a wide variety of countries and cultures. Vivid illustrations show children and families involved in activities, some which are unique to a specific setting, some which are experienced across cultures. The big question asked throughout the book is “Do we see the same things? Do you see what I see?” Each of us is unique, yet we are alike in many ways. This book would be a wonderful addition to a young child’s library.

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A Long Time That I’ve Loved You
Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Katy Hudson

As they wander through the “green woods of May,” Mama Bear and her cub enjoy the soft shades of green, delicate flowers, singing birds, and just being together. A Long time that I’ve loved You is a lyrical and beautifully illustrated story of the love between a mother and child. Fans of Margaret Wise Brown classics like Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny will not be disappointed.
The book is available both in hardcover and as a board book.


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M.C. Higgins, the Great

Virginia Hamilton

Mayo Cornelius Higgins climbs to the top of a 40’ steel pole, sits on a bike seat, and gets the pole to swing wildly. He overlooks the mountains and contemplates ways to save his family from the mudslide that threatens their home. His parents are descended from people who fled slavery and settled here when they realized that no one was going to find them in this remote and treacherous location. His mother’s singing is one possible way they might escape, but his father stubbornly refuses to recognize that they are in danger.

The communities of original people in M.C. Higgins, the Great amazed me, while my brother found the father/son struggles compelling.


Jen Jen  
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Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened
Emily Blejwas

I consumed this book in one sitting. After Justin's dad dies, Justin and his mom and brother are left to make life work. While both Mom and brother are amazing people, it takes a whole community to help Justin heal—his best friend Phuc, teachers at school, a cute girl named Jenni, the school bus driver, a not quite homeless neighbor, and even Dad. The dialogue is realistic, the characters complex and interesting, and the story is infused with science and history without feeling like it's been infused with science and history. Emily Blejwas has created a cast of characters I love and care about, especially Justin. The story is set in 1991 Minnesota, which is of great interest to me, having lived in Minnesota since 1987. This gave the opportunity for the author to compare/contrast the Vietnam War (Justin's dad was a Viet Nam veteran who was left with invisible wounds long after coming home) and the Gulf War. The author even manages to weave in some local history involving a conflict between the Dakota and whites. Whether or not you have any connection to Minnesota, this is one very special book.


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The Littlest Voyageu
Margi Preus

It’s 1792, and an unlikely stowaway is in a canoe of voyageurs traveling from Montreal to Grand Portageā€”a red squirrel named Jean Pierre Petit Le Rouge. When the men discover him, they aren’t pleased with his presence. “He eats, but he does not cook. He doesn't even carry anything on portages—sometimes it is he who has to be carried. He also has a terrible singing voice. What kind of voyageur is that?”

When the canoe arrives at the trading post, Le Rouge is shocked to learned that the voyagers’ return cargo will be beaver pelts. With the help of Monique, a flying squirrel, our intrepid hero organizes the fur-bearing animals to convince the voyagers to quit their jobs.

The story is humorous, as well as being a history lesson, an adventure story, and a love story. It also emphasizes environmental concerns and the impact of the fur trade on indigenous people. Eventually, the intrepid squirrel finds his way home, filled with memories of his adventures. The book is for children ages 7–10.

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Village of Scoundrels
Margi Preus

Our fascination with World War II seems to be endless. And, interestingly enough, books with unique stories about that period of time continue to be written. Village of Scoundrels is one of those books.

The setting is Les Lauzes, France, a remote village whose residents chose to stand up for what was right after the Nazis invaded and occupied their country. They saved thousands of Jews and other people during the war. In this work of historical fiction, Preus focuses on the efforts of a group of teenagers. One was a self-taught forger who created documents for many people at risk. He also forged papers admitting himself to a nearby medical school! Another was a boy who, wearing his Boy Scout uniform, led people to safety in Switzerland. A girl, despite her fears, delivered messages. She also used her sewing skills to alter clothing for people smuggled into Switzerland, which was no less dangerous. The tension increases as first a policeman and then German soldiers arrive in the village.

Preus has provided a wealth of material at the end of the book: pictures and information about the people the book is based on, an extensive bibliography, and background material about the war itself.

This exciting, thought-provoking book will be of interest both to young adult and adult readers. It’s the first book the Sister Wolf group will discuss this summer.


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