Last Man’s Reward

David Patneaude’s Last Man’s Reward tells the story of a group of friends that makes a valuable discovery. Realizing it cannot be split equally, the group of boys decides to make  a pact that the last one still living in the temporary company housing wins the prize but will need to cross a ravine to get their reward.

What started as a group that was stuck together due to proximity, small friendships evolve and they end up depending on each other more than they could expect.

I read this with my son’s 4th grade book group and they devoured this story! It was a fun and unexpectedly emotional book.

Read June 2019


Bridge to Terabithia

Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia was an amazing coming of age story about a young boy Jesse and his friendship with the newcomer to school Leslie. Jesse’s family is big, loud, and poor. Leslie’s family is smaller, smarter, and quieter. But Leslie is able to open up Jesse’s imagination to the world beyond his small world.

There’s alot of about family dynamics and friendship with in this book. I read this with my son’s 4th grade reading group and everyone agreed about how emotional and great this book was. This is a tearjerker, fyi.

Read March 2019


Gordon Korman’s Restart was a great book to read with the 4th graders. Its about a middle-schooler who falls off his roof and gets amnesia. The kid he becomes is vastly different than the kid he was before. This prompted great discussions about bullying, social structures within schools, being cool, and following your own interests.

Read October 2018

Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban

The 3rd book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban tells the continuing story of Harry, Ron, and Hermione and Hogwarts. I read this aloud to my kids over the last year and they both and myself loved it!! Lots of wizarding twists and turns in what everyone thinks they know about Harry’s parents’ death.

A little scarier with the Dementors, but well written and enjoyable!

Read August 2018

A Line in the Dark

I just finished Malinda Lo’s A Line in the Dark and I realized I’ve been duped. The twist at the end really began at the beginning and now I’m questioning if I actually know anything that happened other than what I read in the Epilogue. Interesting to have the main character be so untrustworthy, but not let the audience in on it until it’s over.

Anyway, Jess and her best friend Angie have gotten mixed up with girls from the nearby boarding school. Lots of jealously about friendships and relationships between a small group of kids. One girl goes missing and discovered dead close to Jess’s house.

A really good read!

Read July 2018

(Spoiler) This is the 3rd mystery I’ve read recently that a young girl has an affair with her teacher and ends up dead. WTF? Even the last novel had an older man and a young woman. I pick my reading randomly without knowing what the books will be about really, so its strange that the 3/4 of the last books have had young girls explaining away why they don’t want the teachers to get in trouble for the affair. The novelists are decidedly NOT ok with the young girls feelings, and all the teachers have paid for their crime, but still a disturbing trend in my reading type.

The Sign of the Beaver

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Spears tells the story of young Matt left alone in the Maine wilderness to guard his family’s cabin from savage Indians until his father returns with his mother, sister, and the new baby. Matt keeps busy tending the corn and sparingly using his father’s gun to keep himself fed and busy.

Soon, the loneliness sets in and a series of events leaves him short on food staples and without only means of hunting. Matt without any likelihood of survival is helped by Saknis and his grandson Attean, members of a local Indian tribe. Matt owes a great debt to Saknis and agrees to help Attain learn to read. This relationship changes both boys as they turn into men. Matt’s expectations are never met when it comes to the generosity and kindness of Attean’s family and he does his best to return their friendship.

I read this with a group of third graders who were able to understand how friendships can cross all sort of boundaries. It may have been a bit difficult for some of the readers, but for those who understand some of the deeper meanings, it was a joy to hear them talk about it.

Read May 2018

Bad Beginnings

Bad Beginnings by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) is a fantastic children’s book that definitely has a bad beginning, middle, and end. The sarcasm and mistrust throughout this book is not typical for a young reader, but I think it speaks right at most children’s sarcasm level.

The Baudelaire children are orphaned at the start of the novel and they must go live with their only family member, no matter how distant, that lives within the borders set by their parent’s will. They have challenge after challenge when their caretaker and in loco parentis, Count Olaf, tries to scheme to get the Baudelaire fortune.

An enjoyable read! Read with 3rd grade class.

Read March 2018.