The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, by Julie Berry, tells the story of a Victorian aged boarding school where the headmistress and her brother die mysteriously die. Craving their independence, the girls decide to hide the bodies and run the school themselves.

Fun story, listened to audiobook while on long car trip.

Broken arm.


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

Island of the Blue Dolphins

In Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphin, Karana belongs to a tribe that lives on a remote island off Santa Barbara. When the Aleuts come and kill many of the men in the tribe, the new chief decides to take the tribe to the mainland. After the ship leaves, Karana ends up on the island by herself, waiting and surviving for her tribesmen to return for her in the better weather.

Until their return, Karana realizes she must provide herself with food, shelter, and protection from the wild dogs roaming the island. She must combat the innate sexism she grew up with so that she can build weapons for her survival. She uses the skills she learned growing up by watching many of the elders do their work.

I read this book with a group of 4th graders who loved the survival parts of the story.

Read January 2019

Ella Enchanted

As part of my son’s 3rd grade class, I’ll be reading some books with a small group for discussions. Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine, is a Cinderella-like story about a young girl who loses her mother, an absentee father, and a disagreeable step-mother and sisters. We learn that shortly after Ella’s birth a fairy gave her the gift of obedience. By the time she’s 5, her mother and kitchen servant realize that this wasn’t a gift but a curse.

Within the story, there’s lots of magical creatures: elves, ogres, fairies, all who have different abilities and languages. Ella must find a way to end her curse before her Step-family take everything from her.

Cute variation of the traditional Cinderella story, where Ella has more power and control over her life and doesn’t depend on magic or a man to save her. Still plenty of young romance too.

Perfect for a 3rd – 5th grader.

Read December 2017