Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna M. Holyoak

"I held the tissue to my eyes because, for the first time in my life, I was getting a lecture I didn't deserve. The skin on my cheeks prickled and it felt like goose bumps blossomed on my scalp."

Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers is filled with interesting characters whose curiosity and sleuthing create delightful mayhem and a compelling read. Kazu is a strong, independant, clever 11 year old who is determined to find and return all the dogs that have gone missing in the town. Her rag tag group of friends are realistic and interesting, the plot is fast paced, and the mystery is fun to decipher as a reader.


Happy Book Birthday, Kazu!  I can't wait to read more of your adventures!

Happy Book Birthday to TWINCHANTMENT, by Elise Allen!

'"Let's not wait until a better way comes along--let's make a better way come along. Our Ascension Ceremony's next week, right?  Once it's over, and we're officially in line for the throne, let's just tell the truth!" 

"The truth?"  Flissa echoed.  "About us?"'

This magical adventure features princess twins who must pretend that they are one person.  What an incredible hook!  I found this story engaging, fast-paced, intriguing and filled with mystery.  The sisters perfectly balance each other out in a way that's heartwarming and hilarious.  Themes of loss, loyalty, friendship, teamwork, trust, illness, death, and grief will get readers thinking and talking.  I can't wait to find out what happens as the story continues in book two! 

Three Perfect Picture Books

"Nothing like a frosty cold drink," said the bear. '"So much better than 
the forest-temperature drinks at home."

THE GREAT INDOORS, by Julie Falatko and Ruth Chan is a clever and witty, as usual. Julie Falatko creates a whimsical world where animals take their vacation in someone's house. Filled with the hulla-baloo of animals in a house, the adventures don't stop until the very last page when you discover....well, I won't ruin the surprise. Such a fun read aloud, and good book for laughs.










Bare bear... "Stop right there!  You should be wearing underwear!!!"


Happy Book Birthday to UNDEREWEAR! Jenn Harney's rhyming text and expressive illustrations make this the kind of story that readers will want to read aloud over and over again. It starts with a bang and continues to make readers laugh with hilarious illustrations and clever text. 







Once again, the tree branches 
gracefully swayed back and forth
and leaves floated down.

Lawrence studied the leaves as he gathered them--the 
yellow one with rounded edges.

LAWRENCE IN THE FALL, by  Matthew Farin and Doug Salati is a beautiful story about a little fox who needs to show his collection at school. But, he doesn't have a collection! Little Fox forages the forest with Papa, eventually finding a beautiful collection of his own. Expressive illustrations combine with lyrical text to create the kind of story that will evoke discussion about nature, trees, collections, getting lost, and show and tell. 





Why you should read BAT and the End of Everything, by Elana K. Arnold


"I thought she was getting a ride home with Ezra," Bat said. He knew his voice sounded whiny, but he couldn't make it sound different.

A BOY CALLED BAT and BAT AND THE WAITING GAME, are two of my favorite recent chapter books. BAT AND THE END OF EVERYTHING is the perfect end to the trilogy. It masterfully shows the inner life of an autistic boy. Well written and beautifully illustrated, this book is fun to read and will resonate with kids and adults alike. The friend and family relationships and portrayal of autism and it's challenges are authentic and compelling.

BAT is quirky, likable and genuine. His reactions to the world and to other people show how he misunderstands people's cues, yet it is obvious that his intentions are always good. Throughout the book, people misunderstand BAT'S good intentions, particularly when he speaks very literally without realizing how it will make others feel. 

In this third book, BAT has a better understanding of how other people might misunderstand him and keeps some of his thoughts to himself in a way he wouldn't have earlier. His sibling relationship has changed also. Janie, his older sister seems to understand BAT better and voluntarily spends time with him. She also has hard days in this book which helps BAT realize that he's not the only one who struggles. 

I love how well BAT cares for Thor, his skunk, how much he worries about releasing Thor into the wild, and how both Thor and BAT calm down when they are together. The book covers themes of loss, autism, divorce, diversity, pet care, parents dating new people, friendship, siblings, and connection.

I highly recommend all three books! Both my 8 year old son and I found each one compelling and thought provoking.


BAT AND THE END OF EVERYTHNG
By Elana K. Arnold
Published by Walden Pond Press, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780062798442

About the Book
Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat) ahs been the caretaker for Thor, the best skunk kit in the world…but the last day of third grade is quickly approaching, and Thor is almost ready to be released into the wild. The end of school also means that Bat has to say good-bye to his favorite teacher, and he worries about the summer care of Babycakes, their adorable class pet. Not only that, but his best friend is leaving for a long vacation in Canada.
Summer promises good things, too, like working with his mom at the vet clinic and hanging out with his sister, Janie, but Bat can’t help but feel that everything is coming to an end.
National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold returns with the third story starring an unforgettable boy on the autism spectrum.



Elana K. Arnold grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own perfect pet—a gorgeous mare named Rainbow—and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She is the author of picture books, middle grade novels, and books for teens, including Damsel a Michael Prinz Honor Book, and What Girls are Made of, a finalist for the National Book Award. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. You can find her online at www.elanakarnold.com


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