How to Steal a Dog

Georgina Hayes needs to find a way to make some quick money. Her dad left Georgina, her mom, and her little brother with almost nothing, and they’ve been living in their car for way too long. They need a home, but Georgina’s mom is working two jobs and still struggling to make the money needed to make a deposit on a house or apartment. Georgina knows there’s got to be a way to help her mom, but what is this young girl supposed to do?

Well, after seeing a reward poster for a missing dog, Georgina gets the bright idea to steal a dog. But it can’t be just any dog. It has to be a quiet, friendly dog. A dog that is loved by its owner. A dog that someone would pay a lot of money to get back.

Georgina writes down her dog-theft plan in her notebook, and, with the help of her little brother Toby, she puts her plan into action. She finds the perfect dog, nabs him, and waits for the reward posters to go up. But nothing really happens the way Georgina wants it to. She feels guilty about what she’s done, and the dog’s owner may not have enough money for a big reward. This sticky situation is quickly spiraling out of control, and Georgina doesn’t know which way to turn.

Can Georgina turn things around and get the money she and her family need? Will she do the right thing, or will she see her dognapping through to the bitter end? What will happen to make Georgina face all the wrongs in her life and do what she must to make things right? Read How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor to find out!

Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus

Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus picks up where Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue ended, and the kids from McQuarrie Middle School are in for yet another adventure…one without Origami Yoda!

Now that the FunTime Menace is no more, the students of McQuarrie Middle now get to enjoy things like elective classes and, of course, their highly anticipated field trip to Washington, DC. But what will they do when Rabbski, their principal-turned-math-teacher declares that origami–especially Origami Yoda–is off-limits? How will these seventh graders survive without the sage advice of Origami Yoda?!

Have no fear! Dwight is here…with a bunch of Fruit Roll-Ups he folds into Fruitigami Yodas. Unfortunately, the vile Harvey also comes prepared with EMPEROR PICKLETINE, the most evil, sour, and smelly being in the galaxy! Harvey and Emperor Pickletine seem bent on ruining this field trip, and the Dark Side may be more powerful than anyone realized. Is Fruitigami Yoda strong enough to fight this new threat?

As the seventh graders of McQuarrie Middle explore Washington, DC (and get into a fair amount of trouble), a battle is brewing between the Dark and Light Sides of the Force.

Who will win? Will Yoda come through for the Origami Rebellion one more time? Well, I can’t say. But I can tell you that this final battle is full of mischief-making, fisticuffs, space food, and even a little bit of smooching! I’ll leave it to you to find out who does what!

To learn more about all things Origami Yoda, click here. May the Force be with you!

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett

In this fourth book in the Origami Yoda series, the students of McQuarrie Middle School are facing a terrible evil.  More evil than the Empire. More evil than a Sith Lord without his morning coffee.  More evil than Jar Jar Binks. (Well, maybe not that bad.)  This semester, the school is eliminating all electives–Lego robotics, drama, music, yearbook–and forcing kids to spend those class times watching the horrible FunTime videos that are supposed to help increase standardized test scores.

As one can probably imagine, the students are not happy about this, and, with the help of Captain Dwight and Origami Yoda, they decide to do something about it. The students of McQuarrie Middle form their own Rebel Alliance and try to figure out a way to put an end to FunTime (and it’s stupid singing calculator). Their plan is risky, but it may just work if they can get enough kids on board. Armed with a battalion of origami Star Wars figures, the students of McQuarrie Middle seek to restore order and balance to the Force at their school.

Will the Rebel Alliance succeed in defeating the dreaded FunTime Menace, or is this war bigger than they realize? And what will this rebel band do when help comes from a surprising source? Learn just how much a determined group of kids can accomplish when you read The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett by Tom Angleberger! May the Force be with you!

The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee

Warning!  Read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back before continuing.  The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee picks up right where Darth Paper left off.

When we last saw the students at McQuarrie Middle School, Dwight (the “owner and operator” of the famous Origami Yoda) had been suspended.  He is now attending Tippett Academy, and his friends (Tommy, Kellen, and the gang) aren’t quite sure what to do without him…or Origami Yoda.  Who will give them the advice they need?  Who will keep them from embarrassment and trouble?

Chewbacca to the rescue!!!   Sara has arrived with the Fortune Wookiee!  This paper fortune teller, along with his companion Han Foldo, has come to McQuarrie Middle to guide students in the ways of the Force (even though Chewie and Han never used the Force).  But why does the Fortune Wookiee’s advice seem to get the guys to do exactly what the girls want them to do?  This is one mystery that needs to be solved!

Another mystery that is plaguing the students at MMS concerns Dwight.  According to reports, ever since he transferred to Tippett, Dwight has become normal (boring).  He does his homework, he behaves in class, he’s given up origami (even Origami Yoda), and he’s just not as lively as he used to be.  What’s going on here?  Can Dwight’s friends—and even his arch-nemesis Harvey—discover the truth before both Dwight and Origami Yoda are gone forever?

Just like the other Origami Yoda books, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee combines humor, Star Wars, art, and mystery to create a fun, fast read that everyone will enjoy.  And this isn’t the last we’ve heard from the students of McQuarrie Middle!  Something horrible is about to happen at their beloved school, and they’ll need to harness the power of the Force to fight it!

If you’d like to learn more about this fantastic series (including how to fold your own origami Star Wars characters), visit http://origamiyoda.wordpress.com/.  Have fun!

Because of Mr. Terupt

In Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea, we follow seven students through their fifth grade year.  They’re all in Mr. Terupt’s class.  Mr Terupt is a new teacher.  Some students think he’ll be a pushover.  Some students see this class as their chance to start fresh.  But one thing is the same for all of them.  This year–and this teacher–will change their lives forever.

Mr. Terupt is a brand-new teacher at Snow Hill School in Connecticut. His fifth grade class if full of students who are as interesting as they are different. Jessica has just moved from California after her mom’s split with her dad.  Anna is a shy girl who is an outcast through no fault of her own.  Danielle is a girl who lets what others say and think matter too much.  Alexia is a mean girl who will create drama at the first opportunity.  Peter is a class clown who never seems to get into trouble.  Luke is the class brain and always has to have the right answer first.  Jeffrey hates everything about school…and home.

Somehow, Mr. Terupt manages to reach all of these students in his own special way.  For some of them, school is fun for the first time.  Other students are breaking out of their shells.  Some are realizing just how much their actions impact others.  Mr. Terupt is making a difference in these kids’ lives…but no one realizes how much this special teacher really means to his students until something happens that threatens to take him away forever.

What will the class do without their teacher?  Who is to blame for what happened to Mr. Terupt?  Will the students from Mr. Terupt’s class come together to support each other and their teacher, or will this tragedy erase all of the good that happened this year?  Read Because of Mr. Terupt, a nominee for the 2012-13 South Carolina Children’s Book Award, to discover how much one teacher–and one life-changing incident–can make seven students reexamine themselves and what really matters to them.

I cannot say enough good things about this book.  I totally related to several of the characters in this book, especially Danielle and Luke.  I couldn’t stand Alexia through most of the book, but I rejoiced when she turned everything around.  Jessica, Peter, Anna, and Jeffrey also stole little pieces of my heart.  All of these students became better people…and they did so with the help of one very special teacher.  Mr. Terupt, through his super-fun lessons and his ability to see what his students really needed, was a teacher who was able to reach his students in a way that no one ever had.

For more information on Because of Mr. Terupt and author Rob Buyea, visit http://robbuyea.com/.

Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles

Sometimes drawing helps students to focus…and that is the case with the main character in Doodlebug by Karen Romano Young.  This book–written almost entirely in doodles–tells about a girl who moves from Los Angeles to San Francisco and how she tries to find her voice–even when it seems like no one understands her.

After a bit of trouble at her school in Los Angeles–and her dad getting a new job–Dodo (real name Doreen) and her family are moving all the way up to San Francisco.  Dodo is not really happy about the move, and she decides to cope in her own special way…by doodling.  She doodles about her parents, her sister Momo, the new apartment they’re staying in, and her new school.  She even uses her doodles to reinvent herself.  Dodo is now known as the Doodlebug.

Doodlebug kind of likes her new school.  In a very short time, she makes a couple of pretty cool friends.  Unfortunately, she also gets in a bit of trouble (also in a very short amount of time).  She doesn’t want to screw things up at this school, but she just can’t seem to help it.  Things don’t get much better when a couple of her teachers try to make her quit doodling.  (The horror!)

While Doodlebug’s worrying about staying out of trouble (or at least covering up the trouble she’s already in), her sister Momo is dealing with her own brand of defiance, and her mom and dad are trying to keep the jobs that brought them to San Francisco in the first place.  Doodlebug does her best to be a good student (while still being able to doodle), and she may find some help–with a number of her problems–in some unexpected places.

Doodlebug is yet another nominee for the 2012-2013 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.  It’s a good book, an extremely quick read, and it’s different from a lot of other books out there, but part of me feels like it’s more suited to readers in middle school.  The main character is kind of sarcastic and has very little problem with rule-breaking.  (She is a seventh grader, after all.)  She’s impulsive and hard-headed as well.  I guess I just think that middle school readers will relate to the character of Doodlebug more that my sweet little angels in elementary school.  (See…I can be sarcastic, too!)

Even though I am a visual learner, it was sometimes hard for me to focus while reading this book.  My eyes didn’t know where to look first on some of the pages.  (I may be visual, but I’m also a very linear thinker.  I like order.)  Some readers may be turned off by the “busyness” of the pages.  On the other hand, it will be just what other readers are looking for.

I would recommend this book to readers in upper elementary (mature 4th or 5th graders) and middle school.  It’s a fast read that Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans will most likely enjoy.

If you’d like to learn more about Doodlebug and author Karen Romano Young, visit http://www.karenromanoyoung.com/.

After All, You’re Callie Boone

After All, You’re Callie Boone by Winnie Mack was a quick read–ideal for summer–that really resonated with me.  I identified with the character of Callie, and I think that a lot of other young girls–and even some older readers–will as well.

Callie Boone’s summer is not off to a good start. Her best friend since the first grade has, all of a sudden, decided that she’s too cool to hang out with Callie. Her uncle has moved twelve ferrets into the family garage. At the community pool–one of Callie’s favorite places in the world–she embarrasses herself in such a public and humiliating way that she can never go back there again. Her family is crazy, she has no friends, and she’s the laughing stock of her neighborhood. Will things ever get better?

Well, yes. She’s still got her diving practices with her dad, and Callie is nurturing a dream of becoming a champion diver–maybe even competing in the Olympics someday. Despite her public humiliation at the pool, Callie is determined to be the best diver she can be–even though she’s not even twelve.

Something else is going okay in Callie’s life. A new kid has moved in next door. He’s a little odd–his name is Hoot–but he may turn out to be the best friend Callie has ever had…if she can convince everyone that he is most definitely not her boyfriend.

As her summer progresses, Callie learns a bit about what it means to be a good daughter, a good friend, and a good person. Everything doesn’t always go well, but Callie discovers who she can truly lean on when things don’t go the way she plans. She starts paying more attention to those around her instead of focusing on herself all the time. But what will happen when tragedy strikes and Callie is forced to really trust in those around her, especially her crazy family and her friend Hoot? Will she revert back to her old ways, or will she step up and be the girl everyone thinks she can be? Find out if Callie can make it through when you read After All, You’re Callie Boone by Winnie Mack!