Rain Reign

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin was a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

Fifth grader Rose Howard loves homonyms, prime numbers, rules, and her dog Rain (whose name has two homonyms). Rain is the one of the few gifts Rose’s father has ever given her, and their bond is a strong one. When nearly everyone else–including Rose’s father–gets irritated by Rose’s obsessions, Rain is always there to provide a comforting and calming presence.

Comfort and calm is something that Rose will sorely need in the days to come. Hurricane Susan is making a beeline for Rose’s small Massachusetts town, and her precious routines will be tossed to the winds. The power goes out, creeks turn into rivers, bridges are washed out, trees fall…and Rose’s father lets Rain out of the house without checking on her return.

When the storm finally passes through, Rose realizes that her dog is missing. Did she forget her way home in the horrible storm? Was she carried downstream by the powerful currents? Where is Rain? Rose doesn’t understand how her father could have let this happened, but she’s determined to find her beloved dog…even if that means letting go of her routines.

Rose searches high and low for Rain. She enlists the help of her uncle, her teachers, and even her classmates. Rose does everything humanly possible to find her dog, but how will she handle it when she finds more than she was looking for? Will her world be thrown into yet another storm, and how will Rose–a girl who needs routine and consistency–deal with the fallout? How will she handle the many changes to come? Read Rain Reign by the brilliant Ann M. Martin to find out.

Rain Reign is a phenomenal book with wide appeal–to students, educators, and parents of autistic children.

Rain Reign is also a great book for students who have fondness for word and number play. This could even come into play in language arts or math lessons. Class studies of this book could include looking for homonyms that weren’t mentioned by Rose or finding prime numbers out in the “real world.” And don’t even get me started on how this book could be used to illustrate character’s voice. Read one chapter, and you’ll see that for yourself.

If you’d like to promote Rain Reign in your library or classroom, feel free to use the book trailer below.


Summer of the Gypsy Moths

While Stella’s flighty mother is drifting from one town to the next, Stella is sent to live with her Great Aunt Louise on Cape Cod. Even though Louise is kind of grumpy sometimes, Stella likes living with her. Louise keeps things nice, neat, and orderly, something Stella’s mom never did. Stella has high hopes that her mom will eventually settle in Cape Cod with her and Louise, and they’ll be a happy family.

One obstacle to that “happy family” scenario–along with Stella’s mom’s lack of reliability–may be Angel, a foster kid who’s also living with Louise. Angel and Stella are like oil and water, and they seem to work best when they stay far away from each other. Fate, however, seems to have other ideas.

When the girls discover that Louise has suddenly passed away, they must work together to decide what to do. Neither girl wants to go into group homes or anything like that, so they do the only thing they can think of. They keep Louise’s death a secret. They make up plausible excuses for Louise’s absence. They take care of the vacation cottages that Louise was responsible for. Stella takes comfort in cleaning, gardening, and keeping Louise’s prize blueberries alive. Both girls do what they must to survive as long as they can. It’s not easy, but Stella and Angel think they have no other choice. They must learn to rely on each other.

Both Stella and Angel have taken on more than any two kids should, but their predicament is bringing them closer together. They’re communicating, working together, and learning more about each other. They each have their own ways of coping with this horrible situation, and they’re doing the best they can.

But what happens when the secrecy finally becomes too much? When the truth is revealed, what will it mean for Stella, Angel, and their future? Will they find the sense of family and home they so desperately need? Will someone finally take care of them? Find out when you read Summer of the Gypsy Moths, a 14-15 South Carolina Book Award nominee by Sara Pennypacker!

How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog)

Nothing is going well for eleven-year-old Nicky Flynn. His parents are getting divorced. He’s been forced to move from his big house in a great neighborhood to a small apartment in a less-than-great neighborhood. Nicky’s mad at his mom because he thinks she always lies to him and tries to keep him away from his dad.  He’s in a new school and is becoming the target of bullies. He has to go to therapy every week to talk about his feelings. And now, his mom has decided to bring a dog into his life (totally without talking to him about it, by the way).  She got Reggie, a German Shepherd, from the animal shelter, but this is no ordinary dog.  Reggie is a retired seeing-eye dog, and, right away, he makes Nicky’s life a bit more interesting…

Nicky and Reggie grow closer (become best friends, really), and Nicky wants to know more about Reggie’s former life as a guide dog.  He investigates a little and learns more about Reggie’s previous owner.  He lies A LOT in his quest for the truth about Reggie’s past.  Will he ever figure out what happened between Reggie and his former owner?  Well, kind of, but that won’t really help with the mess his life is becoming…

Nicky is on the verge of losing everything, including Reggie.  As his whole life spirals out of control–and his lies are uncovered–how can Nicky hold on to the one being that is always there for him?  And what will Nicky do when his own selfishness and recklessness places both him and his beloved dog in a situation that is more dangerous than he can possibly realize?  Will Nicky ever get back in control of his own life?  And will he be able to stay with Reggie when the truth is revealed?  Find out when you read How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog) by Art Corriveau.

Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything

I few minutes ago, I finished reading yet another nominated title for the 2012-2013 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.  The book is Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything written by Steve Cotler and illustrated by Adam McCauley.  I could tell just by the title that the book would be humorous, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how funny it actually was, and, even though the book is geared toward students in upper elementary school, there’s definitely a lot in this book that older readers—including lots of adults—will find enjoyable.  This book is laugh-out-loud funny and will be an easy sell in most libraries.

Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything basically takes place during the span of just a few days—all of them revolving around Cheesie’s fifth grade graduation.  (Cheesie’s real name is Ronald, by the way.)  This book is Cheesie’s account of everything that happened in this short—but action-packed—span of time.  He recounts events that involve mice, BLART sandwiches (which I may just have to make for myself), old pennies, haunted houses, his best friend Georgie, and his horrible sister Goon (June to everyone else).  Peppered throughout the book are interesting facts, words, and side notes that may or may not have anything to do with the story.  Cheesie is a character that a lot of kids will relate to, and they may just learn a little along the way.

This book is a great one for any reader who, well, just likes knowing stuff.  (I am one of those readers.)  Cheesie researches things he doesn’t know a lot about, and he shares what he finds with the reader.  Cheesie is very interested in words and their meanings, and he even makes up his own words.  (This might be a great book for educators to use when teaching lessons on voice, word choice, and using vibrant language.)  There’s even a website that goes with this book, http://cheesiemack.com, that students will enjoy visiting while reading.  (I visited the site myself, and it’s pretty cool.  I may even use it as a selling point when I booktalk this with my students.)

Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything is, in my opinion, perfect for readers who enjoy books like Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Dan Gutman’s My Weird School Daze series, Jim Benton’s Dear Dumb Diary series, or Rachel Vail’s Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters.  I, for one, plan to push this book to any and all of my students who are looking for something funny to read.