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Middle-school librarians Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan prove that two heads are better than one when it comes to discussing YA and children's books

Archive for the 'Common Core Standards' Category

Mon, June 2nd, 2014
The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

Cindy: Every time I think I’ve read the last of the horrific stories of racism in this country, someone like the Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling speaks up or I read a new young adult nonfiction book that unearths a little known story that infuriates me. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for […]


Mon, April 21st, 2014
Stubby the War Dog by Ann Bausum
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

Lynn:  If I had a nickel for every kid who ever told me history was boring, I’d be living in the south of France eating glorious cheese and sipping a crisp Provencal rosé.  The trick to gaining history converts, I firmly believe, is in showing kids that history is really just people’s stories.  Well, here […]


Wed, April 16th, 2014
Firefly July Selected by Paul B. Janeczko
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

Lynn:  I know it is early in the year to be announcing favorite books but I have no doubt that Firefly July:  A Year of Very Short Poems (Candlewick 2014) is going to be one of mine.  Let me count the ways that I LOVE this book! The book is divided into seasons beginning with […]


Mon, April 7th, 2014
Handle with Care by Loree Griffin Burns
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

Lynn:  For many years our family has enjoyed a wonderful rite of spring that fortunately doesn’t depend on the outside temperature in Michigan.  We are lucky to live close to the outstanding Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.  I could go on and on about the wonders of the Gardens but today […]


Mon, February 24th, 2014
Babe Conquers the World by Rich and Sandra Neil Wallace
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

Lynn:  Babe was one of the greatest athletes this world has ever seen.  If you automatically think I mean Babe Ruth, you wouldn’t be alone but I mean another Babe – Babe Didrikson Zaharias.  Sadly many people know very little about this truly astonishing athlete.  I hope that this new book, Babe Conquers the World:  […]


Mon, February 10th, 2014
The Animal Book by Steve Jenkins
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

Lynn:  It isn’t unusual to have a new book from Steve Jenkins to rave about.  His list of award winning kid-pleasing books is impressively long.  They’ve always been favorites with the older members of the focus group and with me too.  I believe that he outdid himself last year however with The Animal Book: A […]


Mon, December 2nd, 2013
Fourth Down and Inches by Carla Killough McClafferty
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

Lynn:  The issue of concussion is receiving serious attention in organized football and that attention is long overdue.  In Fourth Down and Inches:  Concussions and Football’s Make-or-Break Moment (Carolrhoda 2013), Carla Killough McClafferty examines this serious issue, its history, management, current research and long-term impact.  I’m a major football fan and fall weekends find me […]


Mon, November 18th, 2013
“The President Has Been Shot!” by James L. Swanson
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

Lynn:  This week our nation will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and, even all these years later, speculation and controversy still surrounds this tragic event.  James Swanson’s excellent new book, “The President Has Been Shot!:  the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, (Scholastic 2013), provides a detailed step-by-step account of […]


Mon, September 23rd, 2013
Frogs Everywhere
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

Lynn:  Frogs are high interest to kids and frequently populate picture books, leaping about in a wild variety of adventures.  So it is nice to review two excellent frog books  – this time nonfiction. The first is Frog Song (Henry Holt 2013) by Brenda Z. Guiberson.  In this stunning book, eleven species of frogs are […]


Mon, September 9th, 2013
The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

Lynn:  If anyone is looking for a “literary nonfiction” book for Common Core Standards, look no further than The Nazi Hunters:  How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi (Scholastic 2013).  Here is a stellar example of outstanding nonfiction writing and one that reads with all the breathless suspense of […]





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