Fun!

Middle Grade Birthday Book List!

Well, today is my birthday . . . so to celebrate, I thought I’d make a list of some great middle grade books about birthdays. Enjoy!

 

Moon Shadow by Erin Downing

Thirteen-year-old Lucia Frank discovers that she can become the girl she’s always wanted to be with the help of a little “moon magic” in this charming novel about the value of friendship, family, and finding yourself.

Lucia Frank has never had time for her mom’s “new age” nonsense. She doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. All she wants is to figure out how to get her best friend, Will, back and cope with her parents looming divorce. But then something strange happens on the night of her thirteenth birthday.

When the eclipsed moon slips into the shadow of the earth, Lucia’s Shadow slips out. Now hidden in a moonstone, the Shadow waits for Lucia to sleep so it can come out to play.

Lucia’s Shadow seems unlike her in almost every way: daring, outspoken, and unwilling to let anyone push her around. But it actually isn’t the anti-Lucia…in fact, her Shadow is very much like the person Lucia wishes she could be. At first, Lucia is eager to undo whatever magic happened on her birthday so life can get back to normal. But when she realizes her Shadow is doing and saying things she has only dreamed about, she wonders if maybe things aren’t all bad.

With a little help from her Shadow, she’s turning into the kind of girl she’s always wanted to be.

 

The Squatchicorns by Ellen Potter and illustrated by Felicita Sala

When a tribe of Sasquatches flee from a mysterious curse, they take refuge in Hugo’s home, Widdershins Cavern. These new Sasquatches look a bit . . . odd. For example, they all have unicorn horns on their heads! Always open to meeting new creatures, Hugo befriends one of these strange squidges, Nobb. Nobb offers to escort Hugo though the North Woods so that Hugo can attend Boone’s birthday party. Having never been inside a Human house, Hugo finds the experience confusing and somewhat disastrous. Just when it looks like Hugo may have ruined Boone’s birthday, they set out on a mission to solve the troubling curse in Nobb’s cavern.

 

Dork Diaries 13: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Birthday by Rachel Renée Russe

Nikki and her BFF’s Chloe and Zoey have been planning a birthday party of epic proportions! There’s just one problem—Nikki’s mom says no way to the budget they need to make it happen. Nikki’s ready to call the whole thing off, but some surprising twists might take that decision out of her hands, and help comes from the person Nikki would least expect. One way or another, this will be a birthday that Nikki will never forget!Anna has been best friends with Sadie for as long as she can remember. So Anna is utterly perplexed when, on Anna’s birthday, Sadie unceremoniously stakes claim to Anna’s new pony necklace, then suddenly stops speaking to Anna altogether. Did Anna do something wrong? With a little help from her wiener dog, Banana, as well as some sage advice from her family, Anna makes some important discoveries about what it means to stand up for herself, and how to be a true friend.

 

 

 

Anna, Banana, and the Friendship Split by Anica Mrose Rissi, illustrated by Meg Park

Anna has been best friends with Sadie for as long as she can remember. So Anna is utterly perplexed when, on Anna’s birthday, Sadie unceremoniously stakes claim to Anna’s new pony necklace, then suddenly stops speaking to Anna altogether. Did Anna do something wrong? With a little help from her wiener dog, Banana, as well as some sage advice from her family, Anna makes some important discoveries about what it means to stand up for herself, and how to be a true friend.

 

 

 

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon

Harriet Hamsterbone is not your typical princess. She may be quite stunning in the rodent realm (you’ll have to trust her on this one), but she is not so great at trailing around the palace looking ethereal or sighing a lot. She finds the royal life rather . . . dull. One day, though, Harriet’s parents tell her of the curse that a rat placed on her at birth, dooming her to prick her finger on a hamster wheel when she’s twelve and fall into a deep sleep. For Harriet, this is most wonderful news: It means she’s invincible until she’s twelve! After all, no good curse goes to waste. And so begins a grand life of adventure with her trusty riding quail, Mumfrey…until her twelfth birthday arrives and the curse manifests in a most unexpected way.

 

 

 

 

Waste Of Space by Stuart Gibbs

Tensions are running high when multi-billionaire Lars Sjoburg is poisoned and everyone is looking to Dash Gibson to solve the case.

Moon Base Alpha was supposed to be an exciting place to live, but Dashiell Gibson didn’t expect for it to be this exciting. He’s already had to solve a murder and locate a missing moon base commander. Now, he just wants to have a calm, quiet thirteenth birthday. But, of course, trillionaire (and total pain) Lars Sjoburg ruins it—by being poisoned.

Now there’s another potential killer loose on Moon Base Alpha, and Dash is forced to identify the most likely suspects. Suddenly Dash finds himself with a target on his back. Whoever poisoned Lars will stop at nothing to keep his—or her—identity a secret.

 

Katie’s Lucky Birthday by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Tammy Lyon

Katie is happy to be the person of the day when she celebrates her birthday at school. But when she realizes that her friend Pedro’s birthday is in August, she wants to find a way to share her birthday with him. Come celebrate with the lucky birthday girl, Katie Woo!

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick Griffin’s First Birthday on Ith by Ned Rust

Breathtaking suspense and surprising twists come together in Patrick Griffin’s First Birthday on Ith, the second book of the page-turning Patrick Griffin and the Three Worlds trilogy by Ned Rust.

After learning Earth is about to be destroyed, 12-year-old Patrick Griffin is on a mission. Under the protection of a powerful griffin, Patrick and his friend Oma travel through abandoned cities on the planet Ith, hiding from the enemy while they work out a plan to overthrow the alternate world’s sinister government.

Back on Earth, the gigantic jackalope Mr. BunBun and nine adorable numbats race to warn humans about impending doom. But time is running out. The evil Rex Abraham is back on Ith and will stop at nothing to continue his domination of the Three Worlds.

 

 

STEM Tuesday– CSI – Forensic Science and Anthropology- Book List

 

This month we uncover clues into the science of Crime Scene Investigation. Forensics is the science of finding evidence and analyzing it for clues. Evidence can be anything: blood spatters, carpet fibers, insects, pollen, powders, fingerprints, and footprints. Each piece of evidence reveals something about what happened at the scene of the crime – even if the crime happened hundreds of years ago.

Crime scene investigation:

Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA by Bridget Heos (YA)

Crime scene investigation is not new; early detectives discovered ways to test for poisons, and conducted autopsies to determine cause of death. Over the years, crime-solving tools have become more sophisticated as technology improves. This book examines evidence from prints to ballistics, blood spatter to DNA and more.

Fingerprints : dead people do tell tales by Chana Stiefel.

Fingerprints are unique identifiers. Not even identical twins have the same fingerprints. This book explains the techniques scientists use to collect fingerprints and to identify criminals, and contains stories about how fingerprints helped solve real crimes.

 

Forensics: Uncover the Science and Technology of Crime Scene Investigation by Carla Mooney

This book introduces the science of crime scene investigation, with chapters about fingerprints, blood evidence, bones, and bodies. Sidebars highlight forensic careers, and there are plenty of hands-on activities for kids to try on their own.

Forensic Identification: Putting a Name and Face on Death by Elizabeth Murray

Forensic anthropologist, Dr. Elizabeth Murray takes readers into morgues and labs where scientists use technology to determine the identities of remains. Filled with case files and a diversity of techniques including facial reconstruction, dental records, X-rays, and DNA testing.

Ancient Cold Cases:

Bone Detective: The Story Of Forensic Anthropologist Diane France by Lorraine Jean Hopping

Meet forensic anthropologist Diane France as she lugs a two-gallon bucket containing a brain …without letting it slosh around. Any other day she might be examining skeletal remains of past royalty or Civil War soldiers, or be called to the site of a disaster to help identify victims. Side bars, photos, and diagrams explain science concepts.

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker

Forensic scientists use their knowledge of human remains to help solve mysteries of remains found in colonial-era graves near Jamestown, Virginia. Using science, they help recreate the lives of a ship’s captain, an enslaved African girl, and more.

 

Two books about the Kennewick Man:

  Mysterious Bones: The Story of Kennewick Man by Katherine Kirkpatrick and Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World by Sally M. Walker and Douglas W. Owsley

In July of 1996, two young men accidentally uncovered a skeleton along a bank of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington. Was this an unsolved murder or the remnants of a settler’s or Native American’s unmarked grave? Scientists determined that the bones were more than 9,000 years old – transforming our understanding of how humans colonized North America.

 

Channel your Inner Detective:

CSI Expert!: Forensic Science for Kids by Karen Schulz

This book contains 25 hands-on forensic science activities, including fingerprinting, blood-stain identification, chemical analysis, ballistics, and fiber identification. Each activity is set up as a lab.

 

Crime Scene Detective Arson: Using Science and Critical Thinking to Solve Crimes by Karen Schulz

This book includes everything teachers (or mystery dinner hosts) need to set up a mock crime scene based on arson. There are suspects to interview, forensic lab tests, and a section on forensic science careers.

Carson-Dellosa Forensic Investigations Resource Book by Schyrlet Cameron, Janie Doss, & Suzanne Myers

This book contains ten cases for students to solve, including forgery, theft, and vandalism. Each case (unit) highlights specific skill-based activities, such as handwriting analysis. Labs challenge students to apply the skills they learned to solve the crime.

 

One-Hour Mysteries, Private Eye School: More One-Hour Mysteries, and More One-Hour Mysteries by Mary Ann Carr

A series of fun classroom mysteries for 4th and 5th graders. Each book provides five mysteries that challenge students to apply their skills of deductive reasoning, inferring, taking notes, organizing data, and analyzing evidence to solve the case.

 

 

STEM Tuesday book list prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich writes about science for children and their families, from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. A long line of ants marching across the kitchen counter generated one of her first articles for kids. When not writing, you can find her committing acts of science from counting native pollinators to monitoring water quality of the local watershed. Her most recent book is Diet for a Changing Climate (2018).

 

Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. She’s been a Cybils Award judge since 2017 and a judge for the #50PreciousWords competition since its inception. Two of her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty 2016 and 2014-2015 anthologies. When not writing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at www.mariacmarshall.com

 

STEM Tuesday Wild and Wacky Science — Interview with Sarah Albee

Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview & Book Giveaway, a repeating feature for the fourth Tuesday of every month. Go Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!

Today we’re interviewing Sarah Albee who wrote this month’s featured wild and wacky science book, POISON: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines.

Sarah Albee is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 100 books for kids, ranging from preschool through middle grade. Recent nonfiction titles have been Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections, Notable Social Studies Trade Books, and winners of Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Awards. She loves to meet her readers and visits K-8 schools all over the country.

Mary Kay Carson: Tell us about Poison and how you came to write it.

Sarah Albee: It’s the history of how humans have poisoned one another, from ancient times to the present. For kids who want to delve deeper into the chemistry of a particular poison, there are “tox boxes” throughout the book that describe how a particular poison can be delivered, where it comes from or how it is manufactured, and what the symptoms are when a person is poisoned. I’ve been obsessed with poison and how it works ever since I was a little kid and first read Snow White. I wanted to know what sort of poison was in that apple. How could it cause a reversible paralysis and a heartbeat that is so slow, you might not find a pulse and conclude that the victim is dead? And because I know you are wondering, too, I’ll tell you my theory: atropine. It’s a plant-based alkaloid found in belladonna and mandrake, and used to be known as sleeping nightshade. Back in 1597 a botanist wrote that a small amount of belladonna leads to madness, while a moderate amount causes “dead sleepe” and a lot of it can kill you.

MKC: You undertook a phenomenal amount of research to write this book. 

SA: I uncovered so many cool stories, I didn’t have room to include them all in the book. So I released a series of short videos called The Poison Files, mostly “whodunit” poison cases from history, and starring some great kid-actors. You can find them on YouTube and on my website.

MKC: This book, as well as others you’ve authored, are a mix of both history and science. Do you have a STEM background? 

SA: Many of my books are a mash-up of history and science. I am more of a historian than a scientist. In fact, to refresh my scientific knowledge, I took two online college courses as part of my research for this book (chemistry and forensics). But the division of human knowledge into separate disciplines is a relatively recent phenomenon, and in my mind, somewhat of an artificial construct. Enlightenment era thinkers considered all human knowledge seamless. What I find fascinating to explore and to write about are the in-between areas—the science behind historical events, the history of science, the real lives of painters and musicians and how their experiences informed their art, and the real-life events that might have inspired novels and poems.

MKC: For readers who loved POSION, what other middle-grade books would you suggest—nonfiction and/or fiction?

SA: I’m a big fan of How They Croaked/How They Choked by Georgia Bragg (and, fun fact, we share the same editor!). Also books by Carlyn Beccia (she has a new one coming out in April that I can’t wait to read, called They Lost Their Heads!). Another science writer with a great sense of humor is Jess Keating. Love her books!

MKC: What’s next for Sarah Albee?

SA: I am hard at work right now on a book that has yet to be announced, so I can’t talk too specifically about it. But it will be a combination of (true) stories that include a bit of history, science, biography, art, and sports, all rolled into one. As for how I’m tackling it…let’s just say one must tiptoe gently through my office to avoid setting off an avalanche and being crushed beneath a tumbling pile of books.

More about Sarah Albee and her book POISON:

  • Read reviews from KirkusSchool Library JournalBooklist, and Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books here.
  • Buy the book!
  • See the book trailer!
  • Watch six videos from Sarah Albee’s “Poison Files.”

Win a FREE copy of POISON!

* Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below.*  The randomly-chosen winner will be contacted via email and asked to provide a mailing address (within the U.S. only) to receive the book.

Good luck!

Your host this week is Mary Kay Carson, fellow space geek, science nerd, and author of Mission to Pluto and other nonfiction books for kids.