Posts Tagged books

STEM Tuesday — Serendipity Science — In the Classroom

 

 

This month’s book list highlights of my most favorite aspect of science –Serendipity! Why is it my favorite? Because while everyone may say science is exact, it is anything but that. Scientists conduct do research, make hypotheses, and then conduct experiments. Many times, the results they get are not what they anticipated in the first place. But that doesn’t mean they are wrong. Perhaps they have just discovered a new element, product, or created a brand new drug that will change the world (Alexander Fleming and penicillin)… accidentally!

 

While you most likely aren’t crazy about the idea of letting your students just do experiments without guidelines in your classroom on the off chance they will discover something amazing,  one of the best ways to introduce them to this topic is to introduce them to Mistakes That Worked: 40 Familiar Inventions & How They Came to Be by Charlotte Foltz Jones, illustrated by John O’Brien or Accidental Inventions: The Chance Discoveries That Changed Our Lives by Birgit Krols

 

Mistakes that Worked book cover

Accidental Inventions Book cover

 

Classroom Activities: Split the class up into four to six small groups. Have each group pick one or two inventions and discuss them amongst themselves. Write out what they think is the turning point in the discovery? Ie. When did the scientist realize what they did was not a failure but a success? And then how did they turn their product into something that was marketable? Each group can make a poster or give a talk about their invention and inventors to the rest of the class. Class discussion can focus on HOW it was turned into an invention that became a product to be sold or used. (Hint: this also teaches a bit of economics.)

Here are a few resources for students to use:

https://www.upcounsel.com/blog/how-to-turn-your-invention-ideas-into-products

https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/299456

https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8773-turn-your-idea-into-a-product.html

 

How To Become An Accidental Genius

Have Students that want to invent something to change the world? Have them read through How To Become An Accidental Genius by Frieda Wishinsky, Elizabeth MacLeod, illustrated by Jenn Playford. This is a fabulous book for teaching kids HOW to become an inventor.

Classroom Activity:

This can be done in groups, pairs, or individually. Have students come up with their own invention. Use the steps in this book to develop a plan which contains the following

  • Have them outline what their invention is
  • How it will be used
  • List the materials they’ll need to create it
  • Design and draw it
  • Develop a method for the experiment and creation
  • Discuss what they’ll do if they have to make changes
  • How will they market it

Then have them present it to the class. My guess is, you’ll have some pretty amazing inventions! Kids are very creative and ingenious. This could be a fun thing to share with other classes or for a STEM night at school.

Resources:

Show them this  video to be inspired by REAL  kids who came up with their own inventions!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiuU1mlFeEc

iKids — The Inventive Kids site is a place where children and adults can learn about inventors and inventions, and their own creative potential! https://inventivekids.com/

 

 

The OTHER part of Serendipity Science is when someone stumbles on a great scientific or technological find. Science is a made up of curiosity, perseverance, and yes, luck. Sometimes the best discovery happens when you are in the right place at the right time.

One of my favorite books that showcases how anyone can make discoveries is Sarah Albee’s Accidental Archeologist. This book is chock full of discoveries made, well, accidentally.

 

Accidental Archaeology by Sarah Albee

Classroom activity: Have the kids read through the table of contents, just to get an idea of what was discovered. They can then pick a chapter and read through as a group or individuals. Make a list of the following

  • How the discovery was made
  • Where the person was when it happened
  • What was the person doing?
  • Where they looking for something else and made this discovery instead?

Then have the students think about something they might  have discovered accidentally? Have they ever found a penny on the sidewalk? Discovered a fossil? Picked up a rock that didn’t belong with the other ones? Seen an animal that is normally nocturnal (out at night) during the day? All of these are accidental discoveries. By paying attention to the world around them, maybe one day they could make a BIG discovery like the people in Albee’s book.

 

Resources:  https://www.history.com/news/7-historical-treasures-discovered-by-accident

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/07/10/found-by-accident-some-of-the-worlds-inadvertent-archaeological-discoveries/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aohkBc9GuLw

 

Hope you  have fun with this month’s topic!

 

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Jennifer Swanson is the award-winning author of over 45 books for kids, mostly about STEM and STEAM. She is the founder of the STEM Tuesday blog and STEAM Team Books. She has a cool podcast for kids and families called        Solve IT! for Kids— check it out!  You can discover more about Jennifer and book her for events at her website:  www.JenniferSwansonbooks.com

June New Releases

Summer is here! Finally. And so is a bookshelf full of new middle grade books to fill up your time. Kick back and enjoy this month’s new reads. There’s something for everyone.

 

 

Trillium Sisters 1: The Triplets Get Charmed by Laura Brown and Elly Kramer (Authors) Sarah Mensinga (Illustrator)

Three sisters discover that they and their pets have superpowers they can use to protect the world around them in the first book in a fantastical new chapter book series about family, friendship, and environmental responsibility perfect for fans of Mia Mayhem and The Wish Fairy.
Nothing can stop this triple team!
Eight-year-old triplets Emmy, Clare, and Giselle are excited to celebrate Founding Day, the day their dad found them and they became a family. The girls want this year’s celebration to be extra special. And Dad has a big sur¬prise–trillium petal charms that he found with the girls.

But when the girls’ little brother, Zee, slips into the river while helping them plan a special surprise, something magical happens: The charms are drawn together, forming a glowing flower, and the girls suddenly have super¬powers! Channeling their new abilities, they work together to try to save Zee, but will they be able to figure out how to help in time?

 

TRILLIUM SISTERS 2:  BESTIE DAY by Laura Brown and Elly Kramer (Authors) Sarah Mensinga (Illustrator)

When the ecosystem of their mountain home is threatened, the triplets join forces and channel their super powers into saving the day in the second book in the Trillium Sisters chapter book series, perfect for fans of Mia Mayhem and The Wish Fairy.

The Trillium Triplets are flying into action!

Wondering if their powers will return, Clare, Emmy, and Giselle throw themselves into preparations for Bestie Day, when everyone in Trillsville celebrates the special people in their lives. The girls are planning to make presents for one another from fallen flower petals. That way, they can enjoy the beauty around them without causing harm.

But at the flower field, instead of finding beautiful blooms, the Trills find a big problem. Two girls from town are cutting so many flowers for their Bestie Day bouquets that the bees can’t get enough nectar. And without the bees, the entire mountain ecosystem could fall apart! When their Trillium powers activate, will the sisters be able to buzz to the rescue?

 

An original middle-grade graphic novel from Graphix starring Brooklyn’s Spider-Man, Miles Morales, by bestselling author Justin A. Reynolds and Eisner nominee Pablo Leon

Miles Morales is a normal kid who happens to juggle school at Brooklyn Visions Academy while swinging through the streets of Brooklyn as Spider-Man. After a disastrous earthquake strikes his mother’s birthplace of Puerto Rico, Miles springs into action to help set up a fundraiser for the devastated island. But when a new student’s father goes missing, Miles begins to make connections between the disappearance and a giant corporation sponsoring Miles’ fundraiser. Who is behind the disappearance, and how does that relate to Spider-Man?A true middle grade graphic novel starring one of Marvel’s most popular characters, bestselling author Justin A. Reynolds (Opposite of Always) and Eisner award-nominated artist Pablo Leon (Refugees) create a riveting story that will connect with new and well-versed comics readers alike.

 

Much ADO about Baseball by Rajani Larocca

In this companion novel to Midsummer’s Mayhem, math and baseball combine with savory snacks to cause confusion and calamity in the town of Comity.

Twelve-year-old Trish can solve tough math problems and throw a mean fastball. But because of her mom’s new job, she’s now facing a summer trying to make friends all over again in a new town. That isn’t an easy thing to do, and her mom is too busy to notice how miserable she is.

But at her first baseball practice, Trish realizes one of her teammates is Ben, the sixth-grade math prodigy she beat in the spring Math Puzzler Championships. Everyone around them seems to think that with their math talent and love of baseball, it’s only logical that Trish and Ben become friends, but Ben makes it clear he still hasn’t gotten over that loss and can’t stand her. To make matters worse, their team can’t win a single game. But then they meet Rob, an older kid who smacks home runs without breaking a sweat. Rob tells them about his family’s store, which sells unusual snacks that will make them better ballplayers. Trish is dubious, but she’s willing to try almost anything to help the team.

When a mysterious booklet of math puzzles claiming to reveal the “ultimate answer” arrives in her mailbox, Trish and Ben start to get closer and solve the puzzles together. Ben starts getting hits, and their team becomes unstoppable. Trish is happy to keep riding the wave of good luck . . . until they get to a puzzle they can’t solve, with tragic consequences. Can they find the answer to this ultimate puzzle, or will they strike out when it counts the most?

 

Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia L. Smith

In this beautifully reimagined story by NSK Neustadt Laureate and New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek), Native American Lily and English Wendy embark on a high-flying journey of magic, adventure, and courage to a fairy-tale island known as Neverland…

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. But with their feuding parents planning to spend the summer apart, what will become of their family–and their friendship?

Little do they know that a mysterious boy has been watching them from the oak tree outside their window. A boy who intends to take them away from home for good, to an island of wild animals, Merfolk, Fairies, and kidnapped children, to a sea of merfolk, pirates, and a giant crocodile.

A boy who calls himself Peter Pan.

In partnership with We Need Diverse Books

 

Everywhere Blue by Joanne Rossmassler Fritz

When twelve-year-old Maddie’s older brother vanishes from his college campus, her carefully ordered world falls apart. Nothing will fill the void of her beloved oldest sibling. Meanwhile Maddie’s older sister reacts by staying out late, and her parents are always distracted by the search for Strum. Drowning in grief and confusion, the family’s musical household falls silent.

Though Maddie is the youngest, she knows Strum better than anyone. He used to confide in her, sharing his fears about the climate crisis and their planet’s future. So, Maddie starts looking for clues: Was Strum unhappy? Were the arguments with their dad getting worse? Or could his disappearance have something to do with those endangered butterflies he loved . . .

Scared and on her own, Maddie picks up the pieces of her family’s fractured lives. Maybe her parents aren’t who she thought they were. Maybe her nervous thoughts and compulsive counting mean she needs help. And maybe finding Strum won’t solve everything–but she knows he’s out there, and she has to try.

This powerful debut novel in verse addresses the climate crisis, intergenerational discourse, and mental illness in an accessible, hopeful way. With a gorgeous narrative voice, Everywhere Blue is perfect for fans of Eventown and OCDaniel.

 

The Hidden Knife by Melissa Marr

New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr invites readers into a magical world where stone gargoyles live among humans, ferocious water horses infiltrate the sea, and school hallways are riddled with magic wards–and where a group of young heroes seeking justice discovers those very creatures are the best of allies.

Twenty years ago, a door opened between the world of humans and the Netherwhere, allowing all kinds of otherworldly creatures entry. Some, like the kelpies and fairies, who like to bite, are best avoided. But the gargoyles are wise and wonderful, and show a special affection for humans.

Vicky has grown up under the watchful eye of a gargoyle named Rupert, and excels at sword-fighting and magic. But there’s so much she doesn’t know–like why her mother, once one of the queen’s elite Ravens, keeps Vicky hidden away and won’t let Vicky train at the elite Corvus school where girls with her gifts perfect their skills. But when a horrific tragedy occurs, Vicky knows it’s finally time to use her gifts, and that the only place she should be to avenge the crime against her family is at Corvus. There she bands together with a former street thief and an alchemy student to figure out whom they can trust in a place that’s rife with intrigue and secrets. And all the while, the gargoyles watch and nudge. Time’s not linear to them, so they know change comes in ripples. With their steadying influence, Vicky and her friends just might be the generation to expose the court’s secrets and ensure a better future for both worlds.

 

The Ship of Stolen Words by Fran Wilde

A group of goblins steal a boy’s ability to apologize in this lively middle-grade fantasy from Nebula Award-winning author Fran Wilde

No matter how much trouble Sam gets in, he knows that he can always rely on his magic word, “sorry,” to get him out of a pinch. Teasing his little sister too much? Sorry! Hurt someone’s feelings in class? Sorry! Forgot to do his chores? So sorry! But when goblins come and steal his “sorry,” he can’t apologize for anything anymore. To get his “sorry” back and stop the goblins from stealing anyone else’s words, Sam will have to enter the goblins’ world and try and find the depository of stolen words.
There, he meets Tolver, a young goblin who’s always dreamed of adventure. Tolver longs to use the goblin technology–which can turn words into fuel to power ships–to set off and explore, but his grandma warns him that the goblin prospectors will only bring trouble.
Together, Tolver and Sam will have to outsmart the cruel prospectors and save the day before Sam’s parents ground him forever!

 

Marcus Makes a Movie by Kevin Hart,  Geoff Rodkey (Author)  David Cooper (Illustrator)

Marcus is NOT happy to be stuck in after-school film class . . . until he realizes he can turn the story of the cartoon superhero he’s been drawing for years into an actual MOVIE! There’s just one problem: he has no idea what he’s doing. So he’ll need help, from his friends, his teachers, Sierra, the strong-willed classmate with creative dreams of her own, even Tyrell, the local bully who’d be a perfect movie villain if he weren’t too terrifying to talk to.

Making this movie won’t be easy. But as Marcus discovers, nothing great ever is–and if you want your dream to come true, you’ve got to put in the hustle to make it happen.

Comedy superstar Kevin Hart teams up with award-winning author Geoff Rodkey and lauded illustrator David Cooper for a hilarious, illustrated, and inspiring story about bringing your creative goals to life and never giving up, even when nothing’s going your way.

 

Clique Here: A Wish Novel by Anna Staniszewski

From middle-grade darling Anna Staniszewski comes the story of a girl who might just have being popular down to a science.

Lily loves science and hanging out with her best friend, Katie. But after a really embarrassing incident, she jumps at the chance to switch schools. She’s ready to start over. With the scientific process, anything is possible!

After a summer spent coming up with theories and prepping for the switch, Lily starts her new school as Blake, a popular girl with a cool name, ready to climb the social ladder.

But every hypothesis has its flaws, and Blake will have to adjust her experiment as she adjusts to her new classmates. And when Katie suddenly shows up in Blake’s world, things get messy. Who’s got the winning formula: Blake or Lily?

 

The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe by Tricia Springstubb

Eleven-year-old Loah Londonderry is definitely a homebody. While her mother, a noted ornithologist, works to save the endangered birds of the shrinking Arctic tundra, Loah anxiously counts the days till her return home. But then, to Loah’s surprise and dismay, Dr. Londonderry decides to set off on a perilous solo quest to find the Loah bird, long believed extinct. Does her mother care more deeply about Loah the bird than Loah her daughter?

Things get worse yet when Loah’s elderly caretakers fall ill and she finds herself all alone except for her friend Ellis. Ellis has big problems of her own, but she believes in Loah. She’s certain Loah has strengths that are hidden yet wonderful, like the golden feather tucked away on her namesake bird’s wing. When Dr. Londonderry’s expedition goes terribly wrong, Loah needs to discover for herself whether she has the courage and heart to find help for her mother, lost at the top of the world.

Beautifully written, The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe is about expeditions big and small, about creatures who defy gravity and those of us who are bound by it.

 

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow

In this unabashedly queer middle grade debut, a week-long amusement park road trip becomes a true roller coaster of emotion when Dalia realizes she has more-than-friend feelings for her new bestie.

Dalia’s journey to self-discovery is refreshingly honest, and this entire cast of characters will steal your heart.” – Maulik Pancholy, actor and Stonewall Honor-winning author of The Best At It

Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding–meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months. Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.

 

Samira Surfs by Rukhsanna Guidroz (Author) Fahmida Azim (Illustrator)

A middle grade novel in verse about Samira, an eleven-year-old Rohingya refugee living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, who finds peace and empowerment in a local surf club for girls.

Samira thinks of her life as before and after: before the burning and violence in her village in Burma, when she and her best friend would play in the fields, and after, when her family was forced to flee. There’s before the uncertain journey to Bangladesh by river, and after, when the river swallowed her nana and nani whole. And now, months after rebuilding a life in Bangladesh with her mama, baba, and brother, there’s before Samira saw the Bengali surfer girls of Cox’s Bazar, and after, when she decides she’ll become one.

Samira Surfs, written by Rukhsanna Guidroz with illustrations by Fahmida Azim, is a tender novel in verse about a young Rohingya girl’s journey from isolation and persecution to sisterhood, and from fear to power.

 

To Tell You the Truth by Beth Vrabel

An utterly charming Southern-voiced middle grade novel about a young girl and the adventure she embarks upon to prove her Gran’s stories were true. Perfect for fans of The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair and Three Times Lucky.

Trixy needs a story, fast, or she’s going to fail the fourth grade–that’s a fact. But every time she sits down to write, her mind is a blank. The only stories she can think of are Gran’s, the ones no one else ever believed but Trixy gulped down like sweet tea. Gran is gone now, buried under the lilac bush in the family plot, so it’s not like Trixy’s hurting anybody to claim one of those stories as her own, is she?

That stolen story turns out to be a huge success, and soon everybody in town wants Trixy to tell them a tale. Before long, the only one left is the story she vowed never to share, the one that made Gran’s face cloud up with sadness. Trying to find a way out of this tangled mess, Trixy and her friend Raymond hit the road to follow the twists and turns of Gran’s past. Maybe then Trixy can write a story that’s all her own, one that’s the straight-up truth.

 

It All Begins with Jelly Beans by Nova Weetman

Two girls form an unlikely friendship during their shared time in the school nurse’s office in this heartfelt middle grade novel for fans of Save Me a Seat and Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus.

Meg spends her days hoping no one thinks too hard about why she wears the same t-shirt and slippers to school every day. Luckily, the nurse’s office provides a welcome escape from classmates who don’t understand…and snacks when food runs out at home.

Riley knows fitting in at her new school would be a lot easier if her friends were more understanding of her type 1 diabetes. So she keeps her testing under wraps…and an emergency bag of jellybeans on hand.

When Meg and Riley end up together in the nurse’s office one day, both girls think they’ve worked each other out, but what if they’ve got it all wrong? On the brink of moving on to junior high, Riley and Meg must find the courage to discover who they really want to be. And maybe a bag of shared jellybeans will provide all the help they need.

 

Goblin by Eric Grissom (Author) Will Perkins (Illustrator)

Goblin is a fantasy story like no other about overcoming great odds and about finding light in even the darkest of places.

A young, headstrong goblin embarks on a wild journey of danger, loss, self-discovery, and sacrifice in this new graphic novel adventure.

One fateful night a sinister human warrior raids the home of the young goblin Rikt and leaves him orphaned. Angry and alone, Rikt vows to avenge the death of his parents and seeks a way to destroy the man who did this. He finds aid from unlikely allies throughout his journey and learns of a secret power hidden in the heart of the First Tree. Will Rikt survive the trials that await him on his perilous journey to the First Tree? And is Rikt truly prepared for what he may find there?

 

The Best Worst Summer by Elizabeth Eulberg

From the acclaimed author of The Great Shelby Holmes comes a new middle grade story about two summers-three decades apart-and the box of secrets linking them together.

This is going to be the worst summer ever for Peyton. Her family just moved, and she had to leave her best friend behind. She’s lonely. She’s bored. Until . . . she comes across a box buried in her backyard, with a message: I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Things are about to get interesting.

Back in 1989, it’s going to be the best summer ever for Melissa and Jessica. They have two whole months to goof around and explore, and they’re even going to bury a time capsule! But when one girl’s family secret starts to unravel, it’s clear things may not go exactly as planned.

In alternating chapters, from Peyton in present day to Melissa three decades earlier (a time with no cell phones, no social media, and camera film that took days to develop, but also a whole lot of freedom), beloved author Elizabeth Eulberg tells the story of a mystery that two sets of memorable characters will never forget.

 

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

Part historical fiction, part magical realism, and 100 percent adventure. Thirteen-year-old Mei reimagines the myths of Paul Bunyan as starring a Chinese heroine while she works in a Sierra Nevada logging camp in 1885.

Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman’s daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan–reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch.

Anchoring herself with stories of Auntie Po, Mei navigates the difficulty and politics of lumber camp work and her growing romantic feelings for her friend Bee. The Legend of Auntie Po is about who gets to own a myth, and about immigrant families and communities holding on to rituals and traditions while staking out their own place in America.

 

The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron

For fans of Wonder, Chris Baron’s The Magical Imperfect is an affecting middle grade story of two outcasts who become friends…

Etan has stopped speaking since his mother left. His father and grandfather don’t know how to help him. His friends have given up on him.

When Etan is asked to deliver a grocery order to the outskirts of town, he realizes he’s at the home of Malia Agbayani, also known as the Creature. Malia stopped going to school when her acute eczema spread to her face, and the bullying became too much.

As the two become friends, other kids tease Etan for knowing the Creature. But he believes he might have a cure for Malia’s condition, if only he can convince his family and hers to believe it too. Even if it works, will these two outcasts find where they fit in?

 

The Stars of Whistling Ridge by Cindy Baldwin

This enchanting story about magic, family, and the meaning of home from the award-winning author of Where the Watermelons Grow is perfect for fans of Corey Ann Haydu and Natalie Lloyd.

Ivy Mae Bloom is almost thirteen years old, her name is almost a complete sentence, and her family’s RV is almost a home. That’s one too many “almosts” for Ivy. She desperately wants a place to put down roots, but it’s her mama’s job as a fallen star to tend the magic underpinning the world–a job that’s kept Ivy’s family living on the road since before Ivy was born.

After Ivy steals Mama’s entire supply of wish jars in the hopes of finding a place to call home, disaster strands her family in Whistling Ridge, North Carolina, with Mama’s star sisters. Ivy falls for Whistling Ridge immediately–she just needs to convince her parents to stay.

But something is draining the magic from the town, and the star sisters can’t pinpoint it. Ivy and her new friends find a clue in Whistling Ridge’s history that might explain the mysterious threat…but if Whistling Ridge’s magic is fixed, Mama will need to move on. Ivy is faced with an impossible decision: How can she help the star sisters lift the curse if it means losing her best chance at a forever home?

 

The Double Life of Danny Day by Mike Thayer

A boy who lives every day twice uses his ability to bring down bullies at his new school in Mike Thayer’s humor-filled middle grade novel, The Double Life of Danny Day.

My name is Danny Day, and I live every day twice.

The first time, it’s a “discard day.” It’s kind of like a practice run. At the end of the day, I go to bed, wake up, and poof everything gets reset, everything except my memory, that is.

The second time, everything is normal, just like it is for everyone else. That’s when everything counts and my actions stick. As you could probably guess, “Sticky Day” Danny is very different from “Discard Day” Danny.

When Danny’s family moves across the country, he suddenly has to use his ability for more than just slacking off and playing video games. Now he’s making new friends, fending off jerks, exposing a ring of cheaters in the lunchtime video game tournament, and taking down bullies one day at a time … or is it two days at a time?

 

Chunky by Yehudi Mercado

In this full-color middle grade graphic memoir for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jerry Craft, Yehudi Mercado draws inspiration from his childhood struggle with his weight while finding friendship with his imaginary mascot, Chunky, as he navigates growing up in a working class Mexican-Jewish family.

Hudi needs to lose weight, according to his doctors. Concerned about the serious medical issue Hudi had when he was younger, his parents push him to try out for sports. Hudi would rather do anything else, but then he meets Chunky, his imaginary friend and mascot. Together, they decide to give baseball a shot.

As the only Mexican and Jewish kid in his neighborhood, Hudi has found the cheerleader he never had. Baseball doesn’t go well (unless getting hit by the ball counts), but the two friends have a great time drawing and making jokes. While Hudi’s parents keep trying to find the right sport for Hudi, Chunky encourages him to pursue his true love–comedy.

But when Hudi’s dad loses his job, it gets harder for Hudi to chart his own course, even with Chunky’s guidance. Can Chunky help Hudi stay true to himself or will this friendship strike out?

 

Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year by Nina Hamza

This hilarious and poignant #ownvoices tween debut about dealing with bullies, making friends, and the power of good books is a great next read for fans of Merci Suárez Changes Gears and John David Anderson.

Ahmed Aziz is having an epic year–epically bad.

After his dad gets sick, the family moves from Hawaii to Minnesota for his dad’s treatment. Even though his dad grew up there, Ahmed can’t imagine a worse place to live. He’s one of the only brown kids in his school. And as a proud slacker, Ahmed doesn’t want to deal with expectations from his new teachers.

Ahmed surprises himself by actually reading the assigned books for his English class: Holes, Bridge to Terabithia, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Shockingly, he doesn’t hate them. Ahmed also starts learning about his uncle, who died before Ahmed was born. Getting bits and pieces of his family’s history might be the one upside of the move, as his dad’s health hangs in the balance and the school bully refuses to leave him alone. Will Ahmed ever warm to Minnesota?

 

Generation Misfits by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Generation Misfits by Akemi Dawn Bowman is a heartwarming, fish-out-of-water own voices story about an eleven-year-old Japanese-American girl who finds her true friendsthrough the power of J-Pop!

Millie is attending a real school for the first time and dreams of finally having friends and a little bit of freedom. So when she joins an imitation band of her favorite J-Pop group, she’s thrilled to meet a group of misfits who quickly become like family. But Millie realizes that one of them is dealing with problems bigger than what notes to hit when it comes time for their performance. Can Millie help her friend, even when their problem feels too big to say out loud?

 

Long Distance by Whitney Gardner

From the creator of Fake Blood comes another exceptionally charming middle grade graphic novel about friendships both near and far, far away.

Vega’s summer vacation is not going well.

When her parents decide it’s time to pack up and leave her hometown of Portland, Oregon, behind for boring Seattle, Washington, Vega is more than upset–she’s downright miserable. Forced to leave her one and only best friend, Halley, behind, Vega is convinced she’ll never make another friend again.

To help her settle into her new life in Seattle, her parents send Vega off to summer camp to make new friends. Except Vega is determined to get her old life back. But when her cellphone unexpectedly calls it quits and things at camp start getting stranger and stranger, Vega has no choice but to team up with her bunkmates to figure out what’s going on!

 

The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher: A Johnny Constantine Graphic Novel by Ryan North (Author) Derek Charm (Illustrator)

THE MYSTERY OF THE MEANEST TEACHER: A JOHNNY CONSTANTINE GRAPHIC NOVEL is a comedic middle grade graphic novel about two kids with developing magical powers trying to figure out if their schoolteacher is really, secretly, a witch.

After angering a number of hostile spirits in England, 13-year-old magician Johnny Constantine has to find a way out of the country. Persuading his parents to send him to America, John arrives at the Junior Success Boarding School in Salem, Massachusetts. But once there, he finds himself to be something of an outcast. And he is also convinced that his homeroom teacher really has it in for him. Worse, he’s convinced that’s she’s really a witch.

Fortunately, John is able to find one kindred spirit at school with whom he’s able to form an alliance–another misfit named Anna, who also happens to have her own developing magical powers. John recruits Anna in his efforts to uncover the truth about Ms. Kayla and expose the Meanest Teacher’s real identity to the world.

Joined by a friendly demon named Etrigan, these two amateur sleuths will uncover clues and stumble upon forces beyond their control in a humorous series of misadventures.

 

See anything you can’t wait to read? Let us know if the comments below. Happy Reading!

STEM Tuesday — Serendipity Science — Book List

Do all discoveries, inventions, and innovations require plans and procedures? Nope. Serendipity, a blend of chance and wisdom, play a huge part in many instances. Tales of accidental brilliance are fun to read and show us the part in plays in all of our lives. Here’s a list of books that tell tales of serendipity.

Accidental Archeologists: True Stories of Unexpected Discoveries by Sarah Albee

Sarah Albee tells tales of the secret treasures that are found all around us in Accidental Archeologists. Readers will discover many incredible tales in this book of accessible archeology.

Building Blunders: Learning from Bad Ideas by Amie Jane Leavitt 

As a part of the series Fantastic Fails, this book shares building failures that led to learning.

Gadget Disasters: Learning from Bad Ideas by Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Another in the Fantastic Fails series, Gadget Disasters introduces readers to gadgets gone wrong and what designers learn from those missteps.

How to Become an Accidental Genius by Freida Wishinsky and Elizabeth MacLeod, Illustrated by Jenn Playford

Yes, you can become an accidental genius too, according to these two authors, who share a series of inspiring tales of global inventors.

Mistakes That Worked: 40 Familiar Inventions and How They Came to Be by Charlotte Foltz Jones, Illustrated by John O’Brien

Readers will find the stories of common things, like potato chips, and their chance invention. Mistakes can lead to success.

Rhinos in Nebraska: The Amazing Discovery of the Ashfall Fossil Beds by Allison Pearce Stevens, illustrated by Matt Huynh

It’s difficult to believe that rhinos, elephants, and camels once roamed North America. Readers will learn about a startling archeological discovery right in the heart of Nebraska in this book that proved their existence.

All In a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger

Lori Alexander tells the fascinating story of self-taught scientist, Antony van Leeuwenhoek’s great discovery.

Accidental Inventions: The Chance Discoveries That Changed Our Lives by Birgit Krols

Here is another book that features the backstories of some of our most important, fun, and useful inventions.

Great Medicine Fails by Barbara Krasner

Can bloodletting with leeches actually lead to a medical success? Read about some of the biggest failures in medicine that led to important success.

Alexander Fleming: Scientists and their Discoveries by Bradley Sneddon

Penicillin is one of the world’s greatest discoveries and has one of the most fascinating stories. Discover how a chance mold contamination led to saving countless lives across the planet.


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Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also served as Regional Advisor Emeritus of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2020 international title about farm and food is THE FARM THAT FEEDS US: A Year In The Life Of An Organic Farm. Visit her at www.nancycastaldo.com. 

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Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that empowers young readers to act on behalf of the environment and their communities. Academy Award winner and environmentalist Jeff Bridges calls Planet Ocean a “must read.” Newman, a Sibert Honor author of Sea Otter Heroes, has also received an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Award for Eavesdropping on Elephants, a Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy!, and a Eureka! Gold Medal from the California Reading Association for Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. Her books have received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how young readers can use writing to be the voice of change. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.