Curious minds, interested readers and fans of a great story are sure to find a good read on the 2013 Great Lakes Great Books list, released by the Michigan Reading Association. The list includes books for kindergarten through high school students. Schools across Michigan will vote on their favorites from each grade category. Books in the fourth- and fifth-grade group include: Hunter Moran Saves the Universe by Patricia Reilly Giff, The Might Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis, and the following:
Blizzard of Glass by Sally M. Walker is a riveting true story of the largest man-made explosion in history, prior to the atomic bomb in 1945. The page turner includes accounts of six families who witnessed, survived and were killed during the blast in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Dec. 6, 1917. When two ships collided in the Harbor, one filled with munitions for the war, the blast flattened large parts of Halifax and the neighboring town of Dartmouth. In total 2,000 people were killed by the blast and collapse of buildings.
In Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraordinaire by Mrs. Bunny, translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath, two country rabbits long to live in the big city; and move to Rabbitville. When her code-deciphering uncle falls into a coma, she turns to Mr. and Mrs. Bunny to help her solve the mystery, which includes a file card covered in code. The trio take on sly foxes, a wily marmot named The Marmot and the dreaded Bunny Council to try and solve the disappearance. This is my favorite juvenile book of 2012 and I have never laughed out loud so much while reading.
Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood. Readers will fall in love with Prairie Evers, a curios home-schooled girl who enjoys learning. When her family moves to New York from North Carolina, Prairie, homes-schooled her entire life, navigates public school, an experience that shatters some of her self- confidence. Teased for being a "know-it-all," Prairie chooses to view her one-of-a-kindness as a strength, not a weakness.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is a lovable story about a gorilla, both an old and baby elephant and a stray dog named Bob. Readers learn how the animals perceive captivity. They perform in four shows a day, but their "wild" side keeps them wondering if there could be more to their lives than pretending to be tame. While the animals are personified, to the point we believe they can talk to each other, their plight tugs on your heart. Interestingly the story is based in fact, Ivan is a real Gorilla who now lives at Zoo Atlanta, and was at one time part of a show at a circus themed mall in Washington. Public pressure questioning his quality of life, along with the other caged animals, led to his move to Zoo Atlanta.
Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass by Russell Freedman. I loved reading this book. I couldn't put it down. First the reader learns of Fredrick Douglass' battle for freedom from slavery, then of his hunger for knowledge. From learning to read, to speaking against slavery in public Freedman presents a man determined to speak out against injustice, at great risk to his life. Then Freedman introduces Abraham Lincoln, a man with the greatest responsibility in the country, leading it.
Edgar Allan Poe's Pie by J. Patrick Lewis puts fun math problems in classic poems. Lewis has worked math problems into classic poems, like division in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." These puzzles are so much fun to figure out, reader's might not realize they're learning. The play on words, the fun illustrations and math lessons make this book a treat of numbers and poetry.
- Jenifer Kilpela