HomeBooks by AgeAges 0-3Back-to-School Book Picks: 2009 Edition

Back-to-School Book Picks: 2009 Edition

The Children’s Book Review
Published: September 1, 2009

Back-to-school is a season in itself and is currently in full-swing. Like me, you probably had an inbox full to the brim with back-to-school newsletters and shopping discounts. I have decided to share with you some of the great books that I picked out from my favorite e-mails, followed by a few additions made by yours truly.

Picks from the Horn Book Newsletter

Tyrannosaurus Math

by Michelle Markel (Author), Doug Cushman (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 6-9

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Tricycle Press (July 14, 2009)

Publisher’s synopsis: This T-Rex was born with number smarts! Youngsters ages 6-9 will get a peek at his number-crunching skills as he adds up an entire herd of triceratops, or multiplies the legs of a group of ankylosaurs, & estimates the distance to his next tasty meal. Delightful & humorous introduction to more than ten math skills.

TCBR Review: “The story combines dinosaurs and prehistoric daily life with basic math concepts that will surely encourage even the most reluctant math students. Any dinosaur-enthusiast will love the detailed illustrations of the many different dinosaurs that our math whiz encounters on a daily basis.”

Add this book to your collection: Tyrannosaurus Math

Two of a Kind

by Jacqui Robbins and Matt Phelan

Reading level: Ages 6 – 9

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Atheneum; 1 edition (July 7, 2009)

Publisher’s Synopsis: Sometimes a friend can bring out the worst in you…but a real, true friend will always bring out the best!From the creators of The New Girl…and Me comes a sweet, insightful story about the in crowd, the outcasts, and the bravery it takes to be a real, true friend.

Horn Book review: “In a thoughtful text, Jacqui Robbins conveys the hurtfulness of elementary classroom cliques; Matt Phelan’s soft watercolor illustrations add a gentle but emotionally powerful touch.”

Add this book to your collection: Two of a Kind

 Best Friends and Drama Queens

by Meg Cabot

Reading level: Ages 8-11

Hardcover: 240 pages

Publisher: Scholastic Press (March 10, 2009)

Publisher’s synopsis: Allie Finkle is excited when a new girl, who comes all the way from Canada, joins her class at Pine Heights Elementary. Now Allie won’t be the new girl anymore!

But her excitement turns to dismay when the new girl, Cheyenne, starts telling everyone in the fourth grade what to do! Soon Cheyenne has everyone, including Allie’s best friends, Caroline, Sophie, and Erica, believing that if they don’t do what she says, they’ll be what Cheyenne accuses them of being – babies!

But Allie isn’t sure she’s ready to be all grown-up yet. Not if it means chasing boys at recess, not playing her favorite games anymore, and especially…not being herself!

Horn Book review: “How Allie overcomes the humiliation — and, ultimately, the pressure to grow up too soon — is told believably and with much insight by popular author Meg Cabot.”

Add this book to your collection: Best Friends and Drama Queens

 Babymouse: Dragonslayer

Reading level:
Ages 8-12

Paperback: 96 pages

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (August 25, 2009)

Publisher’s synopsis: Get ready for the next big epic fantasy . . .

In a distant kingdom a growing darkness falls over the land.

One is called to defend . . . to bring hope . . . to slay the Mighty Dragon. . . .

Could it be . . . Babymouse? Find out when Babymouse leads her fellow Mathletes in the quest of a lifetime, a death-defying fight to win back both her school’s honor and the coveted GOLDEN SLIDE RULE. Our brave young hero must face not just the evil Owlgorithms but also her own personal dragon—MATH. Destined for glory, for greatness, for bookstores and libraries everywhere . . . this is the epic adventure fans have been waiting for!

Horn Book review: “Readers will be drawn into the graphic novel format as author Jennifer Holm and illustrator Matthew Holm humorously interweave reality with Babymouse’s epic (and pink-tinged) fantasies. This time the message is a valuable one, too, as Babymouse learns that “just because you’re not good at something, it doesn’t mean you have to be terrible at it, either.””

Add this book to your collection: Babymouse: Dragonslayer

 Extra Credit

by Andrew Clements

Reading level: Ages 10-13

Hardcover: 192 pages

Publisher: Atheneum (June 23, 2009)

Publisher’s synopsis: It isn’t that Abby Carson can’t do her schoolwork, it’s just that she doesn’t like doing it. And that means she’s pretty much failing sixth grade. When a warning letter is sent home, Abby realizes that all her slacking off could cause her to be held back — for real! Unless she wants to repeat the sixth grade, she’ll have to meet some specific conditions, including taking on an extra-credit project: find a pen pal in a foreign country. Simple enough (even for a girl who hates homework).

Abby’s first letter arrives at a small school in Afghanistan, and Sadeed Bayat is chosen to be her pen pal…. Well, kind of. He is the best writer, but he is also a boy, and in his village it is not appropriate for a boy to correspond with a girl. So his younger sister dictates and signs the letter. Until Sadeed decides what his sister is telling Abby isn’t what he’d like Abby to know.

As letters flow back and forth between Illinois and Afghanistan, Abby and Sadeed discover that their letters are crossing more than an ocean. They are crossing a huge cultural divide and a minefield of different lifestyles and traditions. Their growing friendship is also becoming a growing problem for both communities, and some people are not happy. Suddenly things are not so simple.

Horn Book review: “Readers will give high marks to this timely, thoughtful story.”

Add this book to your collection: Extra Credit

een.sies Picks: Via Daily Candy

The Kissing Hand

by Audrey Penn

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Tanglewood Press (June 25, 2006)

Publisher’s synopsis:
In this contemporary classic Chester Raccoon seeks love and reassurance from his mother as he ventures out into the world to attend his very first day of school.

een.sies review: “A wonderful story that’s perfect for helping children (and parents) cope with separation anxiety.”

Add this book to your collection: The Kissing Hand

I Am Too Absolutely Small for School

by Lauren Child

Reading level:
Ages 4-8

Paperback: 32 pages

Publisher: Candlewick (August 9, 2005)

Publisher’s synopsis: Lola is not so sure about school. After all, why would she need to count higher than ten when she never eats more that ten cookies at a time? Once again, it’s up to ever-patient big brother Charlie to persuade Lola that school is worthwhile — and that her invisible friend, Soren Lorensen, will be welcome, too.

een.sies review: “This is the perfect starting-school book for the doesn’t-want-to-admit-I’m-nervous kiddo.”

Add this book to your collection:
I Am Too Absolutely Small for School

The Children’s Book Review Picks

Spot Loves His Teacher

by Eric Hill

Reading level:
Ages 0-4

Board book: 12 pages

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; Brdbk edition (July 9, 2009)

Publisher’s synopsis:
Spot loves school. His teacher, Miss Bear, is always there to help out, whether the class is learning to paint, reading a story, or going on a nature walk. The school day seems to end too soon, and Spot is always glad he’ll be able to see Miss Bear tomorrow. A follow-up to the popular Spot Loves His Mommy and Spot Loves His Daddy, this is a sweet book that will appeal to both teachers and first-time students.

Add this book to your collection: Spot Loves His Teacher

Now I Am in Kindergarten

by Delane Pennington

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Annotation Press (December 10, 2008)

Develop a keepsake to treasure and share for generations. Record important first school experiences in this interactive memory book you create with your child! Years from now, Now I Am in . . . Kindergarten will be a delight, an inspiration, and a reminder of what a unique individual he or she is!

Includes pages for your child’s

* Writing and math samples
* Drawings
* Photographs of special friends and events
* Favorites
* Important milestones

. . . and much more!

Add this book to your collection: Now I Am in Kindergarten

Junie B’s Essential Survival Guide to School

by Barbara Park

Reading level:
Ages 6-9

Spiral-bound: 120 pages

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; Spi edition (July 14, 2009)

Publisher’s synopsis:
Hello, school children! Hello! Hello! It’s me . . . Junie B., First Grader!

I have been going to school for over one-and-a-half entire years now. And I have learned a jillion things that will help you survive at that place. And guess what? Now I am going to pass this information on to y-o-u!!! I wrote it all down in my brand-new book!

Here is some of the stuff I wrote about:
Bus rules, carpools, how to stay out of trouble (possibly), homework, fun work, water fountains, friends (plus children you may not actually care for).

All the helpful hints and drawings are done by me, Junie B. Jones! Plus also, there are stickers and pages for you to write in! This thing is a hoot, I tell you!

Add this book to your collection: Junie B’s Essential Survival Guide to School

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute

by Jarret J. Krosoczka

Reading level:
Ages 7-10

Paperback: 96 pages

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (July 28, 2009) (Ages 7-10)

Publisher’s synopsis: Hector, Terrence, and Dee have always wondered about their school lunch lady. What does she do when she isn’t dishing out the daily special? Where does she live? Does she have a lot of cats at home? Little do they know, Lunch Lady doesn’t just serve sloppy joes—she serves justice! Whatever danger lies ahead, it’s no match for LUNCH LADY!

Add this book to your collection: Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute

Be sure to share your favorite back-to-school books in the comments below!

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The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers. This article was written and provided by one of TCBR's regular contributors.

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