5 New, High-Quality Picture Books to Help You Teach

My Cybils reading has begun! Allow me to share with you 5 high quality nonfiction picture books published in the last 12 months. All of these are suitable for use in the classroom (or home classroom) and I'm happy to tell you why.

The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America's Presidents by Kate Messner & Adam Rex

When I brought home a huge stack of new non-fiction, this was the first book I saw any of my kids reading. It was Levi (age 10), and he was reading it on the floor in the middle of the walkway. He couldn't even make it to the nearby chair. The book didn't even make it to the nearby shelf. So, I chalked a point up for kid appeal on this one. (The two criteria on which Cybils books are evaluated are kid appeal and literary merit). Plus, with a title like "The Next President," and such gorgeous cover design, and less than a month until the next presidential election . . . I mean who could resist? 

This book was great. It takes a unique look at past presidents, offering info about all the presidents who were alive in a given year and what they were up to. Like a big fascinating timeline in full color, that you don't have to walk around to read, this book was informative and fresh. Which future presidents were alive on the day that George Washington took office? And what were they up to? The books conversational tone also drew me in. 

Adam Rex's realistic illustrations make it easy to recognize those presidents whose faces are familiar. The sense of motion and action he conveys is phenomenal. And occasionally the timeline is interrupted for a "snapshot" of a president at some  point in their life before their presidency. The book concludes with a though provoking paragraph about all the future presidents of the United States of America that are likely alive today. The Next President also has substantial backmatter, including a cool map that shows where past presidents have been born, lays out the requirements for those who want to hold the office of the president, and suggests further reading.

I can see this book being a great fit for ages 7 and up. Levi's in 5th grade right now and it made good independent reading for him. I could see it working as low as 2nd grade, with an adult reading it and aiding comprehension. How high could you go? The sky is the limit on this one. I think middle grades, high schoolers and adults would all find it interesting. I did! 

Nesting by Henry Cole

This is the book that Jubilee cracked open first. Illustrated in black micron pen with a little bit of blue acrylic wash now and then, the exquisitely detailed drawings really make this book stand out. The text is uncomplicated, and suitable for reading aloud to all ages. Nesting tells the story of a family of robins over the course of one year. A lone robin calls a mate. She builds a nest, lays eggs, and together they feed the chicks and defend them from danger. They teach them to fly, and the whole family prepares for winter. 

I particularly loved the detail that Cole added to the story, by way of the author's note. It answered several of the questions I had, and if I were teaching a third grade class I wouldn't hesitate to completely incorporate the author's note into my reading. If I were teaching an art class, I'm sure I could talk about composition and focus. These drawings are photorealistic, and I doubt a photo could be better. You could spend years trying to get some of these shots, and here they are: composed in the mind and rendered perfectly. If I were teaching an "Up in the Sky" Kindermusik class (ahem, which I have, recently) I would love to use this book as a read aloud for the preschoolers and parents. 

On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring by Buffy Silverman

Speaking of Kindermusik, On a Snow-Melting Day struck me as a perfect read aloud for a unit that talks about weather. The rhyme and rhythm of this book, combined with big, bold photo illustrations just seems like it would be a real winner with the preschool crowd. I can see it going over very well with elementary school children, too. Can't wait to read this one to Sam (age 3). 

On a Snow Melting Day uses rhyming couplets of just two words each to tell about all the things you might see on an early spring day: "Icicles drip. Chickadees Sip." All of the photos and words point to nature signs until the very end when we read "Blackbirds sing. Kids swing. Welcome, spring!" This book would be a nice introduction to onomatopoeia, with lines like "On a plink-plonking, marsh-mucking, duck-dabbling day..."

I confess I was a little bit disappointed that the one photo that shows a child's face in the book is a photo of a white male. Sigh. Especially since, judging by the photo credits in the backmatter, the photos were all selected from photo publishing resources online. It's a great picture of a dad pushing his son on the swing. But, I think it would not have been difficult to find a great picture of a child of color. Who can say? All I know is that I was a little bit disappointed there. 

The backmatter in this book is robust. We get a glossary, further reading suggestions, and a two-page spread that gives a paragraph of details about each couplet shared in the main body of the book. I've seen nonfiction books do this both ways -- some put the paragraph directly in the main body, others save it for the backmatter. The books that leave details for the backmatter, like this one, have a lot of flexibility and make for good read-alouds. Plus then as an adult reading to a child, I get to model how reading nonfiction texts is the same (read straight through) and different (flip back and forth to revisit the picture and read the paragraph that goes with it). For that reason, this book would be a good introduction to nonfiction for a child who enjoys fiction picture books.

Numenia and the Hurricane: Inspired by a True Migration Story by Fiona Halliday

This gorgeously illustrated poem tells the story of a young whimbrel (a migrating bird) who gets separated from and eventually reunited with her group. 

I wasn't already familiar with the whimbrel when I started this book, and my main complaint about this one is that I didn't know what kind of bird I was following until I read the backmatter. We follow our bird from the time she's a fluffy chick, and I know that birds' appearance changes significantly as they mature. It was obvious that Numenia had changed, but I wasn't sure if she was fully grown. So, when her migration is briefly led by a goose, I was like "oh, is she a young goose, then?" No.  

The poem is beautifully written, and the author chose to sacrifice some things (like incorporating the words whimbrel, hurricane, and Numenia) for the sake of flow. The poem does flow beautifully and tell a moving story of growth, disaster, suspense, and ultimate triumph. The chorus of "curlee, curlee, curloo," meant to evoke the call of the whimbrel, is a nice element of repetition.

The book is beautifully illustrated, as well. So much texture! Digital and traditional mixed media bring the story to life. And, the use of color masterfully matches the mood of the poem. A red sunset at the climactic moment is highly effective in a book with lots of blues, greens and browns. The black of the city that Numenia gets lost in, the red of the wide eyes of a watching pidgeon family, and the yellow of the moon at her reunion are three other perfect touches. 

I'd recommend this one for elementary and older elementary audiences. The backmatter contains only the true story that the book is based on and a brief bibliography, so Numenia and the Hurricane would make a nice vocabulary or poetry study. It seamlessly incorporates words like askew, faltering, moor (and more!). It shows off personification of animals and elements, repetition, alliteration and assonance. 

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard & Oge Mora

Such an intriguing title! Such beautiful cut paper art! This book tells about Mary Walker who was born a slave, freed by the emancipation proclamation, raised a family and worked her whole life and who, at last, learned to read.

I won't spoil for you just how old Mary Walker was before she learned to read. That fact was the most astonishing one to me, followed closely by just how long Mary Walker lived. I loved seeing the photos that decorate the endpapers of the book, and I especially loved the last line: "You're never too old to learn."  

What I wished the book had more of was HOW Mary Walker learned to read. The pacing of the book is a bit off. The book spends a lot of time on her life before she learned to read (indeed most of her life was before she learned to read!) but, somehow, that slow delivery of the title's promise, combined with the fact that nearly every illustration portraying Mary before her first reading class is one of a sad or confused Mary, made a large part of the book very sobering and sad. Then, a quick bit about her learning to read! And some ending pages about Mary's new life as a reader. I'm sure Mary found fulfillment in reading -- I certainly do. But I take a issue with a couple of lines in the book.

1. "It was the year of Chattanooga's Great Flood. The story was in all the newspapers, but Mary could only study the pictures to understand what had happened." In the backmatter the author admits that she chose to "imagine other details to fill in the blanks" of Mary's largely unrecorded life. I imagine that an illiterate person could do quite a bit to understand a situation. Not only could Mary look at pictures, but she could talk to others, perhaps even witness the effects of the flood of the town she lived in. 

2. "Mary felt complete." I don't know if this is an accurate statement or not, since the author has admitted to imagining details. I found it particularly jarring that the author implied that Mary's sadness over past losses was all smoothed over by reading. 

The book spends only 2 of its 32 pages on the hard work that Mary put in to learning to read and write. (One paragraph of text, one gorgeous illustration.) The only mention of her teacher's name is in a caption of a photo on the endpapers. The other 30 pages tell us how completely terrible and hard Mary's life was before she learned to read, and then how many presents, parties and accolades she got and how complete she felt once she was literate. I would feel much more satisfied by a book that showed evidence that the author had an idea of what happened during that "year and more" Mary spent learning to read, evidence that she had interviewed those who taught Mary, or learned with her, or just those who knew Mary (and not just knew what presents she got). 

The author's note shares a few interesting details that would have made the book more rounded and less "reading is the only important thing" preachy. Apparently Mary sewed beautiful bonnets and made amazing cakes! She could have been shown smiling with some of those, in her early, hard days, even though she wasn't literate. I'm sure that learning throughout her life prepared her to learn when she was elderly. I guess I wish the message of the book had been "Learn all you can. Learning even when your opportunities are slim will benefit you and prepare you for when your opportunities expand" rather than "Reading and literacy are the path to completeness and celebrity." A main theme in the book is Mary's love of the Bible, and how Mary's Bible waited a long time for her to be able to read it. I don't think the message I got from the pacing of the book was the message the author meant to send. I think the author meant to send the message that, as stated on the last page, "You're never too old to learn." 

The illustrations were deeply moving. The story itself is amazing! The pacing was not quite right. Still, I might use this book in a class or keep it on a shelf for kids to check out. When I asked Jubilee (age 7) which of the books above she thought she would like best, just based on the cover, she picked The Oldest Student.  

Cybils this year!

I'm pleased to say that I have been selected as a first-round panelist for the Nonfiction category of the Cybils Awards this year! Nonfiction has been divided by age group in the past, and this year we will still have three winners (Elementary, Middle Grade, and Young Adult) but it's just one nonfiction panel reading ALLLLLL the books. I can't wait for the nominations to start rolling in. 

If you have a favorite book published for children or teens in the last year (Oct 2019-Oct 2020), please nominate! The Cybils Awards rely on the nominations of the public. 

If you'd like to check out some nonfiction titles I've loved in the past, here's a list. 

I'll be working with this great panel to select the best handful of nonfiction books in each age range. Then our shortlists will go on to a second panel of judges who will select the winner in each age group.  


5 Easy, Proven Ways You Can Get More Books at Home Right Now

Right now I've got all four of my kids learning from home. We've opted for remote learning through their usual schools. For my middle schooler, Benjamin, this means working independently to complete 2 assignments per week in each of his 7 classes. He logs on twice a week for a video chat with an eighth, advisory class. My elementary schoolers, Levi and Jubilee, are logging on for short lessons from their teachers 4-5 times a day, and doing some independent work in between. My preschooler, Sam, is enjoying a bag of books and craft supplies that the leader of our city's School Readiness initiative offers for pick up every month or so.  

We're spending a lot of time at home. So, how can we get more books at home right now?

1. Library holds- If your library is open at all, the librarians are just wishing and hoping for your patronage. Our library is open with limited hours and with restrictions (no restroom access, mandatory masks, traffic stickers on the floor) and our librarians are thrilled to see us when we come in. If coming in isn't an option for people, they're offering a curbside pickup. When I get to the library I call and they will bring my checked out books to my car. I highly recommend looking into your local library as an option. My library is keeping all books returned to them in quarantine - untouched for 3 days. They've also ceased charging any fines. Look into what your library is doing. 

I definitely use library holds to get more books. Every so often, maybe once a week, I log on to my library's catalog and put books on hold that my kids want. I look up the books we want in the catalog and click to place a hold. Whether the book is coming from my home library or from another library in the system, I know it's coming. Then, when I go to the library, I browse for whatever looks good. The librarians put a lot of work into making books look good, letting you see the book covers, etc. So I grab what sparks some interest, and then at the checkout desk, I pick up my holds. 

I definitely end up getting more books with the help of holds. Sometimes I go expressly for picking up holds, but often I visit the library to browse and find I have holds that have come in. Putting books on hold eliminates the effort of remembering what book it was we wanted, and the effort of finding the book on the shelf. 

And hey, here's a cool tool -- the catalog of library catalogs -- called WorldCat. Find out what libraries near you have any given book in their catalog. 

2. Book Subscriptions- I've looked into several book subscription boxes, but so far I've stuck with my first love, Bookroo. It's great. They send you two books, wrapped as gifts. A small paper comes with them to tell parents the titles and summaries of the books. For the chapter book box, the card notes anything a parent might want to watch for -- tense scenes, usually. 

I like that the books come as a surprise. I like that I don't have to choose whether or not I want this book or that book, it's just "set and forget." They're vetted books, and I've liked all of the ones we've received in the picture book and chapter book boxes. There have been a couple of board books that I felt meh about, but a couple that have become absolute staples in our house. So, I'm hot and cold about the board book box, and very warm and loving toward the picture book and chapter book boxes. I've written more about Bookroo, I like them well enough that I've become an affiliate. You can see my other posts about Bookroo here

I like that Bookroo is a small business started by three book-loving sisters-in-law. So relatable. Subscribing right now seems like a great way to enjoy some books and support a small business. We gifted my 2nd grader, Jubilee, a 3-month Chapter Book Box subscription for her birthday. 

3. Digital libraries- I've tried two digital libraries recently, Kindle Unlimited and Epic. 

Kindle Unlimited left me feeling meh. That may be because I wanted it for the kids mostly, and it wasn't until after my free month trial ended that my 7th grader won a free Kindle from the library summer reading program. I found it somewhat difficult to browse, and any title I searched for wasn't on it, but the Amazon page to buy it would come up. Using it felt more like browsing Amazon than visiting a digital library. Perhaps if you have a Kindle for your kids, it will suit your family better.

Epic is the digital library that the kids' schools signed up with when distance learning started last March. The kids found plenty to read on it, enough that I had to decide to what degree reading books on Epic counted as "screen time." Jubilee read a lot of Snoopy and Charlie Brown in the spring, and is currently reading the Phoebe and her Unicorn series. She was disappointed Epic didn't have the first Harry Potter book; our copy is missing at the moment. Levi has also found plenty to read for fun (Cat Ninja!) and completed reading assigned by his teacher on Epic as well. From my parent screen I can see that my kids have read over 100 hours and more than 150 books on Epic, already. My kids can only read during school hours, but parents can pay $10/month for unlimited access, and any parent can sign up for a free 30-day trial. Also, a subscription can be gifted. 

4. 4. 

4. Local bookstores- We've got Books-A-Million nearby; they're a chain bookstore and man am I glad they are around! If you've got a local bookstore, support it! Get their membership. Books-A-Million has a "millionaire's card" and at $25/year it gives me free shipping and 10% off everything, as well as access to some special sales. It hits the sweet spot for me because it's the closest to my house AND it's easy to order online AND it appeals to my frugal side with its sales and membership benefits.

 A little bit further away we've got a local independent book store, Bank Square Books. Talk about charming! The place is everything I want a bookstore to be: full of books, also cute stuff, knowledgeable staff, and places to sit. Well, I haven't been in 2020, so I can't say whether or not the places to sit have disappeared. But the thing I love about local independent bookstores is they're most likely to host awesome author events and bring authors and speakers to town and to the schools (and to virtual settings, too). In my experience, you'll end up paying sticker price (or close to it) for the books you buy at a non-chain bookstore, but when you do, you're sprinkling literacy benefits into the whole community.  

5. Online bookstores- 

I mean, when I say "easy and proven," even a local shopper like me has to admit that Amazon belongs on the list. The online bookstore that turned into an online "everything" store has made it SO easy to buy books. I regularly use Amazon for its detailed book information features. Reading levels, page counts, publication dates, all in one easy space! If you're on Amazon and you're ordering something anyway, you can run a quick search for the best deals. Type "children's books" or "YA books" in the search bar, then when the results come up, click the box on the left hand side for "Today's Deals." Then sort by Price: Low to High.  

BAM! Books-A-Million    

Books-A-Million also sells online, and they seem to have more variety in kids' books on sale (maybe because they stock physical stores). I shall make getting to their online bargain bin easy for you: First, go to the website. Then click on Bargain Books (it's a dropdown menu, but just click it, don't pay any attention to the dropping down. Also, don't be distracted by Sale. You want Bargain Books). Then scroll down to the third row and along the top of the row click the tiny link "Shop All Kids Books Starting at $3.97". Enjoy scrolling the deals! 

Happy reading! And hey, how does school look for you right now?

27 Books for a 12 Year Old Girl Who Reads Like Crazy

Last Christmas, my good friend Nancy called me up asking for my advice on a book subscription box for her granddaughter. This granddaughter is a precocious reader with an insatiable appetite for books

I told her that I love Bookroo, but their oldest box is targeted to ages 7-10. Nancy said that definitely wouldn't do. Her granddaughter had read and loved the whole Harry Potter series, The Lunar Chronicles, the Septimus Heap Books, I Will Always Write Back, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Making Bombs for Hitler, To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, and more. 

Nancy said she had looked into OwlCrate, but that her granddaughter didn't want any of the "stuff" just the books. Little did we know, Amazon had just launched it's Prime Book Box for Kids, including a 9-12 age bracket. So, after we failed to find anything suitable I said "Hey, how about I send you a big list of books I think she'd like, and you can pick a couple each month and send them to her?" Everyone loved the idea, and Nancy dubbed it "Grandma's Book of the Month Club, curated by Alysa Stewart!"

Anyway, I thought the rest of you might like to peek at the list I put together. 

27 Books for a 12 Year Old Girl reading at a high level

I have put an asterisk (*) next to the ones that I have not personally read, but those are all either award winning and/or well loved by multiple kids/teachers I know. I have put a tilde (~) next to the ones that are the thickest. 

~The Letter for the King (realistic historical fiction)

Fake Blood (graphic novel, realistic fiction)

Bad Island (graphic novel, realistic fantasy)

Saffy's Angel & Indigo's Star (first two in a realistic fiction series)

*The Wild Robot (science fiction

*The One and Only Ivan (based on a true story)

What If? by Randall Monroe (non-fiction...speculative?)

Super Science: Matter Matters (a pop-up non-fiction book)

~The True Meaning of Smekday (science fiction)

Proud by Ibtihaj Muhammad (Non-fiction. I read the Young readers edition to my kids, so I haven't read the adult version and couldn't say if it has inappropriate content. The YRE was very inspiring)

*Under the Egg (mystery, realistic fiction)

Fuzzy Mud (realistic science fiction)

The View from the Cherry Tree (realistic fiction, mystery)

Leviathan (steampunk fantasy)

Terrible Typhoid Mary (non-fiction)

*Dragonwatch (fantasy)

El Deafo (graphic novel memoir)

*Story Thieves (fantasy)

~The Secret Keepers (realistic fiction, mystery)

Wires & Nerve Vol 1 & Vol 2 (Graphic Novel sequels to the lunar chronicles, science fiction)

~Steelheart (science fiction)

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Good Boy (graphic novel, mystery, fantasy)


About midway though the year I asked Nancy how it was going. She said "This last week I sent her The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt. . . I'm using your list and other recommendations. Ensley said it's the best present she's ever had!"

I hope you enjoyed this list. What would you add to it? 

Parenting thoughts: On Being Consistent

Once upon a time there was a mom who heard the advice to "be consistent." It was me. I heard it from many sources and in many contexts. I've applied and misapplied the advice to "be consistent" over the course of a dozen years of parenting. Now I have a few things to say about it. 

  • Be consistent does NOT mean you can't change your mind -- even in the middle of a power struggle. I can't tell you how many times I've walked it back when I've gotten to the breaking point. My husband's calm perspective has helped me realize that the most important thing to be consistent with is not being consistent in following up on a threat, it's being consistent in loving and teaching the kids. 
  • Be consistent does NOT mean you can't apologize to your child. You can apologize when you've lost your temper. It won't teach the kids that their poor choice was actually fine. If you teach your kids at planned, happy times about the behavior you expect from them, they'll get it. And they'll appreciate and emulate your apologies.  
  • Be consistent in giving your children limits. Teach your children the limits and expectations when everyone is calm, happy and in a place of love. This will require you to plan ahead, so that you're not trying to teach right behavior just a moment after you stop poor behavior. Planning calm times to teach your kids is hard, but that's ok, you're an adult. Setting times for things and following through is a great area in which to be consistent. There are great times to "teach as you go" and "teach in the moment." But if you don't set aside times to teach behavior that are unconnected to your child's current behavior, you're being more consistent in criticism than in teaching. 
  • Be consistent does NOT mean "do things the same way for each of your children." 
  • Be consistent means keep the promises you made when you were calm, happy and thinking rationally.
  • Be consistent means apply those consequences for behavior you laid out when you and your child were calm, happy and thinking rationally. 
  • Be consistent in loving your children.
  • Be consistent in teaching your children.

Do you have any parenting wisdom to share? I've been enjoying reading The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson. Not done with it yet, but I like it so far!

Ick! and Nerp! Two gross, great books

 Today I've got to tell you about two gross, great books.


I first got to know Melissa Stewart's name in 2013, when I was reading massive amounts of juvenile non-fiction for the Cybils book award. (It didn't hurt that we have almost the same name. We're not related, that I know of!) She is a superstar of non-fiction for kids. I went over to her website to see how many books she's written . . . and I still don't have an answer for you because they're divided into categories and subcategories and it was too many to count!

Anyway, when I saw that top-notch author Melissa Stewart had paired with the top-notch photography and design people at National Geographic Kids, I was very interested. I requested a review copy of Ick! and I don't regret it. 

When the book arrived, my kids pored over it, and read out loads of disgusting facts for each other and me. "Mom, did you know about dung beetles?!" It was a big hit with my three oldest kids ages 12, 9, and 7. This isn't the sort of book that you have to read back to front. Each page focuses on one disgusting thing about an animal, and has a few sections on it: the main text, some stats, a couple of cool facts, and an "extra ick." The book is divided into three sections, one each for the gross things animals eat, their gross dwellings, and the gross ways they scare off predators.

Benjamin (12) knew right off the bat that the horned lizard would be in the book, and he was excited to find that page, then find equally icky facts about other animals. 

Of one of the pages Jubilee (7) said, "That's Ick. That's literally the title. Ick." 

Of the whole book Levi (9) said, "I like it. And it's disgusting." This is Levi's face, as Benjamin reads him an icky fact.

As for me, I like it, too. I learned many cool facts and already knew about dung beetles. I didn't get grossed out until I read about the tongue-eating louse. But I'll not spoil you on that one. 

Thumbs up for this one! There's a lot to learn from it, it's well written and designed, and has some truly horrifying and amazing photos. 

Nerp! by Sarah Lynne Reul

As far as disgusting goes, Nerp! is on the cute side of gross. It's a story of a little monster who doesn't want to eat any of the delicious foods his parents serve him. And his monster pet isn't interested in his own food. If you've ever had a toddler and a pet at the same time, this book is gonna speak right to your reality. 

The text is written in nonsense words: "Nerp!" is what our little monster says instead of "Nope!" And the nonsense titles of all the gourmet dishes that are served to him are sometimes disgusting and sometimes delightful. My kids had no trouble following the nonsense, and they had a great time talking about which dishes they would actually want to try. The book does have a little bit of an ick factor. For Jubilee, contemplating the book's ending gave her a tummy ache! It just gave the rest of us the giggles.

I absolutely adore the illustrations of this book. The emotions on every monster's face in each page are just spot on. I think the style might be considered collage? Sarah Lynne Reul built a miniature set and photographed it, then drew the characters and foods on top. The effect of the art is somewhere between real and make-believe, and the story is somewhere between "ick" and "aww."  

Recommended! I requested a review copy of this one because I loved Sarah Lynne Reul's The Breaking News which I bought at KidLitCon. Now I've got more to love. 

Surprise! The New Top-Selling Book of Everead!

I've been blogging about books here on Everead since July 2008. I just love to talk about books, and when I found out I could get a little bit of credit for recommending them to people, I became an Amazon Affiliate. 

In 2014 I wrote a post recommending some books for a friend's 13 year old son, and that post really took off. I mean, I think that at least for a while there it would come up on the first page of results if you searched google for "books for a 13 year old boy." Apparently the favorite book from that list was Wildfire Run by Dee Garretson, because that was the top-selling book of Everead for over 4 years. (See my posts about it here.) 

But recently I took a look at the reports on my Amazon Affiliate account, and folks! We have a New Bestseller! 

Drumroll please...

by Leslie Connor!

I couldn't be more pleased to have another excuse to talk about Crunch. I first read it in 2010 and there are at least 6 posts that mention it here on Everead now. I met Leslie Connor at an SCBWI meeting, and heard her speak at KidLitCon. It's a pleasure to make you aware (or more aware) of this fine book of hers.

Like Wildfire Run, Crunch is a hidden gem of a book. Not many people know about it, but it is absolutely worth reading. I'd particularly recommend it for fans of The Penderwicks books.

The premise of the book is that the Mariss family has 5 kids, and they run a bike shop. 14-year-old Dewey is our main protagonist. His dad is a truck driver, so his parents take a short drive together. All of a sudden . . . the gasoline crunch of the 1970's hits. The Mariss parents are stuck away from home longer than expected. Dewey and the rest of the kids aren't just locking the doors, watching TV and waiting for them to get home, though. They've got to keep the bike shop running and because gas in short supply, the shop is doing big business. Then, things start to go missing.  

Crunch is a middle-grade realistic fiction novel, great for ages 8+, and it would be a fantastic book to read aloud. It is a standalone book, not part of a series. It won top honors from Cybils judges.

As I said in my original review, I felt this book was completely real. So authentic, and uplifting. It gives the reader a lot to think about. I don't often re-read books, but I have read Crunch at least twice. I haven't read Crunch in years, but one quote from it has stuck with me all this time. In fact, I said it to my husband in the kitchen the other day. It's an aphorism that Mr. Meriss shares with Dewey: "An ounce of maintenance is worth a pound of repairs."

I'm also a fan of Leslie Connor's book Waiting for Normal. The "strawberry shaped objects" of that book have stayed with me. Connor has been hitting it out of the park for a long time, and I really need to catch up on her recent releases! She's won numerous awards for The Truth According to Mason Buttle and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook. Those two books go together, I hear. A Home for Goddesses and Dogs came out in early 2020.   

Benjamin (age 12) has read Crunch multiple times, and says "It's really good." He's hoping I'll read it aloud to the family in honor of it's new status. I'm on board! I think Jubilee would love it, since she really loves biking. She asked 

Well, discovering that Crunch is the new top seller of Everead was perfectly timed, for me. See, I hope to get a bike for my birthday this year. 🚲 And since about March of this year, I think we've all been thinking a little bit more about what happens when supply chains hit snags. 

Haven't heard enough yet? Take a look at some of the five star reviews on Amazon. 😉

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