Category Archives: 2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/29/16

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Books:

Lisa Graff has written another excellent, heartfelt work of realistic fiction in Lost in the Sun. Starting middle school is rough on a kid, but Trent is haunted by the memory of last February, when he accidentally hit a hockey puck into the chest of Jared Richards–and Jared died. No one knew about Jared’s heart defect until the tragic accident, when it was too late. Trent feels like everyone in town hates him and that no one can forgive him–when it’s really that he hasn’t been able to forgive himself. Trent shields himself from taking a chance and getting hurt by getting in trouble with his new teachers and his divorced-from-mom-and-starting-a-new-family father. When he meets Fallon Little, the strange girl with the scar, he starts to open up a bit but still struggles. Graff creates a great character in Trent, as readers are able to empathize with him while still recognizing and being disappointed that Trent  is creating new problems for himself. I like that some of the adult characters are helpful while others let Trent down, because that’s the way it is in real life. Also, in a tale of complex issues and emotions such as this, it was good to see that not everything was fixed or tied up in the end, because that’s the way it is in real life, too. Highly recommended for middle school readers.


The adult novel The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris was told from the trickster’s point of view, from the time when Odin welcomed him to Asgaard to when he caused its downfall. Loki’s voice is filled with snark throughout, but not in quite the same was as the character in recent Marvel films. The chapters function as stand-alone tales of Loki putting one over on one god or another, but they also link together to reveal a pattern of behavior and consequences. Some stories were better than others, and so it dragged in spots. For me, this book was just OK. This book counts for my Suprise Me Challenge 2016.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:


2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin


The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin is an excellent realistic ficiton book for middle-grade readers. Right at the start of the book, readers know that Zook is sick–probably sick enough that he won’t get better. Deep-down, ten-year-old Oona knows it, too, and her goal is to get Zook out of the vet’s office by any means necessary, so that she and her little brother, Fred, can spend as much time with him as possible. To make things easier for Fred, Oona assures him that cats have nine lives and proceeds to tell stories about Zook’s previous lives.

At the same time Zook is struggling with his health, Oona is still struggling with the death of their father, which was from cancer and more than two years ago. She refuses to wear anything but her dad’s old sweatshirt. She hates that her mother has a new boyfriend, Dylan, whom she dubs “the villain” and imagines all manner of terrible things about him. Yet, she has a family and neighbors who love her and help her manage her difficult feelings. While there is no happy ending for Zook, Oona is able to take steps towards moving on and accepting new people and new situations into her life.


Here’s the story of how Rocklin got the idea to write The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook.

And here’s a great trailer:

And this makes the 20th and last book featured in my 2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup!

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2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: Slob by Ellen Potter

slobSlob by Ellen Potter is a delightful yet thought-provoking realistic fiction book that is full of surprises. Take the cover, for example. When I first saw the title and the cookie, I assumed that this novel would be about the trials and tribulations of an overweight adolescent. And it is. But is much more than that, too. Yes, Owen Birnbaum suffers through teasing at school, and someone is stealing the Oreos from his lunch. But he is also a creative and dedicated inventor, who scours the local junkyards for components for his devices. Lately, Owen has a mission–to perfect a device that will let him see into the past. Because he MUST look back on something that happened two years ago.

Here’s an example of my reaction to just one of Slob‘s surprises, and I was lucky enough to get a tweet back from Ellen Potter, herself.





And that’s not all, of course. But I won’t spoil the motivation for Owen’s invention for you. You’ll have to read and find out for yourself.

Other 2015 Rebecca Caudill Reading Roundup Posts





2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend book coverYou know what I love? When you can recommend a series to students and they can read ALL of the books without having to wait! If your students have not yet discovered Legend by Marie Lu and its sequels, Prodigy and Champion, it’s a great time to introduce them to this dystopian trilogy.

It’s the future and the Republic has replaced what was once the western United States. The story is told by two narrators: June, a brilliant and gifted student at a military academy, and Day, the Republic’s most elusive and wanted criminal. The two cross paths when Day becomes the prime suspect in the murder of Metias, June’s older brother. Although when they first meet, neither knows who the other truly is, and they even share a kiss. Things get intense when June figures out who Day is, but Day eventually convinces her of his innocence and the two work together to uncover a conspiracy concerning the government and a deadly plague.

According to Lu’s website and an article from MTV a film is coming along. I know that would delight so many of my students who have read it.

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2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

ClockworkThreeThe Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby was one of those adventurous-kids-solving-their-own-problems books, with a nod to steampunk and a dash of magic. The time and place was indefinite, but it felt like mid-nineteenth century, large East-coast city. Guiseppe, a street musician; Hannah, a maid; and Frederick, a clockmaker’s apprentice have great back-stories and their lives intertwine because of a green violin, a mysterious treasure hunt, and a clockwork man. Readers follow the story of all three children for quite a while before they meet up with one another, so each has a distinctly developed personality. Once all three of our characters assemble (on page 247) they work together beautifully to make everything turn out right in the end. It is definitely a book I am recommending to fans of fantastical adventures.

Here is a discussion guide from Scholastic.

And here is a book trailer:

Other 2015 Rebecca Caudill Reading Roundup Posts