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Desmond and the Very Mean Word

Written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams

Illustrated by A.G. Ford

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Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words truly torture the soul. Bullying can be as overt as a mean word shouted across the playground, or as subtle as exclusion from a game. The setting for Desmond and the Very Mean Word is South Africa in the mid-1900s, but it may as well be America in the twenty-first century. The themes of racism, bullying, forgiveness, and friendship are challenging and inspiring, and great points for beginning discussion in a third grade class. Any young pupil can relate to Desmond, hearing ugly things and wanting to retaliate. Through the help of Father Trevor, Desmond learns the valuable lesson that retaliation does not satisfy the soul nearly as much as forgiveness and peace.
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Easy Desserts From Around The World

Written by Heather Alexander

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Easy Desserts from Around the World is a super fun cookbook aimed at third grade readers and up. What is unique about this cookbook is the assortment of recipes collected from around the world. Through this cookbook kids are exposed to eleven different desserts, such as Russian Strawberries Romanoff and Mexican Celebration Cookies to German Lebkuchen and Italian Lemon Granita to name just a few. Yum!

Each recipe features a photo of the dessert along with a picture of the country from where the dessert originates, as well as colorfully presented fun to know information relevant to the country and/or dessert. Kids will not only be motivated to make something sweet to eat, they will also experience another culture first-hand and see the world a little differently because of it.
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Infinity Ring: A Mutiny In Time

Written by James Dashner

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Oh what a swashbuckling tale of time travel, adventure and mutiny on the high seas.A smidgen of danger is thrown in: storms and volcanic eruptions, increasing crime, and earthquakes, and all of it because of the things that went wrong in the past. Time itself has gone wrong. The only way to set things right, then, is to travel to the past to correct those mistakes.

“What mistakes?”, the reader may ask. And the author tells us. This is the first book in a seven-book series and James Dashner creates the scaffolding on which this story, and all subsequent stories, will hang. He digs a deep foundation, taking us back to Aristotle’s time. Events back then took a turn they should not have when Alexander is assassinated. This leads to Aristotle seeing this as a mistake, a tear in the fabric of reality, and plans to make it right. He creates a secret society called the Hystorians, whose job is to track and document the Great Breaks through the ages, in the hope that someday time travel will enable the Hystorians to return to the past and mend the tears in the fabric.
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First Mothers

Written by Beverly Gherman

Illustrated by Julie Downing

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Who knew Andrew Jackson loved to run off and find mischief, or George W. Bush visited the principal’s office frequently, or Barack Obama’s spent many years in Jakarta with his globe-trotting mother? First Mothers offers entertaining, weird, and sad details about the lives of the United States’ 44 Presidents. It gives a unique look at the backgrounds of the presidents’ upbringing, shining light on the so-called backstage life of our nation’s Presidents. This book is much too long to read in one sitting, of course, but one can imagine a second or third grade teacher reading information about a different First Mother every few days. Beverly Gherman’s and Julie Downing’s research has paid off in dividends; First Mothers actually inspires students to do their own research to further understand our country’s leaders’ lives. Some of the facts are funny, such as Nancy Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln’s mother) used to be a wrestler in her hometown: “She wrestled many of the men in her town.” Other facts are sobering, like the First Mothers and Fathers who died when the presidents were young. This book humanizes the great leaders we tend to de-humanize with our criticism and awe.
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Ivy and Bean Make the Rules

Written by Annie Barrow

Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

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Hooray for Ivy and Bean!  The latest book in the series has Bean feeling left out as her sister Nancy goes to camp.  At Girl Power 4-ever, she gets to do so many cool things.  Bean has to sit at home.  Mom tells her she can go to the park by herself, if that helps.  It doesn’t.  But when Ivy comes over, Bean sees that they can make their own camp, a better camp, because they can do anything they want.  Ivy’s mom got new curtains so they use the old ones to make a tent (with the help of duct tape).  They make up a great name: Camp Flaming Arrow.  They set about doing camp things – like crafts.  A friendship bracelet craft turns into an escape trick as the strings get wrapped around both arms of both girls.  They have so much fun that some kids visiting their grandmother join them.  The nature study has them searching for the dangerous Komodo dragon which attracts another boy who is bored of soccer camp.  At the end of the week, Bean had way more fun than Nancy.
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Infinity and Me

Written by Kate Hosford
Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

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Infinity is a big subject to tackle in a picture book. In the author’s note, she points out that as soon as kids learn what infinity is, they use it all the time. So a picture book seemed like a logical way to explore some of the ideas kids have about infinity. Uma, the young narrator, begins her musing about infinity after she sees the starry night. Certainly there seems to be an infinite number of stars and it makes her feel very small. She asks her friends about infinity. Charlie says it is a number that goes on forever. Samantha said the infinity symbol on its side is like a racetrack she can drive on forever. Everyone uses the word ‘forever’ and that becomes difficult for Uma to deal with. Then Grandma snuggles with Uma under the stars and her love stretches to infinity.
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The Knight, the Princess, and the Rock: A Classic Persian Tale

Written by Sara Azizi

Illustrated by Alireza Sadeghian

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As an ancient civilization with a rich heritage of storytelling, Persia is a wonderful place to find material for children’s books. This beautiful little tale proves it. The story itself is certainly simple enough for third graders to understand and embrace. This may be a candidate to read aloud in a classroom, though. The concepts of kings, knights, and magic may need a little discussion.

When a knight is sent on a mission to rid farmlands of destructive wild boars, he finds himself in enemy territory. This does not prevent him from falling in love with the princess of the land he’s in. The enemy king discovers the knight’s presence and imprisons him in a deep hole covered by a magic rock. The princess is also banished. She is able to keep the knight alive with food passed through a hole. Finally, help arrives from the knight’s home. Through love and prayer, the help frees the knight. The knight and princess return to his home, where they are married and live a happy life.
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Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration

Written by Marianne Berkes
Illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio

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Stories surface from time to time about pets traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles to find their way back home. Even humans have an uncanny ability to find their way home. But what if you had more than one home? Your home could even be someplace you’d never seen before.

Going Home is told in pleasing rhyme. Readers may want to read aloud each page to get the full effect. This is listed as “A Share Nature With Children Book.” Berkes includes information about animals from loggerhead turtles to monarch butterflies to manatees. Other animals discussed are ruby-throated hummingbirds, Pacific salmon, Canada geese, California gray whales, caribou, the Arctic tern, and emperor penguins.
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I Like Mixed-Breed Dogs

Written by Linda Bozzo

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I Like Mixed-Breed Dogs is one book in the “Discover Dogs with The American Canine Association” series. The mission of the ACA is to provide dog owners with the educational support they need for training, caring for and raising healthy pets.

Mixed breed dogs are special pets because each one is different than the other. Often times, mixed breed dogs are available for adoption, maybe older than puppies and may require special care.
This book teaches young people all about mixed breed dogs in a language they can understand. The purpose of the book is to educate children who may want a dog for a pet. The books sets out to let kids and their parents know that owning a dog is a very big responsibility and it is a long term commitment that the entire family takes on.
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The Royal Treasure Measure

Written by Trudy Harris
Illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic

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King Balbazar’s kingdom has made a mess of measuring. Curtains are too long, robes are too short, and no one knows how to solve the problem. So King Balbazar decides to hold a contest to create the official unit of measurement for the kingdom. The question is, who will measure up to the task?

The books includes narrative as well as dialogue. The narrative is written in four sentence poetry style with rhyming which will engage young children. Readers will enjoy this quirky story and find it very funny that the people in the kingdom use everything from sausages to spoons as a way to measure things. The Royal Treasure Measure is perfect for a read aloud with young children, especially when learning about poetry. This book contains easy-to-understand rhyming sentences.
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