Smile (Smile, #1)

by Raina Telgemeier
AR 2.6
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Graphic Novel

One night after a Girl Scout meeting, Raina trips and falls down resulting in a serious injury to her two front teeth.  It's an accident that changes everything as she learns to deal with bullies, overcome adversity, and persist through the ordeals of multiple dental surgeries and procedures to bring back her smile.  The story is based on the author's life and has many valuable lessons to share.

14 Cows for America
14 Cows for America
by Carmen Agra Deedy/illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
AR 4.1
Genre: Nonfiction/327.676 - International Relations

When America was attacked on September 11, 2001, there was an outpouring of support from other countries.  Those of us who were old enough (not my elementary students, who weren't even born yet!) can remember headlines like Le Monde's "We Are All Americans" declaring that support to the world.  Many of us may not have heard the story of a small village in Kenya that signified their support by donating their most cherished possessions in honor of America.  This is the story of how the village learned of the tragedy many months later.  Kimeli Naiyomah was living in New York City on September 11, 2001, and returned to his village the following spring.  When he asked the elders if he could offer his only cow - a symbol of life - they give their blessing.  His gift inspired others in the village to do the same.  The story ends with this powerful sentiment:  "There is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort."

Bridges!: Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test
Bridges!  Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test
by Carol A. Johmann and Elizabeth J. Rieth
illustrations by Michael Kline
Genre:  Nonfiction/624.2 -  Civil Engineering

Blending science, history, and hands-on activities, this book teaches you all about bridge-building basics.  You will not only learn about the different types of bridges, but also the many different professionals involved in designing and constructing them.  For each chapter, there are projects and suggestions for students to make decisions about materials, costs, and design of bridges.  The last chapter is a list of bridges by state representing the different styles of bridges.  I would pair this with a Google Earth search for a virtual tour of bridges, and of course hands-on bridge building activities!

Discovering New Planets
Discovering New Planets 
by Mae Jemison and Dana Meachun Rau
A.R. 5.5
Genre: Nonfiction/523.2 - Astronomy

Ever since Mike Brown (Huntsville native and Grissom High School graduate, by the way) discovered a dwarf planet that led the scientific community to demote Pluto as one of the 9 planets in our solar system, I have found the space research more interesting.  It truly is the last frontier!  Learn about how planets are made, discovered, and explored by reading this book.  Then, be thankful that we live in a community so close to Huntsville, Alabama where you can explore your interest deeper at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, meet local scientists working on these issues, and carve out a career for yourself some day.

The 100 Year Starship
The 100 Year Starship
by Mae Jemison and Dana Meachun Rau
A.R. 5.6
Genre: Nonfiction/629.45 - Astronautics

Did you know that NASA and DARPA are working on a plan for interplanetary space travel?  That's the space beyond our solar system!  Of course, this isn't necessarily new as you will find by reading the book.  NASA has been researching this since the 1970s.  In that time, they've cut the travel time from 70,000 years to about 40,000 years.  Dr. Jemison, co-author of this book, is leading the 100-Year project to figure out how to address all the challenges of interplanetary space travel, including how to get there, how to survive once there, and why this all matters.  

Product Details
Days that Changed the World Series
by Colin Hynson
A.R. 8.3
Genre:  Nonfiction/940.54 - Military History of World War II

The soldiers' courage on that day overwhelms me every time I read about it.  This book introduces the D-Day landing by providing the events that led up to the invasions at Normandy, Omaha, Utah,  Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches.  Then, it follows the soldiers liberation of France, Belgium, and Holland on their way to defeating Germany in battles on their own soil.  It's an information packed text that is sure to make you understand why the men and women who fought and supported that war through efforts at home are rightly known as The Greatest Generation.

Noah's Ark
Noah's Ark
by Jerry Pinkney
A.R. 3.3
Genre:  Nonfiction/222 - Historical books of Old Testament
Caldecott Honor Book

This picture book adaptation of the flood story from the Bible portrays the ark construction, the migration of the animals to the ark, the 40 days of falling rains, and the final receding of the waters beautifully.  The larger format helps to convey the epic nature of this story.  I read the dedication, "to the caretakers of all things, big and small" as a call to us all to be stewards of the land and life around us.


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