Book Scavenger

The Book Scavenger 

By Jennifer Chambliss Bertman 

Release Date: June 2, 2015
Audience- Grades 4-6
Pages- 354

"...Not all book people are good people. Don't mistake shared interest with shared ethics."

The Story 

Garrison Griswold is a famous book publisher who started a world famous book game called Book Scavenger. On his way to announce his new game, he is gunned down and is seriously hurt. Meanwhile a twelve- year- old year girl named, Emily, moves to San Francisco. She is a Book Scavenger and is Garrison Griswold's biggest fan. When Garrison doesn't show up to give an announcement, Emily begins to worry. She decides to go on a Book Scavenge to try and find another book. While she is out, she stops by the place where Mr. Griswold is shot, and discovers a mysterious book that is hidden away. Assuming it is part of the game, Emily takes the book. With this simple act, she unknowingly makes some dangerous enemies. More importantly, she also starts to play Mr. Griswold's new game.

It is up to Emily to save the treasure that Mr. Griswold has hidden away in the game before it is too late.


The biggest strength of this book is that it will appeal to many middle grade readers.
The family relationships and Emily's love for books and puzzles set a nice tone for the book, but of course not many can resist a book about treasure hunts!
With the treasure hunt and the mystery surrounding it, I know I can put this in the hands of both my girls and my boys, and they will love it. It is the perfect Mr. Lemoncello's read alike.

Perhaps, in the next one we can have a crossover?


 I wish that the secondary characters were more developed.  Mr. Quisling and Maddie are minor characters, but their role in the book felt almost unnecessary at times. It didn't feel like it helped to move the story on, and this personally bothered me. I especially felt like the competition between Maddie and James was unnecessary.

I don't think my middle grade readers will notice this though!

I think that many reader's will get caught up in its exciting plot to find the treasure.

I foresee this one being a favorite of both teachers and librarians.

For reader's advisory, I would recommend this book to reader's who enjoy adventure  & mystery stories.

More Books Like Book Scavenger: 

For the aspect of the character relocating & the relationship to the words:

A Snicker of Magic.

For the book game aspect:

Mr. Lemoncello's Library

For the mystery aspect:

Nooks & Crannies 

Until Next Time, 


Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Tweens Read Thursdays

Goodreads Synopsis:

It's 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi's appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers and neighbors balk at her mixed-race family and her refusals to conform, Mimi’s dreams of becoming an astronaut never fade—no matter how many times she’s told no.

This historical middle-grade novel is told in poems from Mimi's perspective over the course of one year in her new town, and shows readers that positive change can start with just one person speaking up.


First of all, um, gorgeous cover! I am a sucker for a pretty cover, and this one definitely grabbed me. "Full Cicada Moon" tackles some heavy issues like racial diversity, but unlike many other books, does not beat you over the head with them. Mimi has a good voice and I really enjoyed the descriptions and metaphors-especially in her first impressions of Vermont. "Full Cicada Moon" reminded me, in many ways, of "Brown Girl Dreaming" by Jacqueline Woodson, but I actually liked this one more. While, I enjoy verse format very much, I couldn't help but feel as if I had read this book before and that the tone in this and the other verse format books I have read in the past is exceptionally similar. Perhaps this is why I have to take verse novels in "doses." Overall, I enjoyed "Full Cicada Moon," but it just didn't have the right kind of sparkle dust to wow me. It did spark some thoughts I want to share with you, but they deserve a post of their own, so stay tuned!

How do you feel about novels in verse? If you are a fan of the format, what are some of your favorites?


Disclosure: I read and am reviewing from an Advanced Reader Copy.

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Audience: 12 & up 

Release date: August 4, 2015

Pages: 304

Is the new you the stranger? Or is the stranger the person you leave behind? 

The Story 

*Synopsis based off of Goodreads*

Five lives are intertwined.  Bridge is an accident survivor who's wondering why she's still alive &  what her purpose is. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody's games--or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. 

As these characters slowly navigate these struggles,  an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal on Valentine's Day.  It is up to them to find each other & learn what it means to really live. 

Reader's Advisory Notes 

 When I first picked up this book, I was expecting it to be a middle grade novel about the struggles of middle school. As I started reading this book, however, I quickly realized that this is not a middle grade novel. Instead, I would categorize this as a YA book. I think the interest will mostly be for ages thirteen or fourteen based on the content, but older tweens may enjoy this book as well. 

I do want to mention that a great deal of this book deals with bullying & sexting.
One of the characters in the book shares a pictures with a boy & the photo gets sent on.
Sexting is serious, but the author does it in a way that is appropriate  & real for young adults. 

For instance, the pictures start out innocent enough but it develops to the character sending a picture of herself  in a bra. She reasoned it as being the same thing as someone seeing her in a swimming suit. I really admired how the author approached this.

Along with this, I also think a lot of reader's will relate to the character's quest to find their "real" friends & themselves. This is the first book that I have personally read that depicts this middle school struggle of finding yourself and your friends in a way that is relatable & in a way that introduces the issue of bullying that go with it. 

I personally really enjoyed the character development. 
For example, one of the characters in the book wears cat ears. The character does this as a way to profess how she is different from everyone else. By the end of the book, she finally stops wearing them. For me, this was just a wonderful way to show the character development throughout the book and how much the character has grown to accept who she is and why she is here. I was very impressed by the depth of it. 

 I would even go as far to say that the author depicts middle school in a way that has not been done before. 

Given the subject matter, I do think this book will be uncomfortable for some readers, and makes reader's advisory a little tricky! 

I do think,however, that there will be some that will benefit greatly from this book. It is just the matter of finding the tween who needs this. 

Ms. Rebecca Stead touches these tough subjects with grace and incredible character development. Some tweens may not even pick up on the seriousness. 

As uncomfortable as it is, it is really important to make these issues known and to teach our tweens about it. 

If You Would Like to Learn More, Please Visit These
 Resources About Bullying and Sexting 

Bullying Resources

What's Wrong With Sexting?

Talking to Your Child About Sexting


Updates & Giving Thanks: A Year in Review

About a year ago, I started this blog as an outlet to share my ideas. Being a really shy & introverted person,  this blog helped me to find my voice within the field of librarianship about something I was I am really passionate about. 

Along the way, I invited Alyssa to join me in the blogging world & the blog evolved.

What a year it has been! 

This summer we were even nominated for Middle Shelf Magazines Best of Blogs Award 2015 

I am also excited to announce that I will participate as a 1st round panelist for the Cybils Award in the middle grade category. I incredibly honored to be apart of this. 

Thank you to Middle Shelf Magazine and to Cyblis!

We wouldn't be anywhere if it wasn't for these great people. I wanted to spend a few minutes just to say Thank you! 

Middle Grade Mania - for featuring us in your blog and your blog directory. 

Middle Grade Mania

Green Bean Teen Queen- for literally everything. 
How lucky are we to have someone we look up to take us under their wing. 
We appreciate all of your guidance & just everything you do for us on a daily basis. 

Green Bean Teen Queen

The ladies at Jbrary! Thank you for putting us on your blogroll & all of your support. We felt so very honored in your Twitter shout out! Someday, I will join the Twitter world. 

Finally, to our readers, a huge thank you! 

Is there anything you would like to see in our blog that your aren't? 

Also, I must ask...what are your favorite middle grade books so far this year?

- Pamela 

Escape From Baxters' Barn by Rebecca Bond

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Burdock the barn cat sneaks into the Baxters’ farmhouse kitchen to hide behind a warm stove, he overhears a sinister plot that endangers all the animals on the farm. It’s up to him and his cacophonous cohorts to figure out how to bust out of the barn before it's too late. In this winning debut, readers will fall in love with the solitary cat, the self-effacing cow, the unstoppable pig, even a wayward she-owl—all brought to life with clever dialogue, poetic descriptions, and expressive black-and-white illustrations. This warm, lively read-aloud story about teamwork and friendship has the timeless appeal of a much-loved quilt.


I enjoyed this one. It was fairly calm and made me feel cozy. I first heard about it from a webinar, where it was compared to Charlotte's Web. This is a good comparison, in the fact that I can think of no other book to compare it to. Certainly, the quality of the writing and memorability of the characters can in no way compare to Charlotte's Web, but the plot has a similar feel. Only a few references alert the reader that the book occurs in the present day. Without these; however, it could take place any time in the last 100 years. I really appreciate this quality of the plot, as it removes in reliance on technology and time references and just allows the story to be.  Furthermore, I enjoyed the development of the animals' friendship, but would like to have seen more. Now, I will warn you that there is a morbidity about it. 

Spoiler: the farmer is broke and plans on burning down the barn for the insurance money. The animals are unsure whether he is planning on burning them along with the farm. For this reason, and the fact that Burdock loses an eye to a coyote attack, I don't think I can completely classify this one as a "gentle read." This was a little disappointing, as my original impression was that this would be a clear "gentle read." However, the premise of "Charlotte's Web" hinges on Fern's father planning to turn Wilbur into ham and bacon. Yet I think most would tout "Charlotte's Web" as a "gentle read." 

Overall, I enjoyed "Escape From Baxters' Barn." It reminded me of the animal novels from the 50's-70's that I loved so much as a child. Unfortunately, it lacks that sprinkle of magic necessary for me to consider it a "great" read.  Give this one to your borderline gentle readers, animal readers, and someone in need of a calm vacation from life.

What are some of your favorite classic animal books? What books do you give your gentle readers?


Pretty Little Liars Program

Ever since Pretty Little Liars premiered in 2010, I was hooked. With all of its mysterious twists and turns, it was hard not to be. This show has dominated ABC family & is still holding on strong in its 6th season. 

What I love most about it is that it is based off of Sara Shepard's book series. 

With this popularity and my own love for the show, I decided to turn this into a library program. Since the TV show is rated TV- 14, the target audience for this program was high schoolers. 

For my program, I wanted something laid back. I decided to do a countdown to the top three fan rated "scariest episodes."  I picked these episodes based off: 

Of course, we have to give a shout out to the episode that kicked off one of the most nail-biting shows on TV! Okay, the pilot is nothing compared to some of the later drama, but thinking your murdered friend is haunting you via creepy texts is straight-up terrifying!

1. The Pilot - (Season 1, Episode 1)

I chose this one to appeal to kids who may have not seen the show. I also wanted to watch this one to allow participants to look for clues about who the mysterious "A" is. 

This episode meant the introduction of possibly the most terrifying child on television right now: Creepy Boy Seth! Plus, the Liars find a disturbing diorama of Ali's death in a doll shop in Brookhaven, almost meet an equally-disturbing fate, and Spencer sees what is apparently Ali, back from the dead. No biggie!

2. If These Dolls Could Talk (Season 2, Episode 24). 

This episode was just super creepy. It had lots of weird little dolls, and a creepy boy in it. The teens really like this one just for its thrill factor. 

Anytime the Liars head to Ravenswood, you can automatically assume there's gonna be some wild moments! The mid-season finale had tons of creepiness: Emily gets kidnapped and wakes up in a coffin about to be sawed in half; they find A's lair and the scarily accurate timeline he's been keeping about their lives; CeCe falls to her "death" but her body quickly vanishes from the scene (as tends to happen on the show), and they find out Ali was totally buried alive and probably is still lurking around Ravenswood. PLUS, EZRA IS.... Well, you know if you've seen it, and if not, we won't spoil that scary surprise!
We can't wait for the Halloween episode to find out what happens next—it's sure to be the most terrifying one yet!

3. Now You Seen Me, Now You Don't (Season 4, Episode 12) 

The teens picked this one for its thrill factor. It is a crossover episode between the show Pretty Little Liars and its spin off series called Ravenswood

This program was very easy & the teens really enjoyed it. It was fun to discuss their theories on who they thought "A" was. They got so into their conversation they didn't want to leave. Which is saying something because this was a drop in 3 hour program and they stayed the whole time. 

The only prep I had to do for this program was make popcorn. 

I also set out some fun little activities for them to do while they talked & watched the episodes. 

Some of the things I set out were: 

Adult Coloring Sheets 

Friendship bracelet supplies and tutorials

I chose to do this activity based off of the bracelets that appeared in the show. 

....and finally, I just set out some foamy play dough.

This was my first program of the summer, and right during finals. Many found this to be therapeutic to take a break to color and play with play dough. I think I was on track with planning it like this. 

What I Learned 

I had more boys show up to this program then girls which really surprised me. 

Although I didn't have many show up for program, I did feel like it was successful. I was able to help a few teens who were stressed with finals and that was a library win for me. 

I feel like my biggest pitfall was that  I did not advertise it well. One of the teens told me it was an amazing program, but the library does a terrible job at advertising. 

Even though it stung a little, I felt like he was right with this comment. I think next time I will advertise it as a final study break & try and reach out to more social media outlets.

I am going to try this program again with the TV show Supernatural around Halloween. I am hoping to advertise it better, but I am a little disappointed that it didn't go better before. 

How does your library advertise to teens? 

Until next time, 


Middle School Prep Program

It is that time of year again, that time to start back to school. 

For many students, this might mean starting middle school. Middle school of course brings a lot of anxiety. I wanted to create a program for my tweens to have an outlet to deal with their anxiety and to maybe meet others who are starting middle school too. 

My hope was that this program would prepare my tweens on their new journey to their new school. 

The Program 

To make this program more exciting for my tweens, I branded the program with popular middle school books series.  

My primary theme was: 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 

Dork Diaries 

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

With these themes, I had several stations. 

1. Locker Blues 


For our first station, we set out a lock for participants to try to open. We wanted participants to get an opportunity to try opening a lock. I thought this might be a safe environment where they could try it out. While in search for a good way to explain this to my tweens, I came across this wonderful website that provided a walk through on opening locker.  

2. Locker Decorations 

Once getting the locker open was successfully managed, I had various stations out for participants to decorate their locker. I got these ideas from various sources. Here is what I ended up using: 

Marble Magnets - instead of just doing glitter, I set out old magazines and books for participants to glue onto their marble. This allowed them to personalize it even more. 

Glitter Marble Magnets DIY: an easy craft that is both pretty AND useful!

Locker Pom Poms- I was so thankful I came across this craft. Our girl participants particularly liked this craft & I was thankful for its simplicity & affordability. 

Perler Bead magnets- Oh, the magic of Perler beads! For our last option at this station, participants could make a perler bead magnet for their locker. We did not have any takers for this, but it was something extra that we were able to offer. 

The locker was the main focal point for this program, but we also offered additional activities. Such as an opportunity for them to make their own journals. 

One of the most popular stations was How to Fold Origami Yoda 

This was the most popular station for my tween boys. One thing I was surprised about was that they had all read Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but they had never heard of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. This station provided me an opportunity to book talk it. By the end of the program, all of this series was checked out! 

Our other popular station was cupcake decorating 

Sugar and tweens are always a hit! 

An additional resource we used for this program was: Dork Diaries Event Kit 

How it Went 

This program wasn't as successful as I was hoping to be. One really odd thing happened  that I was not expecting- I had all home schoolers! Many of the parents commented that their child didn't go to middle school, but wanted to experience  some of the things that public school kids experienced. I was really surprised by this.  I did not think this would have been of interest to them.  If I repeat this program in the future, I may try to do a program just for these tweens. I think this is a need that I have overlooked. 

What does your library do for homeschooling? 

Until Next Time


Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak
By: Robery Beatti

Release Date; July 14, 2015
Pages: 304 

The Story 

Serafina & her father live on the Baltimore Estate- home of the Vanderbilt family in the 1900s. It is a grand honor, a honor that is- if she could tell anyone. Her father keeps her hidden away, and Serafina doesn’t understand why.

As a result, she lives in the basement with her pa, who is the maintenance man to the Vanderbilt family. Since no one is supposed to know Serafina is there, she only comes out at night. One night, Serafina witnesses a young girl go missing on the Vanderbilt property by a strange man in a black cloak. She is the only witness to this crime. As more kids go missing, it is up to Serafina to find and stop the man in the black cloak before he comes for her next... 

In case this isn't enough, here is the fantastic book trailer: 

My Thoughts 

This was an entertaining read! It reminded me a great deal of the book The Night Gardner. I really like thriller mystery stories & I felt like this one was appropriate for upper middle grade. I think my favorite aspect of this novel, however, was not the mystery but history aspect. You can tell the author did a great deal of research on the Vanderbilt family and the estate. 

Here is a real picture and link to the estate: 

Biltmore House 

I think one could easily pair this book with non-fiction books on this subject. 

In addition to this, I really appreciated the theme of the book which is everyone has their own unique  talents. I wasn't expecting such a theme from a middle grade thriller, but I felt like the author did a great job of weaving this in. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this.

This page turner kept me guessing,  but without giving anything away, I did feel like the ending fell apart for me.  For the ending, I will have to give this book three stars, but I do think it is a must read middle grade book for 2015. 

Have you read this yet? What did you think?

Until next time,