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all the broken pieces

all the broken pieces

all the broken pieces

In 1975, toward the end of the Vietnam war, many children were airlifted away from the fighting in Vietnam and sent to The United States. Many of the children were orphans, but some of the children were put on the helicopters by their own parents, parents who hoped to keep their children from being hurt in the war.

Can you imagine how sad it would be to have to send your child to strangers in a strange land? And what if you were one of the children? Would you understand if your mom or dad sent you away, even it it was for a good reason?

all the broken pieces is the story of one of these children, Matt Pin, who still has nightmares about the war and carries in his heart a secret he is afraid to tell. It’s a secret he’s even afraid to think about too much.

Matt is 12 now and has loving adoptive parents here in The United States. He goes to school and he plays baseball. He is living the American dream his mother hoped for him when she put him on the helicopter to escape the war. But underneath the dream are Matt’s memories and the memories of what he left behind in Vietnam. These memories are too strong to ignore and too important to keep hidden.

I loved reading this story and watching Matt begin to reveal the pieces of his life he has kept secret. Matt’s story is the kind that makes you cry. Imagining yourself in his shoes, or in his Vietnamese mother’s shoes – that’s really hard. But Matt’s story also makes you feel good because you see the hope and goodness that grew out of a bad thing. That doesn’t mean the War didn’t cause a lot of pain, it just means that people survived the pain and made good things happen as they moved forward. That’s a really hopeful message. Author: Ann E. Burg

Look Inside all the broken pieces

More stories about other kids who lived through the Vietnam War and found their own ways to cope and their own kind of hope for a more peaceful future:
Kaleidoscope Eyes Cracker the Best Dog in Vietnam Shooting the Moon Vietnam War
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The Dragon of Trelian

The Dragon of Trelian

The Dragon of Trelian

Calen is a magician’s apprentice. He runs errands for his mage master and studies his lessons and mostly tries to stay out of trouble. Learning magic isn’t quite as exciting as he hoped though, and frankly, he’s a little bored. He doesn’t want to just READ about magic, he wants to DO magic.

Princess Meglynn is also bored. The life of a princess isn’t as exciting as it might sound either. Meg is so bored, she’s taken to exploring the palace and grounds dressed as a servant girl. While out exploring, Meg stumbles upon a huge secret. It’s so huge Meg isn’t so sure how much longer she can keep it to herself.

The secret? Meg is keeping a baby dragon in a cave outside the palace grounds. The problem? The dragon is a puppy no more. It is growing at an alarming rate and sometime soon, it will be able to breath fire. And there’s something else, something strange about the dragon’s attachment to Meg. Sometimes when she’s in the castle, Meg can feel the dragon in her mind.

Meg figures a magician’s apprentice is just the person to help her figure out this weird attachment she has too her dragon. Calen figures this princess and her dragon is just the thing he needs to stop READING about magic and start DOING magic. What they don’t know, is that while they are spending time in the cave learning about the dragon and experimenting with some magic, there is a murderess traitor inside the palace walls.

The two friends and their dragon are about to get more excitement than any of them ever wished for. They have to learn to trust each other and what they’ve learned about the bonds between friends, even dragon friends, to save each other and the people they love.  Author: Michelle Knudsen

If you like this one, and you like reading about young magician finding his powers, try The Magic Thief. If it’s dragons you like, try The Dragons of Ordinary Farm or Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate or Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary.
The Magic Thief Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary The Dragons of Ordinary Farm Timothy and the Dragon's Gate
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Umbrella Summer

Umbrella Summer

Umbrella Summer

Annie never goes anywhere without being prepared. She wears a bicycle helmet, sometimes even when she’s not on a bicycle. She carries lots of band-aids. She checks for black widow spiders. She doesn’t ride her bike fast or climb too high and she always, always wears sunscreen. Annie even does research looking up the symptoms of diseases in the medical encyclopedia so she can know right away if she’s got something weird.

Annie knows there’s a lot of dangerous stuff in the world and if you don’t look for it, it might get you while you’re not paying attention. Annie wants no more surprises. She’s had one surprise and that’s enough. Her older brother Jared suddenly died from an undiagnosed heart problem. Her parents, her friends, even her friend’s dad who is a doctor…everyone keeps telling Annie not to worry so much, that she’s just fine. But they all thought her brother was just fine too.

The thing is, it’s hard to be so careful all the time and it isn’t any fun either. Annie can’t grow up covered in band-aids and walking around in a bicycle helmet.  Luckily, she finds a kindred spirit in her new neighbor, Mrs. Finch, who has also lost a person close to her. Sometimes it takes a good friend who understands to help you find your smile and have fun again. Author: Lisa Graff

Two more really good stories about kids coping with grief within their families. They each find some good people to help them find their smiles again:
Confetti Girl The Girl Who Threw Butterflies
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The Frog Scientist

The Frog Scientist

The Frog Scientist

I wish all science books were written like this one! This is the story of Dr. Tyrone Hayes who started out as a boy collecting frogs, turtles and snakes in the swamp near his home in Columbia, South Carolina. Fast forward 20 years and Tyrone is a Harvard graduate studying frogs. He’s a frog scientist, just like he always wanted to be.

As you read the book you learn about how Tyrone became a scientist, but you also learn about how he does his research. You see pictures of Tyrone out in the wild collecting samples and inside his lab studying frogs under a microscope. Tyrone’s research is about the affects of pesticides on frogs. Pesticides are chemicals that farmers spray on crops to kill pests like insects or weeds. In particular, he studies atrazine, a chemical used to kill weeds. Atrazine is used in Indiana on corn crops. Reading this book just might make you want to follow the debate about whether or not atrazine should be used. According to Tyrone’s research, the chemical causes all kinds of problems in frogs…they can  grow extra legs… and the chemical can even make a boy frog turn into a girl frog.

This book has fabulous pictures of frogs, frog parts & frog insides. There are also great pictures of Tyrone and his students in his lab or out in the wild collecting specimans. The pictures are all crisp and clear and full of color. I really liked the pictures inside the lab. I also liked hearing about being a scientst right from Tyrone. The author used Tyrone’s real words throughout the book. It was cool to read about a little boy who grew up to do exactly what he dreamed of doing. It’s also cool to read about someone that is really passionate about what they do. Watch the video below – Tyrone raps about what atrazine does to frogs. Author: Pamela Turner

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Extra Credit

Extra Credit

Extra Credit

Abby doesn’t like homework much. She thinks she’s doing just enough to get by until she gets called into the principal’s office and learns that she has fallen below “get by” and is in danger of having to repeat sixth grade.

It’s February. In order to pass, Abby has to get a B or better on EVERY assignment and test in EVERY subject. For extra credit, she has to write a pen pal in another country, make a bulletin board display of the letters and do an oral report on the experience in front of her class.

Sadeed Bayat works hard at his homework. In fact, he is considered the best student in his class. He is definitely the best English speaker and writer. When a letter from America arrives at his village in Afghanistan, the village elders look to Sadeed to write a letter back. They also look to Sadeed to Represent their village well. But not everyone is happy about the letters. One person in Sadeed’s village sees the American stamps on the letters and is outraged – outraged enough to threaten Sadeed and his family.

This is the story of an unconventional friendship full of surprises for the two letter writers, as well as the adults who put them up to it. A great story of an international friendship that could come straight from today’s headlines. Author: Andrew Clements

If you like the idea of kids learning about each other, try Faith, Hope & Ivy June. The two girls both live in Kentucky, but when they trade places, they learn that their lives are a world apart. If you are interested in the Middle East, try Trouble in Timbuktu or The Seven Keys of Balabad.
Faith, Hope & Ivy June Trouble in Timbuktu The Seven Keys of Balabad
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