Ivy lives in the mountains in a tiny house with her Grandparents in Thunder Creek, Kentucky. She takes a long bus ride to school everyday. Her house doesn’t have an indoor bathroom.
Catherine lives in a large house in Lexington, Kentucky. Catherine’s mom drives her to school everyday. Her house has four bathrooms.
It’s hard to imagine that these girls are alive at the same time, since their way of life seems so different. Ivy seems like a girl from the past, but she isn’t. Their different ways of life are the reason each girl has been chosen to represent her school in an exchange program. Ivy will go live with Catherine for two weeks and then Catherine will go live with Ivy for two weeks. Can these two girls with such different lives find anything in common? Can they be friends?
As part of the exchange, each girl is asked to keep a journal of the time they spend together. The journal entries are part of the story. Ivy writes about finding out that Catherine shares a whole indoor bathroom with just her sister. Catherine writes about the fact that Ivy only washes her hair once a week and that the bathtub is a large tub on the back porch!
I really liked reading how each girl felt as she met and learned to know the other girl’s family. I liked reading about how the girls worried about what school would be like and what the kids would think. In the journals the girls are honest. Sometimes they don’t like what they are finding out and sometimes they do. I really liked the girls’ families and how each one reacted to their visitor.
“Different” doesn’t mean “better” or “worse,” it just means different, and different can be really, really good. Author: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
If you like the idea of an exchange, try The Whipping Boy or Freaky Friday. In both stories kids trade places just like Catherine and Ivy to walk a mile in someone elses shoes. You also might like Extra Credit. The kids in this story don’t actually trade places, but they do write each other letters to find out about a very different life.
This is the story of the Apollo space program. Apollo is the name NASA gave to the missions that put men on the moon.
The book is full of interesting (and funny!) stories about how the space program developed. If you read it you will find out how the scientists, engineers & astronauts figured out how to make everything work.
Since the author interviewed 28 astronauts, the book is full of inside stories based on their memories. Because the words are right from the astronauts you get a really personal sense of what it was like to work on the Apollo project and to be a person that actually walked on the moon. You can read stories that only the astronauts would know.
By telling the story of each Apollo mission, from Apollo 1 to Apollo 17, you can see what they learned each time. For example, at first they were really worried about the astronauts bringing germs back to earth. After the Apollo 11 astronauts brought back space dust that could be tested, the scientists could prove that no germs can live on the moon because of the intense heat, intense cold and radiation from the sun. By Apollo 14, they weren’t worried about moon germs anymore.
The book has lots of diagrams and photos as well as paintings done by Alan Bean, the lunar module pilot on Apollo 12 and the fourth man to walk on the moon. After Mr. Bean retired from being an astronaut he became an artist. You can see his pictures for yourself on his website. His paintings are fantastic, plus, he is not painting from his imagaination – he actually saw and walked on the moon.
Don’t miss the Apollo Archive links below to images and audio from the Apollo Missions. Listening to the astronauts’ actual words is really something. The whole group: the scientists, engineers, astronauts…I admire this team of smart, confident team players that could make something like landing on the moon actually happen. Even 40 years later it’s still a marvel. Author: Andrew Chaikin
One other thing…on the book jacket there is a picture taken in April 1969. The picture is of Alan Bean during his training for the Apollo 12 mission. The other person in the picture is a 12 year-old boy, Andrew Chaikin – this book’s author! And now here they are 40 years later writing a book together. I love it when a kid’s dreams come true!
Bob and Joe Switzer were just two boys having fun; riding in airplanes, practicing magic tricks and inventing stuff. They liked to problem solve by thinking up interesting solutions to problems.
Joe liked magic tricks and read in the magazine Popular Science about how ultraviolet lamps, called black lights, made some substances glow in the dark. The brothers made some glow-in-the-dark paint and figured out ways to use them to jazz up Joe’s magic act. Then they figured out something really unique, how to get colors to glow in the daylight – and a legend was born.
You see day-glo colors all the time now, on signs or in markers or even on clothes, but none of that was possible until Bob and Joe got curious and then got to work. I loved reading about these guys! Author: Chris Barton
Here’s a fun book for Percy Jackson fans. Rick Riordan (Senior Scribe, Camp Half-Blood) has compiled “three of Percy Jackson’s most dangerous adventures never before committed to paper” as well as confidential interviews with Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, and Grover Underwood. Author: Rick Riordan
I liked the character interviews the best – great questions are asked. Percy, Annabeth and Grover are really put on the spot! For example:
Who would you least like to meet in a dark alley – a Cyclops or an angry Mr. D?
If you had to trade Riptide for another magic item, whose item would you choose?
Of all your Camp Half-Blood friends, who would you most like to have with you in battle?
Lucinda and Tyler are nothing but angry when their mom reveals that she is leaving for the summer. Then an unexpected letter arrives inviting the kids to spend the summer on a distant relative’s farm. How convenient.
The kids are hustled off to a train station and are soon on their way to the unknown – a place called Ordinary Farm. During the train ride, the kids open a package from the farm and discover a homemade handbook with weird instructions in it like, “It should never be forgotten, even in the most routine tasks of care and feeding, that these animals are large and dangerous. Even a belch from a content cow can throw out a six-foot flame.” Now, I’m a city kid and I know cows don’t breath fire. It turns out this farm Lucinda and Tyler are going to is no ordinary farm.
And the distant relative, Uncle Gideon, well, he’s no ordinary farmer either. Nor is Ragnar or Mr. Walkwell or Mrs. Needles or any of the other people who live and work on the farm. Uncle Gideon has a very good reason for inviting Lucinda and Tyler to the farm, if only they can figure out what it is. Can you keep a secret? Uncle Gideon hopes Lucinda and Tyler can.
This one reminds me a little bit of Fablehaven…magical creatures living in a secret place, a brother and sister that need to unravel the secrets of the place and an old relative who has all the answers but doesn’t seem to want to share them all. The book jacket says that this is the authors’ “first” book about Ordinary Farm so I think we’ll be seeing some more. This book lets you know what Ordinary Farm is all about but there are still secrets at the end – questions that will be answered and bad guys to be outwitted in future stories.
Who doesn’t want what looks to be a summer full of feed buckets and mucking stalls to turn into a summer full of much, much more? Authors: Tad Williams and Deborah Beale
The Dragons of Ordinary Farm on Downloadable eBook
If it’s dragons you like, try The Dragon of Trelian or Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate or Hatching Magic. Read some good books, get some ideas and then try to draw some. The Dragon Drawing Book will help you get started.