Camper’s Choice – Grades 4-5 — 8 Comments

  1. Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus – by Dusti Bowling
    I am using Amazon’s description, as I read this book quite a while ago and can’t remember all the characters, traits, etc. What I loved about this book is the strength of the characters. there are not many, but the few are very well-developed. Although the main character and her side-kick have disabilities that are very noticible (Aven has no arms and Connor has Tourette’s), the kids manage to work through the middle school issues of friendship, disabilities and family problems. There is even an interesting mystery they solve throughout the course of the book.

    I would use this book in my classroom, but later in the year, as it is right at 4th grade level. There is also a sequel called Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus. I am excited to read that one. 5 stars

    Amazon’s description is as follows.”Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.

    Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.

  2. Merci Suarez Changes Gears – This is a Newberry Medal Winner and a book that is near and dear to my own heart. As much as I loved it and recommend it to my students, I had a very hard time reading it. It is a story about Merci’s beloved grandfather starting to act strangely. The reader soon comes to find out that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s. This is something that my family is also struggling with. This is an example of a “book brining you to tears”.

  3. According to legend, the lanterns released as part of the Autumnal Equinox celebration travel down the river where they join up with the Milky Way where they become stars. Ben and his friends want to see if the legend is true and have made a pact to follow the lanterns to see what really happens. The pact is simple: no one turns for home and no one looks back until they have gotten their answer. Slowly, one by one, Ben’s friends break the pact and the only ones who remain are him and Nathaniel, the boy who doesn’t quite fit in. Their adventure takes them on a magical adventure complete with a talking bear on his own adventure.

    I really enjoyed this story. I loved the adventure that Ben and Nathaniel share. The characters are very true-to-life, and would be relatable to reader’s of all ages. The portrayal of Ben’s internal struggle over being friends with Nathaniel “the odd kid” as well as Nathaniel’s own feelings at being excluded or mocked were authentic and easy to empathize with. I also liked how the story lines between Ben and Nathaniel, and the fisherbear split and rejoin later. It was interesting to compare their two versions of tradition and see how they combined together later on.

    I would recommend this to students who like fantasy adventure stories, but also to students who may be apprehensive readers or apprehensive about graphic novels or fantasies. It’s a quicker read, but still has good depth to the story and explores the value of friendship in a relatable way.

    Overall rating: 5/5 stars

    • The book I selected was “This Was Our Pact” by Ryan Andrews (2019, ISBN 978-1626720534).

  4. My Camper’s Choice selection was The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast by Samantha M. Clark. This book is about a boy who wakes up on an island by himself. He has no memory of who he is or how he ended up on the beach. The island is full of danger and the boy has to overcome his fears and try to find a way home, all while trying to remember his past. The boy also has to deal with a negative voice in his head that is a bully. I really liked the message in the book that it is okay to be afraid and that you make your own courage. The boy is also very persistent. I was very excited to read this book because it was described as an adventure/mystery and one reviewer even compared it to Hatchet. However, I found it to be a bit of a slow read that was boring at times. I would maybe get this book for my classroom to use as an independent reading book and maybe a read-aloud, depending on the class.

  5. My Camper’s Choice selection was Tower’s Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes. I have been waiting to read this book since the 2019-2020 Maud Hart Lovelace nominees were posted. This book is about a 5th grade girl named Deja, whose family has been through some very bad financial hard luck. She is now in a new school and slowly starting to make friends. She definitely has a ‘chip’ on her shoulder and keeps her guard up. She starts to feel more comfortable about school and working in a group with classmates when her teacher assigns them all a project to work on. I thought this book was going to be more fact based about the Twin Towers but in fact it is about Deja and her relationship with her dad. I’m glad I read the book but I wasn’t totally in awe of the book. I think I had put to much excitement and expectation on it. It did shed some light on Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and what an entire family experiences, not just one individual. It had me getting angry at times with the individual for what he was putting his family through and how long he had been sick with this. After reading this book, my opinion has changed on whether I would recommend this as a classroom read outloud. I would strongly recommend to each classroom teacher that they read the book first to themselves then decide if their specific class could handle this book. I would recommend this as a pleasure read for anyone interested.

  6. My Camper’s Choice selection is Salt in my Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith. It is the posthumously published journal of Mallory Smith, who passed away from the progression of Cystic Fibrosis. It tells parts of her story for the 10 years of her life leading up to her passing. I chose this book because my stepson also has Cystic Fibrosis and I feel it’s important for students to be able to relate to their peers with various disabilities. Even though the journal starts at the age where I felt upper elementary students could relate, it carries on into her college days and early twenties and ends up being inappropriate at times, not necessarily in content, but occasional language. If I used this book at all with my students, it would be the beginning parts when Mallory was at a similar age to my students and maybe summarize the rest for them. An incredibly moving and emotional story, just not as appropriate for this age as I’d hoped. 5 stars.

  7. My Camper’s Choice selection is Library on Wheels by Sharlee Glenn. It is a nonfiction book about a wonderful woman by the name of Mary Lemist Titcomb and her solution to the problem of bringing library services to the remote patrons of her area. Her solution was if the people were not able to come to the library, the library would come to them. During a time when few vocational options were available to women, Miss Titcomb was credited for being the inventor of the bookmobile. A quote I adored was, “‘The book goes to the man. We do not wait for the man to come to the book.'” Oh how I love this!! And I loved the book. It was simple yet enjoyable to read. The book is set up in a scrapbook format with photographs, excepts of letters, and other memorabilia from Mary Lemist Titcomb’s era. I found the book to be inspiring and am so glad to have read it. I plan to locate a copy for our library and will definitely recommend it for reading for pleasure. 5 stars.