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Mystery is a genre that hooks students on reading, especially reluctant readers. My students tell me they love the thrill of trying to figure out "who dunnit? Struggling readers love to read series books for their predictability, which helps them feel successful as readers, and my request contains new series for them to conquer.

My request also contains some high-interest books written at lower reading levels. With a variety of mystery books at levels they can read and enjoy, students become readers who can discuss plot, character, author intent, and theme with each other, just as adult readers do.

Konisberg -- and will serve as springboards to an expanded reading repertoire. The books on my list include books on the second to sixth grade levels to engage and challenge my students. My students possess an exterior that belies the innocence within. Many of them have had to face situations that force them to respond in ways far beyond their emotional capabilities. In my classroom, I allow them to be who they really are -- eleven- and twelve-year-old children.

Reading class is a safe place to experience the sheer joy of getting lost in books, something many of them have rarely experienced. Reading class gives them the opportunity to find out about themselves as readers and develop a life-long interest in reading. They need accessible, well-written, and interesting literature to begin that journey as life-long readers.

By offering them the opportunities to read mystery books at their level, we are empowering them, many for the first time, to think of themselves as successful readers and learners. Total project cost. Suggested donation to help DonorsChoose. Total project goal. Excluded support for DonorsChoose. Still needed View calculation Hide calculation. Our team works hard to negotiate the best pricing and selections available.

This project will reach 50 students. If you donated to this project, you can sign in to leave a comment for Ms. Add a profile photo in addition to your classroom photo. If you add a photo, it'll show up right here on your project page. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you.

You're on track to get doubled donations and unlock a reward for the colleague who referred you. Keep up the great work! Take credit for your charitable giving! Check out your tax receipts. In a rush to make a major tax-deductible gift before the year's end? Purchase account credits and choose projects later! Find a classroom project.

Are you a public school teacher in need of funding? Sign in. Owen was eventually rescued and taken to a wild-animal park — where he formed an immediate bond with a year-old giant tortoise named Mzee mm-ZAY. Mama is a much simpler book that anthropomorphizes the animals and makes an emotional point rather than a scientific one. Prettily illustrated and told with minimal language, it is recommended for all ages but will be most effective for young children — to whom a parent can explain the real-life story in more detail.

Or Mama can simply stand on its own as an affecting story of an unusual and unexpected animal friendship. Posted by The Infodad Team at 1 comment:. By Jeremy Brown. By Jim Benton and Rafael Sirkis. Guinness World Records: Wild Lives. Guinness World Records: Incredible Collection. What can you do with a spare four minutes? One answer: spend it with one of these books. Crime Files: Four-Minute Forensic Mysteries, the first book of a new series, is specifically intended to hit the four-minute mark.

These are challenges in the Encyclopedia Brown mode, with all the information presented in two or three pages and the reader left to decide how to put the clues together. But the target age range here is older than for the Encyclopedia Brown books, and Crime Files is deadly serious stuff — no humor in the cases, except for an occasional wisecrack by the team member designated to provide wisecracks. Alternative: spend those four minutes with a su doku puzzle. Aside from a few Happy Bunny comments at the bottoms of some pages, and two silly HB-style su doku puzzles, this is really just a su doku also spelled as one word, sudoku book.


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Nothing wrong with that — kids ages , or people of any age who have been bitten by these numbers-without-math, boxes-within-a-box puzzles, will enjoy these. Doing too many is a recipe for tedium, but spending four minutes or so at a time with the puzzles seems about right. Another way to spend a few minutes is by dipping into the Guinness World Records paperbacks and reading about one or several of the oddities of human nature, animal nature or…well…nature nature. Any of these books is suitable for a quick dip of fun. The Nymphos of Rocky Flats. By Mario Acevedo.

But a Hispanic vampire detective investigating an outbreak of nymphomania at a nuclear-fuel facility? Unfortunately, a brief description makes The Nymphos of Rocky Flats sound better than it is. First-time novelist Mario Acevedo has a lot of interesting elements here, but the superstructure on which he assembles them is almost unbearably creaky. It is after a mind-numbing combat tragedy that Gomez is bitten by a vampire and becomes one himself — but, because of the nature of the tragedy, he cannot bear to drink human blood.

At this point, the creakiness begins.


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A reluctant vampire can make for interesting drama. But the structure of this book makes vampires traditional in almost every way, including that of their predator-prey relationship with humans. If vampires could sustain themselves, however imperfectly, with non-human blood — as Gomez is at pains to do — then why would they be so deeply hated and feared by humans for so many centuries?


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  7. Extreme reluctance would have worked quite as well as refusal. He is a creature of the night, with the ability to see auras and with super-keen senses — but he keeps falling victim to plots against him. My eyes burned. In the instant before I clamped them shut, I glimpsed the brilliant-red aura of my attacker. I bent over, gagging, and rubbed my face to wipe away the searing liquid. Something hard slammed into the back of my head. My thoughts exploded into a thousand colored sparks that quickly dissolved into blackness. For example, he deliberately walks into a trap, knowing it is a trap both through vampire senses and because he has been told it is one; and the trappers, too dumb to make it hard for him to figure out how to get into the building where the trap is laid, simply leave a single way in; and Gomez, too dumb to look anywhere else, goes in exactly that way — and is, of course, trapped and tortured.

    But The Nymphos of Rocky Flats is no clunker. Thanks to good pacing, a wide variety of plot twists, an unusual assemblage of characters although the reader never really cares about any of them, even Gomez, except in that highly dramatic first chapter , and a talent for getting his feckless hero in deeper and deeper every few pages, Acevedo delivers a book that is better than, analytically, it deserves to be.

    There will surely be further adventures of Detective Felix Gomez to come. They are likely to be better put together than this rather discombobulated first effort — which, however, has enough offbeat charm to be worth reading for its own sake. Fast Food. By Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. Arthur A.

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    Baby Food; Dog Food. The continuing series of food-based books by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers is a marvel of creativity. Each book uses artistically and whimsically cut and shaped produce to explore a theme or tell a story — and each is as fascinating and as much fun for adults as for kids. He and various other characters go places using all sorts of conveyances.

    The cleverness of the designs is not easily describable in words — these really are books you have to see to believe.

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    The absurd cleverness of the designs is delightful, and their apparently infinite variety is an ongoing pleasant surprise. Check out the trucks made from squash and papayas, the fire engine of red peppers plus celery and mushroom-cap wheels , the pear helicopter, the banana airplane, and much more — all of it engagingly yummy. Baby Food and Fast Food lose none of their charm as board books. The banana dachshund puppy, plump yellow-pepper bunny, sweet-potato baby alligator, peanut owlet, kiwi baby monkey and other little ones somehow seem even more adorable when each fills a full page of the Baby Food board book.

    Mammoths on the Move. By Lisa Wheeler. Illustrated by Kurt Cyrus. Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary. By Julie Larios. Illustrated by Julie Paschkis. Mammoths on the Move, for ages , tells how mammoth herds moved south as winter intensified each year, eventually reaching areas where edible vegetation still grew — and then heading back north as the southern weather grew too warm. There are no mammoths living anymore, but their cousins, the elephants, are still around though increasingly threatened. One such beast — but with no pretense to reality — is the title creature in Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary.

    Montmorency and the Assassins: Master, Criminal, Spy? By Eleanor Updale. Fast-paced, crisis-filled, set in exotic lands, filled with intriguing if not always fully believable characters, these two novels for ages epitomize top-notch adventure writing for preteens. Both are continuations of series, and both will leave young readers waiting anxiously for the next installment.

    The Children of the Lamp series focuses on twins John and Philippa, who find out in the first book The Akhenaten Adventure that they descend from a long line of djinn or genies called the Marid tribe — and have great magical powers. Their self-discovery leads them to adventure in Book 1 — and Book 2 is all adventure, all the time. Here the twins fall into a trap while trying to retrieve a potent book of djinn magic called the Solomon Grimoire.

    Kerr is the sort-of-pseudonym of the thriller writer who creates books for adults as Philip Kerr. Kerr is more a master of plot twists than of plots themselves: the separation of two heroes and the epic quest of one to save the other is scarcely a new idea.

    Nimrod steered the whirlwind across the busy Galata Bridge, just to get his bearings, before taking a sharp turn left along the south bank of the Golden Horn. The rivers are not quite as exotic in Montmorency and the Assassins, but there is something appealing in knowing that the hero crawled out of the London sewers that lead to the Thames 20 years before the start of this novel. We met this hero first in Montmorency, and his adventures continued in Montmorency on the Rocks. He is, or was, a criminal, transforming himself into a gentleman and thus moving up in the world socially after he literally moved up in it from the underground sewer network.

    Eleanor Updale at first makes this book seem like the conclusion of a trilogy, given the fact that Montmorency is two decades older and has left his criminal past far behind. What happens here is that Montmorency and his friend, Lord George Fox-Selwyn, accept the job of tracing some rare specimens stolen from a reclusive naturalist. The search takes them from London to more-exotic locales on the Continent, where they stumble upon a plot by anarchist conspirators to create widespread terror and panic in the closing years of the 19th century.

    Parallels with the 21st century may be inferred by the reader but are scarcely the point here: Updale knows she is writing a period piece, and she does so quite well, with slightly old-fashioned dialogue and the occasional inclusion of letters which now seem old-fashioned themselves to move the plot along. By Tobias Druitt. This is the story of a mormoluke, a goat-footed demon that steals and eats children; a purple-faced, snake-headed gorgon that turns people to stone; two brass-winged terrors that haunt an island mountain; a snake girl; a minotaur; and a few others of that ilk.

    They are the good guys. It is also a love story — especially of love between monsters. And it is a tale of the wrong that gods do, the evil that men do in the name of heroism, the uses of forgetfulness, and many other matters besides. Oh: and it is written by someone who does not exist. Purkiss, a faculty member of Keble College at Oxford, and Dowling, who is studying ancient Greek, clearly know their Greek mythology inside out. And that is how they turn it: inside out.

    The monsters are far more human, far more humane, far better than the heroes: readers will never see Jason or Perseus in quite the same light after reading this book. Uncooperatively, Corydon does not die — the gorgons Sthenno and Euryale save him — but he is captured by a band of men putting on the ancient Greek equivalent of a P. Barnum freak show. It is there that Corydon meets Medusa, the Sphinx and various other known mythological villains, all of whom turn out to be misunderstood and mishandled as well as misshapen. It is through Corydon that the monsters successfully battle the heroes, although there are casualties, as the ancient myths report.

    For example, Perseus wins his epic battle with Medusa through pure treachery, and Medusa is much mourned and much celebrated by the other monsters. It is deeply moving in some sections, farcical in others, satirical elsewhere, and a straightforward reconsideration of ancient myth in still other places. It is aimed at ages , but some scenes will be too intense for younger preteens, and only readers well steeped in Greek mythology will fully understand all the characters and events.

    It is a striking reinterpretation of Greek myths as well as a darned good adventure story, but its appeal is likely to be limited. Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Sir Colin Davis. The interpretations are fascinating and worth multiple hearings, but they are so different from the usual approach to these symphonies that they will come as something of a shock to listeners already familiar with this wonderful music.

    The scherzo is quick enough, but not light, while the Adagio and finale are both painted in broad strokes that continue all the way to the end, with Davis taking the coda more slowly than most conductors do and in so doing making it the crown of the work rather than a quick throwaway ending.

    There is, however, a significant oddity here: Davis uses an alternative version of the score that ends far more abruptly than this symphony normally does. Several measures at the very end are simply missing, and along with them the reestablishment of the tonic. Instead we get a strong chordal ending that resonates but sounds foreshortened — a very curious experience at the conclusion of a performance that otherwise spreads this music out.

    It is only the finale that has overt religious content, being based on the chorale Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott. But Davis handles the whole symphony as if he is building a musical cathedral, slowly and surely constructing a strong tower of sonic majesty, capped at the end by a triumphant full-orchestral iteration of the chorale.

    Mouse Count. By Ellen Stoll Walsh. Mouse Paint. Ellen Stoll Walsh has a thing for mice. Hers are adorable: plump and cute and expressive as can be. Smart, too. They teach kids about counting and colors in the most good-natured way imaginable. Mouse Count has been around since , but still seems completely fresh. It is sure to delight just about anyone except a humorless herpetologist. The exception needs to be made because the 10 mice in this book — which, by the way, Walsh dedicates to her nine brothers and sisters — get the better of a hungry snake through a bit of well-timed cleverness.

    At first, the mice stay alert for snakes while playing in the meadow, but then they get sleepy and doze off — and sure enough, a snake shows up. This is one smart snake: he finds a big empty jar and decides to fill it with sleeping mice for his dinner. They run home; the snake — who has found a mouse-shaped rock, not a real mouse — goes hungry; and kids are left with number knowledge in the context of a story with more plot and excitement than they usually get in counting books. Mouse Paint, originally published in , is now available as a brand-new, lap-size board book. There are only three mice here — all white and all residing on a white piece of paper, where their color keeps them safe from the cat.

    Then the cat falls asleep; the mice find three jars of paint red, yellow and blue ; and Walsh creates a marvelous story of primary and mixed colors. The mice jump and mix and stir and make all sorts of color combinations. By Tad Hills. By Joyce Dunbar. Illustrated by Sanja Rescek. Good Boy, Fergus! By David Shannon. Animals provide a wonderful way to reach out to children ages Each of these books reaches out differently, and all of them successfully. Then these two young opponents both try to sit on the egg to hatch it — and Tad Hills draws a wonderfully mixed-up picture of the two of them doing it.

    The eventual friendship lesson, though soft-pedaled, is clearly and pleasantly delivered. The friends find so many socks that they have to string them on a clothesline to pair them up — a scene shown in facing-page foldouts, turning a double-page spread into the size of a four-page one another very clever illustration. Fergus is a cute little white dog who obeys occasionally but certainly not all of the time. But when he sees a cat, we get the funniest part of the book, showing Fergus sniffing the base of a tree while his increasingly exasperated owner calls him in ever-larger type that even turns red.

    Fergus clearly has his alleged owner well in hand: this is a dog who, if he snubs his food, gets whipped cream on it as a treat. Parents may not approve of the extent to which Fergus is disobedient and spoiled, but very young readers will enjoy the super-simple story and the playfulness it celebrates. By Dana Buchman. What happens when a highly driven, highly successful woman encounters something she does not fully understand — something that affects the basic fabric of her life and her family? If the woman is fashion designer Dana Buchman, she finds out everything she can about the situation, learns how to handle it, copes as well as she possibly can, and then writes a book about the experience.

    This takes some of the sting out of what could otherwise seem a work of self-aggrandizement. As a toddler, Charlotte was diagnosed with learning, spatial and motor-skill disabilities. What did her mother do when the diagnosis was inescapable? She had to fail so publicly, so often. Buchman seems to lack awareness of the extent to which she found Charlotte an impingement on her own increasing success. Breyer Stablemates: Patch. By Kristin Earhart. Illustrated by Lisa Papp.

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    Breyer Stablemates: Starlight. Illustrated by Dan Andreasen. By Daisy Meadows. Illustrated by Georgie Ripper. Fly Guy 2: Super Fly Guy. By Tedd Arnold. Series are not a bad idea at all for kids ages In this age range, children who find something they enjoy are likely to stick with it — and if they can get more and more and MORE of it, so much the better. Scholastic has series for girls in this age range, series for boys, even series for flies. Or about flies. Girls who know Breyer — a major maker of equestrian-themed toys and collectibles — will immediately gravitate to the Breyer Stablemates series of early chapter books.

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    Not a bad message, though. Each book focuses on different types of horses, gives factual information on them at the end, and includes a punch-out horse card to display or trade. After some initial disharmony, the two girls become good friends. A palomino card is included. Starlight comes with a card of a Morgan and is about a girl named Haley whose Morgan foal gets lost in the woods — and bonds closely with Haley after the girl rescues the filly. Girls who prefer fairies to foals can try the Weather Fairies series, which will be seven books long.

    Each will focus on a single Weather Fairy whose magical feather has been stolen by Jack Frost and his goblins. Two human friends, Rachel and Kirsty, help the fairies search for the missing feathers. In Crystal the Snow Fairy, the absence of the first feather leads to snow in summer and a goblin that makes ice cubes. After a mildly amusing escape, the feather is back where it belongs and Rachel and Kirsty are awaiting their next adventure.

    Crime Files: Four-Minute Forensic Mysteries: Shadow Of Doubt

    For a series oriented more toward boys than girls, try Fly Guy, whose hero is — well, a fly. Yezzzz they can — in a delightfully silly romp whose exaggerated illustrations are as much fun as its slapstick story. What will all these series do for an encore? The likely answer: more of the same — which will be just what fans of the series want. Bolcom: Violin Sonatas Solomia Soroka, violin; Arthur Greene, piano. Paganini: Guitar Music. Marco Tamayo, guitar. There is great pleasure of discovering something unexpected in music. William Bolcom is thought of primarily as a vocal composer especially in light of the deserved enthusiasm generated by his magnificent Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

    Secondarily, Bolcom, a pianist and strong interpreter of his own piano music, is associated with his chosen instrument. In fact, though, he has written in numerous forms, including symphonies and operas — and four interesting, unusual, technically difficult and highly varied violin sonatas. The First Sonata was originally a student piece, composed in when Bolcom was But the composer revised and significantly shortened it in , making it tighter but less revelatory of his youthful energies and interests.

    The Second Sonata is a jazz-oriented work and a tribute to jazz fiddler Joe Venuti, whose memorial it became when Venuti died while the work was being composed.