Grades 4 to 6 April 2016 Picks
Best Books for Grades 4 to 6 April Picks

Intro

A couple of books on this month’s list of best books for fourth to sixth grade have been haunting me for what feels like FOREVER.  I’ll see little phantoms of Raymie Nightingale and Wild Robot in a review or blog or tweet and my hand jumps to my mouse to add them to my audiobook que, and then I remember…  aackk, that book’s not out until April.  Well, it’s April – finally.  Ha!  Now get in my que you tasty little book delights!

Raymie Nightingale is a work of historical fiction by two-time Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo.  Remember The Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn-Dixie?  Those were hers.  She’s also the author of the Mercy Watson series of early reader books.  DiCamillo’s latest book, Raymie Nightingale is about a 10-year-old girl whose father has just run away with a dental hygienist.  The girl, Raymie Clark, has a plan.  She’ll win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then, when her father sees Raymie’s picture in the paper, he’s sure to come home.  In order to win the contest, Raymie has to learn how to twirl a baton.  At baton twirling class, Raymie meets two other students, who, through a series of adventures draw gradually closer, so that the three girls become friends. 

Reviewers claim that the magic of this book is in the author’s ability to connect deeply with the children for whom the book is intended.  After reading the Amazon preview, I see glimpses of exactly that ability to hone in on what it means to be a fourth grade kid.  The way that Raymie is convinced that through this spectacular achievement of being crowned Little Miss Central Florida Tire, she will magically change the course of events for her family.  Other evidence of this ability to speak the language of children comes in the mannerisms the characters exhibit.  For example, one of the girls introduces herself to the baton twirling class by saying that her father is a cop and nobody better mess with her.  As an adult, we chuckle about a comment like that.  Seen through the eyes of a young person, that statement means something serious.  DiCamillo’s writing places you right in the story, seeing life as a 10-year-old would.  Phenomenal.

The Wild Robot is the second of the oh-so-alluring April books that I’ve been anxious to read.  The book begins with a storm that sinks a cargo ship and sends a crate to the shores of a remote island.  A family of otters pry open the crate and press a button that brings a new robot, ROZZUM unit 7134 to life.  The robot was never meant for life in the wild, but must learn to adapt to her surroundings.  The story is about survival and acceptance amongst the animals of the island.  The author, Peter Brown is a talented, Caldecott Honor winning illustrator.  He highlights the story with stirring black and white drawings throughout the book.

As it would happen; it’s National Poetry Month!  A couple of outstanding children’s poetry books were just published and it seemed like the right time to include Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph and Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems in a list.  I’m not an avid poetry reader, but I recognize how powerful and valuable poetry can be.  I think of National Poetry Month as a good reminder to pick up a book and give poetry a chance.  Aaand.. if you’re going to try, might as well pick up something good.  These books got awesome reviews.

Lastly, I’m so super excited about Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard.  It’s got all kinds of juicy elements – action, adventure, fantastical creatures, a rare and mysterious book.  I’m in love!  This book is second in a series of two, but readers and reviewers are saying that it works just fine as a stand alone.

**This post was mentioned on Literacy Musing Mondays and The Homeschool Nook

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

 Seeing stars?  Professional book reviewers only award a star to exceptional books.  More than one star means experts from multiple organizations felt the book was outstanding. 

The Wild Robot Book Cover
The Wild Robot
by Peter Brown
published April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz's only hope is to learn from the island's...READ MORE

Raymie Nightingale
by Kate DiCamillo
published April 12, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star ImageHorn Book

Two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo returns to her roots with a moving, masterful story of an unforgettable summer friendship.

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her...READ MORE

Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard: A Peter Nimble Adventure
by Jonathan Auxier
published April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books

It’s been two years since Peter Nimble and Sir Tode rescued the kingdom of HazelPort. In that time, they have traveled far and wide in search of adventure. Now they have been summoned by Professor Cake for a new mission: To find a twelve-year-old bookmender named Sophie Quire.
 
...READ MORE

A Bandit's Tale: The Muddled Misadventures of a Pickpocket Book Cover
A Bandit's Tale: The Muddled Misadventures of a Pickpocket
by Deborah Hopkinson
published April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Publishers Weekly

From an award-winning author of historical fiction comes a story of survival, crime, adventure, and horses in the streets of 19th century New York City.

Eleven-year-old Rocco is an Italian immigrant who finds himself alone in New York City after he's sold to a padrone by his poverty-stricken parents. While...READ MORE

Far From Fair Book Cover
Far from Fair
by Elana K. Arnold
published March 8, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Publishers Weekly

Odette Zyskowski has a list: Things That Aren’t Fair. At the top of the list is her parents’ decision to take the family on the road in an ugly RV they’ve nicknamed the Coach. There’s nothing fair about leaving California and living in the cramped Coach with her par­ents and...READ MORE

Jazz Day Book Cover
Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph
by Roxane Orgill
illustrated by Francis Vallejo
published March 8, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star ImageHorn Book Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

What happens when you invite as many jazz musicians as you can to pose for a photo in 1950s Harlem? Playful verse and glorious artwork capture an iconic moment for American jazz.

When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a...READ MORE

The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price
by Jennifer Maschari
published February 23, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal

A heartfelt, beautifully written novel of love, loss, and math—perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead and Sharon M. Draper.

Ever since twelve-year-old Charlie Price's mom died, he feels like his world has been split into two parts.Before included stargazing and Mathletes and Saturday scavenger hunts with his family. After means a dad who's...READ MORE

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse Book Cover
The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse
by Brian Farrey
published April 19, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews

A princess and a peasant girl embark on a dangerous quest to outwit a warning foretelling the fall of the Monarchy.

In the center of the verdant Monarchy lies Dreadwillow Carse, a desolate bog the people of the land do their best to ignore. Little is known about it except...READ MORE

The Door by the Staircase Book Cover
The Door by the Staircase
by Katherine Marsh
illustrated by Kelly Murphy
published January 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can't stand her orphanage for another night. But when an attempted escape through the stove pipe doesn't go quite as well as she'd hoped, Mary fears she'll be stuck in the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies forever. 

The very next day, a mysterious woman named Madame Z...READ MORE

Wet Cement Book Cover
Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems
by Bob Raczka
published March 8, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image Horn Book Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Who says words need to be concrete? This collection shapes poems in surprising and delightful ways.

Concrete poetry is a perennially popular poetic form because they are fun to look at. But by using the arrangement of the words on the page to convey the meaning of the poem, concrete...READ MORE

Comments

I love your review of the Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price! You described the plot and characters very vividly, but also helped me to warm up towards the book. I've been sort of eyeballing Charlie Price, on the fence about whether I should add it to a list, but it's received such great reader reviews that I've been coming around. After reading your review, I'm going to have to read the book. Thank you for sharing that. :)

I'm so glad to hear that, Sarah! I was a bit on the fence too, just because the themes were sensitive enough that I thought they could easily be done very badly. But it was handled so well -- I was very impressed. Hope you find it moving as well!

Hi Mother of 3! Nice! Glad you found something your kids might like. :D

Thank you!! I'm always looking for new books for my fourth grader and for my second grader, I'll be on the lookout for some these.
Thanks for sharing with us at #MMBH!
XOXO

Hi Mrs. AOK! Nice! I'm glad you could spot some books that might work for your fourth and second graders. And thank you for being such a great hostess!

Hi Kellee! Thank you for your kind comment. :)

Also, thank you for sharing your Raymie Nightingale teaching guide link. Man, that would be a great book to use in a classroom/homeschool. Good idea to connect readers to the guide.

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Hello there!

Hi!  I'm Sarah.  I'm a former librarian and mother of two -- a teen daughter and a preschooler son.  We love to play outdoors... and read.  :)

This site is all about discovering great books to share with kids and teens. ...Read more

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