Hoot by Carl Hiaasen Online Summary Study Guide

292 Pages

Roy Eberhardt is a new Floridian boy who starts noticing a strange kid running down the streets barefoot as fast as a lightning bolt. While Roy starts to get curious about the mysterious kid, the future site of Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House is being vandalized and pranked on. For example, one day a worker is scared out of his wits by the large alligator in the Port-a-Potty. Who is doing these dirty deeds and why are they doing it. At first the authorities think that it is just a couple of teenagers who thought it was funny to put an alligator in a Port-a-Potty, but then when the vandalism persists, people start to try to find the person who is responsible for the crimes and vandalization.  But is the mysterious sprinting boy and the vandalism connected? Read Hoot by Carl Hiaasen to find out.

Hiaasen incorporates some really great characters, humor and other characteristics that make for a fantastic book!!

Click here for Carl Hiaasen’s website.

Here is the Hoot part of Carl Hiaasen’s website: www.carlhiaasen/hoot.com

Pendragon Book Two: The Lost City of Faar

Here is the next installment of the Pendragon Series…

Pendragon Book Two: The Lost City of Faar

(Psst… there are even more covers than this…)

Click here for the review of the first Pendragon book: Pendragon Book One: The Merchant of Death (guest blogger version).

After the destructive and lifesaving experience that happened in the territory Denduron, they follow Saint Dane, the evil shapeshifter, to Cloral, a water filled world. Once Vo Spader, the Traveler from Cloral (but does not know it yet), welcomes Press and Bobby to his home. Everything seems to be going just fine, and it seems that Cloral is not reaching it’s turning quite yet, so Press and Bobby settle in the life of Grallion, Spader’s home. But when Maggoran, another floating habitat arrives coming in too fast, the habitats collide and the backside of Grallion is ruined. But when the aquaneers board the Maggoran to find out who was in charge of crashing the two habitats, they find that no one was in charge. Reason? Because everyone on Maggoran is dead. Find out why everyone’s dead and other things like that in Pendragon Book Two: The Lost City Of Faar by D.J. Machale.

Click on this link for DJ Machale’s book website: www.djmachalebooks.com

Click here for Halla Wiki. A wikepedia site for only for the Pendragon Series.

Click here for Pendragon quizzes and trivia.

Wild Wings

Wild Wings  by Gill Lewis

Realistic Fiction  – 283 pages for middle grade readers – and anyone who loves a great story and writing

I set a goal to read a book a day all summer.  I’ve done that – some picture books, poetry, chapter books and novels – both children’s and adult, and professional books too.  I’ve read great books that I’ve shared on our blog and others that I’ll just share in our classroom.  I loved the charaters of Zulaikha, Diamond Willow and Ha.  I want to become as thoughtful and generous as the Gail Halvorsen and Dr. Gordon Sato.  I’ve learned lots about teaching.  I am looking forward to sharing what I’ve read and what I’ve learned when the school year begins.

Wild WingsYesterday, though, I finished my summer favorite, Wild Wings by Gill Lewis.  Set in Scotland, Iona and Callum join together through their passion for the wildness and beauty of nature. We first meet Iona standing in a freezing river, fishing with her bare hands.  Callum asks her how she does it and she tries to teach him.

“D’you see them?” whispered Iona.  I nodded. “Now run your hand slowly into the water behind them.”  I slid my hand into the river.  Closer and closer until my fingers were inches from their tails.  “Run your fingers underneath and try to stroke behind their gills,” said Iona  … “People are like rivers,” said Iona.  “That’s what I think.”  I sat up and squeezed the water from my sleeve.  “What d’you mean?”  Iona rocked back on her heels and looked right at me.  “You’ve got to learn to look beneath the surface, to see what lies deeper in.”

Thus they become friends and make an amazing discovery  – a pair of osprey nesting on Callum’s farm.  A nesting pair in the wild is a rarity in Scotland.  Iona and Callum make a pact to keep them secret.  It is theirs alone, until they must act to save a bird’s life.

This is a story of fierce determination, kindness, loss, community and conservation.  It is a story that spans continents by tracking of the osprey’s migration across Europe to the mangrove swamps of the Gambia. The writing flows beautifully as they story is told mostly through Callum’s and occasionally through the osprey’s perspective.  Readers, bird lovers and revelers of nature are in for a wonderful treat.  This will be an early read aloud our room.


384 Pages

Mrs. Starch is by far the most feared biology teacher in the Truman School. That’s what it seems to Nick and Marta. And when she disappears after a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp, they get suspicious. While the principal assures and insists that Mrs. Starch was on leave because of a urgent, “Family Emergency” Nick and Marta feel that same sense of suspicion. When weird  things start happening with a dude in their class nicknamed Smoke, they have a hunch that Mrs. Starch’s disappearance has something to do with that kid Smoke. And they would be right, but not in the way they would think in a million years. Read Scat by Carl Hiaasen to find out what happens to poor Mrs. Starch.

Click here for Carl Hiaasen’s website. Scat is not on there for whatever reason but it’s still a great website.

Words in the Dust

Words in the DustWords in the Dust

By Trent Reedy

Realistic fiction – 288 pages of interest to 6th through 9th grade readers

Do you wonder what it would be like to live in another country?  Do you wonder as you’re reading, “Is this real?  Is this now?”  I do. I try to imagine how vastly different my life would be if I lived somewhere else in the world.  I often choose to read sets of books that have a similar setting as a way understand as much as I can about a country and its culture – Vietnam, Somalia, India, and Afghanistan have been the settings of recent collections.  Even though I have read many books about a place – I wonder, “Is this real?  Is it now?”

I am sure of the truth in the story behind Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy.  The author was stationed in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2005 as part of the peace keeping troops working build schools and provide opportunities for the people in and around Farah.  The story was inspired by actual people and events the author witnessed.

Zulaikha reaches out to trace the few letters she can remember on the dusty floor beside her pallet.  She rises to begin her day and we are transported into her life – a life that begins to change the moment we meet her. Zulaikha has a cleft lip with teeth that jut through the split.  Despite her deformity she has hopes and dreams – she wants to learn and become more than the “donkey face” she called. American soldiers arrive and promise her corrective surgery.  She begins to dream of the beautiful life she and her sister have always imagined. But when her beloved sister’s arranged marriage leads to a horrible tragedy, Zulaikha must choose for herself the future she knows is right.

Throughout the novel readers come to understand the strong ties and relationships in Zulaikha’s family. Through recurring tragedy and pain, Zulaikha, ever courageous and hopeful, faces her challenges and the cultural changes that are coming to Afghanistan. The author’s inclusion of cultural customs, moments in history and the exploration of beautiful Afghan poetry are the added details that brings the culture and country to life – adding beauty to the stark reality of living.

This is an amazing story that will stay with you for a long time.  One scene dealing with burning and loss makes this appropriate for mature readers.  Please  read it. It a beautiful book.

Peter and the Starcatchers

When you start this book, you better have time to read because you won’t be able to put it down! When orphan Peter and his mates are being sent off to an island ruled by the vicious King Zarboff, they climb aboard the Never Land, the ship to take them to their fate. But when they discover a trunk that holds something so mysterious, only few know what is kept between wooden planks and exposure. Meet Molly, a curious and complex girl that befriends Peter aboard the Never Land. Once he starts seeing unexplainable things, he gets involved in a world that is known by only a select handful of people.

Humorous and adventure filled, Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Riddley Pearson explores the fascinating past of Peter Pan. Read these prequels and you will be aching for more, so read the next ones on the series:

Peter and the Shadow Theives, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon and Peter and the Sword of Mercy.

Click here for the Peter and the Starcatchers website…

Favorite Ten Picture Books

Do have one or more picture books that you really, really loved as a small child? I’m sure that I do. So here are my favorite 10 picture books from when I was a toddler. You should read them as well!!

  1. Another Important Book by Margaret Wise BrownAnother Important Book
  2. Piggies by Audrey Wood                                                                                                                                          Piggies
  3. Copy me, Copycub by Richard Edwards
  4. Silly Sally by Audrey Wood                                                                                                                                    
  5. Be Gentle! by Virginia Miller                                                                                                                  
  6. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell                                                                                                                
  7. Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming
  8. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault
  9. Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberly
  10. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

The Dragon of Cripple Creek


The Dragon of Cripple CreekThe Dragon of Cripple Creek

By Troy Howell

400 pages for middle grade readers of realistic fiction/fantasy blend – with adventure on the side

Katlin Graham, better known as Kat, is fascinated by gold. She has been all her life.  She named her pony Goldie. She had her tooth capped with gold. And when she sees an ad for tours of the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine she won’t rest until she convinces her dad and brother they have the time to visit. Kat, her older brother Dillon, and her father are heading west for a new life, their old one having ended when a freak accident put her mother in a coma and caused them to lose everything.

Once in the mine Kat moves a bit away from the tour.  When she tries to get back to the group she has a nasty fall, discovers a rather large gold nugget (perhaps the answer to her family’s problems), and stumbles across a dragon. He is a real live dragon named Ye – the very last one in the world. He is gentle and helpful and wise.  Kat knows he is a kind soul and when Ye explains to her the origin of gold she is caught in a moral dilemma.  How can she choose between helping her family and respecting her friend’s wishes.  Later, back on the surface, the consequences of her choice become clear.  She accidentally begins the 21st century gold rush.  It is more horrible than she could ever have imagined and Kat decides she must change the course of her action. But how?

There are all sorts of people after Kat and the information about the origin of the gold.  There are all sorts of characters – some silly and some somber, some sinister and many selfish.  Kat has tough decisions to make and with the help of understanding and family, she does.  Read The Dragon of Cripple Creek to see what happens and to compare your choices with those that Kat makes.  Sometimes it is hard to know what is right or to understand how one choice is connected to the next and the next down the line.

This is a fun, original book – Ye might not be real, but the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine exists in Colorado.  Have fun reading The Dragon of Cripple Creek and let us know what you think.

Check out the book trailer here:The Dragon of Cripple Creek

The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963

“And You Wonder Why We Get Called the Weird Watsons” says the title of Chapter 1 of The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. 10 year old Kenny Watson lives in with his family in Flint, Michigan. Oh, I forgot! I should introduce you to the Watsons. There’s Dad, Momma, little sister Joetta, Kenny, and “official juvenile delinquent” Byrone. After all the adventures the Watsons will have in Flint, Momma and Dad plan a trip to grandma’s in Birmingham. They hope that if they leave Byrone a grandma’s then his troublemakimg mind will be put to rest. But little did the Watsons know, that they were about to run into one of the worst acts of discrimination in history.

For teachers, click here for Scholastic’s Reading Guide for The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.

Click here for Christopher Paul Curtis’ website.

Click here for Kidsreads.com version on Christopher Paul Curtis.

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange StreetOne Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street

By Joanne Rocklin

201 pages – for middle grade readers

This book begins with a mysterious man and an orange construction cone placed in the street by the vacant lot.   This lot is home to an orange tree – the only one remaining from an old grove.  A cause for questioning looks, remembered stories and new found confidence.  The orange tree is at the center of activity for the people who live on Orange Street.  It is source of a wonderful smell and delicious fruit.  It is where the club meets. It’s where treasure is found that, just maybe, will bring luck. It’s where a lonely boy practices and practices.  It’s where a now silent child swings and a worried daughter keeps vigil.  It is a reminder of days gone by and of how friends and families change around you.

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street is a story of friendship and kindnesses.  It is a story about troubles and anxieties.  It is a story about guilt and understanding.  The characters are interesting and real.  I like that they are not prefect and struggle to deal with parts of themselves and their lives that are less than storybook perfect.  I like how past and present are melded together so we learn about the history of the tree too.  I think it is supposed to have a happy ending, but I’m not certain that it does.  After you read it, let me know what you think.