5th Grade Battle of the Books
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko REVIEW QUESTIONS
In this appealing novel set in 1935, 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family move from Santa Monica to Alcatraz Island where his father gets a job as an electrician at the prison and his mother hopes to send his autistic older sister to a special school in San Francisco. When Natalie is rejected by the school, Moose is unable to play baseball because he must take care of her, and her unorthodox behavior sometimes lands him in hot water. He also comes to grief when he reluctantly goes along with a money making scheme dreamed up by the warden's pretty but troublesome daughter. Family dilemmas are at the center of the story, but history and setting--including plenty of references to the prison's most infamous inmate, mob boss Al Capone--play an important part, too. The Flanagan family is believable in the way each member deals with Natalie and her difficulties, and Moose makes a sympathetic main character. The story, told with humor and skill, will fascinate readers with an interest in what it was like for the children of prison guards and other workers to actually grow up on Alcatraz Island. (240 pages)
Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea REVIEW QUESTIONS
It’s the start of a new year at Snow Hill School, and seven students find themselves thrown together in Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class. There’s Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who’s having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school. They don’t have much in common, and they’ve never gotten along. Not until a certain new teacher arrives and helps them to find strength inside themselves—and in each other. But when Mr. Terupt suffers a terrible accident, will his students be able to remember the lessons he taught them? Or will their lives go back to the way they were before—before fifth grade and before Mr. Terupt? (304 pages)
Blended by Sharon M. Draper REVIEW QUESTIONS
In Blended, Isabella's mom is white and her dad is black, and when they divorce she feels like there will always be two sides of her pulled in different directions. Two houses, two families, two backpacks, two different sets of rules, two different kids: Izzy and Isabella. Just when it looks like things couldn't get any crazier, Isabella's friend is targeted at school, and a routine trip ends in horror. (taken from Common Sense Media website, 2021) (320 pages)
Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass REVIEW QUESTIONS
The lives of three young people intersect and transform against the backdrop of a total solar eclipse. Homeschooled Ally has grown up at the remote Moon Shadow Campground, which her family runs. An eclipse, which can be viewed only from this site, is approaching, and ahead of it come Bree, an aspiring model obsessed with popularity, and Jack, a reclusive artist and avid sci-fi reader. Ally's sheltered world is about to open up as she discovers that her parents plan to cede management of the campground to Bree's parents after the event. Neither Ally nor Bree is excited about the prospect, but as the teens interact they come to terms with the changes they face. Meanwhile, introverted Jack finds himself making friends and becoming a leader. As they go their separate ways, all three approach the future with a newfound balance between their internal and their external lives. (336 page)
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt REVIEW QUESTIONS
Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike. (288 pages)
The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park REVIEW QUESTIONS
In a riveting narrative set in fifteenth-century Korea, two brothers discover a shared passion for kites. Kee-sup can craft a kite unequaled in strength and beauty, but his younger brother, Young- sup, can fly a kite as if he controlled the wind itself. Their combined skills attract the notice of Korea's young king, who chooses Young- sup to fly the royal kite in the New Year kite-flying competition--an honor that is also an awesome responsibility. Although tradition decrees, and the boys' father insists that the older brother represent the family, both brothers know that this time the family's honor is best left in Young-sup's hands. This touching and suspenseful story, filled with the authentic detail and flavor of traditional Korean kite fighting, brings a remarkable setting vividly to life. (144 pages)
Link, Michael, and Dana live in a quiet town. But it's woken up very quickly when someone sneaks into school and vandalizes it with a swastika.
Nobody can believe it. How could such a symbol of hate end up in the middle of their school? Who would do such a thing?
Because Michael was the first person to see it, he's the first suspect. Because Link is one of the most popular guys in school, everyone's looking to him to figure it out. And because Dana's the only Jewish girl in the whole town, everyone's treating her more like an outsider than ever.
The mystery deepens as more swastikas begin to appear. Some students decide to fight back and start a project to bring people together instead of dividing them further. The closer Link, Michael, and Dana get to the truth, the more there is to face-not just the crimes of the present, but the crimes of the past. (256 pages)
The Loser’s Club by Andrew Clements REVIEW QUESTIONS
Sixth grader Alec can’t put a good book down.
So when Principal Vance lays down the law - pay attention in class, or else - Alec takes action. He can’t lose all his reading time, so he starts a club. A club he intends to be the only member of. After all, reading isn’t a team sport, and no one would want to join something called the Losers Club, right? But as more and more kids find their way to Alec’s club - including his ex-friend turned bully and the girl Alec is maybe starting to like - Alec notices something. Real life might be messier than his favorite books, but it’s just as interesting. (256 pages)
The Million Dollar Shot by Dan Gutman REVIEW QUESTIONS
Eddie Ball, 11, lives with his mother in a cramped trailer in rural Louisiana. Although he dreams of moving to a "regular house," Mrs. Ball's salary at the Finkle Foods Factory is low, and her bills are many. Eddie's best friend is his African-American next-door neighbor and classmate, the poetry- loving, basketball-playing Annie Stokely, who lives with her father. When both adults are laid off from the factory, Eddie enters one of Annie's poems in a poetry contest sponsored by Finkle Foods; the winner gets a chance to sink a foul shot during halftime at the first game of the NBA finals for a million-dollar prize. Early in the book, Eddie wins the poetry contest but can he make the basket? Shooting lessons from Mr. Stokely improve Eddie's free-throw success rate, but someone seems to be sabotaging the practice sessions. Things become more complicated when Mr. Finkle visits Eddie, admits that his company is having financial troubles, and offers him a bribe to throw an air ball. Will he make the shot or won’t he? (128 pages)
The New Kid by Jerry Craft REVIEW QUESTIONS
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.
As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself? (256 pages)
Phineas L. MacGuire Erupts!: The First Experiment by Frances O'Roark Dowell REVIEW QUESTIONS
What do you do when your best friend moves in the second week of 4th grade? That is the situation facing Phineas Listerman MacGuire (Mac). Everyone in class already has a best friend, except for the new kid–Mac Robbins, known as Mac R., who has gone out of his way to alienate his classmates. The one bright light in Mac’s life is the science fair in a few weeks. He is a scientist who specializes in volcanoes, a passion that his friend Marcus shared. When Mac R. is assigned to be his partner, Mac is sure it will be a disaster. Surprisingly, he finds that the new kid has some good ideas about their project, has a talent in art, and isn’t as tough as he pretends to be. His real name is actually Ben. Though their science project hits a few bumps along the way, the volcano has a successful eruption and it looks like Mac just might have a new best friend. Three science experiments are appended, including, of course, an erupting volcano. (176 pages)
Regarding the Fountain: A Tale, in Letters, of Liars and Leaks by Kate Klise REVIEW QUESTIONS
How could a simple request for a new water fountain go so very, very off-track? When Principal Wally Russ writes to fountain designer Florence Waters to ask her to replace Dry Creek Middle School's busted drinking fountain, he little suspects that he is sparking the imagination of an artiste. Kate Klise's charming mystery novel is told entirely in letters and faxes, as the glamorous Florence visits Dry Creek and becomes friends with Mr. Sam N.'s fifth-grade class. The class helps Florence design the most outrageous water fountain ever, and along the way uncovers the dirty (and rather wet) secret that dwells underneath Dry Creek Middle School. Writes Florence to her new fifth-grade friends, "Your drawings are hanging in my studio. Pure inspiration. Of course a drinking fountain should have tropical fish and chocolate shakes!" (144 pages)