Tell the Truth, B.B. Wolf (Judy Sierra)

B.B. (Big Bad) Wolf has been invited to the library to tell the story of how he met the three little pigs. He agrees, but tries to tell a modified, more self-flattering version of the tale. The pigs aren't going to let him get away with it, though, when they show up at the wolf's story-time.At the end, he confesses the truth and asks for the pigs' forgiveness, which makes this a fabulous extension of the original story. Once they reconcile, B.B. comes to stand for something entirely new (which makes this a great book for teaching synonyms, use of the thesaurus, and the word choice trait of writing).

It's hysterical how the author weaves in characters from well-known children's books and fairy tales, including the Little Engine That Could, the troll from Three Billy Goats Gruff, and Humpty Dumpty. In a funny way, this book reminds me of how when our kids at school get caught doing something wrong and they try to talk their way out of it. 

This is the Big Bad Wolf's very own version of "See, what had happened was..."

Mockinjay (Suzanne Collins)

Katniss and Peeta have been forced to enter the arena yet again. Their victories in Hunger Games and Catching Fire were insufficient for the Capitol's cowardly scum, and Katniss and Peeta (along with dozens of other victors) must take part in a special round of the Games. This round will change everything. For everyone. 

The Games go badly, and Peeta is taken hostage by the Capitol. The President, who has developed an intense hatred of Katniss and Peeta over the past year, makes it his personal goal to torture Peeta beyond all recognition. 

Katniss has endured more, lost more, and been hurt more than any other tribute in the Games. She has to somehow find it within herself to pull it together for Peeta, and for the people of the districts. 

In a dramatic ending to a wildly climactic series, Katniss is faced with the opportunity to physically lead her people in a new direction. She shocks the world, and herself, with her choice. 

Best. Series. EVAH. Run along now and read it up today, people! 

The end. 

Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins)

Surely by now the Capitol has realized that by messing with Katniss Everdeen, they have messed with the wrong girl? 

Apparently not. 

Even though she survived her first Hunger Games, Katniss has been brought back for another round. The trivial matter of lifetime immunity has been brushed aside by the bloodthirsty savages in the Capitol. Interestingly enough, when Katniss emerged as a winner in her first Hunger Games, she began a spark of rebellion in the people of the districts that just may propel them all to freedom. With every subsequent victory, she grows in popularity as the symbolic leader of the insurrection against the Capitol. 

Interestingly enough, a key element in the success of the rebellions involves Katniss and Peeta's exploration of a romance...and no one, not even the two of them, can decipher its authenticity. 

Catching Fire was irrefutably substandard to Hunger Games, but an essential stepping stone to the phenomenal conclusion of Katniss and Peeta in Mockinjay. Stay tuned! 

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

Sometime in the future, there are 12 Districts. Each District is responsible for a certain industry, but is never permitted to flourish because of the tyranny of the Capitol. This means that every district is filled with people who are sick, starving, and always worried about basic needs. The Capitol controls boundaries, food, and medicine, and tightly so. 

As part of the Capitol's efforts to remind the people in the districts exactly who is in charge, every year the Hunger Games takes place. Two tributes from each district are selected by lottery to take part in a fight to the death, as the world watches it live on TV. The winner of the games is awarded a lifetime supply of food and shelter, which in turn benefits their entire district. 

Katniss Everdeen suddenly finds herself as one of this year's tributes for her district. Along with Peeta Melark (the other tribute from her district), Katniss enters the arena with a few dozen others who are eager to kill her as quickly as possible. The fights are gruesome, revealing the very worst of human nature, and leaving some definite surprises in the outcome of the most unique Hunger Games of all time. 

Without question, this book was the single best work of fiction I consumed in 2010. I was intrigued because there had been quite a bit of buzz surrounding the novel, and rightly so. To me, The Hunger Games was sort of The Giver meets The Lottery with a slice of Survivor and The Hatchet on the side, but somehow that strange combination was brilliant. I borrowed this book from a young adult library in my school's feeder pattern, and was so thankful that I had a Kindle to immediately download and begin the second book in the series! 

I barely even closed the cover of The Hunger Games before beginning the second book in the series. Next up, Catching Fire... 

Masterpiece (Elise Broach)

This was a delightful children's novel about a beetle named Marvin and his friendship with a boy named James. Marvin and James have real problems in life, but none so serious as when they become involved in a carefully crafted art theft. Their friendship is tested many times, and at the end of the adventure, this bug and boy know that they are true friends.

Interspersed along the curiosities of beetle life in a human world, and  the friendship between Marvin and James, is very interesting information about true artists and their work. With short, suspenseful chapters, written on an upper 4th grade level, this book would be a wonderful readaloud for 3rd-5th grade students!