This book tells the heartwrenching and inspiring story of the Baghdad Zoo. Abandoned and looted during the US invasion of Iraq, the animals in the zoo are in dire straights when the US army secures the area. US Captain William Sumner took on the task of saving the animals. and this book chronicles the efforts of an international team of zoologists, vetrinarians, conservationists, and other animal lovers from around the world.
Each chapter covers a different species that was cared for in the zoo: details include the desperate conditions that they were found in, and the efforts that were made to improve their condition and surroundings. In many cases, the stories are desperately sad: lions were found wandering a ruined palace without food or drink. Camels had to be shaved to deal with systemic mite infestations. Many animals were left to die in their cages of neglect.
These stories are very difficult to read, despite their positive endings: many kids will be left wondering what will happen to these animals during another uprising or leadership change. The book does little to address the question of whether zoos are ethical in the first place, and completely avoids any position on the war in Iraq itself. Though animal lovers will be touched by the care shown to the zoo's inhabitants, they will likely be left with many questions concerning the war, and the fate of the animals in the future. Be prepared to field these questions: consider checking out some other resources on these associated topics as part of your reading.
Nonfiction Grades 5-9 Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!
This engaging animal book takes a look at the top 60 deadliest animals in the world. Each animal has a rating for size, speed, weapons, and general deadliness: the clear photographs are bright and interesting, while the two pages of text covers the animal's most dangerous features.
This book is perfect for boys who prefer to read in groups (there's great material here for oohing and aaahing over danger ratings), and its short chunks of text would be great for reluctant readers in grades 4-7. The combination of danger and a universally interesting subject matter make this title a surefire hit.
Nonfiction Grades 4-8 Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!
This book is all about the so-called "third space": public places that are neither your home, nor your work/school. Public spaces provide us with places to socialize, rest, recreate, and just hang out. They're open to all people, young or old, rich or poor.
This book helps kids discover what makes a great public space, and what kinds of things you can do there. It encourages kids to get involved with their city or town in designing effective and safe public spaces that encourage community living.
This would be a great title for socially minded kids, or teachers who are doing a unit on community life.
Nonfiction Grades 4-7 Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!
Imagine if you could be invisible. What would it be like to move unseen amongst your teachers and classmates? Eighth-grader Calvin Schwa knows exactly what it feels like, because he has a nearly supernatural ability to fly beneath the social radar. People just don’t notice him, even when he's doing outrageous things underneath their very noses!
Anthony “Antsy” Bonano has the opposite gift: He’s a one-kid comedy show — and Calvin is perfect for his next prank. Antsy takes bets on what the Schwa can get away with and the boys try a series of increasingly daring stunts before getting nabbed by town grump (and millionaire) Mr. Crawley. Their punishment is... perfect.
Though they start out walking Mr. Crawley's 14 (yes, 14) Afghan Hounds, they end up being hired as companions to Mr. Crawley's disturbingly pretty and insightful granddaughter, Lexie. When the Schwa and Antsy both start to like Lexie as more than a friend, the Schwa's invisibility suddenly becomes too much for him to live with. So what happens when someone invisible decides to get noticed?
In The Schwa Was Here, author Neal Schusterman has written a hilarious, complicated and touching story about boys, friendship and the importance of being noticed and included.
Fiction Grades 5-9 Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!
The Crazy Man is a beautiful book about love, loss and acceptance. Eleven-year-old Emaline’s world shatters when a horrible farm accident mangles her leg and leads to her father’s abandonment. At the end of her rope, Emaline’s mother hires a patient from the mental hospital down the road to help out on the farm.
Despite her own misgivings and the cruel attitudes of the townsfolk, Emaline finds solace in Angus’ steadfast kindness. Emaline learns to stand by someone she knows is good at heart, even in the face of prejudice.
This book is set in Saskatchewan in the 1960s and author Pamela Porter tackles the topics of prejudice, ability and healing head on. The author unflinchingly explores the community's harsh views on mental illness, disabilities and differences: kids who consider how different mainstream views are today from the 1960's may also think about current biases, and how they may change in the future. A powerful and inspiring novel.
Fiction Grades 4-7 Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!
The Garbage King, by Elizabeth Laird, plunges the reader into the heat and dust of modern Ethiopia. Set in the streets of Addis Ababa, this story follows the fates of two very different boys.
Mamo’s family is impoverished and he is left to fend for himself after his mother dies. He becomes a victim of child slavery but he uses his sharp wits to escape and find a place for himself on the streets.
Dani comes from a wealthy background but he flees his tyrannical father and becomes fast friends with Mamo when they meet on the streets. Together, the boys join a street gang and find friendship, loyalty and dignity despite their desperate circumstances.
Laird shines a harsh light on child poverty in Africa while spinning a wonderful tale of friendship, loyalty and trust. This story would definitely appeal to readers who are looking for an adventure story: it will give them plenty of action, and surprise them with a strong social message, and an understanding of the power of hope, even in desperate circumstances.
Fiction Grades 5-9 Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!
Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree, by Lauren Tarshis, is a lovely and insightful book about what it’s like to be different.
Middle school can be a tough place and Emma-Jean definitely marches to her own beat. Unlike the rest of her seventh-grade classmates, Emma-Jean uses reason to guide her actions. Her incredibly logical brain helps her to stand apart from the social turmoil that upsets and excites her classmates and avoid the emotional confusion of 12-year-old friendships and enmities. But Emma-Jean’s detachment is broken when she uses her keen intelligence to extract classmate Colleen from a sticky social situation. Once Emma-Jean sees how her logical solution can “solve” an emotional problem, she can’t resist meddling again. Soon, all her chickens come home to roost and Emma-Jean must realize that logic just can’t solve matters of the heart.
This book would be a perfect read for later elementary or middle school girls: it takes a realistic but detached view of the all-consuming social jostling that takes place during this period of childhood. With a clear message about standing up for what's right, and a charming plot that moves along briskly, most girls will find lots to like about this title.
Fiction Grades 4-7 click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!
Those with strong stomachs and short attention spans will be captivated by this collection of instant frights, courtesy of over 50 of the hottest authors in children's literature. From Lemony Snicket to Kenneth Oppel, from James Patterson to Avi, these pages are bursting with thrilling contributions from top notch writers.
Each story is less than three pages long, with the vast majority being under a page. Ranging from silly to downright disturbing, these tales are best for kids in later elementary through middle school. This book is the perfect springboard into a writing exercise: have kids see how horrible a story they can create in under one page!
Thriller/Horror Grades 4-7 Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!