Thank you Carla of Carla Loves to Read for this fine illustration for this meme.

I was feeling puny this morning, what with the current rain event which makes me ache from the nape of my neck to the soles of my feet, plus my arthritic fingers would not cooperate. I got off to a rocky start this morning with one bad thing happening after the other. It reminded me of Alexander’s no-good, horrible, bad day. LOL Because of this, I did not write my recommendation this a.m.

Instead, please accept this excerpt from the best grades 5-8 book I have read since serving as a Cybil’s judge a couple of years ago.

I met the author and even had her come to my house for lunch. It was a lovely afternoon discussing a lovely book.

On her way to the United Sates during the Mexican Revolution, after meeting Pancho Villa’s soldiers, and meeting a woman general, Petra guides her family towards a bridge they need to cross. It stands between them and the town where they are to take a train to the international bridge separating Mexico and the United States–their destination. A huge storm threatens to ruin their plans.

” …we were at the start of the bridge.

The harrowing winds blew so strong it seemed to be raining sideways. Gusts whipped our hair into our faces and bumped us against each other…Abuelita (her grandmother) tapped my shoulder…’We’re going to have to crawl,’ she said.”

Petra puts her little sister on her back, tells her to hang on, and ties her baby brother to her grandmother’s back.

“The bridge was a ladder of wooden crossties with gaps wide enough for a person to fall through. The splinters in them snagged my skirt and dug into my hands and knees…Amelia’s legs squeezed into my sides, and her arms, clamping around my neck, made it hard to breathe. Every time the wind threatened to push us over, I held on to the crosstie until my knuckles hurt. Slow as a snail, I crawled inch by inch, looking back every so often to make sure Abuelita was still behind me.”

Scenes as scary as this one fill the book, and tell the story of how the author’s great grandmother came to the U.S. This is historical fiction at its very best.



The true story of the author’s great grandmother’s journey to a new country and a new life during the Mexican Revolution

Up front, let me say that the copy I read was provided by the author with absolutely no strings attached. The opinions voiced here are strictly my own.

Twelve-year-old Petra Luna was happy living with her abuela in a small town in Mexico. Although her mother had died, things were going right in her life–until her father was conscripted by Los Federales to fight in the Mexican Revolution. Petra had to grow up fast, becoming the sole provider for her grandmother, sister, and baby brother. Eventually the Federales came to her town, burning it to the ground, causing Petra and her little family to become refugees, walking through the burning desert and all the horrors that awaited them there.

When they reached a resting place, the met up with Pancho Villa’s soldiers, including a tough, dedicated female general who encouraged Petra to join the army of guerrillas and fight the Federales.

Petra is torn between family and freedom to be herself and become a strong, independent woman. The decision she makes, and the event that happens afterwards brings tragedy and suffering into her life. Dobbs’ action-packed, fast-paced ending had me breathing hard and my heart pumping rapidly as I read. It is a real page-turner with many twists and turns, which actually happened to Dobbs’ great-grandmother.

I highly recommend it for fans of historical adventure who want a darned good read. It will be published in September.


This meme, hosted by the Purple Booker can be a lot of fun.

The Tuesday Teaser “game” asks readers to copy a couple of sentences from their current read to “tease” other readers to read the same book. Today’s T T is from Alda B. Dobbs’ Barefoot Dreams.

An exciting true story

WHOOPS! I placed it in my Little Free Library after lunch, not remembering I hadn’t copied my “lines” for TT, and although it is only four o’clock now, the book has already been taken! Stay tuned tomorrow for a full review. How’s THAT for a Tuesday Teaser? LOL


Just like Saturday mornings (from 6:30-9:30 a.m.) when TV programming was reserved for kids’ cartoons, Saturday mornings on PWR are reserved for recommendations for kids’ books.

THANKS to Carla from Carla Loves to Read for the image.

Today’s read is Rachel Renee Russell’s series “The Misadventures of Max Crumbly.” Russell is the author of the well known “The Dork Diaries,” and is a very popular author with 5th through 8th graders in the U.S. and in other countries. The book I read is book three of the series, but the author kindly gives us in a sparse two sentences what happened in the first two books, so it works as a stand alone.

Funny! Funny! Funny!

The illustrations in this book are only superseded by the text on the humor scale. It is a fast, zany read with a plot that makes the reader laugh out loud and chuckle like a crazy person. Whenever Max thinks “MY LIFE IS OVER,” which he thinks frequently during the novel, something comes along and makes everything all right.

Max’s message to his readers is simple. “…just remember, if Erin and I can become superheroes and make the world a better place…


Just hang in there! and KEEP YOUR HEAD ABOVE WATER!




9781684371785     The story of the Philadelphia Athletics who played in the American League at the famous Shibe Park in the year in which the story is set, 1938, is personalized in the life of the team’s biggest fan, a young boy who lives close enough to the park to sell tickets to sit on his roof and watch the games. This is a real blessing to his family during the Depression, when money was tight for everyone. Idolizing Jimmy Frank, based on the real Jimmy Fox, the protagonist eventually is hired as a bat boy for the team, meets his idol, and receives good life-advice from him. His adventures and misadventures, all centered around the Athletics team, are the crux of the story. This historical novel is the story of the heyday of the American League (which started in 1901 and ran through 1954) and describes life in America, during the peak of the American sport of baseball.


In honor of Children’s Book Week, May 4-10, I am offering a longer version of Saturday Mornings for Kids

saturday-morning-for-children.jpgAnd a big thank you to Carla of Carla Loves to Read for the awesome logo!

The books I am recommending today are all Cybils contenders from last year for grades 5-8, grades I am familiar with because I teach 5th graders in Sunday school, and I also spent nearly twenty years teaching 6th-8th graders in Alvin Public Schools in what seems like another lifetime ago. Here we go with the recommendations:

Pay Attention Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt had the most grabbing gimmick as its opening of all 200+ books I read for Cybils. It begins on a dark, stormy night with a  pounding on the front door. When Carter opens the door, there, drenched on the mat is…A BUTLER! This “Jeeves” type character is sent to help out a frantic mom and her four kids, who are experiencing hard times. With his butler, Carter is able to “save the day” and save the future of the world as we know it. Hilarious!

On a more serious note, Melanie Sumrow’s The Prophet Calls is a thought-provoking look at New Mexico polygamy. Gentry Forrester, the young protagonist has to save herself and her family from The Prophet and his teachings and control.

Set across the world in India, The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman is also very thought-provoking. Runaways from a poverty-stricken, abusive home must make their way in a city inhabited by “slavers.” This story was inspired by children the author met in India.

On Snowden Mountain by Jeri Watts deals with 12 year old Ellen’s difficulties during WWII. Her father is away and her mother is severely depressed, leading to Ellen and her mother having to live with Aunt Pearl, a hard, demanding woman.

Finally, Where the Heart Is by Jo Knowles, an author I’ve read before, addresses diversity in an outright manner. Basically, it is a look at the emotions and impressions of 13 year old Rachel, who is dealing with multiple family problems as she deals with the inner questioning of whether she even likes boys.

All of these are books that deal with the questions and issues their target audience deals with on a daily basis, if not for themselves, vicariously with their family members and friends. Isn’t it good to have authors who are not afraid to address the issues parents and teachers are sometimes uncomfortable discussing? These books are a good “jumping off places” to begin such conversations with simple questions of “What did you think of the book?” or “What was the book about?”