25 February 2014

Scholastic Mother-Daughter Book Club Picks for February

Remember when I introduced you to the Scholastic Mother-Daughter Book Club for middle readers? I'm committed to featuring or reviewing all the books selected for this club because I think Scholastic has picked winning titles that have broad appeal.

Don't forget that the Scholastic book club site includes more information about the books, recipes, reading guides, and contests. The resources are perfect for book clubs, teachers, homeschoolers, and any one who wants to get more out of reading books with middle grade readers.

One way to nurture a love of reading in children is to introduce them to great characters whom they can meet again and again throughout a series. This month's Scholastic book club selections are both first installments in new series. Although they will likely appeal to very different kinds of readers, both books hold the promise of engrossing reading ahead.

The Quantum League: Spell Robbers by Matthew J. KirbyMatthew J. Kirby's The Quantum League: Spell Robbers combines elements of science fiction and fantasy and ends up with an exciting action-packed modern-day thriller. Twelve-year-old Ben is used to moving because his mother changes jobs or schools with an alarming frequency. She's just started a new graduate school program in a new town and has enrolled Ben into an elite after-school science club.

The club as it turns out is really a way to hone the talents of kids who have the ability to control the elements through a process called actuation, which is just the scientific term for what most of us regular folks would call magic.

Spell Robbers follows Ben as he learns about his hidden talents and is swept up in a conflict among at least three groups (government, rouge, and bad) who want to control the powers for their own purposes. Ben, a smart and observant kid who has been recruited by the government, quickly begins to wonder whom he should trust. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep young readers invested in the story.

Besides the thoughtful questions you can find on the Scholastic mother-daughter book club site, groups will likely want to talk about friendship, the conflict of helping your country versus helping your family, and the nature of power and talent and how they can be used for good or evil. The suggested recipe is for some fun-shaped sugar cookies that will remind young readers of Ben's special talents.

Horses the Dawn: The Escape by Kathryn LaskyHorses of the Dawn: The Escape, by Kathryn Lasky, takes readers back to the sixteenth-century when Spanish conquistadors reintroduced the horse to the Western Hemisphere. The story is told from the viewpoint of the horses, who have unique and consistent personalities and will win the hearts of most young girls.

Although the story involves talking horses, this in no lighthearted fantasy. Middle grade readers will be exposed to some difficult themes, including the death of one of the horse's mothers. Nevertheless, the bravery, faith, and leadership of Estrella, the young filly who guides the herd to freedom is inspiring.

Book clubs will have a lot to talk about after reading The Escape, such as the meaning of freedom, animal rights, family, bravery, and following one's dream. Ambitious clubs might be interested in following up on the author's note at the end of the book, which talks about the history behind the story.

More discussion questions can be found on the Scholastic mother-daughter book club site. The suggested recipe is for strawberries and sweetgrass (lemon grass), which has particular meaning to Estrella and her fellow horses.

This post will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.

The Quantum League: Spell Robbers: Scholastic Press, 2014; ISBN-13: 9780545502269
Horses of the Dawn: The Escape: Scholastic Press, 2014; ISBN-13: 9780545397162
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


Heather 2/25/14, 1:29 PM  

My daughter recently finished Horses of the Dawn. She can't wait for the next one! !I'll have to take her to the site!

Julie P. 3/6/14, 9:21 AM  

I'm not sure that either one of these would have been popular with Booking Daughter. Having said that, plenty of young girls love horse books!

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