22 July 2013

July Selections for the Scholastic Mother Daughter Book Club

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.

This month, clubs can choose between a contemporary novel that touches on the very real theme of pediatric cancer and a magical novel that transports girls to the world of owls.

Ways to Live Forever by Sally NichollsEleven-year-old Sam is feeling sick for the third time, and his doctors have run out of treatment ideas. Although most children go into permanent remission, a few kids with acute lymphoblastic leukemia die young. Sam is aware that his chances of reaching his teens are very slim, but he still wants to live as normal of a life as possible for as long as possible.

When his homeschool teacher suggests that he write a book about himself, Sam embraces the project wholeheartedly. Sally Nicholls's Ways to Live Forever is Sam's story, written from the preteen's perspective.

As Sam records his thoughts, he neither shies away from his cancer nor dwells on it. Besides writing about being sick, he focuses on everyday events, his family, his best friend, and his wishes and dreams. These stories are interrupted by his questions and lists, which ease the tension and give readers built-in moments to pause and think.

You may believe that a story of serious childhood illness would be too difficult for young girls to read, but Nicholls's novel is sensitively told and address issues everyone, not just kids, ponder when confronted with the possible death of a child. Middle readers are already asking themselves deeper questions about life, and Sam's story can be used as a starting point for a good conversation.

Rest assured that Nicholls does not take any particular stance on the big issues, such as why God lets kids get sick. Sam's views range from preteen silly to scientific to spiritual, giving readers lots of room to explore their own thoughts based on their own cultural and religious beliefs.

The Scholastic Mother Daughter Book Club page contains a discussion guide with ten insightful questions covering the major issues of illness and death as well as friendship, schooling, and family. The recipe is for a milkshake, which has particular significance for Sam and his mother.

Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture by Kathryn LaskyFantasy and animal lovers will quickly fall in love with Soren, a barn owl born to two loving parents. But when sibling rivalry puts Soren in the path of evil birds, he is kidnapped and transported to the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. The academy, however, is no ordinary school; it's really a place where nestlings are brainwashed and trained to be laborers and soldiers as part of the rebel birds' scheme to rule the owl kingdoms. Will Soren be able to keep his senses in tact and learn to fly in time to escape?

Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture, by Kathryn Lasky, is the first in an action-packed fantasy series involving different species of owls as well as bald eagles and even a friendly snake. Thanks to Lasky's great world building and terrific characters, young readers will be fully engaged in Soren's story.

From treetops to box canyons and from dessert sands to thermal winds, readers are taken on an exciting journey of evil versus good, as Soren and his newfound owl allies hatch a plan of resistance. The Capture involves many elements of classic fantasies and touches on themes of friendship, loyalty, and family as well as owl folklore, traditions, songs, and rituals.

Part of what makes this novel so great is Lasky's careful attention to detail and the fact that she based the personalities of the characters on scientific research of owl behavior. Book club members will be fascinated at the differences between the species, such as Soren, a barn owl, and Gylfie, an elf owl.

Besides ornithological topics, clubs will want talk about bravery, friendship, cooperation, sacrifice, and family. The discussion guide at the Scholastic Mother Daughter Book Club page includes great questions about the nature of fantasy, family rituals, and learning to fly. The recipe is for absolutely adorable owl cupcakes, which are sure to be a big hit with your book club. Check out the Scholastic website for  more about the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series as well as owl facts and activities.

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

Ways to Live Forever: Scholastic / Scholastic Press, 2008; ISBN-13: 9780545069496
Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Campture: Scholastic / Scholastic Press, 2012; ISBN-13: 9780439405577
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


bermudaonion 7/22/13, 8:06 AM  

Ways to Live Forever sounds terrific!

Daryl 7/22/13, 8:55 AM  

i must send my friend Joanne over ... she and her daughter would enjoy these

rhapsodyinbooks 7/22/13, 9:22 AM  

Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture sounds great! I love stories about owls!

Julie P. 7/23/13, 3:56 PM  

I love the sound of WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER.

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