22 December 2014

Scholastic Mother-Daughter Book Club Picks for December

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.

On the surface, the book picks this month seem like they couldn't be more different, but in fact they share similar themes. For example, the protagonist of each book loves to draw and must face a life-changing event.

Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey BrownJeffrey Brown's Star Wars: Jedi Academy is a black-and-white graphic novel that tells the story of a cartoon-writing, middle-school boy named Roan who wants nothing more than to follow his father and older brother by being accepted into the Pilot Academy and learning to fly space ships. When he is denied admission to the school and is accepted instead into the Jedi Academy, Roan isn't at all happy.

By the end of the school year, however, things start to turn around. Roan makes friends, figures out how to tap into the Force, and even meets a cute girl. To his surprise, he's not sure he wants to leave the Jedi Academy, even for summer vacation.

Brown mixes classic graphic novel panels with scrapbook pages, letters, journal entries, and report cards, making Jedi Academy a lot of fun to read. At the end of the book, he includes some tips for creating your own journal--no artistic talent required.

Book clubs will likely want to talk about finding one's own path in life, discovering new talents and interests, and making new friends. If your young readers are familiar with the Star Wars story, then they'll be laughing about Roan's descriptions of Yoda, Wookiees, and his teachers at the academy. The discussion topics on the Scholastic mother-daughter book club site include questions about family and journaling. The suggested recipe is for edible light sabers and is so easy to do that book club members could make their own.

Dash by Kirby LarsonDash, by Kirby Larson, about a girl and her dog, is loosely based on a true story. In the weeks after Pearl Harbor, eleven-year-old Mitsi Kashino's sheltered, happy life is turned upside down. Despite begin a second-generation Japanese-American, Mitsi is suddenly the target of taunting and shunning from the very people she has known all her life. Even her best friends no longer talk to her.

It seems that the only friend she has left is her beloved dog, Dash. But when her family is ordered to relocate to an incarceration camp, Mitsi must leave Dash behind with a friendly neighbor. Broken-hearted at losing her pet and disturbed by the changes she notices in her family, Mitsi starts to turn inward. Only the hope of being reunited with her dog seems to keep her going. After meeting another girl whose circumstances are even worse than her own, Mitsi eventually uses her drawing skills to reach out to help others and thereby find her own inner strength.

Book clubs will find quite a lot to talk about after reading this beautifully written, emotional story. Some young readers may be curious about the real-life Mitsi, and all will sympathize with how it feels to lose a pet. Other discussions will touch on prejudices and what it means to be an American as well as on family and friendship. Don't forget to download the reading guide on the Scholastic mother-daughter book club site. The suggested cookie recipe uses panko, a Japanese-style breadcrumb; I bet Mitsi wishes she could get some home-baked goodies at the camp commissary. 

Star Wars: Jedi Academy: Scholastic, 2013; ISBN-13: 9780545505178
Dash: Scholoastic Press, 2014; ISBN-13: 9780545416351
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


rhapsodyinbooks 12/22/14, 7:26 AM  

I am so amazed that kids today are still so into StarWars. Although, I suppose one could compare it to Anne of Greene Gables or The Babysitters Club? (maybe....)

(Diane) bookchickdi 12/22/14, 7:32 AM  

I'm glad you recommend both of these; I gave them both to my nephews and nieces.

bermudaonion 12/22/14, 9:44 AM  

I read the second Jedi Academy book and thought it was very cute.

Belle Wong 12/23/14, 1:42 PM  

Both of these look good. My son will definitely enjoy Jedi Academy.

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