The Fifth Grade Review Club Presents: THE FAMILIARS by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson

The_Familiars_coverReviewed by Ava and Rida

Do you like books that have magic and adventure in them? Well, if you do them you should really read the Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson. This book is very original because I mean, who would have thought of animals with special powers or flying and floating eyeballs? The authors used very descriptive language and after I finished reading I could see Aldwyn running from Grimslade right in front of me! This story was very magical.


I think the book was suspenseful, surprising, predictable and original. It’s original because I’ve never read or heard of a book about magical animals that have special powers….My Favorite character is Aldwyn, he is clever, courageous, smart, humorous and much more. The main “problem” of the story is that Aldwyn does not have magical powers. He lies to his friends about having magic powers. Now his friends are asking him to use the powers that he really does not have. Will he tell them the truth? If he does what will happen?

The fourth book in the series is released next week — become a fan!

Unexpected Gifts

Some unexpected gifts came to the BNS/BCS Library in the form of 3 great nonfiction books for our younger readers. Thank you BNS/BCS Library supporter and Slate science and medical columnist Amanda Schaffer for bringing these terrific new titles to our attention. Check out Amanda’s reviews and column here.

Now we want to bring them to yours. Share the reading joy!


Winter Break Reads for All Ages!


As Recommended by The 5th Grade Review Club

Pre-K and up:

The Mellops (series), Tomi Ungerer
Ivy & Bean (series), Annie Barrows
Each Kindness, Jacqueline Woodson
She Loved Baseball, Brothers at Bat, Audrey Vernick
It Jes’ Happened, Don Tate
The One and Only Stuey Lewis, Jane Schoenberg
First Light, Rebecca Stead
Mr. Putter and Tabby, Henry & Mudge (series), Cynthia Rylant
The Berenstain Bears (series), Stan and Jan Berenstain
Junie B. Jones (series), Barbara Park
Frog and Toad (series), Arnold Lobel
Around Our Way on Neighbors’ Day, Tameka Fryer Brown
Elephant and Piggie (series), Mo Willems
Geronimo Stilton, series
Hope’s Gift, Ellen’s Broom, Kelly Starling Lyons
The Best Figure Skater in the Whole Wide World, Linda Bally
The Keeping Quilt, Patricia Polacco
Bird, Zetta Elliott
Children’s Miscellany series by Matthew Morgan
Enormous Egg, Oliver Butterworth
The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes, Marlene Kennedy
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Anna Hibiscus (series), Atinuke
The Littles series, John Peterson
Cobble Street Cousins, Cynthia Rylant
Poppleton (series), Cynthia Rylant
Mercy Watson (series), Kate DiCamillo
26 Fairmont Avenue (series), Tomie DiPaulo
Who Was…? biographies by various authors

3rd Grade and Up:

    Katerina’s Wish, Jeannie Mobley
    The Diary of B.B. Bright, Possible Princess, Alice Randall & Caroline Randall Williams
    Breadcrumbs, Anne Ursu
    Alvin Ho, Ruby Lu (series), Lenore Look
    Honey, I Love, Eloise Greenfield
    The Year of The Dog/Year of The Rat/Dumpling Days, Grace Lin
    The Penderwicks (series), Jeanne Birdsall
    Warriors (series), Erin Hunter
    The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
    One Crazy Summer; P.S. Be Eleven, Rita Williams-Garcia
    Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
    Flying The Dragon, Natalie Dias Lorenzi
    Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli
    The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
    The Laura Line, Crystal Allen
    School Story and other books by Andrew Clements
    The Familiars (series), Andrew Jacobson and Adam Jay Epstein
    Freckle Juice, Judy Blume
    We’ve Got A Job (nonfiction), Cynthia Levinson
    The Day-Glo Brothers (nonfiction), Chris Barton
    Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
    Lone Bean, Chudney Ross
    The Grand Plan To Fix Everything, Uma Krishnaswami
    From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E. L. Konigsburg
    Because of Winn-Dixie; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Kate DiCamillo
    Sew Zoe, Chloe Taylor
    Cosmic, Frank Cottrell Boyce
    Gregor the Overlander (series), Suzanne Collins
    Ramona series by Beverly Cleary
    The Magic Finger, Roald Dahl
    Clementine (series), Sara Pennypacker
    Little Blog on the Prairie, Cathleen Bell
    Uprising, Margaret Peterson Haddix
    The Unforgotten Coat, Frank Cottrell Boyce
    Ellie McDoodle Diaries, Ruth McNally Barshaw
    Vanished, Sheela Chari
    The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
    Sardine, Emmanuel Guibert
    Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Lisa Yee
    My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George
    The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Tom Angleberger
    Superfudge, Judy Blume
    Wonderstruck; The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
    The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
    Harry Potter (series), JK Rowling
    The Kane Chronicles; Percy Jackson (series), Rick Riordan


The 5th Grade Review Club Presents: THE WEDNESDAY WARS by Gary Schmidt

ReviewClubDec2cReviewed by Eoin

If you like something that has funny aspects and is, what I would call, farfetched historical fiction, then this book is for you. THE WEDNESDAY WARS, written by Gary D. Schmidt is 2007, has great, unexpected twists and turns at every page.

The voice of this fantastic book is a seventh-grade boy named Holling Hoodhood. He tells the story of his school year (from September to June) and he deals with the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. And the fact that his teacher — as he puts it — “hates my guts.”

Each Wednesday, half his class goes to temple and the other half goes to a Catholic Church. Holling is Presbyterian, so he is the only person left to stay with his teacher, the one that he believes hates his guts. During the time he spends with her, he does whatever she says: reads Shakespeare, cleans rat cages, and basically any and all grunt work. It is interesting to read about his adventures in 1967-68, which seems like a really complicated, sometimes sad, period of time. Still, there are flashes of humor, so it is not too sad.

This book is fabulous, from beginning to end. You will will always find yourself wanting to know more.

You know what to do, readers — find this book now!

The 5th Grade Review Club Presents: FIRST LIGHT by Rebecca Stead

First Light  by  Rebecca SteadFIRST LIGHT

Author: Rebecca Stead
Reviewed by Adedayo and Dexter

Have you ever imagined a world made of ice? Well, Thea didn’t have to imagine it. She lived in it! The only transportation is dog sleds and skates. No trains, no buses. On the other hand, however, Peter lives in the big Apple, full of possibilities! But there are also many problems. Thea thinks she has the perfect family as she skates to her council meeting. Then, when she gets there, her very own grandmother humiliates her in front of the whole village, speaking of which is only about 400-800 people! Where Peter lives, the whole population is 8000000!!! As this imperfection in her day haunts Thea, she walks home and a couple days later, this imperfection stretches across her whole family as she finally learns the truth she’s been yearning for. She wonders what to do, as her grandmother becomes less trustworthy. Can she fix her own family?

Peter loves his family, and home. However, his mother has constant headaches and his father is a school professor, teaching- as far as Peter is concerned-pretty darn boring stuff! This also means that his father is almost always out! Suddenly, without warning, Peter inherits his mothers headaches! Mysteriously, before his tenth headache, however, a weird fluttering sensation appears and- looking out his window- he can no longer see the next door neighbors brick buildings, but a little boy, cutting his own hair with very sharp scissors! According to Peter it all was a dream-or was it?

The next day, he walks down to his favorite shop with his best friend Miles. On the way back he stops at a street corner with two other women, one holding the hand of a boy who had a very odd haircut! The woman was talking to her companion, something about leaving her boy with scissors. Could it be? Peter wondered. Could it?

I think you would like this book if you love to read books with plenty of mysteries and maybe even more red herrings! This book may relate to one of your own experiences, as it also informs you about “real life.” It makes you ask thoughtful questions as a reader such as “what is what we call
‘real life’?” It helps you reach your inner self and you can really understand the characters feelings, because again, you can sometimes relate to them. Also, in this book, you don’t really need to understand all the time and in Thea’s place, you don’t always understand things and I think this book teaches you that that’s O.K.


First Light is a book by Rebecca Stead. It is about two different people, Peter and Thea. Peter lives in New York City with his Mom and Dad. He goes to Greenland for six weeks because of his Dad’s work. Thea lives in a colony of about 600 people underneath Greenland in a place called Gracehope. She discovers some very important information, and meets Peter in Greenland.

Thea had come to the surface with her cousin, Mattias, who gets stuck in the ice and falls unconscious. When Peter finds them, he helps Thea get Mattias to safety.
It is a very good book with a lot of secrets, and this makes it very exciting. I would rate it four stars out of five.
Perfect for the chilly weather…So what are you waiting for? Check out FIRST LIGHT today!

Sixth Grade Book Club Talks About Wonder Part 2

UnknownThe sixth grade book club met again today to finish up our discussion of R.J. Palacio’s WonderIn our previous meeting, we’d focused on the main character, August, a boy with a deformed face going to a mainstream school for the first time.

This time, our discussion focused on the characters around August: how they feel about him, and how their lives are impacted by his circumstances. We noticed how humor helps alleviate tension for all concerned, and how things that may seem unfair–such as August’s sister never getting the same quality of attention from their parents–become the reality for the characters in this story.

In the end of the meeting, we had our most fun and spirited exchange, where we all got to reflect on whether we’d want to have August in the 6th grade at BCS (we would!) and how getting to know him in this book gave us insight into ways that we ourselves feel different and gives us fresh perspective on the differences of the people around us.

The meeting was attended by superstar readers Asante, Barrington, Kyah, Briana, Angellus, and Mel-Asia!

Next up: A Tale Dark and Grimm by Brooklyn author Adam Gidwitz. We’ll meet once before the winter break, and then finish up our discussion early in January!


Zetta Elliot to visit BNS/BCS Library

bird by zetta elliot

BNS/BCS Library is proud to host author Zetta Elliot on Monday, December 9th. Thanks to the generous support of the Brooklyn Public Library, Ms. Elliot will spend an hour with our middle school students reading from her newest book and sharing her writing experience.

wish after midnight

ship of souls

Zetta Elliot is the author of numerous works. In her bio, she describes herself as “… a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. I was born and raised in Canada, but have lived in the US for nearly 20 years. I currently live in my beloved Brooklyn. When I’m not writing, you might find me strolling through the botanic garden…”

Come join us in the BNS/BCS Library on Monday, December 9th at 10:40am for a delightful opportunity to hear this powerful voice in children’s and Young Adult fiction.

zetta elliot

The 5th Grade Review Club Presents: Katerina’s Wish by Jeannie Mobley

KW+high+res+coverKATERINA’S WISH

    Author: Jeannie Mobley
    Reviewed by Esmé and Cameron

    “This book by Jeannie Mobley is a must-read. It takes you all the way back when a penny was worth much more. Jeannie Mobley wrote it so well that you think you are in the book and you are one of the characters. It is so clear, you can make many different scenes in your head, kind of like seeing a movie.

    This book has many different adventures that lead you to a happy conclusion, but are all of the adventures worthy?

    The main character, Katerina, is a warm-hearted girl at the age of thirteen. She is an enthusiastic girl, a girl with a big imagination and a girl who is always enthusiastic about things — such as her wish. She does of course make some mistakes, but some of those mistakes are useful.

    Katerina’s family has always been there for her, but do they believe in her wish?

    That is something you will never know! (Unless you read it.)

    Readers who enjoy adventure will love this book and they MUST read it!”

    “I thought this book was very emotional and even magical in its own way. The book’s setting is from like the 1800s. I can’t necessarily say that there was an actual main character because everyone had a big impact on each other. I thought this was a great book and I encourage you to read it!”

    Two rave reviews–check out KATERINA’S WISH while it’s hot!

5th Grade Review Club Reading for You


A group of intrepid 5th grade readers is leading the charge into new and exciting story worlds. From the community and for the community, we meet to read and discuss some of the books in our well-stocked library that may go overlooked — and they will be here to share them with YOU. We’ll feature written and video reviews, original artwork, and more.

Our reviewers will offer you their true thoughts and honest opinions on all kinds of books new and classic. We hope to help our community uncover some of literature’s hidden gems. We also welcome your feedback, book suggestions, and ideas.


The first set of reviews will begin appearing right here on this blog in a matter of days,
so stay tuned!

Smartphones, Tablets, and Middle Schoolers

“Middle schoolers are not old enough (or developmentally ready) to have as much freedom online as they often do these days. Think of these devices like cars: Before kids can drive them alone, they need to know the rules. They need clear roads with bright lines painted for them to show them where—and where not—to go.

In order for parents to teach these rules to our kids, many of us need a crash course in them ourselves—consider it a new technologies boot camp. If your middle schooler seems to be spending more time on Facebook or texting than she is in-person with her friends, this boot camp is for you.”

Read more on the Raising Happiness blog. Do you agree?

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