• Bluestem 2021: Max and the MidKnights

    Posted by Kerrie Huizinga on 4/20/2020

     Max and the Midknights (Max & The Midknights): Peirce, Lincoln ...

    Today's book from the 2021 Bluestem Award Nominee List is Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce. (Book is available as an ebook from the Digital Library of Illinois. Access through Bloomington Public Library.)

    This book was written by Lincoln Peirce, the author of the Big Nate books. In this medieval tale, Max and her uncle Budrick are traveling the countryside as minstrels. When they visit the kingdom of Byjovia, the evil King Gastly kidnaps Max's uncle, making him the court jester. Max also learns that King Gastly is imprisoning all orphans and not allowing anyone the chance to follow their dreams, including Max's dream to become a knight! With the help of a wacky wizard, a lost knight, and some orphan friends, Max rescues her uncle and brings peace to Byjovia.

    I loved this hybrid novel which is part comic and part chapter book! It is very humorous and Max is a entertaining and delightfully sarcastic storyteller. There are lots of unpredictable twists and turns in this tale that kept me engaged. I was also delighted to see that this is the beginning of a series. The second book is Battle of the Bodkins.

    Interview with author Lincoln Peirce

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  • Bluestem 2021: Curiousity

    Posted by Kerrie Huizinga on 4/17/2020

    Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover: Motum, Markus, Motum, Markus ...

    Today's book from the 2021 Bluestem Award Nominee List is Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum. (Unfortunately, this book is not available as an ebook yet.)

    Mars Rover, Curiosity, narrates this story about her creation, launch and continued exploration of Mars. She explains how scientists worked together to make sure she was equipped with a portable laboratory so she could take samples, analyze them and send data back to Earth. All of Curiosity's design features were created with the goal of her finding any evidence that life may have once existed on Mars.

    This books shares a lot of fascinating information without being overwhelming. The diagrams and charts gave me a clear idea of how Curiosity was built, how she survived space travel and her landing on Mars rough surface. She is truly an amazing invention!

    Official NASA Mars Curiosity Rover website - includes latest pictures and mission updates.

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  • Bluestem 2021: The Undefeated

    Posted by Kerrie Huizinga on 4/16/2020

    The Undefeated (Caldecott Medal Book): Alexander, Kwame, Nelson ...

    Today's book from the 2021 Bluestem Award Nominee List is The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander. (Book is available as an ebook from the Digital Library of Illinois. Access through Bloomington Public Library.)

    This book won the 2020 Caldecott medal and is based on a poem the author started writing in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president. The poem is an ode to the history of African Americans, their struggles and their triumphs. Each page has illustrations of famous African Americans or important moments in African American history.

    Not only is this a powerful poem but the illustrations by Kadir Nelson are beautiful and realistically rendered. One of my favorite parts of this book is the list at the end of the book of "Historical Figures and Events." The author gives a short summary of each person and important event. Many of these were people I already knew about but some like Romare Bearden and Phyllis Wheatley were new to me. No matter how much you think you already know about African American history, this book will inspire you to learn more!

    Author Kwame Alexander's website

    At Home with Kwame - website with writing tips and other learning resources

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  • 2021 Bluestem: Finding Langston

    Posted by Kerrie Huizinga on 4/8/2020

    Finding Langston: Cline-Ransome, Lesa: 9780823439607: Amazon.com ...

    Today's book from the 2021 Bluestem Award Nominee List is Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome. (Book is available as an ebook from Epic! If you already have a login from your teacher, please use that OR follow the website's directions for free access.)

    It's 1946 and Langston and his father have recently moved to Chicago from Alabama after Langston's mother passes away. Langston is trying his best to adjust from the country life he has always known to his new, bustling city life. Sadly, he is a target for the bullies at his school. They wait for him after school every day and taunt and tease him for being a "country boy." One day, Langston tries running home to avoid running into the bullies, but he ends up getting lost. While lost, Langston stumbles upon the George Cleveland Hall Library. In Alabama, libraries were mainly for "white folk," but Langston discovers this library is for everyone. This discovery opens Langston's world to amazing writers like Langston Hughes, W.E.B Dubois, Gwendolyn Brooks and more. It also brings him closer than he expected to both his father and his beloved mother.

    This story is a librarian's dream come true! A boy discovering the wonders of reading and the power of libraries? What's not to love?! I admit I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but this was a fascinating read about authors and time periods like the "Harlem Renaissance" and the "Great Migration" that I did not know a lot about. Langston is also a very sweet, sympathetic character and I found his frustration about having to adjust to a completely different life very relatable.

    Langston Hughes on Biography.com

    History.com article on Harlem Renaissance 

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  • 2021 Bluestem: A Whole New Ballgame

    Posted by Kerrie Huizinga on 4/6/2020

    WHOLE NEW BALLGAME (Rip and Red): Bildner, Phil: 9781250079763 ...

    Today's book from the 2021 Bluestem Award Nominee List is A Whole New Ballgame by Phil Bildner. (Book is available as an ebook from the Digital Library of Illinois. Access through Bloomington Public Library.)

    Rip and Red are excited about starting 5th grade until they realize how many changes have happened in their school district due to budget cuts. First, they have a new first-year teacher named Mr. Acevedo who refuses to follow school rules. He believes students should write about things they want to write about and not have to do lessons that prepare them for taking tests. Second, their basketball team is now for boys and girls and they are going to have to play games against other, more competitive schools.

    I love the relationship between Rip and Red. Red is autistic so he has a hard time dealing with change. Rip is Red's longtime friend, who knows when Red is about to meltdown and does all he can to keep his friend calm and focused. The basketball games are exciting and very realistic. My one problem with the book is that it ends very quickly and we never find out whether Mr. Acevedo gets in trouble for his "no rules" teaching. This book is the beginning of a series so perhaps more of the issues get resolved in the next book, Rookie of the Year.

    Publisher website

    History.com article "Who Invented Basketball?"


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  • 2021 Bluestem: Lifeboat 12

    Posted by Kerrie Huizinga on 4/2/2020

    Lifeboat 12: Hood, Susan: 9781481468831: Amazon.com: Books

    During this remote learning period I have challenged myself to read as many of the books on the 2021 Bluestem Award Nominee List.

    I recently finished Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood. (Book is available as an ebook from the Digital Library of Illinois. Access through Bloomington Public Library.)

    This is an exciting true story about Ken Sparks, a British 13 year old boy whose parents decide to send him to Canada at the start of World War II. On his journey, Ken makes friends with other children being sent to Canada on the ship the SS City of Benares. Only a few days into their trip, the ship is attacked by the Germans. Ken and 5 other boys and about 40 adults manage to make it to lifeboat 12. Unfortunately, the lifeboat was not made to hold so many people and food and water supplies are running out fast. Will Ken and the others be rescued in time?

    This book is actually a very fast read so don't be intimidated by the amount of pages. Also, there are lots of pictures of the real Ken Sparks and other passengers from the SS City of Benares at the end of the book. This is an amazing true story that will teach you a lot about WWII, ships and survival.

    BBC Article about SS City of Benares

    Author Susan Hood's website



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  • Reading Challenge: 2021 Bluestem List

    Posted by Kerrie Huizinga on 4/1/2020

    The new 2021 Bluestem Award Nominee list is out! These are the books that students who participate in the Battle of the Books read.

    You don't have to be in Battle of the Books to enjoy these great books:

    2021 Bluestem Award List

    The new Monarch award list is also available. These are the books that I read to Kindergarten, first and second grade.

    Checkout this list of picture books and beginning chapter books:

    2021 Monarch Award List


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  • Free ebooks and audio books

    Posted by Kerrie Huizinga on 3/30/2020

    Here are some links to FREE ebooks:

    1. https://www.destinydiscover.com/aasp/ui/pick/picked
    1. Follett LogIn info

    Location: Any Location

    School: Follett eLearning, McHenry, IL

    b. Click on Log In

    Log In

    c. Log In information

    Username: guest

    Password: follett

    2. Abdo Digital Bookshelf:


    3. Audible:


    Click on Start Listening

    Audible Start Listening Button


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  • E-Learning Resources

    Posted by Kerrie Huizinga on 3/18/2020

    Looking for ways to engage and entertain your kids?

    Please visit our E-Learning page by going to our Library Media Center dropdown menu and selecting "E-Learning Resources."

    Also, District 87 students can use their Brain Pop and Education City accounts by adding BL before typing in their username. Their password is the same as usual.

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  • 2020 Spring Book Fair is Coming!

    Posted by Kerrie Huizinga on 1/24/2020

    The book fair is coming! This years theme is Book Fair Jungle.

     Jungle Book Fair

    Our Reading Night and Chili Supper will be on Thursday, March 12 from 5-7pm.

    You can also help support our school by shopping online at:


    This online book fair starts on March 1st and ends March 14. Online orders will now ship directly to your home. If you use the above link to shop during our book fair, 25% in rewards goes to our school.

    Purchases can be made with cash, credit card or checks made out to Irving School.

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