Friday, June 22, 2012

Fiction Friday (SSYRAs)

        One of my summer bucket list items is to read as many of the Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) books as possible.  This will not be an easy task as several of the books will not be published in book form until September and I am just not sure that I want to borrow the hubby's kindle to get the e-books when it will not be useful during the school year to have electronic copies.  I was however able to get a hold of and read three more of the SSYRA books and I am going to use this post to tell you about them as I am fairly certain that you may not have heard these books.

        First up is Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings.  This book is super cute and one of my favorites so far on this year's list.  It is about a boy named Rufus who wants nothing more than to have a pet dog but his dad is totally against it.  As a compromise Rufus's mom brings home a guinea pig.  You are probably thinking just like Rufus, how is a guinea pig a good compromise when he wants a dog?  If you decide to read the book you will see just how.  This book is a good read for third graders even towards the beginning of the year as the storyline, characters and vocabulary are pretty easily understood.
Guinea Dog
        The next SSYRA book that I had a chance to read was Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm.  This book is a Newberry Honor Book and a great example of historical fiction as it is loosely based on a family living in the Florida Keys in 1935.  The author does an excellent job of allowing the reader (specifically kids today) to see how things were in the years after the Great Depression.  The main character, Turtle, is not your typical happy-go-lucky character but you will find yourself rooting for her anyway, at least I did. 
Turtle in Paradise
       The last book, for this week anyway, is The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson.  This book is the first in a series about a trio of young wizards and their you guessed it familiars (magical pets).  I know what you might be thinking, is this Harry Potter all over again?  Well to be perfectly honest I can't answer that intelligently as I have never read any of the books or seen any of the films, I know crazy, but true.  I can however tell you that this book is packed with lots of adventure and while it is three hundred sixty pages long the story really flies by.  As a bit of a warning, there is a LOT of magic mentioned and a ton of higher level vocabulary words so this is not a book I would recommend to just any old third grader even though the interest level is right on target.
The Familiars 

         Click the picture below to read about many more "must reads" as part of Amanda and The Teaching Thief's blog series:

        I will close this post by saying that I would recommend the addition of all three of the SSYRA books to any intermediate teacher's classroom library, and to quote LeVar Burton, "but you don't have to take my word for it."


  1. Hooray! Thanks for linking up and sharing these great books. Turtle in Paradise was a Battle Book for us last year, so I am familiar with that one, but the other 2 are new to me. I can see Guinea Dog appealing to so many kids. Rufus is really the go-to dog name, isn't it? In Boy vs. Girls Accidentally, Bobby gets a goldfish instead of dog and names him Rufus too. Finally, as a HP reader, I am definitely interested in The Familiars. What do you think the reading level is on that? Is it a good readability level for 4th graders as sort of an alternative to Harry Potter? Adding to my Amazon wishlist now. :)

    The Teaching Thief
    Fiction Friday: A Celebration of Children’s Literature

    1. I would say that The Familiars is probably a good alternative for 4th graders that perhaps aren't quite ready for the Harry Potter series yet (I think since the kids are at least younger). It also might be a great series for those kiddos who are very interested in magic and wizards because everybody needs their "thing" when it comes to reading. I know it sounds weird that I mentioned that there is a lot of magic, duh right? But, just as a warning some of the magic is a little dark and I had a couple of kids that it would have been a big "no no" for them. I definitely think that Guinea Dog is a great read for anyone :)

  2. I love Turtle in Paradise-and of course, the kids get a kick out of the "Diaper Gang"! :)


  3. Just found your blog through the link up and am your newest follower!

    Teaching Maddeness