Coop Knows the Scoop

Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders is a juvenile fiction book, good for 4-6th graders.

Windy Bottom, Georgia is your typical small southern town; everybody knows everybody and gossip rules the day. So when a body is found buried underneath the playground slide, it is all anyone can talk about.

Coop and his friends Liberty and Justice are just as curious as everyone else, and itching to take a peek of the crime scene. But first, they have to finish their chores at their parent’s Bookstore Cafe.

Excitement in the town is high, until fingers start pointing in a very personal direction. Coop’s gramps is somehow connected to the body and what was once harmless gossip, turns to finger pointing real quick!

Can Coop find the scoop before it is too late?

Oh man, if you are going to do this one, do the audio. It was so fun and I literally had to keep myself from speaking in a really horrible southern accent every time I listened to it.

This is a really easy read and a good one if your kids like mystery. It’s not the hardest one to uncover but there are some definitely hidden details that were a fun reveal at the end.

I liked pretty much all of the characters in this book. They really contribute to that small town feel.

I am going to use this one for my book club sometime. It’ll be a nice break after a longer or more serious book. There may not be a ton of discussion questions I can pull from it, but sometimes a lighter read is good for the kids.

This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

4-6th Grade Virtual Book Discussion: Boy Bites Bug w/ DIY Chromatography Butterfly 

Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Petruck is a middle school juvenile fiction book for 4th-6th graders. 

Will didn’t intend to eat a stinkbug, but when his friend Darryl calls the new kid, Eloy Herrera, a racial slur, he didn’t think he just acted. Now will is Bug Boy and he kind of likes it. 

Intending to keep up his notoriety and title as Bug Boy, Will talks Eloy into helping him get his classmates to eat bugs. But the more Will learns about Eloy and entomophagy in general, the more sincere he becomes about his project. For Will, eating bugs is no longer just a joke but everyone sees it that way. And what’s worse, he really likes Eloy and is afraid he may have ruined this budding friendship. 

What can Will do to make everyone understand his real intentions when all anyone can see if a joke? 

Discussion Questions: 

1. What is this book about? What are the main themes? 

2. What is the difference between entomophagy and entomology?  

3. Will doesn’t intend to eat a stinkbug but he does it anyway. Why? And why is this so important to the story? 

4. In many cultures eating insects is commonly practiced. Have you ever eaten a bug? Why do you think there is a stigma around eating bugs? 

5. What do you think about Will as a character? Is he relatable, over-the-top, silly…

6. As Will’s friendship with Elroy grows, he and Darryl start to grow apart. When Will asks his dad for advice he says: “Sometimes,” Dad said, “people outgrow each other.  It doesn’t mean we stop caring or forget the good times, but maybe we realize we need different things, things that we can’t get from each other anymore.” Have you every “outgrown” a friendship? Or has anyone “outgrown” you? How did it make you feel? 

7. Will gets in the whole mess because he didn’t like how Darryl was treat Eloy but Will has his own prejudices that he isn’t even aware. What are some examples? 

8. What did you think about the “Buck-a-Bug” fundraiser? Was Will able to successfully turn Entomophagy from a joke into a good cause? 

9. In the background of this story, is Will’s longing to be on the varsity wrestling team. Before his big match his coach says, “Take a breath… Whatever’s going on, it’ll still be there when you get off the matt.” Do you ever feel like you can escape into a hobby and let everything else go? 

10. Think about cultural differences around the world. Can you name some things that would be done every day somewhere else, that might see unusual here? And vic-versa, what might we do that other would look on as “different.”  

DIY Activity: Chromatography Butterfly 

Supplies Needed: white coffee filters (large size, not Kcups); non-permanent markers; cup of water; string; scissors; pipe cleaners optional. 

Directions: 

  1. Pick a marker (try with multiple marks on your second attempt and see what happens). 
  1. Take one coffee filter and spread it out on top of a piece of paper. Draw a circle in the flat middle of the filter. 
  1. Fold the coffee filter in half and then in half again. It will look somewhat like a cone.  
  1. Get a short glass of water and stick the filter in with just the tip of the cone touching the water. Fan out the rest so it balances in the cup.  
  1. Let sit and watch what happens as the filter sucks up the water.  
  1. Flatten it out and place on your paper or newspaper to dry.  
  1. Once dry, take your filter and scrunch it in the middle. Tie the middle with string or your pipe cleaner. If you are using the pipe cleaner, the ends can still out to look like antenna.  
  1. Hang the butterfly with string and watch them fly! 

The Science:  

“Chromatography… is the science of separating mixtures. Mikhail Tsvet discovered that since different color pigments have different weights, they are carried along at different speeds, and end up in different places. So one can use different substances (gas or liquid) to carry the color, and by examining where different tints end, figure out what pigments were combined to make it.” 
-(https://kidminds.org/chromatography-experiments-with-kids-5-ways/)

How’d it go:

We had a great group for book club this month! Some new faces and some really great discussion. We had a little trouble getting the hang of how far to dip our coffee filters into the water, but it was all part of trial and error. This was a good month!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Rule of Wolves

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo is the sequel to the King of Scars duology.

As war looms and Fjerda prepares to march, Ravka and it’s allies must find a way to endure. Nikolai Lantsov must make peace with his inner demon and use all the tools at his disposal to ensure the survival of Ravka, but a darker threat inches closer every day and even he may finally be out of ideas.

Meanwhile, Zoya Nazyalensky no longer knows what she is. Instead of embracing her new powers, Zoya fights against it, refusing to lose any more of herself and those she loves.

Deep undercover in the very heart of Fjerda, Nina Zenik stamps down her grief and will risk it all for her country. But her thirst for revenge may threaten her mission.

Three souls at war with themselves, with the future in the balance. Can they overcome and save Ravka before there is no Ravka to save.

All of the Grisha books are good reads. But I read Six of Crows before any of the other ones and I can’t help but compare them all to it. That being said, this one gets bumped up an entire half-star for me because Kaz, Jasper and Wyland make a mini appearance and, without giving anything away, the very last sentence of the book hints at a third Six of Crows books–squeal!

I feel like I felt this way with King of Scars but there were a few too many narrators for me in this book. I liked each of the stories but I just thought the same goals could have been achieved with fewer. And I didn’t really think we needed the Darkling’s narration at all. It didn’t really further the story for me much.

Zoya and Nikolai’s flirtatious banter was probably my favorite aspects of the story. Nina’s storyline didn’t quite grab me the way it did in Six of Crows.

Overall, this was a good read to pick up if you enjoy the Grisha universe, which I do. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

What If a Fish

What If a Fish by Anika Fajardo is a juvenile fiction book for 4-6th graders.

“Little” Eddie Aguado is half-Colombian but has never really connected with his Colombian side. When he was little, his Papa passed away and anything Colombian only seemed to sadden his mother. Because Eddie’s mother keeps her memories of Papa locked inside, his own memories of his father are hazy and vague. That’s why he’s determined to be just like his Papa by winning his local fishing tournament.

When Eddie’s half-brother’s Abuela gets sick, he puts his fishing plans on hold as he travels to Colombia for the summer. He thinks this is the perfect opportunity to embrace his heritage and learn more about his Papa. But becoming a true Colombiano, may be harder than it seems.

This was a nice little book. Thinking back on it now, there’s actually quite a lot to it. Themes of friendship and family, death and grief, bullying and sticking up for yourself and other, being responsible and more. Eddie is a really relatable character. He has insecurities and is trying to figure out who he is and his place in the world.

I love his relationships with both his half brother, Big Eddie, and his new friend, Cameron. Both relationships grow and go through their ups and downs. Each has a lesson and helps Eddie to grow in different ways.

A big part of this book, is dealing with grief. Eddie doesn’t remember his father, so his grief isn’t like his mother. Instead he is grieving for the lack of a father, rather than the man himself. His grief over Abuela is different from Big Eddie’s because he only just met her, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t sad.

There certainly is a lot going on in this book and this may hinder some young readers, but ultimately it was a good story with some valuable lessons. This one just sneaks in to the 3.5-4 star range.

That’s all for now

-M-

Ravage the Dark

Ravage the Dark by Tara Sims is the second book in the Scavenge the Stars duology.

For so long,  Amaya Chandra’s only goal was to be free of the debtor ship and it’s cruelties. But freedom is no longer enough for Amaya. She wants revenge and to reveal the truth behind the sickness sweeping across Moray.

For Cayo Mercado, revenge would be sweet, but more important is the health of his sister, which is slowly deteriorating, no thanks to his scoundrel of a father. Penniless and without hope, Cayo is lost and can see no way forward.

Though their relationship began with betrayal, can Amaya and Cayo work together for the greater good? Or will they be too caught up in their emotions and each other to help anyone at all?

This book was OK. It didn’t hold my interest even nearly as much as the first book. I missed the intrigue of book one. This one felt more like a tie up of loose ends and not a conclusion to the story.

What really soured this one for me, was the ending. All these things are happening and Amaya and Cayo just stay behind? They are hellbent on revealing the truth throughout the first and most of the second book and then it’s like they just didn’t care any more, which made me not care.

For me, this book ended up turning into background filler. It didn’t keep my attention and I found I didn’t miss, missing something when I was listening to it. For that reason, this one gets 2.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-