Welcome

This is the blog of children's book author and third grade teacher, Stacy Barnett Mozer. I blog about my own writing journey, the journey of other kidlit authors, my classroom, and talk about books. Thanks for stopping by. Your thoughts are always welcome (and encouraged).

Monday, December 16, 2019

#IMWAYR #Readukkah December 16, 2019

 

Each week I try to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 



In addition to it being #IMWAYR, this week is also #Redukkah. #Reddukkah lasts from December 15 - December 22, was created by The Association of Jewish Libraries, The Book of Life/Jewish Kidlit Mavens, and The Jewish Council to promote awareness of any book of Jewish interest. To find about more join the Facebook Event.

Finally, it's my final week reviewing books as a first round Cybil judge for the middle grade fiction.

Here's what I read this week:


Middle Grade


When Shirli Berman gets the role of Goldie in the school production of the musical Fiddler on the Roof opposite her crush Ben, she decides to search through her Zayde's attack to see if he has any old clothes that would add authenticity to the play. When she comes across a poster of a klezmer band and a violin, she opens up a window into her Zayde's past that allows him to finally tell the story of his experience in the Holocaust. Set in 2002 with a backdrop of 911, Broken Strings is a story about family, forgiveness, acceptance, and moving forward.

Middle Grade Reposts for #Readukkah


It has been a year since Leah's life was forever changed. A year of feeling like a ghost with ghost parents with the door to her brother's room permanently closed. But when Leah meets Jasper, a new girl in town who never knew Leah's brother, Leah is able to find her way back to herself and to tell her story. But Leah isn't the only one with a story to tell. Jasper is experiencing problems too and has asked Leah to keep her secret. But some secrets are too big to keep and Leah has to decide whether to risk losing her one true friend in order to keep Jasper safe. This is a wonderful story about friendship and moving forward after loss.

Upper Middle Grade/YA Repost for #Readukkah


It is not often I find out something I didn't know about the Holocaust. I am normally a very quick reader, but The Librarian of Auchwitz is not a book to read quickly. The author goes backwards and forwards through time and makes references to the books the librarian is reading inorder to set the scene for the events in Block 31 in Auschwitz and the main character, Dita's role in saving the books and creating living books to enrich the lives of the children imprisoned in the family camp. It is an amazing read, especially when you realize that all the people and situations were based on true events. 
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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

Monday, December 9, 2019

#IMWAYR December 9, 2019


Each week I try to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 

I am currently a first round Cybil judge for the middle grade fiction, and I’m almost out of time. Fortunately there are so many great books it's time well spent!

Here's what I read this week:


Middle Grade

As I said last week, it's  refreshing to see middle grade taking on big issues. 


Roll With It is about a girl with CP, a grandfather with Alzheimer's disease, and finding independence even when you are dependent. Plus, there's lots of baking!


Summer of a Thousand Pies is also about baking, so I was very hungry reading these books back to back. It's about a girl with an alcoholic father who is sent to jail for negligence and how she finally finds a secure home and family with her aunt and her partner.


Genesis Begins Again is about a girl who feels her dark black skin makes her ugly and worthless. She wants so much to have lighter skin that she will do anything to change her color. She learns to recognize her strengths and to stop seeing skin as a weakness.



Lety Out Loud is about a girl who volunteers at an Animal Shelter camp. But it's really about the challenge of coming to a new country and not speaking the language.  I love that the book was published in two languages which is why even though I can't read the Spanish version, I posted the cover.



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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

#IMWAYR December 2, 2019


Each week I try to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. 

I am currently a first round Cybil judge for the middle grade fiction, and I’m almost out of time. Fortunately Thanksgiving break gave me lots of reading time.

Here's what I read this week:


Middle Grade


So many amazing middle grade books were published in 2019! It’s so refreshing to see middle grade taking on big issues. The books above address familiar topics such as friendship, family, first love, and loss. They also take on immigration, gender identity, mental health, LGBTQ, and racism. You’ll find out my favorites when the Cybil finalists are announced in January. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ones I read this week (pictured above).

Young Adult
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I have been anxiously waiting this (hopefully not final) book in the Scythe series. Fans will not be disappointed in the ending. If you have not found this series yet and love reading dystopian futures, definitely check it out.


Call Down the Hawk is Stephen King’s The Stand for young adults. In this world there are dreamers, people who can make dreams a literal reality and the dreamed, people and animals who the dreamers have brought to life. But those who can foresee the future see the end of the world coming from a dreamer so the hunters have been brought in to kill the dreamers before that can happen and once a dreamer dies, those dreamed fall into an endless sleep. The story is complex and told in multiple voices. I can’t wait until the next one.


This powerful story by Neal Shusterman brings to life his own son’s experience with mental illness in a way that will have you rooting for him both in the real world and in the world he has created in his mind.
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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

#IMWAYR November 18, 2019


Each week I try to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. I am currently a first round Cybil judge for the middle grade fiction, so expect to see a lot of middle grade fiction for the next few weeks. A lot of middle grade fiction.

Here's what I read this week:

Picture Book



I loved this story about the pride a younger sister felt when her older sister wore her hijab to school for the first time. This is a definite must read for every classroom.


A wonderful story about accepting differences and all the ways we can be unique. 

Middle Grade


Karina Chopra hasn't wanted to talk to her neighbor Chris since his friends teased her for being Indian. But when Karina's grandfather is assigned as Chris' math tutor, they start to see each other in a new light. When the two of them are witness to a racially motivated attack on Karina's grandfather, they bond even further and start a movement. This book is a must read and could be paired with the two picture books above and the book Wishtree.


Mrs. Graham is not your typical teacher. First, she makes the students stay in the same seat all year to "build community." Second, she expects them to change the world. When one of her groups takes that inspiration too far, Mrs. Graham's class must use what they have learned to make real change in their local community in order to save Mrs. Graham's job. A wonderful story told in multiple points of view and multiple formats. 


When Kaede's mother is killed in a car accident, he became angry at the world. That anger led him to make a number of serious mistakes. Not knowing what else to do, his grandfather reaches out to his father and stepbrother in Japan - who Kaede has not been in touch with in years. Invited to spend three weeks with them, Kaede goes to Japan with an assignment to write a journal about the meaning of home in order to pass the year. A story about the meaning of home and family.


Lulu's family hasn't been the same since her baby sister died when Lulu was three. Her parents think she can't remember what life was like before but Lulu has HSAM - a memory condition that gives her the ability to remember every moment of her life as if she's replaying scenes on an iPhone. When Lulu's grandmother starts losing her own memory, Lulu is determined to use her special memory to help her grandmother. But the more she learns about her grandmother's past, the more she learns she may not know her grandmother's life story as well as she thought.


Fina's practically lives at the US Capitol building because her father is a US Congressman from California. But while exploring the Capitol crypt, she comes across the legendary Demon Cat, which is thought to bring bad luck. When one thing after another goes wrong, Fina becomes determined to find this Demon Cat and change her luck. This story will take kids behind the scenes at the Capitol.


Maddie considers herself part of the popular girls at her school but when they dare her to do something mean to another girl - and she does it, she suddenly finds herself wondering whether being popular is more important than being kind.
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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

#IMWAYR November 11, 2019


Each week I try to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. I am currently a first round Cybil judge for the middle grade fiction, so expect to see a lot of middle grade fiction for the next few weeks. A lot of middle grade fiction.

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


When Maggie's grandmother lost her memory due to dementia, she started to question whether our brains are enough to hold on to the things that are important to us. Instead, she found items to hold on to- things that would hold meaning for her. But as her collecting and saving starts bringing on feelings of resentment and anger whenever the slightest item is moved or touched, her parents realize that Maggie needs some help with holding on and letting go.


When Aven moved to a new city, not only did she have to start over in making new friends, she also needed to go back to proving to her new classmates that she was capable even though she was born without arms. Once she found a few good friends with their own challenges, everything became easier. But now Aven is starting high school with a whole new set of problems that goes along with it. A wonderful sequel to an amazing book. It may be appreciated more by an older middle grade reader because so much of the book revolves around dating.


When Carolina and her family have to leave Puerto Rico to move in with her aunt, uncle, and cousin Gabriella, Carolina isn't sure that living in Upstate New York is right for her. Her mother wants her to abandon her Spanish language and her love of painting to "fit in" with her cousins popular friends, but Carolina is more comfortable with Jenn, the social outcast who is into fairies and whose father is an artist. When Carolina finds a cabin abandoned in the woods, it's Jenn who is as excited as Carolina about fixing it up. But when the camp they are attending is threatened to close, holding on to the past becomes important to everyone.


Grace is a collector and when she visits her grandfather's new building over the summer she finds boxes and boxes of buttons. All she wants is to tell her best friend Ellie about them, but Ellie is a spotlight taker and instead of the buttons becoming something to share, the two girls go to war as part of a fab that sweeps the school. A good mid-middle grade story about friendship that will make everyone want to collect buttons!


Eleanor has been preparing for the end of the world for her whole life because of her grandfather being a survivalist so when she reads on a website that a world ending asteroid is supposed to hit at the beginning of April, she knows just what to do. Encouraged by her best friend, she starts sharing her news with others but only a small group will listen. Will the world end in April? This one you will need to read to find out.
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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

Monday, November 4, 2019

#IMWAYR November 4, 2019


Each week I try to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. I am currently a first round Cybil judge for the middle grade fiction, so expect to see a lot of middle grade fiction for the next few weeks. A lot of middle grade fiction.

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


Imagine if your whole life you thought your mother knew nothing about her Native American background, and then you find a box in your attic that proves otherwise. Edie has always wanted to know more about her family, especially since when people look at her they expect her to know her tribe and history but her mother was adopted so she's always assumed she didn't know either. Then Edie and her friends find a box in the attic with a picture of another Edie. This Edie has written letter after letter about her life on and off the reservation. The box is the beginning of Edie's self-discovery and family discovery.


Audra has always known her parents were doing something dangerous. She would hear her father, a famous magician talking with her mother about the danger, but her mother would always tell her father to wait another year before he told more to Audra. But some secrets cannot be kept hidden forever. When the Russian soldiers come to her tiny Lithuanian farm looking for her parents, Audra is given a package and told to save it and bring it to another town at all costs. Imagine Audra's surprise when the only thing in that package is a book. Swept into a time in history when the Lithuanian language and books were considered illegal, Audra must decide if her safety and freedom are worth hiding a few books. A wonderful story about a part of history most kids and adults may not know.


Told in a similar fashion to Refuge, Alan Gratz's Allies follows a number of men and women as they experience D Day from water, land, and air. The stories weave together and overlap and give a clear picture of the chaos, heartbreak, and triumph of the day from the point of view of all of the allies involved.


When the popular boys at school suddenly start paying attention to Mila, she doesn't know how to react. Some of her friends are even jealous. But as the boys start giving hugs, making comments, and getting too close, Audra starts being very uncomfortable and wants to do something. But how can she explain this away when no one else seems to mind?  This is a perfect book in the time of the #MeToo movement for girls to understand that there are some things that are simply not okay.



If you, or someone you know, likes kid spy books, then you will love Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation.
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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

#IMWAYR October 28, 2019


Each week I try to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. I am currently a first round Cybil judge for the middle grade fiction, so expect to see a lot of middle grade fiction for the next few weeks. A lot of middle grade fiction.

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


If you, or someone you know, likes kid spy books, then you will enjoy Jada Sly, Artist & Spy. When Jada finds out her mom has died on in a plane crash, she doesn't believe it can be true. Her mother has spent her whole life teaching her about being a spy and Jada is sure that she must just be on a secret mission. When she comes to live with her father in New York and immediately notices she's being followed, she is sure she is right. Unfortunately her father just thinks she's having trouble coping with her mother's death and won't believe her. But right away Jada meets a group of kids in her new school that have a secret spy club and they are more than willing to go on Jada's adventure. A cute story full of twists and turns. You do need to suspend your disbelief a bit about the spy club, but who knows, maybe all schools have secret spy clubs. After all, it is a secret.


2019 seems to be the year of books about divorce or sibling death. This is the first I've read though where the child herself is having a challenging time dealing with the change, to the point of throwing a toaster through a window. Liberty is always so busy making sure everyone else in her life is happy that she doesn't focus on her own mental health. With the help of a therapist, she starts to see that self-care is as important as family care. This book covers important topics and felt very real and powerful. I hope it lands in the hands of kids (and parents) who need to know they are not alone.


Look Both Ways follows ten kids as they leave school and head out on their journey home. Their experiences are all unique. I really wanted to like this book because I love other books by the author and have heard good things about this one. I thought each separate story was enjoyable, but with I could see more connection between them. It is possible I just read it too quickly. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this one.


Young Adult


I am always looking for new YA fantasies and this world created by Laura Sebastian was very satisfying. Theodosia was six when her kingdom was taken away and her mother was killed. Forced to live in the castle of the conquerer, Theo, now known to all as Thora or the Ash Princess, has had to play a part in order to survive. But when she is forced to kill her own father, she realizes that survival isn't enough. It is time to take back her kingdom and save her people. Fans of Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series will enjoy this one. 
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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

#IMWAYR October 21, 2019


Each week I try to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. I am currently a first round Cybil judge for the middle grade fiction, so expect to see a lot of middle grade fiction for the next few weeks. A lot of middle grade fiction.

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade Graphic Novel


Sheets is the story of Marjorie Glatt whose mother died last year and now she's the only one left keeping up her family laundry. It's also the story of Wendell, a ghost who finds life in Ghostland lonely and boring. When Wendell accidentally finds his way to Marjorie's laundry and witnesses a local businessman sabotaging her store, the two of them will have to get past miscommunication and judgment in order to save the house and business that Marjorie's mom loved. I loved the way the illustrator used color to show the two worlds.


Middle Grade


A Place to Belong is a serious look at a very dark time in US history. After a horrible experience in Japanese interment camps, Hanako's parents denounced their US Citizenship so Hanako finds herself on a boat to Japan, a place she has never visited, to live with her grandparents, who she has never met. Post war Japan is a place of hunger and devastation but is also a place where Hanako finds the strength to start over and to forgive.


Even though Sweet Pea's parents are divorced, they are determined not to let that fact change the way Sweet Pea lives. In order to do that, her father has rented the house two doors down and has decorated it exactly like her mom's house, down to the colors on the walls. When the one neighbor in between the two parents, a recluse odd advice columnist, asks Sweet Pea for help, she finds herself escaping her strange life by answering the messages of others. Now she just has to hope that no-one will figure it out. A fun story about family and accepting who you are.


When Coyote's mother and two sisters died in a car crash five years ago, her father changed his name to Rodeo, changed her name to Coyote, bought a bus to turn into a mobile home and the two of them set off to see the country. Coyote has learned to keep her sadness in check in order to help her father, but when she learns from her grandmother that the town will be bulldozing the park where her mom and sisters had buried a time capsule right before they died, Coyote realizes that it is time to do something to help her own pain - even if that means she needs to trick her father to do it. Joined by a bunch of odd travel companions, including a goat named Gladys, Coyote's journey is truly one that is remarkable. 

Young Adult


I was able to slip in a Young Adult book this week, and I was so glad I did. Annaleigh is sure that her family is cursed because her mother and four of her sisters have all been "returned to the salt." When her childhood friend returns and promises her remaining sisters nights of dancing in secret, they are all ready to abandon their clothes of mourning in order to let some fun come into their lives. But Annaleigh quickly suspects not all is as it seems. She just needs to prove it without everyone thinking she is crazy and before any more of her sisters die. The House of Salt and Sorrows is a fractured retelling of the twelve dancing princesses, with a number of ghostly twists and turns. 
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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

#IMWAYR October 14, 2019


Each week I try to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I've done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. I am currently a first round Cybil judge for the middle grade fiction, so expect to see a lot of middle grade fiction for the next few weeks. A lot of middle grade fiction.

Here's what I read this week:

Middle Grade


It has been a year since Leah's life was forever changed. A year of feeling like a ghost with ghost parents with the door to her brother's room permanently closed. But when Leah meets Jasper, a new girl in town who never knew Leah's brother, Leah is able to find her way back to herself and to tell her story. But Leah isn't the only one with a story to tell. Jasper is experiencing problems too and has asked Leah to keep her secret. But some secrets are too big to keep and Leah has to decide whether to risk losing her one true friend in order to keep Jasper safe. This is a wonderful story about friendship and moving forward after loss.


Like Leah, Rain has spent 360 something days mourning the loss of a brother. But for Rain, that night, and the promise her brother made her make, has haunted her. Her father has handled the loss by locking himself in his room while her mother is full of energy, energy that has caused her to find a new job in New York City. Rain knows that only 1 in 4 couples make it after the death of a child so she's hoping that this move will help them be the 1. Since running is the only way Rain forgets about the challenges she is facing, she joins the track team and with her new track friends she hopes she can make a plan to keep her parents together. The story is told from two points in time, now and that night.


Amara wants to know more about her family heritage so when she learns her father is taking a work trip to New York City from where they live in Oregon, Amara wants to go with him. The fact her teacher gave them a suitcase project where they have to learn more about their family helps her cause and sends her off to Harlem to meet the grandfather her father hasn't spoken to in 12 year, the same amount of year Amara has been alive. You can not help wanting to visit Harlem after reading this story and the author provides the directions for the suitcase project in the back. A must read for any classroom.


When Caitlyn moved to Vermont she expected it to be hard to be the new girl. She didn't expect that her school would look like a mansion, there would be goats on the soccer field, and everyone would be disappointed that she was not Paulie Fink, the class hero. Now it's Caitlyn's job to pick the next Paulie Fink. Told in a combination of interviews and story, The Next Great Paulie Fink reminded me of the Origami Yoda series. A lot of fun with some serious heart.


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Stacy Barnett Mozer is a teacher and a middle grade author. If you like what she's been reading follow her on Goodreads. Please leave a comment below.