Category Archives: Uncategorized

CRUISING – Sakura Book Talk #3


Genre: Humor

My Big Fat ZombieWhen Tom’s big brother decides to become an evil scientist, his first experiment was on Tom’s goldfish Frankie. To save save Frankie, Tom zaps him with a battery to bring him back to life, but something is weird about the new Frankie.

He’s now a BIG FAT ZOMBIE GOLDFISH with hypnotic powers . . . and he’s out for revenge!

Watch the video below to see what inspired the author to write this story! P.S.


 THE SHOW MUST GO ON! by Kate Klise

Genre: Fantasy

The Show Must Go On

The first book in the new series, Three Ring Rascals.

When Sir Sidney, a kindly old circus owner, becomes too tired to travel with his show, he places a Help Wanted ad in the newspaper. Brambles has big plans: More cities! More shows! No more free popcorn. Soon he’s made a big mess of Sir Sidney’s Circus, but Leo, Elsa, Bert, Gert, and the rest of the performers agree: The Show Must Go On!

Are you small and wise? Do you like popcorn? Do you sometimes get into trouble even though you try to be good? If so, you might be a rascal. To find out for sure, take the official Rascal Test.


 MY HAPPY LIFE by Rose Lagercrantz

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

My Happy Life

Best friends Ella and Dani do everything together, but when things change Dani is not prepared. Although, the book is called “My Happy Life,” not everything in Dani’s life is happy.

A sweet, funny illustrated chapter book about a young girl with a lot of optimism—even if sometimes life makes it hard to be happy.





Genre:  Fantasy

Marvin & James

The first book in the new Masterpiece Adventure series. When his best friend, a human boy named James, goes away on vacation, Marvin the beetle worries that their friendship may end.  Without James to keep him company, Marvin has to play with his annoying cousin, Elaine. Marvin and Elaine quickly find themselves getting into all sorts of trouble—even getting trapped inside a pencil sharpener! Marvin misses James and starts to worry about their friendship. Will James still be Marvin’s friend when he gets home or will James have found a new best friend?



Genre:  Science Fiction

Galaxy Zack

Moving from Earth to the futuristic planet Nebulon in 2120, eight-year-old Zack is nervous about starting school and meeting people.

In Hello, Nebulon!, Zack makes the big move from Earth. He is already nervous about starting school and making new friends, but it only gets worse when he dreams that his classmates are slimy aliens with tentacles, pizza comes covered in gross bugs, and he can never communicate with his Earth friends again! Fortunately, when Zack arrives at Sprockets Academy for his first day of school, he meets and befriends Drake Tucker, a Nebulite boy who also loves to explore and learn about the planets. Nebulon isn’t as awful as Zack’s dream, but there are a lot of differences between Nebulon and Earth, and they make Zack miss his home in Dubbsville, Texas, even more. But things start to look up when he receives a mysterious surprise. What could it possibly be?



Genre: Humor

Fortunately the Milk

While picking up milk for his children’s cereal, a father is taken by aliens and finds himself on a wild adventure through time and space.

Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal.

Neil Gaiman reading from his book, Fortunately, the Milk.




Genre:  Mystery

Agatha Girl of Mystery

Agatha: Girl of Mystery is a fanciful and fabulous new mystery series about a headstrong girl detective who jets off on exotic and international adventures with the help of her hulking bodyguard and loyal cat named Watson. The first mystery in this series sees young detective Agatha traveling to Egypt. Rumors of a mysterious tablet unearthed in the Valley of the Kings may be just the clue that Agatha needs to unlock the secret curse of an ancient Pharaoh.



FLYING – Sakura Book Talk #2


Genre:  Fantasy (fractured folktale)

Rump two

Tells the tale of Rumpelstiltskin’s childhood and youth. You learn why his name is so important, how he is able to spin straw into gold, and why a first-born child is his reward for helping the miller’s daughter-turned-queen.

Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold, but his best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

Perfect for fans of Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted or Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm.




Genre: Realistic Fiction

Red Thread SistersA story about friendship, family, and love.  After an American family adopts eleven-year-old Wen from a Chinese orphanage, she vows to find a family for her best friend, too. Wen has spent the first eleven years of her life at an orphanage in rural China, and the only person she would call family is her best friend, Shu Ling. When Wen is adopted by an American couple, she struggles to adjust to every part of her new life, but the hardest part of all is knowing that Shu Ling remains back at the orphanage, alone. Wen knows that her best friend deserves a family and a future, too. But finding a home for Shu Ling isn’t easy, and time is running out



HALF A CHANCE by Cynthia Lord

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Half a Chance

Lucy, with her mother and her photographer father, has just moved to a small rural community in New Hampshire, and with her new friend Nate she plans to spend the summer taking photos for a contest, but pictures sometimes reveal more than people are willing to see. Nate will learn about the power of art to show truth. And Lucy will learn how beauty can change lives . . . including her own.

Click Here for Half A Chance Book Trailer by Liliana Martinez


CAPTURE THE FLAG by Kate Messner

Genre:  Action/Adventure

Capture the Flag

Three kids get caught up in an adventure of historic proportions!

Anna, José, and Henry are complete strangers with more in common than they realize. Snowed in together at a chaotic Washington D.C. airport, they encounter a mysterious tattooed man, a flamboyant politician, and a rambunctious poodle named for an ancient king. Even stranger, news stations everywhere have announced that the famous flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been stolen! Anna, certain that the culprits must be snowed in too, recruits Henry and José to help catch the thieves and bring them to justice.



Genre: Fantasy

Brain Sucker

Lester Smythe has a black heart and reminded me of Gru (from Despicable Me). He’s invented a dangerous brain-sucking machine that removes the goodness from its victims, and he’s using it to rid the world of all human kindness. But Lester didn’t count on thirteen-year-old Callum McCullock and his two best friends, Sophie and Jinx. The trio vow to destroy the brain sucker. And nothing will stand in their way.  It’s up to these three unlikely heroes of the story to save the day (and the world from becoming a miserable place).

If you’re after a fun story, full of adventure, mystery, magic, exciting gadgets, and great characters, then this book is exactly what you’ve been looking to read.

Jeremy Corbett reads the prologue to my book – The Brain Sucker


VIEW FROM THE 32nd FLOOR by Emma Cameron

Genre:  Realistic Fiction


Please don’t judge a book by it’s cover, so please don’t let the cover turn you off!

Living on the thirty-second floor of an apartment block, William, a quirky character who likes to change his name every day, has a clear view of his neighbors in the building opposite building.  With his new friend Rebecca, he decides that they will get to know all of their neighbors and hatch a plan that will bring them all together. Can they succeed?

This is a touching story of friendship, community and the importance of making people feel connected to one another.

Source:  Follett Summaries

WARP – Sakura Book Talk #1

THE THING ABOUT LUCK by Cynthia Kadohata

Genre: Realistic Fiction

the thing about luckWinner of the National Book Award and 6 starred reviews last year!

Will this book win this year’s Sakura Medal?

Summer knows that kouun means “good luck” in Japanese, and this year her family has none of it.  Just when twelve-year-old Summer thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong in a year of bad luck, an emergency takes her parents to Japan, leaving Summer to care for her little brother while helping her grandmother cook and do laundry for the wheat harvest workers.



Genre: Fantasy

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

An illustrated, modern folktale set on a prairie farm sometime in the 20th century. Lillian, a kind-hearted girl is bitten by a snake and reborn as a kitten.  Brace yourself for an unexpected story arc and the Possum Witch who enters the story partway through.

image2.cats of tanglewood forest



Genre:  Fantasy (with lots of humor mixed in)
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp  is extremely entertaining and well written. This book’s serious message will make you stop and think about corporate greed and the natural environment.  The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp has it all…humor, adventure, animals that talk, a female alligator wrestler, feral pigs, adorable raccoons, the mythical Sugar Man, a bet, and a twelve-year-old boy named Chap Brayburn who loves the swamp, and he’ll do just about anything to help protect it.





Genre:  Mystery

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

This book reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, only the setting is in a new library built by billionaire video game developer, Mr. Lemoncello. Essay contest winners find themselves locked in the new library and whoever can escape first will become “the face” of the Lemoncello brand. This book is a combination of adventure, humor, and a hodgepodge of fun facts.

Kirkus reviews said, “Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read is a winner for readers and game-players alike.”


FELIX AND THE RATS by James Norlciffe

Genre:  Mixed Genre (realistic fiction/fantasy)

Felix and the Red Rats

This parallel story is part realistic fiction, fantasy and adventure.  When David’s great uncle comes to visit, a strange series of bizarre events begins to unfold, and it is only the beginning when the pet rats turn bright red.  David can’t help but begin to think that the story he is reading and the red pet rats are somehow connected.  If you love riddles, and solving conundrums, you’re going to love this book.  Reader’s beware: Each chapter from David’s narrative is followed by a chapter from Felix’s book.





Genre:  Fantasy

Ophelia and the Marvelous BoyA story within a story, this a modern day fairytale about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.  On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room.  He is a prisoner of Her Majesty, the Snow Queen.  Ophelia begins a journey to rescue the boy, and everything that she believes is tested. I highly recommend this book to readers who love Anne Ursu’s books Breadcrumbs and The Real Boy.



Shelf Discovery: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee. (Click here for an audio review by Kristin Dreyer Kramer)



Genre:  Sci-Fi Adventure

What We Found in the SofaRead this book to find out how River, Freak, and Fiona find themselves in the middle of an evil plot to conquer the world.  Will the kids discover Edward Disin’s only weakness before it’s too late or will  an intergalactic portal open and transport an army of invaders to Earth?  Can a crayon save the world?  You may just laugh until you cry when you read this goofy adventure that includes a sofa and a domino as main characters!

Source:  Follett Summaries

Grade Two Explores Digital Resources

The past few weeks students in Grade 2 have been learning how to save important library resources onto their iPads’ home screens as icons.  This simple step makes accessing these digital resources quick and easy.


2014-10-13 12.24.01PebbleGo Database

PebbleGo is one digital resource that students in Grade 2 have saved to their home screens.  This database is specifically for students in grades K-3 and provides easy access to a variety of non-fiction topics.  In addition to having text, this database also has audio.  Grade 2 students have especially enjoyed reading and/or listening information articles about various insects.

2014-10-10 09.07.44


Calling All 4th and 5th Graders

sakura medal

Book Bowl The Sakura Book Bowl is a competitive quiz game for Sakura Medal chapter book readers in Grades 4 and 5 who want to go the extra mile. A team of 10-12 students who qualify for the ASIJ Book Bowl  will compete against other international schools for the title of All Japan Book Bowl Champions.  The final will be held the last week in February. In order to qualify for the ASIJ Book Bowl Team, students in Grades 4 and 5 must read all of the books from one of the tracks below, complete their Book Bowl Study Guide, pass a final quiz for their track of books and attend one monthly discussion meeting (November – February). Ms. Pretz will book talk all books from the three tracks two times during lunch recess beginning October 15th.  See the book talk dates for each track below.

Cruising – October 17th and 22nd

Flying – October 16th and 21st

Warp – October 15th and 20th

Sakura Medal 2015

sakura medalWhat is the Sakura Medal?   Since 2006, students in several international schools in Japan have read the Sakura Medal Contenders selected by the International Librarians of Japan committee.  Each participating school casts their votes the last week in April.  At the elementary level, a Sakura Medal is awarded for Best Picture Book, Best Chapter Book and Best Graphic Novel.  

For more information go to:  Sakura Medal 2015 (click to open)

Sakura Reading Goals – Students in Grades 1 – 5 can participate by setting their own reading goal.

1)  Personal Goal – Read at least one or more Sakura Medal Contenders in any category.

2) Sakura Medal Judge – Read at least 5 picture books, 5 chapter books and/or 3 graphic novels and cast a vote at the Sakura Medal Voting Party that will be held in the ASIJ Elementary Library in April.

3)  Sakura Book Bowl Team – Students in Grades 4-5 who read all of the books from one “chapter book track” and meet all of the requirements are eligible to qualify for the ASIJ Book Bowl Team which will compete against other international teams the last week in February.  This year, Nishimachi International School will host the 2015 Book Bowl Competition.

When Will the Sakura Contenders be Released?

Book Bowl Competitors: October 27th

Sakura Medal Participants Grades 3-5: November 3rd

Sakura Medal Participants Grades 1-2:  February 2nd

4K Book Talks – October 2, 2014

Nikola Tesla


A brief biography of Serbian-American scientist Nikola Tesla, whose early fascination with electricity caused him to go on to invent alternating current and many devices that helped bring electricity to American households and, eventually, the rest of the world, at the turn of the twentieth century.

Goddess Girls


Authors put a modern spin on classic Greek Myths in this new series! Follow the ins and outs of divine social life on Mount Olympus Academy where the most privileged godboys and goddess girls in the Greek Pantheon hone their magical skills.

Knee Knock Rise


A young boy named Egan sets out to prove that the strange sounds coming from the top of the Mammoth Mountains near his aunt and uncle’s home–which the villagers believe are the cries of a mysterious monster–have a reasonable explanation.

The Year of Billy Miller

Realistic Fiction

Kevin Henkes introduces second-grader Billy Miller in this fast-paced and funny story about friendship, sibling rivalry, and elementary school. The Year of Billy Miller was named a 2014 Newbery Honor book.  Perfect for fans of the Ramona books; Frindle, by Andrew Clements; and the Clementine series.

Riding Freedom

Historical Fiction

In this fast-paced, courageous, and inspiring story, readers adventure with Charley (Charlotte) Parkhurst, as she first finds work as a stable hand, becomes a famous stage-coach driver and fools everyone by her appearance.  Posing as a man for most of her adult life, it wasn’t until after her death that anyone discovered Charley Parkhurst was a woman.

Sleeping Beauty's Daughters


Twelve-year-old Princess Aurora has been cursed to prick her finger and sleep for one hundred years, but before her fate can come to pass, she and her sister Luna embark on a perilous journey to find the fairy who can break the curse.

4R Book Talks – October 2, 2014

The Mad Potter


Who was George E Ohr?  What led him to create the twisting, intriguing, and unique ceramics from Mississippi mud? Why did his work remain unknown for decades?  This award-winning biography looks at the life of potter George E. Ohr, known for his unique designs, whose work did not become widely successful until after his death.

Brixton Brothers #1


Twelve-year-old Steve Brixton, a fan of Bailey Brothers detective novels, is mistaken for a real detective and must elude librarians, police, and the mysterious Mr. E as he seeks a missing quilt containing coded information.  Since when can librarians rappel from helicopters?  Does Steve have any brothers or sisters?  You will solve these mysteries and more by the time you finish book one of this four part series.

Turtle in Paradise

Historical Fiction

In 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in far away Key West, Florida.  Key West is hot and strange, full of rag tag boy cousins, family secrets, scams, and even buried pirate treasure! Before Turtle knows what’s happened, she finds herself coming out of the shell she’s spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Filled with adventure, humor and heart and an unforgettable ending, that will surprise most readers.



Eleven-year-old Riley Mack and his friends, Briana, Mongo, Jake and Jamal outwit the school bully, solve the mystery of who stole the goldendoodle named Poodle, and get evidence to help the FBI catch bank robbers. If you’re looking for a page turner that is full of fast-paced adventure and dialogue, you’re going to love this new series with a hero you’ll never forget.

Sleeping Beauty's Daughters


Twelve-year-old Princess Aurora has been cursed to prick her finger and sleep for one hundred years, but before her fate can come to pass, she and her sister Luna embark on a perilous journey to find the fairy who can break the curse.  This fast-paced book is full of lush descriptions, fearsome beasts and raging storms.  Will the sisters give up?  Will they find their aunt, a fairy who may be able to break the spell?   I recommend this book to fans of Gail Carson Levine and Shannon Hale.

Fish Finelli

Realistic Fiction

Fish Finelli and his friends set out to find Captain Kidd’s treasure, rumored to be buried on nearby Lyons Island, but it seems like the local library director is looking for it as well… finding the treasure may be the key to saving the island from developers.  Will Fish and his friends win the bet with bully Bryce Billings and succeed in finding the treasure?  The first book in a series that will inspire you to use your imagination and explore the universal theme of friendship and loyalty.

Source:  Follett Summaries