Summer Reading 2015

A cup of tea, a summer morning, a long awaited is good.

A cup of tea, a summer morning, a long awaited book….life is good.

Well, hot diggity dog, kids!  Summer is here!  YAHOO!  

And you know what that means, right?  Time for……..READING!  YAY!  Happy dance!  If you’re anything like me, you love summer because it is a season when we are able to do everything we love but have been putting off until we have time.  In June, July, and for some of August, we have the luxury of time.  Time to rest, time to exercise, time to spend with family and friends, time to vacation or to staycation, and time to READ!

Whoop, whoop!

What books are you planning to read this summer?   My list includes:


House of the Red Fish, (the sequel to Under the Blood Red Sun) by Graham Salisbury

(Remember our Skype visit, kids?  Also think about Eyes of the Emperor and House of the Bamboo Rat)


A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, 1599, by James Shapiro

a year in the life of william shakespeare

Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney, by Lee Cockerell

creating magic

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd


Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury


and The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Life of Pi

If you need help finding a good book, try DOGObooks Summer Reading list and program.  Kids write all the reviews on DOGObooks; this year 78 books made the summer reading list,  and 76 books are offered as prizes for those who participate in the program.  Now is the time to find a good book, immerse yourself in another time and place, and then start a conversation by writing about your book adventure here.

Let the adventures begin!

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49 thoughts on “Summer Reading 2015

  1. I love this idea of posting the books I plan to read…and having my students do the same. Another stroke of brilliance. 🙂 I’m in. 🙂

  2. Hi Mrs. Donofrio,
    Great post! I have to do a different summer reading project, but I love your ideas. I am not sure what books will be required if any, but I plan to defineteley plan on reading Graham Salisburry’s books.
    I forgot to ask you at school about my email getting deleted for my blog.

    • Look at you commenting on the first evening of summer vacation! You are one motivated girl! I would love to hear all about your summer reading at St. Martha’s. I always like to learn new ways of doing things. That’s why I love blogging so much.
      Here is how to change your email for your blog. Go to your dashboard and find “Users” in the lefthand sidebar. Click on “Users” and then click “Your Profile”. Scroll down to “Contact Information” and change your email address. Click save, and you are all set! Easy.
      I am going to leave a message on your blog.
      Enjoy your first day of summer vacation tomorrow!
      Love, Mrs. Donofrio

  3. Dear Readers,
    I have just finished my first summer read, The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It’s a survival, coming-of-age, spiritual book with animals. Doesn’t that sound crazy? In fact, the story is so crazy that it is not believed by two characters at the end of the novel, and so the entire story changes in one chapter. Here’s what I liked about the book: incredible descriptions, great figurative language, changing point-of-views and style, interesting information about world religions and zoology, unique plot. I wouldn’t recommend this book to middle schoolers, and perhaps I wouldn’t recommend it to myself in retrospect, because it is a bit violent. The protagonist, Pi, has to survive at sea for 227 days. As you can imagine, a lot of fish and turtles, and some other animals, need to become meals for Pi if he is to stay alive. Do you notice how I remarked on the descriptive language earlier? Well, in addition to artistically describing the sea and an island and lots of animals, and actually the emotion of fear as well, the author also vividly describes what must be done to the fish and turtles and other animals so that Pi can live. It is pretty gruesome. This book is required reading for some high schools, which is why I read it, but it is not suitable for middle school. Also, a movie, which is rated PG, was made based on the book as well. I haven’t seen the movie and am deliberating whether I will watch it or not.
    I am on to my next book, which I think, will be A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599. Although it has a somewhat similar title to my previous choice, this book is non-fiction. I am hoping to learn some new, interesting information about the Bard.
    I hope you are all having a great summer so far! Keep reading! Learn something every day.
    ~Mrs. Donofrio

  4. Hi Mrs. Donofrio,

    I just finished my book called, “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It’s about a girl named Mary Lennox. Her parents died in a fire, so she was sent to live with her uncle to be cared for. She has no friends and feels no happiness in her life. It is not long until a robin helps her find a key buried in the ground. She finds a wall with a lock on it and she uses the key and it opens to a beautiful secret garden. She meets Martha who is a maid in her uncles mansion. Mary then meets a boy named Dickon who actually is Martha’s son. He helps her clean up the secret garden. All of a sudden, one night she hears crying and runs to see who it is and it is a boy named Colin. She finds out Colin is actually her cousin. He is a very sickly boy. Mary and Dickon join forces and realize they have to help Colin get better! They decide to take him to the secret garden. Somehow the powers from garden make him stronger, taller and regenerate his well-being… is truly amazing. This book keeps the reader interested and has a positive ending. I would recommend this book to anyone!


    • Hi Courtney,
      This sounds like a great story. I think it has been made into a movie; I have have never read it myself. That’s the great thing about sharing books via the blog; we can all learn about books we might like to read one day.
      Wouldn’t it be nice to find a garden that could regenerate you and make you stronger? By the way, “regenerate” is an excellent vocabulary word, Courtney. You are working very hard at your writing, I can tell. Your grammar is quite good, too. What made you decide to read The Secret Garden? It is a very old book, written in 1911. That’s over a hundred years old! Did you find the author’s style very different or difficult to read?
      I hope you are having a great summer! Happy 4th of July!
      Love, Mrs. Donofrio

  5. Dear Mrs.Donofrio,

    The first book I read this summer was Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Percy Jackson came back from school one day and found out that his camp was in dander. The camps tree/protection is starting to die. He and a few friends went on a mission to find something to make the tree. He later on comes back and they restore the tree but it was to powerful and the girl who was the tree came back alive after she died.

    • Hi Lizzy,
      How are you liking Percy Jackson and the Olympians? Have you seen the movie? Do you think the movie is very different than the book? Rick Riordan, the author, is a former middle school language arts teacher. He made up stories based on Greek mythology as bedtime stories for his son. That’s how the Percy Jackson series began. Pretty cool, huh? I like watching the movie and seeing how many allusions to Greek mythology I can find. I’m glad you are working on your summer reading. Tell your mom I say hello! Happy 4th of July!
      Love, Mrs. Donofrio

  6. Hey Kids! I hope everyone is having a great summer! It sure is nice not to be on such a tight schedule as we are during the school year, isn’t it? Are you sleeping a bit later? Playing outside a bit more? Going to a few new places? Reading more books?
    I just finished The One and Only Ivan by Kate Applegate. It is a Newbery winner and based on a true story about a gorilla who lived in a shopping mall for 27 years. I am hoping that Ellie will read it, too, and then we can have a book chat or maybe even our own book talk cafe. Do your parents ever read the same books you do? The last time Ellie and I read a book together was Dewey The Library Cat. That was also based on a true story about a cat who, obviously, lived in a library. I guess some animals live in unusual places!
    While I try to suggest books for Ellie, lately Abbey has been suggesting books for me. That’s how I came across Born to Run last summer and Life of Pi this summer.
    This summer try sharing a book with one of your parents or siblings. You can have your own special book talk cafe. Enjoy and happy reading!
    ~Mrs. Donofrio

  7. Counting by 7’s
    By:Holly Sloan

    Hi everyone hope you are having a great summer! I wanted to tell you about the book I have been reading over the summer, Counting by 7’s. Willow Chance is the main character of the book. I found this a very happy, funny, and just plain entertaining book. It may have many chapters but it was worth reading for sure. In the first chapter you will find out that Willow’s parents pass away in a car accident. Through the rest of the book she is trying to deal with the loss of her parents. After this Willow is sent to foster care and is paired with a nice couple. One thing I definitely found interesting about Willow was that in some of her free time she visits the hospital and just looks at all the people’s sicknesses. Something else was that she speaks Vietnamese and English. Her best friend Mai also speaks Vietnamese. Mai has an older brother Quang-ha. Another character in this book would be Dell Duke. Dell is Willow’s counselor at school. So Willow, Mai, Quang-ha, and Dell are the most important characters in the book. Hope that you find time to read this book too.

    Happy Blogging!

    • Hi Shane,
      I have seen some great reviews of this book, so I am happy to know someone who read it and who agrees with the professional reviewers. It’s interesting that a book about a girl who loses both her parents in a car accident is described as “happy, funny, and just plain entertaining.” I’m glad you enjoyed it; I am putting it on my “books to read” list, which is growing longer every day. That’s a good thing! I hope you are having a wonderful summer!
      God bless,
      Mrs. Donofrio

      • Hi Mrs.Donofrio. You would actually think that it would be sad considering both her parents died yes, but it was entertaining in a way it wasn’t really focusing on that too much but mainly on her improving her life. That was what I found entertaining. Have a good summer!

        Happy Blogging!

        • Thanks for explaining that, Shane! I am really interested in reading this book now. Not only do I enjoy books that make me laugh, but I can always use some ideas for improving my life. Sounds like a winning combination to me. Keep reading and blogging!
          Love, Mrs. Donofrio

  8. Hi Mrs. Donofrio

    I just finished a book that is called, “Saving the team” by the famous soccer player Alex Morgan! There is a series of books called, “The Kicks.” The story was narrated by the main character Devin Burke. The main character Devin has moved from Connecticut all the way to California. Devin loved soccer and in order to continue and make new friends she joined the soccer team at her new school, that wasn’t too good. There was a girl, Mirabelle, who co-captained the team with Devin, and she decided to chage schools to one of the best teams in the league. In the end it didn’t work out because The Kicks wanted to prove to Mirabelle that they weren’t a terrible team.
    I really enjoyed this book and thought it was very realistic. I liked how Alex Morgan used the real rules of soccer and had a glossary in the back of the book telling the readers all the rules. One thing i didn’t like is that the boys team had received all the attention. I would recommend this book to people who like soccer. I would also recommend this book to any girls who are fans of Alex Morgan.

    Victoria Gaona

    • Hi Victoria! I know some soccer girls who would probably like this book as well! Thank you for sharing. Ellie says she loves Alex Morgan, Julie Johnston, and Megan Rapino. I don’t know any of these players, nor do I understand many soccer rules, especially the offsides rule, so I would love to read this book to learn more about soccer while reading a good story. You wrote a great review, too, Victoria! Have you been playing any soccer this summer?
      Love, Mrs. Donofrio

  9. Hey Kids! I just finished Dr. Ben Carson’s book, You Have A Brain: A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. It was great! If you haven’t heard of Dr. Carson, he is a pediatric neurosurgeon, an author, and a Presidential candidate. The movie Gifted Hands was about his life from a struggling inner-city student to the chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. This book also tells the basic story of his life and gives some advice about how all of us can “think big” to achieve our dreams. I am going to concentrate on the wisdom and insight Dr. Carson shares as I begin the next steps in my own professional career. You are never too old or too young to think big!
    Do you know anyone else who is running for President? What characteristics do you think are important for a Presidential candidate?
    ~Mrs. Donofrio

  10. Hey Mrs. Donofrio
    I finished the book called The Trial by Jen Bryant
    It is about this boy and his life’s journey. He will tell you what he did growing up. He is going to tell his journey of flying across the world solo. He learns new languages meets new people. This book kept me wanting me to read more. It was a very good and I would recommend it.

    • Hi James,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed your book, and your writing skills are looking great! Remember to ask a question at the end of your comment in order to encourage conversation, to use specific details from the story, and to make a connection between yourself and the book. What countries did the boy visit? How old is he? What is his name? Why did he fly solo around the world? Were his parents worried about him? Did he just learn a few phrases in other languages or did he actually learn to speak other languages? Why is the book called The Trial? Does the boy have to go to court for some reason? Would you like to fly solo around the world?
      It sounds like an intriguing story. It reminds me a little of Hatchetby Gary Paulson, which was about a boy named Brian who ended up flying a plane because the pilot had a heart attack. Brian’s plane crashed in a remote lake in Canada, and Brian had to survive alone in the woods. If you need another book to read, you might try Hatchet. It is a great story and is part of a series about Brian, the main character. Have a great rest of the summer!
      Love. Mrs. Donofrio

  11. Hi Mrs. Donofrio! I just finished reading a novel called And then there were none by Agatha Christie. The setting is in the Devon region of England. It is a story about 10 prominent men and women who get invited to an island for various reasons. When the guests get there, the host is absent. The first death happens at dinner when one of the men gets poisoned from potassium cyanide. One by one each guest is dying from poison, weapons, murder, etc. All the deaths correspond with a nursery rhyme hanging on the wall in the guests bedrooms. In the end all ten people die, but the killer plays a very inventive trick. The 5th murder was actually the killer faking his death so he could be eliminated from suspicion. From there on he spies, and kills the rest of the guests and watches the last person hang herself. Ironically, the murder was actually a judge! During the book, there is a giant storm that passes through nearly the entire story. Authorities could not respond to the S.O.S. calls because of the inclement weather. In the end, the police never discovered who the killer was. The last act of the madman was writing a confession, putting the confession into a bottle, and throwing it out to sea. Then he killed himself. I think this was a awesome mystery novel and it was also one of my favorite mystery books. It is also 75 years old! Have you ever read this book? How did you like it? I could go into much more detail but it would take hours, and the entire comment page!
    Daniel Staas

    • Hi Daniel,
      In fact, I have read this book, and I read it in 7th grade! (I would say “just like you”, but now you are an official 8th grader!) I LOVED Agatha Christie novels for a number of years, and And Then There Were None was the first book of hers that I read. Like you, I loved it. I can’t remember if I figured out the solution before I finished the book; did you solve the mystery? Do you think you will read more of her books? What made you choose this one? Hercule Poirot is one of Agatha Christie’s most well-known characters; he is a detective that appears in a number of her books. Prior to reading Agatha Christie, I read nearly the entire Nancy Drew series. I also read lots of Hardy Boys and the Bobsey Twins; all of these are mysteries. These are some of stories that made me fall in love with reading. Thanks for sharing this great book with everyone!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

      • Hi Mrs. Donofrio!
        I had an idea about halfway who the killer was but I could not confirm it. I will definitely be reading more of Agatha Christie! I have heard that the Murder on the Orient Express is also a Agatha Christie classic. I will tell you the story of why I picked this book. This summer, I took a road trip to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. This town had a little book store that I LOVED. I was walking around the book store and I found a section of books that fitted my needs. I was debating whether or not to get King Lear or And Then There Were None. Ultimately, I picked And Then There Were None because my cousin had suggested it to me. I would have gotten both but my budget was limited. The blog looks great! The title of the blog seems to fit in with the situation. I have to say the books I read this summer have jump started my reading abilities, and I am enjoying reading more than I ever had. I hope everything goes great with your homeschooling group. They are in good hands!

        P.S. I would have italicized my book titles but it seems that my computer doesn’t want to cooperate.

        • Daniel,
          I have to say that not only have you jumpstarted your reading abilities, but your writing abilities as well. Firstly, your grammar is impeccable. Secondly, I like your word choice, specifically, “fitted my needs” and “my budget was limited”. Thirdly, I appreciate that you addressed my questions and also commented on the new blog style/title. You have mastered the QUALITY COMMENT. Ta da! Cue the applause!
          I know you will have a wonderful first day of school tomorrow. You are in good hands as well, and the lower grades are in good hands with you in the 8th grade, leading the school. God bless you. I am looking forward to hearing about all your adventures.
          ~Mrs. Donofrio

  12. Hi Mrs. Donofrio,

    I hope you are having a great summer. This summer I have been busy reading . I have read the books “Story Thieves” by James Riley, “Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins” by Liz Kessler, and four books in the series “Sisters Grimm” by Michael Buckley. The book that I will be reviewing today is “Story Thieves”. “Story Thieves’ is a fictional book about a girl named Bethany, a boy named Owen, and a book series called “Kiel Gnomenfoot”. Bethany is half-fictional because her dad was fictional and her mom was normal. Being half-fictional gives Bethany the power to jump into books, but one day she accidentally jumped herself and her dad into a book. Bethany came back but her dad didn’t. Ever since then Bethany has been looking for her father in books in her spare time. One day Owen caught Bethany sneaking chocolate out of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and learned her secret. Owen wanted Bethany to take him into his favorite book series, “Kiel Gnomenfoot”, but she says no. Owen then tricks her into going by telling her that there was a spell that would help her find her father in the book. She falls for his trick. In the book Owen tells The Magister, Kiel’s teacher, that he is in a book and controlled by the author Jonathan Porterhouse. The Magister then tries to set every fictional character free using a part of Bethany’s power that he stole from her. Owen, Bethany, and Kiel must stop The Magister before it is too late!

    It was a very good book and I strongly recommend it. What book would you jump into if you could?

    • Hi Brianne,
      Wow! What an original concept for a story! I love it! I wish I had thought of it. I will have to look up James Riley as I don’t know anything about him. He sounds great.
      I guess, in a way, every time we read, we jump into the story. The big difference is that when we read, we are observers to the action; if we had powers like Bethany, we would be able to affect the action. There are so many books I would love to jump into, but two that come immediately to mind are the Little House on the Prairie books and the Anne of Green Gables books. Both of these are series books; they have strong girl protagonists, and they take place in the 1800s. I loved the main characters, Laura Ingalls and Anne Shirley, so much that I wanted to be their friends. I also desperately wanted to take a wagon train across the prairie, which you can do for vacation nowadays, and to visit Prince Edward Island, where Anne and her best friend and kindred spirit, Diana, live. I was so sad when I finished reading their series. Have you read these books or seen the television/film versions? Do you know any characters that you wish you could have for friends?
      I hope you are having a great summer, too, and that you also have a wonderful school year.
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  13. What a fantastic list! After reading through, it made me rethink all of the wonderful literature I have read this summer and want to continue to devour a couple more books before the new school year begins.

    I highly recommend the Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series. I was skeptical that it was more of YA audience, but found it absolutely captivating, especially for those that enjoyed the Harry Potter series.

    • Hi Michael,
      Thank you so much for adding to our list of great books. I have not read about Mrs. Peregrine and her home for Peculiar Children, but will put it on my list. I know lots of my students love Harry Potter, so this will mosts likely be a hit with them as well. It’s always fun to imagine we have magical capabilities. I used to wish I could snap my fingers and a horse would arrive at my side so that I could gallop away anywhere I liked. Perhaps that secret desire would qualify me as a peculiar child, and I would fit in well at Mrs. Peregrine’s Home. Perhaps once there I would learn more tricks other than making a horse appear at will. Have you read Brianne’s comment? Would you like to jump into Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children?
      Thanks for commenting! We’d love to visit you if you have a blog as well! Please come back and see us again soon.
      Happy summer!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  14. Hi Mrs. Donofrio its Ryan. I recently read a book called Travel Team by Mike Lupica. It is about a boy named Danny who is short for his age. He likes basketball, and tries out for his local travel team. After tryouts, he makes the team. I was surprised because he was so short for a 12 year old. In his bedroom closet, behind a poster, was his height measurements. He was 54 inches tall. His dad got in a car accident, so Danny became the coach. He still played for the team Danny and his friend Ty Ross won the big game in the playoffs. In my opinion, at the end everyone on Danny’s team lifted him up on their shoulders and started chanting his name. Danny said to himself, “this is what it looks like from up here.” I thought that was hilarious. I would recommend this book to someone that wants to play sports and is short and smaller than the other kids. It was my cup of tea. 🙂

    • Hi Ryan! So great to see you on the blog. I have read a few of Mike Lupica’s books, and I think they are especially good for boys who like sports, which, I imagine, is probably over 90% of all boys. Lots of girls like his books, too, of course. When I was growing up in Boston, the Celtics had a very good guard also named Danny, but at 6’5″ (77 inches), he was not considered short. Is basketball your favorite sport? I like to watch basketball because it is a fast moving game, and I really like to see those cool dunks! Also, as we live in Florida, it helps that basketball is played in an air-conditioned court. Soccer and baseball fields are pretty hot at times!
      I’m glad you found a book that was your cup of tea. Say hello to Erin for me!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  15. Dear Mrs.Donofrio,
    My first book from this summer is called, “Horses of the Dawn: Star Rise” By Kathryn Lasky. This is the second book of the series, I have already read the first book. In this book Hold On, who is now blind, befriends a human named Tijo, and a mule named Yazz. Estrella has to decide whether or not to let the three join the herd, as well as their quest to go North. Pego has joined El Miedo’s army and is leading him to new grounds, and new horses.

    • Hi Emma,
      It sounds like you are enjoying this book. Is it set somewhere in the Southwest or in Mexico? All the names are Spanish sounding. When school starts up again, you should talk to Blythe and Reanne about this series. They both love horses and books about horses. Do you think you will finish reading this series? Have you ever ridden a horse in real life? Enjoy the rest of the summer!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  16. Hey Mrs. Donofrio!
    I hope everyone’s Summer is going good. I wanted to talk about a book i read Summer called “A Million Ways Home”, by Dianna Doris Winget. The story is about a girl named Poppy Parker(alliteration), who lived with her grandma Beth basically her entire life because of her parents death. Then, one day at home grandma Beth had a stroke and was sent to the hospital. Poppy was sent to the Fosters kid center and lived there for two weeks. She found out that her grandma was moved to the elderly care center called the Huckleberry Home. Poppy’s counselor Ms. Austin said she would take Poppy the next day, but she didn’t want to wait. She got on a bus, and told the bus driver Huckleberry Home, but it went to an old area where their wasn’t much of anything except an old gas station, She knew she was lost, and had to start walking back home, but first she went inside to get a candy bar. The woman at the cashier was a nice woman who was curious because she saw that Poppy was lost, but Poppy told her she was fine. As she started walking away she heard a gun shot and a scream. She immediately ran behind the building where she thought she would be safe, but there he was standing in front of her, Poppy said her name, and he told her to keep her mouth shut, and then he ran. This day changed her life, Poppy was taken to the police station for questions since she was the only one that saw the man, and she lived with detective Brannigan and his mother Marti for security reasons. After many days of sitting in the house and going to the dog shelter, when Marti got a phone call. Her grandma Beth had died. It meant that once they found the guy Poppy would half to spend the rest of her life at the local orphanage. At funeral, Poppy didn’t want to watch, because it would just make cry, so she headed to a the park and sat under a tree and was just thinking. Then she saw him, he was staring at her and she ran, she hid behind a car where he lost her. She ran again and hid in a drain pipe. She called the police and they came and got him. Poppy knew she was going to the orphanage. She spent one week their, then was called into the main office. They had her grandma’s will and wanted her to read it. It said that after she passed, Marti and detective Brannigan would become her legal guardians, and she was beyond excited. So Poppy was happy and finally felt like she had a family again. The End.

    • Hi Lexi,
      It’s great to hear from you and read all about your book. It certainly is an exciting one! It’s interesting to think how one small event like buying a candy bar can change someone’s whole life. I often think about chains of events that began with a seemingly inconsequential action. Did you like the story about Poppy? I liked the alliteration that you noticed, not only in Poppy’s name, but also in the name of the elderly care center, too.
      I hope you are having a great summer and that you have a wonderful back-to-school week! Enjoy these last few days of vacation.
      Keep reading!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  17. Hello Mrs, Donofrio,

    I hope you are have a great summer! I read the book “Jack Strong Takes a Stand.” It’s by: Tommy greenwald. The story is about a boy named Jack. His parents have over scheduled him with a whole bunch of after school activities, as in: Baseball, cello, karate, learning how to speak Chinese, working with a math Tudor, junior EMTs, and tennis. One day Jack hit the wining run. So him and his friends were going out to celebrate the big win, but he had tennis after the game. His parents would not let him skip tennis that once. ever since then he sat on the couch till is parents let him quit all those activities. Jack sat on the couch for 14 days, witch broke up the family. Then, his grandma was about to die, he go off the couch and used techniques from Junior EMTs to revive his Grandma. That brought the family back to normal. At the end, he quit all accept Baseball, cello, Junior EMTs, and…….Sitting o the couch.

    I thought it was a good book because it shows to stick up for what you believe in and have courage in yourself.

    • Hi Connor!
      What an interesting concept for a book! Can you imagine sitting on the couch for 14 days? Did the book explain how he ate or if he went to the bathroom? I think I might get bored on the couch after awhile. The book makes an interesting commentary on parents who over-schedule their kids. Sometimes I think we do a lot of activities at our house, but it is a combination of four kids, not all on one kid. You have good insight on the theme of the book also. It is important to have the courage to stand up for yourself.
      How many activities do you think kids can reasonably participate in?
      Which of the activities that Jack did would you like to do?
      I hope you have a great rest of your summer! I’m glad I got to see you a few times.
      Keep reading!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  18. Hey Mrs.Donofrio this summer I read a book called The Dirt Diary by Anna Stanisezewski. It’s about this girl named Rachel, she lives with her mom since her parents got divorced and her dad moved down to Florida. Rachel wouldn’t give up on her dad and thought that she could bring her parents back together. So Rachel took $300 from her college fund to buy a plane ticket to Florida during summer break, to try to bring her parents back together. But she has to pay back ASAP or else she will be grounded for life. To try to pay back Rachel helps her mom with her cleaning service, but it is not at all as she expected, she has to clean her classmates houses, including her worst enemy’s house! She is so desperate for the money she gets paid to spy on her crush’s girlfriend, but his girlfriend is Rachel’s worst Enemy Briana, but it isn’t to easy for her cause she has crush on Briana’s twin brother also and if she gets caught spying on Briana it could ruin their whole friendship. She also tries to get money by entering the school’s bake sale and the prize is $100, but she has to compete against the cheating school gossip girl, that is also her best friend’s neighbor, that slowly starts to wreck Rachel and her best friend’s friendship. But in the end Rachel and her best friend get back together, Rachel wins the bake sale, and finds out that her family is just better apart so she doesn’t go to Florida.

    • Wow, Isabella. You sure sound excited about this book! There is a lot going on in this story. I’m glad that things work out for Rachel, but it is still a bit sad that her family is better apart from each other. Did you like this book? Do you read a lot of books about high school kids?
      Have a great school year! Keep reading!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  19. Hi Mrs. Donofrio,

    I read a autobiography “Keep Looking Up” by Kim McAuliffe, and had lots of “bad luck.” In the begining of her autobiography she says that she had trouble finding a job, and was struggling with money. Her brother dies in the begining of the story, Also while her brother was dying, she had a miscarraige. She was very sad, and found hope through God.
    Eventually even more bad things happened to her as she is diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes. It is said that she had stage 2 cancer in the lymph nodes, but her bone marrow were showing signs of stage 4.
    Even later in the book, they believe that she is going to die from the cancer, but she keeps on praying, and gets very lucky.As of now, the cancer is almost fully gone, and she is living the rest of her life in North Port, FL.

    • Wow, Shawn. This woman is an inspiration to everyone who is going through a difficult time, which is everyone in the world at one time or another. I would say that she has had extraordinary difficulties, however. She certainly sounds like she has exceptional perseverance enhanced by the power of prayer. Where did you find her book? How did you hear of it? Did you like it?
      I hope that you had a great summer and that you have a wonderful school year!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  20. Hi Mrs. Donofrio!

    Happy Summer, I am ready for 7th grade!

    The books that I read this summer were “Isle of the Lost”, “Leaving Paradise”, and “If I stay”.
    The book I will be reviewing is “Isle of the Lost” by Melissa DeLaCruz. “Isle of the Lost” takes place in the U.S.A. (United States of Auradon). When King Beast became King he banned all of the villains and their evil sidekicks to the Isle of the Lost which has a barrier around it so that no magic is allowed in and no people are allowed out. The main characters are some of Disney’s most infamous villains and their kids. Maleficent and her daughter Mal,Jafar and his son Jay,The Evil Queen and her daughter Evie,and Cruella DeVil and her son Carlos. They all are living their “normal” life when all of a sudden Maleficent’s bird Diablo comes back from being frozen by the three good fairies and tells Maleficent that her scepter “The Dragon Eye” is back having its power.The kids first instinct is to go and find it so they can prove to their parents they can be everything their parents want them to be. A few days before searching Mal threw a party at Carlos’ house and Carlos showed Evie an invention that he made and when he turned on the box it blew a hole through the treehouse roof (which was his home) and it also made a hole through the dome. They carried the box all the way to find the dragon’s eye. On their quest there they find out if they work together the can do things a lot quicker. I don’t want to spoil the ending because I think this a book that is worth reading. I am a Disney fanatic and reading a book about the characters’ children was very exciting. Some of my favorite parts of the book was how they talk about the different princesses’ castles and where they are located and how all of their pets came from characters from real Disney stories. For example Lucifer (from Cinderella) had a litter of kittens and Flatsom and Jetsom (from Little Mermaid) had eel babies. Everything about this book is truly magical. I could talk about this for days. I highly recommend this book to all different age readers.

    If you were able to be a Disney character who would you be?
    I would either be Nala (from the Lion King) Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) or Ariel (from the Little Mermaid).

    I hope you had a great summer!

    • Hi Reanne!
      Your book sounds great! I love it when authors take something we are familiar with and turn it into something brand new. Such a clever idea. Have you seen the movie Descendants? Do you know if the movie was based on Isle of the Lost? I think the Disney writers are especially creative in incorporating Disney allusions into their works, such as the pet scenario you mentioned.
      If I were a Disney character, I would most certainly be Belle because she loves to read! I hope I am also able to see past the way people look and value them for their hearts, as Belle did with Beast. I did have a great summer, and I hope you did, too! Happy Back-to-School!
      Love, Mrs. Donofrio

  21. Hello Mrs. Donofrio.
    This summer I read Stung by Bethany Wiggins. The main character is a teenage girl named, Fiona Taris. She wakes up one day, no on is home and her twin brother, Jonah is missing. She also discovers a strange marking on her hand. She goes outside to see that her whole town is deserted. She’s then captured by someone who she later finds out is her neighborhood friend, Bowen. He tells her how dangerous everything has gotten in the town and how the government is trying experiment on people who have this mark on their hand. Bowen and Fiona go on the run trying to not get caught by the government.
    Sincerely, Abby

    • Hi Abby,
      I have not heard of this book before so thank you for sharing it with everyone. You did a great job of explaining the plot of the story. This genre of books, dystopian novels, has become very popular in the last few years. Did you like the book?
      I hope you have a great school year! Keep reading!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  22. Hi Mrs. Donofrio!

    The three books I read this summer were “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, “You Have a Brain: A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G by Ben Carson with Gregg Lewis and Deborah Shaw Lewis, and “Gifted Hands” by Gregg Lewis and Deborah Shaw Lewis. I will be telling all about “Gifted Hands.” I read the revised kids edition.

    “Gifted Hands” tells the story of Ben Carson. His story is really amazing. He went from being the “class dummy” to a world famous neurosurgeon. Dr. Carson did many amazing surgeries in his life. One of the first major surgeries he did was a hemispherectomy on a four year old named Maranda Francisco. A hemispherectomy is when you remove half of someone’s brain. She had this surgery done because she was having seizures. The seizures always started on the right side of her brain, so the conclusion was that there must be something wrong with the left side of her brain. Even though there was a risk of her dying during the surgery, her parents decided to get it done because she would definitely die if the surgery wasn’t done. Because of the surgery, she ended up being able to go to college and live a happy life.

    Another surgery Dr. Carson performed was the separation of Siamese twins. He had a few of these procedures come up when he was a neurosurgeon. I’m going to write about the Binder twins. Even though not all of these types of surgeries was a success, this one was. The Binder twins were the first set of twins Dr. Carson had to perform this surgery on. The twins was attached on the back of their heads. If this surgery was never done, they wouldn’t have been able to crawl, talk, or even see each other. Could you imagine not being able to see your sibling?! I think it would be very sad. Thank goodness Dr. Carson, along with many other doctors, were able to separate them.

    Before and after all his surgeries, Dr. Carson prayed to God. He looked up to God. If he had an issue or needed wisdom, he was never afraid to go to God. Now, he said he couldn’t have been a neurosurgeon if it wasn’t for God. Every day when he wakes up, he and his wife, Candy, pray to Him. Dr. Carson also prays to God when he goes to bed.

    This was a great book. Even though it was really similar to “You Have a Brain: A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G,” I would definitely recommend this book. Actually, I would recommend all three of the books I read.

    I know you read the two books about Ben Carson, but have you read “Heaven is for Real?” Hope to see you soon!


    • Hi Julia,
      Thanks for sharing these great books with everyone! I think it is pretty impressive that Dr. Carson creates so much time in his day for prayer. In addition to regular daily morning and evening prayer, he also makes a habit of reading the Bible. If someone as busy as Dr. Carson can make time for God, there is no reason why the rest of us are too busy or too tired to pray. Dr. Carson proves with his attitude and his daily practices that all of our actions result from conscious decisions we make each day. We can choose whether or not to pray, to read the Bible, to read other good books, to speak patiently and kindly, to help others. “All things are possible through Christ who strengthens me.”
      I have also read Heaven Is For Real and I enjoyed this book, too. The part I loved the most was when Colton saw the painting of Jesus that the girl had done. Pretty amazing.
      I hope to see you soon, too!
      Have a great first day of school tomorrow! I know you will have a great year.
      God bless,
      Mrs. Donofrio

  23. Hi Mrs. Donofrio! I am so excited to tell you about a great book I read this summer! The title of the book is “The Isle of the Lost” by Malissa De La Cruiz. In my opinion it had everything that it takes to be an amazing book. It was interesting, suspenseful, exciting, and mysterious! I chose to read this book, because I have always loved anything that had to do with Disney Characters or Disney Land.

    “The Isle of the Lost” is a book about the most well known villains and their children. About 10 years ago they all got locked up on this island in the middle of nowhere, where magic is banned ( due to a dome that surrounds it ) and where they live a very low life. The heroes thought that it was a good punishment for all that the villains had ever done. They even brought some villains back from the dead to experience this punishment! Can you believe that?

    The main characters in the story are Cruella De’veil and her son Carlos, Jafar and his son Jay, the Evil Queen and her daughter Evie, and (my favorite) Maleficient and her daughter Mal. The story line is all about Mal trying to prove to her mom (Malefecient) that she is just as evil as she is. Along this journey Malefecient discovers that her most powerful use of magic, the Dragon’s eye, is somewhere on the island. Which means that if she can generate enough magic, they could all break free from the island. The reason that all of the sudden Malefecient discovered this is very unusual.

    Carlos had a party at his house. At the party, Carlos took Evie back to his secret lab and showed her an invention he had been working on. It was a big metal box that was built to shoot a whole through the dome around the island, and find a signal that would allow them to finally watch T.V like normal kids. So Carlos turned on his machine and boom! This bright light shot up into the sky and broke a whole in the dome as planed, but they got no signal. Carlos thought nothing had happened. But what really happened is that the whole through the dome allowed magic to enter the Island. Which awoke Malefecient crow Diablo as well as the Dragons eye.

    She immediately sent Mal on a quest to find it. Mal was not very sure about this task, but she decided to try anyways, because she knew that if she found it her mom would never doubt her again. Mal also knew she could not complete the quest on her own, so she decided to bring Evie, Carlos, and Jay. You may be wondering why they would go on such a dangerous quest to find something that’s for Maleficient. But they are all going on the journey for the same reason. They all want to prove themselves to their parents. So they sent off, and hoped that something good would come out of it.

    I won’t tell you the ending just incase you have the interest to read the book, but I strongly suggest it. I hope you had a great summer and i can’t wait to be seeing you often!

    Who is your favorite disney villain? And if he or she is not one of the villains listed above, what do you think their kid would be like?


    • Hi Cooper,
      I am so glad that you read this book and wrote about it because I have been very curious about the movie, Descendants, that came out over the summer. It sounds like the movie is based on the book as the characters are the same. Did you see the movie as well?
      It’s intriguing that the typical hero quest is told from the villain’s point-of-view. I think it’s clever when authors take something with which you are familiar, and turn it on its ear, so to speak.
      My favorite villain, if I have a favorite, because it’s kind of hard for me to have a favorite evil character, but if I did, it might be Maleficient because of the way she looks. She somehow pulls off sophisticated as well as evil. Cruella is a good villain as well. Who can want to hurt puppies? That’s pretty low. Ursula would have been an interesting choice as well. I think Ursula’s child would be called Bursula and would look like a big brute.
      I am also looking forward to seeing you often during the school year.
      See you soon!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  24. Hey Mrs.Donofrio,
    I have seen the movie and it was great! The book was a prequel to Decendants, therefore the movie was a continuation of the book. After reading the book , I immediately watched the movie, because I couldn’t wait to figure out what happened next! When I saw the movie, I was extremely surprised to find out that it was a musical! It made it even more exciting.

    Recently after watching the movie, I found out that the director was the same man that directed the movie Highschool Musical. Have you seen those movies?

    I can’t wait till our next visit!

    • Hi Cooper,
      I have seen all the High School Musical movies, and I really liked all of them. When the second one came out, we had a High School Movie party at our house, and all Abbey’s and Sarah’s friends came over. I remember that we didn’t have the right cable channel then (although it doesn’t seem possible that we wouldn’t have had the Disney channel), so I called the cable company to say I needed the channel right away because the movie was about to start, and we were having a High School Musical Party in a few minutes! Amazingly, the customer service and technology both worked, and we all got to see HSM right from the very beginning. We even had the CDs, and we listened to all of them in the car.
      I will have to watch Descendants soon, too.
      See you soon!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

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