Mrs. Sackets's Library - Perch, Mrs. Sackets, and Crow's Nest by Karen Pavlicin

Mrs. Sackets's Library

As you know, I have an extensive library. As Andy says, "every kind of book I could imagine."

Every now and then when I'm not tending my flower garden or eating Grandma's beans or bird watching with Andy, I'll tell you about some of my books. Maybe there will be some books you haven't read yet that you can find at your local library. -- Mrs. Sackets

Look for The Last Girls of Pompeii in your local library
or buy from a local bookseller
or online.

The Last Girls of Pompeii by Kathryn Lasky

Have you ever wondered what it was like in Pompeii before Mount Vesuvius erupted? Kathryn Lasky gives us a splendid image in her book The Last Girls of Pompeii. This book is recommended for readers age 11 and up.

The book is about twelve-year-old Julia, the daughter of a wealthy shipbuilder, and her slave, Sura. Julia bears the Curse of Venus, a withered arm, while Sura is considered beautiful. The summer has already been a trying one for Julia, with two older sisters' weddings to endure. Then she suspects her parents have a terrible plan in mind that will affect both Julia's and Sura's lives. Yet no one in Pompeii suspects that beneath the verdant vineyards that grow on Mount Vesuvius, a beastly volcano slumbers. When it erupts, it forges a path of destruction that throws everyone's futures into question, and forces Julia and Sura to confront the true meaning of freedom.

What I like best about this book is that even though you know how it ends for Pompeii, you don't know until the end what happens to Julia and Sura, and you care very much about what happens to them. It takes a great deal of research for an author to write a realistic story like this about an ancient culture.

This book is fiction, so the story and characters are made up. You can learn more true facts about Pompeii and ancient Rome from museums and nonfiction books and web sites.
The Minnesota Science Musuem has a traveling Pompeii exhibit.

Younger readers may enjoy The Magic Tree House # 13 - Vacation Under the Volcano by Mary Pope Osborne and the corresponding Magic Tree House Research Guide - Ancient Rome and Pompeii.


Look for Chasing Vermeer in your
local library
or buy from a local bookseller
or online

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

I love a good mystery, especially if it involves an eccentric old woman, a pocket full of pentominoes (mathematical puzzle pieces), blue M&Ms, and things that can't be explained in the usual ways. And that, of course, is just what Blue Balliett offers in her excellent novel Chasing Vermeer. Recommended for ages 9-12.

A creative thief steals a valuable Vermeer painting en route to Chicago, the home town of Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay. These two sixth graders didn't know each other but they are drawn together clue by clue in an international art scandal in which no one - neighbors, parents, teachers - is spared from suspicion. Can they decipher a crime that has left even the FBI baffled?

You'll want to learn more about pentominoes. For as Blue says, "Don't be fooled by ideas that seem, at first, to fit easily. Don't be fooled by ideas that don't seem to fit at all. Pentominoes, like people, can surprise you."