Cheri is an elementary teacher. She has been teaching 3rd grade for 11 years, and loves to read Youth Fiction. In her Reading Life, her favorite books are in the Harry Potter series, but she also enjoys the Artemis Fowl series as excellent youth fiction. Cheri enjoys helping elementary students find that "Just Right" book to help them along their own Reading Lives.
Cheri reads so much that her long list of staff picks was slowing down this page! We've archived her 2014-2018 reviews here: https://www.gibsonsbookstore.com/cheri-2014-2018
Cheri's June 2020 pick
Five poor, unadoptable orphans have quite a sad life. But what they lack in comforts they make up for in tenacity. These orphans all came to the orphanage in interesting ways, all in the same year. For example, one orphan came, “wrapped in a soot-stained shawl,” “abandoned by a coal bunker.” Each abandonment perhaps left clues regarding each orphan’s background. Milou’s, in particular, left a name, B. Poppenmaker. Milou is convinced that her parents will be back for her at any moment, and she wants to be ready. When circumstances at the orphanage give the five a chance at freedom, they take it. With Milou as their leader, they seem to find her family home, and empty abandoned windmill and puppet theater. But there are many forces just as determined to ruin the orphans’ chances. The orphans aren’t sure who to trust.
The Unadoptables is a page-turner. I was quickly taken by the author’s unique writing style and by the five orphans this book is about. Hana Tooke’s style reminds me a bit of Lemony Snicket. I also loved its setting, the Amsterdam of 1880. Mysterious and heartwarming, I recommend this novel enthusiastically.
Cheri's May 2020 pick
Mary Porter-Malcolm is a very smart and astute young lady. She has gone to school on a college campus and knows all the ins and outs of the literature of the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and other readers of that time period. As with any great story, Mary’s takes a plot twist. Her school is closing and Mary must begin again at the local public high school. While there, Mary finds friendship with a group of girls, lamenting over how they can’t find the perfect boy. She becomes a wealth of knowledge for the girls on this point, having had her education in identifying and avoiding those rakes from her feminine literary heroes. Being accepted in her new school has made her transition so much more tolerable. But, has she overstepped her expertise? Can she really tell the difference between a rake and the real thing?
Amanda Sellet has written in the style of those same literary heroes, and I loved it. This is a fun read, that is not as predictable as you might think. A wonderful book for the romantic hearts of middle and high schoolers.
Cheri's April 2020 pick
The best thing about books is that they bring you experiences you may not otherwise have. They can teach you things about life that you may not already know. Alex Gino has done both in Rick. Rick allowed me into the inner thinking and turmoil of a young boy questioning himself, who he is and who his friends are. Rick is realizing that his best friend, Jeff, may actually be the biggest jerk in the world, and what does that say about his own choices in friends. Rick is also realizing that, as a middle schooler, he doesn’t seem to be “feeling” the same sorts of attractions to others as Jeff does. Jeff is quick to point out that Rick better get with the program. Then, serendipitously, Rick finds support and friendship from an unlikely source, the LGBTQIAP+ club called the “Rainbow Spectrum” where Melissa, from Alex Gino’s debut novel, George, rejoins the story. Outside of school Rick reconnects with his Grandfather on several unexpected levels. Each topic is tenderly treated my Alex Gino’s gentle storying telling manner.
Cheri's July 2019 pick, 1 of 3
Laurel Snyder wrote one of my favorite books from last summer, Orphan Island. Her new book, My Jasper June, is already a favorite for this summer and should be added to anyone's summer reading list. Laurel Snyder has a wonderful way of creating characters you just deeply care about. I feel there are hints of Jinny, from Orphan Island, in My Jasper June’s main character, Leah.
Thirteen-year-old Leah is facing the summer feeling incredibly lonely and alone. Her family has just trudged through a year of heartbreak caused by the death of her little brother, Sam, last summer. She and her parents still have each other, but they all seem to be barely hanging on. Nothing seems normal, and no one seems to treat them normal anymore either. Leah’s best friend, Tess, seems so distant and far away that Leah doesn’t look for her company anymore. Then, Leah finds Jasper, a girl just about her own age, with bright red and wild hair. Leah says of Jasper, “It’s like she’s so full of joy, nothing can squish it.” Except, Jasper has her own story to tell, and in some ways, it is worse than Leah’s. These two, strong girls find friendship, love, and trust, both at a time when they needed it most. I loved this story of love, and loss, and friendship. It is a story that will stay with me for a long time.
Cheri's July 2019 pick, 2 of 3
Do you know what “Spine Poetry’ is? Well, I didn’t until I read A Kind of Paradise. This book is my #1 pick for youth fiction summer reading. This story is an uplifting read from start to finish, full of wonderful characters and a little heartbreak, but mostly it is a self affirming story about growing through your mistakes.
Jamie made a big mistake at the end of her school year. So big that she was assigned community service at the local library. Jamie is dreading this hijacking of her summer. But, Jamie soon finds acceptance and purpose, as well as the support to face her choices and become a better person for it. This is a story well worth reading. Enjoy.
Cheri's July 2019 pick, 3 of 3
Girls of July is a quintessential summer read. Four girls, from four very different walks of life, share a house together for the summer in upstate New York. Katherine, Grace, Britta and Spider start out a strangers, each wanting and needing to get away from their lives to be distracted for a while, but also not ready to let anyone else in. They begin with a tentative alliance, and as the summer progresses, form lifelong bonds. Along with Ruth, the owner of the house and Spider’s grandmother, the girls tackle wild animals, find new love, ask big questions about their lives, and solve a mystery sixty years in the making. I loved that there were four main characters, and all were so different and each grew in their own ways.
Cheri's May 2019 pick, 1 of 3
Jude is a young girl from Syria. As tensions rise in her country, and life becomes more dangerous, Jude and her mother move to the United States to live with her Uncle. Jude struggles with missing Syria, and her father and brother. While at her Uncle’s, Jude enrolls in school and begins the difficult task of learning English and finding her place in this new country. Her cousin, Sarah, was born in the United States, but doesn’t seem interested in helping her cousin fit in. Jude also experiences strangers who seem to feel the same way. She does find a taste of home, however, when she meets Layla, whose parents own a Lebanese restaurant. As Jude perseveres, she decides to tryout for the school’s play and lands a part. Jude soon learns that she can live in both worlds. This is a lovely telling of a refugee’s story, written through poetry.
Cheri's May 2019 pick, 2 of 3
Finding Orion is for anyone who thinks their family is crazy, and for anyone who has experienced the upheaval a loss of a loved one can create. This wonderfully funny and insightful story follows Rion and his family after the loss of his dad’s estranged father. A singing clown comes to deliver the news of Rion’s grandfather’s passing to his family, and that isn’t the only odd thing to happen. Papa Kwirk’s body turns up missing. Thus starts a scavenger hunt for Rion’s missing grandfather. Along the way, Rion learns about his grandfather and father at the same time. John David Anderson is a master storyteller. I’ve loved EVERYTHING he has written. I’m sure you will too.
Cheri's May 2019 pick, 3 of 3
“We make room for what we love.”
Delise is spending her summer at the Cape just as she always loves to do, except at thirteen, her life is beginning to shift. Her closest childhood friend, Brandy, appears to be moving on without her, onto more “interesting” people, like Tressa. A new, unexpected friend comes along, Ronan. They have connections beyond their age and begin to create a new bond. In the meantime, Delise starts to really struggle with the fact that she has no parents and the recent loss of her grandfather. She knows she is loved and cared for by her grandmother, and the neighbors she has known all her life but is it enough? Can they really make room for her? This story will tug at your heartstrings. Ms. Hunt’s writing style is perfect for upper elementary and middle school readers. I love how she writes with just the right tone and uses just the right dialog so that I can really hear “life.”
Cheri's April 2019 pick, 1 of 4
I would consider this story a mystery adventure. Miranda has been sent to August Isle, in Florida. This is the town her mother grew up in, but never talks about. Both of Miranda’s parents have important work commitments, so Miranda is being sent to stay with her mother’s childhood friend. Miranda has always wanted to travel to August Isle, but didn’t think she would be by herself when she did. She soon finds friends and a mystery to solve. Miranda sees a light on at the lighthouse off the coast, but nobody's supposed to be there. It’s owner disappeared years ago. She decides to investigate and finds more than she ever expected. This is an enjoyable adventure.
Cheri's April 2019 pick, 2 of 4
Margaret Haddix has always been able to tell a story, about kids, with real suspense and mystery. The first of her new series, Greystone Secrets, is no exception. Three siblings, Chess, Emma, and Finn, find themselves in a situation beyond anyone’s imagining. Their father died years ago. Their mother has disappeared. And three children from California have been kidnapped. That by itself is terrible, but not remarkable. However, each child has the same exact first and middle name, and birthdate as Chess, Emma, and Finn! And somehow it is all connected. Chess, Emma, and Finn must find and solve the clues, including a hidden room that spins and leads to a tunnel, to save their mother in a race against time.
Cheri's April 2019 pick, 3 of 3
Welcome Back! I was so excited to return to the world of Nevermore with Morrigan Crow, Jupiter North, Hawthorne Swift, and Finestra. In this next installment, we go deeper, much deeper, into Morrigan’s new life. Morrigan begins school with her fellow “Wunsoc” students who were inducted into the Wunderous Society at the end of the last book. But her dreams of learning more and finding a family are soon challenged. A blackmailer seems bent on tearing apart the new friendships Morrigan has been offered, and prejudice surrounding her “nack,” or her powers has kept Morrigan from learning what she had wanted to. And all the while, the Wundersmith, Ezra Squall, continues to lurk in the shadows trying to recruit Morrigan as his apprentice. Ezra is the most hated man in Nevermore, what does that say about Morrigan? Come back to Nevermore and enjoy the adventure.
Cheri's April 2019 pick, 4 of 4
This is a delightful book about the magic of wishes. Four kids, not exactly friends, inadvertently bring back a magic wishing well, and it all starts with a bully and a chase. As Earnest learns about an uncle he never knew, and Ryan develops a friendship he never meant to, and Lizzy finds her voice, the town they live in gets some serendipitous surprises through some seemingly random objects found abandoned in an attic, and then lost again. Readers will love getting to know these kids, and their adventures at the bottom of a very special well.
Cheri's March 2019 pick
This is a magical adventure story. Mallie lives in a world that is dark and filled with a harmful dust. Life is dreary and hard. Mallies father has lost his voice and is unable to work. Her brother, Denver, is destined to her father’s fate in the mines. Mallie helps to make ends meet by cleaning the houses of the rich. An opportunity comes up as a way to lift her family out of their precarious state. The danger of the opportunity is presented up front, but the rewards are too great to pass up. What Mallie didn’t expect was a way to save the whole world on the back of a winged horse! You will enjoy this exciting adventure to the stars.
Cheri's February 2019 pick
Coyote Sunrise is a young girl on an extended adventure. She is riding around in a renovated school bus with her dad- Rodeo. They have been traveling back and forth between the shores of the country, stopping everywhere they want, doing whatever they like. Coyote and Rodeo have been driving for five years. Once, Coyote had a family, with a dad, mom, and sisters. All that changed five years ago. When Coyote learns that the small park , where she, her mother, and her sisters buried a time capsule is going to be dug up, it becomes Coyote’s mission to get Rodeo to bring her to their old neighborhood to save the time capsule. As they travel, Coyote and Rodeo pick up passengers along the way. Each new passenger begins to help Coyote and Rodeo stretch themselves back into the world, beyond the safety of their beloved bus. This is a heartwarming story about love, loss and friendship.