Ms. Donnelly Reads

"A Reader Lives a Thousand Lives" George R.R. Martin

december theme

Well, December and January came and went with the same theme: perseverance.

The irony is not lost on me.

Yet, part of me felt like the kids needed more time with that theme. As many of you know, we live in a time where lots of kids, teens, and adults just quit on stuff when the going gets tough. Grit is a lost characteristic. We’ve allowed ourselves to put things aside in order to prevent hurt feelings. And, honestly, who are we hurting with that philosophy?

Isn’t it ok to fall down and get back up? Or, should we just sit there, feeling sorry for ourselves and waste away, blaming others for our disappointment?

Here’s something personal: I’m going through a divorce. It’s got to be one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. I was 32 when I got married. I figured I knew myself well enough to have made the right decision. At 32, I thought I needed to get married or I’d miss the train… I wish I could go back and tell my 32 year old self that everything would be just fine and to cool it. But, I didn’t. And it hurts. A lot. I feel like a failure. My kids got caught in the crossfire and occasionally, not as often as when he first moved out, they still long for him to live with us.

And, for a long time, I could not move. I even started another degree to disengage with my feelings. But, when that program finished, I had to face the facts that life kept moving forward. It had to. At this point, it felt very much like yanking the scab off of a poorly healed wound. It was gross and it hurt and it oozed an angry sadness. I had two options- pick myself up, clean myself off, and figure out which direction to go. Or, stay down and continue to take cover while the sore festered and eventually the infection would kill me.

I chose to live again. Every day, some days hurt like it used to when we first split. Other days, I’m happy and pushing forward to carve out a new life for my children and me. It’s hard. Really freaking hard. But it’s so so worth it.

So, when life hits you, when stuff gets tough, when the road you chose washes out and leaves you in land of uncertainty, don’t quit on you. Don’t wait around for someone else to come along and tell you what to do next. Get up and keep moving forward. And, if you fall again, get back up. Again. And again.

Here are the books:


Roller Girl– Victoria Jamieson

For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.


51YuPuZ0efLChains– Laurie Halse Anderson

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.




Hatchet– Gary Paulsen

Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson, haunted by his secret knowledge of his mother’s infidelity, is traveling by single-engine plane to visit his father for the first time since the divorce. When the plane crashes, killing the pilot, the sole survivor is Brian. He is alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present.

At first consumed by despair and self-pity, Brian slowly learns survival skills—how to make a shelter for himself, how to hunt and fish and forage for food, how to make a fire—and even finds the courage to start over from scratch when a tornado ravages his campsite. When Brian is finally rescued after fifty-four days in the wild, he emerges from his ordeal with new patience and maturity, and a greater understanding of himself and his parents.




Freak the Mighty– Rodman Philbrick

It has been over twenty years — and more than two million copies, eight foreign editions, and a popular Miramax feature film — since the world was introduced to this powerful story of a unique friendship between a troubled, oversized boy and the tiny, physically challenged genius who proves that courage comes in all sizes.





A1pGbiedEVLEmmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu– Laurie Ann Thompson

Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.

So, let me start by saying that the comedy genre is really not in my wheelhouse… So, I’d love to hear if you have additional recommendations!! The mystery/suspense books are awesome! Take a look and let me know your thoughts.

Comedy pamphlet

mystery suspense

pile of covered books

Photo by Pixabay on

Happy New Year to you! While you were out gallivanting, I was wrestling with Canva to create some awesome pamphlets for Readers Advisory in my library. I think they are a good start! I’m always up for suggestions, as you know. The audience is middle school, as opposed to YA/Teens; please keep that in mind.

While the LGBTQIA+ is admittedly paltry, I believe this shines a light on the inadequate representation of that community. Everyone wants to see themselves on the shelves. And, when you don’t see a book that reflects you and the life you live, pick up a pen and write one!

LGBTQ brochure


According to the Myers Briggs personality test, the ENFP (The Campaigner) personality is a true free spirit. They are often the life of the party, but unlike types in the Explorer Role group, Campaigners are less interested in the sheer excitement and pleasure of the moment than they are in enjoying the social and emotional connections they make with others. Charming, independent, energetic and compassionate, the 7% of the population that they comprise can certainly be felt in any crowd. (source)

Here are your book recommendations for each trait (all summaries come from Amazon):


1. You Can Change the World With Just an Idea

Unlike all of the other personality types, ENFPs see the world as a complex puzzle where every piece reveals something deeper. Empaths with pure hearts, you never have to guess what they’re thinking. Boring roles are a death trap.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Stephen Chbosky

perksStanding on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.


2. Don’t Lose That ‘Little Spark of Madness’

As quick as ENFPs are to emote passion and intensity, they can cut to a creative free spirit. Because they are so in tune with social cues and intuition, sometimes ENFPs can create situations in their minds that don’t exist while finding their place in the world. Though ENFPs are curious, creative, and enthusiastic, the pendulum swings widely the other way and struggle with focusing on practical skills, overthinking, being too emotional, and fiercely independent.

The Astonishing Color of After

Emily X.R. Pan


Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.



3. You Cannot Live Without a Fire

Love for ENFPs is a way to connect with another soul. They take relationships seriously and give their whole heart to the other person. Their charm, passion, and warmth are attractive and their devotion is unshakable. ENFPs sometimes focus on the potential of their partner, rather than the present and those fantasies, when unfulfilled or unrequited, often leave them feeling unhappy or misunderstood.


Ibi Zoboi


Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.


4. So, You Think You Know the Real Me?

Going all in with a relationship that doesn’t end the way an ENFP anticipated, they can splinter right down the center. The failed relationships can keep an ENFP locked up in their own plague of discontent, self doubt, and reluctance to open up to another person. But, in the end, the ENFP’s unshakable belief in love and its infinite possibilities will always open them back up for another try.

The Upside of Unrequited

Becky Albertalli


Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.


5. An Exciting Adventure

As with romantic relationships, friendships are a cornerstone in an ENFPs life. While gregarious and having a sort of gravitational pull, these personalities will also link up with introverts, sometimes pushing them out of their shells. Like the failed expectation of romantic relationships, friendships can also lead to disappointment when they don’t pan out as expected. Putting so much effort into being selfless and supportive, ENFPs forget to take care of themselves. That sort of imbalance cannot be sustained and ENFPs may burnout on those friendships where there’s no reciprocity.

Best Friends

Shannon Hale

best friends

Follow your heart. Find your people.

Sixth grade is supposed to be perfect. Shannon’s got a sure spot in the in-crowd called The Group, and her best friend is their leader, Jen, the most popular girl in school.

But the rules are always changing, and Shannon has to scramble to keep up. She never knows which TV shows are cool, what songs to listen to, and who she’s allowed to talk to. Who makes these rules, anyway? And does Shannon have to follow them?


6. Making Life Spectacular

Even with all the hard feelings, the ENFP gift is that of communication. Forgiveness is what strengthens bonds and forges lifelong friendships so that everyone can enjoy the good stuff.

Shouting at the Rain

Lynda Mullaly Hunt

rainDelsie loves tracking the weather–lately, though, it seems the squalls are in her own life. She’s always lived with her kindhearted Grammy, but now she’s looking at their life with new eyes and wishing she could have a “regular family.” Delsie observes other changes in the air, too–the most painful being a friend who’s outgrown her. Luckily, she has neighbors with strong shoulders to support her, and Ronan, a new friend who is caring and courageous but also troubled by the losses he’s endured. As Ronan and Delsie traipse around Cape Cod on their adventures, they both learn what it means to be angry versus sad, broken versus whole, and abandoned versus loved. And that, together, they can weather any storm.



7. Go On, Spread Your Wings

There’s a Tim McGraw song, My Little Girl, that has a verse, “Chase your dreams but always know the road that will lead you home again.” What a tender sentiment. An ENFP parent devotes their entire heart to their children and will always be a parent children will confide in. Wanting their children to be happy, well rounded, and self confident, they raise them to go into the world at their own pace and with their own style. Always knowing which road will always lead them home.

The Giving Tree

Shel Silverstein


Since it was first published fifty years ago, Shel Silverstein’s poignant picture book for readers of all ages has offered a touching interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.


8. The Opening of a Door Can Be a Wonderfully Joyous Moment

ENFPs enjoy a challenge and are always ready to use their ace in the hole: people skills. They’re ready to rally the troops to support causes, examine new ways of thinking, and share their enthusiasm for new projects.


Samira Ahmed


Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the camp’s Director and his guards.


9. Too Many Bosses, Too Few Workers

Hierarchies and repetition do not sit well with ENFPs. They enjoy pushing boundaries and exploring new ideas. Questioning status quo and exploring alternatives are experiences ENFPs thrive upon.


Veronica Roth

81-DFVziuwLOne choice can transform you. Beatrice Prior’s society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions. Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she’s determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous.



For those of you who love Buzzfeed quizzes about what kind of cheese you are or who is your literary boyfriend, you’ll freak out with this bad boy! I took it a couple of years ago and found that I fit my personality profile to the letter. Which letters, you may ask yourself?

ENFP- The Campaigner

See if this appears to be yours truly:

Extraversion (E), Intuition (N), Feeling (F), Perception (P)

ENFPs are extremely creative and versatile people. They love playing with ideas, spinning off new concepts, and discussing them with other people.

They are charismatic, sociable, and exciting to be with because they always seem to have something new to explore or talk about. Sometimes ENFPs can seem scattered and directionless, and they often have no interest in the mundane details of day-to-day life. They tend to need others to keep them anchored and focused.

ENFPs’ innovation, social skills, and gift for observation make them natural comedians.

ENFP authors are some of the most wildly creative, one-of-a-kind voices in literature.


It is important to note that ENFPs make up only 8% of the population… So, I started looking at characters who have these traits. Here they are:

Ahsoka Tano, The Clone Wars

Ariel, The Little Mermaid

Elizabeth FREAKING Bennett, Pride and Prejudice

Genie, Aladdin

Finn, Star Wars

George FREAKING Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life

Ron Weasley, Harry Potter  

Do you see where I’m going here? No? Ok, that’s cool. I’ll tell you. Since I am now officially done with my MLIS degree, I’ve got TONS of time on my hands. And, I’ve decided to create book recommendations for each of the Myers Briggs Personalities! Mind you, most will be middle school and YA related- but never underestimate the power of YA.

To take the MB personality test, click this link 

Come back and let me know what your personality is. We can dig in and uncover your books, together!


IMG_2230 (1)

I know I’m a little behind here. Big stuff happened these last two weeks! I am officially finished with my MLIS program at Dominican University! The last 2.5 years have been wrapped up tightly with little room to breathe… Now, I’m taking long, deep, cleansing breaths… Remember what it feels like to not have the crushing weight of homework looming overhead.

I also attended a What’s New in School Libraries conference and it blew my mind. I’ve got to figure out how to make my library working in different ways for the kids. One step at a time… I know… I’m just trying to figure out the “What’s Next” for me.

As for the here and now, I’d like to share last month’s Theme: Empathy. Being able to understand and share in the feelings of others is difficult to procure nowadays. Children (and adults) really need to understand that the world is bigger than just them. The “It doesn’t have anything to do with me” mindset doesn’t build communities or create empathy. Making fun, teasing, bullying, all these things tear people down. Not one single person knows what anyone else is truly struggling with.

I asked students to raise their hands if they wrestled with things they don’t talk to people about… About half raised their hands. Sheepish. Everyone looked around. That popular kid, his hand was up. That nerdy girl that reads a lot? Her hand went up.

A couple years ago, a different group of kids and I had a peace circle and we talked about some personal battles- we’d created quite a trusting circle and I was always vulnerable in it, to show them that even adults don’t have it all together (as if they didn’t know that, already). My grandmother had just passed and all of my nerves were tender and aching for my father and our family. Knowing that my own parents are next lingers in the not so distant back of my mind. Well, it turned out that two kids just found out that family members were diagnosed with cancer, another kid was coming up on the anniversary of a death in the family, and other birds of sorrow hung around our collective heads. The lesson: Be kind. It doesn’t take anything away from anyone to be nice to people. It puts people’s hearts back together.

So, this month’s theme is important- I’d keep it up all year if I could. All book summaries come from Amazon.

rain reign

Rain Reign- Ann M. Martin

Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different―not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.

When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.



Walk Two Moons- Sharon Creech

Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle, proud of her country roots and the “Indian-ness in her blood,” travels from Ohio to Idaho with her eccentric grandparents. Along the way, she tells them of the story of Phoebe Winterbottom, who received mysterious messages, who met a “potential lunatic,” and whose mother disappeared.


out of my mind

Out of My Mind- Sharon M. Draper

Eleven-year-old Melody is not like most people. She can’t walk. She can’t talk. She can’t write. All because she has cerebral palsy. But she also has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but NO ONE knows it. Most people—her teachers, her doctors, her classmates—dismiss her as mentally challenged because she can’t tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by her disability. And she’s determined to let everyone know it…somehow.


bc of mr terupt

Because of Mr. Terupt- Rob Buyea

It’s the start of a new year at Snow Hill School, and seven students find themselves thrown together in Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class. There’s . . . Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who’s having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school.

They don’t have much in common, and they’ve never gotten along. Not until a certain new teacher arrives and helps them to find strength inside themselves—and in each other. But when Mr. Terupt suffers a terrible accident, will his students be able to remember the lessons he taught them? Or will their lives go back to the way they were before—before fifth grade and before Mr. Terupt?


counting by 7s

Counting By 7s- Holly Goldberg Sloan

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.


el deafo

El Deafo- Cece Bell

A 2015 Newbery Honor Book Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid.
The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for.