Picture Book: Weslandia by Paul Fleischman (Candlewick Press 1999)
This book is purely fantasy, but its themes make it quite relevant for elementary students. Wesley, the story’s main character, is a boy who doesn’t seem to fit in. Instead of conforming to society’s expectations, Wesley creates a society all his own. Perfect for students who feel “different” than everyone else or anyone who dreams of making a mark on the world. Encourage students to make and describe their own ideal societies after reading this imaginative book.
Novel: The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen (Delacorte 1998)
There are not a lot of great science fiction novels out there for the elementary age group, so this book is really a gem. Gary Paulsen is well known for his Newbery Honor book, Hatchet, and most people think of him as a writer of realistic fiction. His one foray into the science fiction genre is very successful, however. The book grabs you from the beginning as protagonist Mark steps into a beam of bluish white light and ends up in a mysterious new world. The suspense builds as Mark explores this strange place and then begins to realize that he is not alone. Perfect for fifth graders who crave a great adventure!