Posts from the ‘chapter book’ Category

A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW

Timber View Camp

Written by Jason Deas

Sally and Reggie are fifth-grade friends who are also neighbors. When Sally receives a free “golden ticket” to attend Timber View Camp, she is upset about leaving her home this summer. Her fears are somewhat alleviated when Reggie also wins a ticket.

When the day to leave for camp arrives, they are dismayed to see an ugly purple double-decker bus with a strange driver who speaks in rhyme pick them up. The pair is even more alarmed when they are dropped off in the middle of nowhere with only a four-part riddle to guide them. By pulling together the campers dub themselves the 12 up and use each of their talents to survive and make it to the campground.

Things keep getting weirder as Reggie and Sally, along with their new friends, fear that they are being watched and followed. Tony and Sissy, their counselors, mysteriously disappear as the odd events unfold. The campers cleverly team up with Cynthia, whose family works at the camp, to develop a plan to expose the owners and turn the tables on them.

This mystery contains wonderful characters, clever plot lines, and lots of humor to accompany the mystery. Young detectives will have to use their smarts to solve it.

Highly recommended for readers ages nine and older.

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TALL TAILS

A 13th Tail

Written by Daniel Kelley

What a charming and clever story for all ages! Uncle Willoughby frequently entertains his twin nephews and niece by telling them his original stories. The humorous interruptions of the clever children are almost as much fun as the stories.

On this day, Uncle Willoughby is relating the story of a farm boy named Jackson who lives on an extraordinary farm filled with common farm animals like horses and sheep as well as exotic animals like hippogriffs, porcupines and monkeys. Jackson loved all the animals and took exceptional care of them. While feeding the horses one day, he counts their tails and notices there are thirteen, one more than the day before. He notices a pony that has never been there. This pony talks and reveals that he has come to the farm in search of “greener pastures.”

Many months pass as the pony named Wilberfortnum enjoys his new life at the farm. But one day he notices that the land is no longer green, but shades of brown. The porcupine tells him that this happens every year when the seasons change. “Greener pastures” does mean that the land stays green; it is a state of mind when one feels happy and well-adjusted. Wilberfortnum has never noticed this. He decides that he will wait and see and is relieved to see the green color return.

Kelley uses lots of alliteration, clever inventive language, and humor. For example, Uncle Willoughby cautions the children never tell a woman that something is her fault, or her anger will be directed back at you. I especially enjoyed how the author hid the number thirteen throughout the book and challenges the reader to find them. (He includes the answers in the final chapter)

I heartily recommend this book for middle-grade readers, young adults, and families who want to enjoy sharing a fun read aloud together.

HE VS. SHE

HE VERSES SHE

The Hockey Wars

Written by Sam Lawrence and Ben Jackson

Millie and Cameron grew up together and shared many mutual interests. Some even thought them twins. In the small town of Dakota playing hockey was a way of life for girls and boys. The girls and boys played on the same team for many years, but Millie has recently decided to form an all-female team. Now the Dragons and the newly formed Lightning team competed fiercely. The teams argued frequently over who would get to practice at the ice at the pond after school. One day, the crisis could no longer be averted. The teams decided on a face-off game. Whoever won that game would gain permanent access to the pond.

For the following week, both teams felt the tension. The author spends a good amount of time describing the personalities of all the members of both teams.  Conflicting emotions erupt on both sides. In fact, many of the boys and girls on either side like Violet and Linkin are clearly attracted to each other. A coming of age and peer relationship plotline is a crucial part of the tale.

Who will win the big game? Will the tension between the former teammates be resolved? This chapter book with black and white pencil drawings is a good choice for a beginning reader as well as middle-grade students. I think many adults will enjoy it as well.

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TO LONDON, WE WILL GO

HEY KIDS! LET’S VISIT LONDON (Fun, Facts, and Amazing Discoveries for Kids)

Written by Teresa Mills

This book is geared toward middle-grade students, roughly ages eight through thirteen. It can be used as a guidebook to prepare children who are planning a trip to London with a family or a community organization. Each site is accompanied by pictures, its history, main features, and visitor appeal. Mills talks about iconic historical landmarks like Stonehenge, The Tower of London, Big Ben, The Red Phone Booth, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace. She discusses street landmarks like Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, the London Eye, and Harrod’s Department Store. Other notable spots to visit include The London Zoo, Hampstead Heath, The Globe Theater, and Platform 9 3/4’s with its connection to Harry Potter. Of course, no visit would be complete without a ride on the London tube or a visit to one of the museums like The Duxford Air & Space Museum or the RAF Museum.

There is so much to see. Mills has especially focused on those of interest to children. This book can also be useful as a starting place for a school project on London. The book need not be read in any particular order as the chapters are not laid out sequentially.

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BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR…

Duck and Friends

Written by Donna McFarland

Illustrated by Kim Sponaugle

Duck owns a farm in Pleasant Valley, complete with cows, pigs, chickens, and alpacas. One day, his friend, Cat calls Duck on his cell phone complaining that his computer is running too slow. Duck asks if he is sure that he wants it to run faster. He installs a new program that gives the computer arms and legs. Suddenly, the computer takes off, causing all manner of havoc in the community. All the animal friends experience quite an adventure before the day is finished.

This beginning chapter book blends modern technology with familiar animals and a clever adventure plot line. Adorable pencil sketches throughout the chapters keep the interest level high. Perfect choice for primary grade students who are just learning to read or reluctant readers.

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HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

Mary’s Song (Dream Horse Adventures Book 1)

Written by Susan Count

Mary is a twelve-year-old handicapped young lady. Her mother died when she was three; no one wants to talk about it. Mary lives with her father and a housekeeper. The story is set in 1952. Her father constantly searches for a possible medical breakthrough to cure his daughter. Mary is strong-willed and determined. Her best friend, Laura, rides and cares for horses at her home. The girls become obsessed with saving a horse named Illusion who needs surgery. They find ways of earning money toward that end.

Mary’s overprotective father frequently gets upset with Mary’s obstinate behavior. Laura and Mary disobey their parents and end up in trouble often, but that means lots of interesting adventures along the way. Will the girls be able to save Illusion? Can Mary’s father find a medical cure to help Laura walk again?

Middle-grade and young adult readers will find the antics of these two friends’ fun and endearing. There is lots of humor and a few surprises in store for readers. Two strong female role models and a tender story of animal affection will appeal to a wide audience. Highly recommended. I look forward to reading the sequel.

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NEED A SOLUTION?

6TH GRADE REVENGERS: BOOK 1, CAT CRIMES AND WANNABES

Written by Steven Whibley

Marcus and Jared are two eleven-year-old friends in sixth grade. They would both like to attend spy camp but don’t have the money to attend. Jared is smart and creative; Marcus is a computer genius with the equipment to put his ideas into motion.

Jared comes up with an idea to set up a business with Marcus to raise money by solving people’s problems. After playacting to remove his six-year-old sister’s fears of The Bogeyman, Jared decides his idea might work. He comes up with the name, The Revengers and enlists Marcus to develop the website, advertise and be his partner “in crime.”

The friends take on the task of ridding a neighborhood of an aggressive orange cat that has been terrorizing Oak Street, while at the same time getting rid of Gunner, the ne’er do well, freeloading musician boyfriend of Jared’s older sister, Ronie. A series of comical mishaps follow on both fronts. Things seem to be getting more out of hand.

The adventures include lots of humor and age-appropriate scenarios for preteens and teens. Reminiscent of vintage adventures like The Hardy Boys, the characters also include strong female characters like Janet, the gossip, and Ronie, the somewhat gullible, and follow the crowd pleaser.

I haven’t read the other books in the series, but if the first is any indication, I would certainly recommend the series for readers age eight and older. The characters are likable and the plot lines clever and engaging. Young adults and adults will enjoy them as well.

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