Posts from the ‘chapter book’ Category

WINTER’S TALE

Snowdrops: Adventure Three (Book # 3 in the Adventures of Katie and Alex series)

Written by Julia Gousseva

Ten-year-old Alex and his nine-year-old sister are staying with their Aunt Karina while their parents are working in Russia. Karina frequently reads the children Russian folktales. But she does more than read those tales, the children have discovered a fireplace that leads to a magic portal through which they become a part of that story.

One day the children are on the porch when the summer weather suddenly turns stormy. Within a matter of minutes, snowdrops are swirling. Alex, Katie and their Aunt Karina retreat to the warmth of the house. Karina reads them a folktale about a girl named Masha who lives with her wicked stepmother, Darya.  This stepmother ordered Masha to go into the forest and pick snowdrops even though it was still winter. Alex, Katie, and Karina rush into the forest to save Masha and they proceed to have an adventure in which they meet Father Frost and move through all the seasons of the year. The children learn about the seasons and meet the Twelve Months of the Year.

Will the children and their aunt be able to rescue Masha and prevent Darya from abusing her further?

This is a chapter book that combines elements of fantasy with a Russian folktale and a travel adventure. There are no illustrations. I would recommend this book as a good choice for readers in third through fifth grade, but readers of any age who enjoy multicultural folktales will probably enjoy it.

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MAN’S BEST SUPER SLEUTH

Hide and Panic Stations (Super Sleuth Sam Book 1)

Written by Monty J. McClaine

This is the first book in a nine-part series. The author uses the introduction to present the characters of the series. Jack is a mischievous six-year-old. His father likes to tinker in the garage with his Corvette, his mother is a devoted stay at home mom, his sister, Molly has just begun to crawl. Sam, the basset hound is always on red alert protecting the family and serving as Jack’s constant companion. But Sam is no ordinary dog, he has magical powers passed down to him from his ancestors. When Sam recites his chant, he develops super speed and the detective skills of a Sherlock Holmes.

One day Jack and Sam are playing hide and seek. Jack pushes the envelope by finding a hiding place in which no one discovers him. While Jack is comfortably ensconced reading his dad’s comic and enjoying a snack, the rest of the family is in panic mode. Readers will enjoy how Sam employs his super speed and detective smarts to solve the mystery of Sam’s disappearance. Sam’s parents are about to call the police. Will Sam be able to solve the mystery? Perhaps young readers will be able to help.

This book is a fun chapter book for beginning and middle-grade readers. It presents a typical family with some atypical characteristics, some humor, and a mystery for readers to ponder. Recommended especially for third to fifth graders. The length of approximately one hundred pages makes it a good choice for reluctant readers as well.

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THE RIGHT DECISION

The Doll Dilemma (Kids’ Court Book 1)

Written by Caron Pescatore

When Jenny accuses her twin brother, Jimmy of breaking the head off of her favorite doll, Jimmy swears that he is innocent. But Jimmy has a history of breaking his sister’s toys. Jimmy’s friend Luanna tries to intercede. Luanna’s parents are a lawyer and a judge and she has spent lots of time at work with them. So Luanna suggests that the local kids get together and have a trial to prove Jimmy’s guilt or innocence. They set up the court in Luanna’s basement. The group chooses a bailiff, investigators, attorneys, and witnesses. Because they don’t have enough children to set up a jury, they decide on a bench trial.

Readers are guided through the whole legal process. They learn about legal terminology and procedure. There is also an element of mystery that sharp detectives use to resolve Jimmy’s guilt or innocence. The dialogue moves along well and is authentic for the age group. Middle-grade readers who enjoy humor, detective stories, strong characters, and legal procedures will find something to learn and enjoy.

Highly recommended for readers in the middle-grades or anyone who enjoys a fun, fast read.

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SETTING THINGS STRAIGHT

The Adventures of Joy Sun Bear: The Blue Amber of Sumatra

Written by Blanca Carranza and John Lee

This is the first book in a series of adventures featuring a bear named Joy. Set in the tropical rainforest of Sumatra, readers are rapidly propelled into a nonstop fantasy adventure. Joy will learn a lot about himself and teach his readers about courage, bravery, and standing up for themselves and others. Joy meets an assortment of magical characters, an exotic bird, a magical frog, orangutans, and a trickster fox to name a few.

Joy teaches readers the importance of family relationships, stewardship of Mother Earth, and respect for creatures of other cultures. Readers are exposed to the good and bad of humans as well as the inner struggles faced within oneself. The color illustrations move the story along for younger readers and help to illuminate the hidden storylines. The chapter book runs close to two hundred pages so it might be a challenge for beginning readers who might want to approach it in several phases; it would make an excellent teacher read aloud book to discuss in the classroom. Recommended audience is for ages six through ten, though I would classify it more as a middle-grade selection. I am looking forward to reading the next tale and following Joy’s growth journey.

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#HAPPY HALLOWEEN – G is for Ghost

The Ghostly Night

Written by Jeanette W. Stickel

This book is a clever ghost tale written by a speech pathologist to introduce the letter g. Kristy cannot sleep. She fears there is a ghost in the room. Kristy sees the full moon casting shadows, the wind blowing the curtains, hears the branches scraping against the window, and an owl hooting. Her mother keeps peeking in to reassure her, but Kristy, despite her mother’s reassurances, remains fearful. Finally, she climbs out of bed and builds a tent with her animal friends. The last time Kristy calls her mom into the room, the tables are turned and there is a surprise ending.

Stylized and simple illustrations with simple text allow young readers to easily follow the story. Recommended for toddlers, preschoolers and primary grade children. The book doubles as a beginning reader.

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PANTS IN CHARGE

The Tyler Files #1: Smarty Pants

Written by Brian Rock

Illustrated by Joshua Dawson

Rock has created a clever chapter book that will keep readers chuckling and thinking long after they have finished reading it. Tyler is a fifth grader who experiences a unique problem. One day in school, his pants start talking to him. Tyler and his best friend, Paul, are mystified and neither can figure out how to solve the problem. As Tyler goes through his day at school, his pants’ chatter gets him in trouble at the library, in the gym, and how will he find the time to study for his math test? But his pants help him solve his problems with Rhino, the school bully, and allow him to impress Audrey, the girl he has a crush on. Will Tyler ever get his “smarty pants” to keep his mouth shut?

The author targets this book for readers in the seven to ten age range. It is a beginning chapter in the sense that the chapters are short and the font large. It also contains a few drawings done in Wimpy Kid style. The humor is infectious and appropriate to a fifth grader. I particularly enjoyed the extension activities at the end of the book. Rock asks what readers think about the characters and presents what-if scenarios to encourage further thinking about the plot. He includes fun facts and a few jokes to continue the fun.

I would recommend the book as a beginning chapter book for elementary school readers, but middle-grade students will also appreciate the quirky characters, humor, and coming of age sections of the plot.

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YOU GOTTA BELIEVE

Rusty and the Circus of Doubt

Written by G. Russell Reynolds

Illustrated by Sherrie Molitor

 

Rusty The Elephant lives in the circus. As a young boy, Rusty believed that he was destined for greater things. The Circus Boss berates Rusty when he doesn’t act like a “normal” elephant. All the other animals bully him. Over time, Rusty begins to lose confidence in himself. One night he cries out for help. A monkey appears and informs Rusty that he has the key to Rusty’s freedom. This monkey works step by step to encourage self-confidence and independence in Rusty. Soon Rusty no longer cares what the other animals think of him. Will Rusty ever achieve his dreams?

This International Book Excellence winner contains beautiful illustrations and a message to encourage children who experience a lack of self-confidence and fear of not fitting in with the crowd. While the book is targeted at children in the six to nine-year-old age group, I feel it is appropriate for older children as well. Well-written and highly recommended for all ages.

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