Posts from the ‘chapter book’ Category

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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STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT

Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13

Written by Barbara Roman

Illustrated by Vladimir Cebu

Ten-year-old Alicia is shopping with her mother for new lamps. Her mood is upbeat as she walks through Walker’s Furniture store two weeks before Christmas. Suddenly, she is mesmerized by a beautiful Christmas tree which appears in the middle of the floor. Alicia stares at its beautiful star and is whisked away to the 13th floor on an elevator that opens to a light bulb factory. She finds herself in a factory where light bulbs are retired after they stop working. Alicia meets Carelia, the fairy goddess who oversees the factory. Carelia informs Alicia that the light bulbs must pass a test to determine whether they might become stars and that she needs Alicia to help her. Alicia is confused and upset. She doesn’t understand why she is needed and how she wound up in a place where there is no past or tomorrow, but she will learn much about unique personalities, utilizing our talents, and working cooperatively. What is expected of her and why was she chosen? Will Alicia ever get back to her world? Did she ever leave it?

This book is a charming fantasy, mystery, and science fiction read. It might be considered both a chapter book or a short story. The fifty-page length makes it a good choice for reluctant readers. Cebu creates dazzling illustrations and the large font size make it a good choice for beginning readers, while the intricate plot and well-developed characters will appeal to middle-grade and young adult audiences.

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DON’T BE A CHICKEN

Chicken Wants to Roller Skate

Written by Elsa Takoda

Illustrated by Catherine Toennisson

This beginning reader has a lot going for it. The protagonist is a chicken who wants to do more than an average chicken. She decides that roller skating looks like fun. Chicken lays out the steps necessary to roller skate and proceeds to try. After falling down and feeling bruised, chicken gives up just as many children might do. When Cat begins to chase her, Chicken decides to try once more. Sometimes one must take a risk in order to succeed.

Toennisson’s illustrations are humorous and cartoon-like, perfect for young readers. Takoda uses onomatopoeia effectively. Children will love reading the book aloud and imitating the sounds as they learn the vocabulary words. Recommended for all beginning readers, but I think readers in the five to seven year age range will enjoy it most. Look forward to reading more of this series.

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STRANGER DANGER

The Rocking Horse

Written by Karrie Loomis

I enjoyed reading this chapter book centering on Michaela and Sylvia, two ten and eight-year-old sisters who appear to have little in common. One day while playing in the backyard, they decide to take a walk and get lost. They encounter a ghostly, creepy house. Sylvia persuades her older sister to investigate and the adventure ensues.

While inside the girls discover a rocking horse. Upon riding it, a young ghost named Cindy taunts and threatens them. Michaela tries to calm her sister by spinning a tale, but both girls are afraid they will never see their parents and baby brother again. Throughout the ordeal, the sisters uncover little-known truths about themselves. Cindy reveals a compassionate side of herself and a lesson about strangers the girls will never forget.

This short chapter book of approximately one hundred pages has a powerful safety lesson for its young readers. It is most appropriate for children in the eight-to twelve-year-old age range but certainly an enjoyable read for any age.

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MEMORIES AND MYSTERIES

THE FLYING FROG

Written by David Yair

Illustrated by Ilana Graf and Natalie Jackson

This is book five of The Flying Frog series, but it stands alone as an interesting approach for children to understand Alzheimer disease. The Rimon children are a clever pair of siblings who are adept at solving mysteries. They accomplish this task with the help of a flying frog named Quack.

In Book Five of the series, Adam Shor is a retired carpenter who is beloved in his town. He is now in the advanced stages of Alzheimer disease. His wife. children and grandchildren watch over him. One day, he walks out of the garden gate. gets confused and lost. The whole town mobilizes to search for him. The Rimon children enlist the aid of Quack. They tie balloons to him and launch him into the forest.

As the story unfolds, children begin to understand the complexities of the disease and the emotional upheaval that it evokes in the family and friends. This story is an excellent way to introduce a discussion about the topic to children. There are a few endearing illustrations that portray the emotional impact of the tale. The book is short at under forty pages, but I would have liked to have seen larger print for the targeted middle-grade audience. Recommended especially for readers in the eight to twelve age range.

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TRIED AND TRUE FRIENDS

Arnold and Luis. Gold Rush

Written by Harvey Storm

I read the Kindle edition of this book in French. It was a cute story as a read-aloud for young children. The illustrations are well executed and the colors are vibrant and appealing. I would also recommend the book as a beginning chapter book as the characters are well developed and promote sustained interest.

Arnold, the moose, live at the edge of the forest. He has always been a dreamer, longing to live in the south on the beach. One day his friend, Louis, the goose, suggests they go on an adventure to find lost treasure. Arnold jumps at the chance. Arnold has already done research on the internet, in old records, and letters, as well as digging into his search for riches.

Louis and Arnold team up with the help of other friends in the forest. They pack their gear and go on on an adventure. Along the way, they encounter many physical obstacles as well as dangers. One day they find the long-awaited treasure, but getting it home safely is a lot more difficult than they anticipate.

Will the two fearless friends be successful in finding a new life of luxury or will they discover that the virtues of honesty, decency and mutual respect matter more than monetary gain? Read the first book in this charming multilingual adventure series.

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PAYBACK

Max’s Revenge

Written by Sally Gould

This is the first book in a series of books revolving on the main character, Max. Max always seems to get the short end of the stick. His older brother, Charlie, is perceived to be perfect. In the first story, the siblings are invited to the wedding of their Uncle Dan. But before the vows are exchanged, Charlie lures Max into a trap that ends with his falling out of a tree and disrupting the wedding. Things further deteriorate at the wedding reception, when Charlie attracts the flower girl, Lucy, who Max adores. Charlie becomes a partner in crime with the bartender and Sophie’s three brothers who conspire to booby trap the marriage getaway car. To make matters worse, Max’s evil Aunt schemes to get Max into trouble. Of course, Max finds devious ways to get his revenge.

The second story centers around Charlie and Max’s visit to their Nana’s house. A social worker has persuaded the boys’ parents to take a much-needed break. While at Nana’s house, the boys discover that the evil Aunt is trying to get Nana to sell her house. The boys get their revenge on their Aunt and try to prevent the sale. They plan several pranks to thwart the sale, but they discover Nana secretly wants to move. How will they undo the damage? The hilarious result will be that Max has to eat dog food stew.

Children in grades three to six will find themselves empathizing with poor Max. Perhaps they have a relative like Max’s evil Aunt. The comedy is spot on and the dialogue appears genuine and age appropriate. Length of the stories is not too long so the book will appeal to reluctant readers. Perfect choice for a summer read.

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