Posts from the ‘chapter book’ Category

ARMED AND READY

Prince Martin Wins His Sword

Written by Brandon Hale

Illustrated by Jason Zimdars

Hale has written an original, charming chapter book that began as a way to keep in touch with his son while Hale was away from home. The book is divided into eight short chapters that are completely written in verse. Hale does not shy away from challenging vocabulary in a book that is written for the six to ten age group.

Martin is a young prince who lives in a faraway kingdom. At the beginning of the tale, Martin experiences a dream in which he fights a dragon with a loyal dog at his side. One of Martin’s favorite pastimes is visiting the castle armory, where all types of swords and weapons are stored. Unfortunately, the king permits his son to possess only a wooden staff and a slingshot, until the prince is able to prove that he is loyal, brave and true. Martin is unsure of how to do so, but he is determined to set forth out of the castle to the forest beyond.

Chapters two through eight covers the adventures that await Martin. He will meet a farmer who warns him of wild hogs, a deer whose fawn is trapped, and a brave dog who is willing to defend the helpless with his life. Martin must face his own fears as well as bullies. Will Martin find the courage and strength to survive and prove himself worthy?

The rhymes are perfect for a read aloud. Younger children might need the help of an adult to decipher some of the vocabularies. Color illustrations in each chapter enhance the adventure. This first book in a series should appeal especially to boys who love adventures, dragons, swords, and dogs. Highly recommended for elementary and middle school age children.

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A DRAGON’S BEST FRIEND

James and the Dragon: The Farloft Chronicles, Vol. 1

Written by Theresa Snyder

 

This is a well-written chapter book or novella with an intriguing set of characters, flights of fancy, and wonderful lessons to learn. The three main characters are a dragon named Farloft, a dastardly wizard named Laval, and a ten-year-old human named James. A plague has recently struck the kingdom. About two-thirds of the population have succumbed. Farloft avoids humans because relations have soured over time. Laval is bitter because the plague has made his daughter ill. James has been orphaned. One day as he struggles to dig peat in the bogs to keep warm, the blacksmith and his son steal it from him. James becomes trapped in the bog; Farloft takes pity and rescues him. As James recovers in the dragon’s lair, they become close. Farloft regales him with legends of past exploits and reveals his treasure chamber. When James returns home, villagers nearly kill him. Farloft rescues him once more. In the meantime, Laval has hatched a devastating plot to exact revenge for his daughter’s death. A surprise ending brings book one to a conclusion and sets the stage for more adventures.

Middle grade, young adult readers, and adults will enjoy this fast-moving story with its pleasing blend of magic, myth, and charm. Characters are well developed and easy to like. By the end of the first book, readers have already become engaged and are eager to learn more about the characters and what will happen to them in their future engagements.

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ENTERPRISING ENTOMOLOGISTS

Bug Zoo Adventure: An Aspen and Eva Adventure Chapter Book for Kids

Written by Kari Sue Benjamin

An engaging chapter book that teaches children about insects, flowers, 4-H clubs, and good sportsmanship. Seven-year-old Aspen and her five-year-old sister, Eva are getting bored near the end of the summer. They decide that they will capture insects, set up a bug zoo, and charge admission. The chapter book follows their successes and failures. Readers learn about some common insects, the flowers that attract them, and how to collect them.

Aspen is old enough to participate in 4-H. She needs to find a project for the fair so she decides to incorporate her bug zoo project. Readers learn a bit about what 4-H is about and what happens at a county fair. Aspen and Eva expect to earn a lot of money with their museum. Aspen also anticipates winning first prize for her 4-H insect collection. When their plans don’t exactly come to fruition, the girls learn lessons about winning and losing. In the end, there are a few unexpected surprises.

This short chapter book is targeted for ages six through ten but is generally best for the younger part of that age range. Short chapters and lots of dialogue keep the plot interesting and easy to follow. Reluctant readers also will enjoy this fast-paced read of fewer than fifty pages.

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SCOUT’S HONOR

The Hairy Fairy: The Hairy Fairy Tales, Book 1

Written by Mark Watson

On Saturday morning, Jack wakes up to discover a hairy fairy sitting on his head. Jack is incredulous. The fairy informs Jack that his boss is angry with him for messing with her cat, so she banished him to spend a day sitting on someone’s head. He tells Jack that no one else can see him, but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause mischief and have some fun. Poor Jack is determined to carry out his previous plan to spend the day at the Scout Jamboree. When he goes to the market, the fairy causes the vegetables to grow. They soon take over the town and cause all manner of havoc. Now Jack and his nemesis are trapped. Will they be able to escape? What will happen to the town now involved with the military in a battle against the vegetables, likened to World War III?

This book of fewer than fifty pages might best be described as a beginning chapter book. The clever rhymes are filled with humor and challenging vocabulary. Illustrations are done in graphic novel style. Aimed at a six to twelve age audience, I think that advanced beginning readers and middle school students will love the quirky plot and offbeat humorous rhymes. Fans of fantasy, sci-fi, and humor probably will enjoy it.

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OUT OF REACH

Sean Wants to Be a Messi

Written by Tanya Preminger

Illustrated by Elettra Cudignotti

Sean is a second grader who is obsessed with soccer, especially one player named Leo Messi. He seems uninterested in finishing his homework or paying attention in school. He is excited to join soccer club to perfect his skill, but upon arrival, he refuses to play. His mother is upset with him. Both parents encourage Sean to overcome his fears of inadequacy and start developing his game skills. One day, a sixth grader bullies him and throws Sean’s soccer ball over the fence. One day a player is injured and an opportunity arises for Sean to assist. I am not sure I approve of Sean’s mother’s response, but Sean learns a valuable lesson about himself and the game.

Recommended as a beginning chapter book for new or reluctant readers. The book has a few colorful illustrations to keep the story flowing. Soccer fans will particularly enjoy reading it.

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MANGO SURPRISE

Don’t Go Mango Picking: A Scary Island Story

Written and Illustrated by D.H. Gibbs

This tale is a beginning chapter book set in the Caribbean. Deanna and her Aunt Sandy are spending part of their summer vacation at their grandmother’s farm in the bush. The girls work in the mornings doing chores like collecting eggs, feeding the pigs and picking peas. While the rest of the day contains free time, there are few modern conveniences like television and radio. Grandma has warned them not to stay out after dark or play with Molly. This young neighbor seems to have a knack for getting into trouble. Of course one day when no one is around, Molly persuades the girls to sneak into Mr. Forhan’s yard to pick the mangoes off his trees. What happens when the girls encounter a Lagahoo? What is a Lagahoo, you ask? Read this short chapter book to find out.

This story is under forty pages and contains some unique black and white illustrations. The setting, simple text and unusual story line combine to offer an interesting adventure story for the beginning or reluctant reader. Recommended especially for children in the six to eight age range.

I received a copy of this book and voluntarily decided to review for no compensation with my honest opinions.

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THERE’S WORK TO BE DONE

The Bee in the Blackberry Bush

Written by C.S. Areson

Illustrated by Don Lee

 

Charming beginning chapter book presenting Christian values of the responsibility to help others even if it means placing the needs of others before oneself. The protagonist is an adorable worker bee who has no name as do all the others in his hive because each has a job to do. This bee is quite dedicated and industrious. One day he learns of nectar in a blackberry patch and almost loses his life to an observant chicken. The bee encounters a sad mother bird who has lost her mate and has no one to watch over her nest while she searches for food. The bee takes on the job of protector, while completing his own worker bee assignments. One day he faces danger while protecting one of the hatchlings. He must make a difficult choice. How far must one go in carrying out his sense of duty?

Soft pastel illustrations enhance the mood and message of the tale. While the story is slow moving in parts, the characters are endearing and realistic; the message sometimes uplifting but also sad. Recommended especially for readers in the seven to ten year- old age range.

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