Posts from the ‘chapter book’ Category

A COLORFUL FANTASY ADVENTURE

The Black Pearl of Osis (Osis Fantasy Trilogy Book 1)

Written by Ingrid McCarthy

Jonathan Alexander Fenton is visiting his Aunt Josie who has just given birth to a baby girl. He is ambling around her studio and glancing at the posters on the wall when he spies one that he does not recognize. The poster shows a girl skipping rope on a cobblestone street surrounded by a tall tower. As he moves closer, Jonathan is literally drawn into the poster. Immediately he engages in a conversation with the girl. He discovers her name is Magenta, she is the daughter of King Cadium, Jonathan has been taken against his will into a fantasy world. Everyone here bears the name of a color, time is governed by the cycles of sun and moon, and danger looms over the kingdom.

Jonathan soon learns that he is destined to free the kingdom from the evil of the black pearl. A sage old teacher named Master Cobalt trains Jonathan. He is able to turn Magenta’s skipping rope into a deadly weapon that can be used to fight their enemies. Magenta, Jonathan, and her dog Monte face all manner of obstacles on their adventure. They meet threats of torture, deadly traps, and must learn to distinguish between friends and foes. At the end of the long journey, the two friends will grapple with the ultimate test of courage and loyalty.

The author keeps the plot interesting by using clever characters and imposing lots of twists and turns. Middle-grade readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and magic-tinged with dark overtones should find this first book of the trilogy an entertaining read.

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GIVING FROM THE HEART

Gift of Gift: Super Amazing Princess Heroes

Written by Sanjay Nambiar

Illustrated by Sedi Pak

A picture book or early chapter book centering on a trio of princesses who use their super powers to accomplish great things. Kinney, Sammie, and Oceania have just completed building a much-needed school in Uganda. Suddenly Kinney becomes ill; Doctor K’s diagnosis is a hole in her heart. Because the hospital in Uganda is not equipped for the surgery, Kinney along with friends return to the United States. When the girls learn that their friend Gift in Uganda has been diagnosed with the same medical problem, they decide to enlist the help of Betty, their mentor, who is the Fairy Mother Superstar Queen. They return to Uganda resolving to use their super speed, super strength, and flying powers along with the doctors and engineers in Uganda to construct a modern hospital. Gift’s heart surgery is successful, and the princesses’ Fairy Mother has a special gift in store for Gift.

This book is beautifully illustrated with bright,  multicultural photos that will appeal to non-readers. The text is done in large print and is easy to read for the beginning reader. While the story is clearly fictional, the lessons of empathy, selflessness, and friendship will inspire little girls who want to be princesses in their own right.

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REVENGE IS SWEET

Jesper Jinx and the Sneezing Season: The Jesper Jinx Series Book 2

Written and Illustrated by Marko Kitti

Jesper Jinx is an eleven-year-old British boy who lives in a seaside village called Puffington Hill. The name jinx is attached to him because he has a knack for experiencing bad luck or inflicting it on others. At the outset, readers meet Jesper trying to win over Chloe, (the girl he has a crush on), by appearing at just the right moment with the sandwich for which she has no money. Fate intervenes when a seagull swoops in to steal it, knocking him down and embarrassing Jesper.

The following weekend Jesper is lured with a prize of 50 pounds to accompany his family to get a photo of a rare purple buzzard. The journey involves being outdoors in allergy season. Of course, Jesper secretly spits out his medicine and disaster ensues just as he thinks he has the winning photo in hand. A squirrel couple named Ronald and Ramona achieve their revenge for Jesper’s kite ruining their home and injuring them. When Jesper and his friend Oliver challenge his teenage sister to a balancing contest, what appears to be a victory rapidly switches to disaster and embarrassment for Jesper.

Kitti cleverly intertwines plot elements and characters to create a cohesive story. The comic pictures add a whimsical touch to the humorous dialogue. Middle-grade students will enjoy the preposterous circumstances and antics of sibling rivalry. Fans of this book will enjoy all the books in this series.

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OUTSMARTED AND OUTFOXED

My Fox Ate My Homework

Written by David Blaze

Jonah (Joe) Johnson is an eleven- year- old whose life has just been turned upside down. His mother lost her job in Orlando so they have moved to his deceased grandmother’s old house in rural Alabama. On the first day in school, Joe is confronted by a bully who demands that Joe write his homework assignment.

Things go from bad to worse when the tax collector appears and informs them that the property taxes are overdue and the county would be foreclosing. Now they will need to move into his Uncle Mike’s house. When Joe goes outside he discovers a fox in the hen house, not any old fox but a talking fox! Joe and Fox become fast friends, but not before Fox causes all sorts of mayhem as Joe desperately tries to think of ways to help his mother, face the bully and maintain his friend relationship with Fox.

This fantasy tale is written well with lots of authentic dialogue and humor. Middle- grade students will find lots to love. There are cute cartoon- like drawings of the characters interspersed with the text. Blaze touches on issues important to students in this age group. The tale is an easy read that is under one hundred pages which makes it appealing to reluctant readers. Highly recommended for eight to twelve- year- olds, and adults who are willing to listen to a talking fox.

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SNOW EXTRAVAGANZA

Box Set for Children: Paul the Snowman Series  (4 in 1 Box Set)

Written by Yossi Lapid

Illustrated by Joanna Pasek

 

This collection of snowman stories is a great bargain and a worthwhile collection for preschool and primary school children. Parents might choose to read them as separate bedtime stories, older children will find them a fun beginning reader collection. I had previously read the story of Snowman Paul and Kate’s Birthday, which I enjoyed. The first four stories combined in a collection provide children with a more comprehensive view of the character of Paul, a personification of a snowman with the strengths and weaknesses of a human character.

In these beautifully illustrated watercolor tales, children view Paul from the moment Dan creates this snowman with a well-defined personality. In the Olympics story, children learn that determination is a good character trait, but it needs to be reigned in when the spirit of competition is unfair to others. My favorite tale is the fourth. Paul decides he wants to play in a musical concert. He learns to play, a fiddle, trumpet and drums. His human friends have their patience worn thin listening to his practice. At long last the concert arrives, and Paul puts on a brilliant performance

These tales and the lessons embedded in the stories can be enjoyed by any age, but preschool and kindergarten children will especially love them. When you want to experience wintertime, get in the spirit of the season by introducing yourself to Paul, the snowman.

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A LOT TO CHEW ON….

Life in the Gumball Machine

Written by Maureen Bartone

An interesting chapter book targeted for readers in the seven to eleven year age range. On her tenth birthday, Daisy goes for a bike ride with her two best fourth grade friends, Patrick and Michael. Daisy is often considered a tomboy, but one thing her two friends have never persuaded her to do is to play football. When the three friends pause to investigate an old shed, they discover an abandoned gumball machine. Daisy decides that she must have one so she deposits a coin. Soon the machine rumbles and sucks all three of them inside. Little do they realize the adventure awaiting them inside.

Bartone uses lots of human and kid friendly dialogue to describe how the three humans shrink and meet the gumball people and their exciting world. Our three human friends will discover that outside appearance matters little, the real person is wrapped inside. Daisy will experience that football game and face her hidden fears. Lessons learned include how we behave and what we do are a lot more important than how we look.

Daisy is looking forward to her birthday party that afternoon, but things are looking grim that the three friends will free themselves from the gumball world and return to their normal size. The only way to escape is for another person to come along and discover that abandoned candy machine. That does not appear to be a likely possibility. Will the three friends keep their cool and figure out a way to return home? What will happen to their newly found gumball friends? How will Patrick, Michael and Daisy’s lives be changed forever?

The plot of this middle grade chapter book is simple and the text straightforward with enough excitement, surprises and humor to keep the reader entertained and the advice from becoming preachy. A surprise near the end sets the scene for a new adventure. Recommended for children in grades two through six.

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LOST AND FOUND

Lorelei and the Lost and Found Monster

Written by R. Scott Kimsey

Lorelei is apprehensive about her first day back to school as a second grader in Davis Elementary School. She is happy to learn that two of her first grade friends, Penny and Leon are in her new class. Her new purple and yellow lunch box with adorable cat faces makes her friends envious. Everything is going fine until Lorelei forgets her lunch box on the table in the lunch room. Lorelei is told to visit the Lost and Found room. Little does she realize the adventure that awaits her. She discovers a secret room between the walls. Seamus, a gnome, tells her that a monster who lives behind the walls has stolen the precious box. He invites her to become small so that she will be able to retrieve it.

Lorelei eats a magic gumdrop and intrepidly enters the scary village between the walls. She must challenge the gnomes to a contest to gain their confidence. If she wins the math contest challenge, they will assist her in finding the thief. Readers will follow Lorelei’s scary adventure, learn some math, and keep up her spirits along the way. This beginning chapter book contains enough challenging text and plot twists and turns, while at the same time remains a comfortable, humorous first person narrative. Recommended for beginning readers in the six to ten age range. Short chapters also make it appropriate as a bedtime story to share.

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