Posts from the ‘coming of age’ Category

GETTING THROUGH FIFTH GRADE

Pi

Written by Lori Ann Stephens

Illustrated by Trevor Yokochi

Pierre Francois is a fifth-grade student who lives in Texas. As you may have guessed from the name, Pierre’s father is French. To his chagrin, Pierre spends his Christmas holiday in France with his grandparents. He tells his readers that he hates fifth grade because the boys are annoying and the girls are mean.

Readers follow Pierre’s troubles in school, his attempt to impress his friends by winning the spelling bee, his first crush on Cynthia, the new girl in school, and his disastrous camping adventure with school buddies. The book has a few simple illustrations. It is a pretty easy read, and I would categorize it as an early chapter book or a good choice for reluctant readers. Especially recommended for readers in grades three through six. Lots of humor and plenty of situations that they will find familiar.

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OUT OF THIS WORLD

Alien Kid

Written by Kristen Otte

 

Charlie Baker is the new sixth grader in Silver Lake Middle School. Middle school is a difficult period in any child’s life, but for Charlie, things are especially tough. Charlie and his family tell everyone that they have just moved to upstate New York from Cleveland, but they are aliens from Jupiter’s moon, Europa. A revolution led to a militaristic faction gaining control. Charlie’s family had to flee in order to survive. The family struggles to blend in on Earth, but their ability to read minds is both a blessing and a curse.

Charlie is bullied by Caden and Jordan. He falls in love with a fellow student named Maya, to whom he reveals his secret. But Maya wants Charlie to use his gift to help others. Charlie is having enough problems trying to understand the culture and the language. He says things like “hot spaghetti” and “oh pug” leaving his fellow sixth-graders mystified. The book focuses on middle-grade issues like bullying, peer-school relationships, and first love. This tale will appeal to students struggling to fit into a new school or neighborhood. The characters are believable and realistic.

Recommended especially for readers in fourth through seventh grades, but the story is well-written and appealing for any age.

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SAVE SMART, START YOUNG

A Guide to Investing for Kids: Teaching Them About Money While They Are Young

Written by Stephanie R. Baker

This book is based on the author’s theory that children who learn how to be financially independent and conscious of tracking their own expenses grow up not only to be self-aware but good global citizens. Baker gives reasons for children to learn fiscal responsibility like how to invest and be responsible for handling their own money by choosing their own purchases wisely. They learn financial independence from their parents and awareness of community needs around them. These children acquire goals and dreams of future financial success.

Children may learn how to invest by talking with their parents and picking up knowledge from schools and community programs. There are many different platforms offered for children’s investment, and Baker lists several of them with links to finding them on the internet. Alternatives to stock investment include lotteries and investing in independent funds that parents set up for them. Certainly, if many children would choose investment and financial independence the entire world community would benefit both in the short and long term.

I think this book is a worthwhile investment for parents and grandparents to consider in creating strong, resilient, independent, successful citizens of the future. Recommended for children age eight years and older to read and discuss with parents and teachers.

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SOUP TO NUTS #POETRY MONTH

It’s Crazy in Here!: Fun Poems for Fun Kids of all Ages

Written by Malia Ann Haberman

 

This is a fun book that will have even those children who would never read a poem change their minds. The author has chosen a wide variety of topics that will appeal to boys and girls. There are monsters, fleas, dragons, dogs, cats, and bedbugs. Situations, like eating leftovers, classroom pranks, and falling in love, are explored with finesse and humor.

April is poetry month. Teachers might use this book to entice their students to explore poetry. While the book is recommended for ages five and up, I would especially recommend it to middle-grade students.

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LAST BUT NOT LEAST

LAST TWO FINALISTS IN EASY READER AND EARLY CHAPTER BOOKS

Easy Reader

JUST RIGHT…

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy

Written by Laurel Synder

Illustrated by Emily Hughes

This is the second book in a series. One thing I would like to suggest is that the author gives a brief introduction to the characters for those who did not read the first book. Two brothers named Charlie and Mouse hear a knock at the door. They are delighted to find that their grandfather “Grumpy” has come to pay them a visit. Grumpy tells them that they are getting big. Charlie agrees, but his younger brother Mouse says he is just “medium.” That leads to a delightful discussion on what the word medium means. The next morning the boys launch a plan to pounce on their grandfather, but he is already awake. The boys find a way to implement their plot. When their parents go out for the evening Grumpy entertains them with pizza and movies. They set up a fort and request a song from Grumpy, but their plans go awry with Charlie coming to the rescue. When the time comes for Grumpy to leave, the boys find it difficult to say goodbye and use a blanket as a cover-up.

This story is well-written and helps children understand emotions that are difficult to put into words. At just under fifty pages, this book is a good fit for children who are ready to transition from speech bubbles and easy readers to a traditionally laid out chapter book. There is plenty of space between the lines to make it easy to follow. Soft watercolor illustrations fit well with the storyline. Teachers might want to read each chapter separately for kindergarten or first-grade readers.

EARLY CHAPTER

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS…

Heartwood Hotel: The Greatest Gift

Written by Kallie George

Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Mona, the Mouse, is an orphan who lives and works as a maid in the Heartwood Hotel. As the story opens, most of the winter animal guests are turning in to hibernate. The staff is about to celebrate with the St. Slumber party hosted by Mr. Heartwood. The employees celebrate with a feast and exchange of gifts.

Tilly, the Squirrel, is Mona’s best friend and roommate is Tilly. Their quiet, winter season is disturbed by the arrival of the haughty, Duchess Rabbit who makes unreasonable demands. Then a mysterious thief begins to steal food supplies. A food delivery truck goes missing. When the vents are clogged, Tilly and Mona slip out to investigate. They are shocked to discover a neighboring community of which they were unaware.

The personified animal communities exemplify the best and worst of human nature. Decisions need to be made that will affect the welfare of all. Readers learn the importance of weighing self-interest versus family and community. Black and white illustrations remind me a bit of Beatrix Potter. I found myself wishing there were more of them. Lots of dialogue and twists and turns keep the chapter book lively. While this book is classified as an early chapter book and can be enjoyed by early readers, I believe the length and plot depth make it more suitable for a third or fourth-grade audience. Look forward to checking out other books in the series.

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#WinnerWednesday

Two more winners in the Easy Reader and Early Chapter categories:

Easy Reader

ONE SENTENCE SAYS IT ALL

I Like the Farm

Written and illustrated by Shelley Rotner

 

 

 

 

This book is a Step A Guided Reading book which features one sentence I like the…… Blanks are filled in with the names of familiar farm animals. There are full-page multicultural photographs of a child with the associated animal. Especially recommended for preschool and kindergarten children just beginning to read who love animals.

 

 

Early Chapter Book

No Need to Be Perfect

Princess Cora and the Crocodile

Written by Laura Amy Schlitz

Illustrated by Brian Floca

Poor Princess Cora is a victim of parents who are obsessed with her development into the role of future ruler of the kingdom. Cora is beset with a nanny who is obsessed with cleanliness and forces her to take three baths a day, a mother who forces her to read boring books all day, and a father who wants her to be strong and forces her to skip rope every day. When Cora requests a dog for a pet, her parents are horrified. She writes a note to her fairy godmother asking her to intervene. To her surprise and dismay, the next day a crocodile is delivered to her in a cardboard box.

This crocodile assures her that he will take charge and teach her tormentors a lesson. He demands only to be fed cream puffs as payment. So, Cora escapes into the woods for a day of adventure, climbing trees, eating strawberries, picking buttercups, and getting dirty. In the meantime, her pet crocodile is taking revenge on the nanny, the queen, and the king. At the end of the day when Cora returns she makes her request once more. What has happened at the castle? Have the adults learned a lesson? How will Cora be treated in the future?

This story presents the inner conflicts of Cora, and the adult versus child conflict clearly. Cora is a strong female role model, who is also obedient and respectful. The soft watercolor illustrations with a vintage feel are soft and appealing. The crocodile character adds humor and a hint of naughtiness. I would especially recommend this chapter book for second and third graders who are comfortable with the seventy-page length and some challenging vocabulary.

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SANTA’S HELPER

The Search for South Pole Santa: A South Pole Santa Adventure (Book 1 in a series)

Written by Jingle Belle Jackson

 

This book combines a bit of magic, romance, holiday traditions, and fantasy in a whimsical adventure. There are two main plots: Sandra’s story detailing her life on a tugboat named Mistletoe moored on an island in the South Pacific, and the contest Santa Claus decides to hold to find a second Santa to cope with the world’s exploding population of children.

Sandra’s parents are missing and presumed dead. They had recently enrolled her in the St. Annalise Academy where the students are all gifted, whether they be human or part supernatural. Throughout the story, Sandra learns more about her lineage and special talents. At the same time, readers are introduced to her new friends. When Sandra learns about the contest for a second Santa, she immediately applies. Cappie, her guardian, and her island friends encourage her. Readers are taken on a colorful journey to the North Pole, where they participate in the fun-filled but grueling competition to determine the winner. There are lots of twists and turns, holiday magic and fun, mixed in with a bit of romance and coming of age in both parallel plots.

In the end, what will Sandra’s future hold? Will she learn how to cope with the loss of her parents, her talented friends, and the boy who seems to disdain her? Who will win the Santa competition? Stay tuned for more answers in the next book of the series.

This book was a fun read. It is highly recommended for middle grade and young teen readers. Adults looking for a light holiday read will also enjoy if willing to suspend reality for a few hours.

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