Posts from the ‘elementary grades’ Category


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

Easy Reader


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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#Wednesday’s Winners

Two more finalists in the Cybils Bloggers’ Literary Awards:

Easy Reader


There’s a Pest in the Garden

Written by Jan Thomas


Another easy reader in the farmyard friends’ series. Duck, Sheep, Dog, and Donkey are upset that there is a pest invading their garden. He is eating their favorite and not so favorite foods like beans, corn, peas, and turnips. Duck thinks he has a plan, but it turns out that all the animals must work together to find a permanent solution to keep pests out.

The familiar characters and speech balloons allow readers to follow the simple dialogue and story plot. Children are led to understand that cooperation and working together is the way to solve a common problem. Recommended as an early stage independent picture reader or read aloud.





Early Chapter Book


Survivor Diaries: Overboard!

Written by Terry Lynn Johnson

This book is part of a series that focuses on real-life survival stories to teach important life-saving skills. In this book, Travis and his family are vacationing in Washington. At the beginning of the tale, the family is sailing on a fifty-foot whale-watching boat with other tourists. While the group is preoccupied sighting whales, a huge wave capsizes the boat. Travis frantically yells for his family; he finds himself under water. Marina, the captain’s seaworthy daughter is nearby.

Travis is wearing a wetsuit and Marina has a life jacket, but her wrist is broken. As they drift farther away from the wreckage, Marina keeps Travis calm. After many hours and no rescue, they are finally thrown ashore on a beach. Hypothermia is setting in and Marina is becoming sick and disoriented. Travis must learn to overcome his fears, follow Marina’s instructions, build a fire, set up a shelter, and find water. The next morning with no rescue in sight, Marina sees eagles flying overhead and remembers an island that has a camera studying the nest. But can Travis overcome his fear of heights and somehow scale the tree to let humans know of their plight?

This is a story of adventure and courage. Marina and Travis undergo personality transformations and role reversals. Perhaps even more importantly, readers are taught how to survive if thrown overboard, avoid hypothermia, and learn basic survival skills. Hopefully, these will never need to be employed. There are a few powerful black and white illustrations that assist readers to visualize the adventure. The author includes a US Coast Guard approved section on illustrated, step by step survival techniques. While this book has been classified an early chapter book, I believe that the eight to twelve age range is a good target audience for this book.

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#Cybils #Finalists #KidReads

Finalist in Easy Reader Category


Tooth Fairy’s Night

Written by Candice Ransom

Illustrated by Monique Dong




This is a Level 1 Step into Reading book for preschoolers and kindergarten children learning to read. The storyline is perfect for this age group as most children are beginning to lose baby teeth. The Tooth Fairy is illustrated as an adorable character who assiduously performs her duties. The author uses lots of familiar objects like stuffed toys, pets, moon and stars. This book is written in simple rhyme with nice large print font and vivid colors. I would have given it five stars, but the rhyme structure seemed difficult in a few spots.







Finalist in Early Chapter Book Category


The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation

Written by Shannon and Dean Hale

Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Princess Magnolia has been busy battling monsters all week. As she prepares for sleep, the monster alarm sounds once again. She hurriedly dresses in her black costume and slides down the chute to the goat pasture, where a monster is threatening to eat the goats. The Princess is surprised to find someone dressed as The Goat Avenger; he looks suspiciously like her friend Duff. The Avenger suggests that Magnolia needs to take a vacation. He vows to stand guard while she is gone,

Princess Magnolia agrees and the next day she is off on her bicycle to the beach. Here she meets Princess Sneezewort. Suddenly, the tranquility of the day is broken by a giant sea serpent who is threatening to eat people. Of course, the princess immediately dons her costume and rises to the threat. Will The Princess in Black meet the challenge?

At the same time, readers are following The Goat Avenger in a parallel story as he strives to protect his goats. He sets traps for unsuspecting thieves. A squirrel is caught in one of his traps, but the tables are soon turned on The Goat Avenger. Is he successful in guarding the goat herd while the princess is away?

Lots of lively dialogue and large print size make this book appealing to young readers. Many of the colorful illustrations are full page. Onomatopoeia and action scenes move the story along quickly with just enough challenging vocabulary. Especially recommended for children for children ages six through eight.

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21 Tips for Teachers Who Want to Write

#Interview #Publishing #Marketing #Teachers

Christine Calabrese, author of The Little Pencil book series, and I put our heads together to discuss how teachers who are interested in writing for children can gather ideas on how to organize, write, publish and market.

Christine Calabrese was raised on the North Shore of Long Island by a Polish father and Sicilian Italian mother. Her father, who was a great storyteller, captivated his daughters each night with delightful bedtime tales. Her mother enjoyed nurturing and helping other children along with her own. As a child, Christine enjoyed running and playing more than sitting and reading. Her father sent her to a lovely summer camp in New Hampshire where she enjoyed horseback riding, tennis, archery, drama, swimming, sailing, singing, and friendship.

The first story she wrote in elementary school was about a little raindrop. Her favorite pastime was making inanimate objects come to life as a tease to her younger sister. Goodness! 🙂

Christine loves teaching and working with little ones! She still likes to make up stories about inanimate objects, presently, however, the objects often teach useful skills.

Barbara Ann Mojica is a historian and retired educator. She writes historical articles for the Columbia Insider under the banner “Passages.” Using the whimsical Little Miss History character, Barbara hopes to inspire children to learn about historical people and places. Little Miss History’s antics make reading nonfiction a fun-filled adventure for all ages.

The series has garnered more than a dozen awards including Eric Hoffer, B.R.A.G. Medallions, Book Excellence Award, Reader’s Favorite and Independent Author Network Awards.

We hope that teachers will find the video informative and useful.



Emilia’s Treasure: How a Mermaid Makes Friends

Written by Anca Niculae

Illustrated by Maria Falie

Emilia, the mermaid, is upset because none of her mermaid friends want to search for pearls with her. She goes off in search of other mermaids, a snail and a school of fish, but none of them seem interested in her project. When a little mermaid loses her seahorse, Emma decides to search with her. As the two new friends continue on their exploration they meet other creatures of the sea. This time the two mermaids stop and listen to what these creatures have to say. They learn the valuable lesson that in seeking friendship listening is more important than seeking to impress others.

At the end of the book, the author supplies a questionnaire to assist children in assessing their own relationships. Children are presented with a list of questions to answer and activities to use that are placed in appropriate age categories. I would particularly recommend this book for beginning readers and shy children who have difficulty with peer relationships. This book has value for children of all ages.

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#Cybils2017 #Finalists

Proudly presenting two more books that were finalists in the contest this year:



My Kite Is Stuck! And Other Stories

Written by Salina Yoon


All three stories feature the same three main characters, Little Duck, Big Duck and Porcupine. In the first story, Big Duck gets his kite stuck in the tree. His two friends try to help, but only make the problem worse. Children will laugh at the silly solutions the characters invent.

The second tale revolves around Porcupine making friends with a bug. Big Duck and Little Duck discuss the qualities needed in a friend and try to persuade Porcupine why he can’t be friends with a bug. There is a surprise ending.

In the third story, the three friends decide to build a lemonade stand. They model cooperation, patience and hard work. Of course, there are a few hiccups and lots of humor when the friends forget about the main ingredient needed for their success.

These stories employ speech balloons with dark text and brilliant digital illustrations that fill the page. I would recommend it to preschoolers and kindergarten beginning readers. Each story can be enjoyed separately for beginning readers with shorter attention spans.



Zoey And Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows

Written by Asia Citro

Illustrated by Marion Lindsay


What a charming way to combine science, a bit of magic and a strong female role model in an interesting story! Zoey is an inquisitive, intelligent, sweet girl. One day she discovers her mother holding a photograph that appears to be glowing. Her mother attempts to hide it, but when Zoey reveals that she can see the glowing creature, her scientist-mother reveals her secret.

As a child, her mother discovered a purple glowing frog that was severely injured. To her amazement, the frog named Pip began talking to her. Ever since that day, Zoey’s mom had been helping other magical creatures who needed assistance. She installed a hidden doorbell in the barn. Zoey’s mom thought she was the only one who had this ability, but now she understands that Zoey also has the gift.

When Zoey’s mom must travel to a scientific conference, Zoey hopes that she will receive a call for help from one of these magical creatures. Zoey studies her mom’s journals, notes, and photos. Sure enough, a few days later, she hears the bell and finds a small reptile near death in the barn. Zoey gets to work, but there is so much to learn. She sets forth a hypothesis and sets out her materials. Like a true scientist, she uses trial and error and controls in her experiments. Together with her cat, Sassafras, they work to save the creature. Who is this creature? Will Zoey be successful?

I found lots to like in this chapter book. Large print, beautiful black and white drawings, and a table of contents that lists the subject of each short chapter. Citro carefully crafts a multicultural, curious and hard-working female protagonist who is empathetic and appealing to young readers. Children quickly become engrossed with the plot, while hardly realizing they are learning about the scientific method and the reptile species. The glossary reinforces understanding of unfamiliar vocabulary. Highly recommended for beginning readers, but certainly challenging enough for middle-grade readers.

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The Runaway Mommy

Written by Jane Paris

Illustrated by Scott Rim


This book contains a similar story to The Runaway Bunny except that in this edition the parent is running away from the child. The text layout and illustrations are simple, suggesting that the book is appropriate for younger children. On the other hand, the vocabulary which includes things like a tech startup, trauma surgeon, and flamenco dancer, probably won’t resonate with a younger child. The plot revolves around a mother bunny who threatens to run away and pursue new careers around the globe. Her young child is willing to accompany her no matter what role mom decides to pursue.

This short book could be an amusing bedtime story if the parent is careful to explain he or she does not intend to run away. The humor will be appreciated more by adults than children.

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