Posts from the ‘elementary grades’ Category

A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW

Timber View Camp

Written by Jason Deas

Sally and Reggie are fifth-grade friends who are also neighbors. When Sally receives a free “golden ticket” to attend Timber View Camp, she is upset about leaving her home this summer. Her fears are somewhat alleviated when Reggie also wins a ticket.

When the day to leave for camp arrives, they are dismayed to see an ugly purple double-decker bus with a strange driver who speaks in rhyme pick them up. The pair is even more alarmed when they are dropped off in the middle of nowhere with only a four-part riddle to guide them. By pulling together the campers dub themselves the 12 up and use each of their talents to survive and make it to the campground.

Things keep getting weirder as Reggie and Sally, along with their new friends, fear that they are being watched and followed. Tony and Sissy, their counselors, mysteriously disappear as the odd events unfold. The campers cleverly team up with Cynthia, whose family works at the camp, to develop a plan to expose the owners and turn the tables on them.

This mystery contains wonderful characters, clever plot lines, and lots of humor to accompany the mystery. Young detectives will have to use their smarts to solve it.

Highly recommended for readers ages nine and older.

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A BIGGER BUCKET

How Big is Your Bucket?

Written by Todd Weaver

Daddy Lion decides that he will have a contest for his three young cubs. He challenges each to find the biggest bucket for The Autumn Harvest Festival. Ashley, Alex, and Jacob each have a plan. They scurry off to complete their task before dinner. Alex secures the car wash bucket, Ashley decides on the laundry bucket, but Jacob methodically scours the town until he comes upon the mayor’s bucket for tomorrow’s parade, which he borrows to show his father. Daddy Lion fills all the buckets to the top with toys and candy. The children wisely choose to share their treats with the whole town.

This book is written in rhyme that is sometimes not to the point and a bit difficult to follow. I would also suggest a larger font size so that a young reader could follow more easily. Recommended for preschoolers and primary grade readers.

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DON’T LET YOUR GUARD DOWN

Children’s Book: A Step and a Half to Success

Written by Aya Steiner

Illustrated by Taranggana

Ten-year-old Eric is a natural basketball player. Eric has been sinking baskets since the age of four and he is used to his mother bragging about his talent. He has just learned that he has been named to the All City Basketball Team. When he meets Coach Teddy, Eric promises to do his part when the coach urges the team to pass the ball to make defensive points. But soon Eric loses his confidence and initiative in taking shots and relies on the other team members because he is afraid to fail. Eric’s mom urges him to practice on his own until he masters his technique. Eric learns that any team sport requires lots of patience, practice, and persistence. Natural talent needs to be nurtured to achieve continued success.

This is a good book for late elementary school and middle-school readers who are interested in sports or need to revitalize their self-esteem. Perfect individual or read aloud discussion book choice for children ages seven through twelve. Colorful illustrations will also attract reluctant readers.

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DRAGON KIN

All My Relatives Are Dragons: Picture Book for Kids About Dragons

Written by Alice Cussler

The picture on the cover is a bit deceptive. It might give the reader the impression that this will be a fictional account of a little dragon. Rather, the author uses an interesting approach to teach children about dragons, reptiles, and lizards. Draco, the narrator, is a young dragon who has many relatives. He proceeds to trace its history by first going back to prehistoric times and the dinosaur epoch. He then moves on the discuss many of the myths centered around dragons including the European and Chinese Dragons. He travels around the world to show readers crocodiles, alligators, iguanas, and chameleons.

Cussler presents identifying characteristics and brief highlights of each and notes the habitat of each. There are photos that illustrate the points that are being discussed. The language is easy to read and understand. I do wish the photos were larger as some of the details are difficult to see.

I would recommend this book for elementary school age children. It is a good way to introduce nonfiction to children who love dragon stories. Teachers might use it as a starting point for a lesson about reptiles. Recommended especially for children ages five through ten.

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TALL TAILS

A 13th Tail

Written by Daniel Kelley

What a charming and clever story for all ages! Uncle Willoughby frequently entertains his twin nephews and niece by telling them his original stories. The humorous interruptions of the clever children are almost as much fun as the stories.

On this day, Uncle Willoughby is relating the story of a farm boy named Jackson who lives on an extraordinary farm filled with common farm animals like horses and sheep as well as exotic animals like hippogriffs, porcupines and monkeys. Jackson loved all the animals and took exceptional care of them. While feeding the horses one day, he counts their tails and notices there are thirteen, one more than the day before. He notices a pony that has never been there. This pony talks and reveals that he has come to the farm in search of “greener pastures.”

Many months pass as the pony named Wilberfortnum enjoys his new life at the farm. But one day he notices that the land is no longer green, but shades of brown. The porcupine tells him that this happens every year when the seasons change. “Greener pastures” does mean that the land stays green; it is a state of mind when one feels happy and well-adjusted. Wilberfortnum has never noticed this. He decides that he will wait and see and is relieved to see the green color return.

Kelley uses lots of alliteration, clever inventive language, and humor. For example, Uncle Willoughby cautions the children never tell a woman that something is her fault, or her anger will be directed back at you. I especially enjoyed how the author hid the number thirteen throughout the book and challenges the reader to find them. (He includes the answers in the final chapter)

I heartily recommend this book for middle-grade readers, young adults, and families who want to enjoy sharing a fun read aloud together.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR…

Duck and Friends

Written by Donna McFarland

Illustrated by Kim Sponaugle

Duck owns a farm in Pleasant Valley, complete with cows, pigs, chickens, and alpacas. One day, his friend, Cat calls Duck on his cell phone complaining that his computer is running too slow. Duck asks if he is sure that he wants it to run faster. He installs a new program that gives the computer arms and legs. Suddenly, the computer takes off, causing all manner of havoc in the community. All the animal friends experience quite an adventure before the day is finished.

This beginning chapter book blends modern technology with familiar animals and a clever adventure plot line. Adorable pencil sketches throughout the chapters keep the interest level high. Perfect choice for primary grade students who are just learning to read or reluctant readers.

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GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

The Lemonade Stand ( My Teacher Hilda Book 4)

Written by Tamar Bobokhidze

Illustrated by Salome Equizashvili

 

There are a lot of valuable life lessons packed into this book. In fact, two separate stories run side by side in Ms. Hilda’s classroom. The first story centers around the class desire to purchase a hamster for a class pet. Ms. Hilda points out that they will need money and guides the children when they come up with the idea of raising money by setting up a lemonade stand. During the process, children learn about being polite, trying new foods, taking turns, and teamwork in achieving their objective.

The second story involves their afternoon project of recreating their paintings into physical objects with playdough. When the children discover that there are more colors in the paintings than in their play dough, they must learn about primary and secondary colors and how to create and mix them.

Readers learn life lessons as they follow a day in Ms. Hilda’s classroom. I do wish the text size were larger as beginning readers might find it too small, but I would still highly recommend this series to parents and teachers of primary school age children.

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