Posts from the ‘middle grades’ Category

SPIDER SURPRISES

All About Spiders: A Picture Book for Kids About Spiders

Written by Jasmine Williams

Okay, spiders are not the most endearing or popular creatures. There are more than 43,000 species on earth; they live on all continents except Antarctica. Many people are terrified of them, but only two spiders are actually deadly to humans, The Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. Spiders are arachnids with bodies consisting of two parts. The silken webs they weave are not only used to trap food. The Goliath Bird-Eating Spider is the largest spider and it accomplishes exactly what its name implies. Several spiders are as small as the head of a pin. I learned that a Hawaiian spider is nicknamed the Happy Faced Spider because it seems to be smiling at us.

 

The photos in this book are unique because they are enlarged to display the features written about in the book. Children will have no difficulty understanding the concepts and information. Budding amateur scientists and animal lovers can learn a lot. The author does not shy away from using challenging vocabulary. For this reason, younger readers will need adult explanation, but readers in the seven to ten group should be able to read independently. Recommended for teachers and librarians to include on their research shelves. It may even convert some spider haters.

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MIGHT MAKES RIGHT

The Race: an inspiring story for Left-Handers

Written by Janet Hurst-Nicholson

Illustrated by Vanessa Burger

Vicky hates sitting next to Graham in school. He is always bumping into her. Vicky is left-handed and finds it difficult to accomplish simple tasks that seem to come easy for everybody else. She is a klutz in sports and never seems to excel. To make matters worse, everyone seems to make fun of her. Vicky is looking forward to her grandmother’s upcoming visit. She has been busy trying to finish a needlepoint cover as a gift, but even that seems to be coming out wrong. Vicky wants to prove to her grandmother that she is successful, so she and her friend Vicky practice nonstop to win the egg balancing race. Her grandmother will be watching; they are determined to win. An unexpected turn of events leads to a new race being added at the last minute. Will Vicky get a chance to prove to herself and others being left-handed actually be an advantage?

I loved this chapter book. Perhaps being married to a left-hander and having a left-handed son has made be acutely aware of some of the everyday problems left-handed people face. This book presents the problems and enables all of us right-handers to understand how difficult it can be for someone who is a “lefty” to function in a world of right-handed preferences. The world is finally becoming more attuned to the need for left handed tools and devices. Recommend this book highly for teachers, parents and children as a read aloud or a book for families to discuss and share.

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TINY BUT FEARLESS

The Adventures of Geraldine Woolkins

Written by Karin Kaufman

A delightful chapter book consisting of ten stories that revolve around a fearless family of mice facing the dangers and challenges of winter. Geraldine is the protagonist who was born in April, but now in October is facing the end of the gathering season. She and her brother Nigel have much to learn and experience. Readers are introduced to their friends in the forest, Penelope, the sparrow and Cheddar, a white rabbit. The children love to hear their father Nigel read to them stories from the Book of Tales. These adventures teach them about common sense, trust, gratitude, empathy and sharing. As October wanes, the family and friends celebrate Thanksgiving and the joys of Christmas. On the other hand, the children’s curiosity put them in danger of being eaten by wolves and ravens, swept down the river on a log and being destroyed by a forest fire. Charlotte is a sensitive and inquisitive mouse who desires to read, write and explore the world around her. She and her brother share sibling rivalry, but at the same time deeply love and care for one another. Their parents teach them to have faith that Very, Very Big Hands will be there to guide and protect them.

This chapter book is geared toward readers in grades three to six. Some younger children may enjoy individual stories as a read aloud. There are no illustrations; a few simple drawings would add appeal to younger children. I would thoroughly recommend the book as a gentle, sweet read for children who love animals. The many lessons learned and bravery in facing adversity allow for lots of discussion on the topics of developing strong character and interpersonal skills.

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Teen Troubles

The Rise of the Olympians Book One

Written by Belle Ward

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First book in a middle grade short story series. Lilah is about to celebrate her thirteenth birthday. Her father surprises her with her favorite breakfast of pancakes and bacon. As she departs for school with her older brother, Jay, Lilah looks forward to her first class in which she is studying about Ancient Greece. Mr. Fisher is discussing the Olympians. For some reason, Lilah can’t stop thinking about the lesson.

When Lilah gets home she is surprised by the gift of an angel-winged necklace from her dad. But when she prepares for bed, strange things begin to happen. The necklace heats up, her rainbow colored extensions suddenly become attached to her head, and she experiences a strange dream. The next day, Lilah is invited to join a special dream club. She is astonished to learn that the other members are Apollo and Hades. They think she is the goddess who will help them find the Father of the Monsters. A sudden crash, and all must run for their lives…..Will Lilah cast her fate with these strangers? Will she wake up from this nightmare?

This short story is a good length for reluctant readers. The characters are believable and interesting enough. What some readers may not like is that the tale ends in a cliffhanger. Readers will be left disappointed unless they immediately get a hold of Book Two.

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FROM BAD TO WORSE

Charlie Bingham Gets Clocked #1

Written by Maggie M. Larche

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What else could go wrong? Charlie is in love with his teacher, Miss Walker. His best friend Brad brings his one-eyed lizard to school and loses it. The intelligent but insecure and nervous Brad has just been nominated to be on the Knowledge Bowl team. Miss Walker’s favorite alarm clock has disappeared. Two girls who are bitter enemies vow to become detective rivals locked in a contest to find the culprit. To make matters even worse, their muscle-bound music teacher, Mr. Wainwright, is also enamored of Miss Walker. He is determined to find and punish the student thief. Throughout the school day this elusive clock will make its way around the school until the culprit is found. Will the truth ever come out? Who will finally solve the mystery? Will the thief get the punishment he deserves?

This book is aimed at the eight to twelve year old audience and features a nice balance of elements that appeal to this age group. There is lots of humor, enough plot twists, and empathetic characters with which readers can identify. Readers will surely be able to see themselves either as victims or heroes in the plot. Recommended as a fun read for friends or classmates to share and discuss.

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NO BULL

Easy 8: The Big Event

Written by Carrolyn Foster

Illustrated by Michael Bermundo

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I received a copy of this paperback from the publisher and voluntarily chose to review giving my honest opinion for no compensation.

This short 28 page book could best be described as a beginning chapter book. There are eight color illustrations that enhance and keep the story interesting. The plot centers on the last bull riding competition of the year in which the bulls will compete for the Bull of the Year award. At the beginning of the competition the Native American bulls perform a dance that tells the story of Mother Earth, which was my favorite part of the book. Children are given an education about Native American folklore in addition to meeting the bulls entered in the competition. The results of the contest provide children with an important message about winning. I like the fact that the story is told in first person by the bulls. The personification is effective; each of the bull’s personalities is clearly revealed.

Book purchasers receive a bonus audio down link. This story is available in kindle and paperback format. Recommended for beginning independent readers and reluctant readers, especially for ages seven to ten.

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PROUD AND FREE

America’s Star Spangled Story Celebrating 200 Hundred Years of the National Anthem

Written by Jane Hampton Cook

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An interesting book that uses each line of The Star Spangled Banner to trace the history of the events of the War of 1812 when the British attempted to control Washington, DC, the key players in the events, background events, and photos from the past and present. The author narrates the history of the battle for control of Fort McHenry relating to the lines of the song as it was penned in the midst of the battle. Occasionally the author dips back in time to muse about the thoughts of the Pilgrims as they landed on the shores of America, and the Patriots as they fought for freedom from Great Britain during the American Revolution. They believed that The War of 1812 and the destruction of the Capitol by the British added insult to injury.

Readers are encouraged to think about the images that each line of this now famous song evoke in their minds and hearts. Perhaps few Americans are aware that the song did not gain widespread notoriety until the end of the nineteenth century and was not made the official national anthem until the administration of Herbert Hoover.

Anyone with an interest in American history and this beautiful song will find the short book entertaining and informative. Appropriate for readers age ten and older.

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