Posts from the ‘read aloud’ Category

BELIEVE

Hercules Finds His Courage: Taki and Toula Time Travelers

Written by Elena Paige

This is one book in a series of time traveling adventures taken by six-year-old Taki and his eight-year-old sister, Toula. These children live on the island of Crete. One day, while playing with a chest of old clothes, they discover a pair of unusual shoes. Each of the children puts on one shoe. Suddenly, they are transported to ancient Greece, where they are astonished to find a bull and a man crying. Even though they are frightened, the siblings appease the bull. They discover Hercules who is discouraged from completing the twelve labors with which he has been tasked.

The book is a nice way to introduce a bit of Greek mythology and history to early readers. Illustrations are cartoon-like and simple, but they do the job of portraying the action of the plot. Coupled with large and easy to read font, it makes the book attractive to the beginning and reluctant readers. Recommended especially for readers in the six to eight age range.

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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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FINIS #Cybils 2017

 

FINAL REFLECTIONS ON EASY READER AND EARLY CHAPTER CANDIDATES

NUTTY ABOUT NUMBERS

 We Need More Nuts

 Written and Illustrated by Jonathan Fenske

This is a Step 2 Reading Book intended for readers in Grades 1 and 2. It is also a counting book. Children are introduced to squirrels who are hoarding and counting nuts. The number combinations begin with one and range up to twenty-four. This book may be read over and over to teach number skills or left in the hands of a child to practice independently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Run, Run Run…

What is Chasing Duck? (The Giggle Gang)

Written by Jan Thomas

This is another book in the Giggle Gang series that features farmyard friends who get into sticky situations. Duck is being chased and he summons his friends to try to get him out of a jam. They come up with some hilarious solutions that don’t appear to be working. Repetitive language, expressive illustrations and lots of humor will keep beginning readers laughing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Fantastica Family

The Beach Trip (Sofia Martinez

Written by Jacqueline Jules

Illustrated by Kim Smith

Sofia Martinez belongs to a huge family. Whether spending a routine day at home, heading off to the beach or shopping for school supplies, things are never dull. Sofia is gentle and tender, but she is also determined and loyal. The chapter book contains three short adventures with Spanish vocabulary words inserted throughout. This book is an excellent choice for ESL students, bilingual families or English-speaking readers who want to learn a bit of Spanish. Sofia’s antics are fun for boys and girls who enjoy having fun.

 

 

 

 

 

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Barkus

Written by Patricia Maclachlan

Illustrated by Marc Boutavani

This early chapter book chronicles how Barkus became an integral part of Nicky’s family. Uncle Everton shows up at her dog with his dog named Barkus who is well-trained and intelligent. Nicky’s uncle will be traveling and can’t take Barkus with him. Barkus follows Nicky to school where he is immediately adopted as the class dog. When Barkus’ birthday rolls around, he invites the neighborhood dogs to crash his birthday party. One day Barkus is bored so he adopts a neighborhood kitten to become a part of his family. Nicky, Barkus and his kitten have a tent camp out in their backyard. Each of them comforts each other; no one is afraid of the dark.

Large font accompanied by simple illustrations and lots of dialogue assist young readers in maintaining interest. By using four different stories and reweaving them at the end, children learn how to recap and summarize events. Family and pets are two themes that appeal to young readers. Highly recommended especially for children in the six to eight-year-old range.

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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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#Wednesday’s Winners

Two more finalists in the Cybils Bloggers’ Literary Awards:

Easy Reader

HUNGRY THIEVES

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

RISING TO THE OCCASION

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

AN IMPORTANT MESSENGER

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

A WORKING VACATION

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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