Posts from the ‘reluctant reader’ Category

A DRAGON’S BEST FRIEND

James and the Dragon: The Farloft Chronicles, Vol. 1

Written by Theresa Snyder

 

This is a well-written chapter book or novella with an intriguing set of characters, flights of fancy, and wonderful lessons to learn. The three main characters are a dragon named Farloft, a dastardly wizard named Laval, and a ten-year-old human named James. A plague has recently struck the kingdom. About two-thirds of the population have succumbed. Farloft avoids humans because relations have soured over time. Laval is bitter because the plague has made his daughter ill. James has been orphaned. One day as he struggles to dig peat in the bogs to keep warm, the blacksmith and his son steal it from him. James becomes trapped in the bog; Farloft takes pity and rescues him. As James recovers in the dragon’s lair, they become close. Farloft regales him with legends of past exploits and reveals his treasure chamber. When James returns home, villagers nearly kill him. Farloft rescues him once more. In the meantime, Laval has hatched a devastating plot to exact revenge for his daughter’s death. A surprise ending brings book one to a conclusion and sets the stage for more adventures.

Middle grade, young adult readers, and adults will enjoy this fast-moving story with its pleasing blend of magic, myth, and charm. Characters are well developed and easy to like. By the end of the first book, readers have already become engaged and are eager to learn more about the characters and what will happen to them in their future engagements.

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ENTERPRISING ENTOMOLOGISTS

Bug Zoo Adventure: An Aspen and Eva Adventure Chapter Book for Kids

Written by Kari Sue Benjamin

An engaging chapter book that teaches children about insects, flowers, 4-H clubs, and good sportsmanship. Seven-year-old Aspen and her five-year-old sister, Eva are getting bored near the end of the summer. They decide that they will capture insects, set up a bug zoo, and charge admission. The chapter book follows their successes and failures. Readers learn about some common insects, the flowers that attract them, and how to collect them.

Aspen is old enough to participate in 4-H. She needs to find a project for the fair so she decides to incorporate her bug zoo project. Readers learn a bit about what 4-H is about and what happens at a county fair. Aspen and Eva expect to earn a lot of money with their museum. Aspen also anticipates winning first prize for her 4-H insect collection. When their plans don’t exactly come to fruition, the girls learn lessons about winning and losing. In the end, there are a few unexpected surprises.

This short chapter book is targeted for ages six through ten but is generally best for the younger part of that age range. Short chapters and lots of dialogue keep the plot interesting and easy to follow. Reluctant readers also will enjoy this fast-paced read of fewer than fifty pages.

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HALLOWEEN ON HIGH

Halloween Snowman Paul

Written by Yossi Lapid

Illustrated by Joanna Fasen

I was delighted to see a new release in the Snowman Paul series because I have previously enjoyed this author’s funny character and memorable illustrations.

This new book features a tree house on Halloween night. As visitors come upon the site, they encounter a warning sign not to come near the tree house. Who can refuse a dare on Halloween night? As the reader continues his journey three more warnings are posted. Visitors are warned of many types of danger. Trespassers might encounter space aliens, witches or ghosts.

I won’t give away where Paul fits into this picture, but readers will be urged to tell spooky stories and sing scary songs. Trick or treaters will not be disappointed.

This multicultural book is replete with large, soft and expressive watercolor illustrations that are not too scary for the youngest readers. Recommended especially for children in the three to eight year old range. Warning…adults will enjoy the book even more than the kids. Well done!

I was given a copy of this book by the author and voluntarily decided to review with my honest opinions for no compensation.

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LAUGH LINES

Title: 130+ Rabbit Jokes: Animal Jokes and Riddles for Kids

Author: Kids Corner Publishing

One of a series of animal jokes for children on virtually any animal you can think of. The format is simple. Readers find one joke on each page, presented in a question/answer format. There are no illustrations. Most of each page is blank. Some of the jokes have fairly obvious answers. For example, What is a rabbit’s favorite dance? Answer: the bunny hop. Others are more sophisticated. What do you call a rabbit walking backward? Answer: a receding hare line.

This book and the rest of the collection will appeal to children who can’t get enough of jokes. The books are a good choice for children as entertainment at parties. They are a simple read so I would recommend them for beginning readers or reluctant readers who are intimidated by too much text on a page. Children who are animal lovers and enjoy sharing jokes will find this collection right up their alley.

 

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OUT OF REACH

Sean Wants to Be a Messi

Written by Tanya Preminger

Illustrated by Elettra Cudignotti

Sean is a second grader who is obsessed with soccer, especially one player named Leo Messi. He seems uninterested in finishing his homework or paying attention in school. He is excited to join soccer club to perfect his skill, but upon arrival, he refuses to play. His mother is upset with him. Both parents encourage Sean to overcome his fears of inadequacy and start developing his game skills. One day, a sixth grader bullies him and throws Sean’s soccer ball over the fence. One day a player is injured and an opportunity arises for Sean to assist. I am not sure I approve of Sean’s mother’s response, but Sean learns a valuable lesson about himself and the game.

Recommended as a beginning chapter book for new or reluctant readers. The book has a few colorful illustrations to keep the story flowing. Soccer fans will particularly enjoy reading it.

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MANGO SURPRISE

Don’t Go Mango Picking: A Scary Island Story

Written and Illustrated by D.H. Gibbs

This tale is a beginning chapter book set in the Caribbean. Deanna and her Aunt Sandy are spending part of their summer vacation at their grandmother’s farm in the bush. The girls work in the mornings doing chores like collecting eggs, feeding the pigs and picking peas. While the rest of the day contains free time, there are few modern conveniences like television and radio. Grandma has warned them not to stay out after dark or play with Molly. This young neighbor seems to have a knack for getting into trouble. Of course one day when no one is around, Molly persuades the girls to sneak into Mr. Forhan’s yard to pick the mangoes off his trees. What happens when the girls encounter a Lagahoo? What is a Lagahoo, you ask? Read this short chapter book to find out.

This story is under forty pages and contains some unique black and white illustrations. The setting, simple text and unusual story line combine to offer an interesting adventure story for the beginning or reluctant reader. Recommended especially for children in the six to eight age range.

I received a copy of this book and voluntarily decided to review for no compensation with my honest opinions.

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STARTING OVER…

Buzzy and Thomas Move Into The President’s House

Written by Vicki Tashman

Illustrated by Fatima Stamato

Buzzy is a Briad dog living on a plantation farm in Monticello with her owner, Thomas Jefferson. Buzzy enjoys spending her days sitting at the feet of her master while he writes letters, romping in the vegetable garden, and playing tug of war with Thomas. One day, Thomas informs Buzzy that he has been elected president and that they will be moving to Washington, D.C. Buzzy is sad, afraid and confused. She does not want to leave her friends Caractacus, the horse, Bull, the farm dog, and Dickie, the pet mockingbird. When moving day arrives, she places her sleeping pillow, her dish, and her rope in the sleeping crate herself. After arriving at her new home, Buzzy is happy to discover that she likes her new surroundings and surprised to see Dickie will be staying as well.

This beginning chapter book is based on historical fact. It is delightfully illustrated. Targeted for children in the four to eight age range, I believe it most appropriate for primary grade children who are beginning to read. The story is well-written and is perfect for children whose families are planning a move to assuage many of their fears about leaving friends and familiar circumstances behind.

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