All posts in Book Reviews

Adventure Book for Middle School Boys

Best Books for Boys Who Hate to Read

Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulsen is Sam Grimby, of My Side of the Mountain, a little older morphed with the movie starring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer called The Ghost and The Darkness.  At 103 slim pages, this book is a perfect read for reluctant boy readers.  With one climatic chapter that is a little gory, because there is a devil muckwa (Cree for devil bear) involved — think back to the possessed lions in The Ghost and The Darkness and I’d place this book for 4th through 6th graders depending on how they can handle a little blood and gore. Read more…

Picture Book about Autism for Typicals in Elementary School

Picture Book Teaches Kids Compassion

The Friendship Puzzle (about Autism) by Julie L. Coe.  This is a great book to teach children how to relate to their classmates with special needs.  In this picture book, MacKenzie Macabee meets Dylan, the new boy at school who seems a little different.  When he has trouble fitting in, she puts the pieces of the puzzle together of why and learns about autism, but, even more importantly, she learns how to connect with him.  Her friendship with Dylan helps to bring her classmates around and he becomes a sought after soccer player.

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Pippi Longstocking meets Anne of Green Gables

Strong Role Models for Girls in Chapter Books

Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath is Pippi Longstocking meets Anne of Green Gables combined with a Newbery Honor Award full of entertaining characters living in a small fishing village in Canada. Everyone in Coal Harbor, British Columbia is convinced that  11-year-old Primrose Squarp is an orphan after her mother sets sail after her fisherman  father during a big storm and both don’t return except Primrose who knows they will return deep inside her heart.  Her uncle Jack is recruited to take care of her and he is convinced that Coal Harbor can be converted from a dying fishing village to a tourist destination.  Primrose’s faith in her parents’ return tests the patience of those around her as she fails to accept their “death” by asking the doubters, “Didn’t you ever believe anything just because you knew it was true?” Read more…

Immigrant Story: In The Year of the Boar

Immigration Books for 4th Grade

My 4th grader is doing a unit on immigration at school and everyone in her grade is reading one of four books. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson is not one of the books, but, nevertheless, it’s also a story about immigration and adjustment from an 8-year-old perspective. Granted, Shirley Temple Wong who emigrates with her mother to join her engineer father in Brooklyn, New York, has the “white-collar, educated Asian” immigrant experience. This includes a graduate degree in science or math for the father, a place to live, food to eat, and, sometimes, a loving, intact family. Read more…

Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale … and Mary Breckenridge (ages 9-12)

Female Role Models: Extraordinary Nurses in History

Mary on Horseback: Three Mountain Stories by Rosemary Wells

If you hear Rosemary Wells and think Max and Ruby , Yoko and Friends or McDuff, you have the right author. She is an author, like Cynthia Rylant, who has incredible range and also have ties to the Appalachians. I had read biographies in 5th grade about Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale but I was not familiar with Mary Breckenridge until I happened upon this book and it turns out that she deserves the same recognition, if not more so. Read more…

Harry Potter + Greek Mythology = Percy Jackson Series (ages 8-14)

Greek Mythology Chapter Book Series for Kids

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

I took a day off the computer yesterday and just read books 2 through 5 of the Percy Jackson series. I have to say it was the best day ever! This is a really wonderful series with wide appeal both in age and in gender and the range is ages 8-adult. There is also no weak link in the series and every book stands on its own, though I do suggest reading them in order. I’ve included my previous book review of the first book, The Lightening Thief, below, and can add that I stayed up way past my bedtime, AGAIN, to finish the last book. They Are Simply That Good!

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Fairy Chapter book, no flying in the house

Finally, A Really Good Fairy Book for 2nd Grade Girls

2nd Grade Fairy Book for Girls

My 7-year-old came home from school two days ago with an important message for me: “I just read the best book. You need to add it to your blog.” I had never heard of No Flying in the House by Betty Brock and assumed it was a picture book, though I don’t know why. My middle daughter is the reason why I created the Favorite Chapter Books for Newly Independent Readers because she refuses to read anything except chapter books. She proceeded to borrow it from her teacher so that I could save a trip to the library and I have to say that she is right. This is a great, old-fashioned fairy story. Our copy was even more charming because it was clearly a really old book with a big chunk of pages taped carefully back into the book. It looked like a garage sale rescue or a beloved book that was carefully passed down. No matter! It’s a find! Read more…

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Best Asian American Children’s Authors

Grace Lin is the children’s literature version of Amy Tan. Her latest chapter book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, is her best yet.  She weaves Chinese folk tales into a tapestry of stories where the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.   There is always a  sweetness and  innocence to her writing; there are always loving parents and children learning to believe in themselves and their culture. Read more…