Jasper is Star of the Week!! He has been waiting for that honor all school year and FINALLY it is his week. He has high hopes that his week will be simply awesome and he will be the best Star of the Week that his class has ever seen.
Day 1 is Show -and-Tell Day just for the Star of the Week, but, unfortunately things don’t go exactly as Jasper had hoped. First, Ori steals the limelight with the news of the arrival of his new baby sister and then the class is not at all impressed with Jasper’s very special show and tell.
Day 2 is Family Tree Day, which proves to be tricky for Jasper because his family is so small. He uses a tree branch for his display and rather than calling it his family tree, he names it his family stick. He puts on a leaf for every single family member he can think of, including a brother named Earl who doesn’t even exist.
Day 3 is Science Experiment Day, which Jasper totally forgets about because his focus is on producing the “pretend” brother who is on his family stick. He ends up constructing his brother, Earl, from wood and since it turns out that Earl has no heart (because he is made from wood), there is a vague science discussion. Jasper’s heartless brother also causes him trouble on the playground which results in a trip to the principal’s office.
Day 4 is Talent Day, which after an enormous drink of water from the water fountain, Jasper delights the class with water sloshing “music” from his tummy.
Day 5 is Special Snack and Compliment Day which turns out to be a great day for Jasper!
Not only does Jasper’s special week to be the class Star turn out to be highly amusing, but other quirky and humorous events are sprinkled in along the way. This new book series promises to be a hit with early readers!
Posted by: Wendy
Marty McGuire’s 3rd grade class room is charged with a very important task: create a Save the Earth Project. Marty is inspired – she and her best friend Annie have long admired natural scientists Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, and they often go into the woods behind Marty’s house and pretend to be studying gorillas and chimpanzees themselves. Now they have a chance to really make a difference!
With the help of Marty’s Grandma Barb the girls come up with an idea that will help reduce food waste at their school cafeteria: create a worm composting bin! Marty is very confident that their project will make an impact, and talks up the worms to her classmates so everyone is very excited to feed the worms all their crusts, green beans, and leftover bits of tuna fish sandwiches. But there’s a problem: the worms can only eat a little bit at a time; and certain foods, like meat or tuna fish, shouldn’t enter their habitat. Marty knows these things, but she also doesn’t want to let down her classmates, who are all clamoring for a chance to feed the worms. When Marty lets the worms’ habitat become inhospitable because she wants to please her classmates, the worms escape, and she is forced to reassess her plan. Marty and Annie come up with a solution to their worm problem, and ultimately their project is a success. Marty learns that change takes time, and that often you must be patient in order to see your ideas come to fruition. She also learns that taking responsibility for something takes planning, problem-solving, and courage.
Marty McGuire is an excellent book for kids transitioning into reading chapter books – the chapters are fairly short, and the book is dotted with black and white illustrations by Brian Floca which, with humor and expression, perfectly capture the different characters of the book. Marty McGuire Digs Worms! is an amusing and realistic look at the world of a 3rd grade classroom – Marty is a likable character, as are her patient teacher Mrs. Aloi, wacky Grandma Barb, and her loyal friend Annie. This would make a great read-aloud for a classroom – just in time for Earth Day! It can be read as the sequel to Messner’s book Marty McGuire, but it also stands on its own.
Posted by: Parry
Penny comes home with a new song, and she wants someone to listen to her! But Mama and Papa say it’s the babies’ nap time. Penny tries singing to herself in the mirror, but that isn’t the same, and neither is singing to her little glass animals. So Penny waits all the way until dinner time, only to be told, “Not at the table,” by Mama. Finally, after dinner, Penny gets her big chance. Penny sings her song beautifully, and then the whole family joins in, including the babies (“in their own baby way”). They all have a little family dance party, with Mama in funny sunglasses and Papa in a funny hat. Penny’s song was worth the wait – it brings the little mouse family a joyful end to their day and ushers in sweet sleep for the babies.
This easy reader from beloved author and illustrator Kevin Henkes is perfect for newly independent readers – the short and simple text is supported by Henkes’ trademark watercolor illustrations, and the headings of “Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.” build confidence and add a level of gravitas that new readers can be so hungry for. Children, especially older siblings, will appreciate Penny’s plight and ultimate triumph, and readers of all ages will delight in the depiction of a warm and loving mouse family, making musical memories one ordinary evening. Although this book is perfect for new readers, it would also make a lovely read-aloud for younger children.
Posted by: Parry
It’s always fun for me to see how an author will highlight all 26 letters in an alphabet book. I was not disappointed when reading ABC ZooBorns! It is a delightful alphabet book with adorable and, often, cuddly looking baby animals. Each page features a photo of a baby animal along with a simple statement describing the animal. The back of the book offers a glossary with additional information such as the species, home and conservation status of each animal. Don’t skip looking over the beginning words by Paul Boyle, PhD about learning how to protect animals. You might find yourself paging through this book over and over again – the photographs are just that much fun to look at!
Posted by: Wendy
Blanche is a young witch who belongs to a special scurry of witches known for its beautiful flight formation. Some witches might think she isn’t fit for such a distinguished scurry – Blanche is young and scatterbrained, and despite her best efforts she always manages to be late. But she also has a very special bright blue nose which she can flash on and off at will, and that counts for a lot. Even so, Blanche realizes she cannot be late for the most important flight of the year on Halloween night. Her efforts to be early work a little too well, though, and Blanche finds herself awake hours before midnight, fallen in with a group of human children out for trick-or-treating. The children are charmed by Blanche’s fantastic blue nose, her flying broom, and her little black cat named Brockett, so they invite her to join them – and that is how Blanche the little witch has a Halloween adventure unlike any her fellow scurry-members have ever had.
Originally published in 1956, The Blue-Nosed Witch is charming and old-fashioned. It is a very short and quick-moving chapter book with black and white illustrations scattered throughout – perfect for new chapter book readers. If you’re like I was, and looking for a light-hearted Halloween story without the spook factor, then this might make an excellent choice.
Posted by: Parry
This is not a new book but it is a cute summer read. Piggie gets her first ever party invitation and she asks Elephant to go with her. He is delighted and tells her that he knows about parties. He advises her that it might be a fancy party and that they should dress up for it. They do! But then he says that it might be a pool party. So they wear their pool accessories also. But wait, it might be a costume party too! Does Elephant know parties like he says he does? Look for this book in the Easy Fiction section under the author. It is a lot of fun. And if you like it, there are more Elephant and Piggie books.
Posted by: Fran
Here is a simple quiz to determine if you are (or if you know) a picky eater:
I can’t eat broccoli. It’s disgusting (yes or no)
Lumpy oatmeal makes me gag. (yes or no)
I am repulsed by mushroom lasagna. It smells funny. (yes or no)
Eggs are slimy and I will not eat them. (yes or no)
James answers yes to every question and his father creates humorous tales as to why his son should consider eating those foods. When James declares that milk is repulsive and that he won’t drink it, his father replies “good idea, milk gives growing children strong, hard bones so just think of all the great things you could do with nice soft bones.” Dad gives examples of how soft bones can be a plus, as well as how they will prevent James from doing some of the things he loves. James drinks his milk.
Each short chapter is accompanied by humorous illustrations that demonstrate Dad’s use of psychology while he cleverly guides his son away from his picky eating ways. By the last chapter James tries to give his father a dose of his own psychology, but Dad is one step ahead.
I smiled throughout this book as I was reminded of my days with a picky eater.
Posted by: Wendy
Fancy Nancy is growing up and so are her readers. Kids who are growing out of the Fancy Nancy picture books and leveled readers will be thrilled to see this new series of chapter books featuring all of the characters from the previous books by Jane O’Connor. O’Connor’s sweet, funny text is paired well with Robin Preiss-Glasser’s illustrations once again in this story.
Nancy emulates Nancy Drew since she received a special first edition copy of a Nancy Drew book from Mrs. De Vine, her fabulous neighbor. Nancy and her best friend Bree decide to become detectives just like Nancy Drew. They are dressed for the job with Nancy in a pink trenchcoat and Bree in purple complete with rhinestone-studded magnifying glasses. The only problem is, there are not any cases in Nancy’s quiet town. That is until her teacher’s prize marble goes missing on Family Day. Nancy is on the case immediately!
This chapter book is good, wholesome fun for 1st and 2nd graders who are beginning to read chapter books independently. As in the picture books, Nancy likes to use new vocabulary words, and kids will have fun learning the meaning of words like “motive” and phrases like “in the dark of night.” This story also incorporates a secret code readers can try to crack and a lesson on the lost art of playing marbles.
Posted by: Kelly
I have recently become a huge fan of the author Lenore Look. How can you not love an author who describes herself on Twitter as: “writer, re-writer, deadline misser, wrong-turn maker, detour taker, yoga pose messer-upper, raconteur extraordinaire.”
Look’s first professional titles were picture books that were both heartwarming and funny. She has continued that tradition with her juvenile fiction series, Ruby Lu, and the bestseller Alvin Ho. All of her titles feature Asian characters living in America that are easily relatable to readers of every nationality. Look’s Alvin Ho books have gained a lot of critical acclaim and popularity among young readers, but the Ruby Lu series is not one to be missed either. Ruby Lu is written for slightly younger readers and can be found in our Easy Fiction section.
The series begins with second grader Ruby Lu introducing readers to her large family and her daily struggles as a second grader. Ruby Lu, Star of the Show is the third book in the series. Ruby is starting 3rd grade. She lives with her large family in a household that consists of her parents, her baby brother, and cousin Flying Duck and Flying Duck’s parents who are all from China. The book touches on some important issues facing today’s children. Ruby’s father loses his job, her mother joins the workforce for the first time in Ruby’s life, and Flying Duck’s family assimilates to life in America. Add to that Flying Duck is deaf and is fluent in Chinese Sign Language, but not American Sign Language, and you have a lot of issues that kids in all neighborhoods can relate to.
The story centers around Ruby trying to adjust to life on a very tight budget and has a great subplot about her relationship with her dog, Elvis, which it turns out, knows all of kinds of tricks because he comes from a very special background. Although heavy on issues, this story is never heavy handed. Ruby is a delightful child and the characters in these books are funny and touching, and never overly sarcastic or mean to each other. It is a great choice for kids who have liked Judy Moody and Clementine who are a little too young to read Alvin Ho.
Posted by: Kelly
Just in the nick of time comes a new mystery series that is lots of fun for young readers. The main characters are a boy named Milo and a girl named Jazz, and they are friends that like to solve mysteries together. Not a new concept, but it’s fun to have a new series to recommend. This book includes all the things that make up a good mystery – clues, ever changing suspects, a surprise ending … but also is set at summer camp, including a food fight, a stolen mascot, camp “color war” games, and lots more. What more could you ask for in a mystery? When the blue team’s moose mascot goes missing, it is up to Milo to figure out who took it and why… and to get it back. The likely suspect, Tony from the red team, seems to have an alibi, but there are some things that Milo doesn’t know yet about Tony – that’s where his partner Jazz, who happens to be at the girls camp across the way, comes in. In the end, the two of them put all the pieces together to solve the mystery. Kids will really like these easy to solve mysteries and will really enjoy “Super Sleuthing Strategies” at the end of the book. This series is one that I will be recommending for those early mystery readers.
Posted by: Mary