Chapter Book

Top Elf by Caleb Zane Huett

Top Elf book cover: red cover with a small elf holding up the title words"Could anyone be Santa? It seemed crazy. But Santa was saying it..."

Santa Matthew Claus is retiring and, breaking with tradition, he's not going to give the job over to his eldest son, Klaus. This time, this year, a competition shall be held to determine who will be the next Santa. Elves and Claus's kids are signing up in mass. When Ollie and Celia, two hardworking enthusiastic elves, join in the series of trials, they get a little more than they bargained for as it becomes clear that not every competitor has motivations as jolly.  It's not too long before the North Pole and Christmas itself is in danger of being ruined forever.

This North Pole chapter book balances funny antics with some serious drama, and is perfect for upper elementary readers who are looking for something festive this holiday season.

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Celeste, Kids World

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Iron Trial book cover: preteens with cloaked figure in mask above them"You must bind Callum's magic before the end of the year."

Callum Hunt is determined to not get selected to attend the Magisterium. His father says the school for mages was responsible for the death of his mother and if Callum goes he will end up just like her. Against all odds, the unthinkable happens and Cal is selected to become a mage apprentice. But school isn't what his father says...and Callum discovers a terrible secret about the mages old enemy. A secret he is determined to take to his grave.

For fans of Harry Potter and Rick Riordian the Iron Trial is a fast paced journey into an alternate world where magic, secrets and friendship make book one of The Magisterium series a keeper. Recommended for middle grade readers.

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Tiffany, Kids World

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Goldfish Boy book cover: blue house silhouette of boy looking out the window"At some point after 12:55 p.m. on that bright, scorching day, Teddy Dawson went missing."

In the middle of a cul-de-sac in a small English town there lies Matthew Corbin, a boy who refuses to leave his house. He has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) where he has to wash his hands multiple times a day and has to make sure his bedroom is clean and germ-free. In his spare time (which is a lot), Matthew looks out his window where he can take note of his neighbor's daily activities.

But when a toddler next door goes missing, it’s up to Matthew (will he leave his house?) and some unlikely friends to help him solve the mystery. Did one of the neighbors take Teddy? Did he run off on his own?

The shining light of the book is the refreshing take of a boy suffering from OCD and how it dictates his life. The readers will root for Matthew as he tries to deal with his disorder while solving the mystery. Although the mystery plot is not new, it did keep me on my toes as I tried to figure out what happened to Teddy.

All upper elementary and middle school readers who love mysteries should take a look at this book!

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Victoria, Kids World

Tales of Sasha: The Big Secret by Alexa Pearl

Tales of Sasha: The Big Secret book cover: an illustrated grey horse on a lush cliff looking up into the sky"Sometimes, I feel like I'm standing at the starting line of a race, waiting for the whistle to blow."

Sasha is a small plucky young horse who just doesn't fit into the herd. She admits, "I stink at staying still," and her classmates know she is more prone to daydreams than focusing on her teacher. Downhearted and depressed after failing a school lesson, Sasha's parents let her in on a little secret that has the potential to change everything.

With less than 100 pages and illustrations on every page, this series opener is a tidy little transitional chapter book perfect for early elementary readers just making the jump into chapter books. My Little Pony fans will find the artwork appealing, and kids who struggle sitting still will find in Sasha a kindred spirit.

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Celeste, Kids World

Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

Midnight Without a Moon book cover: the back of an African girl looking at a house in the distance. Cotton plants surround the cover"But in Mississippi you never knew what little thing could spark a flame and get you killed. Registering to vote. Voting. Or even something as little as whistling at a white woman."

 Jim Crow laws are still affecting Mississippi in 1955 as with the rest of the Deep South. African American's are legally free, but in Mississippi the color of your skin still means everything. Rose Lee Carter, the 13 year-old African-American narrator shares her dreams of moving out of her grandparent's sharecropper house and to live up north. But to where? To Chicago, where her Mama left her and her brother for a husband and a new set of kids? Or to St. Louis with her Aunt Belle, a Civil Rights activist that supports the controversial NAACP?

Throughout the book we read about racism in the South and how some African Americans like Rose Lee's grandmother are content with their lives working for a white family and okay with the law that deemed, "separate but equal". But, Rose Lee Carter and those in her community are forced to see things differently when an African American boy, Emmett Till, is found murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
 
Would you stand up for what you believe in even if you might be killed? Or would you stay in the shadows and hope that nothing changes?

Rose's voice comes through as a witty and intelligent young girl that tries to see hope in the darkest places. This heart-felt, but raw historical novel is recommended for sixth grade and up.

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Victoria, Kids World

Bog Hollow Boys: A Series by C. B. Jones

Bog Hollow Boys book cover: Kiss of the snake: on motorized four wheels kids drive along a path in a forested area, a snake in a helmet is in the basket of one vehicle"No animal is too small, large, cute, ugly, slimy, furry, feathered, stinky, or dirty... Bog Hollow to the rescue!"

A new chapter book series is hitting Library shelves. The Bog Hollow Boys are part adventure, part ecology exploration, and part mystery. This kid team made up of Ace, Daryl, Ethan, and Nellie (yes, a girl) invesigate suspicious events at Bog Hollow State Park. Together they rescue animals in need from natural hazards and human dangers such as poachers- when they are not in trouble themselves!

These short chapter books will fit perfectly in the hands of 3rd grade and advanced 2 grade readers who love slightly irreverent antics. No real new ground has been broken here, but older fans of the Wild Kratts will likely want to take a look at this series of self-designated animal protectors.

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Celeste, Kids World

The Infamous Ratsos by Kara Lareau

Infamous Ratsos book cover: illustration of a brickwall and sidewalk cement. In from of the wall two clothed rats stand on tehir hinde legs back to back. Garbage litters the sidewalk around them"There are two kinds of people in this world... Those who are tough, and those who are soft."

The Ratso brothers decide to to do something to make them "look tough." They want their father to be proud of their tough despicable ways. The trouble is prank after prank, something always seem to go array making them look soft instead. Will they ever gain a reputation that will earn their father's respect?

At only 58 pages, this humorous book is perfect for first and second grade readers looking to tackle a chapter book. With simple a vocabulary,  large font and entertaining plot, this transitional read will make taking the plunge into chapter books a delight.

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Celeste, Kids World

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

ghost book cover: a yellow cover with a boy running off the side’Who you run for?’ he asked. What? Who did I run for? What kind of question was that?
‘I run for me. Who else?’ I replied.”

Castle Crenshaw has been running his whole life. First, he ran from his dad during a violent outburst. Then, he ran from school bullies who torment him because he’s poor, and the principal who is tired of his inability to stay out of trouble. Now, he’s running for pride when he joins the after-school track team and dubs himself Ghost. Will Castle ever find a way to shake off his past, or will he eventually learn that the only way to move forward is to stop running away and start running toward who you want to be?

Ghost, the first in a three book series, is highly recommended for readers, especially reluctant ones, in grades 4 and up who enjoy sports or stories about school and personal problems.

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Brittany, Kids World

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Save me a seat book cover: displaying 2 lunch trays one with hanburger and fries another with what appears to be Indian food"When I was a little kid, if I fell down and skinned my knee, my mom would kiss it to make it better. I thought it was magic. But I'm not a little kid and I don't believe in magic anymore."

Joe's best friends moved away from the New Jersey town he's live his whole life, leaving him with no support system to brave the perils of fifth grade alone. Ravi has just moved to that same New Jersey town from Bangalore, India where he was the top of his class. Joe and Ravi may come from different worlds, but they have more in common than they suspect when they are both targeted by the school bully. What are two boys to do when all they want to do is fit in in a world where they are singled out? The answer may be sitting right across the lunch table.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Joe and Ravi over the course of one week, this book is best suited for readers grades 3 and up who enjoyed Wonder, Because of Mr. Terupt, and other school stories.

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Brittany, Kids World

Shadow House: The Gathering by Dan Poblocki

Shadow House book cover: a girl appears to hold a frame either picture or mirror over face and within the frame a ghostly face peers back"Could you tell me more about your invitation to Larkspur?" "I'm pretty sure it's the same one you got." "I'm pretty sure it's not."

Five kids, each promised their dream- their very different dreams- if only they come to Larkspur. What is Larkspur? The home of a long lost aunt? A movie production company?  A school? The Larkspur House proves to be none of those things. Dreams may come true there, but it is not the happily ever after kind. No, the house might come straight from a nightmare. "little balls continued to roll out, each one stopping with the letter toward him... LETSPLAY...LETS PLAY."

This haunted house story's creepy level will place it solidly in upper elementary school range. Ghosts wearing bizarre masks, moving objects, look-alike dolls with ashes inside them, spontaneous fires- this house has all the elements of a perfect Halloween read. And of course, doors that do not open, windows that will not break. The five kids are trapped with no escape.

For those looking for a happily wrapped up ending, you may wish to read elsewhere. This is only book one in a series.

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Celeste, Kids World

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