Chapter Book

The Alien Next Door by A.I. Newton

The Alien Next Door book cover: illustrated: a boy peering through an open window at a 2nd boy sitting on a cahir reading. There are tentacles turning the boy's book pages."Just because someone is different doesn't mean they're weird," Roxie pointed out.

Harris can see all the signs that everyone else misses. The new kid writes with his mind, exercises by balancing on one finger, and eats food without chewing. Clearly, Zeke is an alien. Now he has to try and prove it before the alien ends up coming over to play video games!

The Alien Next Door is an ongoing series about three different points of view on the topic of being, well, different. Zeke is the new kid who travels a lot and tries to fit in. Harris is the skeptic and untrusting of someone so new and strange. And Roxy is the voice of reason in the middle, happy to be friends with both of them. This book is great for 2nd-3rd grade readers; however, they may require an adult’s help sounding out the ‘alien language’ on some pages. An overall charming and enjoyable read.

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Naomi, Kids World

Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

Bob book cover: illustration of a girl at night under a tree shining a light on some sort of creature"You're back. Took you long enough,"

What if you discovered an imaginary friend from your childhood whom you had completely forgotten about? Livy, now ten, visits her grandmother again after five years. She doesn’t remember much until she finds a small green creature in the closet, right where she had left him (so he tells her). Bob can't remember where he came from. Livy had promised to help him find his way back home and he has been waiting for her all this time. Can she help Bob? Can she remember her way forward?

This slim chapter book is sweet and silly both. Livy and Bob tell their story in alternating chapters, as they reunite and their friendship deepens. Readers who like magic and childhood nostalgia will enjoy this quick read.

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Mary Jo, Kids World

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

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