Chapter Book

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes

Words with wings book cover: solid blue background, green school chair with 'desk arm', book resting open on desk items of fantasy coming out/in“The word fly
had set me free,
and I wondered,
Are there other words
that can carry me away?”

Have you ever gotten caught daydreaming, by your mom or your teacher? Gabriella’s thoughts and feelings flow like mini poems that tell her story,  Her Dad is gone, she and Mom have to move and she feels invisible at her new school.  Sensitive Gabby is a daydreamer; words constantly prompt memories and fantasies and submerge her there.  Her dreaminess helps her both escape and cope with all of the change that she is experiencing.

Gabby’s daydreaming problem is, predictably, identified as a skill by her teacher and she then feels free to express herself in writing.  Award-winning author Nikki Grimes conveys the power of words, memory and imagination in this sparse, accessible novel in verse.  Words with Wings would appeal to third through fifth graders, especially girls, who are dreamy, sensitive and/or experiencing family changes or new school adjustments.

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Mary Jo, Kids World

The Curse of Maleficent by Disney Press

The Curse of Maleficent book cover: Aurora (young girl with long hair) is bathed in a golden glow. Behind her in the shadows stands Maleficent (black cloak, turned away for her but watching out of corner of eye, staff in hand with a drak crystal on top)"One thing was certain, however. Maleficent was a hero in the Moors that night."

Easily one of the most majestically evil characters in any animated movie, Maleficent serves as the villain in Disney's movie adaption of Sleeping Beauty. Now we are told she was a hero when she was younger? What changes a hero into a monster?

Betrayal. A thirst for vengeance.

Does Maleficent's story truly end with her death as a huge black fire breathing dragon as is suggested in the climax of Disney's Sleeping Beauty?

Based upon the story in Disney's new movie, Maleficent, this chapter book contains beautiful color illustrations that invite you to step into a "once upon a time, in a far away kingdom," circle around the question of "what makes a monster?" and stay for a "happily ever after." (It is a fairy tale after all...)

But, in-between lies a wondrous world of magic fairies and dragons, and all the adventure a fourth, fifth, or sixth grade fairy tale fan could want.

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Celeste, Kids World

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

The Year of Billy Miller book cover: blue baseball cap flies across the top of the cover, the upper portion of the face of a brown haired boy. Silver Medal: Newberry Honor Book"It was the first day of second grade and Billy Miller was worried. He was worried that he wouldn't be smart enough for school this year." 
 
His father promises that it will be a great year for him, despite his frightening summer head injury and the goose egg that he can still feel on the back of his head. But, what if he’s not smart enough for second grade? What about his new teacher’s irritation with him? That looming poetry assignment? His mean-spirited classmate, Emma? His annoying and embarrassing little sister, Sal? As second grade progresses, Billy gains more self-confidence with what he is capable of and who he is.

This chapter book would likely appeal to second and third-grade readers who enjoy realistic fiction. Many patrons have probably enjoyed Kevin Henkes’ picture books (Chrysanthemum, Owen, Julius, the Baby of the World, and more) and might like to give his second grade point of view a try.

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Mary Jo, Kids World

Monkey & Robot by Peter Catalanotto

Monkey and Robot book cover: on left side is a gray humanoid robot smiling with its arm through the arm of the monkey on the right side of the cover. the money is wearing a read and white striped shirtWhat do a dog, a board game, and a bowl full of popcorn in common?

This early chapter book contains 4 stories of friendship, fun and adventure. Monkey and Robot try to watch a scary movie together, but will it be too scary for Monkey? Read and find out! When they try to play a board game together, hilarity ensues as a dog steals the dice and Monkey must chase after him. They help each learn new games and ideas, as RObot shows Monkey what happens after a caterpillar creates his cocoon and Monkey teaches Robot how to play hide-and-seek. These two best friends will delight readers with their silly antics and funny stories.

With four individual stories, this book is great for early chapter book readers.

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Bridget, Kids World

Demeter and Persephone retold by Hugh Lupton

Demeter and Persephone book cover: blue cover, girl with a white dress held around the waist by a man in a red tunic who is driving his chariot through a hole in the groundHow could six pomegranate seeds be the cause of our cold, dark winters?

This is a tale of three powerful rulers, each with their own world. Demeter’s daughter, Persephone, is gathering flowers when she is captured by Hades, King of the Underworld. Will Zeus help Demeter or even allow Persephone to return? Can Demeter rescue her daughter from the misery of becoming a shadowed queen? And what about those seeds? Read Demeter and Persephone to find out.

This hardcover chapter book is 33 pages in length with many full-page, color illustrations. It also includes a family tree for the Greek Gods, pronunciation guide and map of Ancient Greece. Recommended for 3rd-5th grade readers, especially those who enjoy learning about mythology. 

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Jade, Kids World

The Show Must Go On! by Kate Klise

The Show Must Go On! book cover: red and white striped circus tent serves as backdrop, a ringmaster with an elephant and lion are among the characters depicted“dramatic + drastic = dramastic”

Sir Sidney is considered the best circus owner in the world. He treats his animals well, allows children to attend for free and gives his audience unlimited popcorn. After running the circus for many years he decides to retire and advertises for a new circus manager. Sir Sidney screens hundreds of interested candidates but the confident Barnabas Brambles beats out the rest. Despite his promise to care for Elsa the Elephant, Leo the Lion and the Famous Flying Banana Brothers Barnabas Brambles’ plan to “energize” the circus causes the performers injury and exhaustion. Will Sir Sidney make it back before the totally dramastic changes cause damage that can’t be undone?

The Show Must Go On is the first book in the Three Ring Rascals series by Kate Klise. The book is illustrated by her sister, M. Sarah Klise. Two mice, Gert and Bert, travel with the circus and help to move the story along. Gert has a passion for inventing new words and dramastic is an example of this. While The Show Must Go On has over 100 pages and is a chapter book it would be well suited for 3rd-6th grade readers. The format of the book resembles Amy Ignatow’s Popularity Papers with large, comical illustrations found on most pages.

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Jade, Kids World

Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger

Book Cover for Gone Fishing, a boy with a red hat and yellow shirt leads the way, following him is a man and a young girl with a pony tail; All three have fishing poles and gear“Okay, then, now it’s just us three,”
“But, Dad, it was just you and me.”

Sam feels disappointed when his Dad allows sister Lucy to come along on their fishing trip, and then resentful when she starts to reel them in. This clever story, told through a sequence of very short poems, reveals the mixed feelings that brothers and sisters can have for each other over the span of one day. I read this as a sweet, quick story and then immediately went back through it to admire this first-time author’s use of different poetry forms. Each type of poem (haiku, ode, complaint, etc.) is used to convey part of the story or Sam’s emotions in such a way that illustrates the unique power of each form. The Poet’s Toolbox addendum defines major poetic techniques and forms, detailing how they were used here. But your kids will simply enjoy this family story about Sam’s big day “gone fishing”. 

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Mary Jo, Kids World

Elvis and the Underdogs by Jenny Lee

Elvis and the Underdogs book cover; a large blue dog is behind a african american girl with a soccerball, a blonde boy with arms crossed, and a boy with black hair holding a laptop“Dr. Helen opened a box and pulled out a green helmet…”

Benji Wendell Barnsworth, who was born premature, is the smallest in his grade and constantly bullied. Prone to getting sick he also has a scary tendency of fainting without any warning. Benji feels hopeless when his doctor prescribes an embarrassing green helmet be worn at all times. The only other option is to adopt a dog trained for medical emergencies.

Benji’s therapy dog, Parker Elvis Pembroke IV (Elvis), is a two-hundred pound Newfoundland. If that weren’t crazy enough, Elvis can talk! Will Elvis give Benji the courage to stand up to his bullies and illness? Or will Benji get caught talking to his dog and be less popular than ever?

Elvis and the Underdogs is a hilarious read that is both sentimental and empowering. Through his relationship with Elvis, Benji learns to make new friends and take chances. The supporting characters provide many laughs in this fast paced story. Animal lovers will especially relate to this story.

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Jade, Kids World

Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst

Lulu and the BrontosaurusFor her birthday, spoiled Lulu wants a brontosaurus as a pet. When her parents refuse, she packs a suitcase and marches off to find one herself. She has to go through a snake, tiger, and bear, but she does find a brontosaurus. Unfortunately, the brontosaurus wants Lulu to be his pet! When he won't take no for an answer, Lulu must start using her brain (and her manners). With nicely paired illustrations, this funny and simple chapter book is perfect for second and third graders ready to transition out of the Easy Readers.

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Celeste, Kids World

 

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