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A Colorful Case of Mystery

Leon Chameleon PI and the case of the missing canary eggs

Written by Janet-Hurst Nicholson

Illustrated by Barbara McGuire

What a charming chapter book! Nicholson succeeds in creating a clever detective mystery for middle-grade readers. At the same time, the soft illustrations encourage reluctant readers and beginning readers transitioning to chapter books to handle the ten chapters. The text is large and easy to read. Using the technique of personification, Nicholson endows animal creatures like Leon, the chameleon, and Egg Eater the snake with human personalities and a sense of humor. Readers will enjoy practicing their sleuthing skills as they attempt to unravel the mystery of the missing canary eggs. I especially enjoyed the trial process and the very clever dialogue.

This book is part of a series. Although this is my first read, I would explore reading the others. I heartily recommend this book for middle-grade readers, reluctant readers, and mystery lovers. Clever characters and crisp dialogue keep the story interesting. Enjoyable for readers of all ages.

You can get the book along with a quick preview here.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

A Cool Halloween

Halloween with Snowman Paul

Written by Yossi Lapid

Illustrated by Joanna Fasen

I was delighted to see a new release in the Snowman Paul series because I have previously enjoyed this author’s funny character and memorable illustrations.

This new book features a tree house on Halloween night. As visitors come upon the site, they encounter a warning sign not to come near the tree house. Who can refuse a dare on Halloween night? As the reader continues his journey three more warnings are posted. Visitors are warned of many types of danger. Trespassers might encounter space aliens, witches or ghosts.

I won’t give away where Paul fits into this picture, but readers will be urged to tell spooky stories and sing scary songs. Trick or treaters will not be disappointed.

This multicultural book is replete with large, soft and expressive watercolor illustrations that are not too scary for the youngest readers. Recommended especially for children in the three to eight year old range. Warning…adults will enjoy the book even more than the kids. Well done!

I was given a copy of this book by the author and voluntarily decided to review with my honest opinions for no compensation.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
www.LittleMissHistory.com

Adventure with Anna the Virus

An Adventure With Anna the Virus

Written by Emma Gertony

Fun illustrated early chapter book for children to explain how viruses enter the body. Anna has been hiding in waiting while inside young Henry’s nose. Like her fellow adenoviruses, Anna has a round shape with spikes and is less than 200 nanometers in size. She and thousands of others like her wait for the perfect moment to travel through the air at 100 miles per hour and land on a surface like a park railing. Here they lie in wait for an unsuspecting child. Their leader, Captain Roger, calls out instructions. George places his hand on the railing; when he touches an itchy nose, the viruses seize the opportunity to slide down his larynx, hoping to eventually reach his lungs. In the meantime, Ted, who is positioned in George’s Thymus valiantly calls out to his troops, the white blood cells and mucus glands to fight off the viruses. Those viruses seem to be winning the battle until George’s body defenses of high fever and chills initiate a visit to the doctor, who prescribes medication and a regimen of good hygiene to defeat the invaders.

This book is richly and vividly illustrated making it a crossover between a picture and early chapter book. Parents of preschoolers might want to use it to explain what makes a child feel sick. Older children will enjoy the humor and the adventure story. Recommended especially for children ages four through ten. Good choice for libraries, doctor’s waiting rooms, and classrooms.

Afraid of Spiders?

Spider Quest: The Secret Life of Lollipop Lisa

Written by Sharon Skretting

Illustrated by Elizabeth Porter

 

Lisa is an independent strong willed fourth grader who isn’t afraid of being different. She does not conform to the crowd in the way she dresses or how she expresses her opinions. Lisa received the nickname Lollipop or Lolli because she does enjoy eating lollipops and because they are as colorful as her appearance.

When Miss Warner decides that the class will keep a daily journal, Lisa is reluctant because she is afraid someone will read her private thoughts. After thinking about it, Lisa decides she will solve that problem by keeping two journals, the second one to record her private thoughts. Unlike the other girls in the class, Lisa is not afraid of the spiders kept inside a jar. One day, they escape from the science corner and screaming chaos erupts inside the classroom. Once Miss Warner establishes order, the students put their minds to work employing all the things they learned about spiders in order to find them. They discuss how spiderlings hatch, the kinds of food they eat, where they hide, how they molt, and the way spiders move from place to place.

Will Lolli and her friends use their smarts to find the missing spiders? If found, what should they do to prevent their escape in the future? In reading this adventure, one discovers a lot about spiders and the reasons we should not be afraid of them. This book is recommended especially for children ages seven to ten. It is an excellent choice for reluctant readers because the length is manageable and the pictures make it easy to follow the text. As an added bonus, both students and teachers are given the opportunity to download their very own secret journal.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Click HERE to get your copy of Lollipop Lisa

Grab the FREE teacher download filled with reading comprehension, writing, and fun learning activity pages, HERE

 

Wasted Wood: Will the Bullies & the Boys Survive?

Wasted Wood

Written by Brock Eastman

wASTEDWOOD

I struggled to decide what rating to give this middle-grade novella; I decided to go with four stars because the writing is appropriate for its intended audience. The dialogue is on point for thirteen-year-old Hudson and his friends. Lots of adjectives and onomatopoeia to keep the story interesting as well as those illustrations of the tree troll.

Hudson is a typical teen; he loves to play video games and test the limits with his parents’ rules. Hudson gets grounded when he comes home late because he took a short cut and trespassed on Mr. Gilbert’s property nearly falling off the bridge in the process. Of course that wasn’t the whole story, Mr. Gilbert had called his parents catching Hudson in a lie. Hudson doesn’t take long to decide to sneak out and join his friends for their camp out.

Orin, the neighborhood bully and his friends, come across Hudson with his friends in the woods. They dare them to trespass on Mr. Gilbert’s property to prove that they are not afraid of the legend that a Tree Troll exists. When they take the dare; the real adventure begins. Soon the Dark Demon appears. Is the legend real? All the teens including the bullies must struggle to survive. What will happen to the boys? Will their parents and Mr. Gilbert find out?

Lots of adventure, danger, paranormal and coming of age issues combine to make the novella appealing to the middle-grade audience. Despite the fact that there is lots of passive voice and the writing style could be sharper, this is a tale well worth reading for the eight to twelve-year-old target audience. The author has developed a set of discussion questions for each chapter, which makes the book a good choice for a classroom read aloud and discussion.

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY  12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199
www.LittleMissHISTORY.com

Book Review: A Tale of Courage

Dearie: A Tale of Courage (Chapter Books Book 1)

Written by Gita V. Reddy

Dearie,pic

Beginning chapter book of approximately thirty-five pages which is just right for a new or reluctant reader. The protagonist is a deer named Dearie. At first, it appeared that Dearie was too weak and frail to survive. Beating the odds, he soon grew strong and fast. As time went on, a bigger problem surfaced. Whenever danger appeared, Dearie froze. He could not respond to danger. That put the rest of the herd at risk.

Despite the pleadings of his mother, it is agreed that Dearie must leave the herd to learn how to overcome his fears and master the skills needed to survive. Dearie must face wild boar, wolves, lions and crocodiles. Will Dearie find his courage, and more importantly, will he ever rejoin his beloved herd?

This is an animal coming of age story that teaches children we all must not be afraid how to learn to be independent. Simple pen and ink drawings accompany the short chapters. I think the plot begins a bit slowly; the real story unfolds halfway through the book in Chapter 5. Recommended as an independent read for eight to ten-year-olds or for reluctant readers who feel challenged by the length of most middle-grade chapter books. Short enough to be used as a read aloud classroom discussion.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

The Curse at Zala Manor (Monster Moon, 1), by BBH McChiller

zala-manorThis is a great idea for an elementary classroom Halloween read-aloud. Here’s the review I wrote up. At the end, I’ve included a handy list of comprehension questions provided by the authors that is similar to those used by the Accelerated Reading program.

My boys loved this book! We read it out loud together for homeschool last Halloween and they complained every time we had to stop. Our final day we just kept reading, covering the last 30% of the book all at once.

This is not literary fiction, so don’t expect it. But it is easy to read and very, very fun. It’s a plot-driven adventure that will keep 8- to 12-year-olds sprinting through the pages. Included within them are a freaky old manor with hidden passages and bricked-up rooms, an even freakier graveyard, riddles, an eccentric aunt who drives a pink hearse, a talking rat, and a 300-year-old pirate mystery. Oh yeah, and monsters. Lots of them. It’s a Halloween story, after all. And it’s a kid-pleaser.

It was also a mom-pleaser. While scary and silly aren’t my person favorites, I AM NOT A TWEEN. In this case, I was more concerned about the story diving into spiritual or gory content. It did neither. The zombie was a little gross, but it wasn’t disturbing. And witchcraft, happily, was simply not included in the story. Kudos to the authors on both accounts! It was also very readable–engaging, fluid, and well-paced.

In conclusion, this is a perfect Halloween story if you want suspense, monsters, and fun minus the negatives that come with the holiday. Based on this and my boys’ overwhelming enthusiasm, I rate it 5 stars. A wonderful read for tween boys and suitable for classrooms grades 2-7. I’d place it at about a 4th to 5th grade reading level.

Lexile score – 550L
Downloadable MARC file (library use) available here.

I bought my Kindle copy for 1.99, though paperbacks are also available. Book two, Secret of Haunted Bog, is just as fun. And paperbacks for the third installment just released at the end of September–Kindle versions coming soon.

Download the Zala Manor reading comprehension quiz PDF file.