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A Farty Fractured Fairy Tale

My Giant Farts

Written by Neil Roy McFarlane

 

This book might be considered a fractured fairy tale with humor in the vein of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Personally, I am not a fan of this kind of humor, but I do know how popular it is with middle grade students.

The plot involves Tom, a boy who is playing down by the old factory and comes across a pile of rubbish. He spies a shiny metal object sticking
out. Tom discovers a lamp like Aladdin’s lamp, so he rubs it. Instead of a genie, a giant pops out. Tom thinks he can make wishes. He asks for a time machine and a flying car but the giant informs Tom that he cannot grant wishes.

During the day, Tom meets a few of his friends. Sally Patterson shows him her new dog who fetches, Horace Chomsky demonstrates how his parrot talks and Becky Wilkinson shows him her flea that does circus tricks. Tom is dismayed that his giant has no unique qualities. But when Tom crosses paths with Basher Bates and his gang, the giant’s response is an unexpected relief.

This book is targeted for ages five and older. I believe eight to twelve-year-old readers will particularly find it to their liking.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

A Star is Made

Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13

Written by Barbara Roman

Illustrated by Vladimir Cebu

Ten-year-old Alicia is shopping with her mother for new lamps. Her mood is upbeat as she walks through Walker’s Furniture store two weeks before Christmas. Suddenly, she is mesmerized by a beautiful Christmas tree which appears in the middle of the floor. Alicia stares at its beautiful star and is whisked away to the 13th floor on an elevator that opens to a light bulb factory. She finds herself in a factory where light bulbs are retired after they stop working. Alicia meets Carelia, the fairy goddess who oversees the factory. Carelia informs Alicia that the light bulbs must pass a test to determine whether they might become stars and that she needs Alicia to help her. Alicia is confused and upset. She doesn’t understand why she is needed and how she wound up in a place where there is no past or tomorrow, but she will learn much about unique personalities, utilizing our talents, and working cooperatively. What is expected of her and why was she chosen? Will Alicia ever get back to her world? Did she ever leave it?

This book is a charming fantasy, mystery, and science fiction read. It might be considered both a chapter book or a short story. The fifty-page length makes it a good choice for reluctant readers. Cebu creates dazzling illustrations and the large font size make it a good choice for beginning readers, while the intricate plot and well-developed characters will appeal to middle-grade and young adult  audiences.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

COMEDY WITH A SPRINKLE OF REVENGE

Max’s Revenge

Written by Sally Gould

This is the first comedy book in a series of books revolving on the main character, Max. Max always seems to get the short end of the stick. His older brother, Charlie, is perceived to be perfect. In the first story, the siblings are invited to the wedding of their Uncle Dan. But before the vows are exchanged, Charlie lures Max into a trap that ends with his falling out of a tree and disrupting the wedding. Things further deteriorate at the wedding reception, when Charlie attracts the flower girl, Lucy, who Max adores. Charlie becomes a partner in crime with the bartender and Sophie’s three brothers who conspire to booby trap the marriage getaway car. To make matters worse, Max’s evil Aunt schemes to get Max into trouble. Of course, Max finds devious ways to get his revenge.

The second story centers around Charlie and Max’s visit to their Nana’s house. A social worker has persuaded the boys’ parents to take a much-needed break. While at Nana’s house, the boys discover that the evil Aunt is trying to get Nana to sell her house. The boys get their revenge on their Aunt and try to prevent the sale. They plan several pranks to thwart the sale, but they discover Nana secretly wants to move. How will they undo the damage? The hilarious result will be that Max has to eat dog food stew.

Children in grades three to six will find themselves empathizing with poor Max. Perhaps they have a relative like Max’s evil Aunt. The comedy is spot on and the dialogue appears genuine and age appropriate. Length of the stories is not too long so the book will appeal to reluctant readers.

 

Barbara Ann Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Book Series

The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away and other short stories

Written by Margaret Lynette Sharp

Three short and charming stories set in Australia. In the first containing the book’s title, Amanda writes to her sister Sonya from overseas about the love of her life,Thomas, a fisherman who has literally just “got away.” This story is poignant, yet contains humor and an optimistic bent. In the second story, a grandmother struggles with a change of fortunes and the realization that she will have to sell the piano that has given her granddaughter such pleasure. Grandma’s daughter, Angela seems cold and indifferent to her dilemma. The last story brings Caroline back to the beach where she met her true love twenty five years ago. She meets Barry, a young artist, and strikes up a conversation. He reminds her of the man she left behind long ago. A surprise ending brings the story full circle.

The author does a good job of developing her characters and creating the mood for each of these short stories. They are a quick and delightful read. Recommended for anyone age ten and older who enjoys clean well-written short stories.

Barbara Ann Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Book Series

Developing Strong Character

The Adventures of Geraldine Woolkins

Written by Karin Kaufman

A delightful chapter book consisting of ten stories that revolve around a fearless family of mice facing the dangers and challenges of winter. Geraldine is the protagonist who was born in April, but now in October is facing the end of the gathering season. She and her brother Nigel have much to learn and experience. Readers are introduced to their friends in the forest, Penelope, the sparrow and Cheddar, a white rabbit. The children love to hear their father Nigel read to them stories from the Book of Tales. These adventures teach them about common sense, trust, gratitude, empathy and sharing. As October wanes, the family and friends celebrate Thanksgiving and the joys of Christmas. On the other hand, the children’s curiosity put them in danger of being eaten by wolves and ravens, swept down the river on a log and being destroyed by a forest fire. Charlotte is a sensitive and inquisitive mouse who desires to read, write and explore the world around her. She and her brother share sibling rivalry, but at the same time deeply love and care for one another. Their parents teach them to have faith that Very, Very Big Hands will be there to guide and protect them.

This chapter book is geared toward readers in grades three to six. Some younger children may enjoy individual stories as a read aloud. There are no illustrations; a few simple drawings would add appeal to younger children. I would thoroughly recommend the book as a gentle, sweet read for children who love animals. The many lessons learned and bravery in facing adversity allow for lots of discussion on the topics of developing strong character and interpersonal skills.

Ancient Greece and the Olympians

The Rise of the Olympians Book One

Written by Belle Ward

riseolymppic

First book in a middle grade short story series. Lilah is about to celebrate her thirteenth birthday. Her father surprises her with her favorite breakfast of pancakes and bacon. As she departs for school with her older brother, Jay, Lilah looks forward to her first class in which she is studying about Ancient Greece. Mr. Fisher is discussing the Olympians. For some reason, Lilah can’t stop thinking about the lesson.

When Lilah gets home she is surprised by the gift of an angel-winged necklace from her dad. But when she prepares for bed, strange things begin to happen. The necklace heats up, her rainbow colored extensions suddenly become attached to her head, and she experiences a strange dream. The next day, Lilah is invited to join a special dream club. She is astonished to learn that the other members are Apollo and Hades. They think she is the goddess who will help them find the Father of the Monsters. A sudden crash, and all must run for their lives…..Will Lilah cast her fate with these strangers? Will she wake up from this nightmare?

This short story is a good length for reluctant readers. The characters are believable and interesting enough. What some readers may not like is that the tale ends in a cliffhanger. Readers will be left disappointed unless they immediately get a hold of Book Two.

Barbara Ann Mojica

LittleMissHistory.com

Running Away Doesn’t Always Mean Freedom

Running Away to Freedom or Forlorness

Gumbo Goes Downtown

Written by Carol Talley

gumbopicA tale that is charming and sweet, yet focuses on some important issues. The obvious story line is about a guard dog named Gumbo, who lives in a shotgun house on St. Charles Street in New Orleans. He spends most of his time barking at any one who comes near the chain link fence, such as the girl in a polka dot dress and the postman. When the postman fails to close the gate one day, Gumbo seizes the opportunity to see the world. He follows the trolley tracks downtown to New Orleans. Here he meets up with a poodle named Pompon and a champion pure breed named Stella. Gumbo has the time of his life in Jackson Square with clowns, dancers, jugglers, musicians and the like. Soon his friends leave to go home and be pampered by their owners. Gumbo begins to miss his house and owner Gus, whom he never appreciated. Will Gumbo decide to remain free in the big city on his own and fend for himself or return to his former life?

The book description suggests an audience of K-2. While the simple story of Gumbo’s adventure is appropriate for that age group, the larger issues of homelessness and running away from home are better addressed to a middle grade audience. Talley provides a nice guide for parents and teachers to set up a discussion on these issues. Maeno’s illustrations are soft, colorful and appealing, but the text is small and difficult to read on some of the pages. I recommend the book especially for parents and teachers who would like to open up a discussion on homelessness, running away, and poverty. Talley also includes an interesting background section on New Orleans and the points of interest mentioned in the story.

Barbara Ann Mojica
Little Miss History

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Who is Santa?

Who is Santa: And how did he get to the North Pole?

Written by Stephan W. Bigalow

Illustrated by Bill Megenhardt

whosantapic

I received this book from the publisher and decided to voluntarily review giving my honest opinions.

An interesting book that tackles many of the legends associated with Santa Claus using a realistic, straightforward approach. This collection of short chapters containing two to five pages interspersed with full page color illustrations is intended to be an independent read for middle grade students or a read aloud broken up into sections for younger children.

Bigalow introduces Santa as a wealthy farmer living in the North Forest region. Santa enjoys crafting toys for a hobby. Mrs. Claus enjoys cooking; she understands her husband well and is adept at keeping him in tow, while at the same time providing advice and guidance. When their barns become overcrowded with toys, he decides to give his toys away. Not wanting others to feel obligated to repay him, Santa loads up his wagon on a dark winter night and the tradition of the Christmas Eve toy run springs forth. Word of his generosity explodes so Santa and Mrs. Claus set out for a larger more private location.

The following chapters will explore how they discover the Hidden Valley at the North Pole, strike up an improbable working relationship with the elf community, invent candy canes, build an enormous business enterprise, figure out how to use a sleigh and reindeer, and spread the true message of Christmas giving among themselves and others.

I used to read “The Night Before Christmas” each Christmas Eve to my children. This book could be shared as a family tradition during the weeks before Christmas, read together by older and younger siblings, or read independently by older children seeking to reignite the Christmas spirit in their hearts.

Barbara Ann Mojica
LittleMissHistory.com