Fantastic New Chapter Books
Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel by Tania Del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
I struggled a bit with the British words– maybe your kids will as well. (It’s a great opportunity to learn to make inferences with British vocabulary!) All that aside, this middle-grade novel is a puzzling mystery that only the boy named Ted who seems to be on the spectrum (his brain is different but not explained) can solve. How did his cousin disappear from a closed pod on the London Eye? The enjoyable action and intrigue will keep your attention throughout — and you’ll wonder why you didn’t guess the ending before Ted.
The Peddler’s Road: The Secrets of the Pied Piper by Matthew Cody
It all started in Hamlin, a little town in Germany, in 1284. Now, in the present day, the Pied Piper is looking for the last child to repay his debt. So he takes Max and her brother, Carter. They’re transported to an island filled with the original stolen children, and an island filled with massive, evil rats and other creatures. Will the Peddler help the kids find their way back home? Or will the Piper’s magic be too strong? This ended on a cliff-note which is always kind of irritating but was an interesting take on this Grimm fairy tale. I can’t wait to read the next chapter book in this series when it’s published.
Lizzie and the Lost Baby by Cheryl Blackford
The setting is the English countryside during WWII when evacuated children must live with strangers. Lizzie and her brother are two such children. When she sees her adopted family and the village condoning the stealing of a gypsy baby, she can not abide their cruelty and prejudice let alone their dishonesty. She decides she can’t live with herself if she doesn’t help the gypsies get back the baby.
The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson
You may know Paterson as the author of Bridge to Terabithia. Like that novel, this new chapter book is a powerful heart-gripping story of loss, acceptance, and coming of age. Angel’s mother abandons Angel and her brother at their ancient great-grandmother’s and since Angel’s dad is in jail, there is no one else. Angel’s used to taking care of her brother but now she must take care of her grandma, too. What’s worse, when her mom takes the brother and not Angel making her worry and loneliness feels unbearable. But making things more bearable is a mysterious neighbor who teaches Angel about constellations, sparking a passion for astronomy. He tells Angel that she is made up of the same stuff as stars — and encourages her to keep surviving.
The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst
I enjoyed this new adventurous fantasy chapter book– couldn’t put it down, actually. The story is about a girl named Sophie whose parents use Dream Catchers to catch, refine, and sell dreams. (Which seems weird but just go with it.) When Sophie’s parents are kidnapped, it’s up to Sophie, her best friend (a sarcastic monster that she dreamed up the one time she dreamed), and a few new friends from school to figure out what is going on. It’s a lively adventure which shows Sophie coming into her own.
The Cat Who Came In off the Roof by Annie M.G. Schmidt
What a charming story! Mr. Tibble meets the strange cat-like Miss Minou just in time. He’s about to be fired from his reporter job because he only writes about cats, not news. Miss Minou, who used to be a cat, uses her cat connections to help Mr. Tibble discover news to save his job. He, of course, doesn’t believe Miss Minou used to be a cat. Although it is strange that she wants to sleep in a box with newspaper and climbs trees in terror whenever dogs come around.
The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow by Jessica Haight
Fairday’s parents move from the city to the country to a mysterious Victorian house and the only reason she hasn’t died of boredom is she’s found a mystery for her and her best friend, Lizzy, who are in their own detective club. Lizzy and Fairday discover an old diary, a picture, and other clues that lead them to discover an alternative universe where the house hasn’t aged.
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III, illustrated by James Mark Yellowhawk
Jimmy McClean’s grandfather takes him on a road trip where he shares the stories of Crazy Horse — his life and battles up to his death. They travel from the Dakotas (home of the Lakota) to Wyoming and other places significant to Crazy Horse’s life. I thought that following the duo traveling to the sites and then hearing the grandfather’s mesmerizing stories made this book easy to follow and very interesting. I actually wish they had included a map so I could picture it in my head and maybe take my own kids. It’s a sobering true story and one that will stick with me.
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