She Persisted: Oprah Winfrey by Renee Watson

She Persisted: Oprah Winfrey 

Renée Watson, Author

Gillian Flint, Illustrator

Philomel Books, Nonfiction, Dec. 21, 2021

Suitable for ages: 6-8

Themes: Oprah Winfrey, African American, Woman in television, Actress, Activist, Philanthropist, Biography

Synopsis:

When Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 29, 1954, her young parents named her “Orpah” after a woman in the Bible. But people repeatedly mispronounced her name, so she just decided to be Oprah. 

Her family expected that she would grow up to be a maid, like her grandmother. But Oprah was very smart and was reading by age 3. She lived the first six years of her life on a small farm with her grandparents while her mother moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to find work. Oprah loved telling stories to everyone, especially the chickens and piglets. She also loved memorizing scriptures and entertained her family by repeating the pastor’s sermons. 

When she was six, Oprah joined her single mother and a baby sister in Wisconsin. But life was hard and her mother sent her to live with her father in Tennessee when she was eight. Her father was strict, limited her TV time and made sure she studied. The first time she saw Diana Ross on TV, she dreamt of being on TV one day. At 16 she had the good fortune to work at a radio station, and she later became Nashville’s first Black television host. The rest is history as she worked hard and landed her own show in 1984. She never gave up on her dream. 

Why I like this book:

Young girls will be thrilled with Renée Watson’s sparkling and inspiring chapter book about Oprah Winfrey. The story-like text moves along at a quick pace, relating important information that readers will find appealing. It is well-targeted for its intended audience. At the end, Renée Watson includes a section for readers about “How You Can Persist,” and additional reading about Oprah Winfrey.

Each  of the six chapters begin with a quote from Oprah’s beloved Maya Angelou, instead of a title. For example the first chapter opens with Every Person Is Born with Talent.  Gillian Flint’s expressive and simple pen and ink drawings compliment the story for readers and give them a peek into Oprah’s early world.

Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger comes a chapter book series about women who stood up, spoke up and rose up against the odds!   

Renée Watson is among a group of authors who have been invited by Chelsea Clinton to write chapters books for young readers about the childhood and lives of remarkable women. Clinton is calling it the “Persisterhood.” If you are looking for biographies of famous girls/women to inspire young readers, this series is a perfect choice. 

There are 14 books about American women released monthly in 2021 and 2022. They include Harriet Tubman, Claudette Colvin, Sally Ride, Virginia Apgar, Nelly Bly, Sonia Sotomayor, Florence Griffith Joiner, Ruby Bridges, Clara Lemlich, Margaret Chase Smith, Maria Tall Chief, Helen Keller, Oprah Winfrey and Coretta Scott King. I believe there are more books being written.  This is complete series belongs in every school library. 

Renée Watson is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, and activist. Her young adult novel Piecing Me Together received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor. She is the author of several books for young readers, including Ways to Make SunshineSome Places More Than Others, and Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills. Her work has received international recognition and an NAACP Image Award nomination in children’s literature. She has given readings and lectures on the role of art in social justice at many renowned places, including the United Nations Headquarters, the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Embassies in Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. Renée grew up in Portland, Oregon, and currently lives in New York City. Follow her on her website, Twitter @reneewauthor and on Instagram @harlemportland.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a purchased copy. 

A Donkey Called Mistletoe by Helen Peters

A Donkey Called Mistletoe

Helen Peters, Author

Walker Books, Fiction, Sep. 14, 2021

Suitable for ages: 7-9

Themes: Donkey, Rescue animals, Intergenerational relationships, Holidays

Publisher’s Synopsis:

What better time than the Christmas season for aspiring vet Jasmine Green to find a new home for her elderly neighbor’s gentle donkey?

When Jasmine Green and her best friend, Tom, visit their neighbor Mr. Hobson to help him with some chores, they discover that he is selling his farm and moving to a nearby assisted living facility. Because Mr. Hobson won’t have a home for his beloved donkey, Mistletoe, anymore, he is planning to send him to a faraway sanctuary.

Jasmine doesn’t want to see them separated, so she hatches a plan to keep Mistletoe at Oak Tree Farm, where Mr. Hobson could visit him whenever he liked. But caring for a donkey is lots of work (as Jasmine’s parents often remind her), especially with her mischievous younger brother around.

When the school nativity play encounters a mishap, Jasmine realizes she may have the perfect understudy right in her backyard. From author Helen Peters and illustrator Ellie Snowdon, this latest book in the Jasmine Green Rescues series offers a heartwarming tale of multigenerational friendship and holiday spirit.

Why I like this book:

A Donkey Called Mistletoe is a charming new tale for the Christmas season. It is a story that will warm the hearts many animal lovers. It is also a story about rescuing animals, intergenerational relationships, and life on a working farm. Readers will enjoy the human-animal bond between the characters and the rescued animals. A young boy, Harrison, who is probably on the autism spectrum, develops a very close bond with the donkey that is beneficial and helps soothe him. So touching to see the donkey as a therapy animal.  

The characters are all memorable. Jasmine is a spunky but compassionate protagonist who would fill the farm with any animal needing help. She’s a hard and responsible worker and readers will learn a lot of detail about taking care of animals — especially the donkey who needs daily grooming.  And there is a lot of poop to be scooped up daily.

I enjoy sharing really good chapter books that help kids transition to middle grade books. And this one is a wonderful series for animal lovers! Ellie Snowdon’s pen and ink illustrations are lively, appear on most pages and give readers a better sense of the action. I also like the fun map at the beginning of the story that shows where all the animals live at Oak Tree Farm. 

There is a quiz at the end of each book that will encourage kids to talk about the story, especially their favorite parts. I highly recommend this book and the many other books in the Jasmine Green Rescues series: A Duckling Called Button, A Piglet Called Truffle, A Collie Called Sky, A Kitten Called Holly, A Goat Called Willow and A Lamb Called Lucky.

Helen Peters is the author of numerous books for young readers that feature heroic girls saving the day, including the Jasmine Green Rescues series. She grew up on an old-fashioned farm surrounded by family, animals, and mud. Helen Peters lives in East Sussex, England.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Walker Books in exchange for a review.

Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister? by Chitra Soundar

Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister?

Chitra Soundar, Author

Jen Khatun, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Sep. 14, 2021

Suitable for ages: 6- 9

Themes: New baby, Big sister, Hindu religion, Naming ceremony, Indian culture,

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Can Sona be the best big sister ever when she’s not sure she even wants a baby sister or brother? 

Sona Sharma’s house is full of three generations of people who joke often and argue sometimes. Relatives come over unannounced, the phone rings frequently, and friends drop by all the time. Then one day Amma tells Sona that she is going to have a baby.

Is that good? Sona isn’t so sure. She doesn’t want to share her room or her things with a new baby, not to mention the attention of Amma, Appa, Thatha, and Paatti. And despite Amma’s assurance that the sky always has room for new stars, Sona doesn’t feel stretchy or bighearted like the sky. But when she learns there will be a baby-naming ceremony, she’s determined to find the best name for her new brother or sister—one as nice as her own, a Hindi word for “gold.” Perfectly pitched to young readers, this tale of warming up to change is followed by a glossary of words from India to explore in the story.

Why I like this book:

This is a perfect chapter book for young readers who about to become a big sister/brother. A charming story that can be read aloud or alone. It addresses the issue of being an only child and welcoming a new baby. Sona likes being the center of everyone’s attention and is not so sure she wants to share that with a new sibling. Especially since she lives in a typical extended Hindu family with a lot of grandparents and aunts and uncles around.

The book is particularly special because it will teach readers all about the custom of welcoming a Hindu baby in India. Readers will observe how the entire family gets involved in the upcoming birth. And they will learn about the wonderful naming ceremony for the baby — the highlight of the story. I was not familiar with the name ceremony and was very intrigued with the meaning of finding the right name. The ceremony involves the parents and grandparents on both sides of the family.

Each page is adorned with sweet pen and ink illustrations that highlight India’s culture, food and traditions. I especially like the layout of the book with seven chapters, each bearing an important theme in the story. This chapter book is a lovely addition to any school library, and it may inspire families to create or share some of their own family traditions about the birth of a child.

Chitra Soundar grew up in Chennai, India. An award-winning author of more than forty books for children, she travels the world visiting schools and appearing at festivals to bring Indian stories to children everywhere. She lives in London. 

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.

Houndsley and Catina at the Library by James Howe

Houndsley and Catina at the Library

James Howe, Author

Marie-Louise Gay, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, 2020

Pages: 42

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes: Animals, Library, Change, Friendship

Synopsis:

It’s Saturday, and friends Houndsley, Catina, and Bert always go to the library. But when the trio arrives, librarian Trixie is sad. She doesn’t tell a joke or recommend a book. That’s when the friends find out the bad news: the library is closing because with Trixie retiring and off to circus school, there’s no one to take her place as head librarian. Or is there?

James Howe and Marie-Louis Gay have created another inspiring tale about being a supportive friend and how it’s never too late to try something new.

Why I like this book:

This is a perfect story for emerging readers and a fun summer read. Houndsley, Catina and Bert are friends and they always spend their Saturdays at the library. When they arrive, Trixie, the librarian, doesn’t greet them with a smile or as joke. In fact she looks sad. It turns out that Trixie is retiring and changing careers and the library will be closing it’s doors.

The story also involves themes that deal with change. What will they do without a library? It is their community gathering place. Houndsley teaches reading to those who don’t know how to read. Catina teaches a yoga class. and Bert returns books to shelves. But when the threesome stop by Trixie’s house to find out why the library is closing, they find her happily jumping on a trampoline. They discover Trixie is changing too — she wants to join the circus. 

There are three chapters in the book, with Marie-Louise Gay’s colorful pastel illustrations  set the tone and compliment the story. Make sure your young reader checks out the other entertaining books in this Houndsely and Catina series.

James Howe is the author of many books for children, including the Bunnicula series and the Misfits series. He is also the author of the Houndsley and Catina books, as well as Otter and Odder, illustrated by Chris Raschka; Brontorina, illustrated by Randy Cecil; and Big Bob, Little Bob, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson. James Howe lives outside of New York City.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.  

The Dragon in the Library by Louie Stowell

The Dragon in the Library (A Kit the Wizard Book 1)

Louie Stowell, Author

David Ortu, Illustrator

Walker Books US, Fiction, Mar. 16, 2021

Pages: 200

Suitable for ages: 7-9

Themes: Library, Magic, Wizards, Dragon, Villain 

Opening: “Do you seriously want to spend the first day of summer vacation with a bunch of dead people?” Josh asked.

Synopsis:

Kit Spencer can’t stand reading. She’d rather be outside playing and getting muddy than stuck inside with a book. But when her best friends, Josh and Alita, drag her to the local library, Kit discovers that there is something magical when she opens a book and finds herself standing in the middle of a beautiful garden. And there is something very unusual about the librarian, Faith, who follows her into the book and uses strange words to get them out. Kit learns that she’s a wizard — and maybe the youngest wizard in the world. Kit’s response: “Wow.”  

Kit must keep her secret or she will put the entire wizarding world in danger. She can’t tell her best friends or the librarian will have to erase their memories. Too late. Josh and Alita have been eavesdropping outside the room and burst in begging Faith not to “wipe their brains.” They promise to keep the secrets of the library and the threesome embark upon a journey to help Kit protect the sleeping dragon hidden beneath the library.

Kit discovers using magic isn’t easy and spells can be tricky.  Kit has a big learning curve, but she must learn quickly because there’s a power-hungry businessman who will stop at nothing to get his hands on some magic of his own. With the help of her librarian mentor, her best friends Josh and Alita, and a cute dragon-dog hybrid, Kit will have to find a way to save the dragon in the library — and maybe the world.

Why I like this book:

I really love introducing this wizarding series to emerging readers who aren’t ready for Harry Potter and other MG fantasy books. Louie Stowell creates an exciting and appealing adventure story with magical creatures, diverse characters, and an engaging plot with unexpected twists. The storytelling is straightforward and the pacing is fast and humorous. 

The three diverse friends are lovable characters, but have very different personalities. Kit is a spirited character who is reckless and makes a lot of mistakes. She’d rather play in a graveyard than read a book. When Kit is asked to read to children during story time, it is torture! Josh and Alita are smart, avid readers. Josh is always taking notes and keeping things straight. Alita is good at organizing, especially when they decide to hold a peaceful protest to “Save the Library.” An unlikely group of friends, they do support each other and work well together. Faith, the wizard librarian, is believable and grounds the story. There are many laughable moments. 

David Ortu’s pen and ink illustrations are playful. They capture the characters personalities, their reactions to stepping into the pages of a book, and their encounters with magical creatures. Ortu shares just enough art to spark readers imaginations! 

I really found this book a charming and humorous chapter book. There is a second book in the works, The Monster in the Lake, and the author leaves a lot of room for adventure and Kit’s character growth. I think Kit’s going to be an amazing wizard. This is the perfect summer adventure for young readers looking to escape into a world of magic, libraries, spells, a dragon-dog, and an evil villain!

Louie Stowell started her career writing carefully researched books about space, ancient Egypt, politics and science, but eventually lapsed into making things up. She likes writing about dragons, wizards, vampires, fairies, monsters and parallel worlds. Stowell lives in London with her wife, Karen; her dog, Buffy; and a creepy puppet that is probably cursed. Visit Stowell at her website.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Walker Books in exchange for a review. 

The Story of the Wright Brothers by Annette Whipple

Dec. 17, 2020 Marks the 117th Anniversary of Powered Flight

See Virtual Celebration Details Below

The Story of the Wright Brothers: A Biography Book for New Readers

Annette Whipple, Author

Alessandra Santelli, Illustrator

Rockridge Press, Biography, Jul. 28, 2020

Page: 66

Suitable for ages: 6-12

Themes: Airplane, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Childhood, Curiosity, Dreams, Imagination, Inventions

Opening: “Impossible! Most people thought a flying machine would never work. For hundreds of years, people had been trying to figure out how to fly.”

Synopsis:

The Wright brothers were the first to build and fly an airplane. Before they made history, Wilbur and Orville were curious kids who loved learning about the world around them. They weren’t rich. They didn’t go to college. But they fell in love with the idea of flying and taught themselves everything they needed to know to make their dream come true.

Young people will enjoy reading about Wilbur and Orville’s childhood. They were born just after the Civil War at a time when people traveled by horse and buggy or train. Their home had no electricity or telephones. There was no indoor plumbing and they used outhouses.

But they grew up in a loving home filled with books and parents who encouraged them to figure out how things worked. They grew up taking things a part and putting them back together again. They had a favorite flying “bat” toy that was propelled by a rubber band.  When it broke they studied the design and made their own. Later they built kites and sold them to friends. Their curiosity continued in many areas. They learned how to make the first self-inking printing press and published a newspaper, flyers and business cards for customers.

In the 1890s cars and bicycles appeared. The Wright brothers bought bicycles, took them a part to figure out how they worked and then began fixing bicycles for friends. They opened the Wright Cycle Company and fixed and sold bicycles. Eventually they began to design their own models.

Explore how the Wright brothers went from young boys in Dayton, Ohio who designed bicycles to world-famous inventors, the first aviators, and businessmen.

Why I like this book:

Annette Whipple has written an inspiring introductory book for young readers, who are curious and imaginative, and dare to dream. They will also learn how important it is to think outside of the box. For instance, Wilbur began studying flight by watching birds. He observed how birds tipped their wings when they flew. “Learning the secret of flight from a bird was a good deal like learning the secret of magic from a magician.”— Orville Wright

The book is beautifully designed and well-researched. It follows the brothers lives chronologically. The flowing narrative tells their story with a lot of boxed inserts about timelines, myths/facts, quotes from the Wright brothers and their legacy. My favorite are “Jump into the Think Tank” questions for kids. The chapters are short and each page features colorful and evocative illustrations. Chapter 8 features a quiz for readers about what they’ve learned, followed by a section about how the Wright brothers’ invention changed our world. There is also a glossary.

Both children and adults will enjoy learning details about the early lives of these young inventors, best friends and business partners. The book is perfect for children who like to take things a part and figure out how they work. And it will encourage young scientists and dreamers everywhere to create their own inventions.

I live in Dayton, Ohio and worked many years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB). The Wright brothers may have flown their first glider from Kitty Hawk, but they tested and perfected their early aircraft on Huffman Prairie, which is at the end of the major flight line at Wright-Patterson.

The 88th Air Base Wing commander, along with members of the Wright brothers’ family and a limited number of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park representatives, will join together Dec. 17, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. to lay a wreath commemorating the 117th anniversary of practical powered flight. This wreath-laying tradition began in 1978 at the Wright Brothers Memorial on top of Wright Brothers Memorial Hill overlooking Huffman Prairie.

VIEW THE CEREMONY VIRTUALLY:  Because of COVID-19 protocols limiting gathering sizes, the general public is encouraged to view the event online at https://www.facebook.com/WPAFB.

Annette Whipple celebrates curiosity and inspires a sense of wonder in young readers while exciting them about science and history. In 2020, She’s the author of several books including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide, and Whooo Knew? Discover Owls.  When she’s not reading or writing, you might find Annette snacking on warm chocolate chip cookies with her family in Pennsylvania. Learn more about Annette’s books and presentations at her website.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy won in a book giveaway by Annette Whipple on Vivian Kirkfield – Children’s Writer blog, in exchange for a review.

Dot. Goes Fishing

Dot. Goes Fishing

Candlewick Entertainment, Author, Fiction, Mar. 23, 2020

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Pages: 80

Themes: Fishing, Father and daughter, High tech gadgets, Nature

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Dot is all set to spend the day on the lake fishing with her dad. They’ve got fishing rods, bait, and lots of sandwiches. And since Dad always comes home from his fishing trips empty-handed, Dot has figured out the perfect high-tech way to make this the most successful trip ever: the Fisherman Joe Fish-Finder! All she has to do is put this amazing frog gadget in the water and open up the app on her tablet, and she and Dad can use sonar to detect all the fish in the lake. But Dot and Dad get a little more than they bargained for when the gadget gets eaten by a giant fish that is bent on traveling with it. Can Dad’s fishing expertise help save the day?

Why I like this book:

This is a clever and timely story about a father and daughter who have very different ideas about fishing. Dad enjoys making his salami sandwiches, relaxing in his rocking boat on the lake, enjoying the beautiful view, and spending time with his daughter. Dot is concerned that her father never brings home any fish from his trips.  For Dot, the fish always seem to outsmart her dad. So Dot goes high tech and surprises her dad with a “fish-finder.” Perhaps high tech isn’t always best — a great theme to discuss with kids.

Dot. Goes Fishing is a perfect summer read for children who are reading on their on and are preparing for middle grade books. The story is very entertaining for this age group. There are eight chapters with colorful and lively digital illustrations on every page by the Jim Henson Company.

This is new adventure is based on the animated TV series Dot, which debuted in 2016. Now, viewers can read about their favorite TV character in chapter books which include diversity.

Dot. Goes Fishing, based on a character created by Randi Zuckerberg, is the award-winning animated TV series produced by Industrial Brothers in association with the Jim Henson Company and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The series has received a Kidscreen Award for Best New Series, a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor, a Common Sense Media five-star rating, a BANFF World Media Festival Rogers Prize for Excellence in Canadian Content, and other accolades. Dot. airs on Universal Kids and Hulu.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the MMGM link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review

Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem by Kate DiCamillo

Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem: Tales from Deckawoo Drive #5

Kate DiCamillo, Author

Chris Van Dusen, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Jun. 9, 2020

Suitable for ages: 6 – 9

Themes: School, Poetry, Metaphors, Arguement, Friendship

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Stella Endicott loves her teacher, Miss Liliana, and she is thrilled when the class is assigned to write a poem. Stella crafts a beautiful poem about Mercy Watson, the pig who lives next door — a poem complete with a metaphor and full of curiosity and courage.

But Horace Broom, Stella’s irritating classmate, insists that Stella’s poem is full of lies and that pigs do not live in houses. And when Stella and Horace get into a shouting match in the classroom, Miss Liliana banishes them to the principal’s office. Will the two of them find a way to turn this opposite-of-a-poem day around?

Why I like this book:

Kate DiCamillo’s sweetly satisfying chapter book speaks to children about everyday struggles that are inherhent with school and friendships. As the title eludes to, the theme in this story is anything is possible — even a pig that sleeps on a couch and a friendship with a boy, who metaphorically speaking, is an overblown balloon.

Stella is a spirited, imaginative and determined. She looks for the good in situations. Horace is smug and a know-it-all. When Stella and Horace are sent to principal’s office, Horace buckles in fear. Not Stella. She remembers that “in good stories, the characters face their fate with curiosity and courage” and leads the way. And throughout the story Stella reminds herself that surprises are everywhere and that anything is possible.

The story introduces children to writing poetry and using a metaphor in their poem. It becomes a game for Stella as she begins to see metaphors in everything around her.  The story is also peppered with a few large words like, absconder. The book has seven chapters with 85 pages, perfect for elementary students learning to read longer books.

Chris Van Dusen’s pen and ink illustrations are lively, expressive and entertaining. They are perfect for text.

Make sure you check out the first four books in the Deckawoo Drive series: Leroy Ninker Saddles Up,  Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon, Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?, Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package.

Kate DiCamillo is the beloved author of many books for young readers, including the Mercy Watson and Tales from Deckawoo Drive series. Her books Flora & Ulysses, and The Tale of Despereaux both received Newbery Medals. Her first published middle grade novel, Because of Winn-Dixie, snapped up a Newbery Honor. The Tiger Rising, her second novel, also went on to become a National Book Award finalist.  She has almost 30 million books in print worldwide. She is a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the MMGM link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Egg or Eyeball? by Cece Bell

Egg of Eyeball?

Cece Bell, Author and Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Mar. 8 2020

Pages: 72

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes:  Animals, Humor, Cartoons

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Oh! Oh, oh, oh! Look what Brain found. Chick and Spot say it is an egg. Brain says it is an eyeball. Is it an egg or an eyeball? The inimitable Cece Bell is back with a second hilarious primer on good manners gone awry and arguments run amok. Perfectly pitched to kids just learning to read and loaded with verbal and visual comedy, this offbeat graphic story by a master of the genre builds to an exhilaratingly absurd surprise ending.

Why I like this book:

Silly…Silly…Silly!  Just what children will adore most about this book.  Brain is once again in a tug-a-war with Chick and Spot, over an eyeball he found. The entertaining banter and rising tension will keep kids giggling until the surprise ending.

There are four chapters in this graphic story. Kids will enjoy the hilarious cartoon-like appearance and easily make out the repetitive words and sentences in each bubble — a great way to help children sound out and remember new words. The book is an early chapter book and will help them transition to more challenging books.

Verdict: Egg or Eyeball? is a rollicking summer read!

Cece Bell is the author-illustrator of the Geisel Honor Books Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot! and Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover, as well as the Newbery Honor Book El Deafo. She is also the creator of the Sock Monkey picture books and Chuck and Woodchuck. Cece Bell learned to read with Dick and Jane, and now she hopes children will learn to read with Chick and Brain. She lives in Virginia with her family.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for a review.

Mia Mayhem Breaks Down Walls by Kara West

Mia Mayhem Breaks Down Walls (Book 4)

Kara West, Author

Leeza Hernandez, Illustrator

Little Simon, Fiction, Jul. 16, 2019

Suitable for Ages:  5-9

Themes: Superhero, Learning to use powers, Chaos, Friendship

Opening: My room is a mess. I’m digging around in my closet because I’ve ripped another shoelace.

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Mia is determined to be the best in her top secret strength-training class, Program for In Training Superheroes (PITS), so she can learn how to lift cars, and climb super tall buildings! But when her own super strength gets the better of her, she ends up causing absolute mayhem — everywhere. Will Mia be able to rebuild the walls she broke down at PITS, one-by-one?

Why I like this book:

Mia Mayhem is a perfect chapter book series that will captivate the hearts and imaginations of young readers who are transitioning from picture books. The language is simple, with short sentences. The print is bold and a little larger, making reading easier. The writing is fast-paced with a lot of action to satisfy readers.  The plot is simple and deals with everyday real-life situations for kids, like panic, clumsiness and friendship. And, their are places with bold words, like “CRASH!…SNAP…BAM…SPLOSH!” will entertain young readers.

Mia is a spunky, high-energy character, who creates a lot of chaos in her wake.  She is strong and ambitious, and kind.  At regular school, she is regular Mia Macarooney, and keeps her hero status a secret. “I admit, sometimes I wish I could tell the whole world, But as a superhero, I need to protect my secret identity.” Her ego is well intact, after all she is able “to save the day before the day even starts.”  Mia’s best friend Eddie knows her secret, and is a great side-kick in covering for her when she accidentally pulls off the classroom doorknob, breaks the her desk leg and punches a hole in the gym ceiling during volleyball game. Will she get her superpowers under control. There is a great cast of diverse characters in the story.

The cartoon-like illustrations are just right for this series. They are part of the text at times, which help young readers understand the action.

Make sure you check out the Mia Mayhem series: Mia Mayhem Superhero!, Mia Mayhem Learns to Fly!, Mia Mayhem vs. the Bully!, Mia Mayhem Stops Time!

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library copy.