Saturday, December 20, 2014

Books for Younger Readers

20708748McDonald, Megan. Amy Namey in Ace Reporter
(Judy Moody & Friends #3)
September 9th 2014 by Candlewick Press
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.

Amy wants to follow in her mother's footsteps and write insightful newspaper articles. To this end, she and Judy hold an archaeological dig in their back yard, hoping to find artifacts from King Tut and go monster hunting in Frog Neck Creek. Amy writes up her articles, and her mother is so impressed that she helps Amy set up a desk in her room so that she has a good place to work on her journalistic endeavors.
Strengths: Engaging characters and fun adventures make this early chapter book a fun choice for beginning readers. The fact that it is part of a series, and that the book is illustrated in full cover, will draw readers to it. Judy's friend Stink shows up briefly, and while older readers will know  that it is unlikely that Amy would find a sea serpent in a creek or ancient Egyptian artifacts in her backyard, younger readers will be greatly amused.
Weaknesses: Still don't understand why there are so many books encouraging young readers to become journalists. Bad idea, people. Bad idea.

20708769Haas, Jessie. Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season
August 12th 2014 by Candlewick Press
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.

Bramble is skittish going into the fall-- there are leaves whipping across her path, scarecrows in the field that look like suspicious people, and strange and sudden noises. Maggie takes a tumble from Bramble when the horse is spooked, and tries to help Bramble through her fears so that this doesn't happen again. Eventually, Bramble is able to go trick or treating dressed up as a scarecrow, with Maggie on her back as a crow. The two have lots of fun, and get lots of candy, much of which they eat while out.
Strengths: Halloween is a huge deal to readers in this age group, so it makes sense for a book in an early reader series to concentrate on this holiday. Horses are also undeniably attractive, so this is a great choice for elementary students. I remember reading books like Gus Was a Friendly Ghost and the Georgie series year round. The illustrations are attractive, and I liked that Maggie was always very responsible when it came to taking care of Bramble.
Weaknesses: I'm not used to reading books for this age level, so the books seem really short and therefore very expensive! I'm half tempted to keep this for my middle school library, since more and more of my readers struggle with longer books, but will probably send this on to an elementary school.

19346449Greenhut, Josh. Escape to California:
Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #12
15 August 2015, HarperCollins
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.

Flat Stanley and his father are riding a cable car in San Francisco when Stanley sees a girl racing down a hill in a wheelchair. Feeling that she is in danger, he tries to save her, and his father grabs on as well, which results in the two of them ending up in a van and driven to a redwood forest. There, they find out that Lily has purposefully sought Stanley out because she thinks that he will understand being different and having people apply preconceived notions to what he must be like. Lily wants to try an escape from Alcatraz island to prove that someone in a wheelchair could perform this impossible trick, and she wants Stanley to help her. Her family is involved in this, as is an entire corporation in Silicon Valley, and Stanley is soon kitted out in a fabulous flying suit. The two get locked into the prison when it closes and try to make their escape.
Strengths: Flat Stanley is a perennial favorite; the original book came out in 1964, and even twenty years ago when my children were in school, there was a Flat Stanley project where we mailed copies of Stanley to friends in other parts of the world and had them send back pictures of Stanley's adventures. If this book is any indication, this new series of adventures finds Stanley kicking it up a notch and getting involved in all sorts of daredevil escapades. At the end of the book, there are some fun facts about San Francisco.
Weaknesses: I was a little uncomfortable with Stanley and his father basically being kidnapped. I'm glad that Lily wants to prove herself, but doing so by slightly illegal activities doesn't seem wise.


Brenda said...

I'll have to suggest the Judy Moody one to the elementary librarian, the Stink series was very popular and I'm sure she would like this one too.

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