Jagger Jones and the Mummy’s Ankh
Written by Melayna Evans
Age Level: 9 – 12
Grade Level: 4 – 7
Have you ever wanted to travel to Egypt, to see the pyramids or the sphinx? You don’t have to buy a ticket. Just check out this book by Malayna Evans, author AND Egyptologist. Travel back in time to meet the family of King Tut. He doesn’t figure in this story, but his sister does. She calls Jagger Jones, a kid from the South Side of Chicago back in time. Jagger must fight Egyptian gods and their magic to save the royal family and keep his own sister safe. What a great adventure! I was with Jagger every step of the way hoping he’d beat the bad guys and save the princess. Jagger, thanks for a great trip back to visit ancient Egypt!
Laila and the Sands of Time
Written by Shirin Shamsi
Age Level: 8 – 12
Grade Level: 4 – 6
If you’re looking for a story about a different time, a different culture, this is it! Laila was supposed to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca with her father, but everything changed when cancer took him away. Her aunt and uncle take her instead, and that’s when Laila finds herself swept back to 7th century Arabia. She makes a new friend who must get her baby sister out of Mecca, and out of danger. The two girls find a caravan crossing the desert. They’ll follow it part-way then sneak away so they can reach safety in Yathrib, modern-day Medina. Can Laila navigate danger to protect the baby? Will she return home again? If you’re seeking adventure, this is the book for you!
Tangled in Time: The Portal
Written by Kathryn Lasky
Age Level: 8 – 12
Grade Level: 3 – 7
I love Elizabeth I. If I had a chance to travel back in time, the first person I’d visit is Elizabeth, but of course I can’t. A book is the only way to time travel. This one took me back to Elizabeth’s childhood. I could imagine what her life was like, how she dressed, what she ate, and the people who surrounded her. Kathryn did a great job worldbuilding Tudor England. It matches with all the historical details that I know about Elizabeth’s life.
Kathryn added in eleven year old Rose Ashley for her middle grade audience. She’s a great heroine. Rose just lost her mother. She’s placed with a grandmother she barely knows who’s fading into dementia, and to top it off Rose meets the Mean Queens, 3 middle school bullies.
But Rose isn’t without powers of her own. She’s a master seamstress who can turn something old into something fabulous. She also finds a new set of friends who help her survive the mean queens of today and of Tudor England. Enter the portal and discover how Rose weaves together her lives in England and in Indiana. This is a great story, and I can’t wait for October 29 and Book 2, The Burning Queen.
Thank You, OMU
Written and Illustrated by Oge Mora
Age Level: 4 – 7
Grade Level: P – 3
This story is about the power of sharing and kindness. I’m a retired teacher, and I think it’s an important lesson for young children to have. Best of all Oge didn’t do it in a teachy-preachy way.
Omu has a pot of thick red stew that’s so yummy that people are attracted by the smell. They come one by one. Omu is so kind that she shares and shares till there’s nothing left for her own dinner. But her kindness has some unexpected payoffs. You’ll have to read to find out how she’s repaid. Kindness is a POWERFUL force!
Cute As An Axolotl: Discovering the World's Cutest Animals
Written by Jess Keating
Illustrated by David DeGrand
Age Level: 5 – 8
Grade Level: K – 3
Do you want to learn about an Axolotl? I saw the cover and had to dive in. I met more plants and animals that are just as cute, just as interesting. Each spread featured the animal’s picture, a great fact, and a funny cartoon. In his the axolotl showed off his stylish headgear. A sidebar featured the species name, size, diet, habitat, predators, and threats to its existence. This is a great way to learn new information. It’s also a great source for reports!
No Frogs in School
Written by A. LaFaye
Illustrated by Églantine Ceulemans
Age Level: 4 – 7
Grade Level: P – 2
This is one CUTE book! Bartholomew Botts loves pets whether they’re hoppy, or hairy, or even scaly. He couldn’t start school without one.
Poor Mr. Patanoose! Each day he tries a new rule to keep the pets out of his classroom, but Friday arrives and so does Bartholomew’s best plan. It’s KID clever!
WARNING: Don’t try these tricks on your teacher!
Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town
Written by A. LaFaye
Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell
Age Level: 5 – 7
Grade Level: K – 2
This cover made me pick up the book, and the story led me back to the late 1870’s when Nicodemus Town was founded by the Exodusters. They left slavery, then sharecropping behind to stake new homes in Kansas. This fictional story is a great way to learn their history.
Dede’s family is saving up to buy their way free from sharecropping. Papa farms by day and builds furniture by night. Mama sews dresses when her work is done, and Dede shines shoes at the railroad station. That’s where she spots an add for free homesteads in Kansas. Read how Dede and her family made it to Nicodemus Town.
Continue on to the back matter and the story of the real Exodusters. Their name is biblical, from Exodus and its story of Moses leading his people out of slavery in Egypt. Step back to the real town of Nicodemus, Kansas. You can still visit it today in Graham County. This book is a great resource to help older children enter and understand this part of our country’s history.
Judy Moody and Friends: Triple Pet Trouble
Written by Megan McDonald
Ilustrated by Erwin Madrid
Age Level: 4 – 6
Grade Level: P – 1
This early chapter book is great for kids who want to dive into bigger books. It has 3 stories that match up with social studies/economic standards. In story #1 Dr. Judy has a Venus Fly Trap that needs a cure for depression. In #2 Stink has a lemonade stand, and Judy finds a way to make money right next door. She decides to do pet therapy while Stink sells lemonade. In #3 Judy has a misbehaving toad . . . He pees everywhere. The cure . . . pet behavior school! I think young children will love this book as much as I did!
Nancy Clancy Seeks a Fortune
Written by Jane O’Connor
Ilustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser and Carolyn Bracken
Age Level: 6 – 10
Grade Level: 1 – 5
If you like Fancy Nancy, you’ll love her chapter book series. In book 7, Nancy’s class is studying the California gold-rush, and her teacher adds in a business project, making a product/doing a service. It’s a two-fer, a great story that shows kids how to make some money. They DO LOVE spending it! Nancy has a couple failures, but along the way she discovers that some things are better than money. What a great way to learn about economics . . . in a kid-appealing story!
The Darkest Dark
Written by Chris Hadfield
Ilustrated by The Fan Brothers
Age Level: 5 – 6
Grade Level: P – 3
Oh my gosh! I loved this story! Did you know astronaut Chris Hadfield was once afraid of the dark as a young child? How on earth did he move past it to travel into the darkness of space?
He watched the first moon landing when Neil Armstrong took those first steps onto the lunar surface. That’s when Chris noticed the darkness of space, its beauty, and the thrill of discovery. From that night on Chris was OK with the dark.
My favorite part of this book is how a famous event made a difference in someone’s life. It led Chris to realize his dream of becoming an astronaut, and the illustrations are as gorgeous as his story. Kate Fillion isn’t listed on the cover, but she did an amazing job helping Chris tell this story.
Whenever I read or write, I find a comfy chair with a great view. I get my favorite drink, stretch out, and let the words take me away.