Born to Fly
Written by Steve Sheinkin
Illustrated by Bijou Karman
Age Level: 10 - 14
Grade Level: 4 – 6
I discovered this book at a writers’ conference. It was recommended as a model for nonfiction. The details the author uncovered from a century ago were incredible.
In the first third you’ll meet fliers like Amelia Earhart, Marvel Crosson, Louise Thaden, and Elinor Smith as little girls. You’ll read about the kinds of things they did as kids, the things that shaped them into the women they’d become.
The second third follows them into the 1929 Air Derby, the first women’s race across the US. Women had just earned the right to vote in 1920, and now they were fighting to fly an airplane. The public believed women weren’t capable of flying, let alone doing it cross country.
The final third follows our heroines past the race and into their future. It’s the end to each of their stories. The back matter will show you the author’s source notes and photo credits. BORN TO FLY is well done from the start to the finish line!
Piper Green and the Fairy Tree
Written by Ellen Potter
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Age Level: 7 - 9
Grade Level: 2 – 4
Looking for a cute story that takes place in an unusual setting? This is it! Piper Green lives on an island, and she goes to school in a lobster boat, but this year is different. Her brother is going away to school, but Piper isn’t. She misses him so much that she wears his earmuffs into class. It sounds sweet, but not to her teacher who tries to make Piper take off those earmuffs. When Piper gets in trouble at school, can a tree, even a fairy one, help her? You’ll have to read to find out how.
PS – If you like this story, check out the two sequels – Too Much Good Luck and The Sea Pony.
Like Bug Juice on a Burger
Written by Julie Sternberg
Illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Age Level: 6 - 9
Grade Level: 1 – 4
This title sounds absolutely disgusting, but that’s why kids love it! So much so that it’s the second in a series of books about icky foods. Check out the other 2 – Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and Carrot Juice on a Cupcake.
Meet the main character of all 3 books, Eleanor. In this book she’s so excited . . . she gets to go to the same summer camp her mother went to as a kid. Her problem – it’s time to leave for camp. Have you had the same experience, excited to do something . . . till it’s time to do it? I have!
Eleanor is prepared for the worst, even bug juice on a burger! So she gives her parents a code. If she writes Esmerelda, it’s a message to pick her up. Unfortunately the camp counselor discovers what it really means. She comes up with a deal. Eleanor must post 2 feeling letters on the camp wall, anonymously. Will it work? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Misadventures of a Magician’s Son
Written and Illustrated by Laurie Smollett Kutscera
Age Level: 8 - 12
Grade Level: 5 – 6
I loved this story! It’s a mix of magic, mystery, fantasy, and realistic fiction. Meet Alexander Finn, the Magician’s son. He’s still grieving the death of his father when his mother moves them back to her hometown. It’s the last thing Alex wants to do, but things start to look up when he enters a magic contest. His ace in the hole – the cards his father left him. They aren’t just any cards – they come to life with real Kings and Queens, Aces and Jokers and numbered cards of each suit. They help Alex win easily but that’s when disaster strikes. The cards disappear leaving Alex heartbroken. How will he ever find them, and when he does, can he get them back from a mafia card shark? Follow the twists and magical turns until this mystery is solved. How? That would be telling! You’ll have to read this story for yourself!
Filigree’s Midnight Ride (At the Heels of History)
Written by Pam Berkman and Dorothy Hearst
Illustrated by Claire Powell
Age Level: 6 - 9
Grade Level: 1 – 4
I love history and historical fiction, and I couldn’t resist reading this book. Imagine combining dogs with history! Bow-wow-wow!
A British family throws out the Pomeranian for causing problems. She is one lucky dog – Paul Revere, the one from that midnight ride, adopts her for his sick little girl. Frances. She gives Filigree her new name, but the neighborhood dogs, the Patriot Pack, see her as a Redcoat. That doesn’t change until Paul makes that famous ride. You’ll have to read for yourself to find out how Filigree saves the day for Paul, and the Patriots.
Please read the Author’s note. It explains what’s true, and what’s not. That’s one of my favorite parts of a book, discovering the truth about historical events. Enjoy – because this book is good to the last page!
Juana & Lucas
Written and Illustrated by Juana Medina
Age Level: 5 - 8
Grade Level: K – 3
Would you like to travel to Columbia? Learn a little Spanish? This is the perfect chapter book for you! Meet Juana from Bogata, Columbia. She’ll show you the best things about growing up in Bogata from a kid’s point of view.
But life isn’t perfect. Juana is failing English at school, and if she doesn’t pull up her grades, Mom is canceling the trip to Spaceland. Juana speaks Spanish, and English makes absolutely no sense. The only one who understands – the dog, Lucas, and he’s no help. Will Juana make it to Spaceland? Read and find out!
PS – if you liked this book, there’s a sequel – Juana & Lucas: No Problemas.
Escape from Baxters' Barn
Written & Illustrated Rebecca Bond
Age Level: 8 - 12
Grade Level: 3 – 7
I loved this book back in 2015, and I still do. From the minute I saw it, I thought of Charlotte’s Web. So did School Library Journal.
The story starts when a stray cat named Burdock overhears someone say he’s going to burn the barn down for insurance money. Burdock calls a meeting of the farm animals, and it’s the beginning of a journey to save their lives. The animals must work together to plan an escape, or face a fiery death. There is a happy ending, but you’ll have to read to find out how the animals made it happen.
I admired this book so much I picked it as a mentor text for a story I’m writing. If I write half as well as Rebecca Bond, I’ll have a good story.
Big Bad Detective Agency
Written by Bruce Hale
Age Level: 7 - 10
Grade Level: 2 - 5
Looking for an easy chapter book that’s funny and punny? Try this one! It’s spun from some of my favorite fairy tales. Big Bad Wolf is accused of destroying three houses, the ones that happen to belong to the three little pigs.
Wolf is arrested. He claims he’s been framed, but he gets one day to prove his innocence. If he fails, he’ll spend his life in jail with nothing to eat but porridge. YUCK!
Wolf is clueless till the fourth little pig shows up with some crazy crime-solving ideas. He has to try them, or face a life of porridge. Read along to find out the verdict – and what’s for dinner.
The Girl Who Could Not Dream
Written by Sarah Beth Durst
Age Level: 10 - 12
Grade Level: 5 – 7
Dreams are a powerful force! That’s probably why this twisted title caught my eye, and the plot didn’t disappoint. Imagine a teen ager who doesn’t fit in and can’t dream. Add in parents who have a book store that’s a front for their real business, selling dreams and nightmares. Sophie notices a couple girls who look beyond tired. She raids her parents’ store to get them dream catchers. Sophie trades the used nightmare-catchers for fresh ones, and she starts to fit in, until Mr. Nightmare walks into the shop and threatens everyone. Only Sophie, the nondreamer, can save them. This is a great story for middle school kids with its mix of fantasy, dreams, and accepting yourself. Bonus points go to Sophie’s clever sidekick, her pet Monster, who’s a cat with tentacles instead of legs.
Owl Diaries #6: Baxter is Missing
Written and Illustrated by Rebecca Elliot
Age Level: 5 - 7
Grade Level: K – 2
This is a great series for young readers who want to get into chapter books. Eva has two problems to solve. Her pet bat Baxter is missing. It’s all she can think about even though she’d love to win a writing contest. It’s impossible! !How can Eva write a story when Baxter might be in danger? Don’t be afraid! Eva finds a happy ending for both her problems!
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.