Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded
Written by Sage Blackwood
Age Level: 8 - 12
Grade Level: 3 – 7
This story had me at the first line. It reminds me of Harry Potter, but with girl power. Chantel goes to magic school in the kingdom of Lightning Pass. Outside marauders are fighting to get inside. Seven sorceresses maintain the walls using magical buttons, but the balance of power shifts when the Head Teacher/ Sorceress Miss Ellicott is kidnapped. Chantel and her familiar (a snake) must save Miss Ellicott, and the Kingdom. They summon the spirit of Queen Haywith who says Chantel is thinking too small. Find out if she can go BIG ENOUGH to save the sorceresses, and the kingdom of Lightning Pass.
Written by Patricia MacLachlan
Age Level: 7 and up
Grade Level: 2 – 4
This is a lovely story, quiet and beautiful, about the power of a good teacher. Sylvia Bloom just finished 4th grade with the best year ever, but now summer stretches ahead, with no teacher to guide her writing. Even worse, she’ll have to get used to a new one next year.
Everything changes when her teacher’s husband, the local sheriff, offers her a summer job writing short pieces for the town newspaper. Along the way Sophie finds the answer to the question that’s haunted her – why her mother would leave behind fame, fortune, and travel as an opera singer for a Wyoming farmer who sings Willie Nelson and does the Texas two-step. Read, and maybe Sylvia’s answer can help you too!
Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White
Written and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Age Level: 7 –10
Grade Level: 2 – 5
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I’ve been a fan of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little since I discovered them in the 60’s.
I can also recommend it as a retired teacher and as a writer. As a teacher, this is great material for a book report. Melissa Sweet included her own illustrations AND E.B.’s. She has photos of him, plus photocopies of real letters he wrote. As a fan girl, I loved every page, and it was good to the last one. The end pages include a timeline, Melissa’s sources, a bibliography of E.B.’s books, a thank you from Melissa, and an index to help you search out important facts. The book ends with an afterward from EB’s granddaughter. This is SOME book!
And now as a writer, I appreciate the wisdom Melissa found and shared. Here are my four favorite writer facts:
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.
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!
Written by Katherine Applegate
Age Level: 8 – 12
Grade Level: 4 – 6
I read this book when it was brand-new, and it’s still one of my favorites. Jackson is about to be homeless again. He got through it back when he was 3, thanks to a little help from his imaginary friend, a cat named Crenshaw. Now that it’s happening again, Crenshaw is back, AND he’s bigger. Why? Jackson’s problems are bigger too.
In case you can’t check this book out right away, I’ll pass Crenshaw’s best advice onto you now – be honest with family and friends. It works! I can’t give away the ending, but I’ll give you a hint . . . it’s happy!
FYI – Katharine got the idea from the 1950’s movie Harvie, starring Jimmie Stewart. Harvey is a 6 foot 3 inch tall invisible rabbit. If you’re curious, check out the movie. Katherine took that impossible idea, matched it up with homeless kids, then did research in a school for homeless children. Their stories are included in the book.
PS – Music is part of the family’s problem, and I love the way it becomes part of the solution. Read the book to find out how!
Galaxy Zack: Return to Earth
Written by Ray O’Ryan
Illustrated by Jason Kraft
Age Level: 5 – 9
Grade Level: K – 4
This is the tenth in a series of easy chapter books. Zac is going home to earth for his first visit, but things get complicated when his dog disappears. Zac and his friend Seth spend the day searching for Luna, but at least they check out some really great places. As for Luna, he finally gets his favorite bone back. If you know a young reader who loves fantasy, this is the perfect book for them.
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.