Zack and the Turkey Attack

My mum used to have these vicious geese at her farm. If you got too close to them, they would spread their wings out as wide as they would go, and run at you, hissing like snakes. It was terrifying.

Although I’ve never been chased by a turkey, I imagine the experience is very similar.

Zack and the Turkey Attack

Every time Zack goes to his grandparents’ farm, the big tom turkey attacks him. It charges at him, and if it catches him, it pecks him—and even sometimes makes him bleed!

Zack needs to come up with a solution to his turkey problem. He tries sneaking past the turkey, he tries following closely on his dad’s heels, and he tries squirting the turkey with water from a spray bottle.

In addition to his turkey concerns, Zack begins to work with his grandparents’ next-door neighbor, Josie, to solve another problem. Josie has discovered that there is a burglar in the neighborhood. Zack and Josie set out to catch the nighttime thief.

This is a chapter book for readers who have become a little more confident in their abilities. There are illustrations, but not on every page, so kids need to work a little harder to complete this book.

The action is fast-paced and exciting, and will keep readers engaged from start to finish. Kids will be surprised at the ending!

Author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written many books and series. She has a great website where she interacts with her readers—www.phyllisnaylor.com. Ms. Naylor operates three blogs (each with a different series focus) offering kids the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. Ms. Naylor responds to all of the questions and electronic letters from readers on the blogs. As the parent of someone who is starstruck by his favorite authors, I know how valuable this correspondence is to young readers.

Check out Zack and the Turkey Attack, Ms. Naylor’s Shiloh series, or any of the many other books that Ms. Naylor has to offer! I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Have you read any great books lately?

Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker

Beatrice has always been just a little unusual. She sees the world with a different perspective—literally.

Beatrice Zinker

Beatrice does her best thinking upside down. Whether she is hanging from a tree limb, standing on her head, or swinging off the top bunk of her bed, Beatrice is happiest when her head is where her feet should be.

At the end of Second Grade, her teacher awarded her the “Best Upside Down Thinker” award.

But things have changed in Third Grade. Her teacher does “not tolerate upside down antics” in the classroom. And Beatrice’s best friend wants to play with a new student instead of be a ninja-outfit-clad spy with Beatrice!

This is a delightful chapter book that will charm readers from the first moment they meet Beatrice. Kids will root for Beatrice as she adjusts to life in a classroom with an unsympathetic teacher. They will cheer her on as she fights to win back her best friend.

The pictures on every page add to the story and give a little more insight into Beatrice’s character. In many pictures, Beatrice is hanging upside down in a tree. When she is not (or when the focus of the pictures is not on Beatrice), something in the picture often adds a little humor or a detail not found in the text.

Shelley Johannes is author and illustrator of Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker. On her website, www.shelleyjohannes.com, Ms. Johannes tells the story of the “evolution of Beatrice Zinker” in a fabulous biographical slideshow that includes many of her early sketches of Beatrice.

I received an electronic copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I am looking forward to Beatrice Zinker’s next adventure!

Have you read any great books lately?

Puppy Rescue Riddle

Animal Planet has entered the world of chapter books with an adorable series called Animal Planet Adventures. Each book focuses on a different kind of animal (so far, dolphins, farm animals, puppies, and zoo animals).

puppy rescue riddle

The third book in the series is Puppy Rescue Riddle. One Saturday, Elliot Flynn goes to a dog shelter with his older brother and two neighbor girls. The girls are excited to be there, but Elliot is afraid of dogs and doesn’t even want to pet puppies.

Driving home from the shelter, they get caught in a rainstorm that has washed out the road. Worried about the dogs’ safety, they return to the shelter and take all of the dogs and puppies with them to higher ground. But they lose a puppy in the process. Can they find her again, or will she be lost in the storm?

There are two parts to this book. There is the story of Elliot and the dogs. The writing is aimed at early readers, and it is illustrated with color pictures. The action is exciting, there are fun riddles to answer, and puppies are always a hit in stories for kids!

There are also fact pages about pets sprinkled every few pages throughout the book. These pages are full-color pictures, and they teach kids about topics such as owning pets, puppy behavior, vets, and animal shelters. The facts are fun to learn and easy to remember, so kids come away with greater knowledge on the subject and can parrot the facts back at a later time.

Catherine Nichols is one of two authors creating the Animal Planet Adventures series. Ms. Nichols wrote both Puppy Rescue Riddle and book one of the series: Dolphin Rescue. She is the author of more than 60 children’s books. Her website is www.catherinenichols.com and her blog is The Cath in the Hat.

I received an advance reader copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased review. The kids and I will be checking out the other books in the series to see what facts we can learn while reading a cute story!

Have you read any great books lately?

Unicorn Princesses: Sunbeam’s Shine

If you’re writing a chapter book for girls, you really can’t go wrong adding in a unicorn or two. There’s just something magical about unicorns.Unicorn PrincessesEmily Bliss’s new chapter book series, Unicorn Princesses, captures that magic for young readers to enjoy. The Unicorn Princesses series tells of the Rainbow Realm, which is ruled by seven unicorns. They need help from a human girl who believes in unicorns.

Book 1, Sunbeam’s Shine, opens with a wizard-lizard casting spells—poorly. With a slip of the tongue, he causes a jewel that hangs around the neck of one of the Unicorn Princesses (Sunbeam) to disappear. That jewel is the source of Sunbeam’s magic, and now she can’t make the sun rise over the Rainbow Realm. Only a human girl who believes in unicorns can reverse the spell.

Sunbeam travels to the human world and finds Cressida Jenkins, who can only be described as obsessed with unicorns. She agrees to travel to the Rainbow Realm to help find Sunbeam’s jewel and return Sunbeam’s magic to her.

This book was a lot of fun to read. My little one did not want to put it down, and we read it any time we had a spare minute until Sunbeam’s jewel was found. The unicorns and magic were both definite selling points, but the pacing and action were also perfect for my little chapter book reader.

My only warning with this book is that when Sunbeam finds Cressida, they have a long discussion about needing a human girl “who believes in unicorns” and how hard it was to find one. Cressida mentions that her mother keeps telling her that unicorns are imaginary, but that she believes anyway. If you are not ready to plant that seed of doubt about the existence of unicorns, magic, and other whimsical matters in your little one’s mind, you may want to wait a bit on this one.

According to Ms. Bliss’s page at Bloomsbury Publishing, there are already six books planned for the Unicorn Princesses series. The first two were released earlier this month, two more will be released in December, and then another two in April 2018. I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. We’ll be on the lookout for the next ones!

Have you read any great books lately?

Heartwood Hotel: A True Home

A hotel is often said to be a “home away from home.” This is how the animals of Fernwood Forest see Heartwood Hotel. In A True Home, Kallie George brings this adorable new chapter book series to life and introduces us to Mona the mouse.Heartwood HotelFlooding drives Mona the mouse out of her newest home. With her suitcase in hand, she heads out into the storm. Fate sweeps her to the door of the Heartwood Hotel.

Mona discovers a ballroom full of animals—rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, hedgehogs, birds, a lizard, and even a badger. They are dressed up, dancing, eating, and laughing. These are the guests (and some staff) of the Heartwood Hotel. A bird band is providing entertainment, and there is a table stacked with food.

Gilles the front-desk lizard intercepts Mona and regretfully informs her that the hotel is fully booked due to the Acorn Festival. But Mr. Heartwood, the owner, takes pity on Mona. He offers her a temporary position for the night as a maid and a place to sleep in the staff quarters.

The next day, Mr. Heartwood offers to extend Mona’s single-night job through the fall festivals. Mona is grateful for the hospitality and pledges to “give her all” to the hotel.

Although Mona works hard, she can’t win the friendship of the other maid, Tilly the squirrel. Mona also attracts trouble over and over again—with skunk guests, with Tilly, and even when a bug tries to stay at the hotel!

Mona is sure to become a much-beloved character in many young readers’ homes. Her hard work on behalf of the hotel, her penchant for mishap when she is trying to help others, and her creative solutions to problems will make her a favorite among little ones. Those young readers will be spellbound by Mona’s tale, as they worry with her about where she will go after the fall festival season is over.

Kallie George is the author of a number of children’s books, including both picture books and chapter books. Her picture books include The Melancholic Mermaid and Duck, Duck, Dinosaur. In addition to the Heartwood Hotel chapter book series, Ms. George is the author of The Magical Animal Adoption Agency series. Her website is www.kalliegeorge.com.

Heartwood Hotel also has its own website, where you can check on the availability of rooms, apply for a job, learn more about the rooms and staff of the Heartwood Hotel, and take quizzes. The Magical Animal Adoption Agency’s website tells about animals available for adoption, assists people in making adoptions, provides “tips and alerts” and “pet care” information (“Owning a unicorn is a big—and wonderful!—responsibility…”), and offers a downloadable “Magical Egg Handbook.” Lots of fun!

I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review and am looking forward to the next books in this series! Book 2, The Greatest Gift, was released July 11, 2017, and Book 3, Better Together, is planned for February 6, 2018.

Have you read any great books lately?

Magic in the City

A mother and her two kids are walking past a magician when he offers them some of his magic items for free. With a stopwatch, they’ll be able to stop time. With a camera, they’ll be able to put themselves into a picture. And with his carpet, they’ll be able to fly.

Why doesn’t stuff like this ever happen to me?

Unfortunately, the mother I describe is not this hopeful blogger. She is the mother of two of the three main characters in Magic in the City, by Heather Dyer. Rachel Grubb and her sons, Jake and Simon, are traveling from their home in Canada to live with her sister in England when they meet the magician.Magic in the CityThe night they arrive at their Aunt Helen’s house, Jake and Simon discover that the magician was telling the truth about the magic carpet. They fly off over London, seeing the sights they had read about in their tourist guidebook.

Their cousin Hannah joins them the next day as they test the stopwatch. Younger brother Simon wants to see the Queen, but Hannah soon suspects that Jake has something else in mind. Their day is filled with adventure, fun, and surprises!

Magic in the City is an enjoyable and quick read. The action moves swiftly and draws young readers in, as they wait to see what will happen next to Jake, Hannah, and Simon.

If I had one wish with this book, it would be that Jake, Hannah, and Simon had spent just a little more time in each of their adventures. The picture Ms. Dyer drew of each place was so vivid, and the predicament that the kids were in was so entertaining, that I would have loved to experience each place for just a bit longer. But, I suppose this is like many a book that I’ve read and loved—Ms. Dyer successfully left me wanting more!

Heather Dyer is the author of five children’s novels and a picture book. She explains on her website that, like Magic in the City, “all of [her] books feature ordinary children to whom something magical happens.” These include a story about a girl whose bedroom can fly her to magical adventures, a story about twins who meet a girl with feathery wings, and a story about a boy who finds a mermaid with stringy hair and a chipped front tooth!

Ms. Dyer’s website is www.heatherdyer.co.uk. She also joins 30 other authors in providing content for the Awfully Big Blog Adventure.

Although I received an electronic advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review, Alex read the first chapter and loved it so much that he wanted to do a book report on it for school. We pre-ordered the book so that it would arrive the day it was released and then Alex could work from a paper copy over the next two months as he prepared his report. If you follow this blog (or even check it out once in a while), you know that we read a lot of books in our house, so Alex’s reaction was high praise, indeed!

Have you read any great books lately?

Wilf the Mighty Worrier is King of the Jungle

The unique star of the Wilf the Mighty Worrier series by Georgia Pritchett is a sweet, endearing hero who will grab readers’ hearts and have them cheering until the very end.WilfBefore I go on, let me clarify one thing: I did not make a typo in the title of this post. Wilf is, indeed, a Mighty WORRIER. He worries about many things. He even carries a leaflet around called “How To Stop Worrying,” which he consults throughout the book. He also keeps extra copies handy so that he can pass the leaflet out when he learns of others’ fears.

When presented with a challenge, Wilf will consult the leaflet. Then he often has a great big old worry, and then he has a great big old think, and then he thinks so hard that his brain feels dizzy—then he’ll get an idea! This habit gets him out of many scrapes!

Wilf the Mighty Worrier is King of the Jungle opens with Wilf making a list of thing that he is afraid of. This list includes: scarecrows, poodles, being eaten by animals, beetles, snakes, and crocodiles. One might imagine that he’s unlikely to run into many of the things on his list at home. But then his mom tells him that they are going on vacation to Africa!

To make matters worse, they are going on vacation with the next-door neighbors—Alan and Pam. Alan is full of evil plans to destroy the world, and the trip to Africa doesn’t slow him down at all.

Wilf finds himself in the middle of Alan’s plans for destruction, and has to save the world. He must also face many of his fears and keep his baby sister safe.

Wilf the Mighty Worrier is King of the Jungle is aimed at early readers, and features the occasional fart or poop joke to generate laughter. My youngest laughed out loud for a long time at the mention of Alan’s great invention—the Premier Official Optimum Beast Understanding Machine, or “POOBUM.” Most of the book is accessible for young readers; however, it does have some invented words (like “exhaustipated”) that will be tough to figure out.

The illustrations in Wilf the Mighty Worrier is King of the Jungle bring additional humor to the book. There are pictures on nearly every page. In a few instances, they provide details not found in the printed story (such as the items on Wilf’s list of things that he is afraid of).

There are currently four books in the Wilf the Mighty Worrier series, with a fifth expected soon. Wilf has his own website: www.wilfthemightyworrier.com, where you can find “The Worrier Checklist: How to Stop Worrying.” The checklist is similar to the leaflet Wilf takes to Africa—some of the suggestions are the same. There is also a Wilf Quiz, an Extra Story, and many video clips.

Wilf the Mighty Worrier is King of the Jungle will be released tomorrow, July 11, 2017. I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Have you read any great books lately?

Hubble Bubble: The Great Granny Cake Contest!

What do you do when your Granny is a witch and won’t stop using her magic? Sometimes you just have to follow her around and clean up her messes! Hubble Bubble: The Great Granny Contest is a humorous collection of three stories about Pandora and her witchy Granny, Araminta Violet Crow.Hubble BubbleThe Great Granny Contest begins with a family trip to Creakington Hall, a “stately home” full of dungeons and treasures. Pandora, Granny, and Pandora’s parents visit Creakington Hall for an afternoon tour of the old house.

They haven’t even made it inside before Granny starts making magic. While they are waiting in line to buy tickets, Granny’s pet frog, Croak, jumps onto the head of the man in front of them! Granny waves her wand and Croak disappears (but leaves some froggy poop behind).

During the tour, Pandora’s parents read every information card. Granny is quickly bored, and begins making magic to keep herself interested. Soon, portraits are winking at guests, mannequins start a food fight, and a suit of armor is moving around the room. Pandora has to get everything back to normal, make sure people don’t suspect Granny of causing the trouble, and stop Granny from creating any more chaos!

The other two stories in the book are equally amusing. In one, Granny and Pandora compete in the Great Granny Cake Contest, and the rules expressly prohibit using magic. But Pandora quickly discovers (on live TV) that Granny is not much of a baker when she can’t use magic to help her! How will they make it through the contest?

In the last story, Granny helps Pandora and her school gardening club when the garden starts looking a little wilted. The garden doesn’t exactly look like it should when Granny is done with it!

The Great Granny Contest is a chapter book by the creators of the Hubble Bubble picture books: author Tracey Corderoy and illustrator Joe Berger. Ms. Corderoy and Mr. Berger have joined together to publish five chapter books and three picture books starring Pandora and Granny.

The Great Granny Contest is written in language that is easy for young readers to read. The stories are fun, the pacing is quick and keeps kids entertained, and the characters are lovable.

Tracey Corderoy can be found online at www.traceycorderoy.com. She is the author of a number of children’s books, including Little Penguin Lost, and the Shifty McGifty series. Joe Berger’s website is www.joeberger.co.uk. Check out all of the books and cartoons he has worked on!

I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. Thank-you to Ms. Corderoy, Mr. Berger, and Candlewick Press for giving me this introduction to Pandora and Granny and the Hubble Bubble series!

Have you read any great books lately?

Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog

Sailing the high seas has never been more fun than with Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog by Peter Meisel. Stinky Spike is an easy chapter book aimed at “newly independent readers” as part of the Read and Bloom books.Stinky SpikeSpike does not begin his life as a Pirate Dog, nor is he always “Stinky Spike.” Instead, Spike is a shipyard dog with a “super sniffer.” He has the world’s most powerful nose. Spike loves the nastiest, ickiest, foulest stinks he can sniff.

Spike and the other shipyard dogs have a lot of work to do on the docks. They are in charge of protecting the ships’ cargo. They scare away seabirds and chase away rats.

One morning, as Spike is chasing some birds, he slips on a patch of seaweed. Spike skids off the edge of the dock and lands in the ocean.

The waves pull Spike out to sea. Spike spots a bucket and crawls in among the rotten fish bits and barnacles.

Spike is eventually rescued by pirates. They name him Stinky Spike—he is no longer known for his powerful nose, but for the noxious smell from the bucket, which clings to his fur.

Although Spike is relieved that the pirates rescued him from the bucket, he quickly learns that they will not take him home. The pirates are busy looking for treasure. So Spike makes a deal with the pirate captain: he will help them find treasure in exchange for a ride home.

With this agreement, Spike’s pirate adventures begin. He must prove himself and the power of his nose to the pirates.

Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog is written in easy-to-read sentences that keep the action moving and excitement high for little readers. Mr. Meisel’s father, Paul Meisel, has included many beautiful full-color illustrations that enhance the reading experience.

Peter Meisel has also written a sequel to Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog, named Stinky Spike and the Royal Rescue. I received an advance reader copy of Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog in exchange for my unbiased review of the book. We will be getting a copy of the sequel because my kids are enchanted by Stinky Spike!

Paul Meisel can be found online at www.paulmeisel.com. He has illustrated more than 70 books. His website includes many examples of his work, as well as a link to his blog.

Have you read any great books lately?

Wallace and Grace Take the Case

My little one loves owls, so she was delighted to read a book about two owl detectives. Wallace and Grace Take the Case is a lovely way for this series to begin.Wallace and GraceWallace and Grace are two owls who run the Night Owl Detective Agency. One night, Edgar the Rabbit asks the two detectives for help. He says there is a ghost in the garden and he wants them to make it go away.

Wallace and Grace are initially not sure they want to take the case. Ghost hunting is not what they do, after all. But they decide that Edgar needs their help, and detectives always help when they are needed.

Once they take the case, Wallace and Grace have two tasks—first, they must find the ghost (if there is one), and then they have to make it go away.

The two owls use teamwork and friendship to try to solve their case. Together, they are brave and search for the ghost in the garden. Wallace and Grace model how partners can work together as a team.

As we read Wallace and Grace Take the Case, my daughter gathered the clues with Wallace and Grace and was proud to solve the mystery before they did. When Wallace and Grace reached the conclusion we had, my daughter happily called out: “See!” The book kept her engaged from beginning to end.

We read Wallace and Grace Take the Case because I received an advance reader copy in exchange for my unbiased review of the book. We will be looking out for the next books in the series because we are excited to see what adventures Wallace and Grace have next!

Wallace and Grace Take the Case has gorgeous illustrations filled with detail. They add another layer to the characters of Wallace, Grace, and Edgar.

The Wallace and Grace series is written by Heather Alexander. Ms. Alexander has written a number of non-fiction and fiction books for children, including books for the Ever After High series and The Amazing Stardust Friends series. She is online at www.heatheralexanderbooks.com.

Wallace and Grace Take the Case is part of the Read and Bloom line “for newly independent readers” from Bloomsbury Publishing. Also in this line are Agnes and Clarabelle by Adele Griffin and Courtney Sheinmel, Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog by Peter Meisel, and The Adventures of Caveboy by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (release date Aug. 29, 2017).

Have you read any great books lately?