Book Review: The Sign of the Beaver

If this were an adult fiction book, it would be considered a novella. At 132 pages formatted for a middle grades reader, this is a very slim novel. Perhaps that is one of the many reasons it is one of my son’s favorite books. Not that anything is missing in this novel. It’s all there:…

Book Review: Calico Captive

This is my second year teaching Literature/Language to a home school co-op class of middle schoolers. Of course, last year was rudely interrupted in March by a pandemic, and this year we are going to begin on Zoom. Anticipating that I will be teaching this for three years total, I have decided to step up…

Series Review: Dragonbreath

Disclaimer: The Dragonbreath series has nothing to do with Dragon’s Breath ice cream. It’s not that easy to find a local author to support, but my son did it for me. Ursula Vernon is an author out of Pittsboro, which is a town not that far from here (Durham, NC) and a place I will…

Book Review: The Wheel on the School

You  might think, anymore, that I’m pulling your leg when I say a book was my favorite in fourth grade. It does seem like I say that a lot, but fourth grade was a golden year for me, so by “fourth grade” I mean around fourth grade. And in reality, I’ve only made this claim…

Book Review: Flora & Ulysses

I haven’t really jumped on the Kate DiCamillo train, though it seems everyone else has. I suppose that she has been on my radar, just out of sight, for several years. She just keeps going—getting movie deals, winning awards, and taking names. Her books boast the Newbery Medal (twice!, and also an honor and finalist),…

Book Review: The One and Only Ivan

I’m not averse to a story in which animals are personified. I’m not averse to a story in which animals are personified but being sneaky about it right under the nose of unsuspecting humans. But there was something about The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate that somehow defied both these categorizations and got…

Book Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

It may seem like there are a whole lotta books that I have been enthusiastically looking forward to reading. It would seem that way because it is that way. I have always been an avid reader and a curious individual, and there are so many books that I haven’t quite got around to yet, including…

Book Review: One Crazy Summer

I found One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia on a list of recommended reading for fourth or fifth grade, and we finally got around to it this year. I didn’t really know what I was about to read, though I could see all those awards, all but covering the front of the book. I enjoyed it. It’s…

Book Review: Inside Out and Back Again

The first thing you’ll want to know about this book—for better or worse—is that it is a novella in poem form. Of course, even if you don’t know it, you’ll notice it the second you open the book. A pleasant free verse type of poetry, it is a painless way to introduce poetry into a…

Author Review: Roald Dahl Novellas

My fifth-grade son has finally started reading novels on his own, and I am very happy to announce that his first, second, third, fourth, and fifth novels are by Roald Dahl. If you didn’t catch it already on the blog somewhere, I am a huge Roald Dahl fan, and so I of course would prefer…

Series Review: Alice in Wonderland

I was looking forward to reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (for us, bound in one volume) out to my son, because I remember having enjoyed them in high school. To this day, one of my very favorite poems is “The Jabberwocky,” from Looking Glass. What I found, unsurprisingly,…

Series Review: How to Train Your Dragon

It’s hard for me to believe that I didn’t do this review earlier, though we did finish reading as I was tackling a sizable backlog. Boo! This series deserves better than a months-stale review. But it is what it is, and the least the series deserves is a late review. Amazon’s blurb for the first…

Book Review: Half Magic

When I made the Best Books list and started on the adventure of reading to children as they grew, I did not realize that so many of the “classics” of children’s chapter books come from the 50s. Even if they weren’t written in the 50s, many of them take place in or around the 50s.…

Book Review: Homer Price

I must have been writing this review in my head while reading this book, because I feel like I already wrote it. I looked on the blog, I looked in the blog drafts, and I even searched through my Word file. Nothing. Must have been in my head. Why? Because this book is so surprising.…

Book Review: When You Reach Me

In my daughter’s sixth grade class for the recent semester, the kids had to read one of four selections that their teacher presented. My daughter did the first read and turned in the assignment, then decided to read the other three before the semester was through. She has always said this teacher had a great…

Book Review: Where the Red Fern Grows

This is a classic. I chose it from a third grade reading list, to read out to my son at bedtime. I had read it—finally, as an adult—maybe fifteen years prior, but had basically forgotten the entire thing. When I started reading, though, the basic feeling came back to me, and I was in the…