Posts Tagged ‘chapter books’

Princess Marty McGuire Enchants

Posted on May 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Marty McGuireMarty McGuire written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Brian Floca

Marty is not yet impressed with grade three. Her former best friend has a new friend who likes dancing. Marty would rather catch frogs than waltz. She misses her friend very much. “Veronice Grace Smithers has stolen my best friend and taken over recess. I’d call Veronica Grace Princess Bossy-Pants if I were allowed to call people names. But I’m not. So I won’t.”

When their teacher announces that the class will be performing The Frog Prince and Marty will be cast as the princess, our young heroine is reluctant to take the stage. Portraying a princess is not for her! Marty McGuire accurately depicts the social challenges experienced by a group of grade three girls as they adapt to change. As well, Marty and her friends manage to find middle ground in this fun, generously illustrated chapter book.

Will be enjoyed by boys and girls, grade two and up.

Marty McGuire at Amazon.com

Marty McGuire at Amazon.ca


Surrounded by Testosterone: My Thoughts About The Loser List

Posted on April 25th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about The Loser ListThe Loser List – written and illustrated by Holly N. Kowitt
Anti bullying (handwritten text, generously illustrated) chapter book published by Scholastic



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

I spent the Easter weekend with three teenaged boys and so it was only fitting that I should reach for The Loser List when I had some time to read. It is a generously illustrated chapter book that is very reminiscent of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Danny Shine is twelve years old and in grade seven. He’s not good at sports but he loves to draw. When Danny runs afoul of Chantal Davis, she informs him that she’ll be adding his name to the loser list in the girl’s bathroom at school. Danny’s best friend, Jasper is not worried about being labelled as a geek and doesn’t care if his name is put on the loser list but Danny is bothered by the threat. A lunchtime tangle with the school’s biggest bully (Axl Ryan) followed by a failed attempt to remove his name from the loser list results in Danny joining Axl and other members of the Skull gang in an after school detention. “We stared at each other. Him: studded wristband, greasy blond hair stuffed into a do-rag, and army jacket. Me: Acme Exterminators tee, video watch and grandfather sweater.” Danny is terrified of Axl and is sure he will be beaten until Axl shows off his Sharpie tattoo and Danny knows that he can draw “Something really cool and unique, something that’s you know, worthy of the Skulls.”

It is not long until the threat of a beating subsides and Danny is creating cool tattoos for Axl and his sidekicks. Danny enjoys his new celebrity until Axl steals a comic book from a shop Danny frequents. Suddenly Danny finds himself accused of theft and regretting his association with the thugs.

A clever tactic by Danny and Jasper enables Danny to escape the clutches of the gang and restore his reputation.

Best for children aged eight through twelve, The Loser List has a positive message about self acceptance and friendship. It will have a special appeal for boys

The Loser List at Amazon.com

The Loser List at Amazon.ca

A Book Giveaway & Easy Green “Actions” For Families To Try Together! A Guest Post by Author, IAN JAMES CORLETT

Posted on April 19th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

April 22nd, 2011 is Earth Day and the perfect opportunity to discover E is For Environment Stories to Help Children Care for Their World – at Home, at School, and at Play. Written by Ian James Corlett and illustrated by R.A. Holt, E is For Environment introduces all sorts of “green” actions for children and families to embrace.

We are delighted to share this guest post by Ian James Corlett and invite you to enter our contest* and win a copy of E is for Environment

Oh Canada. Famous for toothless hockey players, ice cold water, and children’s entertainers like Raffi. This is a story that combines them all… seriously! Well, maybe not toothless hockey players, but teeth anyway!

Remember the Raffi song lyric, “We brush our teeth, chh-chh-chh-chhh… chh-chh-chh-chh-CHHH!” That was a rallying cry in our house when our kids were small. With the help of Raffi, his catchy lyrics and his substantial beard, our kids learned a great routine to keep their teeth clean. They’d turn on the tap, squeeze out waaay too much toothpaste and then stumble through scrubbing each little tooth. All the while, the tap was running, and running and running… And we all do it. Turn on the tap, start brushing our teeth, possibly even walking around the house a little while we look for socks or a towel or even plunk down on the porcelain, and all the while… woosh, woosh, woosh, the water rushes down the drain.

Now, it is awfully cute watching the kiddies learn how to keep their chompers white, but all that water going down the drain made me think. And I wondered just how much water goes down that drain… Well, it’s A LOT! Let’s assume only one person in 100 in the USA leaves the tap on while they brush (and we all know that far more than one in a hundred do it). Over the course of a year that adds up to over TWO BILLION gallons of water just going down the drain! Just from tooth-brushing!

When you stop to think about how much it costs our governments to provide clean tap water it really makes sense to conserve as much of it as we can. Not to mention that fresh water is rapidly becoming a diminishing commodity!

After I learned that, we had a family meeting and decided to implement a “turn off the tap while brushing” bylaw. It’s kind of fun too, because the young ones get to enforce the bylaw on the parents. (kids love policing mom and dad don’t they?). Just like brushing to the Raffi song, you’ll be amazed at how quickly these things become good habits with kids.

Another fun family energy-reducing action is searching for energy vampires. Energy vampires are appliances and gizmos that suck energy, mostly electricity, from your home. Did you know that all those power adapters or “wall warts” we have plugged in all over the place are robbing electricity even if nothing is connected on the other end? Yup. And all those little red lights you see on so TV’s and other gadgets are also energy vampires. So get the family together and go on a hunt! Give everyone a scrap of paper (like a junk mail envelope) and scan your whole house to find these little suckers. Of course you can’t unplug all of them (Dad needs to DVR his favorite shows!) but you’ll be amazed at how many you find that can be unplugged.

How about grocery shopping? Have you noticed just how many shopping bags are clogging up your cupboards? If that’s just at your house, There are BILLIONS clogging up oceans and land fills every year. So next time you’re shopping and the clerk asks, “Paper or Plastic” have your kids pop up and say, “NEITHER!” Put your kids in charge of remembering to bring your own reusable bags. It’ll give them a sense of responsibility and help our environment too.

Lastly, here’s an idea that is not only good for the planet, but good for our bodies too! Think about all the short trips we make every week. Like to the post office, or the grocery store or school. If it’s under a mile, walk it. Get out a map with your kids… wait, who are we kidding… search up Google Maps, and mark your house on it. Then look at all the shops and services you regularly drive to that are within a mile. Then try walking to these places instead. Especially with your kids. Walking with your kids is not only great for your health and the planet’s health (one less car) but it’s a great opportunity to bond too!

Trying these small steps (or actions) can be a lot of fun especially if you tackle them as a family. Sooner than later these actions will turn into good habits and make our world just a little bit better. Hey, maybe there’s a new Raffi tune in there… “Reduce your waste, wah-wah-wah-wah-wasste, waaa-waste a-waw-waw…” Umm. Maybe not.

IAN JAMES CORLETT is an award-winning children’s television writer and author of E Is For Ethics and the newly released, E Is For Environment. He resides in Vancouver British Columbia and Palm Springs California with his wife and two children.

*Residents of Canada can enter for a chance to win a copy of E is for Environment. Leave a comment on this post for one chance. Leave a second comment on our post about E is for Environment. Each comment will give you one entry to win. Maximum two entries per person. We will hold a random draw on Tuesday, April 26th and will contact winners by email.


E Is for Environment: Stories to Help Children Care for Their World at Amazon.com

E Is for Environment: Stories to Help Children Care for Their World at Amazon.ca

American Library Association Has Announced Coretta Scott King Award Winners For 2011 (part 2 of 3)

Posted on January 11th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Yesterday the American Library Association announced the top books, video and audiobooks for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards for 2011. Following on yesterday’s post of the Caldecott and Newbery award winners, the 2011 Coretta Scott King award winners are as follows:

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults –

One Crazy Summer written by Rita Williams-Garcia is the 2011 King Author Book winner. The book is published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

One Crazy Summer at Amazon.com

One Crazy Summer at Amazon.ca

Three King Author Honor Books were also selected: Lockdown, by Walter Dean Myers and published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.; and Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, written by G. Neri, illustrated by Randy DuBurke and published by Lee & Low Books Inc.

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award recognizing an African American illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults –

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier, is the 2011 King Illustrator Book winner. The book was written by Laban Carrick Hill and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave at Amazon.com

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave at Amazon.ca

One King Illustrator Honor Book was selected: Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, written by Gary Golio and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent (Author) Award –

Zora and Me, written by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon, is the 2011 author winner. The book is published by Candlewick Press.

Zora and Me at Amazon.com

Zora and Me at Amazon.ca

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent (Illustrator) Award –

Seeds of Change, illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler, is the 2011 illustrator winner. The book is written by Jen Cullerton Johnson and published by Lee & Low Books Inc.

Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World at Amazon.com

Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace at Amazon.ca

Cheer for Gunner

Posted on November 25th, 2010 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about middle grade fiction: Gunner by Judy Andrekson
Gunner Hurricane Horse written by Judy Andrekson
Middle grade fiction published by Tundra Books





I approached Gunner Hurricane Horse with some trepidation as I’m not particularly interested in the lives of horses and, while I like animals, I don’t consider myself to be an ‘animal lover.’ In fact, Gunner Hurricane Horse is a compelling true story that will appeal to young readers on many levels. Gunner was a very young and unkempt American Paint Horse when he arrived on Heather Lott-Goodwin’s ranch. He challenged his trainers and was constantly getting into trouble of one sort or another.

As Gunner learns, grows and matures, we come to know his personality and those of the people who helped to shape him into a World Champion. We care about Heather Lott-Goodwin, her husband and her young son. When Hurricane Katrina passes directly over their ranch, we learn about the challenges faced by Heather as an emergency room nurse, the difficulty in coping for those who remained at the ranch as well as the incredible damage inflicted by the storm.

Highly recommended as a read-aloud or for independent readers aged seven and up.

Gunner: Hurricane Horse at Amazon.com

Gunner: Hurricane Horse at Amazon.ca


American Library Association Has Announced Youth Media Award Winners For 2011 (part 1 of 3)

Posted on November 15th, 2010 by Carolyn Hart

The American Library Association has announced the top books, video and audiobooks for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards – The 2011 award winners are as follows:

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature

“Moon over Manifest,” written by Clare Vanderpool, is the 2011 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Moon Over Manifest at Amazon.com

Moon Over Manifest at Amazon.ca

Four Newbery Honor Books also were named: Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm and published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.; Heart of a Samurai, written by Margi Preus and published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS; Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; and One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia and published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, is the 2011 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was written by Philip C. Stead, and is a Neal Porter Book, published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee at Amazon.com

A Sick Day for Amos McGee at Amazon.ca

Two Caldecott Honor Books also were named: Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.; and Interrupting Chicken, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein and published by Candlewick Press.

Looking for Great Chapter Book to Read Aloud? This One’s a Masterpiece

Posted on December 5th, 2008 by Carolyn Hart

Masterpiece by Elise Broach, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
Chapter book for children published by Christy Ottavians Books, Henry Holt and Company





People often ask me to recommend a chapter book to share with young children. Often they have made the transition from picture books to chapter books and find themselves overwhelmed by the selection of books on the shelf. This month I want to wholeheartedly recommend Masterpiece. It tells the story of a very unusual friendship that develops between James Pompaday and a beetle named Martin who lives under the kitchen sink in his apartment. When James’ father gives him a pen and ink set for his birthday, it is Martin who creates an astonishingly good miniature picture. James is credited with artistic talent and before long James and Martin are working together as they attempt to thwart an art thief.

Highly recommended as a chapter book read aloud and/or for children (grade four +) to read independently.

Masterpiece at Amazon.com

Masterpiece at Amazon.ca




A Quirky, Pleasant Read Aloud for 9-12 year olds – The Funeral Director’s Son

Posted on September 1st, 2008 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts Suggests Read Aloud for 9-12 year olds: The Funeral Director's SonThe Funeral Director’s Son by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Chapter Book for Middle Grade Readers published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers






This summer I have really focussed on delving into chapter books for children who are able to read independently but may need some help in locating good books. I selected a number of books that target 9 -12 year olds. I read a couple of them aloud to my ten year old.

Possibly the quirkiest book we read was The Funeral Director’s Son by Coleen Murtagh Paratore. I really had no idea what to expect and hoped that the cover, which is somewhat flowery, would not deter a hockey-playing ten year old male. Anyhow, I read and he happily listened. We both enjoyed the Charles Dickens quotes that preceded each chapter (at times quizzing Daddy to name the source of the quote). The relatively short chapters will appeal to some reluctant readers who may be overwhelmed by longer books. On more than one occasion we read three or four chapters in one evening. Ms. Paratore poses an interesting question: What happens when the heir apparent to a family business is not at all interested in taking up the reins and can’t wait to escape life in a small town? The Funeral Director’s Son offered a breezy, enjoyable glimpse of a rather unusual family life wrapped up in a fun read aloud for 9-12 year olds.

The Funeral Director’s Son at Amazon.com

The Funeral Director’s Son at Amazon.ca




Darkside: Suspense for Middle Grade Readers in Secret London

Posted on August 26th, 2008 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts Recommends Suspense for Middle Grade ReadersDarkside written by Tom Becker
Suspense Novel for Middle Grade Readers published by Orchard Books





Yesterday’s blog post introduced Measle and the Wrathmonk. Today’s book will appeal to a similar demographic – middle grade boys and girls. Darkside is the first in a suspenseful and exciting fantasy series about a secret part of London. Inhabited by dangerous characters, this underbelly of London is nothing like the city we see on postcards or television. The atmosphere in Darkside is gothic and intense. We accompany fourteen year old Jonathan on his frightening journey to save himself and his father. His first trip into this mysterious location is both disturbing and intriguing. At the conclusion we are certain that one trip to Darkside will not be enough.

If you dare, visit Tom Becker’s Homepage.

Darkside at Amazon.com

Darkside at Amazon.ca


Wasim’s a ‘Rising Star’

Posted on November 27th, 2007 by Carolyn Hart

Having finished reading The Alchemist’s Dream, I decided to take a look at some chapter books for younger readers. this week I read three books and enjoyed them all. Let’s begin with…

Wasim One-Star written by Chris Ashley, illustrated by Kate Pankhurst
Chapter book for primary to middle grade readers published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books





Wasim can hardly wait to pass a school swimming test and become a One-Star swimmer. Unfortunately, on the day of the test, Wasim finds himself in trouble. His concern for a new classmate whose English is not good causes him to speak more loudly than he should. Wasim is heartbroken when he is sent (untested) to the pool changing room because of his loud voice.

Wasim’s concern that Wayne’s poor English could cause him to get into difficulty is justified. Fortunately, Wasim is watching and responds quickly when Wayne gets in over his head.

Wasim is a great character – in fact, I’d call him a ‘rising star.’ His desire to pass the swimming test and his concern for a classmate are both genuine and admirable. I particularly liked the dynamics between the students, the swim instructor and the teachers. Recommended for boys and girls, aged 6 and up.

Wasim One-Star at Amazon.com

Wasim-One Star at Amazon.ca



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