Posts Tagged ‘mysteries’

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – A Surprisingly Dark Picture Book

Posted on November 29th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen - A Surprisingly Dark Picture BookI Want My Hat Back written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
Picture book published by Candlewick Press



Poor Bear, he has lost his pointy, red hat. He searches the forest, politely asking, “Have you seen my hat?” He meets Fox, Frog, Rabbit, Turtle, and Snake. None has seen his hat. Bear is bereft and despondent. He frets that his hat is gone forever.

When Deer finally asks, “What does your hat look like?” Bear remembers something important.

Picture book, I Want My Hat Back is a breath of fresh air with a hint of mystery and a touch of revenge.

Best suited to older readers, adults and children (aged five and up) will thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to “read between the lines” and enjoy Klassen’s gallows humor.

Would I read it to a group of three year olds? “Maybe not.” Would I read it to a group of jaded six year olds who think they know all there is to know about picture books? “You betcha!”

Storytime kit from Candlewick Press - includes I Want My Hat Back activities.

I Want My Hat Back at Amazon.com

I Want My Hat Back at Amazon.ca


Also check out my comments about Jon Klassen’s Cat’s Night Out

Mysteries, Humor and School Life for Reluctant Readers

Posted on October 26th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Chapter Books for Reluctant Readers Mysteries Humor School Life




Almost every time I make a Parent Ed presentation, someone asks for recommendations for the preteen crowd. Sometimes the request is very specific, “My daughter loves skating. Could you suggest a chapter book she might like?” Very often the request is for something, anything that a reluctant reader will enjoy. Lately, I’ve been kept busy by Ready Set, Learn presentations. I’ve not had much time for reading. When the calendar is full to the brim, I often turn to short chapter books, looking for a new gem that will appeal to young readers.

Here are some of the books I’ve been reading…

The Clue At The Bottom Of The Lake written by Kristiana Gregory
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Scholastic



Let’s begin with The Clue At The Bottom Of The Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries). This is the second book in the new Cabin Creek Mysteries series. Appropriate for seven to ten year olds, it has a grade 3 Reading Level. I enjoyed the book and am confident that this is a series both boys and girls will enjoy. Set in a small, lakeside town, we follow three cousins as they investigate the dumping of a large and mysterious bundle into the lake near Lost Island. Young detectives will enjoy the twists and turns as Claire, David and Jeff work to discover the contents of the bundle and who is responsible for dumping it in ‘their’ lake.

The Clue at the Bottom of the Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries) at Amazon.com

The Clue at the Bottom of the Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries) at Amazon.ca

Sir Gadabout Out of Time written by Martyn Beardsley
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Orion Children’s Books




Sir Gadabout is the ‘Worst Knight in the World.’ A creation of Martyn Beardsley, the series is illustrated by Tony Ross so we know that we are in for some fun. In Sir Gadabout Out of Time, disaster strikes when King Arthur allows Sir Gadabout to cut his hair. Before long, Merlin is enlisted to turn back time. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) the spell goes wrong and Sir Gadabout finds himself in a futuristic world with cell phones and cars. Good fun for nine to twelve year olds.

Sir Gadabout Out of Time at Amazon.com

Sir Gadabout Out of Time at Amazon.ca


Ivan the Terrible written by Anne Fine
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Egmont Books Ltd


Poor Boris, he is in a real ‘pickle.’ He’s been asked to be a ‘chum’ and translate for a new classmate. They both speak Russian and Boris is asked to help the new boy adjust to life at St. Edmund’s, the civilized school. Before long, Boris realizes that Ivan is really quite nasty and the job of translating is going to be trickier than he had expected. A fine choice for nine to twelve year olds,
Ivan the Terrible won the silver medal in the 2007 Nestlé Children’s Book awards.

Ivan the Terrible at Amazon.com

Ivan the Terrible at Amazon.ca

Visit our page about reluctant readers for more information. You will find our posts about chapter book series here.

Grade Two Chapter Book – Why Nate is Really Great

Posted on August 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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When looking for a special grade two chapter book, you can’t go wrong with Nate the Great

Grade Two Chapter Book – Why Nate is Really GreatNate the Great written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Marc Simont
Published by Yearling





Nate likes pancakes and syrup almost as much as he enjoys solving a perplexing mystery. Nate and his canine sidekick, Sludge, are called upon to solve all sorts of cases; locating lost paintings, disappearing dogs and, in one case, a missing key.

With an appearance that is often reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, Nate is all business – except if pancakes are on the menu. Along with with Annie and Rosamond, our hero cracks each case with solid detective work.

Nate the Great is a series that has been delighting young readers for more than thirty years. Suitable for children who are reading at about a grade two level, some of the stories are divided into chapters. Generously illustrated, the text is perfect for young readers who are ready to take on a meatier story (than typically found in easy readers).

Series like these are great because beginning readers often decide they want to read every single one of the Nate the Great books. This is just what we want, a child who is motivated to read by fun stories and a delightful cast of characters.

Nate the Great at Random House includes printable activities plus author information.

TeacherVision Nate the Great summarizing activity

Nate the Great at Amazon.com

Nate the Great at Amazon.ca


Emergent Readers Captivated by Drama and Mystery

Posted on August 24th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Check out this series for emergent readers

I spent a fair amount of time in a dentist’s chair today and was reflecting on my recent experience with a grade one student. I’ve been working with him for a while. His older brothers have had some difficulty with reading so I spend half an hour, once a week with this youngster. Yesterday he read from the Oxford University Press Read at Home series. He is familiar with these books and knows the characters; Floppy, Chip, Kipper and Biff.

During our session, I suggested he try one of the Level 4 stories. He eagerly selected, Trapped! text by Cynthia Rider, illustrations by Alex Brychta. It was delightful to hear him read confidently but what was even more special was his reaction to the book. Clearly, he saw this story as different from others he has read independently. There was more text – about three sentences per page. There were letters and hidden keys to locate within the illustrations. But, most surprising, there was drama – when Grandma was briefly trapped in a castle – and mystery – why was there face at the castle window?

My emergent reader was thrilled to read Trapped – he likened it to the kind of books his older brothers read. He felt competent, confident and intrigued. If only all books for young readers could replicate this winning combination.

The Oxford University Press Read at Home series is excellent from beginning to end and includes dozens of great titles for emergent readers.

Read at Home: More Level 4c: Trapped! at Amazon.com

Read at Home: More Level 4c Trapped! at Amazon.ca

Read at Home: Level 4, Pack of 6 at Amazon.ca

What is your favourite series for readers at this level? Please share your ideas and suggestions.


Highlighting Young Adult Fiction: Paper Towns by John Green

Posted on March 18th, 2011 by Teen contributor

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Storytime Standouts' teen contributor writes about Paper Towns by John GreenPaper Towns by John Green
Young Adult Fiction published by Dutton Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.





Quentin Jacobsen has spent his life loving the adventurous Margo Roth Spieglman from afar. So when she cracks open his window and summons him for an all night campaign of revenge- he follows. The next day, at school Q discovers that Margo, always an enigma, has become a mystery. But there are clues, and they’re for him. urged down the disconnected path, the closer he gets the less he sees the girl he thought he knew…

This was the first of John Green‘s books that I have read and I am very impressed. The story is intriguing and well crafted, the characters interesting. Paper Towns involves the reader, you will find yourself puzzling at night as you try to unravel the mystery for yourself. And you will be laughing frequently for John Green writes with brilliant wit.

Paper Towns is Young Adult fiction that can be enjoyed by almost everyone. I defiantly recommend it as one of my favourites.

Anthony Award Nominee for Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel (2009)
Corine – International Book Prize for Young Adult Novel (2010)
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2008)
Edgar Award for Best Young Adult (2009)
YALSA Teens’ Top Ten (Young Adult Library Services, American Library Association) (2009)

Paper Towns at Amazon.com

Paper Towns at Amazon.ca

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