Tag Archives: chapter book

Frede and Santa by Leen Lefebre

Standard

Frede and Santa by Leen Lefebre, chapter e-book, 70 pages, published in 2017.

Frede and his family live in a small village on the edge of a large forest. Unfortunately the summer crops did not thrive, and they have entered winter in dire need of more food. Frede convinces his older brothers to travel with him to visit the Christmas village and ask Santa for help. In order to reach Santa, the three boys must traverse the forest, where an Evil Elf King lurks, just waiting for victims to come his way.

This book was first published in Dutch under the title Frede en de Kerstman. I read the English translation, though I wish I read Dutch well enough to read Frede and Santa in its original form; a translation doesn’t always do the story justice. Some of the word choices and sentence structure isn’t what one would expect from native English writers, and I had to re-read a number of parts to follow what was happening. And even then there were still a few bits I didn’t get the full meaning of. Despite this, I was able to enjoy the story well enough.

Frede and Santa is a fairytale-esque, magical adventure. The story flowed at a steady pace, but I thought the ending felt rushed and slightly disappointing. I would have liked more time spent in the Christmas village, and more time getting to know the elves and Santa. I was also expecting a rescue mission that was more involved, but due to the brevity of the story, I guess there just wasn’t time.

The three brothers were well developed characters. Frede was a spirited little fellow with his family’s best interests in his heart. I rather liked Folke and Rhune too, though they were quite different to each other. I really liked the way that the boys were described based on the seasons. The other characters felt a bit shallow, but again, there just wasn’t enough time to get to know them very well.

I don’t think that the cover suits the story. After reading the book, I pictured Frede as the son of a poor farmer with simple, well-worn, home-made clothing, rather than the modern boy on the cover.

Overall, Frede and Santa was a sweet festive read about being brave and strong for your loved ones. While the story itself is suitable for all ages, the difficulties arising with the translation make this a story better shared between adults and children.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Advertisements

Fluffy Hugs by Richard Dodd

Standard

fluffyFluffy Hugs by Richard Dodd, e-book, 60 pages, published by Smashwords in 2015.

Fluffy is a baby emperor penguin, born in captivity within a zoo. Fluffy is a little different to the other penguins in the enclosure, as he can understand what the humans are saying. He discovers he has other magical abilities too, which he can put to good use helping animals and people.

Fluffy Hugs is a short and simple story; a bit of magical fun with one of the cutest animals in the world, a fluffy, grey penguin chick. Who could resist such a sweet little fellow? I would definitely hug him! Being able to use his hugs to help is an unique talent, but I really liked his ability to travel about the world just by thinking about it.

Fluffy Hugs did not take long to read. My seven year old could probably knock it over pretty quickly too, and I think she would enjoy it a lot. Magical animals are in at our house! There were a handful of simple line drawings within the book which I liked. I think the story could have been enhanced by more illustrations, due to its short nature.

Fluffy Hugs would be suitable for lower primary school students and reluctant older readers. It is the first book in a series chronicling Fluffy’s adventures. The next book in the series, Minty Visits, is also available now.

 

*I received this book from the author as a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Trouble at Home by Cate Whittle

Standard

troubleathomeTrouble at Home by Cate Whittle, and illustrated by Kim Gamble, chapter book, 96 pages, published by Scholastic Australia in 2016.

Georgia’s house is stolen by a large, green dragon with blue wings. Which is bad enough, but her little brother, Godfrey, was in the house watching TV at the time, so he was taken too. Georgia’s mum is distraught about Godfrey, and they have nowhere to live. No-one believes Georgia about the dragon, so she takes her other brother, Henry, and sets out to rescue Godfrey, assuming he hasn’t already been eaten by the dragon.

This quirky chapter book was a fun read with my seven year old. She could have easily read it by herself; it was a good length, contained appropriate language for younger children, and had short chapters, with black and white illustrations scattered throughout. However, we often read together as it is fun to share stories like this one, and we really did enjoy Trouble at Home.

The story is written in first person by Georgia. She is a great character; I loved her dialogue, and the way her story was written. It reminded me a lot of how my girls tell stories. We liked the way the dragon was portrayed too. Who knew a dragon could blush? Or be a fan of tea?

Trouble at Home is suitable for lower to middle primary school children, and would suit reluctant readers. There are more Trouble books in the series, which we definitely want to read. We already have the second book in the series, Trouble and the Missing Cat, which my daughter has asked to read next.

 

Don’t Miss the Boat!: Adventures at Arrowhead Island by Deborah Vallez

Standard

dontmisstheboatDon’t Miss the Boat!: Adventures at Arrowhead Island by Deborah Vallez, e-book, 84 pages, published by Archway Publishing in 2016.

The Benson family head to Arrowhead Island for a weekend of water-skiing, swimming and fishing. Brothers Joe and Tom and their little sister Debbie are very excited to be back on Lake Wateree. Their dog, Anna, also joins them on their camping adventure.

Don’t Miss the Boat! is based on the author’s childhood memories of spending family time at Lake Wateree. I was expecting a work of fiction, but this is more of a memoir, a re-telling of summer family fun during the 60s. This is to be the first in a series about the Benson’s adventures on Arrowhead Island.

The story is told quite simply, often with short sentences, which suits a chapter book. It was an easy read which I knocked over quickly. Quite a lot of the book was about the family water-skiing, which I found slightly overwhelming, having no experience or interest in water-skiing. However, I felt like I learnt a little bit about the sport whilst reading, and I didn’t feel excluded by my lack of knowledge in that area. I liked the depth to which each activity was described; it made me feel I was part of the trip to Arrowhead Island.

The Bensons seem like an interesting and likeable family, which I hope will have plenty more adventures in the future. I really liked Anna, the Benson’s long-haired dachshund, such a cute addition to the family. Debbie obviously adores her big brothers, which made them seem rather angelic. This image was sadly shattered when they played a prank on their father! The Bensons are a military family, and there are a number of references to this throughout the book. The kids call their father “Sir”, which is novel these days, but was probably much more common back then. I think being a military family during the 1960s has the potential to add a unique slant to the series.

Don’t Miss the Boat! will suit lower primary school children. It would be particularly good for children interested in the outdoors, camping and fishing.

 

*I received this book from the author as a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

New Library Additions July ’16

Standard

IMG_7880July was a quiet month when it came to book buying. I did pick up some lovely 2 for $30 Australian YA from Dymocks on the last day of the month, and I ordered some books from the kids Scholastic bookclub catalogue, but they haven’t arrived yet.

Physical Books:

 

E-books:

  • Minecat by P.T. Evans (chapter book)

Minecat: A Whole Lot of Ocelots by P.T. Evans

Standard

minecatcoverMinecat: A Whole Lot of Ocelots by P.T. Evans, e-book, 64 pages, published by Montage Publishing in 2016.

When Jason’s cat, Spike, gets sucked into the computer, he finds himself in Jason’s Minecraft world. After watching Jason play Minecraft for hours on end, Spike finally gets to build the world himself. He takes full advantage of this to make his perfect home.

Minecraft has many fans around the world that play regularly. I am not one of these people, but I have watched my daughter play, and she talks about her game often, so I wasn’t completely in the dark. I had not seen ocelots in the game before, but after reading this my daughter went and found some ocelots and domesticated them just for me to see!

I rather enjoyed Minecat. It was a short and quick read, but the story was fun. It is a chapter book using reasonably simple language with short sentences and chapters. The allure of Minecraft will get the readers in, and the engaging story will keep them reading.

Spike is quirky, sweet and funny. And maybe just a little bit egocentric! I liked it when he was re-arranging Jason’s Minecraft house, adding climbing stations, beds, and eating all the flowers. Those spiders were a tad creepy, but the domesticated ocelots were very cute!

There are some illustrations in the story, such as images from Minecraft, often with Spike added to them. I liked the way Spike was drawn, he is pretty cute, and his insertion into the images and photos worked well. My favourite picture was where Spike was swinging on a vine in the jungle. The pictures suit the story.

My fourth grader loves Minecraft and spends hours playing it with her friends. She also loves cats. When I told her I had a copy of Minecat for her to read she was very excited. She read it quickly in one sitting, and has already re-read it a couple of times. She thought it was an excellent read for any Minecraft fan, though it was a bit easy for her. She’s quite enthusiastic about reading more in this series.

Minecat: A Whole Lot of Ocelots is suitable for primary school students. It would also suit reluctant readers, especially those with a love of Minecraft.

 

*I received this book from the publisher as a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Megan’s Brood by Roy Burdine

Standard

megansbroodcoverMegan’s Brood by Roy Burdine and illustrated by Shawn McManus, paperback, 105 pages, published in 2016.

At the start of summer, Megan and her parents moved into a new house, leaving their old home, her school and friends. Megan is not at all happy about the move, but things look up when she discovers a clutch of strange eggs residing in a crack in the wall of her attic bedroom. After watching and waiting for weeks, the eggs hatch revealing a motley crew of small imp-like creatures, each with it’s own distinct look. Megan treats them like her babies, but as they grow some disturbing and unique abilities appear among them.

Megan’s Brood is a quick fantasy read that I knocked over in one session. The pace was good, and the plot interesting. I think I would have freaked out if I located a pulsating, luminescent cocoon in my room, but Megan takes it pretty well. She really cares for the strange little creatures that hatch, attaching to her like chicks to a mother hen. They reminded me of a cross between gremlins and imps, though some were cuter than others. I liked that they were different, and developed various abilities, such as fire-breathing or colour changing. However, I would try very hard not to upset the little fella that uses sulfur as a defense mechanism, euwww!

Each chapter began with a lovely black and white full page illustration. Other pictures were distributed throughout the story, all of which are very nice. I like how Megan is portrayed, just how she is described. The last picture was a bit scary though!

The format and length suggests chapter book, yet I found this incongruous with the characters and storyline. Megan is about to enter year seven, along with her new friends Cutter and Casper, which makes them older by several years than the characters I normally encounter in chapter books. Megan is a teen (or close to) and does things that teens do, suck as thinking about Cutter being her boyfriend, going to a party, and reading horror novels. I don’t think these are things that kids reading chapter books are up to yet. Some elements of the story are also more suitable for an older or more mature audience, such as the deaths of some of the little creatures and the disturbing nature of a few of them. So, I think Megan’s Brood is more of a short novel for kids from upper primary school to lower high school. It may be well suited to older reluctant readers as well, as it has short chapters, broken by the occasional black and white illustration.

I did enjoy this fast fantasy read, and I will be giving it to my fourth grader to read now. Megan’s Brood is the first book in a great new series, with the second book, Megan’s Brood and the Old One coming soon.

 

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts by Lesley Gibbes

Standard

FizztryoutscoverFizz and the Police Dog Tryouts by Lesley Gibbes and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, paperback chapter book, 68 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2016.

Fizz is a doggie ball of fluffy white fur. He would make an excellent show dog, or lap dog, or companion dog, but all he really wants to be is a police dog! He isn’t big or scary or mean like some of the other dogs trying out to be the next police dog, but Fizz does have a lot of heart. He is fast and brave and clever, but will it be enough to become a police dog?

What a fantastic chapter book! It is perfect for newly independent readers, and will appeal to a large range of children. My first grader is enthralled! She took Fizz off to read in bed, with the edict that she could read one chapter. When I went to check on her, she admitted that she might have read “just a bit more than that, cos it is super good, mummy!”. We will definitely be getting more Fizz books!

After reading many many books about magical creatures, fairies and secret magical lands with my girls (their choice), I am ecstatic to find a book suitable for young readers that isn’t focused on magic, and isn’t marketed just to girls. Sure the dogs talk and the humans understand them, but that isn’t the main theme of the story. Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts is about believing in oneself and working towards your goals with everything you’ve got. I enjoyed the story almost as much as my daughter.

While the story is fun and amusing, the characters are also interesting. Fizz is an highly lovable character with lots of spark. I liked Benny too, but Amadeus was very very mean! What a scary dog. I am very glad I didn’t have to go up against Amadeus, Fizz is much braver than me.

There are black and white illustrations throughout the book, capturing some of the most important moments of the story. Having the pictures interspersed throughout the text is a great way to prevent early readers from becoming overwhelmed by too many words on each page. I liked the illustrations in Fizz. In particular Fizz and Amadeus were just as I imagined them to be.

Suitable for preschool and lower primary school children, Fizz may also suit older reluctant readers. Fizz’s adventures continue in the next book, Fizz and the Dog Academy Rescue.

The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood

Standard

cleo1coverThe Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood, hardback chapter book, 57 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2014.

Cleo is an average six year old living with her parents, having fun with her friends and learning about her world. In the first story, several of her friends have pretty new necklaces, and she wants one too. In the second story, it is her mum’s birthday, and Cleo wants to get her a really great present.

This is the first book in The Cleo Stories series. It contains two fun short stories, and is illustrated throughout. The illustrations are very distinctive and just lovely. They feel soft and gentle, and complement the story well. The stories are simple yet engaging, which is brilliant for young readers.

Cleo is a sweet little girl. I like her imagination and her sense of style. I love that she often wears animal ear head bands, as it reminds me of my own little girl. I enjoyed reading about her everyday adventures, and so did my first grader. We already have the next Cleo book to read!

The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present is suitable for preschool and lower primary school children. It is good for early independent readers, but is also lovely to share.

 

*The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present was the winner of the 2015 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Young Readers category.

New Library Additions May ’16

Standard

Added some books to my home library this month!

IMG_7614 (1)

Physical Books:

E-books:

What new books did you get in May?