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Archive for the ‘Early Chapter books’ Category

The Notebook of Doom series is right up there as one of Caleb’s and my favourite junior chapter book series. It’s funny, clever, imaginative and full of action.

NotebookDoomcovers

We read the entire 13-book series on my Kindle

Toppings:

Series: Notebook of Doom

Author: Troy Cummings

Publisher: Branches, Scholastic

Age range: 6-9 years old

100-ish pages

Illustrations interspersed every few pages

 

What’s on the Plate?

Alexander Bopp is the new nerdy kid in town. He is scared to death of spending his first night in a new house, going to a new school in a new town and having to make new friends.

Stermont turns out to be a much stranger town than Alexander could have expected. And when he discovers the Notebook of Doom, it sets him on a string of adventures that turn him into an unlikely hero. Rip Bonkowski, who starts off name-calling Alexandra, becomes his best friend and monster-busting partner, along with his other bestie Nikki, a mysterious kick-ass hoodie girl.

 

 

What’s Delicious?

Caleb and I lapped up this series over many moments of chortles and snortles together. I could easily devour this series a second time and still laugh out loud.

  1. I love how the story plots are smart, funny and fresh.
  2. It goes beyond the formulaic. The three main characters Alex, Rip and Nikki are extremely well-fleshed out across the books, with character development and surprises in store.
  3. Whilst each book has a standalone story, there is an underlying arc that ties the whole series together beautifully and the big reveal at the end of the series was unexpected and satisfying.
  4. The illustrations are equally brilliant and bring to life the characters of the kids and the hilarious monsters that they are fighting against.

Read more about this series at the author Troy Cummings’ website.

 

Related Links:

Caleb’s Book Plate #8- Muddled Hercules, Vain Theseus …Hopeless Heroes

Caleb’s Book Plate #7- Dragon & Iguana Besties, Fantastical Adventures

 

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It was a books jackpot when I found the entire series on Clementi public library’s shelf as they weren’t there on my last umpteen visits!

“Mum, can you borrow the rest of the series?” Caleb asked. “This is so funny.”

I googled and found that they haven’t been  published yet…haha. Isn’t that a dream for an author…when the reader cannot wait for the next book to come out?

HopelessHeroescovers

Toppings:

Series: Hopeless Heroes

Author: Stella Tarakson, Illustrated by: Nick Roberts

Publisher: Sweet Cherry Publishing

Age range: 6-9 years old

200-ish pages

Black and White illustrations interspersed every few pages

 

What’s on the Plate?

In Book 1, Tim Baker helps with housework daily as his mum has to pull two jobs after his dad passed away. He accidentally breaks a valuable vase whilst cleaning it and frees Greek demigod Hercules, who has been trapped in the vase by his evil stepmother Hera.

Hero sperad1.jpg

Tim discovers that Hercules is mostly brawn, with little brain. Hercules turns Tim’s housekeeping efforts into a nightmare when he defeats a tiger rug, chops off the heads of Tim’s mum’s flowers, amongst other conquests.

Hero spread 3

Tim goes on to meet more hopeless heroes through the subsequent books in this laugh-out loud series, from self-loving Theseus, who cannot stop admiring himself in the mirror to trickster God Hermes who flip flops on loyalty between the evil goddess Hera and his own agenda.

Hero spread2

What’s Delicious?

I slurped up the books as quickly as Caleb did, for several reasons:

  1. It’s well-written, humorous and a pacy read.
  2. I like how Tim, the powerless kid, ends up being the real hero who saves the day whilst the Greek Gods bungle around like humans.
  3. The author has fleshed out Tim’s character well, down to his worries for his mother, fears of the school bully and other regular kid problems. And Tim’s own personal growth and family’s story progresses through the series, rather than staying static.
  4. The illustrations are an excellent complement to the text, with the Greek gods drawn as black 2D -looking cut-outs whilst Tim looks like the real deal.

Read more about this series at the author Stella Tarakson’s website.

 

Related Links:

Caleb’s Book Plate #3- Dragon Twins’ Hilarious Squabbles & Troubles

Caleb’s Book Plate #1- Scouring the World for Deliciously Good Books

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The best gauge of how much Caleb loves a particular series is if there are leftovers on the plate ie. Does he finish the series or not? When he consumes the entire series and asks for more, I know we hit book jackpot.

The Dragonbreath series was recommended by my bestie Gail. Her kids (my god-kids) relished this series. And now Caleb loves it too!

Dragonbreathcovers

We hijacked this from my bestie’s home and downloaded the rest on my Kindle

Danny Dragonbreath is brave but not the brightest spark around. He’s lousy at blowing dragon fire, gets picked on by the school bully, day dreams excessively and runs from one strange mystical adventure to the next.

Insidepage1

Insidepage2

His best friend Wendell the Iguana is brilliant, total nerd, clean freak and hypochondriac.

 

Cristiana the crested lizard is Wendell’s fellow-brilliant nerd friend and skeptic. She doesn’t believe Danny is a dragon because he lacks all the impressive dragon qualities and doesn’t believe in anything mystical like dragons.

The trio go from one hilarious adventure to another. From busting a jackalope traffickers. To saving Danny Dragonbreath’s annoying little cousin from knights. And more.

The really fun illustrations every few pages breaks up the text and is great for Caleb who still likes seeing illustrations in the books that he reads. He consumed this entire series at 7+ years old.

We love the books and they are right up there as one of our mum-and-son favourite early chapter book series!

Related Links:

Dragonbreath Books Website

Caleb’s Book Plate #1: Scouring the world for deliciously good books

 

 

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I’ve not been able to keep up with Caleb’s rate of reading – 1 junior chapter book during class reading time, 1 junior chapter book during dinner time and 3-4 picture books or 2 early readers while sitting on the royal bowl.

For my book-share purposes, I’ll just post a snapshot of books he consumes and focus on our favourite reads.

ella&owen covers

What’s on the Plate?

The Ella and Owen junior chapter book series ranks up there as one of Caleb’s and my favorite junior chapter book series. I recently stumbled on this gem series on the shelf of Clementi library.

Ella and Owen are a pair of dragon siblings who squabble over everything. Owen is bookish and cautious whilst Ella is raring for the next adventure. Together, they run from one misadventure to another. They flee from dragon-hating knights to pet-hunting for dumb trolls. They fight with evil pumpkins and upset grumpy goblins.

When I found out how much Caleb thoroughly enjoyed this series, I re-borrowed the books so I could have a read. I devoured the entire series. I can see why my 7-going-on-8 year-old relished them and I share the same palate.

What’s Delicious?

  • Ella and Owen’s sibling squabbles are laugh-out-loud funny and the kid dragons’ misadventures are hilarious. They run into all kinds of trouble from book to book. As they try to solve each problem, they end up creating new ones, which leads into the next book.
  • The stories are action-packed, with wonderfully fun illustrations.
  • The plot is easy to follow and extremely well-written. It totally hooked us from start to finish.
ella&owen inside page 1

Ella and Owen Book 3 – Knights & Dragons

ella&owen inside page 2

Ella and Owen Book 4 – The Evil Pumpkin Pie Fight

Toppings: 

Junior chapter book, est 2,500-3,000 words over 9 chapters,  illustrations on every page

Author duo Jaden Kent are Emmy Award winning writers for children’s TV shows whilst Illustrator Iryna Bodnaruk is a Ukrainian, living in Cyprus.

Publisher – Little Bee Books

 

 

 

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Just before school started, we got hold of a box of Geronimo Stilton books from Caleb’s cousin. I thought that would last Caleb a month. But he consumed two books a day during reading time in class.

geronimo

So, I reserved 16 library books in total under Caleb’s and my account. Then I found out that I could borrow twice the number of books at the public library for this January!

At Clementi Library, we found that the librarian’s counter had vanished. I asked a passing librarian where we could collect our book reservations. She directed us out of the library to a wall of lockers.

library locker 2

It was a newly installed automated books reservation system. You scan your library card, pay the reservation fee and the screen shows which locker is holding your book. The locker then pops open with your reserved book! It is so secret-agent! As we reserved 16 books, we had locker doors popping open in different spots, revealing one book at a time. Caleb was thrilled and took over the screen to pop the lockers open.

National Library has a brilliant initiative of rewarding kids with book bug cards for borrowing books. The idea appears to be inspired by Pokémon cards.  Caleb was doubly thrilled to queue up at the book bug machine to redeem his book bug cards for the first time.

We left with a loot of 32 books and 13 Book Bug cards. And thanks to our wonderful public libraries, I get to average down the cost and rate of my book-buying at the bookstores and on my Kindle.

 

 

 

 

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When Caleb was 5 years old, he frequently lamented that he could not read. When I assured him that he would do so one day, he did not look convinced.

A preschool expert had once told me that she believed the best way to get kids to read is to read to them. I subscribe to this because I’m old-school.

So, when Caleb started Kindergarten year 2 in 2017, I read to him daily over breakfast. Because he is such a reluctant eater, I started bringing my Kindle along every time we had meals outside.

The first junior chapter book series I read to Caleb was the Magic Treehouse Series. I stumbled upon a few copies at the Central Library. Book #1 is titled Dinosaurs Before Dark and Book #5 is titled The Night of the Ninjas. He likes dinosaurs and ninjas. He was hooked.

When we tagged along for Ben’s work trip to St Gallen, Switzerland in March 2017, Caleb wanted to bring along a notebook. The Magic Treehouse’s main character Jack brought a notebook on all his adventures to different countries. Likewise, Caleb wanted to note down important facts about the things and places that we would see.

(*Unfortunately, we left the notebook at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, when we went to New York for part 2 of Ben’s same work trip. Hopefully some other kid picked it up and continued the entries :)).

I must have read through about 20 books in the Magic Treehouse series and then several other books after.

Then, magic happened.

One day, he got tired of waiting for me to read in between mouthfuls of food and took over my Kindle.

Just before Caleb turned 7 years old, he started to read on his own. And he has ploughed through books at such a fast pace that I have been having trouble keeping up.

I hope to share his reading diet over the months ahead, and in the process, get recommendations for other book series which he can latch onto. I’m currently into junior chapter books too, so this reading journey is twice the fun!

Magictreehouse series.jpg

Why I like the Magic Treehouse series:

* The author has a formulaic repetition in the beginning of how Jack and Annie travel to new places in the Magic Treehouse and how the magic activates. Caleb and I would repeat it together and it always creates a sense of anticipation to the story.

* Jack is the studious careful one whilst his younger sister Annie is the bold adventurous one. And the siblings complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Both characters always take away important reflections at the end of their adventure  (without the story being didactic).

* Each adventure takes them to different countries in different eras and readers are introduced to interesting facts and histories of those countries and cultures through story. Through this fantastic series, Caleb learnt about ninjas in Japan, met a young Leonardo da Vinci before he became famous and experienced ancient Rome and the volcano in Pompeii.

The Magic Treehouse is a great first series to start with. And it’s no wonder that it is the bestselling chapter book series of all time, 25 years and counting!

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I’m kicking off an ad-hoc blog series spotlighting local children’s literature. And I’m starting with Hwee Goh’s first early chapter book. The Plano Adventures series is an early chapter book series that combines adventure, action and twin characters in a story that incorporates scientific research on short-sightedness and device dependency. (Hwee has a pair of twins so you can see how writing is very sub-conscious).

 

 

The baddie Lord Myopic is all set to cover Murktown in fog and take control of the residents. Only Professor Plano can stop him with his Clear Vision potion. He runs into a pair of twins along the way and the kids become instrumental to saving the day.

What better way to combine the twin mission of combating myopia in young children and empowering young readers than through an engaging early chapter book series with large fonts and fully-coloured illustrations?

Inside page 1

inside pg 2.jpg

The Plano Adventures series is co-written by scientist Dr Mo Dirani, an advocate for managing smart device use and myopia in young children and ex-political journalist-turned-children’s book author Hwee Goh. David Liew’s illustrations, with its fun comic-bent, matches perfectly with the story in this fully illustrated book.

I asked Hwee 2 questions about her book.

Me: Sum up your book in one sentence.

Hwee: Trouble in Murktown is a fun fantasy tale with a serious message – it empowers the reader to take charge of his own eye habits when reading a book or using a device.

Me: Tell me 1 thing about your writing process or 1 thing you enjoyed about writing this book.

Hwee: Dr Mo Dirani marked the key messages based on science, David Liew doodled on his iPad, then I set to work on the storyline. I love that our characters came to life and we and our beta readers want to see them continue on in this series.

Speaking of beta readers, my 7-year old pilot-read the book. When he finished, I asked him if he enjoyed it. He said “Yes. When is the 2nd book coming out?”

Yah, Hwee, when is the 2nd book coming out? 🙂

Trouble in Murktown hits the Singapore bookstores this week.

Related post:

High Chair Conversations: Journalist Hwee Goh travelled with LKY

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