Archive for the ‘Early Chapter books’ Category

Caleb has been comic-book bingeing through this year-end holiday. He’s been spending hours in his room burrowing through different comic books/graphic novels through Libby, our National Library e-book app service. He borrows a book, finishes it and returns it, and borrows the next. And he ploughs through four to five graphic novels in a day.

We used to spend hours at our neighborhood library. That stopped during Circuit Breaker when the libraries closed for a few months. Given the current pandemic climate, we have switched to Libby as it cuts down trips to the library and well, it’s also fewer touch points.

One of Caleb’s recent finds on Libby is the Hilo book series. And because he enjoyed it so much, I recently bought the full set for his younger godbrother’s birthday present from Kinokuniya Singapore.


Series: Hilo Series

Author: Judd Winick

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Age range: 8-12 years old

Page-count: 200 pages

What’s on the Plate?

Hilo is a space boy who falls down to earth. He has no idea where he came from and why he is here. He meets DJ, an ordinary boy, and they foster an out-of-the-world friendship.

What’s Delicious?

A space boy meets earth boy combination offers a great premise for a fun story. Humour, unusual friendships and full-on illustrations make for a tasty read for kids. Its appeal reaches to avid readers like Caleb as well as reluctant readers like his younger godbrother.

Read more about this series at the author’s website:


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Caleb’s bookplate #12 – Storytelling Pigeons & Fair-feathered friends

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When Caleb first started worming his way through junior chapter books, I tried to make sure I read every book that he read. I’m too way behind these days and now just skim the pages of most of his reads.

Dave Pigeon is one of those book series that I had to read through though because it is simply hilarious and such a good read. I’m glad I stumbled on it on the bookshelves of Clementi Public Library.



Series: Dave Pigeon Series

Author: Swapna Haddow, Illustrator: Sheena Dempsey

Publisher: Faber & Faber Children’s

Age range: 7-10 years old

Page-count: 160 pages

Illustrations interspersed every few pages

DavePg1Dave Pg2

What’s on the Plate?

Dave Pigeon is the self-proclaimed hero in this series, whilst his best friend Skipper types out their story on a trusty typewriter that he found, for their book, so they can tell their tale to their community. There’s plenty of interruptions along the way from Dave who interjects with his more glorious version of the story during Skipper’s narration.

Dave Pg 4Dave Pg 5

What’s Delicious?

  1. This is laugh-out loud funny, with all the animal puns and quips from two quick-talking pigeons.
  2. The theme is ultimately on friendship and how Dave and Skipper stay friends through thick and thin, and usually with Skipper saving the day as the true hero in the tale.
  3. It isn’t easy to have talking animals as main characters in a junior chapter book series given the older age group of readers as compared to picture books. But the author has pulled it off cleverly and made this such a fun read.

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

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

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

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On Friday, 3rd April, our Prime Minister Lee announced that Singapore was going into a one-month Circuit Breaker period to break the chain of Covid-19 transmissions. This is effectively Singapore’s semi-lockdown, where workplaces, schools and most places were closed and we stayed home, except for trips out to buy groceries and other essentials.

I had coincidentally borrowed a big stash of books from our public library for Caleb earlier that day. He wormed his way through all the books within a few days.

Here’s the first of his favourite reads from week 1 of Circuit Breaker.




Series: Spynosaur Series

Author: Guy Bass, Illustrator: Lee Robinson

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Age range: 7-10 years old

Page-count: About 200 pages-ish

Lots of comic strip style illustrations interspersed every few pages

SpynosaurPg1Spynosaur Pg2


What’s on the Plate?

Amber Gambit gets to skip school every now and then for secret missions with her secret agent dad Spynosaur. Enough said.

Spynosaur Pg3Spynosaur Pg4


What’s Delicious?

1. It’s a wacky, humorous series with lots of chuckles.

2. Fun premise with a kid leading a secret agent double life with her dad. Talk about parent-child bonding with a mission.

3. The illustrations lighten the read and double the fun!

Read more about this series at author Guy Bass’s website.


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Caleb’s Book Plate #6 – Read your Kid into a Reader, Build a Leader


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My Weird School Series came perfectly timed. Caleb had polished off several series and I was having trouble finding the next. Finally, I handed him my Kindle and asked him to search for some good books. He stumbled on the My Weird School series. It’s super-series jackpot because he consumed the entire collection of over 40 books.

New York Times bestselling Author Dan Gutman has hit a highly successful formula with this series. Which kid wouldn’t like to read about weird teachers, weird classmates and weird schools? Over 12 million books have sold.


Some of the Weird School titles


Series: My Weird School, My Weirder School, My Weird School Daze

Author: Dan Gutman

Publisher: Harper Collins

Age range: 6-9 years old

Page-count: Cannot tell on Kindle! Depends on font size!

Illustrations interspersed every few pages


What’s on the Plate?

A.J. is a regular, not-the-brightest-kid-in-class character. He takes everything literally, which makes for lots of hilarity for kids this age.

“Don’t worry, AJ,” said Mr Granite. “This test will be a piece of cake.”

It didn’t look like a piece of cake to me. It looked like a piece of paper. Which did cake have to do with taking a test anyway. Hey, maybe we were going to get cake after we finished taking the test!




What’s Delicious?

  1. The humour is right down Caleb’s corny alley. Even the book titles are hilarious.
  2. This Weird School Series is like the Seinfeld of children’s books. Dan Gutman has an ability to take a single subject and have AJ and his mates milk it till the cows come home and it’s still funny. That takes great writing chops!
  3. It is a breezy read and kept Caleb happily reading for over a month of mealtimes. That’s a huge plus for parents.
  4. It’s creative, funny and touches on highly relatable subjects for kids. Great for reluctant readers!

Read more about this series at My Weird Classroom Club.

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Caleb’s Book Plate #9 – Balloon Goons, Forkupines & Notebook of Doom

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

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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.


We read the entire 13-book series on my Kindle


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?



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!


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.



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


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.


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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