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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Chapter Books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 484
1. #663 – OMG . . . Am I a Witch?! by Talia Aikens-Nuñez

 

OMG…Am I A Witch?!

Talia Aikens-Nuñez, author
Alicja Ignaczak, illustrator
Central Avenue Publishing/Pinwheel Books          8/06/2014
978-1-77168-025-7
148 pages      Age 7+
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“April Appleton is s annoyed at her older brother that she searches the Internet for a spell to turn him into a dog. When it works, April realizes she has more power than she ever dreamed of! Now she has to figure out how to turn him back to normal before her parents find out.”

About the Story

April turns her older brother Austin into a little soft, poofy dog when he harasses her on the school bus. Yep, she is wearing huge red glasses and braces, but that does not give Austin the right to tease her. Now realizing she cannot keep Austin cute and cuddly forever—lest mom and dad will be unhappy—April tries in vain to turn Austin back into an annoying brother.

Things do not go well for April, who is getting better at opening and closing doors at will, but could not get the reversing spell to work. With the help of help best friend Grace and new friend Eve (her grand-mere is a witch doctor), April must perform some nasty tasks before the undo-spell might work. The Old Magic Book’s paper-thin pages are so dusty, reading might be difficult—and it is in French!

Review

First, I am not a fan of texting “terms” used in a story, and most definitely not in the title. I also do not like the double sign (?!), and because of this, think the title needs polished. The back cover preview (above), contains a sentence ending in a proposition. A few more are in the story. The expertly drawn black and white line drawings, at the onset of each chapter, help mark each new beginning, but do not add anything to the story.

omg1a

With that out of the way, OMG . . . Am I a Witch is a cute story with energized dialogue. Read in one sitting, I found the story entertaining and it held my attention throughout. Most of April’s magic occurs as she thinks of what she would like, such as thinking her doggy-brother looks white and billowy as the clouds above, then he begins floating upward. April does a lot of thinking and worrying. The humor is light, which suits the urgency of the story.

“Austin is fluffy like those clouds. Ha ha. I could just imagine him floating off like a cloud . . . I just made him float. He floated like a cloud in my daydream. I am a witch. Wow. I am . . . a . . . witch.”

Girls will especially love the main character and her female sidekicks. OMG . . . Am I a Witch is a short 148 pages that can be read one chapter at a time or entirely in one sitting, making this a good story for younger middle grade kids. I believe this is Ms. Aikens-Nuñez’s first MG book. She has written a fine first foray into writing for the late elementary and middle grades. I would love to find out how April uses her newfound magic and how her friends will influence her choices. I loved all the characters.  I think OMG . . . Am I a Witch would make a fine series, especially if April ages along the way.

OMG . . . AM I A WITCH?! Text copyright © 2014 by Talia Aikens-Nuñez. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Alicja Ignaczak. Published by Central Avenue Publishing, British Columbia, CAN and Point Roberts, WA.
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Purchase OMG . . . Am I a Witch?! at Amazon B&NBook DepositoryiTunesPublisher’s Website.
Find out more about OMG . . . Am I a Witch?! HERE.
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Meet the author, Talia Aikens-Nuñez, at her website:  http://talia-aikens-nunez.vpweb.com/
Meet the illustrator, Alicja Ignaczak, at her facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/alicja.ignaczak.102
Learn more about the publisher, Central Avenue Publishing, at their website: centralavenuepublishing.com
Learn more about Pinwheel Books: http://pinwheelbooks.com/

Interview with Talia Aikens-Nuñez: HERE
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Chapter Book, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: Alicja Ignaczak, Central Avenue Publishing, chapter books, fantasy, magic, Pinwheel Books, Talia Aikens-Nuñez

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2. Chapter books | Class #3, 2015

julian_joey_omakayas

This week we are reading three chapter books — The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. Each is the first book in a series and each has a strong central character, an element that I think is essential in early chapter books.

We’re also reading two articles to go along with these books. One is Robin Smith’s “Teaching New Readers to Love Books,” where, among other things, she describes reading The Birchbark House aloud to her second graders every year. The other article is an interview with Jack Gantos from the Embracing the Child website. I find that teachers tend to have a lot of questions about Gantos’s credentials for writing about ADHD, and he addresses them especially well here.

I hope you will join our discussions of these readings in the comments to the individual posts linked above.

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3. The Stories Julian Tells | Class #3, 2015

The Stories Julian TellsThe Stories Julian Tells is the first book in an ongoing series about brothers Julian and Hughie, and their neighbor Gloria. This is an early chapter book for readers who have acquired some fluency but aren’t ready to tackle longer books yet. The chapters are fairly short, there’s lots of conversation, the plot is easy to follow, and there is a clear central character.

What do you think of Ann Cameron’s writing? Is the story engaging enough for children who are still struggling a bit with reading?

How do you feel about a white author writing a book in which all the characters are African American?

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4. Two articles about chapter books | Class #3, 2015

Jack Gantos as a child

Jack Gantos as a child

This week in addition to our three chapter books, we are reading two articles.

The first is Robin Smith’s piece about her road to becoming a second grade teacher who loves LOVES books, and how she shares them with her classes: “Teaching New Readers to Love Books” from the September/October 2003 Horn Book Magazine.

The second is an interview with Jack Gantos that sheds some light on how he came to write the Joey Pigza books: “An Interview with Jack Gantos” from Embracing the Child website.

jack gantos at simmons

Jack Gantos in 2013

 

(If you would like to read more by Robin Smith or about Jack Gantos, there’s is plenty on the Horn Book website. Just follow these links.)

Tell us what you think of these articles in the comments below.

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5. Creating Settings: Bringing the Sounds, Sights and Smells Home

Lisa Doan | The Children’s Book Review | March 6, 2015 When I began writing The Berenson Schemes, a middle grade series in which responsible Jack Berenson is repeatedly lost in the wilderness of foreign countries by his globe-trotting parents, I gave some careful thought to creating the settings. The books take place in the Caribbean, Kenya and […]

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6. Best Selling Young Adult Books | March 2015

With so many strong novels on this list, everything remains the same on our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list—including The Children's Book Review's number one best selling young adult book is The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy, a classic must-read for all Greek mythology fans.

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7. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | March 2015

This month, A Boy and a Bear in a Boat, by Dave Shelton, is still The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book. And we're very happy to add the very popular Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome and The Terrible Two to our selection from the nationwide best selling middle grade books, as they appear on The New York Times.

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8. Step Into The Spotlight (2015)

The Amazing Stardust Friends #1: Step Into the Spotlight! Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer. 2015. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Marlo's mom has just joined the circus: joined as a chef. Her and her mom will now be living on a circus train. There are several other children for Marlo to get to know: some are performers themselves, some are children of employees and/or performers. Marlo really wants to become friends with the three Stardust girls: Allie, the acrobat, Bella, the animal trainer, and Carly, the clown. She's been told she can join the Stardust Parade IF she can come up with an amazing act of her own. She has just TWO days until the next performance. She's very determined and quite ambitious. Perhaps she can learn to be an acrobat? or a clown? or work with animals? Or perhaps not. Can Allie, Carly, and Bella help Marlo find her own way of being amazing? And will Marlo become a Stardust girl too?

This is an illustrated chapter book. I liked it. I did. It's a fun book with a playful premise.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. 1492: New World Tales, by Richard and Judy Dockrey Young | Book Review

This unique book is a potpourri of re-told stories from several cultures on both sides of the Atlantic as they might have been known in 1492, the year Columbus set sail for India and found what is now known as the Americas.

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10. The Manager, by Caroline Stellings | Book Review

This funny novel is told through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Ellie, but the real star is her older sister Tina. They live in Whitney Pier over the gym where their father, a former boxer, trains aspiring boxers.

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11.  My Writing and Reading Life: Cory Putman Oakes

Cory Putman Oakes is a children’s book author from Austin, Texas. Her middle grade debut, DINOSAUR BOY, hits shelves in February, 2015 with its sequel, DINOSAUR BOY SAVES MARS, to follow in February, 2016.

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12. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia, by Candace Fleming | Book Review

An absolutely fascinating read for teens and anyone who is interested in a richly described account of imperialist Russia.

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13. Empathy spells understanding

harrypotter_boxedset_260x233If there’s one thing my students have come to know about their teacher, Ms. Tell, it’s that I have an extreme passion for, and knowledge of, the Harry Potter series. I won’t get too much into it (I’ll save that for another blog post), but it’s true. It’s not just the magical characters and enchanting spells that draws me towards the series; it’s that as I’ve grown older, I’ve been able to appreciate some of its deeper lessons, concerning the acceptance of others that may seem “different,” and the notion of taking responsibility for your actions.

It was in the midst of my daily Google search that I came across an article in New York Magazine entitled, “Can Harry Potter Teach Kids Empathy?” Well, if I see Harry Potter in a headline, you can guarantee that I’ll click that link. Now, while Harry Potter was definitely used as a hook to draw readers into the article, I became more enthralled by the ongoing study being described in which research has begun to discover that reading fiction can have major impact on one’s social perceptions and understanding of different viewpoints around the world.

In lieu of the holidays and the spirit of the new year, the time that dedicates itself to appreciating what you have and offering up new resolutions to better oneself, my mind shifted towards what I truly believe to be one of the most important facets of a child’s education — shaping character. Thinking about whether or not we are raising our students to be genuine, kind men and women of society can often fall to the wayside in favor of mastering multiplication facts for the test or meeting the deadline in completing a personal narrative report. This year, my class has taken a particular look at the word empathy, which we’ve come to define as, “I’ll try to imagine how it is you are feeling before I speak or do anything.” This definition has served as a guidepost for how we host discussions in third grade, how we find our “teachable moments,” and how we select our Read Alouds!

I’ve compiled a list of Read Aloud texts (some picture books, some chapter books) that have not only sparked incredible discussion post-reading, but have also seeped their way into discussions throughout our school day. Empathy is at work when a child has a rough time losing in the competitive handball game at gym, or someone feels left out when her friends race over to the swings without her. Books have served as an indirect confidante for when those moments become too big for students to express themselves. In a moment of clarity, books can help them think about how someone else may be feeling.

Here is our Read Aloud list for empathy:

  • The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
  • The Potato Chip Champ by Maria Dismondy
  • Uncle Rain Cloud by Tony Johnston
  • Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
  • Wonder by R.J Palacio
  • Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka

hundred dresses     Potato Chip Champ     Uncle Rain

Wilfrid     wonder    Yang the Youngest

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14. Sway, by Kat Spears | Book Review

Kat Spears debut novel is, quite simply, a delight. It has all the ingredients for an engaging and witty read, laced with honesty and insight that’s refreshingly real.

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15. A Conversation with Sharon M. Draper About Stella by Starlight | Interview

In this conversation, we talked to Draper about the inspiration behind Stella by Starlight and the basic goodness in humanity.

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16. Best Selling Kids Series | February 2015

Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is this month's best selling kids series from The Children's Book Review's affiliate store.

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17. Best Selling Young Adult Books | February 2015

With so many strong novels on this list, all but one young adult novel, John Green's Paper Towns, remains the same on our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list.

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18. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | February 2015

This month, A Boy and a Bear in a Boat, by Dave Shelton, is still The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book. And we're very happy to add Brown Girl Dreaming to our selection from the nationwide best selling middle grade books.

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19. Interview with Sandhya Sameera Pillalamarri About The Name Soup

How did the idea for The Name Soup originate? Sandhya Sameera Pillalamarri: The concept of the book was inspired by my long last name. I was always intrigued about its true meaning and where it came from.

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20. The Name Soup, by Sandhya Sameera Pillalamarri | Dedicated Review

The Name Soup is an encouraging story for children and is a poignant read for young students and teachers learning to build tolerance and gain insights within classrooms.

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21. Maya Van Wagenen Shares Her Tips on Becoming Popular

I recently came across a remarkable book by Maya Van Wagenen called Popular. Maya, who is now 16 and in the 11th grade, kindly agreed to answer my questions (and quite eloquently) despite preparing for her SAT exam.

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22. My Writing and Reading Life: Jess Keating, Author of How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel

As an author and zoologist, Jess Keating has tickled a shark, lost a staring contest against an octopus, and been a victim to the dreaded paper cut. She lives in Ontario, Canada, where she spends most of her time writing books for adventurous and funny kids.

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23. Nest, by Esther Ehrlich | Book Review

Esther Ehrlich’s debut novel, Nest, is an arresting story of an eleven-year-old girl named Chirp Orenstein, whose life becomes acutely sharp and complicated as her mother’s illness overtakes the family

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24. Wollstonecraft: The Case of the Kickstarter Project

JORDAN STRATFORD is a producer, author, and screenwriter. Stratford launched the idea for the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series on Kickstarter, where the response was overwhelming enthusiasm.

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25. The Right Book at the Right Age - Heather Dyer

One reason that new writers have their books rejected is because their writing style doesn't match the content: either the language is too sophisticated for such a simple storyline - or the story is too long or complicated for the target readership. 

Admittedly, it's difficult to categorize books into specific age categories. Children are individuals, after all. Some advanced readers might not be very worldly-wise, and won't yet be ready for 'grittier' stories. Meanwhile, some of their peers may be ready for 'older' content but can't handle more sophisticated language.

But to give your story the best chance of publication, the content needs to match the writing style for that particular age category.


The publishing and bookselling industry tries to help buyers by dividing books into four main groups: picture books, young or early readers, middle grade readers (an American term) and young adult novels. As part of a new course I'm teaching in Writing for Children, I’ve started trying to identify qualities common to books in each age category. Boundaries will be blurred - but I'd love to know what you think of this chart. Am I right?
 
Picture books
Age 0-5
Early readers
5-7
Middle grade
7-11
YA fiction
12+
 
     0 - 200 words
24,32 or 40 pages.
 
500-1,500
 
10-20,000
 
          50,000+
Full colour illustrations
Black and white line drawings every other page
Black and white line drawings every few pages.
 
No illustrations
Domestic or fantasy settings
 
Usually domestic settings.
Domestic magic and high fantasy. Realistic settings with parental supervision unless there’s a good reason (fantasy)
The wider world. High fantasy.
 
 
 
 
Larger font size, restricted vocabulary. Dialogue.
 
Large proportion of dialogue, more complex.
 
 
 
Shorter sentences
More sophisticated sentences.
Lots of interior monologue, reflection, longer speeches.
Text works with illustrations.
Very short paragraphs.
Paragraphs a bit longer.
 
 
Nearly no description
Minimal description, but a few sparkling details true to a young reader’s perception of the world.  
Detailed setting and character description.
 
Detailed setting and character description.
 
Usually in third person
Usually in third person. Some character development possible.
Usually in third person.
Rounded characters. Character development more obvious.
Often in first person, and present tense. It’s all about me.
Anthropomorphism, inanimate objects made animate. Familiar roles, settings, objects.
A talking animal almost always points to an early reader. Children in comic or adventure situations, usually having a good time, nothing too awful happens.
Children in danger, frightening situations, facing fears and fighting good and evil. But the real world isn’t too real.
Can be very dark and realistic. Dystopian futures, tragedy, abuse, drugs, etc. Also comedy sex/romance.
 
No sex or romance.
Romance is light and about friendships. Or subliminal.
Anything goes.
For the youngest bracket, not necessarily stories with problems solved, but simply an exploration of the world.
Often deal with smaller problems resolved in a shorter time frame. Stakes are lower.
Children with flaws, interactions with peers. Children save the day or resolve things themselves. Growing understanding of the world and their place in it.
Young adults dealing with finding their own way in the world, changing the world or making a name for themselves; asserting themselves; finding own values.
Can be present tense.
Past tense, no leaping around in time or flashbacks.
Still rarely using flashbacks unless short recollections by a character.
Can play with chronology; transitions, flashbacks etc.
Happy endings or comforting closure.
 
Happy endings.
 
 Happy or at least hopeful endings.
Usually at least hopeful, but recently have been a few with bleak endings.

 




Listen to RLF Fellows talk on the subject 'Why I Write' 
 

 

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