Posts Tagged ‘junior fiction’

All Four Stars

September 4, 2014

All Four Stars

By: Tara Dairman


I love cooking so I was excited to see this new junior novel about a young pre-teen foodie, Gladys Gatsby. In the opening scene Gladys has set the kitchen curtains on fire while using a blow torch to make her crème brulee. Her parents are understandably upset and ban Gladys from the kitchen. This poses a problem since they are terrible cooks themselves and Gladys must suffer through some horrible meals. Gladys writes an essay about cooking for a school competition and the essay winds up in the hands of an editor at a New York City newspaper. The editor hires Gladys to write a freelance food review of a new restaurant in the city. Gladys is too young to travel into the city by herself and must figure out a way to get into the city and sample all of the food without letting her parents know. She turns out to be surprisingly resourceful even if her solution does stretch believability. This is an entertaining story even if some of the plotting is a little bit convoluted.

Renee (Parr)



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Moldylocks and the Three Beards

August 12, 2014

moldylocks and the three beardsMoldylocks and the Three Beards (Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe #1)
by Noah Z. Jones

Princess Pink is not a princess, and she’s not pink. She doesn’t even like princesses or the color pink. She’s just a girl whose first name is Princess, and whose last name happens to be Pink. One night, Princess Pink wakes up hungry, but when she opens the refrigerator door to get a snack, she finds herself looking into a magical world. Leaning in to take a better look, Princess Pink tumbles into the refrigerator and begins to fall!

In the Land of Fake-Believe, things are very different from back home. Still feeling hungry, Princess Pink meets a girl named Moldylocks who takes her to the house of the Three Beards to find something to eat, but the two girls soon find there’s more than chili waiting for them at the Three Beards’ house…

princess pink and moldylocks

You may think you know where this story is going, but it’s different from any version of Goldilocks and the Thee Bears you’ve ever read before, and funnier too! With a collection of strange characters like Mother Moose and Tunacorn, kids will be laughing out loud at the antics of Princess Pink and Moldylocks.

Perfect for fans of humor, cartoon-like illustrations, and all around ridiculousness. This Princess does her own rescuing!

Early chapter book. Recommended for ages 5 to 7.

(Jocelyn, Davis Library)

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Title Tag

August 8, 2014

To have a bit of reading fun with books play Title Tag.

Directions:  Start with a classic book title.  Then find another title that begins with the last word of the first book chosen. (You will likely have several to choose from.) Repeat the process as long as you are able. Challenge yourself to read the books you find. You’ll be amazed where the game leads and what you learn. Here’s an example list beginning with The Little Prince*. 


The Little Prince (Saint-Exupery)


The Prince of the Pond (Napoli)


Pond Full of Ink (839.3116 SCH)




Footprints on the Moon (629.454 SIY)


Moon over High Street (Babbitt)


Street Art (709.05 SUT)


The Artsy Smartsy Club (Pinkwater)


Club Dread (Keene)


The Dreadful, Smelly Colonies (973.3 RAU)


*These searches were limited to choices from Junior fiction and nonfiction titles in the Plano Public Library catalog.


Ready to play? Tag! You’re it!

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Last-But-Not-Least Lola Going Green

August 7, 2014

Last-But-Not-Least Lola Going Green (Last But Not Least Lola) CoverLast-But-Not-Least Lola Going Green

By Christine Pakkala

  2nd grader Lola Zuckerman is tired of always being last in her classroom where her teacher loves to put everything in alphabetical order.  Not only is she last in roll call but she’s also last when students share their ideas for a “going green” contest.  All of those great ideas she has bouncing around in her head and they’re already taken by the 18 students ahead of her in class!  What to do?  Grandma has told her all about a worm composting idea for her garden but that seems ridiculous.  Could such a thing exist?  Could it help her win the contest?  Could she actually come out first in something? And what about her ex-best friend Amanda Anderson who is not only the first in roll call but is also her class rival.  Will they ever be friends again or will the contest create an even bigger wall between them?

Thanks to quirky yet fully developed characters with humor reminiscent of Clementine and Ramona, this early chapter book series is definitely on my list of recommendations for both boys and girls who like their stories realistic yet funny.  Delightful illustrations by Paul Hoppe are scattered throughout – a special plus for those children new to chapter books.

This is book one in the series with the second to follow later this year.  I, for one, will be on the lookout for more Lola!

Reviewed by Connie (Parr Library)


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Princess Posey and the Next-Door Dog

August 6, 2014

Princess Posey and the Next-Door Dog

Stephanie Greene

I am always on the lookout for fiction series to recommend to children transitioning out of easy readers and into chapter books.  The Princess Posey series fits that bill perfectly.  The third installment in this charming series is called Princess Posey and the Next-Door Dog.  Posey’s family doesn’t have a pet, but she has to write about either a pet of her own or a pet that she hopes to have one day for Miss Lee’s classroom assignment.  So Posey is excited when a new neighbor moves in with a dog.  But Posey has a problem:  “She is secretly a little afraid of dogs.”  The dog next door is huge and has a very loud bark.  Posey decides she must face her fears after talking to her wise grandfather.  There is the perfect amount of tension as Posey meets the dog and she ends up helping the poor animal out of a predicament.  The story has a nice resolution and I enjoyed it very much.

The text of this early chapter book is generously sprinkled with lively black-and-white illustrations.  The short paragraphs and the age-appropriate story line should grab the attention of newly independent readers.

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Half a Chance

July 8, 2014

Half a Chance CoverHalf a Chance

By Cynthia Lord

12-year-old Lucy loves photography and longs to have her talents noticed by her father, a famous nature photographer.  When the opportunity to enter a photography contest for young people arises, Lucy eagerly grabs it. Unfortunately, as Lucy discovers, there is one problem….her father is the contest judge which will probably make her ineligible.  However, with her father away for the summer on assignment shooting photographs in Arizona, Lucy decides to take this opportunity anyway and chronicle her summer at the lake in New Hampshire where they have recently moved.   Along with her new friend Nate, the boy from the cottage next door, Lucy captures photos of the family of loons on the lake, as well as, Nate’s family and their adventures kayaking and hiking the beautiful New Hampshire outdoors.  As Lucy comes to know Nate and his family, her camera unexpectedly reveals truths that his family doesn’t want to see – his beloved grandmother’s slow decline into Alzheimer’s.

The sweetness and honesty of Lucy’s captured moments on film emphasizes the importance of savoring every moment and enjoying it in the present – a lesson no one is ever too young to learn.

Recommended for grades 4 through 6.

Reviewed by Connie (Parr Library)

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The School For Good and Evil

July 4, 2014

91g5CWQ+J+L._SL1500_The School for Good and Evil

By Sonan Chainani

I never liked the black and white generalizations for ‘good’ and ‘evil’, so the author made several points to ‘not judge a book by its cover’ and look deeper into the individual characters. This is a book makes YOU, the reader, come to the conclusion on the true meaning of good (friendship, loyalty, etc) and evil (selfishness, vanity, etc). This book has romance, jokes, lessons, imaginary worlds, and adventure. I enjoyed the jokes, laughed at the characters, and cheered on for the ‘villain(s)’.

Recommended for preteens and teenagers (10+) and for those who like books like Harry Potter.

Look out for part two in the series by Soman Chainani: A World Without Princes.

Dorothy S. (Schimelpfenig)

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Cool Beans – The Further Adventures of Beanboy

July 3, 2014

Cool Beans – The Further Adventures of Beanboy

Lisa Harkrader

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the second book about Tucker McBean and his superhero creation, Beanboy, because I enjoyed the first one so much.  No one gives the Art Club any respect at school, so Tucker and his friends try to prove their worth in an all-school assembly.  Then Tucker decides that the Art Club will enter the annual dodge ball competition at his school and their team name will be The Artful Dodgers.  He really enters the competition because his younger brother, Beecher wants the helmet that is the prize for winning the competition.  In order to generate some enthusiasm, Tucker creates a new Beanboy superhero comic strip and uses it to recruit more players for the less-than-athletic art club team.  This is another great story with memorable characters from Lisa Harkrader.

Cool Beans is great to recommend to kids who have outgrown Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Big Nate.  It is also a great transitional book between graphic novels and traditional novels.

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Under the Egg

June 27, 2014

large_Under_the_Egg-copy[1]Under the Egg

by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Thirteen-year-old Theodora Tenpenny doesn’t have it easy. The sudden death of Jack, her beloved grandfather, has left Theo with less than $500.00 in the bank account and no chance of more money coming in, and Theo’s mother is well on her way to blowing it all on expensive teas. So Jack’s dying words to “look under the egg” and a mention of “treasure” spur Theo to discover the secret behind her museum security guard grandfather’s very first painting–an egg, which has been displayed above the mantle in their house as long as she can remember. Does she have a valuable long lost painting by a master on her hands? And if so, where on earth did it come from and how on earth did Jack get it?

With some help from a couple of new friends, Theo explores New York and delves into her grandfather’s past and the history of one of the most famous artists in the world.

Part mystery, part adventure, and part tale of friendship and family, art and history, Under the Egg is well worth a read for fans of The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler!

Reviewed by: Lara (Haggard Library)


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The Miniature World of Marvin & James

June 13, 2014

The Miniature World of Marvin & James written by Elise Broach and illustrated by Kelly Murphy

This beginning chapter book (with really large text size and plenty of sepia-toned drawings) is quirkily charming and perfect for a reader just starting chapter books.

It features characters from the author’s novel, Masterpiece, which I have not read, so this was my first introduction to the boy James and his best-buddy beetle named Marvin. In this story, James goes away for a week so Marvin is forced to play with beetle cousin, Elaine. Their adventure inside a pencil sharpener where they frolic in pencil shavings and nearly get caught, is great fun!

This is the first in a new series.  I am looking forward to reading more.

If you think you or your child would like this book, leave a message in the comments section below for a chance to win a free, hardback copy of the book!  One winner will be chosen at random on Friday, June 20, 2014.

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