Review: The Lost Kitten

Brilliant artwork, yet the execution of this elementary school mystery flummoxed me.

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Katie Fry, Private Eye: The Lost Kitten by Katherine Cox, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton.
Scholastic, New York, 2015.
Mystery, 32 pages.
Lexile:  450L .
AR Level:  2.2 (worth 0.5 points)  .

Katie Fry loves to solve mysteries.  This may be the first book starring her, but it’s not her first mystery.  She’s solved the mystery of the early bedtime and found the lost glasses!  Now there’s a lost kitten.  Can she solve this new mystery too?

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Katie Fry, Private Eye #1: The Lost Kitten by Katherine Cox, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton.

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Early Chapter Book Review: A Man Who Changed Things

“She told M.L. how white people brought black people to America. They made black people slaves. Then in 1863, the United States government said black people were free. But some white people still thought they were better than black people.” p. 7

Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Man Who Changed Things by Carol Greene.
Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1989, this edition 1999.
Early chapter book nonfiction – biography, 46 pages + index.
Lexile: Not Lexiled
AR Level: 2.7 (worth 0.5 pts)

This book is a prime example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (although we all do sometimes).  When I was on a buying rampage as we began the thirty day project, this title came up on my Amazon suggestions repeatedly, but the cover was so irritating that I couldn’t stand to waste money on a book with such lackluster pictures.

Sometime later, I was browsing my local used bookstore and saw the book again, but at a steep discount.  I decided to glance through and was delighted to see that 1) It is not illustrated as the cover would indicate but uses photographs, and 2) it is an early chapter book.  I immediately bought it and am so glad I came across it in person.

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Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Man Who Changed Things by Carol Greene.

This book is part of Houghton Mifflin’s Soar to Success reading intervention program, which is used in some schools as extra help and others as a reading program.  Some teachers also use the books to supplement their classroom library.  Although it might sound weird because this is a very thin chapter book which looks more like a picture book than your typical chapter book, this is a textbook and will likely come with textbook markings.

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Early Chapter Book Review: Pedro – First Grade Hero

A multicultural cast for the very youngest of chapter book readers.

Pedro: First Grade Hero by Fran Manushkin, Illustrated by Tammie Lyon.
Picture Window Books, Capstone, 2016.
Early chapter book fiction, 90 pages + 5 pages of bonus material.
Lexile: Pedro Goes Buggy – 310L
Pedro’s Big Goal – 250L
Pedro’s Mystery Club – 330L
Pedro for President – 320L
AR Level:  Pedro Goes Buggy – 1.9
Pedro’s Big Goal – 1.9
Pedro’s Mystery Club – 2.3
Pedro for President – 2.2
All worth 0.5 points each.
NOTE: This early chapter book is a compilation of the first four Pedro books.

Pedro is a hard worker who loves to have fun too.  He plays soccer, solves mysteries, collects bugs, and even runs for class president, all with his best friends Katie and JoJo.

I got this book at Target because after reading this article, I changed my buying habits there.  My local store recently cut way back on books, so I like to encourage them by buying something every month or two.  Ever since reading that article, I make a point of buying practically ANY diverse books that turn up at Target, doing my little bit to tell them that diversity matters to their customers.  I’ve gotten an interesting variety of books.

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Pedro: First Grade Hero by Fran Manushkin, Illustrated by Tammie Lyon.

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Early Chapter Book Review: Little Shaq

This high-quality early reader is strongly recommended for 1st-3rd graders who enjoy basketball or struggling readers from higher grades.

Little Shaq, written by Shaquille O’Neal, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III
Bloomsbury Children’s, New York, 2015.
Early Chapter Book autobiographical fiction, 73 pages
Lexile: 520L
AR level: 3.4 (worth 0.5 points)

I got this book as a gift from a list of requests I made.  Husband and I are either indifferent to or dislike most organized sports but the kids love basketball, so I added this title without knowing too much about it.

This book is the first in what is now a series of early chapter books by famed NBA player Shaquille O’Neal (so famous even I have heard of him).  Originally I was surprised not to see a ghostwriter or a co-author credited on a book by an athlete, but upon reading the conclusion, I was happy to see that Mr. O’Neal has an MBA and a P.Hd. in education.  He also has been heavily involved in the Boys and Girls Club and has children of his own, so he is undoubtedly familiar with the limited books available for early chapter book readers of color.

This book focuses on Shaq and his cousin Barry, who also happen to be best friends.  Sure, Shaq might be better at basketball, and maybe even a little better at their favorite video game.  But as neighbor Rosa is quick to point out, that doesn’t mean Barry shouldn’t get a chance to shoot for a basket or his turn to be player 1.  When the video game breaks during their disagreement, the boys have to figure out a way to earn enough money to buy a new one.

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Little Shaq, the first in a series of high-quality early chapter book readers from an amazing team.

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Different Types of Books for Elementary School Students

Picture books, chapter books, independent reading or read-aloud books. Are there any diverse early chapter books you can recommend?

For those of you who aren’t currently teaching or parenting an elementary school student, you might not realize how complicated the different types of elementary school books are.

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