Friday, July 31, 2009

Packing my bags

We're heading up to the mountains for a glorious week without the computer. Time to relax, play in the sun, and have some extra time to read! What shall I bring, what shall I bring?

My reading: I'm almost finished with Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me. It's a mystery that's definitely got me hooked. Miranda keeps receiving these mysterious notes that seem to predict the future. Who could they be from? I'm especially enjoying the friendship aspects and the reader love - lots of references to Wrinkle In Time. By the way, Amazon has listed this as Best Children's Book of July 2009. Great reading for a 5th or 6th grader.

I'm packing some good summer reading: Shug, by Jenny Han has been highly recommended by reading friends Jen Robinson as the perfect middle school book. It's all about friendship, first love and discovering who you really are.

I really want to read Purple Heart, by Patricia McCormick. It's about a young man, Private Matt Duffy, who wakes up in an army hospital in Iraq, honored with a Purple Heart. But he doesn't feel like he's a hero. I think middle schoolers might find this very interesting. I know when I taught 8th grade that Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers, fascinated kids. I think it's important to help students understand Iraqi war, and a novel like this interests me.

Nonfiction: I've also packed some professional reading: The Book Whisperer, a wonderful reflection of a reading teacher Donalyn Miller (half-way through and really enjoying it); Why Don't Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom by Daniel Willingham; and Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement by Stephanie Harvey.

My daughters: My middle daughter has just gotten hooked by Diary of a Fairy Godmother, by Esme Raji Codell. This little witch sneaks in with her aunt to where the FGs are (Fairy Godmothers). It's funny and exciting - a perfect combination. It's full of references to fairy tales; I think it will appeal to lovers of The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Detectives, another one of her favorites this year.

My ten-year-old loves drawing and just finished the Ottoline books by Chris Riddell. She's now started on the Far Flung Adventures, by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. She's reading Fergus Crane and will also bring up Corby Flood. Riddell's drawings are quirky and funny. If you have a child who likes graphic novels, check out his books.

I'll be offline for a week, so enjoy. I'll have lots to report back on when we return!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What fun - a kid's view of life: Little Pea, Little Hoot and Little Oink

Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a gem of a picture book author. She taps into a child's view, but then tweaks it and asks children to think about perspective. Her series of Little Books does this perfectly - getting kids to laugh about things that all parents ask them: to eat their veggies, to go to bed, and to clean their rooms. Want to laugh with your child? Check out these books.
Little Pea (2005)
Little Hoot (2008)
Little Oink (2009)
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
illustrated by Jen Corace
San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books
ages 3 - 6

These books are a delight to read. Little Pea is just a fun-loving kid who has fun playing with his friends at school. He comes home and loves playing with his dad. But then comes dinner time. "'If you want to grow up to be a big strong pea, you have to eat your candy,' Papa Pea would say. 'If you don't finish your candy then you can't have dessert,' Mama Pea would say." These lines are so universal that at first kids don't notice that there's something funny going on. I love watching children's faces as they think they're listening to this happy, ordinary story, and then it twists in unexpected ways. Wait - Little Pea's parents tell him that he must eat candy? For dinner? You mean, Little Pea doesn't want to eat his candy?

Here's a trailer for Little Oink, the newest in the series. It captures the sense of the story perfectly.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal is an author, radio host and filmmaker. Her children's books include the Little Pea/Hoot/Oink series, Duck! Rabbit!, Spoon and Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons. Duck! Rabbit! has been on the New York Times bestseller list for children for the past eight weeks. Little Oink has recently been named as one of Amazon's Best Books of 2009.

The review copies for these came from my local public library. You can find your own copies of these delightful books at your local library, an independent bookstore, or Amazon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Frog Scientist - a fascinating look at how pesticides affect frogs in the wild

Many of our children know that organic foods are healthier for you than non-organic foods, but I'm guessing that they really couldn't tell you much about why this is so. The Frog Scientist, by Pamela Turner, is a fascinating biography of Tyrone Hayes, a field biologist who studies the impact pesticides have on frogs. It would make excellent reading - either as a read aloud with 5th and 6th graders, or as an independent reading book for middle school students.
The Frog Scientist
by Pamela S. Turner
photographs by Andy Comins
NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.
ages 10 and up
Tyrone Hayes is a field biologist at U.C. Berkeley who studies frogs in their native habitats as well as in controlled experiments in his lab. He has been interested in frogs his whole life, and that passion and curiosity is what got him through college. Frogs are fascinating creatures to study - not only because they come in amazing varieties, but really because you can watch their development through so many different stages. In addition, they absorb chemicals from the environment very easily - both through the adults' porous skin and also through the developing eggs suspended in water.

The Frog Scientist combines both biography and science, so kids (and adults!) will grow to understand both what compels Hayes to pursue this work, as well as what he actually does. I was fascinated to learn the outcome of his research described in this story - how the chemical atrazine affects the development of male frogs. Turner also does a wonderful job of explaining the research model - of how Hayes sets up an experiment with manipulated variables and a control group. In addition, the photographs are beautiful and draw you in. At times, I did wonder how the exotic frogs pictured were part of the story, but I was always drawn back to Tyrone's fascinating experiments.

Note: the author Pam Turner wrote me to explain about how she chose the photos in the book: "On the issue of the exotic frogs, they appear in the chapter on amphibian decline to give kids a sense of the diversity of this group of animals. And in the Amphibian Ark sidebar those are species of frogs in the captive breeding program mentioned. Otherwise the frogs are all Tyrone's." Yes, this makes sense to me. Thanks, Pam.

Tyrone, himself, seems like a great role model for students to look up to as they think about what types of careers they might want to pursue. I loved this rap that he did at a scientific conference - it explains about why this work is so important.

The Frog Scientist would make very interesting reading as a read aloud with 5th and 6th graders, with some very interesting discussions to follow. As an independent reading book, I would recommend it for 7th and 8th graders. As Tyrone explains, frogs are sensitive to very small levels of pesticides, far below the EPA regulations for our food or environment. Perhaps human adults are not sensitive, but what about children? What about human infants or fetuses? These are questions worth raising with our children, especially in a way that helps them see how we might study them to find out the answers.

For another review, see InfoDad: "The Frog Scientist shows that science, however carefully practiced, need by no means be dull – and it also introduces young readers to some gorgeous, fascinating and increasingly threatened animals."

This review copy was generously provided by the publisher. As a disclosure, I am friends with Pam Turner and am happy to recommend her books. I wish we had more science books like this to excite our students about the study of science in the field.

You can find a copy of The Frog Scientist at local independent bookstores and on Amazon. It is quite new, but will soon be in local public libraries.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hattie Big Sky - historical fiction, with strong girl power

I love historical fiction. I can absorb the feel of a particular point in history, and truly gain an understanding of the events. This summer, my 10 year old and I really enjoyed reading/listening to Hattie Big Sky, by Kirby Lawson - a story that shows what it would have been like to try to "prove" a homesteading claim in Montana.

Hattie Big Sky
by Kirby Lawson
NY: Delacorte Press, 2006. 288 pages.
NY: Listening Library, 2007,
2007 Newbery Honor Book
ages 12 - 16
Sixteen-year old Hattie Brooks has been an orphan from a young age, bouncing from relative to relative. One day, out of the blue, she receives a letter from her long-forgotten uncle giving her his homestead claim in eastern Montana. He writes,
"You will think I have never thought of the niece in Iowa. But this letter will show you I have. If you come out here to Vida, you will find my claim. I trust you've enough of your mother's backbone to meet the remaining requirements. If you do - an you have one year to do it - 320 Montana acres are yours."
The pull is strong - Hattie has never had a place to call her own, and this is her chance. She dives right in, not realizing what's at stake. When she arrives, she finds out that she must plant 40 acres, and build 480 rods of fence in order to "prove" her claim.

This book will appeal to girls who like historical fiction like the Little House books, Julie of the Wolves, or Island of the Blue Dolphins. Kirby Lawson, the author, has developed characters that I really cared about and could feel for. Hattie could not survive without the help and support of her neighbors, Perilee and Karl Mueller. But the year is 1916, and the United States is consumed with supporting the troops fighting in World War I. In this small Montana community, many are suspicious of Karl because of his German accent. Hattie is torn - she knows that Karl is a good man, but should she risk her own safety to stand up to him?

I loved the suspense in seeing whether Hattie could "prove" her claim, and watching Hattie grow as she understands the discrimination against Karl and stands up to it. I also really liked how this book is not about easy answers or happy endings. Here's a book trailer put together by the Palos Verdes Library District, and gives a nice feel.
To read this book, you can look at Google Books. To read another review, check out Everyday Reading: "This was the perfect weekend book - real, honest, and so likable I wanted to cry." Another fun review is by Betsy Bird at Fuse#8: "I mean, isn’t this one of the coolest ideas? You strike out into the great big world, just you and your cat, to make a living. You’re young and you tend your homestead and deal with nature one-on-one." My copy came in hardback and audio CD from our local library. You can find it at your local public library, independent bookstore or Amazon.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gone, by Michael Grant - a fantastic sci-fi adventure for teens

Imagine all the adults in your life suddenly disappear. Isn't that every teen's fantasy? Leave me alone - I know how to take care of it all by myself! That's where this amazing book Gone starts, and oh what a ride it is. I highly recommend it to any teen who loves science fiction or realistic fiction - my only caveat is that it's a long book, so you have to be ready to dive in.
by Michael Grant
NY: HarperCollins, 2008.
ages 12 and up
568 pages (!)
Gone sucked me in from the very beginning. I was caught - completely immersed in this imaginary world where the kids are in charge. Here, read the first page:
One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone.



No "poof." No flash of light. No explosion.

Sam Temple was sitting in third-period history class staring blankly at the blackboard, but far away in his head. In his head he was down at the beach, he and Quinn. Down at the beach with their boards, yelling, bracing for that first plunge into cold Pacific water.

For a moment he thought he had imagined it, the teacher disappearing. For a moment he thought he'd slipped into a daydream.

Sam turned to Mary Terrafino, who sat just to his left. "You saw that, right?"

Mary was staring hard at the place where the teacher had been.
Sam starts exploring first his school and then the town. The grownups have all completely disappeared. The kids who are 13 and 14 are the oldest kids around, and so have to start figuring things out. What do they do with kids who are hurt? What about the daycare center full of babies and toddlers without any teachers? What about the kids who are raiding the grocery stores? The excitement quickly turns to fear as a fire starts in a building near the daycare center.

The kids soon realize that they are completely by themselves without computers or cell phones, and without any sign of rescue. They are trapped inside a force field barrier that surrounds the town, and whatever caused this is also causing mutations in birds and animals - along with some strange powers in some of the children. Soon, a band of kids from an exclusive prep. school outside of the town come down - they want to be the leaders. One of the reviews for Gone describes the book as Lord of the Flies written by Stephen King. This video trailer gives you a sense of the drama and excitement.

I couldn't put this book down. Even though it's a long book (over 500 pages), I read it in a week - literally at every chance I got! I really liked the suspense - it turns out that Sam's 15th birthday (when everyone disappears) is in just a few days. The relationships between the kids appealed to me; I liked the way the friendship and then romance developed between Sam and Astrid. I found the characters well developed and interesting. I think this book would be a hit with girls and boys, grades 7 and up.

The sequel, Hunger, has just come out and I'm looking forward to reading it soon!

See some other reviews on the web:
That Teen Can Blog: "a breathtaking saga about teens battling each other and their darkest selves, gone is a page-turning thriller that will make you look at the world in a whole new way."
The Tainted Poet: "This book describes how people change when cornered with a crisis; how their true forms emerge and how they bloom to meet the task at hand."
Jen Robinson: "I will be astonished if this book isn't made into a movie at some point." Hen just reviewed Hunger - you can see her post here.

This copy of Gone was recommended to me and purchased at Kepler's Books, a wonderful independent bookstore in Menlo Park, CA. You can find Gone at your local public library, at an independent bookstore near you, or on Amazon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sisters of the Sword - exciting series set in ancient Japan

Sisters of the Sword is the start of a new series set in ancient Japan during the time of the Samurai. I love historical fiction - for me, it brings to life what it might have felt like to live in another time. But many kids want action, conflict and intrigue to pull them into a story. Well, this has it all - a great sense of time and place, along with action, fighting and drama.
Sisters of the Sword
by Maya Snow
NY: HarperCollins, 2008.
ages 9 - 13
Kimi and her younger sister Hana are daughters of the Jito, the feudal lord of their province in ancient Japan. While their father teaches them basic skills they might need to protect themselves, their future is clear - they are young ladies, and girls do not become samurai. But then they watch their power-hungry uncle stab their father and order his samurai to kill the rest of their family. The two sisters run and hide in the forest surrounding their family's estate.

Kimi and Hana find refuge in the dojo, or samurai training school, run by the wise and respectable Master Goku. In order to escape notice from their uncle's samurai, Kimi and Hana disguise themselves as boys and as servants looking for work in the dojo. Meanwhile, they learn the skills of the samurai - sword handling, meditation and clearing your mind during battle. The majority of the book is their life in the dojo, hiding their identity and trying to figure out how to reunite with their mother and seek revenge on their uncle.

I think girls and boys will like this book mainly for the action and intrigue in the plot. It's a compelling story, finding out how Kimi and Hana survive, fight their enemies and trick their uncle. The fighting scenes are exciting, and yes, a little bloody and gruesome. Here's a scene where Kimi and Hana are fighting one of their uncle's samurai for their lives:
I flung my sword up toward his head. The sharp edge near the hand guard sliced easily through the leather flap at the side of his helmet. Crimson blood spurted from the side of his face and for a moment he was blinded, shrieking in agony. His grip on my throat loosened and I twisted away.

He staggered toward me, blinking the blood from his eyes. I half turned, moving fast, and jerked my elbow up under his chin. His head snapped back and my sudden small victory gave me courage. Power surged through my limbs as I leaped forward into the air, my foot swinging up to deliver a hard kick --

But the samurai stepped behind me and grabbed my shoulder. He pulled hard and all at once I was falling!
I liked the sense you got of the samurai's code of honor. I was a bit conflicted by the sisters' search for revenge on their uncle, but I think that was a part of the culture. While the Japanese words might be hard for some children to read, the story is straightforward. I would imagine it's a good read for 4th through 7th grades.

This book was written by Maya Snow, but I am pretty sure that is a pen name. This book is copyrighted by Working Partners Limited, the same group that has written the Warriors series and the Rainbow Fairies series - so they clearly know how to put together compelling series that kids want to read. There are already three volumes of Sisters of the Sword series published:
1. Sisters of the Sword
2. Sisters of the Sword 2: Chasing the Secret
3. Sisters of the Sword 3: Journey Through Fire

You can preview this book at the HarperCollins website. Find this series at your local public library, an independent bookstore or Amazon.

For other reviews, see:
Reading Tub

This review copy was purchased for our school library. This review is written and copyrighted by Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Best Friends: isn't that what it's all about?

Nikki & Deja: Birthday Blues, by Karen English
New York, NY: Clarion Books, 2009.
ages 7 - 9, grades 2 - 4

Mallory on the Move, by Laurie Friedman
Minneapolis, MN : Carolrhoda Books, 2004.
ages 7 - 9, grades 2 - 4

Chapter books for kids blossoming into fluent readers are a special treat. Here are two books especially for girls in 2nd, 3rd and maybe 4th grade. They're both about how important friends are - especially when you're 8 and 9. I find that kids this age really like reading about characters they can relate to.

Nikki & Deja are third graders, best friends living next door to each other. Deja can't stop thinking about her birthday party, and Nikki tries to be patient and helpful. But just before her birthday, Deja's aunt leaves on a business trip and Deja has to stay with an eldery neighbor - who cooks turnips and watches a black & white TV! Deja's nemisis from school, Antonia, threatens to ruin Deja's party by throwing her own "just because" party on the same day. Will Deja's party turn out OK -- or will it be the worst birthday ever?

This is a great book in so many ways. Most importantly, I could see myself in all of Deja's dilemmas. I think kids will really relate to how hard it is to feel outdone by a kid at school who's out to get all the other kids to come to her party instead of yours. But also, I'm so happy to have found a book for 2nd and 3rd graders with African American main characters. It's so important to be able to share with our kids books with all different characters - especially ones they can relate to.

Take a peek at Nikki & Deja (the first in the series) on Google Books Limited Preview. Find the first in the series at the Oakland Public Library. Also available from Amazon.

Mallory, in Mallory on the Move, is just about to move to a new town, away from her best friend. Moving stinks, especially when Mallory's big brother Max torments her at every turn, and when she has to leave Mary Ann, her best friend in the whole world. But Mallory does end up making a new buddy - Joey - breaking the biggest rule she had for herself: do not make friends with a boy.

What I liked most about this book was how spunky and happy Mallory was. Even though she was angry about moving, she figured out a way to keep telling jokes and to make new friends. Take a peek at the book on Google Books Limited Preview. Find the book at the Oakland Public Library or the Berkeley Public Library. Also available in paperback through Amazon.

Best of all, both of these books are part of on-going series. If your kid likes them, there are more to read!

Both books were purchased through one of my favorite independent bookstores - specifically for children: The Storyteller, in Lafayette, CA.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer Books for Preschoolers

It's the middle of summer and I would love to share a few books that are perfect for preschoolers. I've been reading lots, but having less computer time (yay!) as we go to the beach, hike and swim. Here are some fun books to share with your little ones about all those fun summer activities.
Beach Day
by Karen Roosa
illustrated by Maggie Smith
NY: Clarion Books, 2001.
ages 3 - 5
This is a perfect summer book for preschoolers, as happy families rush onto the beach to play, picnic and have fun. The poetry is gentle and short, full of wonderful rhythm and rhymes. I particularly liked how the poetry was accessible to young listeners, giving them the sense of poetry but in a way that reminded them of things they love. Here are the opening lines as the family arrives at the beach:
"Waves roar,
Rush, and soar!
Rolling, crashing to the shore."
The illustrations in Beach Day draw you in, reminding you of all the things you love about the beach. My five-year old especially loved the illustrations - I think she liked all the children and families, the action and fun in the paintings, and the rich colors of the scenes. I was happy to note the wide range of ethnic backgrounds of families at the beach. One note from this California girl, this beach definitely is an East Coast beach - no fog or chilly winds here! Full sun and gentle waves at this beach, for a perfect family outing.

I really enjoyed how Stella and Roy Go Camping shares a young child's experience of backpacking. I remember camping and backpacking all through my childhood - as little kids, we got to carry the breakfast cereal boxes and toilet paper. Stella and her younger brother Roy go backpacking in Yosemite with their mother. Along the way, Roy is determined to find a bear's tracks - wouldn't that be exciting?!! But each time he finds an animal's footprints, his big sister says, "Wrong, Roy" - it's really a deer, or a raccoon, or some other animal's tracks. That night camping by the lake, Roy really does see a bear and the next morning the tracks prove him right.

Stella and Roy Go Camping shares a lot of information about looking for animal tracks and gives young kids a sense of the fun you can have when you go hiking and camping. Kids will enjoy the friction between the big sister who is learning to read her guide book and the younger brother who is sure that he will find a bear.
Stella and Roy Go Camping
by Ashley Wolff
Yosemite Association, 2006
ages 4 - 8
If your summer has more swimming pools than beaches and hikes, you should look for Sergio Makes a Splash, by Edel Rodriguez. Sergio is a young penguin. He loves water, fish, and all things that penguins like - except he's just not so sure about swimming. The ocean looks so big. But today is the day for the class field trip for all the penguins to learn how to swim. Sergio puts on his floaties (four!), life preserver and goggles - but still, he's so scared to jump off the cliff after his friends. Once he does, he pops right up and is convinced that swimming is the best thing ever. As Edel Rodriguez, the author says, "Sergio Makes a Splash is really about getting over your fears ... trying to do something you're not comfortable doing, which I think a lot of kids have a hard time doing."
Sergio Makes a Splash
by Edel Rodriguez
NY: Little Brown and Co., 2008
ages 3 - 6
The wonders of Sergio Makes a Splash is that it combines this heartfelt message with pure silliness. We were in giggles reading this - imagine, a penguin who can't go swimming unless he's fully decked out in floaties! It was perfect for my five-year old who has definitely had moments of terror as she is learning to swim. The artwork is brilliant - clean, simple but full of silly situations. Definitely worth seeking out for summer reading.

Do you have any favorite summer books to share with your preschooler? Let me know - I'd love to recommend others. Summer is a wonderful time to stay up a little later reading stories, after a full day playing in the sun.

These books were all from our wonderful public library. Summertime at the public library!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A sweet book for animal lovers - Emmaline and the Bunny, by Katherine Hannigan

All of us yearn for a friend, and I clearly remember a point in my childhood when my pets were my closest companions. I could tell them all my secrets, pour my heart out to them and they wouldn't tell a soul. There's a special magic in having such a pet. Emmaline, in the new short novel Emmaline and the Bunny, craves a bunny as her special friend. It's a lovely book - perfect for 1st through 3rd graders (or younger children as a read-aloud) who love animals.
Emmaline and the Bunny
written and illustrated by Katherine Hannigan
NY: Greenwillow Books, 2009.
ages 6 - 9
Emmaline and her family live in the town of Neatasapin, on Shipshape Street. The town mayor, Orson Oliphant, declares that "Tidy homes are spick-and-span sparkling! ... Tidy children are still, silent and spotless!" What is a child like Emmaline to do? She likes to dig in the dirt, hop in the puddles and shout, "Hoopalala!" and "Dinglederrydee!" when she's happy. Emmaline wants a friend, but she really wants a bunny "most mostly." She tries to be tidy like her parents ask her, so she can get a bunny - but when her parents take her to see the caged bunnies at the pet shop, she's despondent. She creates a burrow under the dining room table, decorating it with pictures of bunnies that can hop and scoot-skedaddled with her. And then she runs away, and discoveres the wild place - where a real bunny live, a real bunny that becomes her friend.

My daughters and I really enjoyed this quiet fantasy. It is filled with a love for children and a respect for their imaginations and their worlds. It sings of a love of nature in all its untidiness, and a need to have nature and animals in our lives. Katherine Hannigan's watercolors are full of a soft, bright joy. My fourth-grader and I loved Hannigan's novel Ida B., a realistic story of a girl dealing with her mother's battle with cancer, but this was completely new and different - a real treat.

This small delight is perfect as a read-aloud for kindergartners and first graders, or as an early chapter book for 2nd graders. Browse through the publisher's website below to read a few chapters and see the wonderful illustrations.

For some other reviews, look at:
The Kids Corner (listen to the great podcast)
Wrighty's Read
Patchwork of Books

Emmaline and the Bunny is available through your local independent bookstore, Amazon or your local public library.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Winners - Horrid Henry giveaway

Thanks to everyone for their interest in Horrid Henry. It's a funny series that I'm sure will tickle the funny bones of some young readers and listeners. We had 36 entries and four books to give away. The winners are: Jean-Marie, Eric, Julie & Lauren.

What I'm most excited about is the list of funny books to check out. I've organized the list into groups, so you can browse through it. If you find a new treasure, please let us know what you think of them. Here's a list of the funny books that people said they enjoy with their children:

Picture books and early readers:
* There’s a Bird on Your Head, by Mo Willems
* Rubert Munsch books
* Elephant and Piggie books, by Mo Willems
* Parts, by Tedd Arnold
* Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems
* Crazy Hair Day, by Barney Saltzberg
* Fortunately, by Remy Charlip
* Go Away Big Green Monster, by Ed Emberly
* Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst
* Amelia Bedilia series, by Peggy Parish
* Pinkalicious, by Victoria Kann

Chapter books:
* Clementine series, by Sara Pennypacker
* Stuart Goes to School, by Sara Pennypacker
* Hank Zipzer series, by Henry Winkler
* Humphrey series, by Betty Birney
* My Weird School series, by Dan Gutman
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney
* Junie B Jones series, by Barbara Park
* Beck and the Great Berry Battle, by Laura Driscoll
* Dragon of Blueland, by Ruthe Stiles Gannett
* Ramona Quimby series, by Beverly Cleary
* Dragon Slayers Academy, by Kate McMullan
* Frannie K Stein, by Jim Benton
* Black Lagoon series, by Mike Thaler

Non-fiction and poetry:
* Ripley’s Believe It or Not
* Falling Up, by Shel Silverstein

Comics and blends:
* Captain Underpants, by Dave Pilkey
* Tiny Titans comic books, by Art Batazar

New books I'm looking forward to reading: Tiny Titans and Crazy Hair Day. Thanks for the suggestions!