Archive for Novels

The Spring Un-Fair (The Secret Knock Club #2)

Written by Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud

Illustrated by Adam McHeffey

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This adorable, easy to read book is like a third grade level combination of a Junie B. Jones and Amelia Bedelia.  There are the same type friendships as in Junie B. and similar misunderstandings like you find with Amelia Bedelia.  Sometimes you can understand how she could misunderstand words like Mrs. Carrot instead of Mrs. Carrick.  Of course, other times, it seems that she just likes to be different, calling yoga class yogurt class.

This is a great problem solving book as Agnes and her friends must come up with a way to raise money to provide a dunk booth for their school’s spring fair.  They decide to give a concert and Agnes names herself the lead singer for their rock band.  She and Fudgy must overcome a pretty serious case of stage fright.  Fortunately, they have the help of their music teacher, Mrs. Roman.  Unfortunately, the day of the concert Agnes comes down with a very bad case of laryngitis.  But, Fudgy’s older brother has a band of his own and with a little bit of pleading, Agnes and her friends are able to convince Reggie and his band to perform so the concert can go on.  It was a great show!  Agnes and her friends, with a little help from Reggie and his friends, were able to raise enough money to turn the spring un-fair into a spring fair.

Problem solving, overcoming fears, and working together are just a few of the social lessons to be learned.  Using this book as a read aloud would give the teacher numerous opportunities to help students gain valuable inference skills.  There are plenty of possibilities for creative writing prompts.  “What would you do if you needed to raise money for your school?”  And then there are the math possibilities.  “If a dunk tank costs $150, how much could you charge and how many tickets would you need to sell to raise enough money?”  Other great uses for this book include guided reading groups and literature circles.

Any child who loves Junie B. Jones will also love Agnes.  They are two peas in a pod.  The Secret Knock Club and the rock band will appeal to both boys and girls.  But, parents beware.  You may end up with a rock band in your garage.

  • Spring UnfairTitle:  The Spring Un-Fair (The Secret Knock Club #2)
  • Author:  Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud
  • Illustrator:  Adam McHeffey
  • Publisher:  Amazon Children’s Publishing
  • Reviewer:  Sandi Waymire
  • Hardcover:  111 pages
  • ISBN: 9780761462156
  • Genre:  contemporary fiction
  • Lexile score:  530

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time

Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Illustrated by Joe Berger

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang seems to have a mind of her own. The amazing flying, submarine-ing, time traveling car takes the Tooting family on one adventure after another. Whether the family is escaping from a field full of Tyrannosaurus Rexes in the Cenozoic Era, riding in a car race in Prohibition-era New York or experiencing the lost city of El Dorado in the wilds of the Amazon, life with a luxury car demands ingenuity and stamina. Yet back at their home in England is an even bigger problem. A super-villain has moved into their house, touching all of their stuff. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is taking them to these different places in history for a reason. Dad, Mom, Jem, and Lucy are constantly seeking clues to solve the mystery of what Chitty is trying to tell them. Each member of the family is also learning that he or she has something important to contribute to solving the puzzle, even baby Harry. They soon feel like there isn’t any problem too big for them to handle. Good thing! The book ends with a cliff-hanger as the family is stranded in 1966 without Chitty.

This is a fun read that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. With a classic knack of British understatement, the humor is endearing. Jem is an inventive, engineering type of boy and Lucy is a brainy girl so both boy and girl readers will have someone to cheer for. This would be a great class read aloud for either third or fourth grade. Each place the Tootings land has something to do with Chitty’s history. Have the students make a chart and record what part of Chitty’s story is represented in each location as a reading worksheet or critical reading activity. There is an activity kit, a teacher’s guide and a book trailer available at the publisher’s website: (

  • Chitty BangTITLE: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time
  • AUTHOR: Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Joe Berger
  • PUBLISHER: Candlewick, 2013
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 234 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-5982-0

Ivy and Bean Make the Rules

Written by Annie Barrow

Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

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Hooray for Ivy and Bean!  The latest book in the series has Bean feeling left out as her sister Nancy goes to camp.  At Girl Power 4-ever, she gets to do so many cool things.  Bean has to sit at home.  Mom tells her she can go to the park by herself, if that helps.  It doesn’t.  But when Ivy comes over, Bean sees that they can make their own camp, a better camp, because they can do anything they want.  Ivy’s mom got new curtains so they use the old ones to make a tent (with the help of duct tape).  They make up a great name: Camp Flaming Arrow.  They set about doing camp things – like crafts.  A friendship bracelet craft turns into an escape trick as the strings get wrapped around both arms of both girls.  They have so much fun that some kids visiting their grandmother join them.  The nature study has them searching for the dangerous Komodo dragon which attracts another boy who is bored of soccer camp.  At the end of the week, Bean had way more fun than Nancy.
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The Adventures of Titch & Mitch: Shipwrecked!

By Garth Edwards

Illustrated by Max Stasyuk

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The Adventures of Titch & Mitch: Shipwreckedis an excellent chapter book for the third grade level reader.  It offers quirky characters that second graders will love to read about and the plot triggers the imagination making children of this age want to keep reading to see what more fun adventures come along.

While the book is about a fun and whacky adventure of two young pixies, Titch and Mitch, the language might be challenging to comprehend for some third grade readers. The lesson of friendship will not go unnoticed by the third grade reader and they will love the characters from yellow seagulls to flying bicycles and talking turkeys. There is also a fairy, a hedgehog, and so much more.
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Lulu and the Duck in the Park

By Hilary McKay
Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont 

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Lulu and the Duck in the Park is a charming third grade level chapter book that will interest both boys and girls. The plot is one that will hook a new reader because it begins with Lulu and her love for animals. Animals are a big interest for third grade readers.

This chapter book is 92 pages for the story and another few pages for third graders to read a preview of the next book in the series. This serves to entice students and encourage them to read more.

The language used in this chapter book for third grade level readers is both appropriate yet challenging and is easy to comprehend. It will reinforce reading comprehension for these young students. The book has chapters that may appear lengthy but are broken up by exceptional illustrations which serve to keep the third grade student interested when they get tired of reading a page or paragraph.

Lulu and the Duck in the Park  will be a great addition to any third grade classroom or library and will encourage third grade level readers to be successful.

  • Duck in the ParkTitle: Lulu and the Duck in the Park
  • Author: Hilary McKay
  • Illustrations: Priscilla Lamont
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company
  • Reviewer: Terri Forehand
  • Hardback: 104 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8075-4808-0
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Lexile Score: 740