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*Zita the Spacegirl Series by Ben Hatke

*Zita the Spacegirl Series by Ben Hatke. First Second, 2011 (to the present). ~200 pages Reading Level: Graphic novels, ages 8-12 Recommended For: Kids ages 6-12 Bottom Line: Zita the Spacegirl and her intrepid friends battle the forces of evil in extra terrestrial dimensions in this lively graphic novel series. Zita the Spacegirl is an accidental […]

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My Near-Death Adventures by Alison DeCamp

My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!) by Alison DeCamp. Crown, 2015. 252 pages Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12 Recommended for: ages 10-12 (especially boys) Bottom Line: Stanley Slater’s 99% true adventures in a Michigan logging camp, ca. 1880, are a bit short on plot but long on laughs. “I’m a whiz at not dying, I […]

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*The Imagination Station (Series) by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker

*The Imagination Station Series by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker. Focus on the Family, 2011-present. 130 pages each. Reading Level: Chapter Books, ages 8-10 Recommended For: Ages 6-10 Bottom Line: More than simply a “Christian version” of the popular Magic Treehouse books, the Imagination Station books are a solid chapter book time travel series. Mr. Whitaker is the proprietor […]

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Summer Reading Lite

Growing Pains Our regular readers know we’ve been promising big changes for a while.  But this time we mean it!  We are working on a redesign for the fall, and that means that we just can’t do a Summer Reading Challenge this year.  So, no prizes, no writing contest, no worldview building material, and no […]

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Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea. Disney-Hyperion, 2015. 56 pages. Reading Level: Easy Reader, ages 4-8 Shea, creator of the Dinosaur vs. Book series and Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great, “gets” kids. His books are universal kid pleasers, and this new easy reader series is sure to find loyal fans. Vibrant colors, bold lines, […]

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The Cowboy by Hildegard Muller

The Cowboy (I Like to Read Series) by Hildegard Muller. Holiday House, 2015. 24 pages. Reading Level: easy readers, ages 4-8 Recommended For: new readers, ages 4-8, and young listeners, ages 0-4 The Cowboy is a German imprint that, like Holiday House’s other I Like to Read books, is shaped more like a picture book than […]

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Queen of the Diamond by Emily Arnold McCully

Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015. 32 pages. Reading Level:Picture Books, ages 8-10 Recommended for: ages 4-8, especially girls Baseball is the all-American sport. And great picture book biographies of famous baseball players are in good supply. Understandably, many biographies of early baseball players feature […]

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Where Does the Magic Come From?

In 2008, a middle-grade novel called Savvy swept numerous awards lists and was anointed with the silver medallion of Newbery runner-up. The first-time author, Ingrid Law, soon followed up with a well-received sequel (Scumble, 2010), and is certain to make a splash with Switch this September. Savvy has certain elements of a particular genre: a […]

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Swing Sisters by Karen Deans, illustrated by Joe Cepeda

Swing Sisters: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans, illustrated by Joe Cepeda. Holiday House, 2015. Reading Level: Picture Books, ages 4-10 Did you know there was an all-female, interracial jazz band in the early 20th century? A little-known slice of music history comes to life in this vibrantly illustrated nonfiction […]

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*The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton adapted by Nancy Carpentier Brown

*The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton adapted by Nancy Carpentier Brown, illustrated by Ted Schluenderfritz. Hillside Education, 2007. 147 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-12 Bottom Line: This well-done adaptation of four famous Father Brown stories preserves the original lively spirit of Chesterton’s famous sleuth. The Father Brown Reader is a collection of four famous Father […]

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Ah! by Geraldine Collet, illustrated by Estelle Billon Spagnol

Ah! by Géraldine Collet, illustrated by Estelle Billon Spagnol. Holiday House, 2015. 32 pages. Reading Level: Picture Books, ages 0-4 (plus older readers—see review) Ah! by Géraldine Collet is a French import about two little rabbits…and two little spiders. A little rabbit, following cryptic signs, runs into a spider. Eek! He busily tries to rid himself […]

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