James & the Giant Peach. Q.

INFO: Dahl, Roald. James & the Giant Peach. Q. 1961.

DESC: James, orphaned by an enormous angry rhino, has to live with his terrible aunts Spiker and Sponge—until he accidentally drops magical glowing seeds at the roots of an old, dead peach tree.  When the magic causes the tree to grow one giant peach, James escapes his old life with the motley crew of giant bugs who live inside. Lots of kiddos have seen the movie; current school edition has tied-in illustrations. Chapters are 2-3 pages long.

TAGS: movie, adventure, chapter, bugs, magic, fantasy, weird names, weird bugs, Q, fiction, finland elementary, classics

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James & the Giant Peach. Q.

INFO: Dahl, Roald. James & the Giant Peach. Q. 1961.

DESC: James, orphaned by an enormous angry rhino, has to live with his terrible aunts Spiker and Sponge—until he accidentally drops magical glowing seeds at the roots of an old, dead peach tree.  When the magic causes the tree to grow one giant peach, James escapes his old life with the motley crew of giant bugs who live inside. Lots of kiddos have seen the movie; current school edition has tied-in illustrations. Chapters are 2-3 pages long.

TAGS: movie, adventure, chapter, bugs, magic, fantasy, weird names, weird bugs, Q, fiction, finland elementary, classics

Fudge-A-Mania. Q.

INFO: Blume, Judy. Fudge-A-Mania. Q. 1990.

DESC: Fudge-a-Mania continues the annoying-yet-loveable (or loveable-yet-annoying, depending on who you are) dynamo of Fudge, Peter, and Sheila Tubman, but with a few dramatic twists: Fudge is marrying Sheila. And, oh yeah: the whole lot is carting up to Maine for summer vacation, and living in a duplex together. Let me spell that out once more: t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r. With a delightful supporting cast of Hatcher and Tubman relatives (like Peter’s grandma, and the delightfully off-beat Buzzy Senior … who just might have a thing going themselves!) and the ever-indefatigable Uncle Feather, adventure – and an airtight reading experience – is certainly in store.

TAGS: judy blume, classics, fudge, sheila tubman, summer vacation, maine, kids getting married, shenanigans, adventure, sibling rivalry, younger brothers, TOTAL CHAOS, hilarious, or annoying, Q, fiction, chapter, summer books

Howliday Inn. Q/R.

INFO: Howe, James. Howliday Inn. Q/R. 1982.

DESC: In Howe’s solo return (R.I.P., Deborah!) to the characters and plotlines that haunted the perennially-beloved Bunnicula, we again see Howard, humble narrator, pitching a finished manuscript to his bemused human editor. This time, Howard shares the tale of the time the Monroe family left on vacation, and made the fateful decision to board our favorite cat and dog at the deceptively fancy-sounding Chateau Bow-Wow. Harold and Chester quickly realize that their kennel is far from ordinary! The real gem in Howliday Inn, as with Bunnicula, is Harold and Chester’s complicated relationship, and Howe’s genius portrayal of their very different – and very compelling – personalities. Also noteworthy is the amount of awesome vocabulary that Howe’s Bunnicula books deliver – you might want to have your kiddos have their notebooks ready, because they’ll be in for a treat (and, thanks to erudite Chester and Harold, a whole new lease on the English language!)

TAGS: animals, mysteries, detective stories, animal mysteries, spooky stories, scary, haunted houses, bunnicula, really smart household pets, problem-solving, clues, classics, Q/R, fiction, chapter, popular

The Velveteen Rabbit. Q.

INFO: Williams, Margery. The Velveteen Rabbit. Q. 1922/1975 (republished).

DESC: This children’s classic is a surprising sleeper hit in the “Q” section – it’s far more lush and complicated than it first appears. The sonorous, lilting language and gorgeous illustrations will give kiddos at this reading level something to delight in; and the complicated moral plotline (i.e. what do we do with old things) has incredibly rich connotations for writing, thinking and unpacking (what do we do about our elders? about waste? about discarded items? cultures of disposability?). Students will also find wonder in the “magical realism” that pervades the book – are there faeries? Did the Velveteen Rabbit really become “real”? This book has fascinated and charmed some of the most stubborn readers – something about the apparent antiquity of the pages (vs. the majority of the other bookroom books, written from the 60s to the 90s) really holds their curiosity. Well worth a read – and fairly fast, too!

TAGS: toys, rabbits, animals, magic, magical realism, classics, rabbits, fiction, growing up, earlier times, faeries, Q

Shiloh. R.

INFO: Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Shiloh. R. 1991.

DESC: This heart-wrenching story is a hard-hitting tale of a young boy named Marty who falls in love with an abused, neglected beagle – who just so happens to belong to Judd Travers. It’s a story of compassion, bravery, and, ultimately, standing up for what you believe in, even if nobody else does. More than that, it’s an evocative and complex portrait of life in an impoverished mountain town in West Virginia, and the ties that hold the community together. Perfect for 3rd graders edging up into deeper and more mature reading material – and for anyone with a heart for animals! Written in West Virginia dialect — or the author’s approximation thereof.

TAGS: family, west virginia, dogs, animal abuse, bravery, courage, poverty, rural living, mountains, nature, determination, compassion, animal welfare, pets, chapter, fiction, R

Ramona Forever. O.

INFO: Cleary, Beverly. Ramona Forever. O. 1984.

DESC: Another hit in the Ramona series! As ever, Ramona is spunky, brave, and falters her way through the changes of the latter part of 3rd grade. The familiar cast of family, friend and frenemy characters – Beezus, the Quimby parents, Howie Kemp and his annoying little sister Willa Jean – recur here, with plenty of lessons for young Ramona in store! The real gem of these books – and most valuable to our kiddos – is Cleary’s close and realistic look at Ramona’s internal narrative as she navigates growing up in the Pacific Northwest!

TAGS: ramona quimby, beverly cleary, family, siblings, 3rd grade, jealousy, arguments, surprises, weddings, new siblings, new babies, chapter, fiction, classics, O