Children’s chapter books

All posts tagged Children’s chapter books

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick

Published June 19, 2013 by Dagmar

hugo cabretThe Invention of Hugo Cabret is very special.  It is unlike any other children’s book I’ve read.  Selznick masterfully intertwines illustration with words to create a captivating story.  When I first opened this book with my son years ago, I was amazed by the illustrations.  As my son and I turned the pages, he was completely taken in by the story, as was I.

This year, I had a student who was reading easy chapter books.  As a very bright fifth grader, I knew he needed to challenge himself with more difficult books.  I suggested this book and watched as it opened up the world of literature for this child.  He devoured the book in two days, brought it back and checked out Wonderstruck, Brian Selznick’s next book.  These two books led him to explore many different books in my library.  I was amazed at this student’s transformation from a child who liked books to a child who became an insatiable reader.

Hugo is an orphan, living in a train station in Paris. Hugo’s father and his uncle had a talent for fixing mechanical things, particularly clocks and taught Hugo their trade.  After Hugo’s uncle passes away,  Hugo hides in the train station in his uncle’s old apartment, maintaining the station clocks in order to fool the station master into believing his uncle is still alive.  But, Hugo has an even bigger secret.  Before he died, Hugo’s father was trying to repair a mechanical man that he and Hugo believed would draw a picture or write a message once he was repaired and able to write again.  Hugo’s one wish is to complete his father’s work and read the mechanical man’s message.   This endeavor leads Hugo to meet new friends and unravel more than the mystery of the message, but the mystery of of the mechanical man and his inventor.

This book won the 2008 Caldecott Medal and is unique and memorable.  It’s perfect for tweens, middle school students and adults.  Don’t miss it.

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Wonder, by R. J. Palacio

Published June 3, 2013 by Dagmar

121009_DX_WonderBook.jpg.CROP.article250-mediumI wasn’t sure what to make of Wonder when I started it.  In fact, I put it down for a while thinking it would be a cliched story of a person living with a disability, bullied by others.  This book is so much richer and more thoughtful than I first thought.  I was inspired to give it another try after my students talked about it at school and after my son recommended it to me after it was recommended it to him by a friend.

August is a fifth grader who has been homeschooled until fifth grade because he suffers from severe birth defects that have deformed his face.  All his life, people have gawked at him, laughed at him, been scared of him or have otherwise been unkind.  August’s parents think he should go to a real school and learn to build friendships.  August begins fifth grade at a private school.  His entry into school is rough.  There are only a few kids who will take the social risk to befriend him.

The book moves along well, because each chapter is told from the point of view of another character.  You hear not only from August, but also from his sister Olivia, her boyfriend Justin, her good friend Miranda and August’s best friends Summer and Jack.  Each person has their own story to tell.

I was moved to tears several times in this book.  It’s really well done.  Highly recommended to tweens and middle school readers.