Elementary series fiction

All posts tagged Elementary series fiction

Dork Diaries, by Rachel Renee Russell

Published June 30, 2015 by Dagmar

This fiction series is always in demand in my school library.  I finally sat down to read the first book in the series this summer, right after I replaced all the missing copies from my library shelves and pre-ordered the 9th book in the series, due out on June 2, 2015dork diaries. Dork Diaries has that magic that began with Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Humor + drawings = appeal to just about every kind of reader.  I didn’t think I’d like it, but I loved it.

Dork Diaries is the story of Nikki Maxwell, eighth grader at Westchester Country Day.  She is the daughter of the school’s exterminator, there on scholarship. Nikki is having a tough time. New to the school, she is trying to fit in with the “CCP” (Cute, Cool & Popular) group at school.  The group, led by the impossibly mean and snobby Mackenzie Hollister, has all the best clothes, cell phones and get invited to the best parties.

At first, I worried that I wouldn’t like Dork Diaries.  In the beginning, as Russell sets the scene, the CCP’s mean girl talk is a little much for me.  It is actually really mean.  I didn’t want to read a book where the humor was all self-deprecating and the mean girl has all the power.  Russell seems to know just how far to go, because then Nikki’s humor kicks in.

There are lots of funny parts in the book.  I thought it was funny when Nikki’s parents try to cheer her up by putting positive messages around the house, saying things like “Be you OWN best friend.” and “Invite YOURSELF for a sleepover.”  Unfortunately, those two notes were put in the toaster slot and ended up starting a small kitchen fire. The best part of the book, I think, is when Nikki writes about her interactions with people in her diary. As she describes a scene, she’ll “say” something that makes you say to yourself…”OMG, she did NOT just say that out loud…”. Then, it’s followed immediately by “But I just said that inside my head, so no one else heard it but me.” Those moments totally cracked me up, because even though they happened throughout the book, they always surprised me.

Nikki goes through a lot of trials during her first year at Westchester, but ends up ending the year with grace and with Mackenzie jealous of her.  Go Nikki.

This book is most popular with my tweens and so could fit in an elementary school or middle school library.

The Name of this Book is Secret, by Pseudonymous Bosch

Published January 14, 2014 by Dagmar

the name of this bookHere’s a mystery that has never failed to please my students.  It’s not only a good mystery, it’s funny, quirky, a little dark, has an adventurous main character with a loyal and helpful friend.  Best of all, it leaves readers wanting more.  (Luckily, there are five books in this series.)

This book begins with the words, “WARNING: DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS PAGE!’  Even the only slightly curious would want to turn the page.  And, being more than slightly curious, I did turn the page, only to read the words, “Good.  Now I know I can trust you.  You’re curious.  You’re brave.  And you’re not afraid to lead a life of crime.”  🙂  The first chapter consists of all “x’s”.  Yes, there are no words; because, of course, the first chapter would have revealed the names of the characters, the place where the story takes place and the dates.  All those things are, well, secret.

I can tell you this: The main character’s name is Cassandra, and she is a survivalist.  She goes no where without her backpack of survival gear.  She lives alone with her mother and often visits her mom’s friends, Grandpa Larry and Grandpa Wayne.  Cass discovers a box called the “Symphony of Secrets”, learns that it came from the house of a dead magician.  She and her new friend, a boy named Max-Ernest, believe that the magician is actually alive and crying out for help.  This, coupled with the disappearance of a strange boy from school lead them on a chase to save the magician and the missing boy.

I read this book to my son years ago, and we absolutely loved it.  Since then, I’ve recommended it to countless students who never fail to come back to get book number two, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late.  Don’t miss this great book!

Amelia’s Notebook series, by Marissa Moss

Published July 29, 2013 by Dagmar

Amelia's NotebookIf you’re looking for a fun read for tweens and middle school girls, here’s a great choice.  Marissa Moss’ Amelia Notebooks are written like diaries that look like composition books full of Amelia’s writing and her many drawings.   Amelia is 10 and has an older sister named Cleo.  They act a lot like you’d imagine an annoying younger sister and a more annoying older sister might act.

In Oh Boy, Amelia, Amelia can’t believe how her sister Cleo changes when she’s around a boy she likes. Amelia tells it like it is. “I know why Cleo’s suddenly so polite.  She’s eating lunch at school with Oliver now, and she doesn’t want him to htink she’s a rude slob…If Oliver saw the real Cleo, there’s no way he’s ask her to go out with him.” and “Today when Oliver came over, Cleo actually fluttered her eyelashes at him – I thought that only happened in cartoons!  I thought I’d see big pink hearts pop up over her head.”

As Amelia tries to make sense of the way Cleo is acting, she has her own struggles in “Life Skills” class.  Amelia has to sew, something and that does not come naturally to her.  Amelia talks about “The Truth Behind Boy and Girl Things”  Her truth?  “All girls aren’t the same, and neither are all boys.  And even if most girls like something, I don’t have to like it, too.”

Amelia’s sewing project is a disaster, and she’s really nervous about her teacher’s suggestion that they have a fashion show with everyone modeling their projects.  Her big challenge though, is making a science project that will impress Oliver enough that he’ll invite her to go the state science fair.  Amelia loves science and is dying to go to science fair.

Will Amelia get through the fashion show and get to go to the science fair?  Will Cleo figure out that it’s better to be yourself than to try to change yourself to get someone to like you?

Read this fun book to find out and enjoy the entire series of Amelia’s notebooks!

As a note, our school was lucky enough to receive an author visit from Marissa Moss.  She did a great presentation and writing workshop for our sixth grade.  Yay, Marissa!

Magic Tree House, by Mary Pope Osborne

Published June 7, 2013 by Dagmar

magic tree houseThis was a sleeper series in my library.  I read almost everyone with my son  when he was four and five years old, and he just loved them.  I couldn’t figure out why my students weren’t reading the books.  It turns out that my students just didn’t find the covers interesting.  So, I asked one of my second grade teachers to try reading the series out loud to her students.  Oh my goodness.  She loved the series and so did they.  I can’t keep these books on the shelves anymore.  Her entire second grade is now excited about these books, and my teacher said she will read them to her new second grade students next year.

What are the Magic Treehouse books?  These short chapter books are books that combine history with adventure, magic and suspense, perfect for first and second graders.  There are even picture to break up the text.  Jack and Annie are brother and sister. While playing near the woods in Frog Creek Pennsylvania, Annie, Jack’s younger sister, spots a tree house high in a tree.  She, the more adventurous of the two, climbs up to the tree house.  Jack, the more cautious of the two, follows her reluctantly.  They find books in the tree house on all different topics.  Jack, a big reader, picks up one of the books on dinosaurs.  Looking at a page, he says, “I wish I could see a Pteradon.”  No sooner has he said it, but there is a Pteradon outside the treehouse.  Annie runs out to meet it, much to Jack’s dismay.  So begins Jack and Annie’s first adventure with the Magic Tree House.  Once hooked, as my students now are, students can visit Pompeii, Ninjas, Pirates, the Titanic, the Amazon and many more places.

Not only does this wonderful and engaging series go on for 48 books, but it is accompanied by non-fiction readers for those students interesting in learning more about the topics in the books.

I highly recommend this series as a read aloud to younger students and as a great early chapter book for first, second and third grade readers.

The Shadows: The Books of Elsewhere #1, by Jacqueline West

Published May 31, 2013 by Dagmar

the-shadows-by-jacqueline-west The Shadows is the first book in the Books of Elsewhere series.  I love a mystery, and I couldn’t put this book down. My students can’t stop reading at the first book.  They go on and read the next two books in the series.  Wait until I tell them book 4 is coming out soon!

Olive Dunwoody and her parents move into the McMartin house after Ms. McMartin passes away.  Their new house comes with all the McMartin’s possessions.  There are lots of interesting pieces of furniture and paintings on the wall. When Olive and her parents try to move a painting, they find all the paintings in the house are stuck to the walls.  Olive’s parents leave Olive to her own devices, a lot.  Olive is a curious girl.  She uses her free time to roam around the house.  Inside one drawer, Olive finds spectacles. She discovers that when she wears the spectacles, she can see people in the paintings move.  Olive also learns that she can enter and leave each painting in the house.  Olive meets people in the paintings.  One of the people she meets is a little boy, Morton, who is desperately afraid of a man he says put him in the painting.  Olive is determined to solve the mystery of people in the paintings and to discover the secrets of McMartin family and their home.  But, it is said that “curiosity killed the cat.”  Will Olive survive her search for the truth about the paintings?

Recommended for tween readers who love a good, exciting mystery.