Chapter Books

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley
Chapter Book: Ages 10 years old and up

From “It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.

As a mystery fiction lover, I read at least two novels a month. Most mystery fiction readers are voracious with their appetite for a good mystery series. The Flavia de Luce series is a lovely cozy-type mystery series (amateur sleuth, sex and violence downplayed, “bad guy” gets comeuppance…) appropriate for adults and middle school age readers. Our heroine is smart and misunderstood-a perfect combo for this age group to relate. The mystery is clever, the writing light and humorous, and for series lovers, Bradly is still writing. I’m currently in the middle of book 9 and book 10 is already available for pre-order! This is a great series to read together with your tween or teen.

Criss Cross, by Lynne Rae Perkins
Chapter Book: Ages 10 years old and up

The main characters in Criss Cross are 14 years old Hector and Debbie, and the story is told primarily through their two alternating perspectives.

The story is funny and creatively written. It explores the inner thoughts and feelings that seem so universal at this age: who am I now and who will I become when I grow up? When will something special happen to me? Why do I freeze up when a boy I like talks to me?

The book is not a fast paced action book; it is very much about the inner dialogue of a person growing up, and the struggle to find meaning in the mundane moments of life. Some children and teens might find this lack of plot and action boring; others will find it beautiful and meaningful as they explore their own lives more deeply.

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager: “This was my first review of a book for older, school age children–and I was dreading it. I chose Criss Cross because it won a Newberry Award. It sat on my shelf for over two weeks before I gave a heavy sigh and started reading. And then I couldn’t put it down.”

Frindle, by Andrew Clements
Illustrated by Brian Selznick
Chapter Book: ages 8-12 years old

Nick is a boy of action. And so when he comes up with a plan to create a new word in the English language for the word pen, he goes to work right away. With the help of five friends–uh, secret agents–the word “frindle” is introduced to Lincoln Elementary School. Pretty soon the entire fifth grade is involved. That is, except the Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Granger, who insists that students using the word frindle will stay after school! What a waste of time and energy creating a new word when the old one works just fine!

It was war–Mrs. Granger vs. frindle. And Nick was the number one general on the frindle side. Pretty soon parents are complaining, the school board is calling the principle, and a reporter shows up at the school to write a story about frindles. How will it end? Is is just a fad? Or will pens become frindles all over Westfield…and the world!

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager
Frindle is fun and engaging. You’ll smile all the way through! And whether you admit it or not–I’ll bet you head to a dictionary when you are done…just to see if maybe…

Half Magic, by Edward Eager
Illustrated by N.M. Bodecker
Chapter Book: ages 8-12 years old

Long before Harry Potter there were Jane, Martha, Mark and Katherine. Walking along one summer day, Jane finds a magic coin. Well, it’s not totally magic–it’s only half magic. The children learn they have to be very careful how they wish, because the coin only grants half of what is wished for. This leads to all sorts of complications! All the brothers and sisters take turns wishing on the coin–and strange and magical adventures occur–until the final wish. Filled with time travel and flamboyant characters, this classic children’s book is sure to hold attention.

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager
“I was enthralled with this book as a child. There is magic, there is adventure, and there is humor here. I still own my copy!”

Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
Illustrated by Jules Feiffer
Chapter Book: ages 8-12 years old

Bored little Milo, who can’t see the point in doing anything, embarks on a magical adventure. One day, a mysterious tollbooth appears in his bedroom. And since he (as usual) has nothing better to do, he decides to get in his play car, and “drive” through the tollbooth.

All of a sudden, Milo is transported to another land, and before he knows it is engaged in a hero’s journey to save the imprisoned princesses Rhyme and Reason. Along the way, he meets strange, startling, and silly creatures. And perhaps learns a lesson in making one’s own fun.

The book is funny and very well written, and will entertain adults as much as children.

Recommended by  Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager
I read this book (for the first time) when I was 7 years old. It was a gift from my aunt, after I broke my leg and was a bit bed ridden. I LOVED IT. I think I’ve probably re-read it at least 100 times. The writing is beautiful and incredibly creative. I still find this adventure story somehow exciting and comforting at the same time.

Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren
Illustrated by Michael Chesworth
Chapter Book: ages 8-12 years old

Pippi lives all by herself in her house named Villa Villekulla. She doesn’t go to school, eats whatever she wants, tells lies, and has a suitcase full of gold. How could Tommy and Anika, the neighboring children, stay away?

Pippi is an adventurous girl with super human strength. She might live on her own, but she keeps busy with wild adventures, often involving the monkey and horse who live with her. Pippi is a lovable trouble maker; silly, mischievious, but heroic and with a generous heart. She has won over children of more than one generation!

Recommended by: Linda McDaniels, Associate Director.
“I love Pippi because she is so strong and adventurous and says outrageous things without being really mean. As a very shy child, Pippi was everything I wanted to be!” –Linda

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume
Illustrated by Roy Doty
Chapter Book: Ages 9-12 years old

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first in a series of books about Peter and his younger brother Fudge. Fudge is cute to adults, but to Peter he is nothing but annoying. Peter suffers through all of Fudge’s antics, adventures, and offenses. And you will laugh as he suffers. Unless you’re an older brother or sister. Then you’ll also nod your head in understanding as you laugh!

Recommended by: Isaac, son of a Parent Trust staff member.
“My brother is annoying a lot. He could be Fudge’s twin. Maybe Peter and I could be twins. If [my brother] ate a turtle [like Fudge did] and my mother didn’t care about the turtle and only cared about [my brother], I would be furious. I really liked Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Fudge was funny a lot of the time but Peter was sad, mad, and angry most of the time.”

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
Illustrated by W.W. Denslow
Chapter Book: 9-12 years old

Dorothy is a farm girl living in Kansas with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. Prairie life was harsh, and had left Em and Henry sober and joyless. One day, they “heard a low wail of the wind,” and knew a cyclone was coming. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em made it to the storm cellar

safely, but Dorothy and her dog, Toto, did not. Before they could get to the cellar, the strangest thing happened–the house whirled around, rose in the air, and with Dorothy and Toto inside, traveled miles away. When the house landed, Dorothy emerged and was greeted by…

You may think you know how this story goes. But if you’ve only seen the movie, you’re in for a surprise. Sure, Dorothy meets the Munchkins, the witches, and her traveling companions we’re all familiar with; but you’ll have to read the original to learn about the Dainty China Country, the Quadlings, and the Golden Cap. Dorothy’s adventures were too great to fit into one movie! And did you know that there are 13 additional books in the series? That’s right–twice as many as Harry Potter!

Recommended by Marni Port, Child & Teen Services Manager
“A classic for a reason, and enjoyable for new readers as well as adults revisiting the book after years.”