Summer Reading -- Chapter Book Reviews

Disclosure: I was sent these books free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As always I am providing links to the book for your convenience.

Last week I shared the start of my summer reading reviews with picture books and I promised to do some chapter books this week. Earlier this week I did language fun that also included some picture books. Since my chapter book reviews did not get written yet I am sharing them with you today. (Do the summer days seem to fly by for anyone else?) One book is perfect for the younger chapter book readers--grades 2-5 and the other two are for middle school grades 5-8. The first book is Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield. 
 In this fun first installment of a series the reader is introduced to Julius, a shy and rather interesting zebra. After learning about Julius' life with his family (he does not feel he fits in) he is taken from Africa to Rome to fight gladiators with other kidnapped animals. Of course they think they are going to the circus and Julius has heard about the juggling monkeys and asks if some gladiators are the juggling monkeys. The gladiators do not take too kindly to being called juggling monkeys and they are now out to get Julius--the striped horse. Well in a turn of events Julius gets the better of the gladiator and the emperor decides to train the animals to be gladiators and see how they do. The animals just want to get back home and look for ways to escape. In this funny story there are interesting facts about Roman history as well as entertaining pictures (think graphic novelish). It has many fun jokes and as Hazel puts it disgusting ones as well (think bathroom talk). It is a fun and crazy book for the kids who have begun to read full chapter novels. It has wonderful story lines on friendship as well. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next installment of this series!

Our second book is Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon. She also wrote the wonderful Hamster Princess Series (for the younger chapter readers). This story is about a twelve year old who wants to be able to practice her magic freely and live in a surrounding that suits her and not her twin sister. She finds out about an opening at Castle Hangnail and claims to be the new master. The staff question her age and whether she really is a wicked witch. She seems a little too nice to them. Then her friend--an evil sorceress tries to take over the castle and there is a struggle. This book has so many wonderful lessons about friendship, loyalty, evil and more. It is a fun read and is perfect for grades four to six. It reminds me of books by Roald Dahl

 Our final book is one you cannot read this summer as it is not being released until September, but it is one you will want to put on your list of books to read and you can pre-order it now. It is The Mighty Odds by Amy Ignatow. This book is the first in a series and deals with all sorts of issues of middle school. The class if off to a field trip and the issues of which bus they will be put on is the first one. Of course there is the popular kids bus or the company bus and then there is the unpopular kids bus or the farm kids. We meet many of the students and start with Nick and his best friend, Jay. Jay wants to be on the popular bus with the popular girl Cookie. Instead they end up on the bus with a girl named Martina who no one really notices and Farshad who someone named Terror Boy (he is Arab) and it stuck and now no one will associate with him. Then at the museum Cookie and her friend are caught coming back from an unapproved diversion and Cookie is put on the unpopular bus on the way home in Jay's place. After the unpopular bus is in a bizarre accident and even stranger things begin to happen the four mismatched characters realize they must work together to figure out what has happened to them. Each of them now has strange abilities but they are not completely super hero powers. Martina can change her eye color, Nick can teleport four inches to the left, Farshad has super strength in his thumbs and Cookie can read minds when the minds are thinking about directions. In this crazy story the middle schoolers must overcome their social status and feelings about the others (Cookie helped give Farshad the nickname) and work together to figure out what is really going on and how it involves them. This book is intriguing and draws the reader in with the strangeness of the story. Who should the kids trust? At a time when kids often are rebelling from their parents they do not want to sound crazy to them. They are dealing with so many things including just being a middle schooler and everything that comes with that. It introduces issues with race since Cookie is the only black girl in town and of course Farshad and his awful nickname. It deals with the feelings that Farshad has about the nickname and the kids who gave it to him. It has so much packed into this book and I can't wait to see the next one. This is a great book!!
I hope you will check these books out with your kids. They are fun and have lots of twists and turns that I think all will enjoy!