Madeleine L'Engle (Paperback)
Genres: Fiction - Fantasy Books, Science Fiction
"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle is a truly great classic children's book and one of the best chapter books of the 20th century. Its literature awards include Newbery medal. The main characters of the story are three children: Meg Murray, her brilliant younger brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin. They travel through time and space to rescue Meg's father, who is held prisoner by dark forces on the planet of Camazotz. "A Wrinkle in Time" is a good read aloud book. Children in 4th grade through 7th grade can learn about the battle between good and evil and the power of love from this science fiction and fantasy book.
Eleanor Estes, Louis Slobodkin (Paperback)
Genre: Fiction - Realistic Fiction; Book Themes: Friendship, School life
"The Hundred Dresses" by Eleanor Estes and Louis Slobodkin is a Newbery Honor award winner and a classic children's book in the genre of realistic fiction. The story's main character Wanda Petronski, a Polish-American girl from a poor family, is teased by classmates at school for being different and for saying she has one hundred dresses at home while she is wearing the same faded dress to school every day. Only after Wanda's absence from school do Maddie and Peggy find out the true story about the one hundred dresses and try to make amends. "The Hundred Dresses", one of the best chapter books of the 20th century, appeals to kids in second grade through sixth grade.
Kate DiCamillo (Paperback)
Genre: Fiction - Realistic Fiction; Book Themes: Animals, Friendship
"Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo, a 2001 Newbery Honor book, tells a heartwarming story about love, friendship and tolerance. Main characters of the realistic fiction book are Opal Buloni, a 10-year-old girl, and Winn-Dixie, the dog she has found in the town grocery store. Opal has just moved to Naomi, Florida with her preacher father. Her mother left them seven years ago. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal makes new friends. Among them are Gloria Dump, a kind old lady called a witch by children, Miss Franny Block, a librarian who loves to tell stories, and Otis, a pet shop worker who plays music to animals. These quirky characters are part of the charm of the chapter book. "Because of Winn-Dixie" appeals to children in 4th grade through 7th grade.
James Howe, Deborah Howe, Alan Daniel (Paperback)
Genres: Fiction - Animal Fantasy, Humorous Stories, Mystery Books; Book Theme: Animals
"Bunnicula" by Deborah Howe, James Howe and Alan Daniel is a favorite chapter book among children. In this humorous animal fantasy book, the Monroe family finds a bunny in a movie theater and names the animal Bunnicula. Chester the cat suspects Bunnicula is a vampire rabbit. Children in elementary school will enjoy reading this funny mystery story.
Lois Lowry (Mass Market Paperback)
Genre: Fiction - Science Fiction
"The Giver" by Lois Lowry is a thought-provoking young adult science fiction novel. The protagonist of this powerful story is a 12-year-old boy named Jonas, who lives in a highly ordered community. The Elders assign jobs, spouses and families. Pain, poverty and war are non-existent. At the coming-of-age Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas was selected to become the new Receiver of Memory. As the giver transfers memories of the past to him, a whole new world opens up for the boy. After he discovers the terrible truth about his community, Jonas goes on a dangerous journey to escape. "The Giver" has received many awards, including 1994 Newbery Medal, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults and ALA Notable Children's Book. With original plot and believable characters, "The Giver" appeals to teens in 8th grade and up.
Robert C. O'Brien, Zena Bernstein (Paperback)
Genres: Fiction - Animal Fantasy, Science Fiction
"Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh" by Robert C. O'Brien, winner of the Newbery Medal, is one of the best children's books of the 20th century. Author Robert O'Brien effectively combines elements of animal fantasy and science fiction in this chapter book and tells a captivating story with believable characters and an interesting plot. A widowed field mouse, Mrs. Frisby, needs to move her family to their summer home quickly before a farm's plow comes, but one of her children gets seriously ill and cannot go out in the cold. She seeks help from the rats of Nimh, highly intelligent rats who live under the rosebush. These animals have been captured by the scientists at the Nimh lab and given injections that have vastly boosted their intelligence. They can read and write. The rat leader Nicodemus tells Mrs. Frisby the story of their escape from Nimh. It turns out one of the escapees is Jonathan Frisby, Mrs. Frisby's late husband. The rats now have a plan to grow their own crop and form a self-sufficient colony in Thorn Valley. "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh" appeals to children in 4th grade through 7th grade.
Richard Adams (Paperback)
Genres: Fiction - Adventure Books, Animal Fantasy; Book Theme: Animals
"Watership Down" by Richard Adams, one of the best novels of the 20th century, is a riveting animal fantasy book beloved by young adults and adults alike. A group of rabbits set out on a long journey to find a new home after a small rabbit named Fiver senses great danger to their warren. They go through many adventures before reaching Watership Down. Soon after the rabbits settle down at their home on the down, they go on another dangerous adventure to fetch female rabbits from Efrafa, a warren tightly controlled by a ruthless Chief Rabbit, General Woundwort.
Part of the attraction of this classic adventure story stems from its diverse and interesting characters. The talking animals have distinct personalities. Hazel the leader is fair, quick-minded and always looks out for the interests of the group. Bigwig the fighter is strong, brave and willing to stick out for the weak. Fiver the prophet is small and nervous. Woundwort the villain is intelligent, fearless and power-crazy. "Watership Down" also includes several chapters of short tales about El-ahrairah, the "Prince with a Thousand Enemies", who is cunning and clever.
Genre: Fiction - Adventure Books
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi tells a suspenseful adventure story with a riveting plot. The main character of this Newbery Honor award-winning book is 13-year-old Charlotte Doyle, who grows and changes over the course of her eventful voyage on the high seas in 1832. The only passenger and the only female on a ship called Seahawk, Charlotte gets caught between a cruel captain and his vengeful crew. Charlotte first sides with the seemingly charming Captain Jaggery while befriending a cook named Zachariah. After realizing the captain's true nature, Charlotte Doyle works hard to win over the crew by becoming one of the seamen. When the captain charges her with a murder she didn't commit, Charlotte is tried and found guilty. But Charlotte manages to survive and win in her struggle with the captain and to arrive at her destination safely. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle is a good book for teens in 8th grade and up.
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