4th Grade Booklist

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid Read-alikes


Book cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin FeverBook cover of Captain Underpants, An Epic AdventureBook cover of How to Train Your DragonBook cover of Big NateBook cover of Dork Diaries

 

Jeff Kinney's new Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever (No AR rating yet, but most likely in the 3.0 points and 5.2 range) will not be released until November 15, but kids are already chomping on the bit to find similar read-a-likes. This librarian must admit that I am also chomping on the bit, as well. Kids, you are so lucky because there is a whole range of similar titles!

 

Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants' novels are an old favorite (starting with Captain Underpants, An Epic Adventure (AR 1.0, Level 4.3), and very similar to the tone and style in the Wimpy Kid series. Follow fourth graders George and Harold and their transformed principal, Captain Underpants through various hilarious adventures.

 

Cressida Cowell's How to Train Your Dragon (AR 5.0, Level 6.6) series is about Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, a somewhat scrawny Viking, who somehow manages to succeed despite larger peers and opponents. Aided by his trusty sidekicks Toothless the dragon and Fishlegs, Hiccup can do no wrong!????

 

Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid (AR 3.0, Level 5.3), Lincoln Pierce's Big Nate (AR 2.0, Level 3.1) started as an online daily strip. This series is probably the most similar to Jeff Kinney's novels in style and tone. Nate Wright has a somewhat elevated image of himself that does not match reality. Kids will enjoy the problems that sixth grade faces. In the first novel, Nate finds himself getting detention for ALL of his classes. Find out why in this hilarious book!

 

Rachel Renee Russell has created a girl-centric series called Dork Diaries (AR 5.0, Level 5.4), which is like Jeff Kinney's books, except for girls. Personally, I did not find this title especially funny. However, my sounding board at home assures me that this is a very funny series of books. Some other girl-centric series include Dear Dumb Diary (AR 1.0, Level 6.1) and Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls (AR 6.0, Level 5.0).

 

Previously, I reviewed James' Patterson's Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (AR 4.0, Level 4.5), which is another title reflecting about the downsides of middle school.



Jarrett J. Krosoczka and the Lunch Lady


Jarrett J. Krosoczka's Lunch Lady series of graphic novels for elementary school kids is very entertaining. The books include a crime-fighting school lunch lady and her gadget-inventing sidekick, Betty. Lunch Lady is assisted by the efforts of three friends known as The Breakfast Bunch.

 

Lunch Lady and the Substitute Cyborg, book coverThe first book in the Lunch Lady series is Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute. This small-format graphic novel introduces the Lunch Lady who rides a motor scooter, wears a yellow apron and yellow rubber gloves, and has a gadget-filled hideout in the boiler room. In this book, a popular teacher is unexpectedly out sick, replaced by an enormous, oddly formal teacher. Suspiciously, he turns down fresh cookies! As Lunch Lady begins investigating the substitute, the Breakfast Bunch, decide to learn more about Lunch Lady. The Breakfast Bunch kids (Hector, Dee, and Terrence) have regular problems, mixed in with their dangerous cyborg encounter. Young readers will be able to relate to them.

 

 

Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown book coverLunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown finds Lunch Lady, Betty, and the three Breakfast Bunch kids all attending the same two-week summer camp. This is a departure for the series (generally set in a school). Breakfast Bunch nemesis Milmoe and his minion are at the camp, too. Things get off to a scary start when one of the counselors is attacked by "the terrible swamp monster." Lunch Lady and the Breakfast Bunch independently take it upon themselves to investigate (and naturally save the day). It's a fun read. Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown received 2011's Children's Choice Award for Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year.

 

 

Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit book coverIn Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit, everyone is back at school and excited for a bake sale/fundraiser. Until… the baked goods are stolen. Lunch Lady and the Breakfast Bunch investigate a variety of leads before closing in on the culprit.

 

The Lunch Lady books are perfect for third or fourth graders, including reluctant/dormant readers. They are fun, action-packed, over-the-top fare, while staying true to the day-to-day issues of elementary school kids. Krosoczka's black, white, and yellow illustrations are boy and girl-friendly, and are excellent for relatively new readers.



Skate!


Skate coverGus just moved to a new town.  Due to his skating skills, he was able to survive, make new friends, and show them new skating tricks. DK Publishing House did it again by presenting pictures on every page depicting important moves, tricks, techniques, and safety measures for a skater. A non-skater as well as a skater can learn so much from every page in the book as well as the glossary in the back of it. Terms of the trade were very well presented so that a person new to skating would not feel lost or bored.

 

Skate! by Amy Junor can be found in San Jose Public Library Catalog.

 

Another book on skating, The Skate Boarding Field Manual by Ryan Stutt also shows basic skating tricks (thirty-three of them).

 

There will be split sessions/demos between Skateboarding and BMX, according to LCRSP (Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park) on Sat. Oct. 01, 2011, in the District 8's festival "Day In The Park".  Check it out at www.sjparks.org/skateboard/news.asp.



Boys Are Dogs by Leslie Margolis


Boys are Dogs cover

Annabelle is the new kid at Birchwood Middle School, which is very different from her old all-girls elementary school.  Now, Annabelle has to figure out how to juxtapose being the new girl, being in a school with boys, being in a new family, and being a new dog/puppy owner!  She thinks boys are like wild animals!

 

Fortunately, Annabelle quickly makes some new friends and enjoys training her new puppy, Stripe.  However, the boys in her classroom make her quite miserable with their behavior.  Boys behave so differently from the girls at her old elementary school!  She needs to find some way to deal with their behavior because ignoring their bad behavior is not working.  What can she do?

 

Leslie Margolis has an immediately sympathetic character in Annabelle.  Kids will enjoy learning how Annabelle applies her lessons with Stripe to other problems in her life.  This is really a laugh-out-loud, book!  Boys are Dogs (AR 6.0, level 4.2) and Girls Acting Catty, (AR 5.0, Level 4.2) the sequel, are best read together. 



Solving Zoe by Barbara Dee


Book cover of Solving Zoe

Friendships often change in middle school. Zoe finds this out when her best friend Dara starts to develop different interests from her. Zoe is unconsciously drawn to Lucas because of a shared gift in cryptanalysis.

 

Lucas is very unusual because he doesn't care what others think of him; he only cares about Zoe. But when Lucas tries to solve Zoe's problems, he inadvertently makes them worse! Along the way, Lucas tutors Zoe in the various puzzles he is so gifted in decrypting. Meanwhile, Zoe tries to figure out what to do about her friendship with Dara.

 

Barbara Dee skillfully shows us Zoe's troubles when she tries to choose friendship over her natural talent. Solving Zoe (AR 6.0, Level 4.3) is humorous and tender at the same time.



Birthday Books by Wendy Mass


Book cover of 11 Birthdays

A little bit of magic, a little bit of humor... Wendy Mass' 11 Birthdays (AR 7.0, Level 4.1) starts a series of books about how birthdays can bring great changes to our lives.

 

Amanda is caught up in a Groundhog Day - like loop where she is reliving her eleventh birthday over and over. She can't figure out what is wrong, until she starts to team up with her ex-best friend, Leo. Experimenting each day to see what can be changed, Amanda ends up helping many people that she had initially not noticed before. Together, they consult with the mysterious Angelina to discover what is truly going on with the repetitive day.

 

Book cover of Finally

Finally (AR 9.0, Level 4.6) is about how one person's good deeds can have life-altering effects and how wants may not be what we need.

 

Rory is so excited to turn twelve. Her strict parents have kept her from enjoying perks that her other friends already enjoy: cell phones, unsupervised mall visits, make-up, contact lenses, co-ed parties, etc. They tell her she needs to wait until she is twelve. Well, twelve is here and she is raring to try everything! Unfortunately, some uproarious side-effects occur in her quest to experience new things! Of course, Amanda and Leo do make an appearance in this story and provide some much needed insight to her many travails!