Here are two very entertaining, short chapter books to cuddle up with on a quiet afternoon. Start with Missy Violet & Me, and then read the sequel: Letters to Missy Violet. Viney is an eleven –year- old African American girl living in the Old South of the early 1900’s. How does Viney spend her summer vacation? She works for the local midwife, Missy Violet. Missy Violet is a wise, warm and caring woman who teaches Viney how to collect roots and herbs to use for medicinal purposes. And Viney is proud and privileged to assist when Missy Violet has to deliver babies ("catchin’ babies") for neighbors. You will come to love Missy Violet and Viney as they live a life that was typical of the Old South. A cast of colorful characters, crackling dialogue, humor and memorable events make this book move right along in a rhythmic way. Before you know it, you will have finished Missy Violet & Me and will be eager to start reading the sequel: Letters to Missy Violet. These books capture a unique way life that was lived by African Americans in the United States, a long time ago.
Mr. Orange, written by Dutch author Truus Matti , is historical fiction for Grade 6 and up. The time is 1943. The place is Manhattan. Linus Muller’s eldest brother Albie has enlisted in the U.S. military and is headed to the European front to fight WWII. Linus takes over Albie’s job of delivering groceries for the Muller family grocery store. This is Linus’s first real after school job and he is proud to help out the family and do his part for the war effort on the home front. Linus delivers groceries with a handmade cart on wheels and meets all kinds of customers as he makes his deliveries. Every other week Linus delivers a crate of oranges to a new customer who lives on 59th street. This new customer has an accent and a foreign sounding name that is complicated to pronounce and write down, so Linus just calls him "Mr. Orange". After many deliveries, Linus and Mr. Orange become friends and Linus discovers that Mr. Orange is an artist with great imagination and faith in the future. In fact, Mr. Orange is Dutch artist Piet Mondrian who moved from Europe to New York in the 1940’s to escape the war . Linus has the rare privilege of witnessing the creation of Mondrian's painting "Victory Boogie Woogie", a painting to celebrate the city of New York, the end of WW II , and the future. Mr. Orange was awarded a Silver Slate Pencil (a prestigious Dutch award) in 2012.
If you are looking for an exciting, fast paced, suspenseful and action packed historical fiction read Sophia’s War: A Tale of Revolution written by Newbery Medalist Avi. Twelve year old Sophia lives with her family in British occupied New York City in 1776. Her brother William joins the Patriot cause against the British and enlists in the rebel militia. Sophia’s mother and father must hide their support of the Patriot cause simply because they are surrounded by loyalists and must house British officers in their home. When Sophia’s brother William is injured in battle and then dies in a British prison, Sophia vows to avenge his death. Sophia soon finds herself in a very challenging situation: working as a spy for the Patriot cause. Her task is to warn General Washington of a British plan to capture West Point, a strategic Patriot stronghold overlooking the Hudson River. Benedict Arnold, a Patriot traitor, is involved in this plan but only Sophia discovers this. Sophia is a determined and strong heroine as she sets off on a perilous journey to warn General Washington of the British plan and of Benedict Arnold's treason. Short chapters and excellent writing make this thrilling tale of espionage and courage a great read for 6th graders as well as Young Adults.
I absolutely adored The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy. It reminded me of books that I liked to read when I was small of a slower-paced world, where children explored small towns riding their bikes around or visiting the lonely mansion. In this story, four sisters, Rosalind, Sky, Jane, and Batty, with their dad and dog arrive at the Arundel estate for a summer holiday. Here, they have the holiday of their dreams--no sand, no beach, but an imposing castle surrounded by a formal garden. With their dog, Hound, the girls just about tear down the estate at the dismay of its owner, the forbidding Mrs. Tifton; however, her son, Jeffrey, has the summer of his life. The girls' vivacity and energy transforms Jeffrey's world of stifling upper-class formalness to a world of play and spontaneity. This story is a great summer read. If you are interested, the story continues with two sequels: The Penderwicks at Gardham Street and The Penderwicks at Point Mouette. I recommend this book for girls from 3rd to 6th grade, because the book describes a range of girlhood experiences. This book qualifies as an award winner, for it received the National Book Award in 2005.
True (...Sort of) (AR 6.0, Level 3.4) by Katherine Hannigan, the author of Ida B, is about an unconventional character who doesn't know why she seems to get everyone angry. Misunderstood, everyone keeps putting Delly down. Finally, she decides that she will act out!
Brud is a terrible basketball player. The problem is that he loves basketball! How can he ever become good at the sport that he loves?
Then Ferris moves to town. Delly befriends her because she does not speak; Ferris does not criticize her. Brud befriends her because Ferris is an amazing basketball player and teacher.
If you are a person who doesn't quite fit in at school, you may find a friend in True (...Sort of). Though Ferris has her issues, she accepts her two new friends when no one else will help them. And what is friendship if not for acceptance? Enjoy this great book!
Jennifer L. Holm is well-known for her Babymouse books, starting with Babymouse: Queen of the World (AR 0.5, Level 2.2). Ms. Holm takes a more serious tone in the Newbery Honor Book, Turtle in Paradise (AR 4.0, Level 3.7). Babymouse readers who are moving up to upper-elementary school reading will be pleasantly surprised by the likeable Turtle character.
Like the protagonist in The Absolute Value of Mike (AR 8.0, Level 3.9) by Kathryn Erskine, Turtle has a parent who is in an arrested stage of development. Like Mike, Turtle is sent off to a far away place while the parent is busy with work. In 1935 Florida, Turtle finds a different culture and bonds with her cousins, who run the Diaper Gang. Turtle finds a treasure map and seeks a way to get her family out of financial trouble. Does she succeed? Why has her mom's boyfriends shown up in Florida? Read it and find out!