Socks by Beverly Cleary

Socks (1973) is not a Beverly Cleary book I ever discovered as a child, but I love it! It’s a simple story told from the perspective of a cat named Socks, beginning with his first day of true consciousness: the day he would be sold by the boy and girl who had taken care of him for his first weeks of life. From that first adventure being dropped in to the mailbox until the end of his story, Socks is a happy cat. It does just happen that he occassionally is misunderstood, and that is where the humor can be found!

I loved how Beverly Cleary was able to make the cat’s emotions so realistic. It is told in omniscient narrator (no “I” narrator being the cat), so we also get a glimpse of what the children and the adults are thinking as time passes. But much of the book focuses on how Socks interprets the events around him. He is a truly loveable cat.

I must admit that I am not a pet person at all, but this book still brought cats into a warm place in my heart as I considered how the cat interpreted the events around him and how he eventually won over those who did not like him. It’s a book for the cat-lover and the non-cat person as well! It is definitely a fun middle-grade book for the early reader that has aged well in the past 40+ years.

How Rude! By Alex J. Packer

How Rude! by Alex J. Packer (Free Spirit Publishing, updated edition May 2014) is a hilarious and down-to-earth guide for teenagers about, as the subtitle says “good manner, proper behavior, and not grossing people out.”

Each chapter covers a category of social etiquette, including what to say, how to act, what to wear, how to groom oneself, and so forth. Encompassing matters that teenagers would find most interesting as well as those they may not have considered, How Rude! is truly a refreshing reminder and learning manual for teenagers to actually enjoy reading. Continue Reading

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo

Rejoice! Deckawoo Drive, home street of the beloved pig Mercy Watson, is now open to stories once again! My son loves Mercy Watson, and every time he rereads the series (he’s read them all 5 or 6 times, I think), he asks, “Has this author written any more about Mercy Watson? I want more!”

It is easy to see why. First off, Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson books are humorous (they star a pig, of course). In what other stories do beds nearly fall through the floor and pigs go trick or treating? Besides that, the reading level is perfect for beginning readers, those who have just barely graduated out of the easy readers. The books have short sentences, short chapters, and clear dialogue and description. Plus, the Mercy Watson books have been illustrated by the marvelous Chris Van Dusen, which only adds humor and interest to the stories.


Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Tales from Deckawoo Drive Number 1) by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, August 26, 2014) is the first of a new series of stories relating to Mercy Watson. Although our favorite “porcine wonder” only makes a cameo at the end, the star of the show is Mercy’s friend Leroy Ninker, who works at the drive-in theater. (He previously appeared in Mercy Watson #6.)Continue Reading

Chitchat by Jude Isabella


Chitchat by Jude Isabella (Kids Can Press, September 2013) is a delightful exploration of language for a young adult reader. It explores so many aspects of language that I felt like I was a little bit in heaven since I appreciate and love languages and words so much. At 48 pages, it obviously only skimmed the surface, but for a young reader, it’s tone, illustrations, and length would be just right.Continue Reading