Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nasser (Raisin Reads Review)

I recently became a consultant for Usborne Books and More, award-winning children’s fiction and nonfiction, because I love their books so much. I figured I should work for discounts while I’m in the process of buying and sharing all that I love!

One of the first books that I ordered (this in my business start-up kit) was Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nasser. Secrets explore the various habitats for animals around an apple tree, from the birds in the nest and the worms in the ground, to the squirrels in the hollow space and the fungi growing on a fallen branch. As an educational book, it provides plenty of fodder for learning and exploring the habitats.

But the content is only the first fun thing about the book. As a part of the “Shine-A-Light” series, Secrets of the Apple Tree provides an interactive hands-on guessing game for the young reader as well. Continue Reading

The Perfect Hamburger and Other Stories by Alexander McCall-Smith

Raisin is a part of a small co-op group that occassionally reads a book and does activities related to it. Our most recent read was The Perfect Hamburger and Other Stories by Alexander McCall-Smith. Alexander McCall-Smith has always been a favorite author of mine. This particular collection of middle-grade stories are all related to food, and kids are somehow the heros. Continue Reading

(Raisin Reads) Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo

Raisin Reads is a column with thoughts on children’s literature straight from the mind of a kid!

About the author: Raisin is five years old. He likes to read, and he wants to be a construction worker when he grows up.

I like Mercy Watson to the Rescue because when the fire department comes, Mr. and Mrs. Watson think Mercy called the fire department! But she did not! Eugenia Lincoln called the fire department instead!

Mercy is a pig. In Eugenia’s opinion, pigs belong on a farm. Mercy does not live on a farm. She lives in a house. Eugenia does not like Mercy because of that. At the end, Eugenia still does not like Mercy. But Mr. and Mrs. Watson like Mercy. They think she is a porcine wonder because they think she called the fire department.

My favorite part is the very end of the book. I think other people would like the book too.

Mom’s thoughts: Raisin read this book by himself, then he listened to it and read it at the same time. I am a big fan of audiobooks, and for a beginning reader, listening and reading together helped him recognize words, learn correct pronunciation (he had not encountered phrases like “porcine wonder” before), and better grasp the big picture of the story. The Mercy Watson series is a perfect follow up to shorter early readers like Mr. Putter and Tabby and Henry and Mudge. Mercy Watson’s story is longer (it has twelve chapters) but the sentences are well geared toward a young child beginning to read. There are a few sentences on each page, and the type is large. As in the early chapter books I mentioned, most two-page spreads have a color illustration. In Mercy Watson, these are illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, and there are also a few full two-page illustrations in the book. This makes it very accessible for the early reader too. There is something about color illustrations and large text that say “Come read me, I’m not that hard!” Besides all that, the story is fun!

What other chapter books for early readers are like this? We’re looking for large text and color illustrations, and yet less than 100 pages and plenty of easily accessible amusing story!

Raisin narrated the above review to me. Do you have any comments for him? I’ll pass along any messages.

(Raisin Reads) Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

I have been looking forward to introducing my son to the favorite books of my childhood, and I’m delighted to find he is finally old enough to appreciate them!

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (originally published 1978) is a perfect chapter book for young readers. The chapters are less than five pages, the stories are compact and yet still inter-related, and the silliness factor meets the needs of a child. My son loved the time we spent reading these together, and as soon as we finished it, he took it from me and informed me he was going to read it again to himself. He is more than half way done.

As an adult, I still enjoyed it. It is silly and yet it does play off of realistic challenges: adults telling you to do things that seem impossible (going to take a note to a non-existent teacher), falling asleep when you should be awake, getting along with other kids, and overcoming stereotype, for example. I really enjoyed revisiting it as an adult. Continue Reading