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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Seven (More) Chapter Book Series

Of the various of chapter books read by the seven year old in the last year, there doesn't seem to be a top preference in terms of characters, language, plot and such - at this point at least. But, she does have some comments about each - 'Junie B. is so weird and she gets in trouble all the time', 'Ivy & Bean do some very silly things, they should know better', etc. And, some books are 'just boring, nothing really happens' and some others are, 'not fun at all'.

Mostly fantasy and realistic fiction, some historical fiction, with a mix of contemporary works and books from earlier generations seem to be the spectrum covered so far.

The list here is based on most-books-read-from-the-series, and, most-often-picked-out-from-the-library, and are by no means exhaustive or exceptional. Why seven? Well, like before, Seven from the seven yo sounded nice :)

The books listed here are just a random pick from each series, ordered from most-enjoyed to least-interesting, according to the young reader.

The Doll People
by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin
pictures by Brian Selznick

A couple of books in this series were Nana's present for Ana's birthday. As the name suggests it is about porcelain dolls living in a dollhouse.

Annabelle Doll, central character, has been eight years old for over a hundred years with nothing much happening until the modern Funcrafts move in. The humans (Palmers) don't know the secret lives these dolls live, of course, but Captain, the cat, keeps an eye on them.

Annabelle has a lot of adventures, as expected. For instance, picked up by Nora and held tightly in her hand, Annabelle could hardly see where she was going, and when Kate tries to get Nora to hand her Annabelle, Nora ends up tossing Annabelle; thankfully Annabelle lands on a soft sweater or she would have shattered to pieces, being made of porcelain. She waits quietly until the Palmers are seated for dinner and slips back into her doll house.

With such wonderful possibilities, this book has a certain appeal that little girls might come to enjoy.

"Most of the book was about Annabelle looking for her Aunt and she finds her finally. She was in the attic," is the summary I got from Ana.

[image source:]

The Littles to the Rescue
by John Peterson
illustrations by Roberta Carter Clark

Nana gave a handful of The Littles books and Ana took to them right away. The Littles are much like everyone else, except they are little - i.e., small, tiny compared to humans er... The Biggs, and have tails and scuttle about living their tough everyday life.

Ekeing out a living in some inhospitable conditions and managing to stay hidden from the humans sure involves a lot of adventure, the kind that kids might yearn for in today's sterile world.

The classic illustrations, along with just enough details to let the imagination take over, the books are quite entertaining and fun, even if the first of The Littles books was published in 1967.

[image source:]

Fairy Realm series: The Magic key
by Emily Rodda
illustrations by Raoul Vitale

As the name suggests, Jessie discovers a fairy realm when she visits her grandmother's house, thanks to grandma's connection to the magical world. Needless to say, the adventures are imaginative and wonderful.

Ana especially loved this series, believing that it is all true - the existence of a parallel fairy world (she still leaves notes and berries for fairies in the backyard, and builds fairy houses on and off). I managed to read quite a number of books in this series with her and enjoyed it.

[image source:]

Beany goes to camp
by Susan Wojciechowski
illustrated by Susanna Natti

A rather humdrum and predictable set of stories as far as I've seen, but, well-written to appeal to the 6/7 year olds.

Beany (Bernice) gets into situations and finds the right thing to do and comes out with flying colors in the end. (Incidentally, Ivy & Bean's Bean is also Bernice.)

I think Beany appeals to Ana as they are both worrywarts and so end up encountering their worries/fears everywhere and tend to focus their attention on it. However, things do work out all right in the end and Beany learns something about her strengths along the way.

[image source:]

Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds
by David Adler
illustrated by Susanna Natti

Cam Jansen is observant, clever, and practical; and solving mysteries has its appeal. We just started this series and Ana seems to want to read more.

It seems to be a fun bed-time read for summer vacation when she is allowed to be up later, and wake up later.

[image source:]

Milly-Molly-Mandy stories
written & illustrated by Joyce Lankester Brisley

A friend and fellow contributor at Saffron Tree suggested Milly-Molly-Mandy series for Ana and she seems to like it.

Published first in 1928, the stories are about Millicent Margaret Amanda's life in her village - quite idyllic and sweet, with charming illustrations.

I like that Milly-Molly-Mandy's world is just and fair, with considerate and kind people; I like that kids are well-behaved; simpler times, simpler world.

[image source:]

Heidi Heckelbeck and the cookie contest
by Wanda Coven
illustrated by Priscilla Burris

This series was not as much relished by Ana as, say, The Littles or The Doll People, but the part about Heidi being a witch attracted her to it. 

The books are an easy read with large text and many illustrations, aimed more towards the early readers. 

Ana breezed through a few of them one night and decided she is done with them. When prodded for comments about the Cookie Contest book, all I got was, "Her cookies stank" and similar happenings in other books where Heidi's spells backfire.

[image source:]

And, since I did not read all the books, I gathered some tidbits from Ana to jot down here. (I did scan the books for language and content, of course). Some are from a generation or two ago and still have that timeless appeal, even if dated and inconsistent with today's codes.

Although Ramona Quimby is not listed here, the eight novels in the Ramona series were breezed through early this year and completed by Spring Break. By the end of it, Ramona had grown up, at least grown older than the seven year old reader, but she made a lasting impression nonetheless.

Two, sometimes three, of the Magic Treehouse series books get read back-to-back within an hour these days, it still has its appeal. Why? 'I can learn something new from the books sometimes - like the Titanic, Emperor Qin, Clara Barton...'

While Rainbow Fairies grew stale pretty quickly, Flower Fairies Friends books were on for a while.

A few other chapter book series we've enjoyed reading over the last year:
Four chapter book series
Gooney Bird Greene
American Girl Historical Characters
Ivy & Bean series
Junie B. Jones series

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