Friday, March 23, 2012

Free Chapter Books: Mystery, Bullying & Farts

Every once in a while I can find some chapter books for free on the Kindle that seem like they may be interesting. I usually have an aversion to vampires and werewolves and other science fiction, so that limits me a bit. Lately I have come across some freebies, though, that seem a little promising.

Please note that they are free as of the time that I am posting this. Prices are subject to change at any time. (I had one that was listed as free this morning, but by this afternoon was already back up to $1.99!) So always confirm the "Buy" price and ignore the "Prime" price when making your purchase.

The Sinister Submarine (Brant Twins Mysteries)

The Brant twins are Jimmy and Sally, who are as different as they could be. They travel around the world with their mother, a marine biologist, and their father, an ecological specialist, and often find themselves in the middle of a mystery.

In this book, they come across a WWII submarine in the middle of the Bahamas. There is no logical explanation as to why it is there. They save a dolphin while working with the US Coast Guard to collect clues as to this mystery submarine.

As of this posting, the book has 10 five-star reviews, some of which even liken the book to the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series.
Get your Kindle copy here.
When Farts Had Colors

Okay, so at first glance, this one appears to be one of the "gross" titles, I know. But actually, this one is supposed to be about bullying. Mondays are bad enough for 4th grader Lance Chance. But when the class bully cuts the nastiest fart on record, he blames it all on Lance. Lance wishes that farts had colors, so that it could be truly tracked back to their source. And his wish comes true...
Get your Kindle copy here.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Okay, so I am slow in catching up with the world of elementary literature at times. Sorry! But, I finally managed to procure a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid from one of my darling 8 year-olds. I know it has been a popular series for a while and the movie was a big deal for kids. And I can now see what it would appeal to her and so many others.

Greg Heffley has just entered middle school. And under no circumstances are you to call this book a diary. It is a journal. Diaries are for sissies. But journals are for famous people. And he is going to be famous some day.

But for now he is another one of those undersized weaklings, roaming the middle school hallways with those brutes who have matured a lot faster than the rest of them. He shares his escapades with his fellow geeks friends as they try to dodge bullies, play illicit video games, get stuck participating in the middle school play, and try their hands at being crossing guards for the kindergartners and comic strip authors.

The teacher in me cringed while reading of their antics. But that perma-kid inside of me snorted out loud at a couple of their shenanigans. I knew people who got away with this naughty kind of stuff, but never had the guts to do it myself. And this is why it is so appealing to kids in elementary school and even middle school.

The book is pretty easy to read, even for kids who are somewhat struggling. Print is like handwriting and is on lines like a notebook. Interspersed throughout are numerous drawings, that are supposed to be by Greg himself. And anything that inspires a kid to read definitely is worth some points in my book!

This book is in the first of a series of at least five. Now for me to see if I can convince the girl to let me borrow some more....

I am also including a link to purchase the DVD. But under NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to watch it until you have read the book! It's the law!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

2 Free Chapter Books for Kids

Elementary children have a variety of new books available, in addition to a lot of the classics. Here are a few promising-looking freebies I found while combing the Amazon site today. Please note that while the Kindle editions are free as of the time of this posting, prices can change without warning. Please always check the "Buy" price and not the "Prime" price prior to purchasing.

 Tales From the Glades of Ballymore
This book for children has been created in a similar fashion as the classic Wind in the Willows. A self-sustained community of animals has many adventures in the Irish countryside in the late 1800s. Illustrations in full color add to the theme of the Golden Rule. It is recommended for children ages 8-12, but younger children can also enjoy it being read aloud. At the end are a list of discussion questions for parents and teachers to use with the book.
Get your Kindle copy here.

 Samantha Loses the Box Turtle
Samantha's grandfather rescues a box turtle and brings it home for her. But Samantha's mother says she cannot keep it. Read about her zany adventures as she loses the box turtle. This chapter book has 15 illustrations, as well as an informational section about box turtles at the end of it.
Get your Kindle copy here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2 Free Gross Books for Kids

Kids are gross and they love gross books. Today on Amazon, there are a couple of gross books that should be right up any kid's alley. I even had to download them both.

Please note that even though they are free at the time of this posting, this price is not a fixed guarantee. Always check the "Buy" price and not the "Prime" price prior to your purchase.
No Kindle? No worries. Download a free Kindle reading app for your smartphone, tablet or computer, or give in and purchase one of your own.

 Maddy's Guide to Life: Elevator Farts
Farts are funny. Especially when the anecdotes are coming from a nine year-old's point-of-view. Learn how Maddy and her friends learned how to cope with Joey after he ate too many beans and then got trapped in the elevator.
Get your Kindle copy here.

 The Booger Book: Pick It, Lick It, Roll It, Flick It!
Boogers are absolutely disgusting, yet kids can't help but stick their fingers up their noses. And then they have to do nasty things with their boogers. Even some grown up kids can't help themselves. This guide teaches kids all kinds of nasty things that they can do with those boogers. Boys, and a few girls, will probably be entertained quite a bit. And hey, at least they're reading, right?
Get your Kindle copy here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Leslie and the Lion

I will be honest and say that I have a hard time justifying spending money on e-books. There is something about spending my money on something that is tangible that is preferable to me. I had long been curious about Jennifer Walker's books about Bubba, but had never felt like spending the money.

When she released the short companion story, "Leslie and the Lion," I was convinced to spend the whopping 99 cents on it, to check it out. And I fell in love with the Green Meadow series, even without reading an entire novel.

"Leslie and the Lion" appears to take place between Bubba Goes National and Bubba to the Rescue. Leslie's father is not yet remarried and Lucky is injury-free. It may actually be a side trail from the first book: a story that didn't fit into the novel, yet needed to be told.

Alex is Leslie's boyfriend and Holly is her best friend. On this particular day, the three of them decide to saddle up and go for a ride in the woods. The adults are nowhere to be found, so they tell no one of their plans. As they make their way along the trail, they start to notice gashes in the tree trunks. The horses start to get nervous. And then they find the telltale tracks of a mountain lion.

When the mountain lion appears, the three friends quickly take off down the trail to protect themselves. When they feel that they are safe, they realize that they are completely lost. As they take turns reaching for their cell phones to either call for help or to use GPS to navigate their way back to Green Meadows, they find that none of them remembered a phone. They are lost and have no contact with the outer world. They could turn around, but may encounter the mountain lion again. What are they going to do?

I am not usually a fan of short stories, but this one completely held my attention. It sucked me into the lives of the three friends and convinced me to go ahead and purchase the two novels in the series. Even just based on this short story, I recommended the series to one of my friends from elementary school. She and I spent many hours devouring books in the book corner at school. Horse stories were among our favorites.

This story has enough action and adventure to hold the interest of the reader, while also providing a great lesson to kids. Having read more of Jennifer Walker's works now, I can see a pattern of life lessons within her stories. They are not glaringly obvious all of the time, but not so subtle that they pass the reader by. This one in particular would be a great one to read to a class and then follow up with a discussion on safety.

While I am hoping for more full-length books in the Green Meadow series, more of these short stories would be lovely, as well.

I purchased a copy of "Leslie and the Lion" for my Kindle apps. It is currently only available as an e-book. Perhaps some day, if more of these short stories appear, they will all be available in one large collection.

Bubba to the Rescue

The second book in the Green Meadow series by Jennifer Walker is Bubba to the Rescue. This installment begins with Leslie gaining a new member of her family as her father gets remarried. While her parents are on their honeymoon, she spends a lot of time with her boyfriend Alex, riding Bubba. On one particular trip along the trail, they encounter a fire at the Bakers'. The Bakers were the family who had Leslie show their horse Charlie in Bubba Goes National, which led to her purchasing her horse Lucky, a.k.a Bubba. They were her mentors and mean a lot to her. They quickly save the horses and then rush back to Green Meadow to help save their barns from also catching fire. They also find a new horse, dubbed Spark, as they are out on their adventure. Unfortunately, Lucky is seriously injured in the conflagration.

Between her horse being injured, starting high school and her father getting remarried, Leslie has a lot of conflicting emotions about so many changes. She is starting to get attached to the new horse and concocts a plan to surprise everyone with his progress. This planning brings a new habit of lying, though, which is really out of character for her. She gets into a bit of trouble after her surprise is over and the truth comes out. Further life lessons happen when she suspects her best friend Holly of being in an almost abusive relationship, gets into a fight with her own boyfriend and learns more about loss with her horses.

While I enjoyed this second installment of the Green Meadow series, I have to say I did not like it quite as much as the first one. The parts in which some of the life lessons were being taught, such as Holly's issues with her boyfriend, felt more forced than other parts of the book. All of the stories about the horses and the shows flowed much more naturally. That being said, I am not sure how I would have presented the difficulties any differently.

The characters are 14 years old and just starting high school. These years are filled with all kinds of angst and new challenges. The characters almost feel a little too good at times, but in a way that reminds me of the books from the 1950s that I loved so much in elementary school. I think of Betsy and Eddie, and the romance books by Beverly Cleary. I appreciate Jennifer trying to impart some positive values on her readers, to counteract all of the negative ones otherwise found in media.

Just as in the first book, I learned a lot about horse care while reading this one. Anyone who is interested in starting up with horses can get a good foundation from reading the Green Meadow series. Descriptions are detailed enough for me to clearly picture them in my mind. I am feeling the need to look up some local stables to see if I can find a horse to at least pet, if not ride.

I have greatly enjoyed reading about Leslie and her adventures. I look forward to more books in this series and recommend them for those in upper elementary and beyond.

I purchased my copy as an e-book through Smashwords. It is also available for your Kindle and as a paperback.

Bubba Goes National

Bubba Goes National is the first in the Green Meadow series by author Jennifer Walker. This book introduces us to 13 year-old Leslie. She lost her mother at a young age and works at the Green Meadow Stables to earn money for her riding lessons. She also longs for the day when she can own her very own horse. Her lessons mean the world to her and her trainer, Helen, is like her second mother.

Leslie is given the opportunity of a lifetime when she is asked to show one of the horses without having to pay a penny. Her best friend Holly is extremely excited for her. But her bratty nemesis, Kate, does anything she can to just be nasty toward her and to sabotage her. She does well on her first attempt. Soon after the show, she finds her own horse at an auction - a small Arabian whom she names Lucky, but her father insists on calling Bubba. She also meets a special young man named Alex.

Lucky brings Leslie more than just horse happiness. His arrival leads to special new friendships and relationships in her life, as those she loves help her along her journey. His special name from Leslie ends up being a true one, many times over.

My favorite part of this book is that warm feeling in my belly as I relive my childhood. I loved reading horse books in elementary school. A typical girl, I loved horses, even though I didn't have a lot of experience with them. I can totally picture myself back in the book corner of the elementary room with my nose buried in this book. I also feel like I am subtly learning a lot about horses and horse care. Information about grooming and different horse breeds is seamlessly woven throughout the book to educate while entertaining.

Leslie is a breath of fresh air in current chapter books. She exudes a good moral character, without being preachy. She is very down-to-earth, kind and caring. Her character is well-written. While you are reading the book, you find yourself meshing with her and can easily get lost in the story. This is the kind of book I would want to share with my elementary-aged children. And obviously it is even enjoyable for older kids and the young-at-heart.

I purchased my own copy of Bubba Goes National through Smashwords, though you can also find it for Kindle or in paperback form.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Chapter books for kids fall into a category of their own. They are more sophisticated than the simple picture books of the early years. But they are not as sophisticated as those that fall under the Young Adult genre.

In this blog, I plan to share books that are appropriate for kindergarten through the tween years. They will be labeled accordingly for appropriate age ranges, as some are better for younger grades than older grades. Some books may even cross over between age groups and link between the various blogs.

Come back every week or so to see what is new!

And yes, I am an Amazon affiliate. If you see something in which you are interested, please click on my link and do your shopping from there. I will benefit with a penny or two from your purchase. Thanks!