Oh, the Lies that Lie Beneath the Fountain!

Just before the new millineum began, 1999 to be exact, a humorous tale was published about a fountain, an artist, school officials and, yes, a coverup (literally). Kate Klise is the talented wit behind Regarding the Fountain. If your chapter book reader hasn’t delved into this tale told in memos, letters and all sorts of correspondence, he or she is missing out.

The fountain outside Dry Creek Middle School is leaking and the principal has charged a fifth grade student with writing a letter requesting a catalog for a new one. So begins the craziness.  The admnistrators want a basic fountain, the students want a grand one and the fountain company, headed by Flo Waters, an artist, wants to create a masterpiece. As tensions rise, the fifth graders begin to deduce that there is more than cost involved in the administrator’s reluctance to replace the fountain. Namely, a coverup, involving something intentionally hidden UNDER the fountain.

Readers will love following the fifith graders as they discover the mystery of the fountain, expose the adults’ corruption and enjoy a satisying conclusion.

Written by Kate Klise

Copyright 1998 (hardcover), 1999 (paperback).

Accelerated reader level 5.8

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Cheaters Never Prosper…..

Okay, 2006 isn’t all that far back, but honestly, every generation needs to read at least one awesome story about kids who try to cheat and get away with it. First, because who doesn’t need to learn that lesson? Second, because we ALL dream big as kids, so we can all relate. When I was little, I was sure that by high school we’d all be flying to school using jet packs.  But think about the licensing problems, the collisions, the parking…see, big dreams start out great, but then reality hits. Brenton’s big dream was to modify his computer so that it would do his homework for him, hence the book’s title, The Homework Machine. Amazingly, he did it and it worked, but soon thereafter his solution to homework transformed into a problem. Sam, Judy and Kelsey are assigned to be a study group with Brenton. The four are as different as can be, yet they have one thing in common. They all want in on the Homework Machine action and so the secret grows. Events gain momentum in their downhill roll and, eventually, their moral lapse is revealed. Written in concise chapters, each is narrated by a character explaining his/her perspective on the situation. Dan Gutman creates a sometimes humorous, sometimes harshly real view of following opportunities without considering their consequences. A great read-aloud perfectly suited for discussion of or the chance to write about right versus wrong and the morality of our actions and maybe even a little bit about big dreams.

By Dan Gutman

Accelerated Reader Level 4.8

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Chapter Book Medicine with a Side Effect of Laughter!

Once again, it is Flashback Friday! Today’s scouted book suggestion is Roald Dahl’s underrated tale, George’s Marvelous Medicine. Originally written in 1981, it is a short, intense chapter book with a wacky story line that will enthrall readers. When Mr. and Mrs. Kranky, George’s parents, leave George to care for his grandmother, she treats him with rudeness, bullies him and is demanding. Since George must prepare and deliver daily medicine to grandma, he hatches a plan. Using everything and anything he can find around the farm, George creates his own medicine, one he’s sure will cure grandma’s gruff and grouchy ways.  Readers will revel, groan and giggle at the ingredients that George uses to concoct his medicine. Grandma slurps up George’s mixture and the hilarity begins. She transforms, twists and grows in response to the medicine. George then serves up the medicine to the farm animals and the outcome is giant chickens and sheep. When the Krankys return home, they are more impressed with the over sized animals than with grandma’s alteration, which frustrates and annoys her. Dad, seeing an opportunity, wants George to make more of his marvelous medicine. George can’t recall all the ingredients or amounts he used and George’s medicine 2.0 has a much different, yet funny, effect. There is nothing socially correct about this story, including the ending and the resolution of George’s “grandma problem”. Still, as long as we adults emphasize that it is a work of pure FICTION, it will tap into the limitless imaginations of most 3rd -6th grade chapter book readers and they will find it a side-splitting riot!

Written by Roald Dahl, Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Accelerated Reader Level 4.0

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Audio CD or Kindle

Each Chapter Filled with Unlucky Winners!

Linda Lacrosse is aware that she is an unlucky person, things just don’t go her way.  So, after buying a lottery ticket to use as part of a math lesson for her class, she has no qualms about offering to share her potential winnings equally with her class. But this verbal agreement  is not good enough, according to her students in room 13. They want a contract in writing. Linda and the kids sign, except for the kid who was absent that day. Amazingly, their teacher’s ticket IS the winner and, true to her word and the contract, she splits the winnings. One million dollars goes to each student, except, again, the student who was absent that day.   Honest Lee, the author, dedicates one short chapter to each of the now-millionaire room 13 students, telling the tale of  how he or she spends their sudden windfall. Some students have selfish motives, for example, the one who cloned himself, while others try to better the world, but most of them meet with disaster and lose it all. The conclusion, of course, is that money can’t buy most things kids desire, especially happiness. Perhaps, the student who was absent the day of the lottery contract was, in fact, the luckiest kid in room 13! The story is clever and funny and students, particularly those in grades 3-5, will enjoy the silly spending decisions and the good-ideas-gone-bad conjured up by Lee. Readers will ponder what they would do with a million dollars. Sharp teachers will capitalize on the opportunity to read the book aloud and use its premise to motivate students to do some wildly creative writing of their own.

Written by Honest Lee, copyright 2017, Accelerated Reader Level 4.9

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If you enjoy this chapter book, you’ll be happy to learn that it’s the beginning of a series.  Below are the further (mis)adventures of the students of room 13.

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A pig with a sweet tooth and tons of fun!

I simply can’t pass up the opportunity to share the books of R.A. Spratt, an English-born author with a clever style of writing that makes her books highly engaging. Her characters are full of wit and humor and her stories brim with hijinx that thoroughly entertain.  Her first series stars Sarah Piggins, a pig whose former career was with the circus, serving as the projectile shot out of a cannon!   When she answers a front-yard ad to be a nanny, Sarah becomes the caretaker of Derrick, Samantha and Michael. From that moment on, the now Nanny Piggins boldly leads her charges in a succession of wacky adventures. Intermediate readers will giggle at Nanny’s predicaments and revel in her silliness. Nanny is wild and brave and a piggie after my own heart with her crazy ways and obsession with chocolate cake. Once Nanny Piggins has tickled your funny bone and  become a new favorite character, the other books in the series will satisfy your craving for more.

Most books in the series are in the level 6 range for AR. If the level is a bit high for some readers, these chapter books do make for a fun parent/child experience when read aloud!

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