Terry Lynn Johnson’s Lost!

Terry Lynn Johnson’s Lost! is the first book in the Survivor Diaries series. Two recently introduced children vacationing with their families at a resort in Costa Rica get lost in the rainforest. They survive through will, wit, and a little luck.

In the first chapter, one of the two protagonists, Carter, a young African American boy, is interviewed by a reporter about surviving being lost in the Costa Rican rainforest. We learn that his friend and fellow survivor, Anna, a white girl who is older, taller, and stronger than him, will be interviewed the next day. Knowing the children survive alleviates a sense of doom in the chapters that follow, which pull us back in time six weeks to when Carter and Anna disappeared into the rainforest. Continue reading

Courtney Carbone’s This Makes Me Sad

This Makes Me Sad, written by Courtney Carbone and illustrated by Hilli Kushnir, is one of several books in Rodale Kids’ Dealing with Feelings series. This easy reader does a great job teaching emotional literacy through simple sentences that build an accessible and engaging story about a boy and his lost dog.

The story is told in the first-person by a little boy who accidentally left the gate on his fence open, which allowed his dog, Kit, to escape. His parents try to reassure him that everything will be okay, but he is anxious and sad. Continue reading

Shannon and Dean Hale’s The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair ScareShannon and Dean Hale’s The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare is delightfully and generously illustrated by LeUyen Pham whose many images are sure to encourage young readers’ transition from early readers to easy chapter books. The story strains against traditional fairytale conventions by engaging contemporary ideas and empowering its diverse princesses. Continue reading

Anna Humphrey’s Megabat

In Anna Humphrey’s Megabat, a boy named Daniel leaves his friends, school, and home behind when his family moves to a new city. He is unenthusiastic about his creaky, kind of creepy, new house and resolutely refuses to try to make friends; that is, until he is jolted out of his loneliness by a talking bat who has taken up residence in his new attic bedroom. The two quickly bond over shared sadness and Star Wars. It turns out the bat, who is from Borneo, wandered into a shipping container and accidentally ended up half way around the world. Once Daniel meets the talking bat, who he names Megabat, the central conflict of the story shifts from getting Daniel comfortable in his new home to getting Megabat home. Continue reading