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

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

Linda Urban’s Road Trip with Max and His Mom

Linda Urban’s Road Trip with Max and His Mom (2018) is a clever follow up to Weekends with Max and His Dad (2016). In both books a young Max adjusts to his parent’s recent divorce. Urban’s second installment pivots around a road trip to Pennsylvania that nine-year-old Max and his Mom take to celebrate his Great Great Aunt Victory’s 100th birthday. Continue reading

Debbi Michiko Florence’s Jasmine Toguchi Series

Debbie Michiko Florence’s delightful early chapter book series, about an 8-year-old Japanese American girl named Jasmine Toguchi, provides readers with accessible and engaging snapshots of Japanese cultural traditions as well as universal struggles of growing up in the US. Continue reading