Waiting on the new Potter book

It’ll be another month before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the Harry Potter series, becomes available. So the question is, what will you read in the meantime?

It seems the trend in fiction lately has been stories about dragons, pirates or witchcraft. I tried very hard to find some books of a different genre.

CRANE, by Jeff Stone, Random House Books for Young Readers, $15.99; ages 10-14.

This is book four in the five ancestors series that began in 2005. I did read book one, which gave me background information. The books take place in ancient China and tell the story of five orphaned monks. Their temple is destroyed and the secret scrolls are stolen. The five young monks set out on their separate ways, each trying to get the scrolls back. Each of the books represents the character’s animal kung-fu styles and although each story interweaves the characters, each book is primarily about its namesake. In this book, the reader learns that as a small child, OnYeen had to leave her family and go to the temple. Crane’s true identity is revealed as a new life is pursued. As the story continues, the reader learns that Monkey, the youngest brother, has been captured and three members of the group come together to rescue him. Stone has a black belt in kung-fu, which he received at the Shaolin Temple in China. To find out what type of animal character fits your personality, go to www.fiveancestors.com.

GOONEY THE FABULOUS, by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Middy Thomas, Houghton Mifflin, $15; ages 6-8.

This Gooney book is the third in a series about a very precocious second-grade girl. The class is learning about fables. At the suggestion of Gooney Bird, they are each going to write a fable that will include an animal that starts with the first letter of their name. In the first book of the series, Gooney Bird Greene, the reader not only learns about our friend and how she got her name but also about her unique style of dress. This book introduces the concept of storytelling.

I heard Lois Lowry speak recently at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville. We not only got to hear her talk about her character, but also to see a group of children in the audience dressed in Gooney Bird fashions. Watch for more Gooney Bird books, one for each month of the school year. Lowry has a book for readers of all ages. I also like Anastasia, who appeared in 1979, at age 10, and through her books grows up to junior high. Her younger brother Sam is another delightful character. Whether your child has a younger brother or not, his antics are very typical and enjoyable. Lowry’s books will keep a reader busy for many enjoyable hours. To learn more about Lowry and her books, visit www.loislowry.com.

MOXY MAXWELL DOES NOT LOVE STUART LITTLE, by Peggy Gifford, photographs by Valorie Fisher, Schwartz& Wade, $12.99; ages 7-11.

What reader wouldn’t like Stuart Little? I guess that depends on whether you are reading the book for fun or if it is a required read during summer vacation and it is now the night before fourth grade starts and the task is not finished. Moxy carried Stuart Little everywhere she went during vacation, just in case she had time between activities to read. One summer activity Moxy really enjoyed was working on water ballet. She was one petal of the daisy routine the girls would be doing for the show. Because she hasn’t finished her book, Mom is threatening to make Moxy stay home. But first Moxy has to have a little snack. While eating a peach she decides to plant an orchard. One peach pit leads to another, and before long, the whole scheme is a disaster. Let Moxy be a lesson to you. If you have a summer reading assignment, then get it done before you start the new Potter book or you’ll have a lot of last-minute work to finish.

THE GHOST'S GRAVE, by Peg Kehret, Dutton, $16.99; ages 9-12.

Josh finds out that his mother and Steve, her husband, will be going to India for the summer. Josh will stay with his 82-year-old Aunt Ethel—not the kind of summer he had in mind. But Aunt Ethel turns out to be quite a character. On the night Josh arrives she shoots a bat that is flying around in the kitchen. She teaches Josh to knit. Then, while visiting the cemetery, Josh meets Willie the ghost. It seems that Willie got buried in one location while his amputated leg got buried elsewhere and he wants Josh to get him the lost part of his leg. How would you react in a situation like this? Kehret is another author who can keep you busy all summer when you get started reading her books.

Judy Belanger is Chicago Parent’s children’s book reviewer and a retired elementary learning resource center teacher with four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6.

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