LEGEND OF HALLOWEEN

Fright Month Post #3: Let’s Get Scared!

In October, we’ll review books and series that ooze with delicious creepy crawlies, heebie geebies and chilly willies.

 sebella cover

THE MAGICAL WORLD OF SEBELLA: LEGEND OF HALLOWEEN

By Thea Berg

 

Published by: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 14, 2014)

Available in: paperback, Kindle

At the time of this review there were two books in the Magical World of Sebella series.

 

Sweet and tart.

The Magical World of Sebella: Legend of Halloween lets kids devour a Halloween sugar high without the risk of cavities. A quick-paced, magical tale probably best for girls who are voracious readers, this story glories in the sweetest holiday of the year.

The story begins 24 hours before the Trick or Treat hour and is all about delicious anticipation. As one would hope, it’s filled with scary creatures like trolls and grandma-snatching werewolves, fantastic locations like a Twin Candies magical garden, and a suspenseful plot that keeps readers engaged to the end. The threat of Halloween not happening hangs over the action, and that is a powerful tool indeed.

There are some sharp bites to this candy-coated tale. The writing sometimes lacks subtlety and finesse, such as when fun names are followed by explanations like “…that really is his name.” But the biggest problem is that this book is entirely without illustrations, other than the excellent cover. One of the difficulties of self-publishing chapter books is coming up with both text and illustrations, so the absence is understood—but sorely missed.

The book ends with an entertaining reader questionnaire, so those who’ve eaten up the text will enjoy testing themselves on facts. For those who delight in Halloween, this could be a good appetizer for the big event.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….

Year One Re-Post #9: Heidi Heckelbeck Has a Secret

Originally published in October 2013. I find Heidi one of the freshest new characters in the chapter book world.

heidi cover

HEIDI HECKELBECK HAS A SECRET

By Wanda Coven, Illustrated by Priscilla Burris

Published by: Little Simon (January 3, 2012)

Available in: paperback, library binding, Kindle, NOOK

At the time of this review, there were 10 books in the Heidi Heckelbeck series.

Heidi Heckelbeck is magic. But don’t tell your little reader—the big reveal is in the last line of the first book in the series.

In fact, the whole of Heidi Heckelbeck Has a Secret leads up to a denouement in the second book, Heidi Heckelbeck Casts a Spell. See the utter genius of the marketing plan? Rather than make a chapter book that is too big, this series runs like separate parts of the same story. Yes, each piece is complete unto itself. But if a kid is hooked, she WILL NOT stop at one book.

It’s almost kind of cruel, isn’t it? Much how we all had to wait for each Harry Potter installment, Heidi Heckelbeck’s story is filled with unrequited expectation. Ah, but the anticipation is half the joy, and I give only kudos to the author for this inspired, pint-size version of the magical, multi-book saga.

The text, done with refreshingly contemporary language, is a very easy read. There is absolutely no mistaking Heidi’s world for those classic chapter books of another decade. Add in the zingy, silly illustrations that dot almost every page, and even very reluctant readers will find a way through each page… and then the next… and then the next book.

Also, props go to the interesting idea that Heidi is a previous homeschool kid who now has to integrate into real school. Unique, and filled with the drama you’d expect. All those tough transitions place Heidi squarely in the real world, with problems any kid can recognize. From bullies to clueless teachers, Heidi has some difficult stuff to work through, which she does with grace… once she makes a few haunting mistakes.

As a note, this is listed as a Halloween book, which it technically is not. But the Halloween overtones and references abound, so if a kid is into that theme, Heidi delivers quite the treat. And she’s got some tricks up her sleeve to boot.

Now that’s a sweet haul for any day of the year.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….

Year One Re-Post #3: Kylie Jean

Originally published in October 2013. This fresh new series was one of the first I’d found that uses a new marketing concept: that of launching a number of chapter books at one time.

kylie jean cover

 

Pirate Queen (Kylie Jean)

By Marci Peschke, Illustrated by Tuesday Mourning

 

Publisher: Picture Window Books (February 1, 2013)

Available in: paperback, hardcover, Kindle

At the time of this review, there were 10 Kylie Jean chapter books available.

*NOTE: HALLOWEEN THEME

 

She’s such a girly girl.

This series, new and quite astute from a marketing angle (more about that later), centers on a Southern belle whose biggest dream is to grow up to be a beauty queen. All pink and frothy from cover to content, Kylie Jean is one spun-sugar miss in more ways than one.

Each book in the series crowns Kylie Jean the queen of something new: rodeo, blueberry, dancing, cupcake and singing are some of the topics.

Pirate Queen Kylie Jean is fun because it’s a Halloween book, and who doesn’t love a smattering of pirate lingo thrown in? Aye, matey, this swashbuckling adventure has some sea legs, pink Jolly Roger and all.

The Southern aspect also is a draw for those who hanker for or love the American South. With names like Peachtree Lane, Lickskillet Road and Momma, you know where this is set. And that’s kind of cool.

The cartoonish, contemporary artwork is evocative of a bobblehead, but it fits the simple language and plot. Still, it’s a sweet story that touches on kindness, and there are some extras at the back that raise the heft of the content: discussion topics, a recipe, a glossary and more.

The publisher is quite wise to launch a number of books at once, so those readers who cotton to Kylie Jean have a lot to choose from. The series launched just two years ago with the first four books, and then added six more books earlier this year. Marketing genius. This is important because so many chapter book series are a generation or two down the road, and although Miss Kylie Jean might be old-style Southern, she’s one very current girl.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….

Magical Heidi Heckelbeck

heidi cover

HEIDI HECKELBECK HAS A SECRET

By Wanda Coven, Illustrated by Priscilla Burris

Published by: Little Simon (January 3, 2012)

Available in: paperback, library binding, Kindle, NOOK

At the time of this review, there were 10 books in the Heidi Heckelbeck series.

Heidi Heckelbeck is magic. But don’t tell your little reader—the big reveal is in the last line of the first book in the series.

In fact, the whole of Heidi Heckelbeck Has a Secret leads up to a denouement in the second book, Heidi Heckelbeck Casts a Spell. See the utter genius of the marketing plan? Rather than make a chapter book that is too big, this series runs like separate parts of the same story. Yes, each piece is complete unto itself. But if a kid is hooked, she WILL NOT stop at one book.

It’s almost kind of cruel, isn’t it? Much how we all had to wait for each Harry Potter installment, Heidi Heckelbeck’s story is filled with unrequited expectation. Ah, but the anticipation is half the joy, and I give only kudos to the author for this inspired, pint-size version of the magical, multi-book saga.

The text, done with refreshingly contemporary language, is a very easy read. There is absolutely no mistaking Heidi’s world for those classic chapter books of another decade. Add in the zingy, silly illustrations that dot almost every page, and even very reluctant readers will find a way through each page… and then the next… and then the next book.

Also, props go to the interesting idea that Heidi is a previous homeschool kid who now has to integrate into real school. Unique, and filled with the drama you’d expect. All those tough transitions place Heidi squarely in the real world, with problems any kid can recognize. From bullies to clueless teachers, Heidi has some difficult stuff to work through, which she does with grace… once she makes a few haunting mistakes.

As a note, this is listed as a Halloween book, which it technically is not. But the Halloween overtones and references abound, so if a kid is into that theme, Heidi delivers quite the treat. And she’s got some tricks up her sleeve to boot.

Now that’s a sweet haul for any day of the year.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….

Queen Kylie Jean

 

kylie jean cover

Pirate Queen (Kylie Jean)

By Marci Peschke, Illustrated by Tuesday Mourning

 

Publisher: Picture Window Books (February 1, 2013)

Available in: paperback, hardcover, Kindle

At the time of this review, there were 10 Kylie Jean chapter books available.

 

She’s such a girly girl.

The Kylie Jean series, new and quite astute from a marketing angle (more about that later), centers on a Southern belle whose biggest dream is to grow up to be a beauty queen. All pink and frothy from cover to content, Kylie Jean is one spun-sugar miss in more ways than one.

Each book in the series crowns Kylie Jean queen of something: rodeo, blueberry, dancing, cupcake and singing are some of the topics.

Pirate Queen Kylie Jean is fun because it’s a Halloween book, and who doesn’t love a smattering of pirate lingo thrown in? Aye, matey, this swashbuckling adventure has some sea legs, pink Jolly Roger and all.

The Southern aspect also is a draw for those who hanker for or love the American South. With names like Peachtree Lane, Lickskillet Road and Momma, you know where this is set. And that’s kind of cool.

The cartoonish, contemporary artwork is evocative of a bobblehead, but it fits the simple language and plot. Still, it’s a sweet story that touches on kindness, and there are some extras at the back that raise the heft of the content: discussion topics, a recipe, a glossary and more.

The publisher is quite wise to launch a number of books at once, so those readers who cotton to Kylie Jean have a lot to choose from. The series launched just two years ago with the first four books, and then added six more books earlier this year. Marketing genius. This is important because so many chapter book series are a generation or two down the road, and although Miss Kylie Jean might be old-style Southern, she’s one very current girl.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….