The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Chapter Book

Bibliographic Information: Baum, L. Frank. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1900.

Plot Description:
Dorothy lived in Kansas with her aunt and uncle and dog. A freak cyclone lifted her house clean off, and landed in Oz, on top of the Wicked Witch of the East with silver slippers. The Good Witch of the North tells Dorothy that the shoes were now hers, but she just wants to go home. She travels to the Emerald City in the center of Oz, where the Great Wizard might be able to help her. Along the way she befriends a scarecrow, a tin man, and a lion, who join her travel as each of them also want something from the wizard (a brain, a heart, and nerves, respectively). They have to stay on the Yellow Brick Road that Dorothy had been traversing, lest they get lost or are bewitched by the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard meets the travellers, agreeing to grant their desires if they’ll defeat the Wicked Witch of the West. They set out west; she sends wolves, crows bees, and soldiers to kill them, but fail. Her winged monkeys capture them. The witch tricks Dorothy into taking off one of the magical slippers; angry, she throws a bucket of water on the witch, who melts. Dorothy and her companions return to the Wizard, he is revealed to be an ordinary man. He gives the males a totem of their desires, which just gives them the confidence to use their natural intelligence, love, and courage. To return Dorothy home, he sets up his hot-air balloon. She exits the craft to retrieve her dog, but it has already flown too high. The Good Witch of the South reveals to Dorothy that the silver shoes have the power to transport her any location she wants, including home.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 1030; Accelerated Reader: 7.0

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing on the adventures of Dorothy and her friends. It teaches about how you already have almost everything you need to succees and be happy. The text is 6th grade reading level.

Content Area: English

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts; #8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
  • CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5:  #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great chapter book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 4th grade through 6th grade. It explores themes like mystery and adventure.

Note: In the movie, the slippers were ruby, because The Wizard of Oz was one of the first color films, and the red showed up much better than silver.

The Golden Compass

Chapter Book

Bibliographic Information: Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. New York: Random House, Inc., 1995.

Plot Description:
Lyra Belacqua spends most of her time with her daemon companion around Oxford University, where her guardian works. Lyra secretly watches her Uncle Asriel in a meeting that talks about Dust, a particle that congregates around adults but not children. He gets funding for a project in the Arctic to prove that alternate universes exist. Her guardian gives her a pocket watch that reveals truth to the right questions. Meanwhile, children have been going missing all over and she befriends Mrs Coulter, who takes her in. She flees when she realizes Mrs Coulter is behind the disappearance of the children. She travels with a nomadic people, who explain that the woman is actually her mother and that Asriel is actually her father. Lyra befriends and frees a sentient bear. She finds out that the kidnapped children are being experimented upon, and sees a boy whose bond with his daemon has been cut, which essentially cuts a person off from their soul. She encounters Asriel again, who claims that Dust is the source of all misery and that he will be the one to erradicate it. He leaves for a parallel universe. Lyra and her daemon vow to stop him, and follow him.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 930; Accelerated Reader: 7.1

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing on the adventures of Lyra. It teaches about how few things are as they seem. The text is 6th grade reading level.

Content Area: English

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts; #8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
  • CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5:  #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great chapter book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 4rd grade through 6th grade. It explores themes like mystery and adventure.

Mary Poppins

Chapter Book

Bibliographic Information: Travers, P.L. Mary Poppins. Orlando: Harcourt Books, 1934.

Plot Description:
Jane and Michael Banks’ nanny quits suddenly, and Mary Poppins answers their mother’s advertisement. The children curiously watch her slide up the banister after their mother and then watched Mary Poppins unpack a lot of belongings from her visibly empty bag. On her day off, she visits her friend Bert, and they take a trip into a chalk pavement picture he had drawn. Mary Poppins brings the children to meet her uncle for tea, and they roll about the ceiling laughing. She takes them to the cathedral to feed the birds. She introduces them to her friend Fannie who makes gingerbread wrapped with a gilt paper star. The children later see her hanging the stars in the sky. The wind turns, and Mary Poppins takes her leave from the Banks’ employment, flying away on the west wind, held aloft by her umbrella.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 830; Accelerated Reader: 6.1

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing on the relationship between the children and Mary Poppins. It teaches about how change can be good and unexpected. The text is 5th grade reading level.

Content Area: English

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts; #8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
  • CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5:  #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great chapter book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 3rd grade through 5th grade. It explores themes like friendship and adventure.

Note: Mary Poppins is almost always referred to using her whole name. The movie starring Julie Andrews was one of the staples of my childhood. The recent film “Saving Mr. Banks” was all about Disney trying to turn Travers’ novels into the Julie Andrews movie.

Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock

Chapter Book

Bibliographic Information: Keene, Carolyn. Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock. New York: Scholastic, 1930.

Plot Description:
Nancy Drew, 18, wants to help the Turners, who are poor relatives of recently deceased Josiah Crowley. She dislikes his snobbish heirs presumptive, the Tophams. Nancy learns that Crowley hinted that the clue to his will would be found in the family clock. Burgulars broke into the family home and had stolen all the furniture, and they capture Nancy. She hides the clock and is rescued by police. Nancy later gives the Turners the clock and they receive the inheritance.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 760; Accelerated Reader: 5.4

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing on Nancy’s adventure involving the mystery. It teaches about how deserving families should be helped. The text is 5th grade reading level.

Content Area: English

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts; #8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
  • CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5:  #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great chapter book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 3rd grade through 5th grade. It explores themes like mystery and adventure.

Artemis Fowl

Chapter Book

Bibliographic Information: Riordan, Eoin. Artemis Fowl. New York: Scholastic, 2001.

Plot Description:
Artemis Fowl is a rich, Irish, child genius with a bodyguard named Butler. He found out about the existance of fairies, a magical race that predates humanity on the Earth. He thinks if he kidnaps a fairy, he can get a hefty ransom for its return. He bribes an outcast fairy for a copy of The Booke of the People and sets his plan in motion. The fairy he captures is Holly Short, a member of the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance unit, or LEPrecon. She had been sent topside to recharge her magic, accomplished by planting an acorn from an oak tree growing in the bend of a river picked by the light of the moon. Her cell in Artemis’ basement is newly-poured concrete with a metal bed. The LEP set up a time field around the Fowl estate, suspending time for three days and preserving the mental state of those inside (those awake stay awake, and those asleep stay asleep, and the two categories exist in separate layers of reality). Holly’s superior tries to reason with Artemis, who demands gold for her release. He reluctantly agrees and sends in the gold. Some higher-ups send in a troll to try to kill Artemis instead. Holly escapes her cell after smashing throgh the concrete floor and planting her acorn, which had fallen into her boot. With magic fully charged, and quite upset that the LEP had sent in a mindless beast that would kill her too, she beats the troll and heals Butler, who had been mortally wounded. She gets outside the perimeter just in time to see a “Blue Rinse” executed; it’s a force field that kills all living beings within it. The fairies really don’t want to part with their gold. Artemis foils this by administering sleeping pills to himself and his staff, and the drugs release them from the time field and subsequent termination. According to the rules of magic, Artemis has won his right to keep the gold, despite the fairies’ best efforts to reclaim it.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 600; Accelerated Reader: 5.0

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing both on Artemis’ and the fairies’ plots. It teaches about friendship in the face of danger. The text is 5th grade reading level.

Content Area: English

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts; #8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
  • CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5:  #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great chapter book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 3rd grade through 6th grade. It explores themes like cleverness and adventure.

Note: Along the bottom of every page is a line of symbols in Gnommish, the language of the fairies. It’s a simple shift cypher. While the decoded story doesn’t impact the main plot, it gives fascinating insight to the fairy culture.

The Lightning Thief

Chapter Book

Bibliographic Information: Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief. New York: Miramax Books, 2005.

Plot Description:
Percy Jackson is just a normal kid who gets into trouble a lot. He is attacked by one of the three Furies (who previously had been his algebra teacher) on a school field trip, and overhears his best friend Grover talking with their Latin teacher Mr. Brunner talking about him. Percy and his mother Sally visit the beach, and, oddly, Grover shows up and tells them they have to leave. They make it almost to a safe place, when Sally disappears after being attacked by the Minotaur. Percy kills it and takes its horn, passing out. He wakes up in “Camp Half-Blood”, a place where children of the Greek gods are supposed to be safe. Mr. Brenner is actually Chiron the centaur. Percy is claimed by Poseidon. At the last Solstice, Zeus’ thunderbolt had been stolen, and he blames Percy, as a son of Poseidon. Percy goes on a quest to find the bolt, bringing Grover, who turns out to be a satyr, and Annabeth, a daughter of Athena. They travel across the America to the west coast, where Hades lives, because they think he took the bolt. They encounter Ares, who gives them both a threat and a backpack full of supplies. Hades denies such action, claims his own healm of darkness had been stolen at the solstice, and reveals that the bag Ares had given them was the sheath for the bolt, and had the thunderbolt within it. He tries to take it, bargaining Percy’s mother, but the kids escape. Bolt in hand, they travel back to New York, New York, the current physical location of Mount Olympus. Percy meets his father for the first time and gives Zeus his bolt. Percy returns to camp, and then to his mother.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 740; Accelerated Reader: 4.7

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing on the adventures of Percy and his friends. It teaches about Greek mythology. The text is 4th grade reading level.

Content Area: English

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts; #8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
  • CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5:  #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great chapter book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 3rd grade through 5th grade. It explores themes like friendship and adventure.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Chapter Book, Transmedia Post

Bibliographic Information: Rowling, J. K. The Tales of Beedle the Bard. New York: Scholastic, 2007.

Plot Description:
This book exists inside the Harry Potter universe as a collection of folk tales that wizarding children grow up with. The most important story is The Tale of the Three Brothers. The three wizards used magic to build a bridge over a treacherous river. Death felt cheated, so he figured out another way to get his souls. He offered each brother a boon. The oldest brother demanded an undefeatable wand, the second brother wanted a stone that could bring the dead back alive, and the youngest brother asked for a cloak that would hide him from Death itself. The first brother bragged about his unbeatable wand, and someone slipped into his room at night and killed him, stealing the wand. And so Death took the first brother. The next brother returned to his home and brought his beloved back to life, but she was only a mockery of a living human. He killed himself in his depression. And so Death took the second brother. Death didn’t find the third brother again for a very long time. It was only when the man was old and ready to die that he passed on the cloak to his son. He greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, as equals.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile: 1290; Accelerated Reader: 8.3

Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This book is written in third-person, focusing on the misadventures of each tale. It teaches many morals: to be kind, to believe in yourself, to love, to not be greedy, and to be humble. The text is 6th grade reading level.

Content Area: English

Content Area Standard:

  • CCSS for Literature for K-5: #2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text; #4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes; #10 Read and comprehend literature in grade level text complexity range.
  • CCSS for Informational Text for K-5: #5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts; #8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
  • CCSS for Foundational Skills for K-5:  #4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Curriculum suggestions:
This is a great chapter book to use in English Language Arts Curriculum. It is best suited to 5th grade through 7th grade. It explores themes like mystery and adventure.

Note: The Tale of the Three Brothers is critical to the seventh Harry Potter novel, and was beautifully animated in the movie.