Discussion Topics and Activities
These activities can be used in whole or in part with any of the series in this guide. They are designed to encourage readers to engage with the books on a variety of levels. Additional activities, as well as discussion guides specific to a series, can be found on the Scholastic website. The links to those resources are listed following the series descriptions.
To be an engaged reader, students must have a strong connection to the stories they read. Through this personal engagement, readers can connect what they know and have experienced to the characters and events in the book. The following activities help students make personal connections as they read.
In a small or large group discussion, ask students to connect to what they are reading by using the following cues:
- That reminds me of...
- I have a connection...
- Remember when...
- The same cues may be used for written responses as readers connect what they already know to what they have read.
- A double-entry journal has two columns. Across the top, have readers label the first column “Page # and Quote from the Book.” At the top of the second column, they write: “My Connection.” In the left column, students copy down the phrases or sentences from the book that trigger a connection and the page where they read it. On the same line in the column on the right, students write their personal connection to what they quoted, using several sentences to explain. Readers enjoy sharing their connections and seeing the variety of responses in the group. This highlights for students that readers bring their own background and experience to what they read.
- Some students may prefer to draw their connections and then describe their drawing. Provide a response page with a blank section at the top for the illustration and the bottom half for a written explanation.
Asking questions engages readers and keeps them reading. Students who ask questions and search for answers comprehend what they are reading, engage with the story, and interact with the text to construct meaning, which is exactly what you want for developing readers.
- Ask students to make note of what they have questions about as they are reading. At the end of reading time, ask readers to share their questions and decide if they are questions that can be answered by the book.
- Prompt readers to begin their verbal responses with statements that begin with: I wonder...; Why...; I don’t understand...
- A double-entry journal also works well for questioning text.
- Another journal entry can also have three columns: What I Know, What I Wonder, What I Want to Know
- Students may prefer to draw a picture and then write about their question. They may also use the picture to predict the answer to their question.
- Readers have questions throughout the reading process. Pause with students to give them opportunities to share questions before, during, and after reading.
Books come alive in our minds as we read. We each create our own unique moving pictures. The better the movie in our heads, the better we understand and enjoy the book. Specific practice with the strategy of visualization helps readers gain the maximum satisfaction from what they read.
- Talk with students about how words in a book make pictures in the mind.
- Prompt readers to talk about visualization using these sentence starters: I can see...; The picture in my mind is...; I visualize...; I imagine...
- Have students make notes on the parts of the text they can see, taste, smell, hear, and/or feel. In a small or large group, have readers compare their notes.
- Have students use a double-entry journal. This time they will write the part they could visualize on the left and their response to it on the right.
- Students draw the picture in their minds from a specific part they could really see.
- As students read, ask them to make note of passages where they found themselves making a prediction. Compare places where predictions occurred.
- Use a double-entry journal: Page # and Quote from the Book; My Predictions and Why
- Ask students to make predictions based on chapter titles.
- Ask students to make predictions before, during, and after reading.
- Discuss with students which of their predictions came true (“It happened just as I expected.”) and which did not (“I was taken by surprise; I never expected that to happen.”). Which experience was more satisfying?
- Discuss with students the concept of predictability. Can a book be enjoyable if it’s totally predictable? Can it be enjoyable if it’s totally unpredictable? Why or why not? Which do you enjoy most—where on the spectrum are you?
Retelling is a way to keep readers accountable to the text and help them understand the importance of remembering significant details in a book. Students need to understand how retelling allows them to replay the text sequentially and when it is useful, such as at the end of a chapter. Retelling encourages readers to synthesize, question, interpret, and make meaning of the text.
Practice retelling first with a read-aloud book. Stop every few pages and say, “Let’s recall what’s happened so far.” Model retelling for students, then ask if anyone can fill in anything you may have forgotten. After retelling several times on your own, start the students off with your own brief memory. Ask a student to continue the retelling. Encourage them to piggyback on each others’ ideas. Later, ask one student to retell the whole chapter or story. Sometimes you may want to have students retell to a partner. Before reading, coach students by saying, “Let’s listen today in ways that will help us remember and retell what has happened.” Paraphrasing and summarizing scenes and chapters are also useful skills to develop that keep readers accountable to the text.
Reader’s theater allows children to get inside books and stories through a dramatic reading. With reader’s theater, every word and line of the text is part of the performance. It is like a group reading of a story, in which different students read each character’s part, and another student (or several) read the narration surrounding the dialogue. Sometimes students read a line or two in unison to vary the sound. Parts are not memorized, but read with a dramatic flair. Performers sit or stand in one place as they read their parts aloud.
The first time students do reader’s theater, you will need to model the steps. After that, they will be able to do it on their own with minimal supervision. A small group with three to six children works best. Stories especially well suited to dramatic representation are those with well-defined characters that are of both genders and vary in age.
Explain to the group that this is different from a play that has only characters speaking. In reader’s theater, the book is read as a play, but none of the words are omitted. Read through the text a time or two and then ask students to practice their parts on their own. After another run-through, they will probably be ready to perform for the rest of the class. A three- to five-minute performance is a good length for the first time.
Give students opportunities to talk about what they are reading with their classmates. One way to do this is to assign two students to be “talking partners.” At the end of independent reading time every day, set aside at least a few minutes for partners to discuss their reading with one another. You can create a chart of possible things to talk about. Try changing partners every couple of weeks.
Ways to Respond to Reading
Journal entries invite readers to think further about what they have read. Students can write about one or more chapters, or an entire book. Here are some journal prompts. Encourage readers to think of their own topics that they would like to write about.
- This book is...
- This book reminds me of...
- Another way to end the book is...
- The book is like...
- What I think is special about this book is...
- My favorite character in this book is...and why....
- Some words I really liked in the book are...
- This book is like another one I know because...
- This book makes me think of...
- What I notice in the book is...
- Keys and locks (What invites you in, and what is hard to get into.)
Books in series like Animorphs, Guardians of Ga’Hoole, and Secrets of Droon have numerous words that the authors invented for their characters and locations. These are an excellent resource for looking closely at how letters combine to create sounds and words. As students talk about how to pronounce the unfamiliar words, they can review the rules of open and closed syllables.
Students can create a glossary of the unique words they come upon as they read the books. Some of the words are wholly invented, and, as you read, you discover their meaning in the telling of the stories. Other words might be real ones that you are encountering for the first time. Have the students check the words they put on their lists in a dictionary. Ask them to compile their own personal glossaries of words from the books, whether real or made-up. For each word, have the students write down part of speech, definition, synonym, and an example of how to use it in an original sentence.
Illuminating the craft of the writer is an important aspect of teaching literacy. Examining how characters are developed gives students a better understanding of the writer’s craft. Taking a deeper look at how authors bring their characters to life moves students closer to the text. These suggested activities will give students a better sense of how the writer breathes life into characters.
- Inside and Outside Characteristics: Have students make a t-chart listing outer or physical characteristics on one side and inner or personal characteristics on the other. Ask students to support their statements in the text. Discuss how the author lets the reader know about the character.
- Readers learn about a character through what the character says or thinks. As they read, ask students to make note of dialogue or thoughts that help them get to know a character better. How and why did it help?
- Using a double-entry journal, have students copy the words of one of the characters on the left and write what they think that says about the character on the right. Do all students interpret the words of a character in the same way?
- Authors reveal things about their character by the character’s actions, and what other characters say and do to that character. As students read, ask them to make note of points where they learn new things about a character. How did the author do this?
- Have students make a Venn diagram comparing two characters in a book.
Have students draw a character as they see it in their mind’s eye. Ask them to find quotations in the book to support their drawing.
Characters change and evolve in books. When students finish reading a book or several books in a series, have them consider how one of the characters has grown, become wiser, or changed. Share these journal entries to compare opinions. Opinions must be supported by the text.
Lively writing depends on strong verbs. Review with students the important role of verbs in a sentence. Ask students to act out various verbs such as jump, hop, slouch, drag, and so on. Notice how strong verbs create a sense of movement and are therefore easier to visualize.
- As students read, ask them to make note of strong verbs. At the end of reading, collect them onto a large chart and discuss how these particular words create visual images.
- Students may enjoy choosing a page with strong verbs and substituting weaker verbs to see how the writing sounds. Students will recognize how strong verbs add to the movement and flow of a story and make it easier to visualize.
The first words, sentence, or paragraph, commonly called the lead, pull the reader into a story. It leads the reader toward a promised adventure.
- There are a variety of ways to begin a book or chapter. Ask students to notice the way an author begins each chapter. Is there a pattern? How does he or she write the leads so that the reader keeps reading?
- Ask students to talk about their own preferences. What kind of lead pulls them in and propels them into the next chapter?
- Ask students to compare the way an author begins several books in a series. What patterns do they notice?
A setting creates the world in which the characters live and struggle. In this world, the plot unfolds. Setting plays a particularly important role in fantasies like Deltora Quest, Guardians of Ga’Hoole, and Secrets of Droon; science fiction like Animorphs; historical fiction like Dear America; and suspense stories like Goosebumps.
- Ask students to draw in detail a favorite scene and support their drawing with quotes from the book.
- Have students make note of parts in the book that describe the setting. Notice the different ways the author establishes a sense of place using dialogue, description, or action. Paying attention to how the author creates a sense of place heightens the reader’s awareness of how setting contributes to the story line and the actions of the characters.
- Ask students to choose a favorite setting from one of the books and imagine themselves there. Write a journal entry about what they would do, feel, hear, and so on.
Authors of chapter books try to end each chapter in a way that makes the reader turn the page to find out what’s going to happen next. These suspenseful chapter endings are called cliffhangers. Ask students to read through the chapter endings. Decide which endings are cliffhangers and why. They may want to do this as a double-entry journal: Page # and Quote from the Book; Why It's a Cliffhanger.
Story maps help students to see the structure of a book. After they have finished a book, guide students as they map the main events. Chapter titles are a good reminder. Students who have read more than one book in a series can compare the story maps of two of the books. Can they see a pattern in the way the author organized the books?
Talking about story structure and plot helps students get an insider’s view of story making. They begin to realize that events often follow a cause and effect or problem/solution pattern and that story elements depend on what’s gone before. Understanding the inner workings of books supports students in their future reading. It’s another way to show children that writing a book is a creative process that involves rethinking and revision to make it a satisfying and pleasurable read.
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Outrageously funny, wildly popular adventures of a superhero
“For every downtrodden fun-seeking kid who never wanted to read a book.” —School Library Journal
Rich in humor and imaginative wordplay, the Captain Underpants books are based on cartoon stories Pilkey started writing in elementary school. These outrageously funny, action-packed, and easy-to-read chapter books feature brief text and black-and-white cartoon drawings on every page. Pilkey creates a world of superheroes with silly names like Professor Pippy P. Poopypants and the Bionic Booger Boy that reluctant readers (boys especially) find delightfully entertaining. The books have interactive elements as well, with directions for flipping the pages to “animate” the action (“the world-famous cheesy animation technique” known as Flip-O-Rama) and instructions for drawing cartoons.
In the Super Diaper Baby books and The Adventures of Ook and Gluk— purportedly written by the two fourth-grade stars of the Captain Underpants books, George Beard and Harold Hutchins—Dav Pilkey shows that he is a talented creator of graphic novels! As Publishers Weekly says, writing about Super Diaper Baby, “The madcap misadventures of this diapered daredevil possess all the kid-tickling silliness that fans of his underwear-clad predecessor apparently can’t get enough of."
Goosebumps by R.L. Stine
Thrills and chills to keep kids laughing and screaming!
With the 1992 publication of Welcome to Dead House, R.L. Stine inaugurated his wildly popular Goosebumps series, and legions of middle-grade fans were quickly hooked. Eventually reaching over 300 million copies in print, the Goosebumps books have remained in print and are discovered by thousands of new fans each year. As R.L. Stine once commented, his fans “like the fact that there is some kind of jolt at the end of every chapter. They know that if they read to the end of the chapter they’re going to have some kind of funny surprise, something scary, something that’s going to happen...and force them to keep reading.”
R.L. Stine, who was previously best known as a humor writer nicknamed “Jovial Bob Stine,” is the first to admit that the merit of his work lies in its entertainment value, and he sees nothing wrong with that. “I believe that kids as well as adults are entitled to books of no socially redeeming value,” he once noted. Although his books may be spooky and suspenseful, the scares are “safe scares.” “You’re home in your room and reading,” Stine says. “The books are not half as scary as the real world.... The books are supposed to be just entertainment, that’s all they are.”
With millions of kids turned on to reading over almost two decades, the record speaks for itself. R.L. Stine’s extraordinary contribution to raising a generation of readers can hardly be overstated.
Dear Dumb Diary, by Jim Benton
Wickedly funny, fully illustrated diaries of middle-schooler Jamie Kelly!
“Benton nails the attitude of a middle school girl and all her pessimistic drama.” —Joella Peterson, Children’s Literature
The Dear Dumb Diary series allows readers a sneak peek into the hilarious, candid diary of a middle school girl named Jamie Kelly, who promises that everything she writes is true...or at least as true as it needs to be.
Jamie uses her diary to chronicle her daily life both at middle school and at home, covering important topics like chronic hair crises, quests for inner beauty, stinky beagles, and friendship auditions. Her commentary on adults, pencil-chewers, superheroes, and the eighth cutest boy in school is laugh-out-loud funny—and that’s only a small slice of what Jamie has to say! Most importantly, she knows that “sometimes the very best things that people do are done out of dumbness.” Jamie’s creativity, wild imagination, and shrewd observations about the people and things around her make this series one that every reader can relate to and laugh at in equal measure.
Guardians of Ga'Hoole and Wolves of the Beyond by Kathryn Lasky
Explore fantastical mythological worlds, while learning real animal science
“Strong appeal for fantasy fans.” —School Library Journal
Kathryn Lasky has long had a fascination with owls. After doing a great deal of research, she planned to write a nonfiction book about owls, with photographs by her husband, Christopher Knight. But because owls are nocturnal creatures, shy and hard to find, this was exceedingly difficult. Eventually she changed course and decided to write about an imaginary world of owls.
The result is this fascinating fantasy series suitable for readers aged nine and up—a classic hero-mythology story of friendship and adventure—which has been compared to Brian Jacques’s Redwall series and Erin Hunter’s Warriors series. Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’Hoole takes us to a world after humankind, a world of owls, snakes, wolves, crows, and seagulls. Here, owls with very distinct personalities wage the timeless battle between good and evil. The series is both adventure and fantasy, very real and completely fantastic, philosophical and tender. These qualities combine to invite us inside that world and to give us much to think and talk about. Though the books are fantasy, they are enriched by the inclusion of real facts about owls.
The first installment, The Capture, tells the story of a baby owl, Soren, who is knocked out of his nest too soon. When he is scooped up by another owl and taken to an orphanage, Soren realizes that he is in a military training camp where the captives are being brainwashed. Later volumes, including The Hatchling, To Be a King, and The River of Wind, follow the adventures of Soren and his allies, his nephew Coryn, and their deadly rivals, the Pure Ones. The fifteen-volume series is augmented with a companion compendium, A Guide Book to the Great Tree.
Wolves of the Beyond, Kathryn Lasky’s follow up to Ga’Hoole, is set in the harsh wilderness beyond the territory of the owls. The series begins with Lone Wolf, the story of Faolan, a young wolf pup born with a twisted paw. The strict laws of the wolf clans do not allow for weakness, and Faolan is cast out of his clan, abandoned in the forest to die. But instead he survives...and rises up to change forever the world of the Beyond.
In Shadow Wolf, Faolan rejoins the pack as a gnaw wolf, the clan’s lowest rank. When a wolf pup is murdered, Faolan is framed for the crime and must find the true culprit before his own pack hunts him down. In Watch Wolf, Faolan has proven himself one of the worthiest wolves of all. But just as he is about to take his rightful place at the Ring of Sacred Volcanoes, a bear cub goes missing. Faolan is sent to track him down and makes a horrifying discovery— the cub has been kidnapped by rogue wolves. A war is coming between the wolves and the bears, and only Faolan can stop it. Faolan’s story continues in two more books, Frost Wolf and Spirit Wolf.
Rainbow Magic by Daisy Meadows
Friendship, adventure, magic, and lots of fairy fun—perfect for beginning readers!
The Rainbow Magic series follows the exciting adventures of two best friends, Rachel and Kirsty, as they help their fairy friends save the day! Each fairy contributes her own special kind of magic to keep Fairyland—and the human world—happy and safe. But when mean Jack Frost and his mischievous goblins steal the fairies’ magical objects, it’s up to Rachel and Kirsty to set things right again. This leads to sweet, sparkly adventures with many different fairies, including the Rainbow Fairies, the Pet Fairies, the Princess Fairies, and more. Whether hunting for magical moonstones or missing tiaras, Rachel and Kirsty always have lots of fun!
These stories have just the right mix of magic, excitement, and friendship to hook young readers and keep them coming back for more. The topics covered are wide-ranging, including various holidays, sports, music, jewels, pets, flowers, and much more—there’s something for everyone. And with short chapters and lots of illustrations, the Rainbow Magic books are a great transition into chapter books and independent reading!
Cheesy, fun adventures of a mouse and his friends—perfect for early readers!
“Lightning pace and full-color design will hook kids in a flash.” —Publishers Weekly
Geronimo Stilton runs a newspaper, The Rodent’s Gazette, but his true passion is writing tales of adventure. On Mouse Island, all of his books are bestsellers! He promises that his books are “whisker-licking good” and full of fun. Geronimo is a bit clumsy and high-strung, which lands him in hilarious situations and on reluctant adventures. But moldy mozzarella, does Geronimo love to read! He also loves sharing his adventures with his prankster cousin Trap, strong-willed sister Thea, and a cast of other zany characters.
Geronimo prides himself on filling his books with plenty of humor and cheesy capers, but also with friendship, sincerity, love, respect, peace, and hope. His stories always promote his love of books. Although Geronimo has many hobbies, such as playing golf, collecting fine cheese rinds, listening to classical music, and reading, his favorite activity is telling stories to his nephew Benjamin.
Geronimo’s sister Thea has her own series featuring five young mouselets—the Thea Sisters—who travel around the world on adventures full of mystery and friendship.
Geronimo’s spooky friend Creepella von Cacklefur also has her own series. Her pet bat Bitewing and many creepy family members and friends help her solve mysteries while she gets the scoop as a journalist!
These books are all full-color and packed with bright illustrations and words that jump out in varying fonts and colors, making them fun and engaging for young readers.
Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls
The everyday adventures of a nine-year-old girl
“Hilarious and touching.” —Kirkus Reviews
Allie Finkle is a nine-year-old girl who’s just trying to make sense out of fourth grade, so she jots down rules to help herself remember how to be a good sister, student, and friend—and also not to eat anything red. That’s a rule! Want to know more of her rules? Then read these books!
Meg Cabot’s series for middle grade readers begins with Moving Day, introducing fourth-grader Allie, who is anxious about her family’s move to a new house and her resulting status as the “new girl” at a different school. The series continues with The New Girl, in which Allie’s excitement about the first day of a new school year is soured when one of her classmates, Rosemary, threatens to beat her up. Allie gets a range of advice from friends and family, some of whom advise Allie to fight back, while others recommend outsmarting the bully. In Best Friends and Drama Queens, Allie confronts cliquishness and precocious behavior among the girls who gravitate to Cheyenne, a new girl in class.
Cabot’s stories offer an insightful, sympathetic, and entertaining portrayal of this age group. Readers will love Allie, an appealing heroine with a delightful sense of humor, a no-nonsense approach to life, and a talent for getting tangled up in entertaining scrapes.
Historical fiction in a compelling diary format
“An imaginative, solid entrÃÂ©e into American history.” —Publishers Weekly
“Engaging, accessible historical fiction.” —School Library Journal
An award-winning series of historical fiction novels, Dear America was first published in 1996 to great acclaim and relaunched in the fall of 2010. The books are written in diary form, and each chronicles a young woman’s life during an important event or time period in American history. Each book is individually written by such outstanding authors as Kirby Larson, Lois Lowry, Kathryn Lasky, Patricia McKissack, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Susan Patron.
The Dear America series covers a wide range of topics, including the Pilgrims’ journey to the New World, the Salem Witch Trials, the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, westward expansion, slavery, immigration, nineteenth-century prairie life, the California Gold Rush of 1849, the Great Depression, Native Americans’ experiences, racism, coal mining, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the fight for women’s suffrage, the sinking of the RMS Titanic, the Battle of the Alamo, the Vietnam War, and more.
The breadth of historical topics covered in these books makes the Dear America series a favorite teaching device of educators around the country. To attract a new generation of readers, the relaunch titles have updated cover designs with more contemporary- looking pictures of the main characters.
Animorphs by K.A. Applegate
Five friends use their power to morph into animals, on their mission to defeat a race of evil aliens
“Engaging...impressive.” —School Library Journal
“Has kept kids enthralled.” —Publishers Weekly
Earth is being invaded, but no one knows yet. When Jake, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie, and Marco stumble upon a downed alien spaceship and its dying pilot, they’re given an incredible power—they can transform into any animal they touch. With it, they become Animorphs, the unlikely champions in a secret war for the planet. A race of parasitic aliens, called the Yeerks, are secretly controlling humans—and they could be anywhere or controlling anyone, including the kids’ own family members.
The series explores such motifs as dehumanization, growing up, innocence, leadership, morality, responsibility, and war.
Young readers in the classroom or in book discussion groups—while enjoying these gripping adventures—can also have fun discussing many fascinating aspects of these books.
- One thing that makes these books particularly creepy and compelling is the fact that—unlike many other stories of alien invasion—the invasion of the Yeerks is undetected by most of the population. The slug-like Yeerks infiltrate the brains of human hosts, and take control of them, but without altering their outward appearance and demeanor. The enslaved human hosts appear to continue their normal lives as humans, so that it is difficult to know who is the enemy. Anyone—even your own parents—might be an alien!
- Putting readers into the bodies and minds of animals is a fun way to teach about them. These books explore what it might be like to contend with the instincts of an ant, or the thrill of riding a thermal as a falcon. Exploring different animals from a first-person perspective can help foster an appreciation for them.
- A provocative question readers could discuss is—are humans really superior to other animals? As the Animorphs experience the amazing powers animals have but humans do not—such as the ability to fly, live underwater, or navigate by scent or radar—that preconception is repeatedly challenged.
- Equally compelling and disturbing is this question—considering our unsustainable exploitation of the Earth’s resources and our indifference to its care, is the human race, in reality, just as destructive and parasitic as the Yeerks? When you think about it, can the human race claim moral superiority over the Yeerks?
- Readers could compare Animorphs with other tales of alien invasion, starting with The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, published in 1898, which has been revived over the years through a famous radio play and two motion picture versions. Continuing through the twentieth century, they could read books by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, John Christopher, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein. They could watch films such as Invaders from Mars, The Thing from Another World, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and television series such as Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Who, the various Star Trek series, V , and The X-Files. In the popular video game, Destroy All Humans!, players assume the role of a member of a war-like race of extraterrestrials seeking to add Earth to its Galactic Empire.
Deltora Quest and Dragons of Deltora by Emily Rodda
Richly detailed, complex fantasy worlds
The magical land of Deltora is under siege by the evil Shadow Lord. All that stands against him is the belt of Deltora with its seven stones of great power. An unlikely hero—Lief, a blacksmith’s son—sets out on a journey to reclaim the belt and save his people. He’s joined by an ex-palace guard named Barda, and Jasmine, a child of the Forests of Silence, whose mysterious talents include speaking to trees.
Their quest is to find the seven gems of the fabled belt: Diamond, Emerald, Lapis Lazuli, Topaz, Opal, Ruby, and Amethyst. Each stone is hidden in dangerous locations around Deltora, and the three friends must face numerous perils to reach them. Once the Belt is complete and returned to the rightful heir of the first King of Deltora, the tyrannical Shadow Lord will be forced back to the Shadowlands.
In Dragons of Deltora, the three companions must save Deltora once again, this time from the Four Sisters, evil creations of the Shadow Lord who sing songs of death across Deltora, poisoning the land and resulting in famine. The only way to stop the suffering is to find the dragons with the power to destroy each sister. Armed only with a torn map left by Doran the Dragonlover, Lief and his friends must travel to the furthest corners of the kingdom to seek out the dragons and save the people of Deltora.
I Survived by Lauren Tarshis
Learn history through gripping disaster stories!
Lauren Tarshis brings history’s most exciting and terrifying events to life in this thrilling fiction series. Readers are transported back in time through these harrowing stories of amazing kids and how they survived!
The series begins with ten-year-old George Calder trapped on the RMS Titanic. He and his little sister, Phoebe, are on the doomed luxury liner, crossing the ocean with their Aunt Daisy. The ship is full of exciting places to explore, but when George ventures into the first class storage cabin, a terrible boom shakes the entire boat. Suddenly, water is everywhere, and George’s life changes forever.
In another thrilling adventure, Chet Roscow finds himself face-to-face with a bloodthirsty great white shark on the Jersey shore in 1916.
Eleven-year-old Danny Crane is alone on his favorite beach in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor is attacked and World War II officially hits the United States. Does he have what it takes to find his way home in the midst of the bombs, the smoke, and the destruction of the day that will live in infamy?
Hurricane Katrina and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 are two more settings for these fast-paced, suspense-filled survival stories from history.
The Secrets of Droon by Tony Abbott
A terrific, action-packed fantasy series for young readers!
Tony Abbott’s long-running series, The Secrets of Droon, takes place in an incredible fantasy world full of wizards, princesses, and a wide cast of creatures you’ve only ever imagined. When they discover a magical staircase under the basement stairs, three best friends—Eric Hinkle, Julie Rubin, and Neal Kroger—venture into Droon, a place of magic, suspense, and adventure.
Droon is a world in trouble, an ancient land with a deep and mysterious past. Now, good and evil are pitted against each other—and Eric, Julie, and Neal must learn who they can trust. Some of their closest friends in Droon are Keeah, a young princess and wizard-in- training, and the wise old wizard Galen Longbeard, who guides them on many of their adventures. And fighting against them is Lord Sparr, a malevolent sorcerer who wants nothing less than to call Droon his own.
Droon is full of incredible characters, including Max, Galen’s eight-legged, orange-haired spider troll assistant; Khan, king of the pillow-shaped purple Lumpies, whose nose sniffs danger wherever it may be; fleet six-legged beasts called pilkas; and the red-faced Ninns, who ride flying lizards, to mention only a few.
Abbott says he likes to think of this fantasy series for seven- to ten-year-olds as “a single, multi-thousand page saga...an epic in installments.” The stories are fast, whimsical, action-packed, populated with engaging characters, and full of surprising, imaginative situations. After all, Droon has many secrets....
Tomorrow Girls by Eva Gray
Thrilling dystopian middle-grade fiction
“Solid writing will grab readers.” —Publishers Weekly
In the Tomorrow Girls series by Eva Gray, four thirteen-year-old girls meet at a top- secret school. Though they’ve been sent there for their own safety, they quickly realize that their school is not what they think it is. In this terrifying future world where America is at war and everything is chaotic, they must rely on each other to survive.
In Behind the Gates, readers are introduced to this dark new world. Disaster and destruction are all thirteen-year-old Louisa has ever known. But now she and her best friend, Maddie, are among the lucky few being sent to Country Manor School, a boarding school far from home. But how lucky are they?
In Run for Cover, best friends Louisa, Rosie, Evelyn, and Maddie now know the truth about Country Manor School—or at least the danger they’re in. The girls have run away from their “safe” country retreat. But life in the wild is riskier than ever, and Rosie still doesn’t know who she can trust. Rosie’s survival skills are top-notch. But how well can she keep her own secrets?
The four friends find themselves in more danger in With the Enemy. Evelyn has always suspected that things are more sinister and more complicated than they seem. Now that Maddie has been kidnapped, Rosie, Louisa, and the boys are paying more attention to Evelyn’s theories. As the group makes their way toward war-torn Chicago, they’re under constant threat of capture. Danger and dark surprises lurk around every twist of the road. Evelyn knows they need a solid plot to find Maddie. But what the group comes up with may be their riskiest plan yet: infiltrating the Alliance itself. Even Evelyn has her doubts. Can they save Maddie before it’s too late?
In Set Me Free, Maddie is back and ready for action. She’s learned an enormous, game-changing secret about her mother, but reuniting with her won’t be easy. Maddie and her friends have earned their battle scars, courage, and strength. But at this darkest hour, will they be able to make it back to their families...and freedom?