I was looking for more outlets to write reviews when my husband stumbled on this new website that promoted church doctrine, history, and clean living. We were living in Missouri at the time, and I had recently retired from teaching in elementary school and was transitioning to working more with publishers and writing reviews on children’s books. I was on the NBC TV affiliate station in MO on a weekly basis reviewing the newest and best books for kids. I had just begun writing book review articles for the local newspaper and was touring the state, as well as other states including the Mountain West, Southwest and all the way to the west coast, presenting assemblies for elementary and middle schools. These presentations were where I informed students and faculties about the best books with the goal to excite kids to read.

This was when I approached Meridian about writing for them. It has been a great ride. My entire goal in writing these reviews is to inform parents, grandparents, families and especially kids about the newest and best books so they will discover the magic and adventure in reading.

I have presented and written about so many exceptional books over the years, but I will attempt to showcase some of my most memorable chapter books in this article. This will be difficult as I only write about what I think are the best in each article. All are good for ages eight through adult. Most would be great to read out loud.

Dolphin Adventure: A True Story, by Wayne Grover, is a quick read but a powerful story about a diver who encounters an injured baby dolphin and its parents. What happens while the diver attempts to help the baby while a shark enters this water will have all ages on the edge of their seats!

The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt, takes place during 1967 and the protagonist, Holling, is in 7th grade on Long Island. On Wednesday afternoons, the Jewish students left for Hebrew school and the Catholic students went to Catechism. But Holling is the only Presbyterian and now the only student. His teacher decides to teach Shakespeare which angers Holling. But through many hilarious experiences while learning about Shakespeare, Holling, along with the reader, learns much about life (and Shakespeare).

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, tells a tale of extraordinary adventure and magic. When young Minli desires to change the life of her poor family, she decides to set off to ask the Old Man on the Moon who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. And so the quest begins where she meets the most unusual people and magical creatures. The way the author weaves this tale brings about exquisite, lingering descriptions that bring the story to the forefront of the mind!

Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo, with wonderful black and white art sprinkled throughout  by K. G. Campbell, combines some interesting characters that begins with an unusual circumstance when Flora witnesses her neighbor vacuum up a squirrel in her yard. After Flora performs CPR on the varmint, she soon discovers this squirrel, Ulysses, isn’t normal. He has superpowers! He can fly, speak, type and even write poetry. This is just the beginning of the story. Throughout there are many Laugh-out-loud moments, but also tender experiences and valuable life lessons.

The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, takes place in England and centers on the evacuation of children from London during WWII. 12-year-old Ada has a club foot, and her cruel mother keeps her hidden in their small flat. When her mother decides to send her younger brother to a spinster away from the dangers in London, Ada sneaks out to join him. The love and acceptance from this older woman bring Ada to life and the story will touch your heart.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, by Rodman Philbrick, is rich with humor and adventures, reminiscent of Mark Twain. 12-year-old orphan Homer runs away to find his brother who was sold into the Union Army prior to the Civil War. He encounters many thieves and scallywags on his journey and uses his wit to get out of very difficult situations.

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, is about young Auggie dealing with his face abnormality that he was born with and going to school for the first time to face other students and teachers. He has been homeschooled to prevent any bullying and hurtful comments. But his parents feel it is time to face the world. The story is told from Auggie’s point of view sprinkled with other students and it opens the world of how to accept and appreciate all the differences life has to offer. Being kind can open the heart.

Allies, by Alan Gratz, takes place on D-Day and centers on a young U.S. Soldier and his fear and terror of what awaits him. It’s also about a French girl who is risking her life working as a spy to try and sabotage the Nazis. There are other soldiers involved in the story to help win the war such as: the paratrooper to join in a raid and a medic who saves many lives. The many heroes in this story will truly be inspiring.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo and gorgeously illustrated with black and white pictures interspersed throughout by Bagram Ibatouline, is a story about a Chinese rabbit named Edward Tulane who is loved by a child. But Edward becomes lost and the adventure begins. He is eventually found at the bottom of the ocean and is returned to the house with a sick child. This is a beautiful story with a message of love and belonging and good for all ages.

The rest of these books are wonderful and informative non-fiction:

All Thirteen: Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys Soccer Team, by Christina Soontornvat

The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane, by Russell Freeman

Lincoln: A Photobiography, by Russell Freeman

The Great Fire, by Mim Murphy

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever of 1793, by Jim Murphy

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives, and Dreams Brought to Life, by Ashley Bryan

Everything Under the Sun: A Curious Question for Every Day of the Year, by Molly Oldfield

Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the Worlds Brightest Bird, by Pamela S. Turner

Your Amazing Digestion from Mouth through Intestine, by Joanne Settel, PhD

Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys, by Mike Unwin

Snackable Science Experiments: 60 Edible Tests to Try and Taste, by Emma Vanstone

The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure by Martin W. Sandler

Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America by Sharon Robinson