21 May 2015

Scholastic Mother-Daughter Book Club: May Selections

Remember when I introduced you to the Scholastic Mother-Daughter Book Club for middle readers? I'm committed to featuring or reviewing the books selected for this club because I think Scholastic has picked winning titles that have broad appeal.

Don't forget that the Scholastic book club site includes more information about the books, recipes, reading guides, and contests. The resources are perfect for book clubs, teachers, homeschoolers, and any one who wants to get more out of reading books with middle grade readers.

This month's picks are perfect for the end of the school year. Your young readers are looking forward to summer vacation and to having fun. Both books are light, easy reads with plenty of magic, lots of laughs, and loveable characters.

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie SteifvaterOkay, I'm just going to come out and say it: Something magical happened when authors Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater got together to write Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures. After nine-year-old Pip has a little misadventure with a unicorn on school career day, her parents arrange for her to spend the summer with Aunt Emma, who runs a veterinarian clinic for magical creatures. Pip may sometimes feel tongue-tied around people, but she has no trouble talking to the animals. And they talk back.

Of course, pretty much no one believes her when she says she understands the many languages of magical creatures, but her new friend, Tomas, is supportive nonetheless. All seems to be going smoothly until tiny Fuzzles start invading the town and spontaneously bursting into flame. Can Pip and Tomas figure out what's causing the infestation and the fires before the animal authorities take drastic (and permanent) action?

Pip is such a great character, it's easy to relate to her. She keeps notes on her observations of (and conversations with) all the magical creatures she meets in her aunt's clinic. She's a good kid, but can get herself into trouble when she lets her curiosity get the best of her. Tomas has a million allergies, and I love the way he is always prepared for a sneezing attack. I also love the illustrations of the creatures, complete with Pip's annotations of her personal encounters of each species.

Book clubs will likely want to talk about friendship, the importance of animals in their lives, and maybe even living with allergies. The discussion topics on the Scholastic mother-daughter book club site include questions about learning and about being different. The suggested recipe is for grilled pineapple, which is a favorite food of one of the creatures Pip befriends and is an easy summer treat.

Whatever After: Beauty Queen by Sarah MlynowskiThis isn't the first time one of Sarah Mlynowski's fractured fairy tale books has been picked for the Scholastic book club, and for good reason. These books about Abby and her little brother, Jonah, take us on fun adventures, and I'm glad to see that the series is going strong. In Whatever After: Beauty Queen, the kids find themselves inside the tale of Beauty and the Beast.

The basic premise is that Abby and Jonah discover a magic mirror in their basement. If they knock three times at the stroke of midnight, they are transported into the world of fairy tales. The only problem is that sometimes the stories don't go quite the way they're supposed to. In this adventure, Beauty and the Beast meet and, well, don't fall in love. Oops. What can Abby and Jonah do to save the well-known story and still get home before their parents wake them up for school?

One thing I like about these books is that we get to see Abby both in fairy tale land and in real life. The lessons she learns during her trips through the magic mirror often help her understand issues she might be struggling with at home. In this case, she learns that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and that jealousy isn't a pretty thing.

Your young readers will find a lot to talk about, such as jealousy, friendship, and finding the beauty of people beneath the surface. Don't forget to download the reading guide on the Scholastic mother-daughter book club site, which includes several questions about different kinds of relationships. The Beast would love the suggested cheesecake recipe and so will you and your kids. 

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures: Scholastic Press, 2015; ISBN-13: 9780545709262
Whatever After: Beauty Queen: Scholastic Press, 2015; ISBN-13: 9780545746540
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


(Diane) bookchickdi 5/21/15, 8:26 AM  

I'm going to look for these for my niece, they sound great.

bermudaonion 5/21/15, 8:48 AM  

Both of these look adorable!

Vicki 5/21/15, 9:49 AM  

I bet my granddaughter would love these books!

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 5/22/15, 2:41 AM  

The Pip Bartlett book was wonderful. I could definitely relate to Pip. The illustrations really made the story come alive. I don't usually get this excited about a middle grade book, but this one was special.

Belle Wong 5/22/15, 12:21 PM  

These look like fun reads, especially Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures!

Stacie 5/25/15, 12:06 PM  

I shared these two with my daughter and she added them to her ever-growing list (just like her mamma). Thanks for sharing!

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