Pragmatic Mom

January 22, 2010

No Flying in the House by Betty Brock

My 7-year-old came home from school two days ago with an important message for me:  “I just read the best book.  You need to add it to your blog.”  I had never heard of No Flying in the House and assumed it was a picture book, though I don’t know why.  My middle daughter is the reason why I created the Favorite Chapter Books for Newly Independent Readers because she refuses to read anything except chapter books.  She proceeded to borrow it from her teacher so that I could save a trip to the library and I have to say that she is right.  This is a great, old-fashioned fairy story.   Our copy was even more charming because it was clearly a really old book with a big chunk of pages taped carefully back into the book.  It looked like a garage sale rescue or a beloved book that was carefully passed down.  No matter!  It’s a find!

I’m a little annoyed with fairy stories in general; I was forced to read way too many Rainbow Fairies books to this same child.  With that same painful repetitive plot.  And even the same vocabulary words.  Over and Over.  It was my idea of hell.

But this is a lovely story about a half-blood fairy.  (I’m reading a lot about half-bloods these days; The Percy Jackson series just arrived at our house yesterday to great fan fare and excitement).  She doesn’t know she’s a fairy and her guardian is a 3 inch talking dog.  There are lots of interesting surprises along the way that both my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed.

If you are in Fairy Hell, try to convince your darling to try this book instead.  It comes highly recommended by their peer who now agrees that the Rainbow Fairies Series is a little boring (and redundant and repetitive!).  We can finally get rid of those books and free up an entire shelf of space!  Yay!  This book is perfect for grades 2-4th.  It’s a chapter book with some illustrations.

Here are some open-ended questions if you want to have a book discussion from my 7-year-old:

  • What is your favorite character and why?
  • What do you think Belinda is trying to do to Gloria?
  • Did you think the book was confusing?  Why or why not?
  • Have you ever read a similar book to this one?
  • Was this an interesting book?
  • When Gloria is in her fairy world, do you think she’s still a 3 inch dog?
  • Do you think you are half-fairy?  How would you know?

If you want a related activity, she suggests, use sculpy clay to mold a 3 inch animal or a character from the book.  Or try to design a fairy world.  Draw it or create a diaorama.

As always, to purchase this book, simply click on the image of book and you will be magically transported to this particular book at

October 6, 2009

Favorite Chapter Books for Newly Independent Readers

I  find that there is a void for newly independent readers.  You know, the readers that have graduated from Henry and Mudge and insist on chapter books, but not ready for Newbery Award books.  While there are a plethora of chapter books, the quality of many series books  is low with a repetitive and tiresome story line and limited vocabulary. 

These chapter book suggestions come from mom friends as well the Between the Lions Book for Parents:  Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Child Learn How to Read by Linda K. Rath, Louis Kennedy, and Christopher Cerf, an excellent reference book.  

If you wish to purchase any book on, simply click on the image of the book.


Ivy and Bean Series by Annie Barrows.  A mom friend just recommended this and my daughter loved it.  The first book is about how Ivy and Bean became friends. [ages 6-9] 


Beast Quest series by Adam Blade.  A great series for a newly independent reader about beasts who threaten a kingdom and a boy who can save them. Here are a few of them. [ages 6-9]


No Flying in the House by Betty Brock.  Finally, a great fairy book without a plot that is recycled throughout an entire series.  This is about a half-blood fairy who is raised by her guardian, a 3 inch talking dog.  Lots of interesting twists and turns and highly recommended by the 7-year-old set.  [ages 7-10]

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh.   A true story about Sarah Noble, a brave 8-year-old pioneer child, who must leave her mother and siblings to accompany her father to the wilds of Connecticut while he builds a house for their family.  Can Sarah keep her courage up when faced with Indians?  With large type and short chapters, this Newbery Honor book is perfect for younger readers.  [ages 6-10]


26 Fairmont Avenue by Tomie DePaola.  Beloved author of Strega Nona fame has an autobiographical series covering 1938 through WWII.  Find these books in the BIOGRAPHY section of the library NOT fiction!  [ages 7-11]

Pinky and Rex Series by James Howe and Melissa Sweet.  Rex, a girl, loves dinosaurs.  Pinky, a boy, is her best friend whose favorite color is pink. Perfect for kids who buck trends.   [ages 6-9] 

My Father’s Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett. A little boy rescues a young dragon and has adventures with his new friend.  [ages 6-9] 

Go Girl  Series by Thalia Kalkipsakis and Ash Oswald.  A new series a mom friend just recommended this series beccause it is about situations your child can relate to. [ages 6-9]

Lulu’s Hat by Susan Meddaugh.  Susan Meddaugh, author of the popular Martha Speaks series and tv show, has a chapter book written in her same picture book style that combines humor, wit and quick-thinking heroines.  In this case, her heroine is an aspiring magician. [ages 6-9]

Clementine (series) by Sara Pennypacker. [ages 7-10]


The Littles series by John Peterson.  Meet the Little family.  They are just like humans but much smaller with tails and live secretly among humans.  [ages 6-10]


Cobble Street Cousins Series (6 books)  by Cynthia Rylant and Wendy Anderson Halperin.   Wonderfully sweet and beautifully illustrated.  Perfect for girls graduating from Henry and Mudge. [ages 5-7] 

Mr. Putter and Tabby Series by Cynthia Rylant.  Retired Mr. Putter and his old cat Tabby have sweet little adventures together despite their doddering age.  If you are ready to move beyond Henry and Mudge, this is the perfect next move up.  [ages 5-8]. 


Thimbleberry Stories by Cynthia Rylant.  I do confess that I love this author.  In this book, Cynthia Rylant channels Beatrix Potter writing sweet short stories about meadow animals. [ages 6-8]






Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant.  My second grader loved this book so much that she checked it out from the library after hearing her teacher read it aloud to her class. She highly recommends this to ANYONE!  She needs a little bit of help as there are lots of SAT vocabulary words on every page.  [ages 6-10]

A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden.  This is my midde daughter’s all time favorite book for 2nd grade.  It was a little difficult for her to read on her own, so we spent the summer prior to 2nd grade reading it together.  She keeps asking her teacher for a book like this and her teacher, sorry, no other books as good as this one.   We also read Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Ride and it’s ok, it’s basically a short story about one evening when Chester Cricket makes a new pigeon friend and gets a ride above NYC.   But after trying to finish Chester Cricket’s New Home, my daughter decided to just find a new series because the sequels were disappointing.  Oh well, she’s been reading puppy stories…more on that later!

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