One of the latest and most adorable entries in the world of beginning chapter books comes from Shannon Hale (and her husband/sometimes writing partner).
Princess Magnolia is sweet and beautiful and wears all the pink in the world. Except of course, when she has a little rescuing to do. Then she must be brave and strong and acrobatic and fearless, all things that many little girls also can be. The message is great (would you expect anything different from Hale?): little girls can be anything they want to be. Even better, they don’t have to pick between liking things that are traditionally considered girly and being smart and heroic. You can be both!
The story itself is simple and cute and accompanied by frequent illustrations that will encourage readers to keep going even when they encounter some of the trickier vocabulary. Because Shannon Hale isn’t about to fill her book with boring words just because it’s being read by kids. No, she’s going to slip in some words that will be new (and hopefully exciting) for readers. I’m not too worried about young readers coming up against a few unfamiliar words in a book at this reading level. It’s actually really important because for the rest of their lives they will need to be able to figure out words they don’t know. Trust me, a first or second grader trying to figure out “minced” (pg. 7) is a good thing. Kids actually love learning new words and new meanings for familiar words. I once used the word “irk” with my third grade class and they just latched onto it. By the end of the year they were complaining “She’s irking me”. It was adorable. So don’t get nervous about Hale’s having thrown a couple of tough ones in there. She knows what she’s doing.
Added Bonus: This is the first in a series!
Age Recommendation: I believe this would probably be about a Level L. As such it will be on level for some advanced first grade readers right through beginning third grade readers. It is ideal for those of you with very young and talented readers. I know kids in K or even younger would really enjoy it.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – The princess is drawn in some very covering undergarments.
Profanity – “Drat”,
Death, Violence and Gore – None.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – None.