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by Jim Trelease
• excerpts from The Treasury of Read-Alouds •
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The Treasury of Read-Alouds

SHORT NOVELS page 2 of 3

These books represent a brief portion of the hundreds
cited in the The-Read-Aloud Handbook.

Lawn Boy

by Gary Paulsen    Gr. 4—7     96 pages     Wendy Lamb Books, 2007 and e-book

Lawn Boy, unlike most of Paulson’s other books, is very funny, and is probably the only children’s novel that can explain the fragile nature of the U.S. economy. Talk about being ahead of the curve: Paulsen wrote this a full two years before the world economy collapsed.

In a nutshell, this is a 96-page, first-person novella about a preteen who’s been given his late grandfather’s old riding lawnmower. The boy comes from a loving family but his folks are busy, like many parents today. His neighbors are just as busy with their lives, and need help with their yard work. Before he knows it, he’s got more lawn jobs than he can handle—working mornings, afternoons, and evenings. That’s when he gets even luckier. There’s a down-on-his-luck e-trader who wants to trade his skills with the stock market for the kid’s skill with the mower: You do the lawn and, instead of paying you, I’ll invest some money for you. And it works—big time. And that is just the beginning. Sequel: Lawn Boy Returns.

A Lion to Guard Us

by Clyde Robert Bulla      K–4      117 pages      Crowell, 1981

In a simple prose style that is rich in character and drama, one of America’s best historical writers for children offers a poignant tale of the founding fathers of the Jamestown colony and the families they left behind in England. Here we meet a plucky heroine named Amanda who is determined to hold fast to her brother and sister despite the grim agonies of their mother’s death, poverty and shipwreck. All the while she clings to the dream that someday she will find the father who left them all behind. Also by the author: The Chalk Box Kid; Ghost Town Treasure; Pirate’s Promise; The Poppy Seeds; and Shoeshine Girl.

Mostly Monty

by Johanna Hurwitz     Gr. K-2       96 pages       Candlewick, 2007

This is the author’s latest creation in a career of gentle family stories. Monty is an asthmatic who is overly protected by his family, leaving him with few social contacts, not even pets (allergies). All of this is going to change in first grade, where he discovers not only his own talents (reading first in his class) but his first friends. Along the way, his little adventures with the school’s Lost and Found section are giving him the confidence to start a hobby and a neighborhood club. Sequels: Mighty Monty; and Amazing Monty. Also by the author, Rip-Roaring Russell series.

my father's dragon coverMy Father’s Dragon (series)

by Ruth S. Gannett      K–2      78 pages      Knopf, 1948

This is the little fantasy novel that has stood the test of time—surviving in print for a half century. So it must be good! The three-volume series is bursting with hair-raising escapes and evil creatures. The tone is dramatic enough to be exciting for even mature preschoolers but not enough to frighten them. The narrator relates the tales as adventures that happened to his father when he was a boy. This is an excellent transition series for introducing children to longer stories with fewer pictures. The rest of the series, in order: Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland. All three tales are combined in a single volume for My Father’s Dragon: 50th Anniversary Edition. Related dragon books for young readers: The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle; The Book of Beasts by E. Nesbit, abridged by Inga Moore; The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M. T. Anderson; and The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame.

The Rifle

by Gary Paulsen      Gr. 6 and up      104 pages      Harcourt, 1995

This short biography of a weapon, from its artistic birth on the eve of the Revolutionary War to the present time, offers a moving portrait of the many people whose paths intersect with the rifle during its 230-year history. Although the weapon is always at the center of this tale, American history shares much of the stage as the rifle’s role changes with the social structures of the times. Also by the author: see Hatchet . Related book: Gunstories: Life-changing Experiences With Guns by S. Beth Atkin. For more books by Paulsen and an author profile, see Paulsen here.

Picture Books:  p.1   p.2   p.3
Short Novels :  p.1   p.2   p.3
  Novels:  p.1   p.2   p.3   p.4 Anthologies:  p.1 Fairy & Folk Tales :  p.1  Poetry:  p.1

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