Chirri and Chirra go on a bike ride through the forest where they dine at charming cafes, go swimming, and stay at a unique hotel with forest creatures.
- Cute Illustration Fans/Fantasy Fans/Japanese Lit Fans/Forest Animal Fans: This just exudes cuteness. From the art style to the concept of cafes and hotels that have different dishes and rooms for various creatures. Chirri and Chirra just beg you to crawl into a delightful imaginary world that readers may be loathe to leave.
Red by Jed Alexander
Little Red Riding Hood is on her way to her grandmother's house when she encounters a wolf. The wolf seems to be trying to stall Red, but why?
- Fractured Fairytale Fans/Forest Animal Fans/Fans of Surprises: This is a clever and cute twist on the original Red Riding Hood tale. I don’t want to spoil the book for you, so let's just say, this isn't the story you think it is. (If you’re now dying of curiosity you can click on the title of the book and then click on the spoiler link in my review.)
- Language Arts/Reading/Writing Classes: The reason the twist in this books works is because it plays on your expectations based on prior readings of Little Red Riding Hood tales. So this is a great book to use when talking about how prior knowledge impacts your present reading in language arts or reading classes. Also good for writing classes talking about how to make a twist work.
The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi
Kikko is off to take pie to her Grandmother, but the man she was following turns out to not be her father at all. Kikko finds herself at a strange tea party deep in the woods where she finds unexpected friendship and kindness.
- Stories of Kindness Fans/Forest Animal Fans/Art Lovers/Japanese Lit Fans: When this story started out I really expected it to be a version of Red Riding Hood from the set up, but what Kikko finds then reminds me of scene from Narnia. Like many of the talking animals of Narnia, the ones Kikko finds are kind and good of heart, and help her with a seemingly insignificant problem. A sweet story with just splashes of color on charcoal drawings that add to the fairytale feel of the story.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The classic fantasy adventure tale of Alice falling down a rabbit hole and her many weird and whimsical adventures through a land called Wonderland as she tries to return home. Included in this blog for the iconic (but decidedly odd and not entirely pleasant) tea party with the Mad Hatter and various others.
- Fantasy Quest Fans/Imaginative Lands Fans/Animal and Imaginary Creature Fans/Those Ok with Some Weird in Their Fantasy/Vocabulary & Literary Awareness Builders: Alice’s adventure is an example of a subgenre that’s become a classic in fantasy: finding your way home through a strange land. It is also a work highly referenced with allusions in other works and phrases. (For example: the idiom go down the rabbit’s hole (click link for more info.)) Carroll’s land is very imaginative. Those who love to just let their imaginations take flight in new worlds should really enjoy this. Some of it is quite strange and weird, so if you like your fantasy to make sense steer far, far from Wonderland. It is also now over 150 years old and English vocabulary and usage has changed a bit in that time. If you want to build your vocabulary and have confidence you can make it through, go for the original. If you are shakier with older English you might want to hunt down an abridged or updated version.
The Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings, #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien
The first part of the epic story of Frodo and the Company being entrusted with getting a powerful ring to Mordor to be destroyed before the evil Sauron can get his hands on it. This book is included in today’s blog for the tea party at Tom Bombadil’s house which provides some much needed rest for the Company in the midst of the Old Forest (which hasn’t exactly been friendly to our heroes).
Note: War violence
- Epic Fantasy Fans/Quest Fantasy Fans/The Little Guys Fighting to Beat the Big Bad Guys Type of Story Fans/Fans of the Details: Tolkien’s masterpiece is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys impossible quests featuring the least likely of heroes overcoming impossible odds in a land full of richly imagined people and cultures and creatures. And for those of you who appreciate authors who spend lots of time on the fine details I suggest researching how long it took Tolkien to develop the languages he created for the various cultures or how he took the time to do things like calculate how much time it would actually take a group of people to hike the distance he has his heroes travel. A word of warning, though, this book is now 65 years old and the English used was complex to begin with. Pick this one up when you have time to appreciate it and work through the more complex passages. It is definitely worth the read.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, #2 (chronological order)) by C.S. Lewis
The story of how the Pevensie children discover the land of Narnia through an old wardrobe and help free this magical place from the rule of the tyrant, the White Witch. This book is appearing in the blog today for a couple of tea parties in the woods. There’s Lucy’s tea party with Mr. Tumnus, there’s the Pevensie children’s more serious tea with the Beavers, and one could argue that Edmund has a sort of tea with the White Witch. All three are pivotal moments in the story…and someone out there is welcome for the literary thesis idea (if it hasn’t already been done).
- Fantasy Fans/Good Triumphing over Evil Fans/Talking Animals & Mythical Creature Fans/Allegory Fans: Another classic fantasy adventure story of unexpected heroes rising up against impossible odds and saving the land from evil. Those who love adventures with talking animals and mythical creatures will find no end of delight throughout the Narnia stories since the Pevensies are some of the few human characters. Many appreciate this story for the allegorical qualities too. Unlike the other two classics included here, this one’s English has aged quite well. Lewis wrote it to a child audience with simpler English, so even though it is almost 70 years old middle grade readers should still be able to pick it up and grasp the story pretty easily.