Story Time: Big Nate, Dragons, & School for Minions

story time.2015aNikki and Jackie hope you’ll join them today for Story Time with Literary Escapism, a bi-weekly feature where they showcase various children books that fall directly in the fantasy & science fiction genres, as well as books they’re enjoying with their young children. They’re talking boardbooks, picture books, those books labeled as beginner or newly independent readers, and middle grade – anything of interest to those readers who are not quite ready for the young adult genre. So they hope you’ll join them on the carpet as they share the stories that have captured their little ones imaginations.

LPeirce-Big Nate in a ClassThe Monkey is starting to graduate away from the chapter books. He loved the Geronimo Stilton series and couldn’t wait to get his hands on the next novel. Now he’s all about the Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce (In a Class by Himself).

Nate knows he’s meant for big things. REALLY big things. But things don’t always go your way just because you’re awesome. Nate barely survives his dad’s toxic oatmeal before rushing off to school—minus his lunch. He body slams the no-nonsense principal. He accidentally insults his least favorite teacher, the horrifying Mrs. Godfrey (aka Godzilla). And school has barely started!

Trouble always seems to find him, but Nate keeps his cool. He knows he’s destined for greatness. A fortune cookie told him so.

Here comes BIG NATE, accidental mischief maker and definitely NOT the teacher’s pet.

I’ve just gotten the hang of finding chapter books and now I need to figure out middle grade books, but ones that aren’t quite as long as…say The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.

CCowell-How To Train Your DragonWhile the Monkey seems to have gotten over his anxiousness about the size of a book, he stills wants those random pictures thrown throughout the book. I think I’ve finally gotten him interested in Cressida Cowell How to Train Your Dragon series – after all, he loves the movies, it should have been a no brainer.

Chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon.

I know I’m not the only parent who’s treading in uncharted areas. A friend is experiencing the same problem, only slightly worse – her 8yo is reading way beyond expectations and she’s looking for appropriate material – I want to say her kid was reading Harry Potter on her own when she was 5yo – and one of her friends suggested a book that caught my interest, Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions by Sheila Grau.

SGrau-Dr Critchlores School for MinionsWelcome to Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions, the premier trainer of minions for Evil Overlords everywhere. No student is prouder to be at Dr. Critchlore’s than Runt Higgins, a twelve-year-old werewolf. (At least he thinks he’s twelve. He was abandoned at the school as a baby, so he can’t say for sure.) Runt loves everything about Dr. Critchlore’s. He loves his classes—like History of Henchmen and Introduction to Explosives. He loves his friends—like Darthin the gargoyle and Syke the tree nymph. And he loves his foster family, who took him in when his wolf pack couldn’t.

But not everyone loves Dr. Critchlore’s as much as Runt. After a series of disasters, each worse than the next, it’s clear that someone is trying to shut the school down. It’s up to Runt, who knows the place better than anybody, to figure out who’s behind the attacks . . . and to save his home, and Dr. Critchlore himself, from total destruction.

I’m always on the lookout for books that could catch the Monkey’s interest, especially if I can try and get ahead of the need, and I’m thinking a book about becoming a Minion might do it.

With all the books out there, both old and new, it’s easy for great books to slip through the cracks. Which books did your own reader love at this age? Can you recommend a book for that reader between chapter books and the longer middle grade novels? What about a young adult that’s appropriate for an advanced middle grader reader?

About Jackie 3282 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.


    • I started reading them to my youngest last night and they are not the same at all. We’re only 7% of the way through, but it’s already very different. It’s like a whole new Dragon story! I’m actually really happy that it doesn’t seem to be a direct translation.

  1. The Lizard Breath series is another one for boys graduating to chapter books but still wanting the occasional picture. My youngest loved those. They are short in length as well. Then you can also go to the Spiderwyck chronicles. They are extremely short as well, but give them a sense of accomplishment for reading a chapter book.

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